Act 1 Scene 2
The shows were running swimmingly, but Ray and I were not happy with the music, it sounded so thin. We had already got thru three drummers and we were on our second pianist. Our latest drummer changed the tempo according to how he felt, and we were relying on a pianist who spent most of the time sitting on the loo and not at the piano. Imodium wasn’t around in those days otherwise I would have slipped him a couple every time he had his tea break! The girls were also not happy with the situation. It came to a point where we found ourselves having to incorporate so much taped music into the show, just to satisfy the whims and bowel movements of the musicians, that we finally decided to do the whole show on tape. We came to an agreement with the Musicians Union and The Performing Rights Society, and low and behold it was wonderful! The Theatre was overflowing with the sound of music and it was great!
The boat we caught in Marseilles had to be one of the oldest cockroach-infested trawlers that was sea worthy and I threw up most of the way to Alexandria. We were met at the docks by an agent from Mohammed Abdul- Nabi, the owner of the Auberge. The coach trip from Alexandria to Cairo seemed to me as though we had gone back to biblical times it was all so primitive. Still, I was optimistic, look on the bright side. After all, what more could happen? ? ?Duly ensconced, we started rehearsals in earnest for a week. Abdel-Nabi’s staff were as thick as planks, nodding all the time, but nothing was sinking in. So finally I made them write down all the lighting, sound, curtains and set changes over and over again. Abdel-Nabi would watch all this and say nothing. The opening night show was a disaster. If anything could go wrong it did. My stage manager was screaming at everyone. He had no lights, no curtains, nothing, and the music sounded as though they were skinning cats. Mohammed Abdel-Nabi said that he would try and make the show the second night, as my stage manager was upsetting his staff and he would speak to them and explain more, etc. etc. On the second night, the show went perfectly from beginning to end, just as I had planned and set it. Abdel-Nabi said to me later, “You see, you make show big catastrophe. Me, I make show big success.” I bit my tongue and thought, ‘You crafty fucker!’ But I said nothing. I was hoping to get paid. Ha! Ha! So the show ran for three nights and then we rehearsed for the New Year’s Eve Gala with a special number with real live white doves that were quite tame and lived in a loft in the roof of the night club. The number was to go in at the very end of the show, which went on for about three hours, including belly dancers and singers and on and on and on. Then came our special number. The showgirls and Strippers and boy and girl dancers each had four doves. At the end of the number they would just wave their arms and the doves would fly around the room and then go back up into the loft, or so I thought! Or so we all thought! Ha! Ha! Showtime! Eric Lindsay’s “Folie de Londres” was a big success. The belly dancers were a big success. Everyone was a big success! Then came our finale, the special dove number to bring in the New Year. As the final chimes rang out, the girls waved their arms and the doves flew around the room and the elite of Cairo that were our audience grabbed at the doves and tore them apart and wiped one another with the blood! On stage there was pandemonium. The two girl singers fainted, the boy dancers were shouting and going to the aid of the singers, and one of the showgirls, who was an animal activist, went into the audience and punched a guy in the face as he tried to wipe some blood onto her. The audience came onto the stage, trying to wipe blood on the kids. BEDLEM! And I had envisioned this beautiful number with the lovely white doves that would just fly away. Nobody told us that just before the show all their tail feathers had been removed so the poor buggers could just fly low around the room until they were butchered. This is what they call a civilized society? The kids refused to work anymore at the Auberge. So that was the end of the show and we prepared to return to England. Meanwhile, I was still paying the kids their full salary. I explained to Abdul-Nabi that it would be better all round for us to go, and he smiled and agreed. Little did I know that he had no intention of paying me any amount of money. When finally I got the British Embassy involved, he paid me a pittance and deducted all the train and boat tickets – all the expenses that I had incurred for him! In fact, I was left with flumpence halfpenny and a bad taste in my mouth. He kept me waiting around for a week to collect some money. He would keep me waiting outside his office for six hours at a time, and when he did see me he would give me a little just to tide me over for the day and tell me to come back the next day. During this time I sent a telegram to President Naser telling him of the treatment we had received from Abdel-Nabi and how bad it was for the image of the whole of Egypt. On the final day when he paid me my pittance in front of all his staff to show how big he was, I thanked him and told him, “You sir, are a PIG! I would never treat anyone the way you have treated me.” I left the premises with everyone in shock. No one had ever had the nerve to say that to him.
To prove that I am not exaggerating about Mohamed Abdul-Nabi, here is a cutting from the Al-Ahram Weekly Newspaper: “AS WAFIYA EL-FRANSAWI, A BELLY DANCER STATED, “THE ARTISTES HAD A LOT OF TROUBLE WITH MOHAMED ABDEL-NABI, THE OWNER, WHO WAS CHRONICALLY IN ARREARS IN ALL PAYMENTS OF THE PERFORMERS SALARIES” So he didn’t just do it to foreign artistes, he also did it to his own. I was lucky to leave with the shirt on my back. Meanwhile, one of my dances came to me and said that another agent wanted to see me. I met up with the agent and he told me he could get us an immediate contract in Athens paying the full salary that I had been contracted with Abdel-Nabi, plus air tickets from Cairo to Athens and all the same conditions as my previous contract, but we would have to double, playing The Acropolis Theatre and also a night club. I said I would talk it over with my artistes and let him know, but I didn’t hold out much hope after the treatment we had received in Cairo. I was keen to return to England. That evening I spoke to the kids and told them about the offer I had received. They spoke together and said that they wanted to go to Athens and do the theatre and the nite club show. “After all,” they said, “ it couldn’t be worse than what has happened to us here in Cairo.” Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!!!
CASINO DE PARIS STAR TRIXI KENT
You can read the full story of the Casino De Paris by clicking on the following link