ACT 1 SCENE 3
The day of our departure to Athens I received a call from President Nasser’s Office asking me about the telegram that I had sent him, but I explained that we were just leaving for Athens and it was impossible for me to continue with my complaint. It was all too late! But I wonder what would have become of it had I stayed.
Athens, what a beautiful city! The Acropole Theatre was quite stunning and our Agent Frank Raptis wined and dined us and presented us all with flowers. What a gentleman! When I asked him about seeing the nightclub I was told that it was being renovated for our show. Fair enough. So we got down to sorting out the rehearsals and the running of the show at the Acropolis Theatre, which was to be incorporated into the variety show as a whole entity called Eric Lindsay’s Folies de Londres. The nightclub, we were told, would be ready in about a week or two, which was okay by me.
The reviews for the theatre show were excellent. Mr. Papadoppo-something, the owner of the Acropole Thatre, loved the whole thing and he was very happy. Understandably! That week I was paid half salary as we were only fulfilling half of our contract, but I still paid the artistes their full salary. By the end of the second week we finally did a show at the nightclub. On the third week, we were told that the club did not have a license so we could not work there anymore. So there I was stuck with a contract for three months and only being paid half salary, which didn’t even cover the artistes’ salaries. While I was losing all round, the artistes were happy and the theatre was very happy. I found out later that it was their usual practice to arrange for two venues and only come up with one so that they would get everything for half price. The Greek agent Frank Raptis was screwing me to the wall!
After about four weeks and a lot of meetings with the theatre management, I had got nowhere. Mr. Papadoppo-something told me that he was holding me to the contract. Meanwhile my stage manager and three of my girls who had worked for me before at the Casino de Paris told me that Frank Raptis had told all the cast that should I decide to take the troupe back to England, they could stay and keep all the costumes, etc. In fact, he promised them the whole show and said that if I caused any trouble he would have me arrested as he had done before to Monsieur Charley of the famous Charley Ballet in Beirut. I went berserk at the thought of losing everything to these crooks after all the work and money that Ray and I had put in to make the show possible. No way was I going to let them take everything away from me. Remember, I am a Scorpio. I went to the British Embassy (again) and explained the situation. The Ambassador told me that I was working for gangsters. Both Mr. Papadoppo-something and Frank Raptis ran their own Mafia group and they had all the judges in their pocket, so I couldn’t win.
Long story short, I had a meeting with all the artistes and put my cards on the table and explained the situation. I could not afford to subsidize their salaries every week and that I was ‘THINKING’ of returning with them all to England. I didn’t say when. I told them that all their return fares were deposited with the British Embassy and if they wanted to come back with me they could. So I was not running off and leaving them. My five who worked with me at the Casino de Paris were quite happy to return to England, but the rest had already agreed with Raptis that they would stay and do the show and also keep my costumes.
Two days later there was a national holiday and the theatre was closed, so it was our D-Day. We got to the theatre early and started packing the costumes, leaving just left a few. I told the theatre staff that we were having them cleaned. So, with the trunks all packed, we went straight to the station and I booked the tickets and saw the kids off to England. This was where I made the big blunder. I had booked to fly out to England that evening. I checked into the airport and went through customs. As I was getting ready to board the plane, the police came running after me and took me back to immigration, where I sat all night waiting for transport to take me back to Athens. While we were waiting, the police sergeant who was there told me they all knew Frank Raptis and Mr. Papadoppo-something, who were well-known major crooks in Athens. Anyway I wasn’t arrested, I was just detained. To me it was about the same thing except I was free to walk about and still had my passport. I spoke to the British Embassy and they got me a lawyer who came to court with me the following day. My case was set aside for two weeks for a judge to hear, during which time I could not leave Greece. My solicitor told me that Frank Raptis had got all the artistes that stayed to sign a paper written in Greek which said that I had stolen all their costumes. Of course the kids didn’t know what they signing, but they signed just the same.
I spoke with Ray and the Gold Brothers and told them exactly what had happened and explained that I was perfectly okay and there was no need for any of them to come out. So that done, I decided to see what I could do. Every day I used to sit and try to work out an escape route. I thought maybe it would be a good idea to get a false passport, but I didn’t know where to get one. I thought of escaping across the border to Turkey dressed as a nun as I thought maybe passport control wouldn’t ask a nun for her passport. I thought I could wear a burka and just have my eyes showing until I realised I would have to be travelling with someone. All these things were going through my head, but I stayed and waited. Oh, fuck it! I might as well sit it out!
I gave my solicitor all the papers and receipts that I had for the costumes that I’d had made in England and also the insurance policy that I had with Lloyds of London, but he said that they wouldn’t mean a thing as the judge was already in Frank Raptis’s pocket. So much for Justice! It was all corruption, corruption, corruption! On the day of the trial I went to court and the judge adjourned it for a further two months so that he could study all the facts, but he allowed me to leave the country on condition that I would RETURN! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! You didn’t see my arse for dust! Bye, bye Greece!
“WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.” YEARS LATER, I HEARD THAT FRANK RAPTIS HAD BEEN MURDERED. WELL, IT COULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED TO A NICER CHAP! ! !
THE BEAUTIFUL AUDREY CRANE
You can read the full story of the Casino De Paris by clicking on the following link