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“A Time For Tears”: A further instalment in the Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club Story

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“A TIME FOR TEARS”

A further instalment in the Casino De Paris Striptease Theatre Club story

In 1964 Danny La Rue opened his own club in Hanover Square which became a legend in night club history. This left a void at Winston’s where Danny had been performing for years. Bruce Brace, who was the owner of Winston’s, approached us and asked whether we would put on a glamour revue at his night club as Danny was no longer there.

I asked Danny what he thought and whether he would mind if we did a show for Bruce, and he said that it was fine. He forgot to mention that most of his weekly cheques from Winston’s bounced!  So his salary was always in arrears. If only Danny would have told us the truth!

The show we put on was, if I say it myself, beautiful, glamorous, funny and with plenty of nudity. In fact perfect for a night club audience.

CASINO DE PARIS NIGHT CLUB SHOW AT WINSTONS

 As you can see we had a multi talented cast and the show was a big success. After three weeks, however, the shit hit the fan! Our cheques for the production and costumes, etc. bounced.  I told Bruce that he had a week to sort out our finances; otherwise we were pulling the show, which we did as no money was forthcoming. Fortunately I had insisted on making a contract with Bruce. He wasn’t too happy about signing at the time, but I told him ‘no contract, no show!”   We took him to court and won the case with damages, which he was allowed to pay in weekly instalments as he was pleading poverty, so the payments would go on forever. The first week he paid, then nothing, so we took him back to court again and went through the same procedure. This went on for months and months. He’d pay the first week then nothing. So it was back to court again and again until finally I think it was Mr. Billy Howard who came to see me at the Casino De Paris. He told me that he was taking over Winston’s Club and he wanted to settle the whole amount and not have any more litigation. The man was a gentleman.

So it just goes to show that there was no need for me to go to Egypt or Greece to get ‘screwed’, I could stay in England and get ‘screwed’ here instead!! But at least here we had English law on our side. In the long run we finished no better off financially with all the wasted time and all the extra expenses, and with the money coming back in such small dribs and drabs. We just had to write it all off to experience, but we did learn that we could mount a very good night club show.

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Audrey Crane

In 1964, Hello Dolly opened on Broadway and we managed to get a copy of the cast album as soon as it was released. Listening to all the wonderful songs and music, I couldn’t wait to do a show at the Casino de Paris using some of the music and songs. David Merrick, the American producer of the show was a regular visitor to our club and would always pop in for the afternoon show whenever he was in London. I knew that his visits to London were always on business, and seeing our show was his form of relaxation in between his meetings. Well, we mounted a new show and were using music from Dolly for the opening of our show and also for a big finale. This was way before it opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, with Mary Martin. Really it was not quite legal. Ahh-Hmmm! In fact it was completely illegal, but it was worth taking the risk as the music was so good.

DAVID MERRICK

David Merrick

One afternoon my secretary told me that David Merrick was in, so I nervously waited for him to come out at the end of the show. He said to me, “You know you’re being very naughty using ‘Hello Dolly.It hasn’t even opened in London yet!” I took a deep breath and said, “I know, but you must admit that we do it beautifully.He replied, “You’re right, you do!” With that, he left the Club and the show continued its run without any problems from Mr. Merrick. He must have really liked what we did because I was told that on Broadway he was a tyrant and sued everyone! He was quoted as saying, “It’s not enough for me to win. My enemies must lose.” So it was wonderful that we managed to get off scot free and he still kept on coming back to see our shows.

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Ray and I were still thinking of opening a night club as I had ‘ants in my pants’ and was always wanting to do something else, and seeing the exceptional way Danny La Rue’s club was going we went back to our original idea of a female impersonator fronting a night club. A very good friend of ours at the time was Sonne Teal whom we had known for many years since before opening the Casino de Paris. He was one of the stars at the Casino de Paris Theatre in Paris (coincidence of names they were there first!). He also worked at the Carrousel Club in the Rue du Colisee in Paris, where he was starring with Coccinelle and Bambi, both very famous French female impersonators. Sonne had the voice of an angel and the looks of Marilyn Monroe.

SONNE TEAL MULTI TALENTED

 Listen to Sonne Teal’s wonderful voice in this video tribute:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/-ehjk7kg1vs

 He could belt out numbers like Ethel Merman or be soft and melodious like Lena Horne. His sense of comedy was great and he already had a great following in London from when he worked at the Astor Club in Berkeley Square, which was not one of the easiest Clubs to play, but he played there time and time again and they loved him. Apart from being a brilliant artist, he also had a good business brain and his feet were firmly on the ground. So we put a proposition to him whereby he would have a third share in the club, to be called “Sonne Teal’s”, and we would finance the whole thing. He eagerly agreed and a deal was clinched. This meant that we were out looking for premises again!   

By chance in late ‘65 a club came on the market that was called Annie’s Room (the famous Jazz singer Annie Ross ran the place) and we took Sonne along to look at it. He loved it. The premises, which were quite large, were in the basement of a building in Russell St. in Covent Garden, practically opposite the stage door of the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane and three or four doors away from the Fortune Theatre. Remember, this was 1965 and Covent Garden was not as it is today – Swinging! The Covent Garden Market was still running and when it closed at night, there really wasn’t any real business in the area. But we thought that Sonne would be a big enough pull to bring the carriage trade along, because parking there was easy.                             

Décor wise, the place was a dump and had to be gutted because there was nothing there that was worth keeping. We exchanged contracts with the owners and we had a lease for 15 years. The building would take at least three or four months to rebuild and redecorate, so Sonne asked us whether he could take up a contract to star in the Carrousel Show with four other artistes in Tokyo, Japan. It was just for six weeks, so we said okay and he went off to Paris to rehearse for a week and then fly off to Japan. There were a few weeks before the builders started work, so Ray and I sorted out the way the Club would look.

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Of course I got completely carried away with the design and insisted that we put a glass dance floor in the centre of the club with colour changing lights underneath. This would also be used as the cabaret floor so it would serve two purposes and also add extra glamour to the show which was an important thing. “Sonne Teal’s” was going to look great!

As building started in Covent Garden, we heard the tragic news of Lydia Lova’s death, which saddened us greatly. On the 3rd of March we received a postcard from Sonne telling us that the show in Tokyo was a big success and that he would be back in London in two weeks.  The following day on the B.B.C. we heard that a BOAC passenger jet had crashed into Mount Fuji 25 minutes after taking off from Tokyo, killing all 124 people on board. We were shocked at the tragedy but thought, “Thank God Sonne wasn’t on board.” But we had forgotten that the postcard took about two weeks to be delivered. Two days later Bruce Cartwright, who was Sonne’s partner, rang us from Paris to say that Sonne had been on the plane. Ray and I were devastated. In just two months we had lost first Lydia and now Sonne. Those beautiful young and lovely people were gone forever! It was just too much to comprehend.

When later we had time to reflect, it dawned on us, that there we were in the middle of building a night club for a star who was no longer with us. We were really in the shit!

   This is my tribute to Sonne Teal a beautiful and multi talented spirit.

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Photo from the Avery Willard Book

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Photo from the Avery Willard book

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Sonne Teal with his partner Bruce Cartwright

This homage to Sonne which is in French contains some beautiful pictures.

http://www.dianeetlesexedesanges.ch/3colset008/page_sonne_teal/_page_sonne_teal.htm

We couldn’t stop the building, it had gone too far. Too much money was already involved. We were truly up the creek without a paddle! Who could possibly take Sonne’s place? There were the French female Impersonators, but none of them spoke English well enough to banter with an audience. There was an American drag act called Ricky Renee who had worked at Al Burnet’s Stork Club in Swallow Street for quite a while a few years before and whom Sonne had talked about favourably as they had worked together at the 82 Club in New York. Maybe he would be interested?

RICKY RENEE POSE 1

I rang Bruce Cartwright in Paris, who was still in a state of shock and explained to him our situation, which he already knew about and sympathized. I asked him whether he knew where Ricky Renee was, whether he was still in Europe and if he had a phone number for him. He had! Ricky was working in a night club in Berlin at the time. Apparently he had been there for a number of years. It seemed that he had made Berlin his home. So we rang him and explained our situation, telling him the full story of poor Sonne. Was he interested in coming back to London and fronting a night club with his name as Ricky Renee’s?  

RICKY RENEE'S DRIVING THE ROLLS OUTSIDE RICKY RENEE'S

Everything was under the same conditions as we had arranged with Sonne. Ray and I flew to Berlin to see Ricky and fixed the deal with him. He came to England that month and stayed with us in Marston Close whilst we finished building the club and getting a cast together for the show. Ricky had worked with Teddy Green when he was at the Stork Club and he was happy working with him again, so he was engaged.  We also engaged Maria Charles, Melvyn Hayes and Anne Hamilton, all West End performers, plus a few other dancers and singers. We had a very strong supporting cast for Ricky.

RICKRICKY RENEE OUTSIDE BILLING AT RICKY RENEE'S

All the costumes were designed and made by Dougie Darnell, who made exclusively for Shirley Bassey. So you see we had the best of everything. There was no expense spared. When the club was finished it looked beautiful, the furnishing, the exotic glass dance floor and the wonderful colour of the room. It was just the way I imagined a night club should look.

The only thing missing were the customers! Where were they? We had hoped for a phenomenal success, but it just wasn’t to be. Whoever came to the club adored the show and came back many times. The show was great and Ricky Renee was fantastic in his own way, although he wasn’t a Sonne Teal, but there just weren’t enough customers.

RICKY RENEE Foyer entrance of Ricky Renee's

RICKY RENEE POSE 1

RICKY RENEE ,RAY AND THE BACK OF MARK CANTER 2

The headaches we had were every day. Years later even Elton John came unstuck with his restaurant “Yellow Brick Road,” which was also in Covent Garden. If only it was now, you would have had to book a table weeks in advance for both “Ricky Renee’s” and “Yellow Brick Road”. Every week we had to put extra money in just to cover expenses. Salary wise we never took a penny from the club, but we lost plenty and I must say it left a bitter taste in our mouths. Well, after about six months we admitted that we had made a big mistake and decided to call it a day. We had to close Ricky Renee’s. The place was a flop! We licked our wounds, counted our losses, which where enormous, and went back home to Marston Close and the Casino De Paris, which, thank God, was still doing good business.

Ricky Renee went on to further success and later appeared in the film “Cabaret” and is still working, I believe, back in Berlin.

To see what Ricky Renee’s club looked like, click on the link below to watch “Ricky Renne, Quick Change Artist, a British Pathe Pictorial which was filmed at the club. By the time it was released in cinemas in late 1967 the club had already closed.

  http://www.britishpathe.com/video/quick-change-artist

 You can see outtakes from the film showing more of the club at the following link:

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/out-takes-cuts-from-cp-644-quick-change-artist

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You can read the full story of the Casino de Paris by clicking on the following link

The Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club Story

 

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Lydia Lova, “The Naked Heroine” – A further instalment in the Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club Story

LYDIA LOVA

            Lydia Lova, a beautiful and exquisite woman, whose life story was “Beyond Belief”.

Lydia Lova arrived in London on the 3rd of July, 1963. We had booked a suite for her at the Mayfair Hotel and on the following day we held a press reception. Brian O’Hanlon, who was our PR at the time, pulled all the stops out. She was in every single paper in England and her story was syndicated throughout the world. Lydia was ecstatic about the results, and so were we. Rehearsals began on the 5th of July and  went really smoothly. Up until her opening day and between rehearsals she was being interviewed all the time by various member of the press.

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Her story was so intriguing. This young girl had been in the French Resistance during the War and had been captured and sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. She had finished up in the experimental wing of the camp, where they tried out all manners of vile tortures. She was injected in November 1944 by Dr.Hans Gerhart, one of the camp’s butcher doctors. When she asked what it was for, she was told not to worry, and that she would find out in about 20 to 25 years. This was the inhuman way the Germans treated their prisoners. The miracle was how, through all that she had endured, there emerged this glamorous and charming lady who wowed the Press with her Parisian style and elegance.

Lydia’s act was a smash hit. We staged it so that she appeared onstage between the covers of her book, “The Naked Heroine.” She sang, danced and finally stripped with such elegance that even the most prudish would have found her performance enchanting.

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The three weeks just flew by, but during that time we had become firm friends and she left with the promise that whenever she wanted to come to London she would come and stay with Ray and myself at Marston Close. The house was quite large and she would be a welcome visitor.

One Sunday later that year when she was staying with us, Lydia and I were lounging around the house.  Ray had gone off in the car with his mother to see her mother and sisters so that she could boast to them as to how well her son was doing.

We had a manservant at the time called Carl Coffee who was a wonderful cook and a very amiable person. I couldn’t understand why he was not around pottering in the kitchen. I said to Lydia, ‘I suppose he’s been out on the tiles and stayed with friends. He’ll most probably be back soon.’ So I thought nothing more about it and we had our breakfast. A little later the doorbell went and there on the steps were two uniformed policemen. The first thing I thought was that there must have been an accident. ‘Does Mr. Carl Coffee live here?” asked one of the officers. ‘Well, yes,” I asked. ‘Why?’ ‘I’m sorry to inform you that he is dead,’ he replied. ‘As you were the last person to see him alive, you must come and identify him.’ I nearly shat myself.

Apparently Carl was in a cinema in Edgeware Road for the last performance. When they played ‘God Save the Queen’ and the audience stood up, Carl was the only one sitting! I began to think quickly. I had never seen a dead person. I really had no desire to see a corpse. I thought that maybe I could palm the task off on Ray when he got back. I told the policeman that I had no transport, but he informed me they could take me in the police car. I didn’t like the idea of that. It was bad enough that the neighbours knew that Ray and I owned a strip club. God alone knows what they would think if they saw me being dragged off in a police car. After I explained that I couldn’t leave the house until later that afternoon the policemen agreed to come back at 3p.m. I breathed a sigh of relief and shut the door.

I turned to see Lydia, who had heard the conversation, standing there ashen and shaking. I said to her, ’Why are you shaking? You must have seen loads of dead people in Ravensbruck.’ When I added, ‘ As a matter of fact, you know what Carl looked like, you can go and identify him!’ She nearly fainted. I was trying to palm it off onto anyone. To cut a long story short, it was decided that I would go, if Ray hadn’t returned in time. Of course, he didn’t, but I made Lydia promise that she would come with me and stay outside whilst I was in the mortuary.

The police car came back right at 3p.m. When Lydia and I got into the car, a few of the neighbours were hanging out their windows. Oh the shame! Lydia and I sat in the car not uttering a word. It was all a bit of a haze thanks to the half a bottle of whisky we had got through while we were waiting.  All I remember of the mortuary was that it was freezing cold. There on a slab was poor Carl. My eyes really focused on the label that was hanging from his toe. After I had identified Carl’s body, the police thanked me and buggered off, leaving Lydia and I to find our own way back to Swiss Cottage. So much for helping the police out!

Ray and I would see Lydia whenever we were in Paris which was very frequently and she also spent Xmas and New Year with us in London in 1964.

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A favourite restaurant of ours in Paris was Au Mouton de Panurge, which was an old monastery, were the waiters dressed as monks.  One of their specialties was a garter that they fitted on all the ladies. It was all great fun and the food was excellent.

The last note I received from Lydia was at Xmas in 1965.

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FOOTNOTE

At the conclusion of the “The Naked Heroine,” John Izbicki wrote, “The effects of the injection which she was given in Ravensbruck have yet to make themselves felt. What they will be, no one can guess. Doctors have examined Lydia thoroughly but they have been unable to make any conclusive diagnosis. But until then, Lydia Lova will go on dancing and praying and living with her memories-the memories of a Naked Heroine.”

Lydia Lova died on the 3rd of February, 1966, 22 years after being injected.2013-01-30  LYDIA RIP 2

THE GOOD DIE YOUNG.

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We lost a wonderful friend, and a beautiful spirit, but the memories will always stay with me.

******

You can read the full story of the Casino De Paris by clicking on the following link

The Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club Story

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Eric Lindsay, Lydia Lova, Ray Jackson

 

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“Another Opening, Another Show” – A Further Instalment in the Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club Story.

CHAPTER TWO
 In early 1963 a book was published called the Naked Heroine by John Izbicki It was the biography of a lady called LYDIA LOVA who in addition to being the principal nude dancer at the world famous Folies Bergere in Paris, was also, as Lydia de Korczac – heroine of the French Resistance, the most decorated woman in France having been awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d’Honneur. What a wonderful chance if we could engage her to appear at the Casino de Paris!
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M. and Mme. Paul Derval owners of the Folies Bergere embrace Lydia when she received the Croix de Guerre.

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The Folies Bergere in Paris

I phoned through to the publisher and managed to get John Izbicki’s phone number. We rang him and explained who we were and that we would like to engage her for a short season at the CDP in London which he knew, and how the publicity would help with the sale of his book, etc. etc.

He gave us her number in Paris and we spoke to her and arranged that we would fly to Paris immediately and meet with her to see whether we could arrange a contract for her to appear at the Casino de Paris. We wanted to get there fast before Paul Raymond had a chance to chat her up. We did have a friendly relationship with Paul but there was always a sense of competition between us. Pauls Revue Bar was on a far grander scale than the CDP. But artistically our shows were far superior.

We booked into the Scribe Hotel in Paris which was by the Opera and very central to everywhere. The following night Ray and I waited by the Stage Door for Lydia after her performance.

LYDIA LOVA BACKSTAGE AT FOLIES BERGERE

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Lydia Lova backstage at the Folies Bergers

We hit it off with her immediately, we explained who we were and where the CDP was in London and that she would appear as a Special Guest Star and that we would like to engage her for a month.

We knew that she was under contract to the Folies Bergere but maybe (fingers crossed) they would release her for a month and we explained to her that it would be great publicity for her, the book, and the Folies Bergere (like they needed it) but it sounded good. She said that she would speak with Michel Gyarmathy

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Michel Gyarmathy major domo of the Folies Bergere

She said that she would speak with Michel Gyarmathy who was the director and running the Folies, and see whether it was possible for him to release her.

Lydia was so gentle and amusing and lovely.  It was just impossible for us to imagine that with all the suffering and pain that she had lived through, she could emerge from it all like a beautiful butterfly. Lydia explained that she had never done a solo act but we soon calmed her and said that we could arrange the music and choreography and that with our lighting and presentation she would be a hit.

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 I knew that on the day she left an envelope with all her passport details that we had clinched the deal.

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Lydia Lova was engaged to appear at the Casino de Paris for 3 weeks commencing July 8th. 1963.

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INTERLUDE

By this time Rosemary Andree had fallen for Elliott Gold’s ‘extra charm’ and I must say that under his influence she blossomed. With her doll like beauty Elliott treated her like a Queen and he dressed her like one. She became his No.1 Lady, and was always on hand. So apart from her beings our Agent she was also Elliott’s ladylove. Which meant that we had the choice of every girl or act that went into her office. Lucky for us! Of course he still kept his hand in with a few of the old regulars, so there would always be the extra bit on the side who would meet up with him for the odd service.  Let alone he was hung like a horse, he must have had the stamina of one!

LYDIA LOVA BOX OFFICE AT CDP.SPECIAL LYDIA LOVA

My Father Sidney, Johnny Gold, Elliott Gold, Ray and Renee, one of Elliott’s Ladies.

Apart from Elliott’s sex life he still carried on with his gambling which was on the rise, we could always tell by the jewellery and furs that Rosemary would be wearing. I have to say that he took such good care of her. Meanwhile Ray and I continued with the shows, and they got better all the time.

Around this period a pretty young lady came to the Casino de Paris, it was either through Rosemary’s Office or she just came in off the street. Her name was Sadie Powell and she was from Wales and a real rough diamond. I asked her ‘whether she had had any dance training or whether she had stripped before?” and she said “No, but  I’se can do it! You just show me and I’se do it.” Whatever I asked her she said she could do. She reminded me of myself when I was an actor and would be asked whether I could ride, fence or ski. I would say yes to everything; although I hadn’t a clue. Well, I liked her gall and enthusiasm and Ray thought that she looked good and moved well. So we engaged her and that was how Marissa Lang was born. Sadie loved her new name and soon gathered around her a number of admirers. This included Frank who was known for his association with the criminal fraternity. Still he behaved himself when he was in the Casino and very soon Sadie moved in with him. So she became Sadie the Gangster’s Moll or otherwise the glamorous Marissa Lang.

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Marissa Lang about to sing.

To motivate Sadie you had to give her a plot once she had a plot and a character she was away. If she was the heroine, villainess, vamp or just stripping she had to have a plot. We did this raunchy Stoker number which took place on a supposedly Cruise Ship, which whenever I asked her to explain it to me had me doubled up with laughter. In fact it became her party piece. In Sadies words: “ Well, I’se a Lady of Quality and I’se on a cruise wiv me Millionaire Usband. Well ees gawn orf to our Luxury Cabin to kip, cause ees old and nackered.    Me, I’se young and orny and I’se on the deck thinkin about nuffin in particular and listening to the dance band  and suddenly I’se can hear the noise of the engines down below decks and it gets louder and louder and I’se getting ornier and ornier.”

Breath “Well I’se goes down below in search of the noise and in the hold I’se comes across these two stokers. Stoking!”   Breath “Well, these two orny guys rip me cloths orf and we’se goes into this sexy dance and when I’se finished wiv em both. I’se goes back to me cabin. To kip and see whever me old man is still alive!”

By this time I usually finished up on the floor. Sadie certainly had a way of turning a phrase.

SEX BALLET

Lesley Glory, Tony Koon and Marissa Lang in “UNFAITHFUL”

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Lesley Glory and Tony Koon in ”SEX BALLET”

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You can read the full story of the Casino De Paris by clicking on the following link

The Casino de Paris Striptease Theatre Club Story

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Eric Lindsay, Lydia Lova, Ray Jackson

 

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