This week it’s March 1985 and the Observer Magazine goes behind the scenes of the ‘best nude show in the universe’, AKA Le Crazy Horse de Paris.
It’s 1.50am and Mick Jagger has just arrived with a TV crew and a woman called Fifi has just dispensed with her G-string onstage. The Crazy Horse was (and is still) found on one of the grand avenues of Paris, next to the House of Balenciaga. The Observer discovers that the club has cleaned up its act – not to everyone’s delight.
In 1985, there are some strict rules that the public and the dancers must abide by: the dancers are forbidden to meet with men within two blocks of the building and any after-show lurking is discouraged. Despite this, Monsieur Bernadin, the club’s founder, talks wistfully of the good old days – ‘then the girls wanted to be free; they had a sense of eroticism. Nowadays dancers are very nice girls, coming from very nice families.’
Four out of the 20 women are British, Fifi with the discarded G-string is one of them. Originally from Worcestershire, this is her third year at the Crazy Horse – she auditioned on a Friday and started work on Sunday.
Despite their conspicuous lack of clothing, the dancers are slightly prudish. Kitty Logo, originally a window-dresser from Sheffield and one of the English contingent, says that she wouldn’t sunbathe on a nude beach: ‘I couldn’t imagine myself going nude. I’d gone topless before but going nude is a bit personal.’
Pompea Mackintosh, the fourth British dancer, is less abashed and invited her parents over to watch the show. Her father thought it was very well done but her mother would have preferred to see her in the Royal Ballet.
It’s a lucrative job, the average dancer earning £20,000 a year, but the Englishwomen pine for home – for ‘Mum’s home cooking, Cadbury’s chocolate and salt and vinegar crisps’.