Paris Nights by Cliff Simon

Paris Nights

My Year at the Moulin Rouge
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Simon recounts his time at the fabled Moulin Rouge in Paris and how it led to his career in Hollywood in this debut book.

After a varied life in South Africa, England, and the United States as a gymnast, elite swimmer, and member of the South African Air Force, Simon was working as a water sports teacher at a resort on the Indian Ocean when he was given the opportunity to perform at the world- renowned Moulin Rouge. The 26-year-old Simon was amazed by the beautiful chaos of the cabaret, with its dancers, jugglers, acrobats, and animal acts. As one of the performers informed Simon on his first day: “The Moulin Rouge is where every show dancer wants to end up....Once you’ve danced here, you have a golden ticket to anywhere else in the world.” Simon quickly descended into the madness of the theater and the strange characters who made their livings there. Equally exotic was the city that surrounded them: Paris in 1988 was a place of great beauty and great grit, filled with tantalizing women, bacchanals, street thugs, and enterprising criminals. Simon had the opportunity to rise from a replacement background dancer to a principal performer, a position that would prepare him for the even more competitive world of Hollywood. All Simon needed to do was to focus and to keep out of trouble, but at the Moulin Rouge, that was easier said than done. With the help of co-writer Stephens, Simon has shaped his anecdotes from the time into a very readable and entertaining memoir. Flecked with quotes and references to the many writers who were captivated by Paris before Simon, the volume manages to communicate the surreal atmosphere of the city and the even more surreal environment of the cabaret. The author is perhaps a bit overly impressed with his own youthful self, making sure the reader knows just how capable and desirable he was, but for those interested in the esoteric world of the Moulin Rouge, this is a book worth reading.

A colorful and illuminating memoir of a cabaret performer.

Pub Date: July 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-943848-92-8
Page count: 204pp
Publisher: Waldorf Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2016


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