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Transcript of interview with Alan Clancy by Su Kim Chung, by February 12, 2015

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2015-02-12
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Alan Clancy grew up in Sydney, Australia, the second son of famous ballroom-dancing parents. He recalls that he had incredible energy as a child, and, therefore, his parents enrolled him in the Shirley de Paul Studio to learn gymnastics, tap, ballet, and jazz. He also became a soprano singer. This training did well for him for as he went through high school he won trophies in sports and participated in musical productions. Eventually, because of a neighboring friend, Kay Dickerson, Alan moved to the Rudas Acrobatic Studio where he received further training and eventually contracted with Tibor Rudas to participate in an entertainment group called “The Las Vegas Dancers”. He was only seventeen when the group boarded a ship for Hong Kong in an enterprise which would eventually allow the dancers to entertain around the world for approximately two and a half years. When the group returned, Alan auditioned for the Tommy Leonetti television show and then for Les Girls in Sydney. Eventually Tibor Rudas appeared with a contract for Alan, when he had just turned twenty-one, to fly to Las Vegas to work in the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. When he arrived in Las Vegas, he was surprised at the size of the city and the hotels but was overly impressed by the neon signs, the showrooms with their nude dancers, the costuming, magnificent sets, the choreography, and the dress of the patrons. He remembers his first night performing in the Folies and the amount of stars in the audience, for example, Elvis Presley, Liberace, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Alan goes on to describe the many people that he met in Las Vegas, working in various shows, and the many friendships made over the years. However, he eventually became interested in opening his own vintage clothing store, Vintage Madness, near the Strip. He talks about his many customers, the stores around him, his creative ways of acquiring items to sell and the success that was made. Unfortunately, during the middle of one night the store burned to the ground which left Alan devastated. Eventually, however, he purchased three buildings on Fourth Street and opened an art gallery, a coffee shop, and a small stage. His mercantile interest allowed him to leave show business and briefly open a store in Laguna Beach, Southern California. It wasn’t long until Barclay Shaw asked him to work in “Splash” at the Riviera Hotel in Vegas and, therefore, he returned to show business. However, Shaw, his friend, died and so did his mother and he lost interest in his stores, renting them out. Consequently, he returned to live in California and began working with Aids patients. Alan returned to Las Vegas for the reunion of the cast of Folies Bergere and noticed the many changes made in Las Vegas from when he first arrived to perform at the Tropicana Hotel.

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Clancy, Alan Interview, 2015 February 12. OH-02264. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

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AN INTERVIEW WITH ALAN CLANCY An Oral History Conducted by Su Kim Chung Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Boyer Early Las Vegas An Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2014 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Managers: Claytee D. White, Barbara Tabach Transcriber: Kristin Hicks Editors: Stefani Evans, Pat Holland, Maggie Lopes, Barbara Tabach Interviewers: Claytee D. White, Barbara Tabach, Shirley Emerson, Lois Goodall, Judy Harrell, Anna Huddleston, Linda McSweeney, Wendy Starkweather iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas iv PREFACE Alan Clancy grew up in Sydney, Australia, the second son of famous ballroom-dancing parents. He recalls that he had incredible energy as a child, and, therefore, his parents enrolled him in the Shirley de Paul Studio to learn gymnastics, tap, ballet, and jazz. He also became a soprano singer. This training did well for him for as he went through high school he won trophies in sports and participated in musical productions. Eventually, because of a neighboring friend, Kay Dickerson, Alan moved to the Rudas Acrobatic Studio where he received further training and eventually contracted with Tibor Rudas to participate in an entertainment group called “The Las Vegas Dancers”. He was only seventeen when the group boarded a ship for Hong Kong in an enterprise which would eventually allow the dancers to entertain around the world for approximately two and a half years. When the group returned, Alan auditioned for the Tommy Leonetti television show and then for Les Girls in Sydney. Eventually Tibor Rudas appeared with a contract for Alan, when he had just turned twenty-one, to fly to Las Vegas to work in the Folies Bergere at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. When he arrived in Las Vegas, he was surprised at the size of the city and the hotels but was overly impressed by the neon signs, the showrooms with their nude dancers, the costuming, magnificent sets, the choreography, and the dress of the patrons. He remembers his first night performing in the Folies and the amount of stars in the audience, for example, Elvis Presley, Liberace, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Alan goes on to describe the many people that he met in Las Vegas, working in various shows, and the many friendships made over the years. However, he eventually became interested in opening his own vintage clothing store, Vintage Madness, near the Strip. He talks about his many customers, the stores around him, his creative ways of acquiring items to sell and the success that was made. Unfortunately, during the middle of one night the store burned to the ground which left Alan devastated. Eventually, however, he purchased three buildings on Fourth Street and opened an art gallery, a coffee shop, and a small stage. His mercantile interest allowed him to leave show business and briefly open a store in Laguna Beach, Southern California. It wasn’t long until Barclay Shaw asked him to work in “Splash” at the Riviera Hotel in Vegas and, therefore, he returned to show business. However, Shaw, his friend, died and so did his mother and he lost interest in his stores, renting them out. Consequently, he returned to live in California and began working with Aids patients. Alan returned to Las Vegas for the reunion of the cast of Folies Bergere and noticed the many changes made in Las Vegas from when he first arrived to perform at the Tropicana Hotel. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Alan Clancy February 12, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Su Kim Chung Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Recalls growing up in Sydney, Australia; parents were famous ballroom dancers; two siblings; incredible energy, ADH; parents enroll him in gymnastics, tap, ballet, jazz, singing, Shirley de Paul Studio; won trophies, does musicals in school, diving competitions..…………………….1-5 Remembers Kay Dickerson, Australian neighbor, worked at Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, studied with Rudas Acrobatic Studio; moved to Rudas in teens where Mrs. Rudas trained, had Rudas Girls; started own act, “Carousels”, performed at clubs; Tibor Rudas offers contract to perform with the Las Vegas Dancers overseas, age 17, with six young women, youngest 16…………..6-8 Describes entertaining for royalty and in clubs around world: Hong Kong, Bangkok, Iran, Italy, France, Monte Carlo, Spain, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, England, and returned to Australia. Takes two and a half years, group becomes lasting friends………..………..…8-14 Talks about auditioning for the Tommy Leonetti television show, Channel 7, Sydney; left Rudas Studio, year approximately; auditioned for Les Girls, sang and danced; joined Casino de Paris, Royal Theatre, choreographer was Ronnie Lewis; left for the Roberti Brothers acrobatic act. Mentions other choreographers like Donn Arden, producers like Apcar, and designer, Jose Vina. Describes staging (Octorama stage).……………...………………………………………….14-20 Remembers receiving a contract from Rudas to go to Las Vegas (he was 21), works in Folies Bergere. Describes impressions of Vegas in 1970—surprised that city was small, hotels small with big neon signs, people beautifully dressed, large stunning showrooms, nude dancers, costumes designed by Michel Gyarmathy, Paris designer, magnificent sets, live orchestra...21-24 Describes excitement of first night, stars (Elvis Presley, Liberace, Zsa Zsa Gabor) in audience; did two shows a night, performers go to bar between shows, worked whether sick or not. Describes make up, summer shows sunbaking for tans, tricks the entertainers playing tricks on one another, walking through casino with showgirls, drinking at Alpine Village. Remembers showgirls: Felicia Akins, Joyce Grayson and Audrey Arno (singer)………………………24-30 Talks about Robert Maheu, Jr., entertainers going to the Le Café, Red Barn, meets Ann-Margret, Elvis does free shows, Bobbie Gentry, Juliet Prowse, Mitzi Gaynor, Shirley MacLaine, big parties by Mark Tan. Spends first five years in Folies Bergere in Vegas and then goes to Montreal. Mentions Vassili Sulich starting Nevada Dance Theater and productions….….24-35 vi Describes Liberace, Liberace Foundation and scholarships. Talks about the Mafia. Returns to his contract in Montreal, Rudas cancelling passport to get him to stay in Canada, returning to Vegas, auditioned for Jerry Jackson of the Folies (1975), Nolan Miller the costume designer, winning the Jimmy Durante Award for best dancer on the Strip for “Gypsy”, and leaves for Donn Arden’s Hallelujah Hollywood; returns to work for Jerry Johnson in the Folies..........35-46 Reveals interest in vintage clothing, opens with partner, Vintage Madness on Charleston. Describes store and neighboring stores (Joseph Magnin’s, Suzy Creamcheeese, Odyssey Records, Huntridge opening for concerts). Talks about customers and buying items from hotels, Desert Inn homes; sells items to television show called “Crime Story”. Includes art and mixed music. Store burns, no insurance, remaining items sold at yard sale…..................................46-56 Opens second store on Fourth Street, includes art gallery, coffee shop, small stage (three stores). Decides to leave show business, opens a store for a while in Laguna Beach… ……….….56-59 Returns to show business, Barclay Shaw asks him to work in “Splash” at Riviera Hotel. Does acrobatics, dancing. Remembers Shaw’s funeral, mother’s death. Rents the three stores and returns to California, works with AIDS patients.……...………………...…………………..59-63 Describes return to Las Vegas: Reunion of Folies Bergere, Neon Museum, city’s changes, Steve Wynn opening “ShowStoppers”, Paradise Palms, Tivoli Village……..…………………….63-72 Index…...……………………………………………………………………………………..73-75 vii 1 [It is February 12th, [2015], and I am sitting here with Alan Clancy in his lovely home in City— City Terrace, downtown L.A. —City Terrace of Los Angeles. He's going to be talking about his life in Las Vegas, working as an acrobat-dancer and also just his larger-than-life life in working and owning a store called Vintage Madness. So let's get started and talk about your early life, Alan, and let's talk about where you were born, your parents, siblings, et cetera. I was born in Sydney, Australia, April fifth, 1949, to my mother, named Ina Pansy Clancy, which she hated, so she called herself Bonnie, and my father, William Thomas Clancy. I was the middle sibling. My brother was first, Colin Clancy; I was the second—each had ten years between each other—and the third one, Tracy Clancy, my sister after that. So twenty years between your oldest sibling— Ten years in between each one, ten years difference. So the oldest sibling is twenty years older than the youngest sibling, right? Yes, that's true. You're right. Yes, that's true. And so tell me about your life growing up in Sydney and how you ended up getting into dance and acrobatics. Pretty easy. Because I had this incredible energy from a child—I even remember when I was born even—I do remember my mother could never keep me in bed. It was impossible. She'd put me in the cradle and then she'd leave and then I'd work my way out of it and then I'd crawl into 2 the living room and go around. She says I wouldn't sleep; I just had all this energy. And as I started growing up, two, three, four, I would be standing on my head and putting my legs on the wall and feet marks all around the living room. I was hanging off chandeliers and everything. I was like a monkey. So they didn't know what to do with me. So they took me to a studio that taught gymnastics and tap and ballet; that was when I was age five. And it was a very famous circus act called Shirley De Paul Dance Studio in Sydney, probably the best people that ever taught gymnastics. Anyway, I took to it and that made my energy more normal. I suppose you were called—not bipolar. What is it that kids have today? ADHD, attention—hyperactivity disorder [Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder]. I think I had hyperactivity, but they didn't know what that was. But they did the right thing by dancing and by gymnastics and all that, which I became very good at instantly. It changed my life. From then on as a young child, all I could think of was that's what I wanted to do all my life. So I knew around age five that that's what I wanted. I kept my mind very strong about that. So you did acrobatics, tap, ballet and jazz. Tap, ballet, jazz, yes. And that was sort of after school? Yes, after school, which led into the Shirley de Paul Acrobatic Dance Group. So even at five or seven, I started working with them and doing shows inside like department stores, parties, RSL clubs, which is like football clubs; things like that. We were employed in those clubs to do a show. So we did that. When you talk about that tell us a little bit about the acrobatics. I mean we can kind of envision ballet and jazz and tap. But the acrobatics, was it tumbling? Was it gymnastics? Yes, it was more tumbling. That's because it was more “circusy.” So it wasn't like gymnastics 3 you see at the Olympics; it was tumbling for stage. So, in other words, they would put you in a room and they'd put a coin on the floor and you'd have to stay on that coin. Because if you ever worked around the world on stages, sometimes you'd work on a shoebox. So they taught you how to do everything on a little, teeny scale, but really difficult things. I happened to have a teacher, Shirley de Paul, who was very good at that and I was trained by those people. So that was my original start with all that. And then, of course, school connected to that. I was an opera—not an opera singer, I'm sorry—I was a soprano singer. So I went into competition. Of course, I had an operatic voice. So I used to go in competitions for the other schools and also diving and swimming; those were my— This is as a teenager that you were doing the singing? Yes. So you were keeping really busy. So you were continuing along with the dance lessons as teenager, then you were doing the singing, and then you were doing the diving, which, I guess, kind of follows naturally if you're doing— It followed naturally for me because of all the energy I had. That's what I related to the best. It was hard to sit me down. But subjects that I was good at, I was really, really good at, like French, history; things like that. But when it came to mathematics and that I was not very good because I didn't have the concentration. I had the concentration for the physical body, but my mind was on stage. I would watch movies with my mother all the time. We'd watch Fred Astaire, all that as kids. So my mother brought me up with all that; take me to stage shows in Sydney. So my mother was really the person—because my mother and father were very famous ballroom dancers. 4 Oh, okay. They won many, many trophies in New South Wales, many. As a kid, I remember them always leaving in the big dresses, tuxedos and all that. So I watched that. So they were both very supportive and encouraging of your... Very. Very. They didn't know where it was going to lead. But I'll tell you later on in the time what my mother and father said once they saw what I did for a career in Las Vegas late in life, “You made the right decision in life,” and were so proud. Yes. But, yes, they were very good to me. Now, did your siblings follow any kind of dance or any acrobatics? No. My brother was ill all his life; he had asthma, the most serious in Sydney; he was studied. So my brother never went to school. He was ill his whole life. So my brother I always feel sorry for, but he became a great bowler. He was very good at bowling. We became friends, but we couldn't play much because he was so ill. So what would you say about that? But my brother was supportive of me, of course, yes. And he was older than you? He was ten years older than I was, yes. And then your sister...so by the time you were born, you had already been dancing and tumbling. Oh, yes, for a long time. Yes, that was later on. She was ten years younger than me. So she saw me—well, then—how do I say that? Because I mentioned that I was in a show like Carol Burnett TV Show. But I think we might be jumping ourselves because I'd like to get the chronology correct. No, that's fine. We'll go ahead and do that. I was just wondering about your relationship 5 with your siblings, if they had gone into dance or any kind of thing involving that. Not at all. So it was just you. I was the only one. I couldn't stop it. I used to go to the beach and all, of course, but my goal was to get the bus or the train into town by myself—after I got a little older, maybe eleven, twelve—and I would make sure I would do the ballet, tap, jazz classes, some stunt classes; things like that I would do. So I just was one-track minded about this and it paid off. And so you also were doing the singing competitions and the diving competitions? Yes, I was for the schools. Yes, I won many trophies for them. For high school? For high school I won many trophies for that and I did musicals in the schools and because it was an all-boys' Catholic school, I would play the woman. I always played the woman lead, like South Pacific, Merry Widow. Of course, I had a soprano voice and sang in the choirs in any church. So it sounds like a couple of different lives going at once, doesn't it? So you're a teenager now. So when you're going to graduate, were you thinking that this was going to be your professional life? Yes. Because like taking classes at Shirley de Paul and then I moved on to the Rudas Acrobatic Studio after Shirley de Paul and doing those little shows. So tell us a little bit about the Rudas Acrobatic Studio since that's going to be kind of a big part of your life— Yes, it was. —as we continue on and that's a big name in show business. Okay. My neighbor Kay Dickerson, who worked at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas was with the 6 first Rudas girl acrobats that came to the Dunes Casino de Paris, she was my neighbor. In Australia? In Australia. She was about ten houses away from me. My early memories are doing gymnastics in the front lawn and looking up the street about ten houses and there was a girl doing gymnastics. So we ended up talking to each other. She was working with [Tibor] Rudas; I was working for Shirley de Paul. So she one day said to me, “Why don't you come over to our studio because he takes people overseas and things like that?” And I said, “Oh, I'd like to do that.” So I then moved over to the Rudas School, which was downtown Sydney, which was pretty highly rated. They were very tough, but a fabulous studio. So I learned all the different things there. And you were at that time...how old were you? Oh, I would have been about fourteen at that period. Yes, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen would be about the period I was with the Rudas Studio. I was trained more so by Mrs. Rudas and Mr. Rudas was busy looking after the Lido de Paris in Paris because he had the Rudas Girls there and had his own act from when he was younger from [Budapest] Hungary. But his wife was the one that trained us and she was a very great ballet teacher. So she trained us. A lot of the training I had or did have was from her. She was fantastic. And then my neighbor went off to the Dunes and I was all upset because she left me. And she was close to your age or older? She was close to my age. I think she's maybe four or five years older than me. She went to the Dunes and she would send me pictures of the Dunes Casino de Paris and I'd see these pictures of these fabulous shows and I'm like, “I want to do that.” So when I would go to the studio, you'd have all the pictures of Casino de Paris or the Lido on the wall. So I was very inundated with all 7 these different shows, French shows on the walls when I used to sit before I'd go into the studio. So it was pretty engrained in my head that that's what I'm going to do, and I did. So you're working for the Rudas acrobats. You're in your teens. Now, were you performing professionally in Australia? Yes. I started my own act called the Carousels when I was young. I would say I must have been about fourteen then. I started with another girl and I put an act together of singing, dancing. Each little act would last maybe forty-five minutes. So we would go to the different clubs around Sydney and work. And we did very well, actually. So that's kind of my own thing that started up. Mrs. [Anna Sugar] Rudas helped us put it together, but we did very well with that. If you would say that's one of the first trained things that I put together. So around Sydney what other shows did you do before—so we've getting you on your path towards going to the United States. So how did you kind of work up to that? The first thing was...Could you stop it a minute? I'm just trying to get the chronology. [Pause in recording] The first professional thing I did was when I finished school at age seventeen at the Marist Catholic School, I had been in the Rudas Studio a number of years and Rudas offered me a contract to go overseas with, of all things, six girls and myself at my age and he wanted to call it the Las Vegas Dancers because he felt—which became part of my life, it's so interesting that it should be that. We were all from Sydney, but he called us Las Vegas Dancers and he told us the reason why he was going to do that and the group became quite famous. He said, “Because Vegas is known all around the world.” And if he said the Sydney Dancers or the Australia Dancers, he didn't think it had the right ring. So he called us Las Vegas and he offered me a three-year contract to travel around the world with six women, and they to this day are my best 8 friends ever. I mean I was one guy that age and off we went on the S.S. Orsoua ship from Sydney. Left everybody, and my parents, and ended up in Hong Kong and off we went all over Europe and Asia. Were your parents excited for you? Were they worried? My parents are great. Of course, my parents sat me down at the dining table with the contract and they said, “This is your decision; it's not our decision,” which is really, really cool, because they didn't want to lose me. I mean my Mom and Dad and I were extremely close, so they didn't want to lose me. But they knew that…what are they going to do that...? As I said to my parents, “What am I going to do in Australia?” There wasn't a lot to do in Australia. There were some Broadway shows and there were little RSL clubs, but nothing on a big scale like Lido or Casino de Paris or Folies; it didn't exist. So they said, “Your decision.” So I signed. I signed and I left. And I think you were especially fortunate being that they had the dance background themselves— I was. —so they could really understand. I think your typical parents might not be as understanding. I think so, yes. Yes, I think they understood. Of course, they had to train a lot themselves, like Tangos and things they had to do themselves in competitions. So they saw that that is what I wanted to do. Yes, I think they understood. I think they didn't know the impact that it would really have, though, where it really ended up. So you're seventeen and you get on this ship and you are with these girls. So it's a big adventure. And we're all—some of them are sixteen. Oh, yes, it was a big adventure. I remember the 9 first—the ship trip was amazing itself. I had never been on a big ship before. But I remember my first impression. Can I tell you the first impression? It was interesting because Hong Kong, first, in those days didn't have a bridge; it had a...I think it was called a putt-putt, a little boat that you'd get across to the other side—after a certain hour the ferries didn't go; you had to use little putt-putts at night. But I remember arriving in the harbor and looking out at the round window and seeing all these poor people diving into the water and people throwing coins off the ship and they were diving in there and the junk's going by. And then it was Hong Kong in the morning, about four in the morning. It's a lasting impression on my head, seeing that visual from someone who'd never been anywhere except Sydney to see that out a round window, all Hong Kong harbor, which was quite beautiful. But in those days, there were a lot of hills with a lot of poor people on them. It's not like it is today with millions of high-rises. It was different. So it was the real Hong Kong, I suppose you want to call it. So that was the first impression I'll always remember. And so you would perform in the big hotels or...? Yes. In Hong Kong we worked in the Latin Quarter, which was a very famous club, kind of like the Lido. Because there was a Latin Quarter in New York City. There was one in New York City. And you mentioned today that you liked Johnny Mathis. We worked with Johnny Mathis. So what happened was once we started performing, there were articles started to be written about us right away. Of course, first of all, it was unusual to see one man and six women. It was kind of different. I don't think anybody really—I don't know anybody that's done it again, either. It was just one guy and six women traveling around the world. And because 10 they were all extremely beautiful, the men, of course, were amazed by them. But it was a small version of a Cirque du Soleil/Lido show. So we had two major shows put together in our reach. So we could be inserted into a big show or we were a show ourselves. So we lots of times were inserted. It took off from there. I don't think [Tibor] Rudas ever realized how big it became, but it just got bigger and bigger. We went from city to country to country. And now, I was just going to ask you and it totally left me. Where we went next? And it was Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok; I know those. And in Bangkok we performed for the King of Bangkok. It was a celebration for him and we had to crawl on the floor on our stomachs before he'd let us stand up because you're not allowed to stand the same height as the king. So I remember that. That got in the papers. So our name started to get bigger and bigger. I think the biggest thing was Iran. In those periods when Iran was run by the Shah [Mohammad Reza] and by his wife Farah [Pahlavi], king and queen, we worked in a very famous club in Iran called the “Sugar Fay No”. It was a very wealthy club. They were so rich they brought the best acts in the world. So they would go twenty-four hours; they had acts nonstop. We worked with the greatest acts in the world there and we were inserted into there. So the Shah's son fell in love with one of the girls, Magda. And so we were wined and dined by the Royals. So we saw Iran from a completely different perspective than most people would see it. We eventually performed in the summer palace of the Shah. They asked us to perform in their living room in their summer palace, which is an all marble floor. Funny enough, I talked to one of the girls today (Magda). She said, “Do you remember this?” I remember we changed in the kitchen. And I remember when I came out, because I didn't know what we were going to be looking at, that there they were on their thrones with the 11 crowns and the whole thing and everybody was dressed in gowns, jewels and everything royal. We did our show on the marble floor, which is quite slippery. But I remember the girl; she told me she slipped and went under his thrown, completely under his thrown. So tell me a little bit about the routines. Did they vary over the three years that you were on tour? Yes. And were you chaperoned by one of the Rudas? Yes. We were chaperoned by Margaret Anchor, who was older than us, and she took care of us because we were young. We had to have a chaperon. I don't think it was legal not to have a chaperon at that age. Anyway, that's your question. That's all I could say. But the routines, who actually designed and choreographed the routines? Mr. Rudas. He would come back from Europe because he was then heavily involved with the Lido [de Paris], the Rudas Girl Acrobats, and Las Vegas. He had never had a male acrobat that had the quality that the girls had, but I did. I could do most of the tricks they could do. He decided to put a male in for a change. So take me through a typical show. What kinds of moves would you do? Oh, my goodness. “Hello, Dolly!”...let me see. How do I do that one? That one...oh, it's hard to explain. That one was a girl came out. It was actually one person, but she had a doll attached to the back of her. We would strap it on. The doll had a black face. In those days it wasn't so bad to do that. The doll had a black face. And it looked like there were two people; it looked like he was carrying her, but it was actually a doll. And it was her legs as the man and then she was in the front. So she was walking, but it looked like...it's hard to explain. So that would come on. And then I would walk on, a real black person with a black face, carrying a real girl. And 12 then I would drop her down. And so then there would be this banter with us and I would do backwards and forwards, gymnastics and stuff like that. And eventually the people got the joke because the girl would take the mannequin off herself and go, “Oh, this whole thing is a trick.” Then I would go, “Oh, no; we're the real thing.” So that was one number. Then we would do the Can-Can, of course, which was always famous. I think we were the first people to do acrobatics on ladders. It was called the Ladder Routine. So they had four boxes and the girls would come out and do a dance number with feathers, typical of the Lido. And then they would pull the ladders out of the box and attach them. And then they would do gymnastics and spin upside down like Cirque du Soleil on the ladder; it was made of metal. Pretty incredible I have to say. And people used to love that. There were many different numbers, a skipping rope number that was all skipping rope and acrobatics. As we traveled, we started to change the costumes until eventually they were designed in Milano at a very famous designer. So we helped with the designs then. So some of the costumes were really incredible. I have a picture here; it might help you. This picture is quite famous. If that helps you. So while I've got that picture, we can insert it into the interview at that section. I think so. Right. We decided amongst ourselves that we were going to put me more into the dance numbers because it just got better. So I was inserted more in many of the numbers. There were many articles written about us. Because when you look at these costumes they really look straight from Lido, from that era. 13 Don't they? They really do. And do you know—you see the cape hanging down? That skirt actually folded up like this and it's a big 1920's coat that's all fur and then they threw it off and it fell down as a skirt. So they came out with a cape. So it was very, very Lido, yes. So you were in Iran. So you're going all throughout Europe. What was a typical engagement? You'd stay two or three nights in a place? For instance, like Italy, we worked in the San Remo Casino. Usually it would be a week or two weeks. Monte Carlo. We traveled Italy I think going from club to club, maybe one night we'd be in a truck and be taken place to place. I think we did six months altogether in Italy from top to bottom and were based in Milano. I think the most famous I can think of...Praiano [near Amalfi in the Campania region, SW Italy], which was where like Elizabeth Taylor and all those stars would go. It was a cave, a very famous cave, and the restaurant and theater was inside the cave in a cliff. The yachts would all pull up and the people go in there to eat and see a show. And then it had a big wall where you could see all the fish and the sharks, but the stage was in the middle of all that. I think that place still exists, though, in Praiano. Rome, we did several shows in Rome. And so you were working almost every night or would you have a night off? How did that work? It was constant moving. No. Sometimes we'd do five, six nights a week and then we'd get on a plane and go to the next country. We'd go to Spain—Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza. We were there a long time. We also covered Japan top to bottom; Copenhagen; German; Greece; Taipei; Tropoli Casino, and many more. When you think about it, it's a really kind of punishing schedule. But you were so young, I bet it didn't— 14 Yes, we were like seventeen, eighteen. So you had lots of energy. We had tons of energy. And it was probably so exciting. Oh. One of the girls wrote to me today and she said, “I sent a picture of us all together.” She said, “I have to tell you.” And she's coming to visit me here. She said, “Of all the things I've ever done in my life”—and it was two and a half years, by the way—”It was the two and half years, the greatest part of my life. I'll never forget it and I can't ever copy it.” It's so incredible what we did and what we achieved. It was exhausting, but it wasn't really. It was exciting because here you are like in Greece and Athens. We went to Parthenon and things like that. We were always taken care of quite well. Japan, top to bottom; we did complete. They were called the Guessaki clubs, which were cakes of stages, kind of like you would have in Vegas, and we worked those clubs a lot. All of Italy, Venice, the Venice Casino. And then France and England. France, Paris, Bordeaux. Yes, we did the circus in Paris. Bordeaux...we were inserted into a sh