Owner of Crazy Horse strip club kills himself

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The Independent Online
PARIS - The founder of the Crazy Horse Saloon on the Avenue George V, the best- known strip-tease nightclub in Paris, perhaps in the world, has committed suicide, police said yesterday, writes Julian Nundy.

Alain Bernardin, who was 78, apparently shot himself after the club he created in 1951 closed at 2am on Thursday. His body, with a pistol lying nearby, was found in his office just before the club re-opened on Thursday evening. The discovery was kept secret from the dancers and Thursday night's performance went on.

Louis Camiret, the club's manager, said he had seen Mr Bernardin just before the Crazy Horse closed after an evening in which the takings had been good. He said he had not suspected any particular depression, but Mr Bernardin 'was tired. He hadn't taken any holidays this summer'. Police said no suicide note was found.

Mr Bernardin, one of the kings of Paris nightlife, gained a reputation for turning naked cabaret - with imaginative lighting effects that could give enticing curves zebra stripes or polka dots - into tasteful entertainment. The evening newspaper France-Soir saluted him as the man who 'undressed his women with elegance'.

His club, which took off in the insouciant 1950s, became a haunt for champagne- sipping foreign businessmen seeking a harmless end to their evenings.

Mr Bernardin employed about 250 women in a strict no-contact-with-clients regime under which their weight and waistlines were regularly checked.

Between a fifth and a quarter of the women's salaries were paid into blocked savings accounts for their time at the Crazy Horse to ensure that they had a nest egg for less lucrative days. Currently, a Crazy Horse dancer can expect to earn 20,000 francs ( pounds 2,300) a month.

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