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5.0 out of 5 starsA really good read...I wish it had been longer!
Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2016
I was recommended this book by a friend who was with Cliff in Paris and South Africa during this period. It is a really engaging autobiography of a man and of a time and place(s). He writes about the old South Africa with honesty and details his love for it but also his disillusionment with the post-apartheid land with its violence; there is an element of sadness here, the disappointment of a child for a parent. The word pictures of Paris show a clear love for the place and the writing really brings it to life, good and bad. South Africans tend to be complex and multi-faceted characters and Cliff is clearly no exception with his early educational and athletic opportunities and military service, gun-toting, fist-wielding and hard living experiences, all of which are honestly confessed, sometimes with regret, but always with a great lust for life. He had a slow start in the field of entertainment and clearly had to work very hard to eventually become male lead at the Moulin Rouge, a cover boy, celebrity and now a Hollywood actor. A really good read...I wish it had been longer!
What a joyous journey. From the very first chapter I felt swept along on an incredible voyage that most of us will never get to experience. We may all travel to Paris but unless you're as talented and handsome as Cliff Simon you'll never see Paris like this. We're given a backstage pass to the inner workings of the famed Moulin Rouge where the book bounces along from one delightful episode to the next, dripping with sex and fun. Not only is Cliff an obviously gifted performer he's a terrific storyteller. In between the fun and games we get some compelling insights into the little known world of his upbringing in South Africa. It's a splendid meshing of two fascinating worlds skillfully told; no doubt helped in great part by his co-writer, Loren Stephens.
I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, and hearing stories from one of my favorite actors was such a pleasure! It was a wild roller coaster ride from happy memories to sad to life lessons and learning. I normally don't like when books go back and forth from the story to the past and back again over and over, but I enjoyed how Cliff and Loren do this so easily and bring it back to make powerful points with each travel back in time. Having been a professional dancer myself and Paris being my favorite city in the world, I was thrilled to read this! I wish I could buy a copy for each of my friends and family I enjoyed it so very much!!!
An entertaining read. My favorite city, I always look for memoirs set here. The life and adventures of a young man finding out about life in a cosmopolitan city after his youth in a then apartheid South Africa, and becoming a dancer at the world famous Moulin Rouge. I loved the peeks backstage at this iconic theatre.
5.0 out of 5 starsWonderful, entertaining and interesting story
Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2016
I did not now Cliff Simon was an actor, or a dancer for that matter when I downloaded the book. This story was a great surprise, I thought it would be about dancing from the title, but Simon's raw memoir really delivers. Loved the set-up about growing up in South Africa, serving in the military and the general mischief with his friend Gavin. Simon's inherent toughness and work ethic shows throughout the story without arrogance or gratuitous passages. Nicely done, enjoyed it.
5.0 out of 5 starsis a wonderful read. You follow the life and career of ...
Reviewed in the United States on June 27, 2016
Paris Nights, is a wonderful read. You follow the life and career of Cliff Simon who spent a year as a principal dancer at the Moulin Rouge. Not knowing anything about this amazing Parisian institution, Loren Stephens really captures not just the atmosphere of the famous night club but also what it was like for a young handsome South African to live and work in Paris in the 1980's. Being an adventurer, Cliff Simon adapted very quickly to the "city of lights", and had an experience any and every young man would have loved. Buy this book and have a ball reading it!!!!!
5.0 out of 5 starsFantastic! This needs to be a film, 'Cleef!'
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 22, 2019
I enjoyed this read immensely and was delighted to step into Cliff’s dancing cowboy boots to share his experiences. It’s been awhile since I’ve read an autobiographical piece and normally I can put them aside and come back to them from time to time, but this one I just couldn’t wait to pick it up where I left off to see what shenanigans these real-life characters would get up to next. I was drawn in from the first chapter…here was the experience of a lifetime…the risk, the danger, the excitement of just up-and-moving oneself to Paris because you have this amazing opportunity to dance in one of, if not THE, most well-known, celebrated and successful cabaret in the galaxy, the Moulin Rouge
The reader is given a taste of this amazing ‘quest’, and then we drop back to where Cliff’s life began in South Africa which was an excellent literary move. Going back to the beginning is always fascinating, especially when it’s someone else’s past, and you can see and feel all the experiences and how they make a man. Having little knowledge of life in South Africa myself it was really eye-opening to me as the book’s evocation of imagery really took me to the place, the culture, the politics, the danger and down deeper into the family dynamics, the privilege, the early love for animals, the daredevil spirit and risking it all for a dream…things that helped to make him the success he is in dance, acting, modelling, sport and love.
It was also interesting to read Cliff’s perspective on his family’s expatriation and his experiences of another country while still an adolescent, just how much effort he put into his one childhood dream to then come to the pivotal moment where he stood up for himself and made his own decision against the desires of the adults in his life to go a different direction.
The book doesn’t shy away from institutional racism or and the turmoil and discomfort of serving in the military for a country with forced Apartheid. An important aspect of the story is the journey of a young man growing and maturing with each experience and how the appreciation for diversity is influenced by Paris with it’s openness of interracial and intersexual relationships. I was enthralled by the absolutely wild and crazy stories about the antics of Cliff and his friends and colleagues…the parties, the nightclubs, the rebellious spirit and living for the night. There’s also plenty of danger, romance and intrigue.
I had no idea of the extent of the kind of entertainment they had at the Moulin Rouge either so to ‘hear’ Cliff describe in detail the decor, costumes, the acts, the backstage craziness, the times things went wrong, the practical jokes…it all is quite immersive and very fun to read. Cliff's description of Paris down to details of buildings, roads, tourist destinations and especially the different seasons is captivating and I found myself looking up these places to see them up close. His personal relationships as well as his many dalliances with women are a recurring theme in the book and without being crass give insight into his character and capture the freedom and spirit of the time. It also makes his maturing and finding true love with his wife Collette even that much more special.
The book is a testament to the human can-do attitude. Cliff was presented opportunities in front of him and without wavering he took them and ran with them and never looked back. His pursuit of and success in his different careers and his determination to reach is goals is really inspiring for the reader, and I highly recommend you check it out.
5.0 out of 5 stars“Paris Nights” Very intriguing book...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 24, 2019
Memories, this is what we are made of. Someone will disagree and say no, we are made of star stuff. Well yes, we are but, from the moment we take our first breath in this world we start building up our memories, our story. Those memories will follow us transforming our life, shaping us, turning us in who we are or who we will become. Paris Nights. Intriguing title. I’ve always bought books because of their appealing titles. So this one was bought for the same reson. Paris nights, this is what drew me in at first and later the second title “My year at the Moulin Rouge“. Curiousity got me now. So I read it ...well, better say listened 😁 to it. English is not my first lunguage and Cliff Simon voice is so good that I have enjoyed listening to him reading the book to me. I have to say that I didn’t know much about him as an actor. Just remembering Cliff acting in Stargate and also his striking voice. Thanks to this book and his memoirs now I admire the man who became an actor. The same man who grew up in South Africa at the time of apartheid, the man that he has chosen to be. I feel that I have been priviledged to have the possibility to see into his life. With this book Cliff is giving us the opportunity to know him much better. It’s a really entertaining autobiography of a man, who has led an extraordinary life. Thank you for writing it. I will certainly reccomend this Book.
5.0 out of 5 starsWow.... Very interesting (can't put down) book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 13, 2019
No wonder this guy finished up as a God in Stargate SG1... He is beauty, indestructible, immortal and such a fun loving character, that every woman (and man to that matter) would just throw themselves at his feet... It was not just the antics he got up to which amazed me, but more so how it got away with them. It's a story which makes you want to know what can possibly happen next, which is probably why I read the whole book in one day, as I kept having to go back to it. It makes it of more interest being a true story, as to have an adventure like this normally in a tale, you would have to make it up.
What an enthralling book. A year in Paris wasn't just exciting for Cliff; there was love and danger waiting round every corner outside the Moulin Rouge. He relates the hectic regime inside and outside the theatre and reveals he was in-step when dancing and a step ahead when he needed to be to survive in the risky arrondissements of the French capital city. Breathless reading.