Paris' Moulin Rouge
Paris’ Moulin Rouge

Jacki Clérico, head of Parisian cabaret venue Moulin Rouge, has died aged 83, the establishment said on Monday.

Clérico is renowned for reviving the fortunes of the most famous resident of the notorious red light district on Rue Pigalle. He became the manager over fifty years ago in 1962 and his influence was felt to the present day.

Cabaret was in his blood: his father and uncle took over  the Moulin Rouge seven years earlier after running The Lido, another local nightspot. Clérico’s early days saw major changes to the building itself with the enlargement of the auditorium and the installation of a giant aquarium. He retained the establishment’s heritage, keeping the signature red windmill above the building (from which Moulin Rouge gets its name) and the can-can which was devised there, while introducing new attractions like the first aquatic ballet.

From 1963 to the present, Clérico oversaw ten different revues. He included the can-can in each one and superstitiously christened them all with a name beginning with the letter F.During his reign, Moulin Rouge outgrew its French roots to become a world-famous establishment. In the 1980s, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Edward, Prince Charles and Princess Diana all saw the show while there were gala performances with Liza Minelli, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

Today, the Moulin Rouge is a tourist hotspot. An adult ticket to the latest revue (Féerie), featuring miniature horses and underwater snake dancing, costs at least 95 Euros (if you’re between 6 and 12, it’s a snip at 50 Euros). During the day, business events are held there – a far cry from the venue’s Bohemian origins.

Clerico, who was suffering from cancer, died on Sunday in the American Hospital in the well-heeled Paris suburb of Neuilly.

See below for a taster of Moulin Rouge’s current revue.

Photograph courtesy of Renata Barros under the Creative Commons licence.