Eve Nightclub, London 1960s
Jimmy and Helen O'Brien co-founded the legendary Eve nightclub, which opened in an alley off Regent Street in 1953 and ran for 39 years; in its Cold War heyday the Eve was the most discreetly daring establishment in London. It counted among its habitués Earl Jellicoe, Errol Flynn, Judy Garland, Aristotle Onassis and the Dukes of Devonshire and Norfolk. In a setting of plush opulence, maharajahs, business tycoons, diplomats, and politicians drank vintage Champagne with scantily-clad showgirls, who performed risqué floorshows. Helen O'Brien conceived the club as a "journey into fantasy" and guests were treated to a spectacle of stunning showgirls wearing fig leaves and outrageous head-dresses, performing slow routines on the first-ever illuminated glass floor.
The club's clientele was so international that in a court case in which the O'Briens were prosecuted for some liquor licence irregularity, the judge described it as "a subdivision of the Foreign Office." Watched by MI5 and KGB agents, sitting at their favourite tables with their backs to the wall, the hostesses would chat up the Eastern-bloc spies and diplomats who frequented the club, gleaning information which they would then pass on, sometimes unwittingly.
In its day it was the most daring show in the West End.
The Eve club enjoyed great success until the permissive society rendered its floorshows rather tame and the O'Briens replaced their 30-girl extravaganzas with guest acts. The end of the Cold War dealt the club a further blow and it eventually closed in 1992.
Extract from Daily Telegraph.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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