Following Christine Keeler's death in December 2017, it is now possible to update her book to include revelations that she did not wish to be published in her lifetime. The result is a revised and updated book containing material that has never been officially released, which really does lift the lid on just how far the Establishment will go to protect its own.
Published to coincide with the BBC's major new six-part TV drama series, The Trial of Christine Keeler, starring Sophie Cookson as Keeler and James Norton as Stephen Ward.
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About the Author
Douglas Thompson is the author of more than twenty books. A biographer, broadcaster and international journalist, he is a regular contributor to major newspapers and magazines worldwide. His books, published in a dozen languages, include the television-based anthology Hollywood People and a series of bestselling biographies. He divides his time between London and Los Angeles.
Christine Margaret Sloane (Author)
Christine Keeler, who died in December 2017, was the beautiful young model at the very centre of the sex-and-spying scandal that brought down the Tory government of Harold Macmillan - the so-called 'Profumo Affarir'.
Read an Excerpt
Secrets and Lies
Now Profumo is Dead, I can Finally Reveal the Truth About the Most Shocking Scandal in British Politics.
By Christine Keeler, Douglas Thompson
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2012 Christine Keeler and Douglas Thompson
All rights reserved.
'CHRISTINE KEELER EXUDED SEXUALITY, AN ASTONISHINGLY BEAUTIFUL GIRL, BUT MANDY RICE-DAVIES WAS A BAG OF BONES REALLY, NOT MY TYPE AT ALL.'
Peter Bachelor, 30-year staff veteran of Murray's Cabaret Club
When I drive into central London I often feel drawn to some of the old haunts of the sixties. It's as much to see what's not there any more as to see what has replaced it. The wind of social change? More like a hurricane. I love London for, despite all that happened in the city, I still feel it is my home town. I can drive around without maps, the A to Z is in my head. And I was one of the first to go up in the London Eye, which I think is fantastic.
Beak Street is only a short walk up Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus. Along the street there's an Italian restaurant and lots of offices full of arty types, people involved in books, magazines and the movies.
Murray's Cabaret Club is no longer there but that's where I first became a sex object. There's nothing much left of it in Soho except the legend and the memories. The basement premises are now the Kabaret club, part of the K-Bar chain, and they have reproduced the oak-panelling, high-backed leather chairs look and the idea of table service.
This story really starts with Murray's, for the club reflected the times and the aspirations and morals of a certain section of society. Downstairs, we star showgirls walked bare-breasted on to the stage, and the hostesses, all cleavage and chat, moved among the wealthy and aristocratic middle-aged male diners and drinkers. However, they could look but could not touch. 'Pops' Murray, as he instructed his 'girls' to call him, ran a sort of visual brothel. There was a pervasive atmosphere of sex, with beautiful young girls all over the place, but customers would always say, if asked, that they only came for the floor show and the food and drink. Indeed it was legend in the West End – again a monument to Pops Murray's perfect sense of public relations – that if anyone 'laid a hand on' any of his girls they would be thrown out, or if any one of us was discovered 'up the lane' after the show with a customer, we would be sacked.
For many men, Murray's provided the venue and the ambience in which to meet beautiful young girls they would not normally have encountered. Some of the girls dreamed of marrying a millionaire and some, indeed, married money and Establishment titles. Pops boasted that the 'crowned heads of Europe' sat at his tables, and many did, but most were the home- grown wealthy, the influential, and especially the aristocracy. If sex had been a social problem Pops Murray – a Scotsman – had found a perfectly English solution to a perfectly English problem.
Percy Murray ended the First World War as a major, but his ambition had always been to dance. A war wound put an end to that so he went into nightclubs, first in Belgium and later in London. The first Murray's Club opened just before the Second World War next door to the Cabaret Club, and when the Cabaret Club went up for sale, Murray bought it and combined the two to open Murray's Cabaret Club. In the austere 1950s, Murray's, with its showgirls and floor show, was a rare West End bright spot.
As the 1960s approached, Pops was already a rich man, with Rolls-Royces and Daimlers, flats in Mayfair and Bournemouth, and a 40-acre estate in Churt in Surrey. He also spent three months of the year in the Majestic Hotel in Cannes. He was a lot older than any of the girls but he had a reputation for running 'the best you've ever had' casting couch. Melanie Carver, who shared her life with Pops, never believed it. She was so young, just 16, when she went to work at Murray's that he applied for her to be made his Ward of Court, to protect her. She lived with him for many years as a member of his family and was close to him until he died in 1979.
He was a careful man. The wages were miserable and we were closely controlled: a hole in your fishnet tights meant a reduction from your wages for a new pair; there were even regular nail-varnish inspections – for cracks or breaks – and the accommodation backstage was cramped. Fines were common for the least offence, waiters had the cost of empty bottles taken from the club deducted from their wages, and whoever else was allowed in, no member of Equity would ever be employed. The club was Pops's life; he had a direct-line telephone from his bed to the office.
I came to work there by complete chance. One thing just led to another. My life has always gone in fits and starts punctuated by divine – or often not-so-divine – intervention. I had gone to London in 1959 with my friend from home, Pat. We were sharing rooms and, like many of the young people we met, we were broke and starving hungry. One day I walked into a nearby Greek restaurant in Swiss Cottage. There was a friendly atmosphere about the place and it was alive with young people. Jennifer Harvey was sitting with her Greek boyfriend Andreas, who ran the place. Jenny was the beautiful feathered dancer featured in Murray's velvet-covered brochure. We're still good friends, Jenny and I, part of that past. That day things were so desperate I approached Andreas nervously and asked if he could let me have some bread and milk and I would pay him as soon as I could. They both looked a little startled. Jenny was a natural blonde with blue eyes and a perfect figure. She spoke straight and to the point: 'Give it to her, Andreas, and I'll pay you the money if she doesn't come back.'
Andreas had a neat, trimmed moustache and beard. He was handsome with sharp features and he wore a hand-made tailored suit. He ordered the waiter to get the bread and milk and asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee, but I refused as I had to get back to Pat with the food.
After I left I later learned that Jenny and Andreas bet on whether I'd be back or not, Jenny betting that I would. I did return the following evening as Pat had managed to get a few pounds together. When I arrived Andreas was sitting with some friends; he offered me a cup of coffee and invited me to join them, telling me that Jenny had just left to go to work at The Pigalle Club, where she was a dancer. I told him that I was looking for a job and he suggested I try another Greek restaurant, Angelo's, where a job was going as a cloakroom girl and also serving behind the bar. I was lucky and managed to get it. That way I met a Greek called Harry Avoletis who was a regular at the restaurant. He was a student of philosophy, very quietly spoken, a lover of concert music and Indian food. Huge and powerfully built with tight, curly black hair, he looked like a Greek god, very athletic, and hoped to run the marathon for Cyprus in the Olympic Games. I even think I was a little in love with him; he certainly fascinated me for a time. But life wasn't exactly exciting; I hardly went out because money was so short, so I just dreamed that one day something would happen to change my life. That chance arrived in the shape of a beautiful woman, Maureen O'Connor, girlfriend of a friend of Harry's.
She walked into the restaurant one night in a glamorous dress, her hair shimmering. She was amazing; all eyes turned as she walked past. The waiters, even the manager, were attentive. I had never seen anything like her before; she looked like someone from the pages of Vogue, impossibly elegant and well-groomed, confident and graceful.
I was mesmerised. While I was clearing her table she started talking to me, laughing and chatting so easily. Then she asked me if I was interested in trying for another job.
'Why don't you come and work at the Cabaret. Club? That's where I work. The money's much better and it would be much more fun. Mr Murray, the owner, is always looking for new talent and you've got just the right kind of looks.'
I did not react particularly coolly. In fact, I squealed: 'Me?'
'Yes, why not? I'll arrange for you to meet him,' she said. 'I know you'll do fine.'
'What do you have to do?'
'Dance on stage.'
I went along to the interview in a state – I had stage fright before I even had the job, being the kind of person who got butterflies before even getting near the stage. But when I arrived, I thought the club was such a let-down, really shabby. Faded red lamps stood on the tables and in the revealing daylight you could see the flaking paint and tarnished fittings. Where were the glittering costumes? Upstairs, being patched by the girls? Where were the soft lights, the music, the romance?
But eight pounds, ten shillings a week was still a dream and it eliminated the nightmare of worrying about the rent or money for the gas meter. Maybe it was even a chance to become someone in this world.
Pops was as much of a shock as the crumbling grandeur of the club. I don't know what my image of an entertainment mogul was – like Lew Grade, I suppose: the big cigar and lots of showmanship. Pops, who styled himself on the club brochure as 'Percival Murray, Founder, Creator and Active President', had a big, naughty grin and heavy-rimmed spectacles dominating his face. He looked too jolly to be the boss. But that, indeed, was what he was. He was right down to business without any fanfare: 'OK. Let's see if you can do anything. Put on a costume and just see if you can follow the routine.'
I was terrified and my heart thumped as I moved with the music. I just wanted to disappear before they chucked me out.
'Right. Enough!' screamed Pops.
I froze. I was shocked and then he shouted: 'You're hired.'
It was a wonderful moment. Blissfully ignorant of the disastrous chain of events that was to follow, I giggled with nervous excitement, thrilled and happy to be given this opportunity.
I loved it when I first started work, really loved it. I began as an understudy and had to work with all the other girls to learn the steps. There were plenty of rules so it took a little while, but at last I felt that I belonged. Most of the customers were pampered old men, but we had a few parties with some of the Arab boys who came to the club. They were young and looking for fun. After we finished work, they'd be waiting outside to take us out for a cup of coffee. Then we could relax and giggle, and stop pretending to be nice to clients. It wasn't long before the money improved; the girl I had been understudying left, and once onstage I soon got a starring part in the show. When we weren't onstage, we were allowed to sit out with the audience for a hostess fee of five pounds. That way I was soon making about thirty pounds a week.
There was always some gossip going on at the club about one or another of the girls' clients or their boyfriends. A girl who had important clients was looked up to by the others. The dressing-room was a radio station for gossip. And there was always one of the girls in trouble and in need of an abortion, which was illegal until the Abortion Act of 1967. There were many backstairs 'doctors' making a good living from performing abortions; one would even host sex parties and then abort girls who got into trouble.
Most of the men at Murray's were older and, on the surface, respectable businessmen. But there were others, like Etonian Michael Lambton, a cousin of Lord Lambton, and, a former Guards officer, who took me out to the cinema and to dinner. He didn't like me working at Murray's as it wasn't quite the right place for an aspiring publishing executive's girlfriend to work. He often asked me to leave, but I took no notice. Michael loved to drink and was even banned from the club at one stage. It was New Year's Eve and we had been fooling around together. I ended up pouring a bottle of champagne over his head and he tipped the contents of the ice bucket over mine. It didn't go down well with the management. Nice ex-public schoolboys weren't supposed to do things like that, and they threw him out. It was a shame for he was young, good-looking and good fun. He liked horse racing though he wasn't a gambler and told me there was a curse on his family name. Michael wanted me to move in with him from the beginning but, although I did land up in bed with him, I didn't love him.
Instead, I moved from the double room I'd shared with Pat into a single attic room in the same boarding house as another Greek I had made friends with, Andreas Diamond, who played piano at Angelo's. Andreas had been married to a beautiful Greek actress and was destined to be a concert pianist until he had a dreadful accident with one of his hands. His wife then left him and he emigrated to England. He was a sharp card player and we spent a lot of time together in his room playing. Harry was beginning to bore me; all he thought about was getting ready for the Olympics. He'd walk up the five flights to my room with me on his back – in training. I was young and lively and attracted to men, and I could always enjoy relationships without long-term commitments. At the club there was a handsome waiter, so good-looking that all the girls eyed him. I took him back to my attic room and I remember Harry coming in early in the morning. The waiter and I lay motionless pretending to be asleep. Harry came over to the bed and lifted the blanket, but we still did not stir. Then he walked quietly away downstairs.
Pops found out and he sacked the waiter. The club rules said that staff were not to mix, but he kept me on after giving me a ticking off. It might have been his conscience; Pops didn't always stick to the non-fraternizing rules himself and was more than a father-figure to some of the girls. I suppose he couldn't help himself with all those naked bums running around. He liked Maureen and me, and we got away with a lot more than some of the other girls. I was young and wild then – life was all about having fun and enjoying yourself, and I was certainly doing that.
I was still not comfortable onstage at Murray's so I'd pop into Angelo's on my way to the club for a drink, which gave me the Dutch courage to appear half-naked. Pops considered that he had the best floor show in the world and it certainly was impressive. There were two shows a night and they each had three different numbers with two stage acts in between. It was all very lavish and the individual costumes cost a fortune. One number was changed each year so we were forever having costume fittings or rehearsals. There were two different bands, one playing Latin American, the other more traditional music. When the band played 'That's Why the Lady is a Tramp', it was time for us to get ready for the show.
During the show there were two raised orchestra areas each side of the stage where the band stood. Three of the girls were singers only. Then there were some hostesses who were not part of the show. The dressing-rooms were beautifully panelled and the main dressing-room for the girls upstairs was huge and expensively decorated. Half of the wall area was covered with mirrors surrounded by lights and it was always warm and comfortable. Our dresses hung along a rail in the middle of the room, all cocktail dresses. After I left, Pops changed the rules and the girls were only allowed to wear long evening dresses, which he considered more elegant.
One of the many rules of the club was that we had to wear silver or gold shoes, or shoes that matched your dress. As a star turn, I earned ten pounds a week, but ten shillings was deducted for the hairdresser as we had to have our hair done at least once a week. In the early 1960s this was a 'high-class club' – the only one of its type in London which was not a pick-up place.
Members (there were nearly 20,000 files kept) could bring their wives and many married Murray's girls. Some of the girls used the club to launch show-business careers. Kay Kendall, for instance, had started out there before making movies like Genevieve and marrying Rex Harrison. Some of the girls did not sit out with the customers because they were married or Pops wouldn't allow them to if he thought it would ruin their mystique as a star. People said that some of the girls went to bed with the clients and that some didn't. I certainly did not go to bed with any client but I did go off with one or two whom I liked and trusted.
Excerpted from Secrets and Lies by Christine Keeler, Douglas Thompson. Copyright © 2012 Christine Keeler and Douglas Thompson. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
FOREWORD: LEAVES WITHOUT TREES,
2. FAST TRACKS,
3. UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS,
4. HANDS ON,
5. UNDRESSING FOR DINNER,
6. CHAMPAGNE MODELS,
7. TRAITORS' MEWS,
8. BAD LUCK,
9. A LONG, HOT SUMMER,
10. LOVE LETTERS,
12. THE SMOKIN' GUN,
13. RABBIT IN THE HEADLINES,
14. CRUEL INTENTIONS,
15. CONFIDENTIAL AGENT,
16. MIDSUMMER MADNESS,
17. DANGEROUS DECEPTIONS,
18. ROUGH JUSTICE,
19. THE TRIALS OF CHRISTINE KEELER,
20. LUST AND MARRIAGE,
21. TAXING TIMES,
22. SUCH A SCANDAL,
23. EPILOGUE: HINDSIGHT,
APPENDICES: THE CHRISTINE KEELER FILES,