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Lido lowering libidos

PARIS — The clientele at Paris’ veteran cabaret the Lido is getting younger.

Usually, out-of-town businessmen sip champagne and admire statuesque dancers baring nearly all, but the new wave of Lido fans are guzzling down soft drinks and watching as Prince Charming gives a chaste peck on the cheek to Ophelie — not an unclad bosom or bottom in sight.

While maintaining its traditional evening gala — the current offering is the popular “C’est Magique” — the venerable cabaret hall is also, for the first time in its 51-year history, targeting the youth market, with the kids show “Ophelie’s Enchanted Christmas.” And it’s paying off.

With 30,000 seats sold for a two-month run that opened in November, Lido boss Christian Clerico will see his coffers filled to the tune of around 4.5 million francs ($800,000).

Clerico is hoping that parents who attend the afternoon show on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and discover the Lido for the first time will be tempted to return for the adult spectacle in the evening.

“It’s partly a marketing exercise,” Clerico says. “There are still people who have the wrong idea about what a Lido show is like.” Not that misconceptions appear to be hurting business. After a tough first quarter, 1997 revenues have passed expectations at around $43 million and the year will be profitable.

As for “Ophelie’s Enchanted Christmas,” well, it’s a kind of “Cinderella” meets “Sleeping Beauty,” with a touch of Father Christmas and “Alice in Wonderland” thrown in for good measure. Kids seem to love it, and it might have been the effect of an overactive midafternoon imagination, but it seemed a frisson ran through the older elements of the audience when Mrs. Rabbit and the Four Bunnies took to the stage. Some things never change at the Lido.

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