I met Madame Claude in her Los Angeles exile in 1981. Despite the comforts and status of her A-table at the lodestar Hollywood commissary Ma Maison, despite the homesickness-curing cuisine of Wolfgang Puck, and despite having her hand kissed by the likes of Swifty Lazar and Johnny Carson, France’s—and, surely, the world’s—most exclusive madam was as depressed and displaced as Napoleon on St. Helena.
The fat guy smoking Pall Malls, he says he almost married one of those girls. Honest. He met her in a bar one of the last times he was in the Philippines and fell in love, almost bought her a ring and took her home. It didn’t work out, though, and he doesn’t say why because it doesn’t really matter. He shrugs.