April upstaged

In 1962 beautiful transsexual April Ashley was known as the sensation of the year. Here she talks about performing at the Hippodrome

April Ashley

“For this show they had signed up a stripper called Miss Fifi. During the finale she upstaged me by letting her left tit drop out as I came down the stairs. It was very effective because in 1962 tits were rare. After two nights of this I’d had enough. ‘Fifi dearest, I may not be very good but I’m good enough to know when someone’s upstaging me. That’s two nights you’ve dropped your tit. I don’t want to see it again. If I do, you’ll have to take the consequences.’

Twyla (not Miss Fifi)

On the third night I sashayed down the staircase. Plop. There was that tit! I leant over and sank my teeth into it. There was a short scream, followed by a sound beyond the footlights as of a wave sucking back just before…ah well, we didn’t see that tit again.

April was unimpressed when she first met millionaire playboy Clive Raphael but put aside her misgivings to holiday in Beirut and Majorca with him. The relationship did not last and Clive was then briefly married to a much younger model by the name of Penny Brahms.


“I heard nothing more of him until 1972 or 1973 when, while piloting his parents and a new girlfriend across France, the aeroplane exploded, killing all four of them. It was rumoured that the explosion was the result of a planted device, that he had caused offence while gun-running to the Middle East. But far more bizarre than his death was his will. In it he left £500,000, but to Penny Brahms only one shilling and four nude photographs of herself. She challenged it in the courts where the will was discovered to have been a fraud cooked up by Clive’s lawyer, a teacher and a Sardinian boar-hunting duke.”

An article about the strange will was published in the New Straits Times in 1972

“The widow, 21 year old blonde actress Penny Brahms maintained that despite divorce proceedings in which her husband Clive Raphael claimed she had committed adultery with nine men, she had remained on friendly terms with him.

not these nine men

Shelagh McIntosh, a 22 year old teacher and Eric Alba-Teran, a Mexican investment banker were found guilty of forging the will together with barrister Ronald Shulman who police said had fled to South America.

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