10 Historic Figures Who Visited Brothels on a Regular Basis
10 Historic Figures Who Visited Brothels on a Regular Basis

10 Historic Figures Who Visited Brothels on a Regular Basis

Khalid Elhassan - June 22, 2018

10 Historic Figures Who Visited Brothels on a Regular Basis
Fatty Arbuckle. Fine Art America

Hollywood Superstar’s Orgies With Prostitutes Killed His Career

Fatty Arbuckle (1887 – 1933) was an early superstar comic actor of the silent film era. Weighing about 300 pounds, he made a movie career out of tumbling, throwing pies, and being an all around lovable and jolly fat guy. He was also a Hollywood mover and shaker. He discovered and launched the careers of stars such as Bob Hope and Buster Keaton, and mentored Charlie Chaplain, who became his close friend.

Fatty Arbuckle also liked partying with prostitutes and loose women, and that ended up destroying his career and reputation. Disaster began with a wild party at a San Francisco hotel in September of 1921. Arbuckle and friends rented adjacent luxury suites, and invited several women, including prostitutes and aspiring actresses. At some point, one of the female invitees, Virginia Rappe, was found acting strangely in one of the suites. She was examined by the hotel’s doctor, who determined that she was extremely drunk, and gave her a shot of morphine to calm her.

A couple days later, she was rushed to a hospital, and a friend told doctors that Rappe had been raped by Fatty Arbuckle at the party. Rappe died the next day of peritonitis, caused by a ruptured bladder. Although medical examinations found no evidence of rape, newspapers had a field day, and printed increasingly salacious stories. Some articles claimed that Fatty Arbuckle had crushed Rappe with his excessive bulk while raping her. Others alleged that Arbuckle had penetrated Rappe with a piece of ice. That grew into accusations that he had ruptured Rappe by raping her with a bottle of Coca Cola or champagne.

Eventually, police went with the theory that the weight of the obese Arbuckle atop Virginia Rappe during an act had caused her bladder to rupture. Arbuckle denied any wrongdoing, but he was arrested and charged with essentially having raped the unfortunate Rappe to death. It was a major media event – the OJ Simpson criminal scandal of the day.

However, the prosecution’s case fizzled when it emerged that San Francisco’s District Attorney, who planned to run for California governor, had pressured witnesses into lying. The defense also obtained a letter from the state’s star witness, Rappe’s friend who had had first leveled accusations of rape, admitting that she had planned to extort money from Arbuckle.

Prosecutors produced little credible evidence at the trial, and medical experts demonstrated that Rappe’s bladder had been ruptured by an internal inflammation, not by an external force. The jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal, and a mistrial was declared. A second trial again ended in a 10-2 deadlock in favor of a not guilty verdict. A third trial was launched, and at its conclusion, the jury took just six minutes to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty. Although Arbuckle was exonerated, his reputation never recovered, and his career was effectively over.

10 Historic Figures Who Visited Brothels on a Regular Basis
Edward VII and his special love chair. Troab

Edward VII Liked Prostitutes So Much, He Had a Private Suite Built in His Favorite Whorehouse

Albert Edward (1841 – 1910), who went on to reign as King Edward VII of the United Kingdom from 1901 until his death, was mediocre as both a man and as a monarch. However, as a libertine and all around royal party animal, Edward VII shone, standing in stark contrast to his notoriously straitlaced mother, Queen Victoria, whose name became synonymous with prudery and uptightness.

From early on, Prince Albert, or “Bertie”, was a disappointment to his prim and proper parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. At age 16, while observing army maneuvers, Bertie had his first scandal, with a prostitute. It was hushed up, but the queen was not amused, and Bertie’s father, although ill, went to see and reprimand his reprobate son. On the way back home from chastising Bertie, his father caught pneumonia, which did him in. For the next four decades, Queen Victoria blamed Bertie for killing her beloved husband. She decided that he was unfit to reign, and tried to keep him from following her on the throne. The queen even tried to get an Act of Parliament passed to remove Bertie from the line of succession, but was thwarted.

While Queen Victoria failed in her attempts to remove Bertie from the line of succession, she did her best to keep him from ever wearing the crown. She often remarked that her longevity and long reign were due to her determination to outlive Bertie and prevent him from ever becoming king. She tried hard and did her best, but after a 64 year reign, the old girl finally gave up the ghost and died in 1901. After a long wait that he thought would never end, Bertie finally became king at age 60.

During that decades long wait to succeed his disapproving mother, Bertie became notorious for his relentless quest to gratify his erotic appetites. He had a particular fondness for prostitutes, but he was willing to sample anything and anybody, whether cheap hookers or top notch French aristocratic ladies and courtesans. From discrete liaisons, to well publicized affairs with famous actresses, to wife-swapping orgies, Bertie was insatiable and down for anything.

He was a particularly big fan of Paris’ elite brothels, especially its most exclusive whorehouse, La Chabanais. So infatuated was he with that establishment’s prostitutes, that he built himself an exclusive and private royal room in La Chabanais, decorated with his coat of arms and furnished to his specific tastes. Said tastes included a specially designed chair, named siege d’amour, which he had installed in his whorehouse room. By the 1890s, Bertie was fat, middle-aged, and out of shape, so he had the heavy duty love chair custom made to enable him to have intercourse without crushing his partners. The specialty chair also enabled him to position the prostitutes just right for royal access, with minimal exertion and contortions on his part.

10 Historic Figures Who Visited Brothels on a Regular Basis
Rudolph Valentino. Norman Studios

Silent Film Era Superstar Was a Working Boy

One of early Hollywood’s biggest superstars and heartthrobs, Rudolph Valentino (1895 – 1926), also known as “The Latin Lover”, was a 1920s’ symbol of masculinity. He shot to fame with captivating performances in silent film blockbusters such as The Sheik, and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. His sudden death at age 31 led to mass hysteria among his female fans, and solidified his iconic status.

However, before becoming a star, Rudolph Valentino had been a heavy frequenter of working girls. Not only that, but he had also probably been a working boy. Before fame, Valentino had worked as a dancer in what were known as “taxi dance clubs”. Such clubs were basically escort services, where clients would come in, examine the club’s stable of dancers, and pay to dance with whichever one caught their eye.

Clients who liked a dance partner would negotiate a price with him or her, then pay the club an “exit fee” to leave with the dancer. While some taxi dance clubs were legitimate and innocent, most were just escort services. In Valentino’s case, he was once arrested in a brothel before becoming famous, so his taxi dance club was probably not the innocent kind.

Imagine if the press discovered today that Brad Pitt had once worked for an escort service as a working boy. The resulting firestorm in media and social media would probably break the internet, as the insatiable demand for salacious details produced a never ending stream of stories. The paparazzi stampede alone would probably cause an earthquake.

10 Historic Figures Who Visited Brothels on a Regular Basis
Rasputin. Time Magazine

A Charlatan Faith Healer’s Love of Prostitutes and All Around Lechery Contributed to Downfall of Tsarist Russia

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (1869 – 1916) was a charlatan, mystic, holy wanderer, faith healer, blasphemer, and a notorious lecher who became one of Russia’s most powerful figures. An inexplicable ability to ease the pain of the child Alexei Nikolayevich, the hemophiliac heir to the Russian throne, earned him the gratitude of his parents, Russia’s emperor and empress, Nicholas and Alexandra. That made Rasputin an influential figure in the Russian Empire’s final years.

Even as a teenager, Rasputin was notorious for his relentless pursuit of women, from prostitutes to respectable matrons, and he had a magnetism that enabled him to rack up conquests with ease. He invented and led a religious cult that combined Orthodox Christianity, plus bizarre rituals that were deemed heretical and blasphemous.

A core belief of Rasputin’s cult was that nearness to God is achieved by a state described as “holy passionlessness”, which is best achieved via exhaustion. And that exhaustion was to be attained by a lot of physical acts – a religious doctrine he described as “driving out sin with sin“. So he led his cult into reaching an exhaustion via orgies – prolonged bouts of debauchery by the entire congregation in order to get the base passions out of their system.

He eventually made it to the Russian capital, Saint Petersburg, where he won the favor of Russia’s emperor and empress. There, Rasputin exerted his animal magnetism upon the capital’s women, and before long, he had a cult following, from lowly streetwalkers to wealthy aristocratic women. Soon, young women and old, maidens and matrons, were throwing themselves at Rasputin.

They flocked to visit his apartment, and he was indiscriminate in his preferences, bedding prostitutes and princesses alike. Many in high society, aware that Rasputin had the ear of Russia’s rulers, sought to gain his favor. Some even sent their wives or daughters to seduce him into putting in a good word for them at court, or their female relatives did so on their own initiative in order to help their male kin. Many other women visited him simply for physical benefits.

Rasputin was, by all accounts, what would be considered today an addict, with enviable stamina and staying power. Saint Petersburg’s authorities posted plainclothes policemen at his building, and their reports described dozens of women, from prostitutes to high ranking aristocrats, visiting his apartment. The police reports went on to describe loud noises of drunken revelry, partying with prostitutes, beatings, violence, and orgies that lasted until sunrise and beyond.

Although reports of Rasputin’s unruly and unholy conduct – including the rape of a nun – reached emperor Nicholas’ ears, he either dismissed them out of hand, or laughed them off with comments such as “the holy are always slandered“. The emperor’s confessor investigated the reports of Rasputin’s misconduct, concluded there was truth in them, and advised Nicholas to distance himself from the controversial monk. The emperor, at the behest of his wife who was fiercely protective of the holy charlatan, sided with the Rasputin, and banished his confessor from Saint Petersburg, instead.

By 1911, Rasputin’s notorious misconduct had become a national scandal, and turned the imperial family into a laughingstock. Eventually, word began making the rounds that Rasputin had seduced Russia’s empress Alexandra. Whether or not that was true – and Rasputin boasted of having done so – it damaged the imperial family’s prestige, and set the stage or its overthrow in the 1917 Russian Revolution.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources & Further Reading

Biography – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Edwardian Promenade – The Amorous Life of Edward VII

Encyclopedia Britannica – James Boswell, Scottish Biographer

Guardian, The, January 18th, 2006 – The Perverse Side of Hans Christian Andersen

Guardian, The, June 13th, 2012 – James Boswell and a History of Gonorrhea

Internet Movie Database – Rudolph Valentino

Phillips, Adams – Promises, Promises: Essays on Psychoanalysis and Literature (2002)

Radzinsky, Edvard – The Rasputin File (2001)

Ranker – Historical Figures Obsessed With Prostitutes

Schwartz, Robert, Mount Holyoke College – Courtesans: Toulouse-Lautrec, Painting Prostitution as it Was

Smithsonian Magazine, November 8th, 2011 – The Skinny on the Fatty Arbuckle Trial

Tea in a Teacup – James Boswell and London Prostitutes

Thought Co – Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer

Wikipedia – Gary Ridgway

Wikipedia – Marquis de Sade

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