The First Modern-Day Celebrity Became Famous for her Promiscuity
Many of today’s celebrities get a rap of being famous simply for being famous. They are not actors or musicians but many of them are part of a societal elite that allows them to have the money to make an impression. That money also means a brand and a way to push forth their own celebrity, sometimes even with scandalous rumors and physical acts tapes. This might feel like a new phenomenon but it is anything but. In the 18th century newspapers were just as fascinated with scandal as we are today, the more promiscuous the better.
In fact, British newspapers would tell stories of the local prostitutes, the lewder the prostitute and her stories, the better. Prostitutes were known to publish books and have prints made of their portraits, which sold by the thousands. One of the first and most revered of these prostitutes was Kitty Fisher. She first started to get attention in her teen years and then after she drew the eye of prominent artists, her picture spread throughout the local gentry. She was skilled at publicity and her affairs with men of wealth spread far and wide. Her appearance and dress became role models for women who wanted to turn men’s heads.
It was common for courtesans of the time to do their own PR. Kitty Fisher put out her own advertisements that allowed men to know they would not only be getting stimulated by her body but by her skills at conversation as well. She rose up through the ranks enough that her clientele became more and more wealthy and upper class. There were even nursery rhymes that spoke of how Kitty Fisher was stealing the lovers of the other prostitutes. Kitty also had a very public falling out with Maria Lady Coventry after bragging about having a relationship with Lord Coventry.
As copies of her portraits spread she became one of the world’s first “pin-up” girls. And it wasn’t just her romantic exploits that dominated the newspapers. When she fell off her horse while riding in a public park, the newspapers had a field day. They mocked her in prints and ballads and satire and the story remained in the papers for months. There were even books written about the incident and the tale of the “fallen woman.” Kitty became so wealthy from her lovers and her publicity that she was said to spend twelve thousand pounds a year and be the first in her social class to employ servants.