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Prostitution Biography of Madams The Everleigh Sisters Part 1

About the famous Madams the Everleigh Sisters, biography and history of their Chicago bordello and its specialties.

RENOWNED CALL HOUSE MADAMS

The Everleigh Sisters

Their names were Aida (1876-1960) and Minna (1878-1948). Born in Kentucky, the daughters of a wealthy lawyer with quite a different surname, the girls married two brutal brothers whom they learned to despise, ran off to become actress, then opened their first bordello in 1898 during the Omaha Trans-Mississippi Exposition. They took their profits to Chicago, where they opened the famous Everleigh Club on Feb. 1, 1900. Although Minna, a blue-eyed redhead, was the younger of the two, she was also more aggressive and made all the decisions, which Aida, a quiet, trim blond, gladly accepted. Both sisters were well-read and imaginative, good psychologists who understood universal male prejudices and fantasies. Both knew that a roll in the hay is pretty much the same all over the world, but that in palatial surroundings and with deft manipulation, a man might be induced to pay $50 for those "intangible extras" which made it memorable. That soon became the Everleigh Club minimum price. Throw in a gourmet banquet for a party of friends (with French wine at $12 a bottle) and an orchestra playing the latest sentimental hits. Then present the gentlemen with 30 beautiful and erotically skilled ladies to chose from, and the tab might reach $1,500.

Their House: From its 1900 opening until a forced closing on Oct. 24, 1910, America's most famous (and sumptuous) brothel operated in two adjoining three-story stone mansions at 2132 South Dearborn Street, well within Chicago's famous red-light Levee District. The buildings provided 50 rooms, including 12 soundproof reception parlors where three orchestras played, 30 bedrooms, a library, an art gallery, a dining room, and a Turkish ballroom complete with a huge fountain and a parquet floor.

The most famous of the parlors was called the Gold Room and featured gilt furniture, gold-trimmed fishbowls, $650 cuspidors, and a $15,000 gold piano. Upstairs in the boudoirs, guests found marble-inlaid brass beds, mirrored ceilings, gold bathtubs, fresh-cut roses, oil paintings, and push-buttons to ring for champagne. One room had an automatic perfume spray over the bed, another had a silver-white spotlight which focused on a divan, a third had the furniture of a Turkish harem.

Spending an evening at the Everleigh Club was such a special occasion that many guests publicly boasted of their adventures. Prince Henry of Prussia enjoyed a memorable orgy there in 1902. Other delighted celebrities who visited at least once included writers Ring Lardner, George Ade, and Percy Hammond, boxer "Gentleman" Jim Corbett, actor John Barrymore, and gambler "Bet a Million" Gates. Chicago newspapermen made it their favorite watering and wenching place. (When a small fire occurred in the club one evening, three of the top reporters on the Chicago Tribune were on hand to cover it.) Newsman Jack Lait once insisted, "Minna and Aida Everleigh are to pleasure what Christ was to Christianity."

Poet Edgar Lee Masters was also a devoted patron. He once described a typical arrival at the Everleigh Club. Minna ("somehow the larger personality, the more impressive figure") would come to the door, walking with a sort of "cater-pillar bend and hump. . . . She was remarkably thin. Her hair was dark and frizzled, her face thin and refined. 'How is my boy?" was her cordial salutation."

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