Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Miss Kitty Lied by Jennifer Jakes

Welcome back to History Undressed, Jennifer Jakes! If you didn't view her previous post on historical vibrators, you've got to check it out! Today she's tantalizing us with a bit on historical prostitutes. Enjoy!

Miss Kitty Lied
by Jennifer Jakes

Oh, Miss Kitty, how you deceived us all. Remember Gunsmoke and Sheriff Matt Dillon’s main squeeze? Perfect silk dress, perfectly styled red curls – perfect beauty mark. How clean and wonderful the life of a Wild West saloon girl must have been. . .

*insert sound of screeching brakes here*

Um, no. Let’s look at some facts. In descending order there were: Parlor Houses, Brothels, Cribs. Even in a Parlor House *think 5 star hotel* where a night of food, fun and the other “F” word might cost a man $200+, the girl only averaged $10 per week because of the cut the Madam (or the house) took the rest to cover the costs of food, wine and the girl’s room and board.

Brothel girls could make $2.50 - $7.00 per customer, but she had to pay room and board out of this plus any other expenses she had. Oh, and Brothels were significantly less grand than a Parlor House. Parlor houses the girl probably spent the entire night with one man and her sheets were changed afterward. Brothel girls saw more “traffic” and her sheets might be changed once per week.

Cribs were a closet-like space where the girls lived and worked. She would rent this room for $10-$20 per week. She charged a man as little as 25 cents depending on how dirty or run-down she and/or her crib was. Her profit was in volume. In a cattle or mining town, she would little more than stay in bed as the men lined up outside her door. Normally, a crib nymph would see 20 to 30 men per night. During a cattle drive, she could see as many as 75 to 100 men per night. And no clean sheets here. She put a rain slicker over the bottom of her bed to protect the sheets from mud and cow manure since the cowboy might take off his hat, but not his boots or pants. Volume, remember? 

Yes, there were Saloon Girls who could just serve drinks, but they could also “go upstairs” for extra money. And Dance Hall Girls, yes, they were there, earning 12 ½ cents per dance. But all in all after researching this topic, I have to say, Miss Kitty lied to us.

What do you think?

*All statistics were found in UPSTAIRS GIRLS: Prostitution in the American West by Michael Rutter

Jennifer Jakes is the author of sensual erotic romance. Her award-winning debut novel, RAFE’S REDEMPTION, a historical western, is available now from The Wilder Rose Press, Amazon and other fine retailers. Her newest novella, TWICE IN A LIFETIME, is available at Amazon,  B & N and Smashwords.

Find out more about Jennifer at www.jenniferjakes.com or at her blog http://authorjenniferjakes.blogspot.com/

He rode into town to buy supplies, not a woman.

For hunted recluse Rafe McBride, the raven-haired beauty on the auction block  is exactly what he doesn't need. A dependent woman will be another clue his vengeful stepbrother can use to find and kill him. But Rafe's conscience won't let him leave another innocent's virginity to the riff-raff bidding. He buys her, promising to return her to St. Louis untouched. He only prays the impending blizzard holds off before her sultry beauty breaks his willpower.

She wanted freedom, not a lover.

Whisked to the auction block by her devious, gambling cousin, and then sold into the arms of a gorgeous stranger, outspoken artist Maggie Monroe isn't about to go meekly. Especially when the rugged mountain man looks like sin and danger rolled into one. But a blizzard and temptation thrust them together, and Maggie yearns to explore her smoldering passion for Rafe.

But when the snow clears, will the danger and secrets that surround Rafe and Maggie tear them apart?


textilehistorIE said...

Love that summary! Lots of little details that I wouldn't have thought about asking. Great.

Jennifer Jakes said...

Thanks, so much,Textile! And thanks for letting me come back for a visit:)

Cora Blu said...

I'd heard of the plastic before, but I can't begin to imagine the odor these women must have carried. A sponge bath will not do.
Informative post.
Cora Blu

Linda Andrews said...

Thanks Jennifer. I had read similiar things in the Underworld Sewer, except the number of men a crib would go through on a night. Now, what was the average age and how long did they last in t he business?

Jennifer Jakes said...

Thanks, Cora! I'd seen the tarp or plastic type thing over the foot of the bed too on the History Channel or maybe the Discovery Channel.....but anyway, I agree. The smell of the people back then would probably make us throw up:(

Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi Linda-
The average age was mid 20's. But surprisingly some of the women were older than at least I thought they would be. However, I'd be willing to bet the older women -- who were still healthy -- came from the nice brothels. And I did read that once their looks started to fade, they were pushed out to not-as-nice brothels. Of course if they were smart and used their youth to become a Madam, then several of them were rich when their looks faded and they lived nicely until their 50s-60s or longer.

Barbara Bettis said...

Interesting post, Jennifer. We do always think of Miss Kitty as opposed to the gals a la HELL ON WHEELS. Thanks for being here.

Kathy Otten said...

Loved your post Jennifer. I enjoyed learning how much those girls made. I've put your research book on my list to buy.

Calisa Rhose said...

I'd heard some of this, but not the dreadful numbers involved! *shudders* When I was eleven I had seen a movie (no parents did not know this) about a young streetwalker. I decided I would run away from home when I turned 16 and be one. Live the glamour life! lol Thank God I learned more about life by the time I turned 16!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Jennifer,
Great blog. Very interesting and also revolting about the cribs. The stench would have been overpowering.



Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi Barb-
Exactly! The women on Hell On Wheels and Broken Trail -- particularly mean Madam on BT -- show what it was really like.
Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi Kathy-
Yes, that's a wonderful research book. In fact, if you just google search Old West Prostitution you should find some really good ones to use.
Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer Jakes said...

Oh, Calisa!! Yes, thank God you realized!
While some of the beautiful women did end up in a high end brothel, eventually their looks faded and......:(

Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi Margaret-
Yes, I think so too. Can you imagine the line of stinky cowboys fresh off the trail or out of a miner's tunnel on payday, standing outside a little shack waiting for.........*shudder* That's why those women in particular drank laundenum (sp?) and/or whiskey.

Ilona Fridl said...

Interesting, Jennifer! I remember doing research about school teachers during the mid 1800s. Do you know that some of these "Proper" girls helped suppliment their income by going out west during the summer to become prostitutes in the mining camps?

Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi Ilona-
No, but that is very interesting! What a great plot point for a story:)
Thanks for stopping by.

Celia Hayes said...

Well, actually - speaking to the personal cleanliness issue, the cowboys coming straight off the trail into a town like Abilene, Ellsworth or Dodge City would have hit the bathhouse and the barber, cleaned up a bit and put on their 'town clothes', before going whooping,hollering, drinking and visiting the ladies of the evening. If you look at the pictures of young cowboys taken at the end of the trail (which was another popular thing) you will see they look pretty couth. And also very young. The bathhouses were well-established businesses in cowtowns, as much as the saloons and dancehalls.
But for the women in the cribs ... it was about high-traffic...