‘A List of the Gay Houses and Ladies of Pleasure’: Vintage brothel guide to Philadelphia from 1849
10:54 am



A Guide to the Stranger or Pocket Companion for the Fancy was a “correct list and description of the greater portion of the Houses of Ill-Fame in Philadelphia” published in 1849. The book reviewed both the brothels and bed houses—those rooms rented by the hour. It listed the names and addresses of the landlady or madams and the quality of services on offer.

In his introduction, the anonymous author assured his readers:

With this book in his hand a man will be enabled to shun those low dens of infamy and disease with which this city abounds, as a true and authentic description of each house is here briefly given.

Among the best madams and working girls were:

Miss Josephine Somers of 4 Wood Street, near Eleventh Street, who was described as “an accomplished lady” and her brothel a “Temple of Venus.”

You can spend an evening here with great pleasure; the young ladies are all beautiful, accomplished and bewitching—they are Elizabeth Moore, Louisa Garrett, &c. Go one, go all, and you will be pleased.

Miss Sarah Turner of 2 Wood Street, above Eleventh, who is a “perfect Queen” her house situated “in one of the most respectable parts of the city.”

At this house you will hear no disgusting language to annoy your ear; everything connected with this establishment is calculated to make a man happy. The young ladies are beautiful and accomplished; they will at any time amuse you with a fine tune on the piano, or use their melodious voices to drive dull care away. Stranger, do not neglect to pay a visit to this house before you leave our quiet city of sisterly affection.

Miss Mary Blessington of 3 Wood Street, a “young and beautiful creature” who “is as snug a lump of flesh and blood as ever man pressed upon his bosom. Her bed and house and first class.

Miss Emma Jacobs of Bryan’s Court, Cherry Street:

This lady is the Queen of Trumps, tall and majestic, and noble in appearance. She is a lady in manners and conversation. She lives well and her house is comfortable and safe. One glance will satisfy a person of that fact.

The author also gave the following caveat:

To every man the author of this statistical warning says, avoid each and every place that is marked with a woeful X, as a single visit might be the cause of utter ruin and disgrace.

Examples of such places include:

X—Madam Vincent of Lombard Street, who runs “a low house”.

...be cautious when you visit this place, or you may rue it all your lifetime.

X—Mrs Hamilton of 152 Locust Street who has “grown bald and toothless in the service.”

Beware this house, stranger, as you would the sting of a viper.

X—Sarah Ross, Passyunk Road:

This is one of the worst conducted houses in the city. The girls, though few in number, are ugly, vulgar and drunken. We would not advise any body of common sense to stay there.

The guide’s author(s) estimates there are some 10,000 prostitutes working in Philadelphia. This figure was based on an estimate of the number of working girls in New York. These women serviced the numerous businessmen, travelers and rural workers who came to the city for business and pleasure. How our author(s) managed to find out so much about these brothels and bed houses suggests some firsthand experience. The whole A Guide to the Stranger or Pocket Companion for the Fancy can be read below.
More from the guide to ‘Gay Houses” and ‘Ladies of Pleasure,’ after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Punks, headbangers & homeless kids: Penelope Spheeris on ‘The Decline of Western Civilization’
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Penelope and Eyeball
Penelope Spheeris and her boyfriend, Eyeball

Penelope Spheeris, creator of The Decline of Western Civilization series, is a veteran Hollywood filmmaker, a “den mother” and most importantly, a cheerleader for punk rock. Spheeris got her start with filmmaking with her company, Rock N’ Reel, that specialized in music videos. She first got the idea for The Decline of Western Civilization during this time. “I was going to all the punk rock clubs here in Los Angeles and simultaneously I was filming bands for record companies. I always had equipment so I thought why not use the equipment to shoot the cool bands instead of the not cool ones I was having to shoot.”
Darby Crash
Darby Crash and friend

Featuring X, Black Flag, The Bags, The Germs and many more, Spheeris says the bands featuring in Decline had a lot to do with the “access factor.” “Most of them were my friends. I reached out to some bands that didn’t want to do it. There were some bands like The Screamers that I really wanted to have in the movie but they were too die hard punk so they didn’t ever do any publicity or filming or pictures or anything.” While making the film, Spheeris had no plans to make a sequel, let alone, two. “I was still going to lots of clubs and around ‘83 or ‘84 there was kind of a shift in the club scene here in Los Angeles and all of a sudden the whole look and feel changed and the music changed towards metal. At that point, I happened to coincidentally be asked by a producer if I could do any movie what would it be and I said Decline Part II. So, that’s how that one happened.”
Penelope And London
Penelope Spheeris with London
A huge component of The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is the idea of the male musician as all powerful, getting all the women and never needing to work a day in his life. Spheeris reflects on the sexism that appears in Part II: “The fact of the matter is, that’s just the way it was at the time. The girls and the guys both bought into it. You look at it in retrospect and it is disgustingly offensive and it would hopefully not happen today. But it’s just the way it was back then. As I look back over the different musical trends over the years that I’ve experienced, there’s just different situations that women have been in and the good thing about the punk rock movement was that women started to really stand up and object to discrimination and sexism.” While no female bands were filmed playing in The Metal Years, members of Vixen were interviewed as well as some other female musicians. “The guys back then really liked the women bands and respected them and still today women that sling a guitar are pretty well-respected.”

By Part III the music scene had once again drastically changed. “When I started the third Decline I really thought it was going to be about a new era of punk rock. What it turned out to be about was gutterpunks, the homeless kids that took on those punk rock ethics. What happened when I was filming was I started to turn away from shooting so much music. I focused more on the social aspect.”
It can be said that between the first and third Decline films, there are fewer and fewer female musicians featured. Part I has Exene Cervenka and Alice Bag as well as many other women who had parts in the punk scene. The Metal Years brings on the height of the heavy metal groupie era. By Part III, the only female musician featured is Kiersten “Patches” Ellis of Naked Aggression. “Just because they weren’t represented in the movie doesn’t mean there weren’t female punk rock bands. Hard to find, but they’re there. Let me just say this, Kiersten Ellis is equal to ten women instead of one. She’s one kickass bitch. She teaches middle school in South Central Los Angeles. She teaches school in a place where the children going to school have to go through a metal detector.”

Making Part III deeply affected Spheeris. “That film for me is the film that I loved the most out of all the films I’ve done in my career, it’s the one I’m most proud of and it affected me the most in terms of my values and my choices about what to do in life and how to decide my future. When I saw such a terrible problem out there on the street, and mind you that in the 19 years since I shot it, the problem has gotten worse with homeless children and children being treated badly and abused. So I said to myself, what’s more important, trying to help with this terrible situation or making more money in Hollywood? I decided it was more important to be a foster parent. I’ve had six foster kids. You gotta put your money where your mouth is, if you really believe in something. Having a kid and helping a kid is so much more gratifying than making a movie. It was a good choice.”
More after the jump…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
Patti Smith on Bob Marley, comics, and opening her own pot cafe when she ‘grows up,’ back in 1976
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Punk Magazine

‘The Two Faces of Patti Smith.’ photograph by Guillemette Barbet and art design by John Holmstrom.
Over the weekend I was yet again getting in some good quality time with my lovely copy of The Best of Punk Magazine and came across an amusing and highly entertaining interview by a musician and performer that undeniably embodies the word “hero” the multi-talented punk powerhouse Patti Smith.

In the interview that appeared in Punk (Volume One, Number Two from March of 1976) Smith agreed to talk to the magazine in the backroom of legendary Long Island club My Father’s Place where she sat on the grungy floor before her gig later that night. Of the many highlights and wide variety of topics covered in the lengthy chat include her love of comics, Bob Marley, her vivid dreams about Jimi Hendrix and her not-so-secret plan to hijack The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (who Smith very much admired) and turn it into “totally stoned TV every night.” If you are at all a fan of Patti Smith (who was 30 at the time of this interview), prepare yourself to adore her even more. Here’s Smith on her love of two things that go great together—comics (or “comix” as Punk likes to spell it) and rock and roll:

I was a painter. All I cared about was art school and painting. I used to be an artist before I became an artist. You know the French love comic strips. Comix are considered art. Comix are art. I mean the only two arts—comix and rock n’ roll are the highest art forms.

If that last passage got you daydreaming about what it would be like lounging around with Patti Smith in France in some cafe reading comic books and while listening to Alain Kan belting out David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” then get in line. As the interview progresses Smith talks a fair amount about Bob Marley while lamenting the current “grass shortage” in New York (never forget!) and her dream of opening a pot cafe that pretty much sounds like the best plan ever:

I’m gonna have a cafe when I grow up where it’s just gonna feature coffee and dope and mint tea and great music. What I’m gonna do is work to legalize marijuana and hashish. We’re gonna start a string of cafes where you smoke, drink coffee and listen to great music—like McDonald’s.

More Patti Smith, after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Corey Feldman isn’t the only actor with a ‘terrible band’
09:14 am

Pop Culture


Corey Feldman has been all over the news in the last couple of weeks, mostly for a musical performance of the song “Go For It” on The Today Show that many (who probably have not been actually following his musical career for decades) described as “bizarre.” It was really par-for-the-course stuff from Feldman, who has been trying hard but not quite hitting the mark for a long time. His attempts at trying to break through as a singer have been parodied since the 1990s, most famously with the “Josh Fenderman” bit on Mr. Show, which if you haven’t seen yet… watch it right now:

Feldman took a lot of heat for his “Ascension Millenium” video from three years ago, which was widely panned across the Internet, but to be honest, aside from the video itself which is cringe-worthy, I thought the song was kind of a jam.

Of course all of the recent discussion of Feldman’s musical career has led to renewed speculation as to what exactly happened to Feldman during his childhood in Hollywood. He has been very open, both in interviews and in his autobiography Coreyography: A Memoir, about being molested by show-business executives, but has thusfar declined to name his abusers.

This past week Radar Online ran a mega-viral piece which claimed that they would be revealing the “kingpin” of the child sex ring that had ensnared Feldman and his Lost Boys co-star Corey Haim, but so far all the public’s gotten has been a whole lot of “we know who this is and we might tell you soon.”

The situation with child stars like Feldman and the abuse they suffer is utterly heartbreaking, but the fact that Feldman has been so upfront about his molestation perhaps offers some insight into why something like “Go For It” even exists in the first place. An outlet is an outlet and those outlets may not always be pretty or make much sense to anyone but the artist himself.

All of this talk about Feldman’s music recently led me down the rabbithole of examining other actors with dubious musical careers, and eventually brought me to my new favorite Tumblr page: Actors’ Awful Bands.

After the jump, a selection of my favorite “awful bands” from Actors’ Awful Bands…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment