10 of the Most Famous Prostitutes in History 0 18

While most people are familiar with prominent historical figures like King Louis XV, Napoleon Bonaparte, and King Charles II, little is known about the mistresses who shared their beds and sometimes mothered their children. These 10 famous prostitutes made prominent names for themselves during their time, and many of them were respected models, entrepreneurs, artists, actresses, and explorers. Their lives were full of mystery, intrigue, and the occasional murder by erotic asphyxiation.


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Phryne is one of the few prostitutes whose beauty can be admired in museums of fine art. As a courtesan in Ancient Greece, Phryne was known for her good looks and modeled for famous painter Apelles and sculptor Praxiteles. It has been speculated that Phryne’s modeling and prostitution made her so wealthy she was able to contribute to the rebuilding of the walls of Thebes after Alexander the Great destroyed them in 336 BC Like many prostitutes, Phryne was subject to public ridicule and was put on trial for unclear religious reasons and was reported to have bared her breasts to the jury. Phryne was defended by one of her lovers, the orator Hypereides, and was ultimately set free.

Veronica Franco

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Veronica Franco was a fascinating woman from the Renaissance period in Venice. Aside from being a prostitute, Franco was well educated and published several volumes of poetry. She also created a charity that provided help to courtesans and their children. Franco’s most notable client was Henry III, King of France and in 1565 she was listed as an expert in a popular Venetian guidebook for prostitutes. Towards the end of her life in 1577, Franco was taken before the court on charges of witchcraft but the charges were dropped. Much of her life after her brushes with royalty is unknown, but scholars believe she died relatively poor without social or financial support.

Madame du Barry

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Jeanne Bécu, known to the French court of Louis XV as Madame du Barry, was well known in her time for being the official mistress of Louis XV. Bécu got her start in prostitution in Paris where she acquired many high-ranking aristocrats as clients and eventually made her way to the Palace of Versailles where a depressed and lonely Louis XV discovered her. Bécu was quickly married to a noble and secured a title to grant her access to Louis XV’s court, and entered the mix of factors that destroyed France’s foreign affairs. Bécu was sent to a nunnery after the death of Louis XV and ultimately died at the guillotine during the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris in late 1793.

Sally Salisbury

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Sally Salisbury, whose birth name was Sarah Pridden, was a gutsy and extremely popular prostitute in 18th century London. She began prostituting in her early teens and by the age of 14 she was working in a high-class brothel that attracted lords and aristocrats. Salisbury was known for being beautiful, funny, and, all things considered, pretty feisty. She was involved in a public scandal where she stabbed a brothel patron, John Finch, who was the son of a countess and a lord, over a pair of opera tickets. Salisbury met an unfortunate end when she was imprisoned and shortly after died of complications from syphilis.

Nell Gwyn

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Nell Gwyn is most famous for her role as mistress to King Charles II of England, with whom she had two sons. As a young woman, Gwyn was enchanted by the English theatre and set out to become an actress. Although she was illiterate, she studied her craft at a performance art school where she was rumored to have shacked up with famous male actors Charles Hart and John Lacy. Gwyn worked her way up the ranks, acting in several comedic plays, and eventually became present in high English society where she became acquainted with King Charles. Gwyn was one of 13 mistresses to the King and while she never secured a title for herself, one of her sons was given the title Duke of St. Albans.

Cora Pearl

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Emma Elizabeth Crouch was born in London in the 19th century. Crouch wasn’t an average prostitute who lived on the streets. She attended a boarding school in France where she became well-educated and obtained high society social skills. After a terrible encounter with man who raped and then paid her in London, Crouch became a mistress in a notorious bar and brothel, The Argyll Rooms. While traveling in Paris, Crouch took the name Cora Pearl and began to make a name for herself as a courtesan to wealthy men. Pearl became a huge celebrity in Paris and slept with many famous men such as Napoleon Bonaparte. She was also known for having a flashy style and rocked bold hair colors such as lemon yellow.

Catherine Walters

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Catherine Walters was a beautiful fashion icon and English courtesan who seemed to have all of London at her feet in the 19th century. Walters had it all; she was pretty, popular, educated, and had several extremely wealthy benefactors. She wore her clothing skintight and people would gather in Hyde Park to see her ride horses. Some of her clients included King Edward VII and Napolean III, and unlike many prostitutes of her time, her life didn’t end in complete ruin. She retired at 80 and had both money and a favorable legacy.

Lulu White

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Tales about New Orleans Storyville red-light district in the early 1900s would be incomplete without a mention of the prostitute, brothel madame, and entrepreneur Lulu White. White ran a brothel, the Octoroon Parlour, that housed nearly 40 women. The brothel was a hub for jazz lovers and gentlemen looking to explore the five parlors and 15 bedrooms reserved for special guests. White was forced to close her establishment in 1917 when she became subject to gender discrimination by the city of New Orleans. White holds a place in contemporary culture as she was mentioned in a song performed by Louis Armstrong, “Mahogany Hall Stomp,” and was the honorary namesake to Boston’s jazz club Lulu White’s.

Calamity Jane


Most people know Martha Jane Canary Burke, a.k.a. Calamity Jane, as a frontierswoman and cowgirl who fought the Native Americans alongside Wild Bill Hickok, but she was also a prostitute at the Fort Laramie Three-Mile Hog Ranch in eastern Wyoming. Despite her rough-and-tumble reputation, Jane was pretty with dark hair and eyes. Ultimately Jane chose a different career path and began dressing as a man because it allowed her to move freely and get jobs that no woman would have been given. She worked on cattle drives, became an explorer, and starred as a storyteller in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Sada Abe


Sada Abe was a low-level geisha when she contracted syphilis and had no choice but to begin prostituting in Osaka’s famous Tobita brothel district. During her travels to Tokyo, she crossed paths with a kinky lover, Kichizo Ishida. In May of 1936, Abe was catapulted into the public eye when she was arrested for murdering Ishida by erotic asphyxiation. Abe was clearly mentally disturbed and had problems controlling her jealousy. After Ishida died, Abe cut off his genitalia, put it in her kimono, and carved her name into his arm. This event caused widespread panic across Japan, and Ishida’s testicles were put on public display for a short time after World War II.

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11 Products Most Women Use That Were Invented By Men 0 4

For all of our recent attempts at gender neutral and equality, there are certain products that are used mostly by women.

But surprisingly, many of those were designed by particularly insightful men—who knew not just what a woman wanted, but what she needed.


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The Tampax company was run by a rather formidable lady by the name of Gertrude Tendrich.

But the patent their prime product was based on was filed by a Colorado GP, Dr. Earle Haas. He sold the patent to Gertrude when he couldn’t get women to buy his product. He also pioneered the contraceptive diaphragm (and sold the patent for that off too for similar reasons).

Sanitary Pads

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Oddly, the modern pad is derived from something created by Benjamin Franklin. Yes. That Benjamin Franklin. The $100 dollar bill Benjamin Franklin.

He initially developed multi-level absorbent pads to block up battle wounds. Within a few decades, they’d been re-purposed and re-packaged for women’s use during that time of the month.

The Birth Control Pill

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The birth control pill was developed through two collaborations of gentlemen. Drs. Gregory Pincus and John Rock usually get the credit for the first oral contraceptive.

But the one most of us take today was a group effort by chemist Carl Djerassi, Dr. George Rosenkranz and their student, Luis E. Miramontes. Birth control as a concept was, however, pioneered by ladies and men.


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Coin purses and luggage have existed in one form or another for millennia. But the first order for something more akin to the modern handbag or pocketbook was placed by a British entrepreneur during the 1840s.

Candy magnate Samuel Parkinson demanded a moderately sized traveling bag for his wife’s personal effects. London leather goods company H.J. Cave & Sons complied with his order and then used it as the basis for the first line of modern designer hand bags.

Nylon Stockings

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Cloth and silk stockings were floating around for a while—but were rather expensive luxury goods for most of their history.

But the male-run Dupont company is what made them mass producible. They quickly realized that the new nylon fabric they created would translate into ladies’ legwear and set up such successful marketing there was a post-war stocking-riot when they couldn’t keep up with demand.

The Bikini

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Two male designers both compete for the title of the creator of the modern bikini— and they are both French.

Jacques Heim and Louis Réard purportedly came up with the design at the same time in 1946.

The Thighmaster

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The Thigmaster was popularized by 70s sitcom star Suzanne Somers.

But the mastermind behind the clunky and bizarre exercise device was a gent by the name of Joshua Reynolds. Incidentally, he’s also the same guy who marketed the world mood rings.

Hair Dye

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The synthetic hair dye that’s opened up such a wide arena of natural and unnatural coloring (for women and men) was also designed by a man.

French chemist Eugène Schueller developed the first recipe, and used it as the start up example for his new company—a little thing you might have heard of called L’Oreal.

Liquid Foundation

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Most make-up only used to come in white (seriously, everyone in Queen Elizabeth’s court looked like terrifying white-faced mimes).

The first foundations were not just white, they were made up of a terrifying concoction of chemicals that burned out the skin of the lords, ladies, and performers that applied it regularly. Enter German actor Carl Baudin. He’s the guy behind flesh-toned grease-paint—the precursor to modern liquid foundation.

Face Powder

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Likewise, face powder also used to only come in one color: bright white. It wasn’t really useful for anyone but the palest of showgirls and geishas.

Early Hollywood cosmetician Max Factor grew frustrated with the lack of variability and created face powder in different skin tones. And then went on to found one of the world’s greatest cosmetics companies.


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Two other make-up magnates both technically invented mascara: one each on either side of the Atlantic.

At the same time perfumer-maker Eugene Rimmel was making mascara for his clients in Paris, American T. L. Williams created a recipe for his sister Maybel. Eugene went on to found Rimmel. And Williams and his sister created Maybelline.

11 People You Wouldn’t Believe Used To Be In The KKK 0 3

The KKK is one of few groups that is so associated with fear and hate-mongering, its own members don’t want to reveal their faces. Today, we lift that shroud of mystery to take a look at some surprising people who were members of the KKK.

Ashley Wilkes

Granted, Ashley Wilkes is a character from “Gone With the Wind” and not an actual person, but it’s still rather jarring to know that the formation of the KKK is portrayed in the famous movie. The KKK was born in the aftermath of the Civil War, in 1866. The earliest inception of the group was to protect women and other citizens from the shanty towns that sprang up all over the south once the war ended. From these lofty ideals, the group quickly devolved into an organization bent on oppression and terror. Ashley Wilkes is like a great many real white southerners who joined the organization with good intentions in mind. But that was way back in 1866.

Nathan Bedford Forrest

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To be specific, the KKK began in Tennessee. The white hoods and sheets were meant to represent the ghosts of the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. But soon, the group was more about terrorizing blacks than it was about protecting whites. The KKK rode at night, perpetrating raids on areas where blacks lived. Nathan Bedford Forrest, former Confederate general, was in command of the KKK until 1868. He formally disbanded the group at this point, appalled by the violence of it. The KKK lived on, however.

Hugo L. Black

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Congress created a committee in 1871 to investigate the Klan, and passed the civil rights act of 1871 to help curtail the group’s activities. But years later, the KKK would infiltrate the highest levels of government. We’re referring, of course, to Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black, a trial attorney from Alabama who joined the group in 1923. He was appointed to the Court in 1937, and there is no clear evidence that he ever left the KKK. Black is to the far left in this photo, standing with two other justices.

William McKinley

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President William McKinley, from Ohio, was a member of the KKK. He served in office from 1897 to 1901. McKinley is to the left here, next to his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

Woodrow Wilson


The KKK had fallen out of fashion, but it became extremely popular right after World War I. President Woodrow Wilson was in office from 1913 to 1921, for the whole of the war and its immediate aftermath. He was also a member of the KKK.

Warren G. Harding


In the 1920s, the group reached its highest numbers in history with close to 4 million members. The KKK was highly influential in politics at this time. Warren G. Harding was President from 1921 to 1923, and died in office. Harding was purportedly sworn into the KKK while in the White House.

Gutzon Borglum


The artist who created Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, was an active member of the KKK. He reportedly served on one of their councils. When his involvement with the group came to light later, he publicly denounced the KKK.

Calvin Coolidge


Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, served in office from 1923 to 1929 and was an active KKK member. The KKK became much less popular in the late 1920s, as more about its violent actions became widely known. Membership went down to 40,000 by 1929, and states began passing anti-mask laws to curb KKK activity.

Harry S. Truman

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The KKK continued to operate throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, and times were volatile for many African-Americans. Harry S. Truman was President from 1945 to 1953. Truman was a KKK member for about two years, but fell out with the group because he believed Roman Catholics should be allowed to be in politics.

Robert Byrd

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West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd joined the KKK in the 1940s at the age of 24. He served in the Senate for nearly six decades. The KKK experienced a brief resurgence in the 1960s, and violently opposed the Civil Rights movement. The KKK was directly responsible for the murder of several civil rights workers and attacks on activists at this time. But the glory days were over. The KKK would get weaker and weaker after this.



The KKK fractured into small splinter groups and had a membership of less than 10,000 by the 1990s. The KKK has weathered several lawsuits and arrests, not to mention laws and ordinances that prevent them from engaging in their various activities.

In a bizarre re-branding, one KKK chapter announced recently that it is accepting homosexuals, African-Americans, and Jewish people into the group. The Klan currently has between 5,000 and 8,000 members nationwide.

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