Brothels are to prostitutes what studios are to musicians. And if prostitution is the world oldest profession, brothels should be the world’s oldest buildings. Or what are prostitutes without brothels?
10 Le Chabanais, Paris
Le Chabanais was one of France’s most expensive brothels when it opened in 1878.
It featured themed rooms like the Louis XVI room that was modeled after a palace, a room that replicated a home from ancient Pompeii and another that resembled a torture room.
It was popular among top politicians who often listed the adventure as a “visit to the president of the senate” in their records.
King Edward VII of England was one of Le Chabanais’s most famous patrons. He installed a bathtub and a specially made chair — on which he carried out his sexual activities — in one of the rooms.
French poet, Guy de Maupassant, was another frequenter. He was so obsessed with one of the themed rooms that he made a lookalike room in his house.
Le Chabanais closed on April 13, 1946, after France illegalized brothels.
9 Everleigh Club, Chicago
Everleigh club was a high-class brothel that opened in Chicago in 1900.
It was lavishly furnished, complete with expensive rugs, nude paintings in gold frames and a gold-leaf piano worth $15,000.
Its lavishness told in the pockets of its patrons. Entry alone set a patron back by $10 ($300 in 2018). A bottle of wine went for $12 ($360 in 2018), dinner was $50 ($1,500 in 2018) and a rendezvous with one of the girls was another $50.
An ideal customer was expected to spend at least $50 before meeting with the girls. Anyone who spent below that was advised never to return.
Everleigh club was owned and operated by sisters, Ada and Minna Everleigh. Their surname is believed to be a pseudonym. It is suspected that their real surname is Lecter.
The brothel was shut down in 1911 at the insistence of Carter Harrison Jr., the mayor of Chicago.
Although the sisters spent just 11 years in the business, they made off with at least, $1 million in cash and $200,000 in jewelery.
8 Holland Leaguer, London
The Holland Leaguer was located somewhere around Paris Garden in London.
It was built as a fort and originally served as the living quarters of an aristocrat until it was leased to Elizabeth Holland between 1630 and 1631.
Holland converted the fort into a brothel and it remained largely inconspicuous until it hit national headlines in 1632 for enduring a five month siege by London authorities.
The reason for the siege remains unclear, but it is speculated that London authorities wanted to forcefully evict Holland after someone else purchased the property.
The siege might be the reason why we call the brothel Holland’s Leaguer as Holland is the name of its founder and leaguer means military camp.
If this is so, the real name of the brothel is unknown.
7 One Two Two, Paris
The One Two Two brothel was located at 122, Rue de Provence, Paris. It was deliberately named after its address to allow tourists locate it with ease.
One Two Two was owned by couple, Marcel Jamet and Mariane. It opened in 1924.
Like Le Chabanais, One Two Two featured themed rooms like the pirate room, which had a bed that swung back and forth with water squirting from the walls to mimic a boat on the high seas.
Another room was the Egyptian Hall, where the client pretended to be a pharaoh.
There was also the Oriental Express room that was fashioned after a cabin on the Oriental express train.
The room included train sounds and adventurous patrons could even request a train conductor to “unknowingly” barge in and join in the fun.
One Two Two was popular among Nazi soldiers during World War II and its owners were charged with working with the Nazis after the liberation of France.
It closed in 1946 when France outlawed brothels.
6 Lupanare, Pompeii
The Lupanare is named after Lupa, the Latin word for she-wolf. However, Lupa also doubled as a slang for prostitute.
The brothel was small with just five windowless rooms. Some names are engraved on the walls of each of the rooms. It is assumed that the names belong to the prostitutes or their clients.
The walls of the Lupanare are also covered with explicit sexual paintings that were probably used to advertise the services the girls offered.
Intercourse went for the equivalent of two loaves of bread and most clients quickly did their stuff without bothering to remove their sandals. We know this because the walls beside the beds are covered with sandal marks.
The Lupanare was well preserved after the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius and was only uncovered in 1862.
It has been renovated and is open for touring by curious personas. However, there are no girls there.
5 Continental Bath & Health Club, New York
The Continental Bath & Health club (also called Continental Baths) was founded by Steve Ostrow and his wife in 1968.
The lavish bath — which exclusively served a gay clientele — included a sauna, restaurant, boutique, salon and disco.
It had 400 single rooms where patrons had their fun in privacy and two large rooms where patrons engaged in orgies.
Most gays stopped patronizing the bath after its management started allowing straight male and female patrons into its discos.
This did not sit well with the gays who usually moved around with only a towel round their waist. They were also embarrassed by the stares they often got from the straight patrons.
Continental Bath & Health club closed down in 1975.
4 Columbia Hall, New York
Columbia Hall was a male-only brothel that opened around 1890.
It was nicknamed Paresis Hall, either after the name of a drug sold in its saloon.
Its in-house male prostitutes wore makeup, called themselves female names and imitated women in behavior and dressing.
Some patrons formed the Cercle Hermaphroditis club and maintained a permanent room where they engaged in their practice.
Newly initiated gays also had some sort of internship at the brothel where they were taught how to speak and behave like women.
3 Temple Of Aphrodite, Greece
The Temple of Aphrodite in Corinth, ancient Greece, was dedicated to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty and love.
It had hundreds of prostitutes — who were actually enslaved women — donated by wealthy Greeks seeking favors or as an act of appreciation to the goddess.
An unnamed athlete once donated a hundred women after he winning a competition.
The prostitutes did not receive their clients in the temple but in one of the many brothels surrounding it.
The rooms in the brothels had illustrations at their doors showing the services the prostitutes offered. All the money the prostitutes made was spent towards the upkeep of the temple.
The temple was famous with sailors who always stopped by at the port city to enjoy some of the action.
2 Big Brick, South Carolina
The Big Brick brothel in Charleston, South Carolina, was founded by Grace Peixotto in 1852.
Unlike other competing brothels, Peixotto took privacy very seriously.
Instead of using one large room where everyone saw the other person in full action, she partitioned her brothel into rooms where clients got down in privacy
This made it the brothel of choice among top socialites including several famous politicians, who made it their second home.
Peixotto ran Big Brick until her death in 1883. She was so associated with the brothel that no clergyman was wiling to perform her funeral rites during her burial.
Many people attended her burial, which remains the second longest in the history of Charleston.
1 Everard Baths, New York
The Everard baths, which was nicknamed Ever-hard baths, was a gay brothel disguised as a bath.
It was originally built as a church and it remained one until it was converted to a bathhouse in 1888.
It effectively became a brothel when its owners partitioned two of its floors into small cubicles where patrons engaged in their activities without disturbance.
Everard baths was exposed in 1977 after an early morning fire caused the death of least, nine people including a seventeen year old.
Witnesses reported seeing over 80 half-dressed men escaping from the building as it burned.
Everard baths reopened after the fire and remained in business until it was finally shut down in 1986 due to the AIDS epidemic.