Review - Book - Madame Millie
I have been doing some research in the area of Old West bordellos and found this interesting book, set a little after the Old West (in the twentieth century), but the practices are similar and the rural townships are similar, it was still worthwhile to read.
Mildred Clark Cusey lived from the 1920's - 1970's periods. She was also known as Silver City Millie.
Mildred started her career as a Harvey Girl waitress on the Santa Fe Railroad line. This was a "prestigous" gig in those days.
A lot of people wonder why a woman would turn to prostitution if there were other opportunities to make money (cooking, washing, etc). Take a look at these stats and you can see that a woman could become very wealthy:
In Virginia City, Nevada =, during the Washoe Rush, there were 2379 men and only 147 women. Another stat says in many booming areas, there were 7 men to every 1 woman.
Of course, the problem comes when soiled doves start heading to a place. Then there is too much competition and the prices go down.
For example, in Cripple Creek, Colorado in the 1890's, there was a five mile stretch of "red light district" that featured every type of woman and race. In comstock, Nevada there were 307 prostitutes in 1875 (almost 10 percent were under 18 years old). Another example, Rawhide, Nevada's "Stingaree Gulch" stretched a quarter of a mile with over 500 women.
There was another side to prostitution - drugs. Laudanum (a derivative of opium) was readily available and girls often overdoesed. Suicide was also high among "fallen angles"
An interesting marketing technique performed by Jennie Rogers in Denver, she would take her girls on a coach ride through town to show what was available. Another marketing tool was full-length photographs of girls dressed in their best outfits and these cards were given to their favorite customers. For Mille, she would have a new girl walk a poodle downtown with a special hat to advertise she was available for business.
The term "Red Light District" came about from the red lantern railroaders hung outside the brothel so that the trainmaster could find them if needed (during the day or night).
Posted by Wendy Quest