As the exhibition 'A Paul Raymond Show' opens at Soho Revue gallery this week, Londoners will have a rare opportunity to peep into the life of the self-appointed ‘King of Soho’, the man who transformed the area into the smut centre of the city.
These days Soho is overrun with gourmet burgers and bubble teas instead of neon signs and striptease, but in the 1960s and ’70s, it was at the heart of London’s sexual revolution. Paul Raymond opened the UK’s first strip club, Raymond Revuebar here in 1958, and went on to buy up half of W1, filling it with member’s bars, clubs and x-rated theatres staging shows with Benny Hill-esque titles like 'Come in to My Bed, Let's Get Laid' and 'Yes, We Have No Pyjamas'. To get around the restrictions of Lord Chamberlain’s Office at the time, the Revuebar performances consisted of topless women standing motionless on the stage. Raymond had many guises: he was a showbiz hustler, a property mogul, club owner and publisher, running soft-core porn magazines Razzle, Men Only and Escort.
Organised by the businessman’s granddaughter India James and curator Alexandra Wood, 'A Paul Raymond Show' will be a mix of live performances, video and photographs of the proto-Soho days. Here are a few of our favourites:
A Paul Raymond Show is open to the public at the Soho Revue Gallery, February 2–8.