Here’s a tidbit of news I wasn’t expecting to read this morning, James Lipton, yes, that James Lipton with the beard from Inside the Actors Studio, was a pimp in post-WWII Paris. I’ll let that sit for a minute. From People:
Lipton reveals that he was initially a friend of a prostitute who later ended up getting him into the business.
“When I ran out of money, I said, ‘I have to go home,'” he says. “She said, ‘No, you don’t. I’ll arrange for you.’ So she arranged for me to do it. I had to be okayed by the underworld, otherwise they would’ve found me floating in the Seine.”
Of that era, Lipton says, “Young women desperately needed money for various reasons. They were beautiful and young and extraordinary. There was no opprobrium because it was completely regulated. Every week they had to be inspected medically. The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days before the sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time.”
Only James Lipton could class up a story about pimping by throwing in a word like ‘opprobrium,’ which I actually had to look up…what the fuck are you waiting for? Look it up, asshole. Now that I know about his sordid past, it kind of makes sense. Think of the intense looks and line of questioning he grills actors with on ITAS, you can practically here him say “où est mon argent, putain?”