Cynthia Payne

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Cynthia Payne wm.jpg
Cynthia Payne
Born (1932-12-24)24 December 1932
Bognor Regis, Sussex, England, UK
Died 15 November 2015(2015-11-15) (aged 82)
Nationality British
Occupation Madam
Known for Running a brothel
Notable work Entertaining at Home

Cynthia Payne (24 December 1932 – 15 November 2015) was an English brothel keeper[1] and party hostess who made the headlines in the 1970s and 1980s, when she was acquitted of running a brothel at 32 Ambleside Avenue, in Streatham, a southwestern suburb of London.[2][3]

Payne first came to national attention in 1978 when police raided her home and found a sex party was in progress. Men paid with luncheon vouchers to dress up in lingerie and be spanked by young women.[4] Police found 53 men at her residence, in varying levels of undress, which included "a peer of the realm, an MP, a number of solicitors and company directors and several vicars". A cartoon in the press at the time, according to Sarah Baxter in The Sunday Times, "showed a vicar in bed with a prostitute, confronted by a policeman. 'I demand to see my solicitor,' said the vicar, 'who is in the next bedroom.'"[5] When the case came to trial in 1980, she was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, reduced to a fine and six months on appeal.[6] She served four months in Holloway prison.[4]

In 1986, the police raided her home again, this time during a "special party" she was hosting after shooting the film of her life had been completed. Although she was acquitted on this occasion,[6] the resulting court case in 1987 made headlines for several weeks with lurid tales, some details of which she aired on The Dame Edna Experience in 1987, with co-guests Sir John Mills and Rudolf Nureyev, on which she also launched her book, Entertaining at Home. The court case ended her career as a party giver.

On the programme, she expressed an interest in becoming a Member of Parliament in order to change Britain's sex laws, which she followed through by standing for Parliament as a candidate for the Payne and Pleasure Party in the Kensington by-election in July 1988, followed by her standing in her own area of Streatham for the Rainbow Dream Ticket in the 1992 UK General Election. She did not gain a parliamentary seat.

There are two films that are loosely based on her life, both released in 1987: Wish You Were Here, about her adolescence, with Emily Lloyd in the lead role, and Personal Services, about her adult life, starring Julie Walters. Both were written (and Wish You Were Here was directed) by David Leland.

Payne made appearances as an after-dinner speaker and launched a range of "adult" services and products in 2006.

Payne died on 15 November 2015, aged 82.[7]

Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brothel keeper Cynthia Payne dies". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  2. ^ "Cynthia Payne trial". London: The Times. 12 February 1987. Retrieved 2008-04-04. [dead link]
  3. ^ "On This Day - The Times, February 12, 1987". The Times. 12 February 2003. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Hugh Davies "Payne's sex party souvenirs for sale", Daily Telegraph, 14 December 2004
  5. ^ Baxter, Sarah (22 November 2015). "So long, Madam Cyn, a spanking, ethical example to us all". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 22 November 2015.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ a b "1987: Mrs Payne is no brothel Madam", BBC On This Day, 11 February
  7. ^ "Former Brothel Owner Cynthia Payne Dies At 82". Sky News. 15 November 2015. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 

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