List of prostitutes and courtesans

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This list of prostitutes and courtesans includes famous persons who have engaged in prostitution, pimping and courtesan work.


Nell Gwyn, ca 1675
Madame du Barry

Ancient world[edit]

Early Modern era[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

  • Polly Adler, New York madam, 1920s to 1940s
  • Air Force Amy, a legal prostitute in Nevada, pornographic actress, and adult model, who starred in the HBO television documentary series Cathouse: The Series. MSNBC has called her "a living legend in the world of sex."
  • Josie Arlington, madam in Storyville, New Orleans
  • Caridad la Negra (María de la Caridad Norberta Pacheco Sánchez} Spanish prostitute and madam, early to mid-20c
  • Suzy Favor-Hamilton, 3 time Olympian for Track and Field, and the subject of intense publicity when her activities as an escort became public.[2]
  • Heidi Fleiss, a.k.a. the "Hollywood Madam", ran an upscale prostitution ring based in Los Angeles during the 1990s
  • Mata Hari (born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle), Dutch spy
  • Xaviera Hollander, author of the memoir The Happy Hooker: My Own Story
  • La Macorina High class Cuban prostitute, 1910s to 1930s
  • Carol Leigh, a.k.a. Scarlot Harlot, coined the term "sex worker"[3]
  • Brooke Magnanti, blogger and scientist who wrote as Belle de Jour and was the inspiration for Billie Piper's character in Secret Diary of a Call Girl
  • Barbara Payton, American actress turned prostitute[4]
  • Charlotte Rose, an English sex worker, dominatrix, sexual trainer and political candidate
  • Annie Sprinkle, American sex worker, porn star, and sex educator and writer
  • Valérie Tasso, French author
  • Sheila Vogel-Coupe, at 85+ the oldest prostitute in the United Kingdom and, possibly, the world
  • Clara Ward, Princesse de Caraman-Chimay, daughter of a Michigan lumberman who spent most of her life in Europe
  • Lulu White, madam in Storyville, New Orleans
  • Estella Marie Thompson, also known as Divine Brown, an American and former prostitute who gained public attention in 1995 when actor Hugh Grant was caught receiving oral sex from her in his car
  • Kimberly Daniels, former sex worker and drug addict who became a prolific author, religious minister and member of the Florida House of Representatives; introduced successful legislation to put In God we trust in Florida school classrooms


In literature[edit]

Vasantasena from the Sanskrit play Mṛcchakatika

Film, television, and musical theater[edit]

Blanche Simmons (Louise Jameson), Dorothy Bennett (Veronica Roberts) and Maggie Thorpe (Lizzie Mickery) in Tenko are all to some degree prostitutes. Maggie is intended to be a replacement for Blanche as by the 3rd series of Tenko, Blanche dies offscreen as a result of beri-beri.

Symbolic or allegorical prostitutes[edit]

Myth and legend[edit]

  • Agatha - English prostitute, mother of Mother Shipton
  • Basileia (Ancient Greece) - in Pandemos, this goddess was mainly a goddess for prostitutes or courtesans[5]
  • Bebhinn (Celts of the British Isles) - the goddess of pleasure
  • Belili (Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Philistines, & Canaanites) - her worship required sacred prostitution
  • Gomer, a prostitute whom God commanded Hosea to marry in the biblical Book of Hosea
  • Mary Magdalene was supposed to have been a prostitute by those who identified her with the sinful woman in Luke 7:36–50, an identification now generally abandoned[6]
  • Naamah (Hebrews) - an angel of prostitution, one of the succubus mates of the demon Samael in Zoharistic Qabalah
  • Rahab, Biblical prostitute who assisted the Hebrews in capturing Jericho (Joshua 2:1–7)
  • Shamhat (Sumer/Babylon)[7]
  • Xochiquetzal (Aztecs) - the goddess of prostitutes, pregnant women, & dancing
  • Alexandra Dé Broussehan (Irish Celts) - a woman turned spirit of prostitution, caused a war between the Callahan and Lawlor Clans, and often associated with Korrigan whose worship involved sacred prostitution[8]


  1. ^ Commire, Anne, ed. (2002). "Jeanne Brécourt". Women in World History: A biographical encyclopedia.
  2. ^ Suzy Favor Hamilton
  3. ^ Welcome to the World of Scarlot Harlot, her own web site, accessed 28 August 2006; Carol Leigh, Unrepentant Whore: Collected Works Of Scarlot Harlot, Last Gasp, 2004.
  4. ^ O'Dowd, John. "Hollywood Bad Girl Barbara Payton".
  5. ^ McNeill, Maggie (23 December 2010). "Whore Goddesses". The Honest Courtesan. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  6. ^ Filteau, Jerry "Scholars seek to correct Christian tradition on Mary Magdalene," Catholic News Service May 1, 2006. [1]
  7. ^ Ditmore, Melissa Hope (ed), Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, Volume 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, pp.34-5.
  8. ^ Charles Squire Celtic Myth and Legend