Paul Raymond (publisher)

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Paul Raymond
Geoffrey Anthony Quinn

15 November 1925
Liverpool, England
Died2 March 2008 (aged 82)
EducationSt Francis Xavier's College
  • Publisher
  • club owner
  • property developer
Known forPaul Raymond Publications
Soho Estates
SpouseJean Bradley (1951–1974)
The Raymond Revuebar in Walker's Court. (1997)

Paul Raymond (15 November 1925 – 2 March 2008), born Geoffrey Anthony Quinn, was an English strip-club owner, publisher of pornography and property developer who was dubbed the "King of Soho".[1][2]

After opening the UK's first nightclub to stage live striptease, Raymond launched Paul Raymond Publications with the soft-porn magazine Men Only, soon followed by Escort, Club International, Mayfair and many other titles. He bought property on a large scale and became wealthy.[1]

He was starting to hand over control to his daughter Debbie when she died of a heroin overdose in 1992, after which he became a recluse.[1]

Early life[edit]

Raymond was born in Liverpool to Frank Joseph (who later changed his surname to Quinn), and Maud McKeown, one of three sons of an Irish Roman Catholic family.[1] The family was abandoned by the father (a lorry driver)[2] when Raymond was five with the result that he was brought up by his mother,[3] who refused to allow the News of the World in the family home.[4] Raymond attended St Francis Xavier's College.[4] The outbreak of World War II prompted relocation to Glossop, Derbyshire, where he was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers.

Leaving school at 15, he was a Manchester Ship Canal office boy before taking up the drums with dance bands.[1] He was conscripted as a Bevin Boy down a coal mine, but gave up after a day and was found by police; he then did his National Service in the Royal Air Force,[4] while working as a switchboard operator and bandsman. A self-confessed spiv, he sold nylons and petrol coupons on the black market.[1][5] His name change occurred when, at 22, he attempted a show business career as a mind-reader on Clacton pier.[6]


The Lord Chamberlain's Office then controlled what was allowed on theatre stages and ruled that nudes could not move, thus when Raymond toured with a show featuring nudes they were presented as statues, which moved about the stage on podiums.[7] Raymond's preference, in this context, was for women between 18 and 30 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and with a chest measurement of no more than 36 inches. The reason for the latter provision, Raymond explained, was that "I wouldn’t like to embarrass my customers".[8]

He also circumvented the authority of the Lord Chamberlain's powers in 1958 when he opened the Raymond Revuebar strip club as a private club[7] in the former Doric Ballroom in Soho's Walker's Court.[9] He had been unimpressed with the first legal strip club in Soho, believing he could do better.[8] Within two years, Raymond's Revuebar had 45,000 members.[10] He also bought the freehold of his venue for £14,000 within a year or two, the beginnings of his property portfolio in Soho.[8]

According to Raymond's biographer, Paul Willetts, Raymond's Revuebar initially attracted a "chic clientele", including the actor John Mills and comedian Peter Sellers.[11] The seedy reputation of the club led to regular clashes with the authorities about show content.[11] In 1961, his club was called "filthy, disgusting and beastly" by the chairman of the London Sessions[a] when Raymond was fined £5,000[12] following a magistrate's decision that permitting members to ring the Ding Dong Girl's bells constituted running a disorderly house. There was also the issue about an onstage snake charmer who it was ruled should not have swallowed the snake in public.[1][4][5]

Raymond first moved into publishing in 1964 when he launched the men's magazine King, but it ceased publication[1] after two issues.[6] In 1971, he took over and relaunched the adult title Men Only from City Magazines[13] (it had been launched by C. Arthur Pearson Ltd in 1935);[14] his other magazines eventually included Razzle and Mayfair. Among the models featured in his magazines was Fiona Richmond, who became Raymond's girlfriend.[5] Jean Bradley was married to Raymond from 1951 to 1974, divorcing him over the relationship with Richmond and received a settlement of £250,000;[4][15] she died in 2002.[12] Richmond denied breaking the marriage in August 2008.[16]

In 1974, he purchased the lease on the Windmill Cinema and returned it to the original name, the Windmill Theatre,[15] though he relinquished it in 1986.[17] Other theatres controlled by Raymond included the Whitehall Theatre (acquiring its lease in 1968)[1] where the sex comedy Pyjama Tops ran for more than five years along with several sequels,[5] and the Royalty Theatre. When strip tease began to decline, Raymond let his Boulevard Theatre within the Revuebar in 1980 to The Comic Strip team and others pioneering the new "alternative comedy" of the time.[17][18]

Raymond diversified, investing millions into buildings and other property, especially in Soho starting in the 1970s,[19] through his company, Soho Estates.[20] During 1977, when many sex shops and strip clubs were closing because the police were active in closing them down, he was able to buy them cheaply.[2] In that year, he was buying one Soho freehold each week, and also acquired property in Chelsea, Kensington and Hampstead.[8] Raymond owned about 400 properties in the Soho area.[4] He was a frequent name on lists of the UK's wealthy reportedly with an estimated £650 million.[12] One associate claimed the estate was worth billions, though public records of assets overseas did not exist.[21] Forbes also placed him on its list of US dollar billionaires.[22]

Often dubbed by the press 'King of Soho',[23] he was the target of two extortion attempts,[24] which were disclosed in the October 2010 release of Metropolitan Police papers. The second attempt was from decorators who threatened Raymond with bombing and shooting while pretending to be members of the IRA.[25]

On 22 January 1967, Raymond was initiated into the Grand Order of Water Rats for his contribution to entertainment in the UK.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Around 1990 Raymond began to hand over control of his empire to his daughter Debbie (Deborah Jane Raymond, born 28 January 1956),[27] but she died from an accidental heroin overdose on 5 November 1992.[9][28] Debbie served as the editor-in-chief of the company's titles, as well as becoming involved in its property concerns.[27]

Raymond also had two sons; Derry McCarthy (born Darryl) being from a previous relationship with Noreen O'Horan (who had worked with Raymond as an assistant on his stage act), prior to his marriage (his proposal of marriage was rejected),[16] and Howard, his son by his wife Jean Bradley. Jean became estranged from him, blaming Debbie's death on Raymond.[29] Raymond acknowledged only four grandchildren: Cheyenne and Boston Raymond, from his son Howard, and the twin girls Fawn and India Rose James from his daughter Debbie.[2] Mark Quinn, a nephew, oversaw much of Raymond's business in his later years.[30]


A recluse in his last years and living in a penthouse near the Ritz Hotel,[10] he died of prostate cancer and respiratory failure in 2008, aged 82.[15] His granddaughters Fawn and India James inherited his estate[3] once estimated at £600 million in The Sunday Times Rich List in 2004. He had been estimated as worth £1.5 billion in 1994, overtaking the Duke of Westminster as Britain's wealthiest man.[4] Fawn announced her intention to commit to charity work in 2010.[31] Their combined wealth was estimated as £454 million in The Sunday Times Rich List of 2015.[3]

Film biography[edit]

The Look of Love (released 26 April 2013) is a film about his life.[32] Directed by Michael Winterbottom, it featured Steve Coogan as Raymond, Anna Friel as his wife Jean, Imogen Poots as his daughter Debbie and then-current Paul Raymond Publications employees and editors (extras or pseudo-cameos). The working title was The King of Soho, but this was changed as Howard Raymond had already trademarked it for another (as yet unmade) drama about his father's life; he stated that he had "never wanted or sought" to prevent Winterbottom's film being made.[33]


  1. ^ A court of quarter sessions was a local criminal and civil court of limited jurisdiction. They were abolished in England and Wales in 1972.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Paul Raymond". The Daily Telegraph. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d "Porn baron Raymond dies aged 82". BBC News. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Higgins, Ria (7 February 2016). "Relative Values: property tycoons India Rose and Fawn James". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 8 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016. (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Barker, Dennis (3 March 2008). "Obituary: Paul Raymond". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d "Paul Raymond: The Times obituary". The Times. London. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2020. (subscription required)
  6. ^ a b "The Real Paul Raymond". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 25 February 2004.
  7. ^ a b Booth, Jenny (3 March 2008). "Paul Raymond, porn baron who became 'the King of Soho', is dead". The Times. London. Retrieved 2 May 2020. (subscription required)
  8. ^ a b c d Barber, Lynn (29 August 2010). "Members Only by Paul Raymond". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 16 September 2015. (subscription required)
  9. ^ a b Arnold, Catharine (5 September 2010). "Members Only: The Life and Times of Paul Raymond by Paul Willetts". The Observer. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  10. ^ a b Rajan, Amol (4 March 2008). "Paul Raymond, the king of the Soho sex trade, dies aged 82". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  11. ^ a b Willetts, Paul (1 September 2010). "Why Paul Raymond, the porn king of Soho, was a hero". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Burns, John F. (7 March 2008). "Paul Raymond, Britain's Erotic Entertainment Magnate, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Men Only," Magforum. Archived at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved Apr. 20, 2021.
  14. ^ Bengry, Justin (2009). "Courting the Pink Pound: Men Only and the Queer Consumer, 1935—39". History Workshop Journal. 68 (68): 122–148. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbp006. JSTOR 40646167. PMID 20027700.
  15. ^ a b c Barker, Dennis (2013). Goldman, Lawrence (ed.). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005-2008. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 940. ISBN 9780199671540.
  16. ^ a b Brewis, Kathy (17 August 2008). "The real Paul Raymond". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011.
  17. ^ a b Baluch, Lalayn (3 March 2008). "Revuebar's Raymond dies at 82". The Stage. Archived from the original on 19 March 2012.
  18. ^ Johnson, David (1 January 1981). "Something Funny is Happening in Stripland". Over21, January issue, page 36, republished at Shapersofthe80s. London. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  19. ^ Sheridan, Simon; Perrone, Pierre (5 March 2008). "Obituary: Paul Raymond". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022.
  20. ^ Property and porn, Property Week, 3 November 2000
  21. ^ Laurance, Ben; Tomkinson, Martin (9 March 2008). "Paul Raymond heirs to clean up in Soho". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2 May 2020. (subscription required)
  22. ^ "The World's Billionaires: #1014 Paul Raymond". Forbes. 5 March 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  23. ^ Marsden, Sam (21 April 2013). "King of Soho Paul Raymond's 21-year-old granddaughter is youngest of Britain's 1,000 richest people". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  24. ^ Willetts, Paul (30 October 2010). "Letter: Give us the money – and two tickets to Pyjama Tops". The Guardian.
  25. ^ Bates, Stephen (29 October 2010). "Paul Raymond and Bob Guccione were threatened with blackmail". The Guardian.
  26. ^ "Paul Raymond: Blue Collar Rat". Grand Order of Water Rats. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  27. ^ a b Massingberd, Hugh, ed. (1998) [1997]. The Daily Telegraph Third Book of Obituaries: Entertainers. London & Basingstoke: Macmillan/Pan. pp. 270–71. ISBN 9780330367752.
  28. ^ Arlidge, John (27 January 1993). "Drugs binge led to accidental death of porn heiress". Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  29. ^ Walsh, Kate (4 July 2009). "Son to contest porn baron Paul Raymond's will". The Sunday Times.
  30. ^ Dawar, Anil (3 March 2008). "'King of Soho' Paul Raymond dies aged 82". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  31. ^ Walker, Tim (23 March 2010). "No Porn for Fawn James as she helps charity". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 March 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  32. ^ Korsner, Jason. "The Look of Love – Review". UK Screen. Archived from the original on 8 November 2013.
  33. ^ Steve Coogan porn king biopic to be renamed, BBC NEWS, 6 July 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema by Simon Sheridan (fourth edition) (Titan Publishing, London) (2011).
  • Men Only, Vol 37. No 4. April 1972. "The New Raymond Revuebar Show".
  • Today Magazine Vol 2. no 45. 31 December 1960. "Raymond King of the Strip Clubs". An article by Ernest Dudley.
  • Today Magazine January 1961. "A Nice Quiet Country Town, That's the Place for a Strip Club". An article by Ernest Dudley.
  • The Sunday Times Magazine, 23 November 1980. An article about Raymond.
  • The Soho Clarion, Issue 132, Spring 2008. "My Own Private Revuebar". An article by Gerard Simi in the Soho Society magazine.
  • The Sunday Times Magazine, "Virtue and Vice", 17 August 2008.
  • The Soho Clarion, Issue 136, Spring 2009. "When the Show Has To End". An article by Gerard Simi in the Soho Society magazine.
  • British Pathe film, Clubs Galore. Released 22 December 1958. Film no.1563.29. Raymond talks about the Raymond Revuebar.
  • "For the Record: Paul Raymond". LWT television programme 1969. Raymond interviewed by Alan Watson.
  • "Good Afternoon". Thames Television 1975. Raymond interviewed by Elaine Grand.
  • Paul Raymond's Erotica, Film and video. 1981.
  • A Night at the Revuebar. VHS Video. Electric Video. 1983.
  • "Soho Stories". BBC Two. 12 television documentary programmes screened from 28 October 1996 to 20 November 1996. Some programmes featured the Raymond Revuebar.
  • Soho Sex King: The Paul Raymond Story. Channel 4 TV documentary aired 15 March 2008. A shorter version, Sex in the 70's: The King of Soho, was produced in 2005 before his death.
  • Members Only: The Life and Times of Paul Raymond by Paul Willetts. London: Serpent's Tail, August 2010. ISBN 978-1-84668-715-0.
  • (retitled film tie-in edition) The Look of Love: Paul Raymond – Soho's King of Clubs by Paul Willetts. London: Serpent's Tail, April 2013. ISBN 978-1-84668-716-7.

External links[edit]