Paul Raymond (publisher)

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Paul Raymond
Paul Raymond.jpg
Geoffrey Anthony Quinn

15 November 1925
Liverpool, England
Died2 March 2008 (aged 82)
EducationSt Francis Xavier's College
Occupationpublisher, club owner, and property developer
Known forPaul Raymond Publications
Soho Estates
Spouse(s)Jean Bradley (1951–74)
ChildrenDebbie Raymond, Howard Raymond, Derry McCarthy
RelativesCheyenne and Boston Raymond, from son Howard, and Fawn and India Rose James from daughter Debbie (grandchildren)
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 widely dubbed the "King of Soho".[1][2]

After opening the UK's first nightclub to stage live striptease, Raymond became very wealthy, buying property on a large scale and launched Paul Raymond Publications with the soft-porn magazine Men Only, soon followed by Escort, Club International, Mayfair and many other titles.[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 and raised in Liverpool; the family was abandoned by the father (a haulage contractor) when Raymond was five with the result that he was brought up by his mother.[3] 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] Feigning a heart condition, he avoided imprisonment for evading National Service and instead served as a switchboard operator and bandsman, while a self-confessed spiv selling nylons and petrol coupons on the black market.[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 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, Raymond was fined £5,000 following a magistrate's decision that permitting members to ring the Ding Dong Girl's bells constituted an "unruly house".[1] There was also the issue about an on stage performer swallowing a snake earning the club an official reputation as "filthy, disgusting and beastly".[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 the adult title Men Only; his other magazines eventually included Razzle and Mayfair. Among the models featured in his magazines was Fiona Richmond, who became Raymond's girlfriend towards the end of his marriage to Jean Bradley (1951–74).[5]

In 1974, he purchased the lease on the Windmill Cinema and returned it to the original name, the Windmill Theatre. Other theatres controlled by Raymond included the Whitehall Theatre 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 led by Alexei Sayle and Peter Richardson, who were pioneering the emerging "alternative comedy" of the time.[12]

Raymond diversified, investing millions into buildings and other property, especially in Soho starting in the 1970s,[13] through his company, Soho Estates.[14] During 1977, he was buying one Soho freehold each week, and also acquired property in Chelsea, Kensington and Hampstead.[8] He was a frequent name on lists of the UK's wealthy reportedly with an estimated £650 million by the time of his death (one associate claimed the estate was worth billions),[15] and Forbes placed him on its list of US dollar billionaires.[16]

Often dubbed by the press 'King of Soho',[17] he was the target of two extortion attempts,[18] which was 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.[19]

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

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),[20] but she died accidentally from a heroin overdose on 5 November 1992.[9][21] Debbie served as the editor-in-chief of the company's titles, as well as becoming involved in its property concerns.[20]

Raymond also had two sons; Derry McCarthy (born Darryl) being from a previous relationship prior to his marriage (the woman rejecting his proposal),[22] and Howard, his son by his wife Jean Bradley. Jean became estranged from him, blaming Debbie's death on Raymond.[23] Raymond acknowledged only four grandchildren: Cheyenne and Boston Raymond, from his son Howard, and Fawn and India Rose James from his daughter Debbie.[24]


A recluse in his last years and living in a penthouse near the Ritz Hotel,[10] he died of respiratory failure in 2008, age 82.[25] His granddaughters Fawn and India James inherited his estate[3] once estimated at £650 million. Fawn announced her intention to commit to charity work in 2010.[26] 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 about his life:[27] Michael Winterbottom (director), Steve Coogan (Raymond), Anna Friel (wife, Jean), Imogen Poots (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.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Obituary: Paul Raymond, Daily Telegraph, 3 March 2008
  2. ^ "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. Retrieved 7 February 2016. (subscription required)
  4. ^ Dennis Barker Obituary: Paul Raymond, The Guardian, 3 March 2008
  5. ^ a b c d Obituary: Paul Raymond, The Times, 3 March 2008
  6. ^ a b The Real Paul Raymond, Channel 4 publicity
  7. ^ a b Jenny Booth "Paul Raymond, porn baron who became 'the King of Soho', is dead", The Times, 3 March 2008
  8. ^ a b c d Barber, Lynn (29 August 2010). "Members Only by Paul Raymond". The Sunsday Times. Retrieved 16 September 2015. (subscription required)
  9. ^ a b Catharine Arnold Review: "Members Only: The Life and Times of Paul Raymond by Paul Willetts", The Observer, 5 September 2010
  10. ^ a b Amol Rajan "Paul Raymond, the king of the Soho sex trade, dies aged 82", The Independent, 4 March 2008
  11. ^ a b Paul Willetts "Why Paul Raymond, the porn king of Soho, was a hero", Daily Telegraph, 1 September 2010
  12. ^ Johnson, David (1 January 1981). "Something Funny is Happening in Stripland". Over21, January issue, page 36, republished at Shapersofthe80s. London. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  13. ^ Simon Sheridan & Pierre Perrone Obituary: Paul Raymond, The Independent, 5 March 2008
  14. ^ Property and porn, Property Week, 3 November 2000
  15. ^ Ben Laurance and Martin Tomkinson "Paul Raymond heirs to clean up in Soho", The Sunday Times, 9 March 2008
  16. ^ #1014 Paul Raymond, Forbes, 5 March 2008
  17. ^ [1], The Telegraph, 21 April 2013
  18. ^ Paul Willetts "Letter: Give us the money – and two tickets to Pyjama Tops", The Guardian, 30 October 2010
  19. ^ Stephen Bates "Paul Raymond and Bob Guccione were threatened with blackmail", The Guardian, 29 October 2010
  20. ^ a b Massingberd, Hugh, ed. (1998) [1997]. The Daily Telegraph Third Book of Obituaries: Entertainers. London & Basingstoke: Macmillan/Pan. pp. 270–71.
  21. ^ Arlidge, John (27 January 1993). "Drugs binge led to accidental death of porn heiress". Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  22. ^ Kathy Brewis "The real Paul Raymond", The Times, 17 August 2008
  23. ^ Kate Walsh "Son to contest porn baron Paul Raymond's will", The Sunday Times, 4 July 2009
  24. ^ "Porn baron Raymond dies aged 82". BBC News. 3 March 2008.
  25. ^ Helen Weathers "How my ruthless father tore our family apart, by Paul Raymond's son", Daily Mail, 8 March 2008
  26. ^ Tim Walker, "No Porn for Fawn James as she helps charity", Daily Telegraph, 23 March 2010
  27. ^ UK Screen review of The Look of Love UK Screen
  28. ^ 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 Paul 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. Paul Raymond talks about the Raymond Revuebar.
  • "For the Record:Paul Raymond". LWT television programme 1969.Paul Raymond is interviewed by Alan Watson.
  • "Good Afternoon".Thames Television 1975.Paul Raymond is 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]