You know, you watch a guy’s show from time-to-time when he has an interesting guest, and you think you have him all figured out. But Inside the Actor’s Studio host James Lipton is so much more than we ever expected or knew, because he recently told Parade that when he lived in Paris in the 1950s, he had quite the peculiar profession for such a classy gentleman – he was a pimp.
But while Lipton’s days as “protection” aren’t much of a secret – he previously revealed the details in his book, “Inside Inside” – he still told Parade that during his time in Paris, men and women alike couldn’t find work, so the ladies resorted to working in the legal and regulated bordellos, since they even offered medical testing. So when a dude like Lipton was in trouble, one of his lady of the night friends hooked him up with a security gig.
Is it true you were a pimp in Paris in the 1950s?
“I was. It was only a few years after the war. Paris was different then, still poor. Men couldn’t get jobs and, in the male chauvinist Paris of that time, the women couldn’t get work at all. It was perfectly respectable for them to go into le milieu.”
“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.”
How did your involvement come about? You became friends with one of the prostitutes in Paris?
“We became great friends. When I ran out of money, I said, ‘I have to go home.’ 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.”
Lipton also claimed that he represented the entire bordello, but he especially looked out for that one lady who previously looked out for him. In his book, he wrote that he mostly set up parties for young Americans who didn’t speak much French.
“I had to accompany my clientelle to the Rue Pigalle, which is where these things occurred. And then I’d take them up to the room and I had to remain there because they were very nervous, they were young Americans for the most part… and they didn’t speak French.”
While he only worked as a pimp for one year, he called it his “rite of passage” and, more importantly, it kept him from starving. For all we know, Lipton was the inspiration for Will Ferrell’s “Gator” in The Other Guys. After all, he does have a knack for playing Lipton.