James Lipton Pimp Days in France Recalled in Parade Interview

Image: James Lipton Pimp Days in France Recalled in Parade Interview

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 09:49 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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James Lipton's entertainment career includes acting, writing, producing and composing. His old pimping gig in France, though, was not added to the resume until just recently.

Lipton, executive producer and host of the Bravo series "Inside the Actors Studio," told Parade magazine that he worked as a pimp in France in the 1950s when he needed to make money and the life working in bordellos were much different then.

"Yes, (I represented) a whole bordello," Lipton said of his experience as a Paris pimp. "I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year. The French didn’t exploit women. They represented them, like agents. And they took a cut. That’s how I lived. I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life."

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Lipton, dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, said when he ran out of money in Paris, a prostitute he befriended talked him into pimping. He said at that time, it was difficult for women to find work and prostitution was one of the few adventures open to them.

"We became great friends," Lipton said of the prostitute. "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 said law enforcement eventually stepped in and disrupted the sex trade industry there.

"Young women desperately needed money for various reasons," he said. "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."

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Lipton's long career includes producing TV specials for the legendary Bob Hope to more recently reprising the role of Warden Stefan Gentles on the Netflix series "Arrested Development."

"Inside the Actors Studio" is celebrating its 250th episode. (http://www.bravotv.com/inside-the-actors-studio) Lipton has interviewed some of the biggest names in Hollywood on his show, which premiered in 1994. The show reaches 89 million homes in 125 countries.

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