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Paul Raymond (15 November 1925 – 2 March 2008), born Geoffrey Anthony Quinn, was an English publisher, club owner, and real estate developer.
After opening the UK's first strip club, Raymond became very wealthy, buying property on a scale that got him dubbed "King of Soho", and launching Paul Raymond Publications with the soft-porn magazine Men Only, soon followed by Escort, Club International, Mayfair and many other best-selling titles. He was starting to hand over control to his daughter Debbie when she died of an overdose in 1992, after which he became a recluse.
Born and raised in Liverpool, the family was abandoned by the father (a haulage contractor) when he was five. He also attended St. Francis Xavier's College. 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. Feigning a heart condition, he avoided imprisonment for evading National Service instead served as a switchboard operator and bandsman all the while a self-confessed spiv selling nylons and petrol coupons on the black market. His name change occurred when, at 22, he attempted a show business career as a mind-reader on Clacton pier.
The Lord Chamberlain's Office controlled what was allowed on theatre stages and ruled that nudes could not move so when he toured with a show featuring nudes they were presented as statues, which moved about the stage on podiums; 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 in the former Doric Ballroom in Soho's Walker's Court, the first British strip club. Within two years it had 45,000 members.
The seedy reputation of the clubs did not stop regular attendance by celebrities, including the actor John Mills and comedian Peter Sellers. Nevertheless, there were regular clashes with the authorities about show content. 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". There was also the issue about an on stage performer swallowing a snake earning the an official reputation as "filthy, disgusting and beastly".
Publishing was launched in 1964 with the short lived men's magazine King (ceased publication after two issues). 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 were Fiona Richmond, who became Raymond's girlfriend towards the end of his marriage to Jean Bradley (1951–74).
On 22 January 1967, Raymond was initiated into the Grand Order of Water Rats for his contribution to entertainment in the UK.In 1974, he purchased the lease on the Windmill Cinema and return 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, and the Royalty Theatre.
Raymond diversified, investing millions into buildings and real estate, notably in Soho starting in the 1970s, through his company, Soho Estates. 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), and Forbes placed him on its list of US dollar billionaires. Often dubbed by the press 'King of Soho'. He was the target of two extortion attempts, released Metropolitan Police papers in October 2010 disclosed. The second attempt, presumed the IRA, were decorators threatening Raymond with bombing and shooting.
Around 1990 Raymond began to hand over control of his empire to his daughter Debbie until her death from a heroin overdose in 1992. Raymond also had two sons; Derry McCarthy (born Darryl) being from a previous relationship prior to his marriage (the woman rejecting his proposal). His ex-wife Jean Bradley became estranged blaming Debbie's death on Raymond. Raymond acknowledged only four grandchildren: Cheyenne and Boston Raymond, from son Howard, and Fawn and India Rose James from daughter Debbie.
A recluse in his last years and living in a penthouse near the Ritz Hotel, he died of respiratory failure in 2008, age 82. His granddaughters Fawn and India James stand to inherit his estate once estimated at £650m. Fawn plans to devote herself to charity work.
The Look of Love (released, 26 April 2013) is about his life: 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, The King of Soho (trademarked by a Raymond son) prompted a title change.