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Paul Raymond

Blue Collar Rat

Water Rat Number 644 - initiated into the Order 22nd January 1967

Proposer: Cyril Dowler Seconder: Johnie Riscoe

Paul Raymond was born Geoffrey Anthony Quinn, the son of a Liverpool haulage contractor on 11th November 1925, he was raised by his mother in Glossop where he was educated by the Christian Brothers.

He left Glossop at the age of 17 determined to break into show business, and at the age of 22 changed his name when he had his first break, taking over a mind-reading act on Clacton pier.

He discovered that his real talent was as a producer and toured Britain with a vaudeville show featuring topless women standing still as statues. This was to comply with a ruling by the Lord Chancellor, who oversaw theatre licensing, forbidding any movement by nudes on stage.

His breakthrough came when he discovered that private clubs were not covered by the Lord Chancellor's ruling, and in 1958 he opened his flagship members-only club, the Raymond Revuebar, with glamorous stage shows including female striptease. It was an instant success, attracting a clientele of the flash, the fashionable and the louche.

By now Raymond was married to Jean, a former dancer, and had two children, Howard and Debbie. He already had a son, Derry, by an earlier relationship, although he parted with Derry's mother before the birth and it was many years before he met the boy.

He bought the Whitehall Theatre in the West End in the late 1960s and used it to stage a series of saucy farces including "Yes, We Have No Pyjamas". He invented the market for top shelf, glossy porn magazines with the launch of 'Men Only' magazine in 1971, followed by 'Club International' in 1972. Raymond always maintained that his publications had serious factual content and that he was a showman, not a pornographer.

His marriage ended in 1974 after his affair with Fiona Richmond, a swimmer and model who appeared in his stage shows and magazines, became public knowledge.

When the police cracked down on sex shops in Soho in 1977 and many were forced to close, Raymond took advantage of falling property prices to buy up the freeholds of whole streets. He is understood to own 60 of the 87 acres of Soho, including much of the north side of Old Compton Street, properties in Romilly and Greek streets, and part of Archer Street where his Paul Raymond Organisation is based. Raymond himself was a familiar sight in Soho, rolling up outside the club in a Rolls-Royce and fur coat.

Raymond groomed his daughter Debbie to take over the running of his businesses until her death from an apparently accidental drugs overdose in 1992, at the age of 36. Always reluctant to enter the limelight, after this he became a virtual recluse in his London penthouse flat behind the Ritz His business interests are now overseen by a nephew, Mark Quinn.
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