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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

These two ads far predate the ones that I wrote about a few days ago when I wrote about advertising for sex.
The difference, naturally, is that these two involve people who were already going at it!

The text of both ads is here:

Will the young lady that used to meet Mr. Seele at Madame B.'s in Fourth avenue please send word where she is and how getting along? Address REAL NAME, station D.

A. - If the handsome Spaniard is in the city, will he please call on his friend ANITA MANZOE, at 123 West Twenty-seventh street?

I think it's fair to assume that these two ads both involved prostitutes. High-end escorts, I'm sure, but prostitutes nonetheless. The mention of "Madame B" in the first ad is a dead giveaway; "Anita Manzoe" could be a bit more open to interpretation, I guess, but odds are it's what it looks like.

As you can imagine, the reaction to this kind of ad was not very positive. And considering that newspapers did make their way into most people's homes, it was only natural to be concerned that young people (really, girls) might run across these and start figuring out what was going on. Even on Craigslist today they make you agree to a disclaimer that you're 18 and understand that there might be "adult content" (what? I read this stuff for research!) before letting you on the casual encounters page. So you won't be surprised to know that ads like this ultimately resulted in an obscenity trial against one particular newspaper, which it lost, and had to cancel its personals column altogether.

Later today I'll type out one or two of those letters that I've been promising to get to. Tune in for more.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein


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