Sassy by name, Sassy by nature, I write to explode the myths which surround the lapdancing profession - standing up for the clubs, the girls and the customers. Its not always drinking champagne and playing with my tits - it can be hassle, hustling and hangovers. At heart I'm just a regular twenty-something posh cockney living in London who likes taking her clothes off...
Whilst knowing about this fascinating list of all the whores to be found in Covent Garden in the 18th Century, I haven’t got my dirty little hands on a copy of Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies – until now. It seems that the fashion for all things historical and sexual has reached the till points of our local bookshops, because that is just where I found it – Waterstone’s Piccadilly, 4th floor.
For those unable to make the delightful journey to the beating heart of London, I am reviewing the book and providing a quick link to Amazon so you can check out the descriptions of these delightful ladies for yourself.
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As the name implies, it is a list penned in the name of Jack Harris, ‘Pimp-General-of-all-England’, of all the prostitute’s that trod the streets and music halls of Georgian Covent Garden. It was a bestseller in it’s time, shifting a whacking 250,000 copies, in a time when the population of London was only 750,000 souls. That’s a serious amount of hopeful punter’s looking for the biggest bang for their buck – or the classiest and most skilled lady of the night for their guinea.
To my modern eye, it’s beautifully written, with vivid and lyrical descriptions, girl by quivering girl, woman by delicious woman, skill by nefarious, dark and naughty skill. Oh that a modern day punter would write such descriptions of lapdancer’s like me, rather than ‘she’s fit’ or ‘nice ass’. Take this for example;
“Our nymph seems cast by nature in one of the happiest moulds and happiest hours of love. She is tall and elegantly made, with a fair complexion, and about nineteen years of age: her eyes seem to beat an alarm to that of love, which her tongue, one would suppose, would invite to a parley with.” (Harris on Mifs Wa-s, No.60, New Malden Street)
or this hilarious description;
“A little diminutive, smirking, lecherous hussey, a very wart upon the crudities of Venus.” (Harris on Bet Ellis, Chandos Street)
Like the original list itself, this book doesn’t cost too much, but I’ve had a right laugh reading it’s vivid descriptions of who would do what for how much – exactly the kind of gossip that we peddle to customers, and bitch about between ourselves in the changing room each night. Although I am a lapdancer, in the eyes of the law I am a sexworker, just like these ladies of yore and in my eyes there are many instances where the two industries overlap – girls who work as dancers and perform tricks, or customers asking me to go back to their hotel for a ‘cuddle’ (yeah right!) If you want to see what life was like for a prostitute in London from a punters point of view, or simply want a historical look at the sex lives of Londoner’s, then grab a copy of Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies
and settle down in a comfy spot where you can let your imagination and hands roam freely. With 150 pages, there is bound to be at least one woman or a sexual practice that ignites your desires.