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Here's a look at five famous madams from around the world who were pioneers in the industry. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Though born a common woman, Elizabeth Cresswell rose up the ranks of social status and became one of the wealthiest independent female brothel owners in 17th century England. Being somewhat protected by King Charles II — since many high ranking court members were patrons of her business — Cresswell had a network of brothels extending throughout Great Britain, which featured a variety of women including some noble women at her customers' disposal.
She became so famous that she was a fixture of pop culture and political propaganda during her lifetime. Already established as successful prostitutes and brothel owners, Marguerite Gourdan and Justine Paris decided to combine their business savvy to create the most famous brothel in 18th century Paris.
The brothel offered a variety of services for both high and low end clientele. There were special rooms for taboo affairs, and the ladies allowed willing members of the French court to volunteer at the brothel. The famous Cassanova even used it as a setting for his memoirs. Although business was booming, Justine never got to see the extent of its success; she died of syphilis the same year she opened the famous bordello with Marguerite.
Justine Paris and Marguerite Gourdan weren't the only women who decided to go into business together. In , sisters Ada and Minna Everleigh opened the Everleigh Club in Chicago — the most extravagant and successful brothel in America that hosted millionaires, politicians and international royalty. With high standards and rules, the club was actually known as one of the best places to be employed in the city. When vice laws shut the brothel down 11 years later, the Everleigh sisters walked away with millions.
In , the same year that the Everleigh sisters opened up their business in Chicago, Tilly Devine was born down under in Sydney, Australia. Devine became a wanted crime lord — working as both an infamous thief, drug dealer, and a legal owner of most of the bordellos in Sydney.