The Look of Love sees Steve Coogan take on the role of Paul Raymond, the charismatic yet controversial entrepreneur responsible for single-handedly transforming Soho from a drab backstreet into the square mile of vice, sauce and sex we know today. Many of Raymond’s venues are still open, comfortably nuzzled alongside the new trendy media companies and restaurants that have filtered the district over the last decades. It’s pretty hard to believe that this little-known man was once the country’s richest, most successful man and Britain’s answer to Hugh Heffner.
To become a self-styled ‘King of Soho’ you need to love the area itself. Having invested in a synthetic suit and grown a suitably pornstar-esque moustache, put on your cuban heels and take a walk through the cobbled streets of the district, stopping off at rustic watering holes and Kettner’s bar for a classic cocktail to really get into the spirit of Soho.
Work your own PR like a pro
To celebrate the opening of his newest venue, Paul arranged for his lover, Fiona Richmond to ride naked through Soho’s streets on a white horse in a risqué publicity stunt, causing outrage in the press and landing him a fine. But as they say – all publicity’s good publicity!
Make the best out of a bad situation
During a show at the Empire theatre in Nottingham, one of lions in a saucy act entitled “Nudes in the Lions Den” attacked the lion tamer. Although his glove gradually became saturated with blood throughout the performance, he carried on through gritted teeth: the show was not cancelled and the incident provided Raymond with incredible publicity.
Think outside the box
A ruling from The Lord Chamberlain’s office forbade nudes from moving on stage in public theatre. Raymond got around this by touring with a group of nude girls who posed as statues and were moved around on podiums, additionally he bypassed this rule by discovering another legal loophole, and making his clubs members only. Crafty!
Know your audience
Raymond spent the start of his career touring the piers of Liverpool with his own mind reading act, and in those minds he discerned that sex certainly sells. By the start of the 1950s he introduced a new performance act, “Nudes in the Night”, into the variety tours he was organising and sales immediately rocketed!
…But know your limits
One of Raymond’s acts involved a ‘Miss Snake Hips’, who performed with a nine-foot-long boa constrictor. On her opening night at Raymond’s Revuebar, the boa got aggressive and started to squeeze… The dancer was rescued by Raymond’s doorman, but after this, he restricted himself to less dangerous acts, such as one featuring a horse trained to remove girls’ underwear. A simple trick which entailed sugar lumps attached to the lingerie at strategic points – effective enough to raise a cheer but safe enough to ensure that neither strippers nor animal were injured!
The Look of Love is out today in UK Cinemas