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A brilliantly imaginative, illustrated recreation of an 1890s Los Angeles pocket guide, or "Sporting Guide," to the brothels of the day.
Los Angeles, 1897, When Vice Ruled The City
Long before the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Los Angeles was a city where dreamers from all over the world came to make their fortunes—where a madam named Pearl Morton entertained the most powerful politicians and entrepreneurs inside her namesake brothel. In a series of haunting, interlinked stories set in the period, author and filmmaker Liz Goldwyn re-creates a “sporting guide”—a secret diary and guidebook of the best brothels and prostitutes in the city. In this world a hushed conversation inside a velvet-lined boudoir could destroy a man, and the rustle of bushes might reveal a sordid assignation. Based on original research in the libraries and archives of Los Angeles, these fictional stories are often inspired by real historical characters—like the laudanum-addicted Cora Phillips, whose tombstone Goldwyn rediscovered, or Bartolo Ballerino, Italian immigrant slumlord of the forgotten red-light district, or thirteen-year-old Frances dreaming of life beyond the Children’s Orphan Asylum. Interspersed in these stories—and featuring over a hundred historical photos and illustrations—Goldwyn reveals the history of the period, from the rage for corsets to crushed pearl powder cosmetics and the awful cures for syphilis. Sporting Guide evokes a lost world of those on the margins of Los Angeles, of the hustlers who made it into one of the great cities of the world, and Goldwyn gives a poignant voice to the people and stories forgotten by time.
Liz Goldwyn is a writer, filmmaker, and artist living and working in Los Angeles. She is the writer and director of the documentary Pretty Things (HBO, 2005) based on her non-fiction book Pretty Things: the Last Generation of American Burlesque Queens, (HarperCollins 2006 Hardcover, 2010 Paperback). Goldwyn’s short films include Underwater Ballet (2008), LA at Night (2009), The Painted Lady (2012) and Dear Diary (2013). Goldwyn was New York Editor of French Vogue from 2001 to 2002 and has contributed to publications including the New York Times Magazine, the Financial Times, British Vogue and C Magazine. In September 2014 she became the first guest editor of Town & Country in its’ 168-year history. She has been commissioned as an artist and designer by MAC Cosmetics, Van Cleef & Arpels, Altamont Apparel, and Le Bon Marché and has created jewelry for feature films including Running With Scissors (2006). A collector and authority on vintage clothing since the age of thirteen, Goldwyn was hired as consultant and curator for Sotheby’s newly created fashion department in 1997 while still in college. In 2014 Goldwyn founded Vintage Vanguard with partner Karen Elson, an innovative fundraising project supporting women’s issues. Goldwyn continues her work with writing, film, and design.