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Julius Hunter Talks About Two 'Millionaire Bordello Madams' In Post-Civil War St. Louis

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(Courtesy: Julius Hunter)
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“I like to think they were the darker skinned Kardashians of their era,” Julius Hunter said of Priscilla Henry and Sarah “Babe” Connor. Hunter is a longtime KMOV newsman, respected author, and St. Louis native.

Both African-American women, Priscilla and Babe were born enslaved- one on a plantation in Alabama, one on a plantation outside Nashville. Later in life they set up the most “luxurious, the most opulent bordellos in St. Louis,” and they are the topic of Julius Hunter’s new creative non-fiction work, “Priscilla & Babe: From Slavery’s Shackles to Millionaire Bordello Madams in Victorian Saint Louis.”

“St. Louis has kept a lot of its history quiet, but at one time in the 1870s there were 5,000 streetwalkers on the city streets,” Hunter told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh. While the work’s title draws on their similar upbringings, their relationship was not as companionable as it may suggest. Priscilla and Babe were actually rivals in business.

Among many famous names, Hunter promised tie-ins to historical figures such as Francis Scott Key, Scott Joplin, William Greenleaf Eliot, Joseph Pulitzer, Charles Dickens, and Thomas Jefferson.  He added, “I’m willing to bet anybody if after 5 or 6 pages of this book you don’t begin saying ‘I’ll be darned,” or ‘I didn’t know that,’ or ‘You’ve got to be kidding’ I will eat my hat.”

Julius Hunter is holding several upcoming book events:

Julius Hunter Discussion and Signing
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
7:00 p.m.
St. Louis County Library Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd. 
(314) 994-3300 
St. Louis County Library Website

Julius Hunter Discussion and Signing
Saturday, November 1, 2014
2:00 p.m.
Webster Groves Library, 301 E. Lockwood Ave.
(314) 961-3784
Webster Groves Public Library Website

Julius Hunter Discussion and Signing
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
7:00 p.m.
St. Louis Public Library's Schlafly Branch, 225 North Euclid Avenue
(314) 367-4120
St. Louis Public Library Website

Julius Hunter Talk
Thursday, November 6, 2014
6:00 p.m.
Saint Louis University's Boileau Hall, Vandeventer and West Pine
Saint Louis University Website

Straub's Christmas Party
Friday, December 5, 2014
4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Straubs's, 302 N. Kingshighway Blvd.
(314) 361-6646
Straub's Website

Missouri History Museum Book Event
Sunday, December 7, 2014
2:30 p.m.
Missouri History Museum
(314) 746-4599
Missouri History Museum Website

Email your question to talk@stlpublicradio.org, or tweet us at @STLonAir.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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