|Saturday, 15 November 2008 12:22|
Paul Raymond was the alias of Geoffrey Anthony Quinn
Born: 15 November 1925, Liverpool.
Died: 2 March 2008, London.
Cause of death: Undisclosed
Notable because: Went from being a drummer in a dance band to Billionaire after finding a spectacular fortune in mans love for 'tittys'. A lifelong Catholic. Reputedly at one time owned 80% of Soho. Loved and loathed in equal measure for his entrepreneurial commitment to all things erotic and insalubrious, became a symbol of Britain's apparent decline into lasciviousness. Saw one of his 2 sons only twice in his lifetime. Known as Britains 'Hugh Hefner.'
Born and raised in Liverpool where he attended St. Francis Xavier's College, Raymond and his family were abandoned by his father when he was young. The outbreak of the Second World War prompted their relocation to Glossop in Derbyshire, where he was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. He changed his name when he tried to break into showbusiness as a mind-reader on Clacton pier at the age of 22.
His self-made fortune came from pornography, property development and ownership of the Raymond Revuebar strip club and several major English erotic magazines such as Razzle, Men Only, Mayfair and the short-lived King. Models featured in his magazines included Fiona Richmond (who became Raymond's girlfriend towards the end of his marriage), Joanne Guest, Shanine Linton, Aria Giovanni and Veronica Zemanova. Raymond regularly appeared on UK rich lists and was widely believed to be a billionaire.
Raymond started out by opening the Raymond Revuebar strip club in the former Doric Ballroom in Soho's Walker's Court in 1958, which was at the time the first British strip club, and continues to the present day as a cabaret venue. He was frequently referred to in the press as the "King of Soho".
In later years, his fortunes waned due to competition the internet and also from "lad mags" that were not as sexually explicit as his own publications. He began to hand over control of his empire to his daughter Debbie during the early 1990s, until her death in 1992 from an apparently accidental drugs overdose. Raymond also had two sons, the eldest from a relationship prior to his marriage. He was estranged from his ex-wife and sons. Raymond had 4 recognised grandchildren: Cheyenne and Boston Raymond, from son Howard and Fawn and India Rose James from daughter Debbie.
Raymond long ago diversified beyond pornography, and had many millions tied up in property and real estate, most notably in Soho, through his company, Soho Estates. He was listed at #62 on the Sunday Times Rich List in 2004 and valued at £600 million, although it has been claimed that this was only a fraction of his wealth.
Well over 6ft tall, and sporting a fake tan, Raymond was never far from the glitz of London's social scene. A lifelong Catholic, his neck would always be adorned by a gold cross, while his chauffeur drove a golden Rolls-Royce. He took advantage of a slump in property prices at the end of the Seventies to buy freeholds in Soho, promising to convert it into a new Covent Garden. Rumour has it that he died with 60 of Soho's 87 acres to his name.
His holdings are thought to include freeholds of Soho House, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, Sugar Reef and the Whitehall and Windmill theatres. In the late Sixties he converted the latter to a dining theatre, La Vie En Rose.
His marriage to Jean Bradley, a nude dancer, was dissolved in 1974 after an affair with Fiona Richmond, an acress in risqué films and plays. He invested increasing responsibility for his business in his daughter Debbie. But in November 1992, after two failed marriages, she died aged 36, after extensive alcohol, cocaine and heroin abuse.
One great tragedy that blighted Raymond's rise from sleazy showman to property tycoon - the death of his daughter, Debbie.ike all his children, Debbie had had a troubled youth. Expelled from Cheltenham Ladies College, her smart public school, she tried to make a career in showbusiness as a singer but gave up, admitting she had no talent. After a failed marriage, she gave birth to a daughter by rock musician Duncan Mackay, formerly of the group 10cc.
Debbie made a second marriage to John James, the man who still runs the Raymond property arm. At the age of 36 she was editor-in-chief of Raymond's porn magazine empire, with a personal fortune already estimated at nearly £40million.
Debbie was a powerful weapon in Raymond's fight to prove there was nothing sexist or exploitative in the sleazy way he had acquired his fortune. "Look," he would say to critics who accused him of demeaning women, "she has the power."
In surely the most poignant turn of events for a woman who was a porn publisher by profession, she was forced to have a double mastectomy due to breast cancer and was soon relying on huge quantities of drugs to mask her inner turmoil. Inevitably, it was her family who paid the price. She threw her astonished husband out of the family home.
Then, in November 1992, she left her young daughters - one only ten months old - enjoying a bonfire night party at home, and sought solace in a binge session at the flat of a man she scarcely knew. By the following morning she was dead from a lethal cocktail of drink and drugs.
On top of her antidepressants, cocaine and the lethal dose of heroin she had consumed, it transpired she had downed a whole bottle of vodka.
Her devoted father was distraught. In the only show of emotion anyone can remember, the tough businessman broke down in tears when he heard the news. "She had everything," he said. "She had all the money in the world, beautiful house, beautiful kids, beautiful cars."
It was not enough. At the inquest, as the coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, Raymond was still weeping behind his dark glasses. But all was not well with his troubled daughter, who was plagued with insecurity and mood swings. Then, with her father's help, she seemed to have turned her life around. Paul adored his only daughter and amply rewarded the Porn Princess, as she soon became known, paying for her lavish parties and for her Porsche cars. He bought her a luxurious house in Surrey and told her she would inherit everything on his death.
Raymond never truly recovered from her loss. Inhibited by deteriorating health, he became a recluse in a penthouse next to the Ritz Hotel in London. It seems he gave up all hope. Instead of transferring his affection for Debbie to his two surviving sons, he spent the rest of his life trying to come to terms with his loss.
He continued to spoil Debbie's two daughters, Fawn and India Rose, but he hardened his heart against his other grandchildren.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:43|