The Chicago Everleigh Club: The Pinnacle of Brothels

Chicago club

It’s 1902. You’re a notable, wealthy and swarthy prince hailing from the Balkans on a trip to the US to procure a present for your brother (a boat). Dying to sample  what the American estrogen market has to offer, as well as an exemplary meal of oysters and caviar, washed down with live music and champagne before retiring to your gold-laden Japanese throne room, you wonder where you might go to sate your understandable desires while that damn boat is built. And then, thanks to the intel your fear-driven minions retrieved for you, you discover that such an adult playground exists, in one high-end extravagant  bonanza. Welcome, dear prince, to the Everleigh Club.

Established in 1900 by sisters Minna and Ada Everleigh, their club set the precedent for top rung brothel experiences. These two savvy business ladies were keen to sink their teeth deep into the always booming sex trade. They sought out a location that was both lacking in high end services of promiscuity while bustling with rich men whose stodgy boners had been left wanting despite their copious amounts of cash. The sisters followed the rainbow to South Dearborn Street in Chicago, and found their pot of gold at one Effie Hanken’s brothel. They bought the place, fired the girls, and bathed the joint in rococo splendor.


Chicago club

Having had their run as the town pony prior to establishing the club, Minna and Ada knew what they wanted out of the girls who would come to inhabit the club and set the bar very high. As the club’s draped and curtains were made of silk, those of their girls had to be of a similar caliber. Ada, the more conservative of the two brothel founders, pulled girls from across the country and personally conducted face to face interviews to ensure the Everleigh Club was providing girls that would be worthy of doing unspeakable things in a room like this:


Rose room

Opulence at its finest.


Seeking employment from the Everleigh Club rivaled the ferocity and popularity of those who wished to be patrons, as the sisters maintained a work environment enviable by modern standards at any company. Girls were required to prove they were at least 18 years of age, “have a pretty face and figure, and must look well in evening dresses.” The girls also intent regular medical checkups, ensuring their health, while the sisters ensured their girls’ safety by refusing to work with pimps, sex slaves, parents wishing to sell off their daughters and of course turning away a large surplus of the population. “the Everleigh Club is not for the rough element, the clerk on holiday or the man without a check book.” Entering for whatever reason became more exclusive than a Laugh-in cameo, keeping the working girls safe and their vagines legendary.


Such women included the legendary Suzy Poontang, one of the club’s most popular girls and big draws. Hailing from China, Poontang was infamously good at satisfying the clientele, so much so that her name would later become synonymous with the now sullied term of “gonna get me some poontang.” Needless to say, her name and the term still maintains a more dignified connotation than that of a “Rusty Venture.”


Similarly, the Everleigh Club’s popularity garnered its own moniker cum colloquial sex reference with clients referring to it as “the Leigh”, becoming the “get laid” we all associate the term with these days, but with far gold and caviar.


The Everleigh sisters knew that the more you can’t have something, the more you want it, and we thus notoriously strict about the admission of their clientele. I’m sorry, did I hear through the grapevine that you don’t care for our $15,000 gold-leafed piano? No club for you? Oh, no no, you’re much too obese to afford the luxury of watching yourself bask in the pleasures of our women in our mirrored ceilings – no club for you! Your stench would destroy the carefully garnered bouquet produced by our perfume fountains present in every room – no club for you! Your eyes are too bloodshot to deserve looking at our gold framed nude portraits – no club for you! Your penis is too small to ejaculate into our $650 gold cuspidors- no club for you! Too short – no club for you! Godzilla noises – no club for you!

And so on and so forth.


Yet this tactic garnered the club’s high brow reputation and Ada’s club Nazi title, only fueling people’s desires to experience the reality of this luxury brothel. Of those deemed worthy to eat off their gold rimmed China and drink from shoes of champagne were heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson, Marshall Field Jr. (founder of Macy’s), barbed wire inventor John Warne Gates, and Prince Henry of Prussia. To be permitted to enter the Everleigh Club was not only an honor, but an expectation to immerse yourself in all it had to offer. Indeed, patrons would spend hours and even days at the club, gorging themselves on the decadent servings produced by the 25 chefs employed there, dancing until their feet bled at the behest of one of he three orchestras, and constantly fondling/licking all the gold, everywhere, and always. If there was ever a place to go out on a rampage, this would have been on the top of the Sterling Archer triple A power play, and yes, the A stands for awesome.


Like all great things, the Everleigh did come to an end. Perhaps people were simply not worthy of what it had to offer, a taste of divinity that many choked on, as several people literally died under suspicious circumstances after their Everleigh benders. Ultimately, Mayor Carter Harrison Jr demanded the club be shut down after a report came in stating 600 brothels were in operation in Chicago. Thus, in 1911, the sisters walked out high their heads held high, a million dollars in cash, with Minna happily stating, ” If it weren’t for married men, we couldn’t have carried on at all, and if it weren’t for cheating married women, we could have made another million.” A trip across Europe, a string of benders and a death threat later, the sisters settled down in NewYork to live out their lives in a comparatively quieter fashion. The next time you get laid, ask yourself, ‘where’s the gold and caviar?’ and enjoy it a little less, for Minna and Ada.


Chicago club interiors


The Everleigh Club, The Chicago Tribune, Louise Kiernan 2013

The Everleigh Club, Wikipedia