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So ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ Host James Lipton Was a Pimp in Post-War France

James Lipton
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

‘Inside the Actors Studio’ host James Lipton has always been a bit of a character (you’d expect no less from a man who spends his days asking Kiefer Sutherland about his morning routines). But it turns out James Lipton is a pimp.

Like, literally.

The 86-year-old Lipton sat down with Parade to discuss the 250th episode of his show, and the good folks over there asked whether he was a pimp in 1950s Paris. As you do.

“I was. It was only a few years after the war. Paris was different then, still poor,” he said. “Men couldn’t get jobs and, in the male chauvinist Paris of that time, the women couldn’t get work at all. It was perfectly respectable for them to go into le milieu.”

That’s right. The sycophantic old gentleman you occasionally pass by while channel-surfing was actually once a bigger pimp than Snoop.

“Young women desperately needed money for various reasons. They were beautiful and young and extraordinary. There was no opprobrium because it was completely regulated,” Lipton continued. “Every week they had to be inspected medically. The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days before the sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time.”

How’d he get the gig? He was friends with one of the prostitutes, and at one point he ran out of money, so she arranged for him to stay. Lipton claims he had to be “okayed by the underworld,” lest he end up floating in the Seine. So a pimp AND a mob affiliate.

And it wasn’t just her he repped. It was an entire brothel.

“I represented them all, but her especially. I did a roaring business, and I was able to live for a year. The French mecs didn’t exploit women,” he said. “They represented them, like agents. And they took a cut. That’s how I lived. I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life.”

It just goes to show that old people are almost always harboring bizarre and amazing secrets. Also, that James Lipton will probably never be able to run for president.

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