Yes. I know you may have encountered the wording on the card before in some of Shehanne’s promotion for Sapphire. I do like how everyone has a face but me…not.
Anyway the lady in question on the card is Cora Pearl. Emma Elizabeth Crouch for those who want to know. A lady who having observed that the lot of the common prostitute was a tragic one, decided to ply her trade with those who could keep her in the style she wanted to become accustomed to. An awful lot more interesting than living with her boring old granny.Why not? Would she have had books written about her if she had stayed? Goodness. Or been chosen by Shehanne as one of her Sapphire from Loving Lady Lazuli muses? Lucky her,
Nor did Cora change her name because she was ashamed. She changed her name because she was creating a ‘brand’ a ‘career’ – way before her time.
Cora had no use for pimps. Something that set her apart from her sisters. She was a business woman pure and simple –although one realizes those terms are somewhat in cheek. Although, having moved London to Paris, and, having worked the streets for a time, she did have the sense to learn the rudiments of the trade from a Monsieur Roubisse.
After that her lovers were all titled princes. She rented a chateaux and unlike the rest of us lugging copper tubs up and down the stairs, her boudoir had a bronze tub IN it. Forget your standard ménage, Cora also knew how to give her dinner guests a good time by serving herself up at the table. In her day she could command 10 thousand francs per evening. While those photographs show her clothed, she was also famous for tuning up at costume balls roughly as nature created her.
Cora’s desire to shock, scandalize and beguile and play her lovers off against each other led to he downfall though when one tried to kill her and her lovers ended their liaisons with her. Her fall to common prostitution must have been…hard…for her. Dare one say? And her addiction to gambling, costly. Money had always been for spending and now she had none. (Mon Dieu if this was her standard lover she worked hard for her doubloons. )
An old ‘acquaintance’ encountering her outside a casino in Monte Carlo later wrote. “I found a woman seated on the kerbstone and weeping pitifully. She appeared to be about fifty years of age, handsome…but much bedraggled.”
She died on July 8, 188. A fallen mighty. The woman loved by princes is buried in an unmarked grave.
Why do I rate her as one of my ladies? Apart from the fact she was the flawed architect of her own downfall? Because, prostitute or not, she made a business, she created an ideal, made herself a celebrity. She took a man’s world and made it hers although ultimately it was not a world she survived in.