strip clubs, nudes and erotica: the life and legend of the king of soho
When Soho feels less seedy than ever, and London's nightlife is on its knees, there's never been a better time to celebrate the legacy of Paul Raymond, the man behind Soho’s sexual revolution.
Paul Raymond and the stars from his film Erotica, directed by Brian Smedley in 1983
Opening tonight at the Soho Revue, A Paul Raymond Show is the titillating new exhibition that explores the colourful life, work and legacy of British publisher, club owner and property tycoon Paul Raymond. Through a series of intimate photographs, archival material and erotic performances, the exhibition looks at how the legendary King of Soho initiated significant social change by bringing sex and nudity to London's stages. Ever the maverick, not only did Raymond open the first strip club in the UK, he created an entire subculture that we know of as Soho. He made the weird and wonderful accessible, and liberated the sexually repressed. "The sexual revolution that followed on from Raymond's work wasn't just about making sex acceptable outside of heterosexual marital relationships," says co-curator Alex Wood, "it encouraged changes in attitudes towards homosexuality, contraception, abortion; all pivotal changes to our society that hugely shapes our lives today."
At a time when London's event venues are closing down, and London nightlife in general somewhat on its knees, a celebration of the man who spent his life fighting (and winning) battles with the city council and moral police, has never been more appropriate. Long live Soho, in all its hedonistic glory.
Curated by Alex Wood and India James A Paul Raymond Show opens at the Soho Revue 1 Feb to 8 Feb, featuring live entertainment and a screening of Paul Raymond's Erotica.
Text Tish Weinstock