Getting Everleighed: Then and Now

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Everleigh_Club_-_Hallway_to_Entrance_02The Everleigh name evokes quality titillation in Chicago. The Everleigh Sisters opened their high-end brothel in February 1900; Miss Exotic World Michelle L’amour opened the burlesque salon the Everleigh Social Club in November 2010. Vice rarely appears as refined as in these parlors.

ada-left-and-minna-everleigh-c-1905Ada and Minna Lester opened their first brothel in Omaha, Nebraska, but moved to Chicago for its lucrative opportunities. They adopted the name Everleigh from their grandmother’s valediction, “Everly Yours.” Under the protection of notorious aldermen “Bathhouse” John Coughlin and Michael “Hinky-Dink” Kenna, they operated out of the infamous Levee red-light district, now east of Chinatown. The prostitutes were known as Everleigh Butterflies. They were schooled in math, languages and social graces so that they would be suitable for a clientele that included Prince Henry of Prussia. A patron would be “Everleighed,” which turned into the vernacular “laid.” The reputation of Chinese butterfly Suzy Poon Tang endures. The Club required women to be 18 or older, have regular check ups and refrain from alcohol and drugs. “A girl must have a pretty face and figure, must be in perfect health and must look well in evening clothes.”

The brothel closed in October 1911, under the order of Mayor Carter Harrison, Jr. Minna responded, “If the Mayor says we must close, that settles it…. I’ll close up shop and walk out with a smile on my face.” The full story can be found in Karen Abbott’s Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul.

socialIn tribute, burlesque instruction school Studio L’amour hosts the Everleigh Social Club at 939 W Randolph, Chicago, IL. Events are both open to the public and members only. As long as they obey a sensible dress code, the masses can enjoy live music, the Wiggle Room (comics and burlesque dancers) or Naked Girls Reading (no additional description necessary).

Members have access to additional clubs within the club like the Bordello Drawing Club (figure drawing), Ripe (wine of the month club), Cocktail Club, The Thieves (bourbon sampling) or Shhh. The $25 annual membership is available via

As a teaser, we recommend with Michelle L’amour’s classical twerking internet sensation, Butthoven’s Fifth Symphony.

At Stage 773, there will be a Feedback Reading of Everly Yours on July 29 at 7pm. The new musical recounts the Everleigh story and features the love affair of J. Marshall Field, Jr. and butterfly Vera. The theater is located at 1225 W Belmont, Chicago, IL.

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Topics: Chicago, History

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