Entrepreneur, whore, and daughter to a Jewish priest, Grace Peixotto was Charleston’s most notorious lady of the night. Grace was born on the island of St. Thomas in 1817 and moved to South Carolina with her parents as a wee babe. Following the death of both of her parents, Grace took her inheritance and invested it in the New York stock market – PSYCHE! Grace took her coins and pumped them all into revolutionizing the whoring industry of Charleston.
She first built a 3-story brick building on Beresford Street that came to be known as the Big Brick Brothel. She gathered a gaggle of “respectable, ladylike whores” (to use Grace’s own words) and opened her doors and legs for business. The existing heaux game in Charleston was NOT cute – it consisted primarily of mattress warehouses, gigantic open rooms full of cots where people banged it out with zero privacy. Duh-skusting. Grace elevated game by turning the bottom floors of her establishment into a parlour where men could smoke cigars and drink bourbon before heading upstairs to PRIVATE rooms for a little shebang.
Her establishment quickly became popular for its discretion and high-brow vibe, she bought additional properties, and she made BANK off of her brothel. When she died in 1883(ish), her funeral was the second most widely attended in Charleston history, second only to former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun. Her Big Brick building was an operational brothel until 1942, when it was shut down by the U.S. Navy (too many sick sailors, perhaps?). In 1996, the building was purchased by, I am not fucking kidding you, the Balzac Brothers. Talk about a happy ending.
Learn more about Grace Peixotto in “Episode 16 – Breakups, Blues, and Brothels.”
Janis fucking Joplin, need I say more? A delicate, radiant, sweet sunflower with the voice of 45 person Baptist choir. Janis was a beautiful soul with a musical gift that could heal, connect, accept, and provide meaning to so many. Although her life was short, Janis remains a legend today, tomorrow, and forever. She was a simple girl, seeking much of the same things in life as you and I. She wanted friendship, she wanted acceptance, she wanted appreciation, and she wanted to her heard and loved for all that existed within that small stature and large vocal chords. Fuck, I’m only 1 Baileys and coffee deep and I’m already tearing up! Janis is my greatest idol, she’s someone I’ve looked up to for years and someone who’s life I’ve subconsciously replicated in many ways – good and bad.
As a kid in Texas, Janis didn’t fit in. She wasn’t pretty enough, she wasn’t skinny enough, and she couldn’t connect with the vibe of her community or classmates. She was an outcast, but she used this rejection to her advantage and created an edgy image in an attempt to belong to something. She was able to attract a group of musically inclined guy friends and they dove head first into the blues and jazz world. Later, Janis fled to San Francisco so she could finally coexist in a world full of her kind of people.
But like most of those who flee to San Francisco, Janis found it difficult to execute her game plan as she was overwhelmed by sex, drugs, music, and mayhem. Janis had a few lesbian lovers, she banged it out with Pig Pen from the Grateful Dead, she saw Otis Redding live after being dosed with acid, she joined the Big Brother Band on backup vocals and tambourine… but ultimately took over and became the star of the show. The crowds wanted Janis, soooo what’s a girl to do?!
“Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you got”
Listen to “Episode 16 – Break Ups, Blues & Brothels” to learn the full story of the “first lady of rock’n’roll”.