Life in a One of Al Capone’s Brothels

When Al Capone and his older brother Ralph started in business in Chicago in 1921, they first ran a couple of mid-level whorehouses. Al personally asked a young man, named Irle Waller, to inspect his wares:

Six or seven girls about twenty years old, in flimsy undergarments called “chemises” or “Teddy Bears” in those days. Oh yes, also high-heeled pumps, usually black patent leather, to enhance them sexually. Some even had fancy extra curls attached to their coiffures. All of this for two dollars, and if and when you chose a girl she led you to a small cubicle. . . . Each cubicle contained a very small bed— with linen clean to dirty, depending on when you arrived. There was a table with a cheap bowl and pitcher of water, a towel, a bar of soap, and a small twenty-five watt electric bulb hanging from a cord in the air. She would ask you did you want the first-class job, which was three dollars, or the two-dollar “trick,” also how about venereal protection with a twenty-five cent rubber. When you finished, she would bring out a small coin container for any extra gratuity you might wish to deposit for her alone. Of this two dollars, she received one dollar, and then a ten-cent deduction was made for “protection” against raids and for bail and legal service.

Bergreen, Laurence. Capone: The Man and the Era (Kindle Location 1535). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.



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