Meet Belle Brezing - One of the most famous women in all of Lexington. She actually inspired the Madam character in Gone With The Wind.
Poor ol’ Belle had a rough start. Fortunately she had plenty of tenacity and a great business sense. She was an illegitimate daughter of a part-time hooker who married a lousy drunk who beat them both.
By 15 she was banging three different men. Her reputation was so notorious that when she decided to marry one of them the Lexington Daily Press actually ran a mock piece announcing the wedding’s dissolution.
After he was found dead under mysterious circumstances she traveled around a bit and then fell right into prostitution. She then saved enough money to start her own brothel very quickly.
A photo of one of Belle's lavish parlors:
Years later she had three brothels in Lexington. One of which was the most expensive, lavish, and most popular.
Her reputation spread during the Spanish-American War as soldiers made her house quite popular. Her rep spread so wide that the character Belle Watling in Gone With The Wind is based on her.
During WW1 the temperance movement helped bring about the closures of her brothels one by one. She eventually retired to a quiet life of morphine addiction.
I love this colorful story of Belle – for two reasons.
1) A terrible situation can be turned around with a bit of audacity and determination.
2) History can be spectacular! It is filled with crap like this if you know where to look.