Painting depicting Mae, the Queen Of Soho, and a bald customer combing his

West End Girls : Working girls and their maids

Soho 1948. A glamorous West End Girl charms a naive young barmaid into her service. This is the maid's true account of life in the decadent underbelly of postwar London.

On this website, you can read book extracts and explore Barbara's interesting world.

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West End Girls

Who did the tattooing?

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Pencil drawing :I have something to show you

The daily business of being a prostitute's maid brings it own education. Not necessarily the kind of education taught at finishing school, and perhaps not the kind of education that have any value other than highlighting the sheer magnitude of masculine sexual preoccupation. With sex, their own sexual prowess, and their most prized posessions - the male genitals. Perhaps Barbara has even picked up a few artistic tips from what she has been shown in Mae's bedroom ...

"Mae’s voice, exhorting me to ‘Come and have a look at this!’ must have echoed through the flat at least half-a-dozen times a week; and, in the fullness of time, I had my life enriched by the knowledge of all that could be contrived by man, in this modern age, to adorn, cosset, and pamper his most prized possession. The ways in which this was achieved fell mainly into two categories – decoration and mutilation.

Decoration showcasing the noble art of the tattooist. The quality and design varied greatly - from crude workmanship conveying crude messages, to rather spectacular works of craftsmanship. Some of the less imaginative men merely had a girlfriend's name prized out, either stretching the whole length of the penis, or tucked away in a discreet corner; others sported their pet name for this prized possession. In one instance, the word ‘PRICK’ was spelled out in bold caps along the length of the shaft, and ‘KNOB’ right on the tip. Another had the word ‘FUCK’ written over and over again in different calligraphic styles, with each letter a different colour.

Quite a few had set out to really beautify and adorn, and had applied their imaginations and artistic talents to great lengths. One man had a solitary bee depicted, perched on the very end, which he liked to say stung every woman he had intercourse with. Another went in for a profusion of ladybirds: flying, walking, unfolding their wings, and even one lying on its back; the subject had really been studied! Another had ivy entwining it; and yet another, a red rose complete with stem, bud and leaves; the bloom, of course, taking pride of place on the head. This man, gazing down proudly, did not want me to remain ignorant of any of its facets. ‘Really, it’s seen at its most beautiful when it’s rubbed off, because then it looks like  it’s covered with dew!’

I have often wondered, but never asked – who did the tattooing?"

Copyright © 2018. Hannes Buhrmann.

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