Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Vice Minister and the Brothel: A Setup?

These stories about an Iran vice chief being caught in a a brothel (link)—they’re good fun, but they lack a sense of history. Long ago it was Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards (and probably a few dozen other cheerful philanderers) who said the only way he could lose the election is if he were caught in bed with a dead woman or a live boy (link). But the corollary is that the charge is likely as not to be a fake. If this happened in, a civilized place like, oh, say, Kentucky, would assume the poor man was just set up (link). Should we assume any different about Iran?

Update: Well, this is no joking matter.

1 comment:

New York Crank said...

I always wondered what became of George Ratterman, the man who ruined a good thing for some of us then-nearly-local college students. Thanks for the link.

Newport in the late 1950s to 1960 was a college boy's delight. Forget the bars and gambling. There was a luncheonette-type restaurant that interested us. It was in a house at the corner of Fourth and York. Until 5 PM, you could actually get a sandwich or a hamburger there.

After 5, the lunch counter closed down but the front door stayed open. If you were, say, a college boy who had done a road trip of, say, about 70 miles to visit the 4th Street Grill, the only madame I've ever met who wore a waitress uniform would greet you at the door.

"The grill's closed, honey," she'd tell you. "Want a woman?"

If you answered the affirmative, she'd shuttle you to the back of the restaurant and to a doorway that led to a large sitting room. There, several pretty young women wearing big hair and J.C. Penny cocktail dresses would await you. They all spoked with honeyed Kentucky drawls. You could pick one out and go to one of the bedrooms upstairs.

I loved those bedrooms because they were equipped – for reasons I've never understood – with kitchen sinks. It was as much a charming anomaly as the concept of a whorehouse in a luncheonette, or a madame who kept inquiring with some amusement, "What are you college boys doing – writing a thesis on pot and prostitution?"

Fees were affordable in 1959, even for a 19-year-old kid . There was a sort of menu of services, with the top, deluxe service costing $40, a bit out of reach if you were on a $5 a week allowance from home.

However, for only $15 you could get the real thing, although with no frills added. You have to factor in for inflation here, probably by tacking on a zero to each price to get today's equivalent. But even so, a college kid on a budget could handle it. Heck, the gas for the drive was only 35 cents a gallon.

They said back then that Ratterman was supported by Bobby Kennedy, then the U.S. Attorney General. Kennedy had it in for Newport not because of the sex (that would be hypocritical) but because Newport was also a major bookie layoff center.

Without going into the details, what this means was that mob folks in Newport served as the guarantors and bailout sources for bookies, sort of the way the U.S. Government served as the guarantor for Bear Stearns.

Alas, what's good for today's gander killed yesteryear's goose.

George Ratterman was RFK's point man for upsetting the setup. I can tell you, some unlikely folks celebrated when he was found in bed with April Showers.

Sic transit Gloria. Well actually, I think Gloria worked at a different bordello.

Yours Crankily,
The New York Crank