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The Jan. Paul Smith's Tenderloin church. Paul Smith. But faced with hundreds of working women, he began to visibly shake. Then, he gave a madam named Mrs. Gamble the floor. The anti-vice campaigns of preachers like Smith were sweeping the city and gaining widespread popular support.
Leonard bemoaned in Smith gave a speech to a large crowd at the San Francisco YMCA, railing against any woman who enjoyed an afternoon tipple. When Reggie Gamble and Maude Spencer, the proprietors of a brothel on Mason Street, caught wind of the occasion, they decided to plan their own event. They wore their Sunday best: fox furs, neatly tailored coats and flower-trimmed hats. After Smith nervously told them they had 20 minutes, Gamble took his pulpit. You would cast us out — where to?
But what are you going to do about it? Smith, who had spent years complaining about sex workers without ever bothering to talk to one, trembled. Every woman raised her hand. The women laughed at him. A few of San Francisco's infamous "Ladies of the Barbary Coast," sex workers who lived and worked in the city's many brothels.
This photo was taken in the s. Caught flat-footed, Smith tried a new tactic: deflecting blame. Gamble took back the floor. There was a mother of four in her house, she said, who recently fell ill. The woman wrote to her brother, a Methodist preacher, asking for his help. Then, the women in the pews began giving their testimonies to Smith.
They spoke of sick children, terrible living conditions and brutal work where they were constantly in fear for their safety. Reporters noted visible eye-rolling and head shakes from the frustrated women. They began getting up and leaving, one by one.
Eventually, Gamble too seemed to give up. Before she left, she turned back to Smith, now nearly alone again in his temple of hypocrisy. If Smith thought at all, he decided against caring about them. He returned to raging against women at the vice meeting and, soon, the Barbary Coast would be gone.
They conducted nightly raids and upped patrols on the streets. Using the Red Light Abatement Act, the city closed its brothels and sex workers scattered to the streets, making their lives even more dangerous and unstable than before. Smith had won. As for the women who marched to his church, their fates remain shrouded in mystery. Some say she became a traveling preacher which, given her powerful testimony that day, would have been a fitting career pivot.
We know more about Smith. Inhe made the jump to Hollywood, serving as the inspiration and creative consultant for a dramatization of his fight against the Barbary Coast. He flamed out of the industry soon after and went into construction. Smith died in Los Angeles in at the age of We have to make a living. More San Francisco History.San Francisco women sex
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In , hundreds of San Francisco sex workers humiliated a trash-talking preacher