What’s in a name ? When Frank Joseph married Maud McKeown in Liverpool in 1921 he decided that changing his surname to Quinn would help him to integrate better with his new wife’s family’s staunch Catholicism and slightly elevated social status. The couple’s son, Geoffrey Anthony, decided that he would fare better as Paul Raymond, and with that name built an empire of strip clubs, ‘girlie’ magazines and property which would make him one of the wealthiest men in the country.
Geoffrey Quinn was born in Liverpool on 15th November 1925 at 20 Rathmore Avenue L18 (this is the short stretch of road which tags onto the end of Brodie Avenue before it reaches Rose Lane). His parents were an ill-matched couple, Frank ‘Quinn’ being a boisterous womaniser, Maud an aloof parent, something of a snob, and fired with an oppressive piety which found no parallel in her son’s future world. By the early 1930’s Frank Quinn had departed the family home to live with a girlfriend in New Brighton, leaving the young Geoffrey devoid of a paternal figure.
He attended St. Francis Xavier’s College until July 1939 when the family, fearful of the bombing which was sure to befall the city, moved to his Uncle Felix’s house in Glossop, Derbyshire. His uncle was a successful general practitioner in Glossop and his spacious home was well fitted to accommodate the new evacuees. Geoffrey started at Glossop High School but left promptly on his 15th birthday in 1940. A job in a cotton mill did not last and, having taught himself to play the drums, he departed to the Yorkshire seaside resort of Withernsea as one of Louis Gold’s Monarchs of Melody. It was whilst with this band that he first changed his name, being introduced to audiences at Geoff Raymond. His musical career came to a sudden halt when Louis Gold was arrested as a deserter.
For a while he made his living more a less as a ‘spiv’, running market stalls in Oldham and Rochdale, before being conscripted when he reached age 18. His lot was not to join the armed forces but to go down the mines as a ‘Bevin Boy’ and he duly reported to a colliery near Mexborough in South Yorkshire. He lasted less than a week before absconding to London where he spent the rest of the war continuing his ‘spiv’ activities alongside another estimated 25,000 ‘deserters’. At the end of the war the police finally caught up with him and though he could have faced a hefty prison sentence the authorities decided to let him pay his dues by doing his national service. He accordingly spent two years in the RAF, doing very little to promote the aims of the service, but much to feather his own nest by organising dances and the like.
Leaving the RAF in 1948 he returned to the Manchester area, establishing the Raymond Shirt Company, effectively a front for selling cloth stolen from Birkenhead docks. Pursuing a variety of jobs he decided to try his hand on the stage, recruiting a Yorkshire girl, Noreen O’Horan, to assist him as the ‘Modern Man of Mystery’ in a mind reading act in which he appeared for the first time as Paul Raymond. This was significantly unsuccessful but a relationship of sorts formed between the two and she became pregnant. She declined his offer of marriage and they parted, he ending up in London where he found a barman’s job which also gave him room and board.
In the late 1950’s he started to put together risqué reviews, pushing at the bounds on public nudity imposed by the Lord Chamberlain. Opening his famous Raymond Revue Bar he built an empire of clubs and publications, investing his profits in over 400 properties in the Soho area alone. estimates of his wealth varied but some believed he had surpassed the Duke of Westminster to become the country’s wealthiest man worth some £1.6 billion.
Tragedy struck Raymond in 1992 when his daughter Debbie, who was being groomed to run his business empire, died from a heroin overdose. After this he became something of a recluse, his business affairs being managed by his nephew Mark Quinn. He died in 2008, leaving his fortune to his granddaughters India and Fawn.
When asked about his wealth Raymond would often say “not bad for a lad who arrived from Liverpool with five bob in his pocket”. He drove an E-Type Jaguar with the registration FU2.
Raymond/Quinn's Liverpool home in Mossley Hill.
The Wikipedia entry is quite detailed on his later life. Also worth a read are the obituaries in the Guardian, and the Daily Mirror. The most detailed source is the biography Members Only: The Life and Times of Paul Raymond [Paul Willetts 2010]. In 2013 a film about Raymond was released entitled The Look of Love, in which he was depicted by Steve Coogan. The film focuses on the relationship between Raymond and his daughter Debbie. There is a 25 minute London TV interview from 1975 with Raymond on YouTube in which he explains and defends his business - well worth a watch.
© Liverpool Footprints