The Perfect Name for a Madam

Mattie Silks

Mattie Silks. Hollywood couldn’t have done better if it wanted to name one of the most famous and successful “love merchants” of the Old West. Her real name was always a mystery—was she a Martha? Was she Mate Wineman? Mattie Silks was the only name she answered to as she became the undisputed “Queen of Denver’s Red Light District” in the late 1800s. Her girls were known to possess “the prettiest of faces, the tiniest of waists, the creamiest of bosoms, the daintiest of giggles, the best of conversational skills, the most imaginative of techniques, the perkiest of personalities.” In the early 1900s, Mattie bought the most famous “parlour house” in Denver at the death of its other legendary madam, Jennie Rogers. This “House of Mirrors” was described as perfect for the dynamic Mattie, with its doorposts carved to represent phallic symbols, its floor-to-ceiling glass mirrors, its chandelier of glass-faceted prisms.

She died in 1929 and finally people learned her real name: She was buried under the name Martha Ready.

What do you think?

Jana Bommersbach

Arizona’s Journalist of the Year, Jana Bommersbach has won an Emmy and two Lifetime Achievement Awards. She also cowrote and appeared on the Emmy-winning Outrageous Arizona and has written two true crime books, a children’s book and the historical novel Cattle Kate.