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Hot Girls Pose in Portsmouth Presents
Historic Portsmouth #373

I may get into hot water with this one. There is no data available on this small gilt-edged photo card by the Davis Brothers, then located at 15 Pleasant Street in downtown Portsmouth. I could simply be, as it appears, four young women showing off their new fur-lined coasts and posed against a painted winter backdrop. (Continued below)


We know from another Victorian-era photo published in this column, however, that bordello madam Alta Roberts frequented Portsmouth photo studios. And we know that Portsmouth brothel owners often exhibited their young “inmates” by dressing them up and parading the girls (some as young as 14) around town in a carriage. We also know that brothels advertised. Two years ago I spotted a printed card on eBay offering free dances at Four Tree Island House. The island bordello, dance hall, and “museum” was operated by Charles E. Gray until it burned in 1907. The back of the card included a bawdy poem about a young couple “sparking” on a horsehair sofa in the fall and the fatherless baby that arrived the following spring. Am I reading too much into this provocative photo? Inquiring minds want to know. (Photo courtesy of

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018 
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