Cynthia Payne (born 24 December 1932, in Bognor Regis, West Sussex) is a retired English party hostess who made the headlines in the 1970s and 1980s when she was accused (and convicted) of being a madam and running a brothel at 32 Ambleside Avenue, in Streatham, in the south-west of London, England.
Payne first came to national attention in 1978 when police raided her home and found a sex party was in progress. Elderly men paid in Luncheon Vouchers to dress up in lingerie and be spanked by young women. When the case came to trial in 1980, she was sentenced to eighteen months in prison, reduced to a fine and six months on appeal. She served four months in Holloway prison.
In 1986, the police raided her home again, this time during a "special party" she was hosting after shooting the film of her life had been completed. Although she was acquitted on this occasion, the resulting court case in 1987 made headlines for several weeks with lurid tales, some details of which she aired on The Dame Edna Experience in 1988, with co-guests Sir John Mills and Rudolf Nureyev, where she also launched her book, Entertaining at Home. The court case ended her career as a party giver.
On this programme, she expressed an interest in becoming an MP, in order to change Britain's sex laws, which she followed through by standing for Parliament as a candidate for the Payne and Pleasure Party in the Kensington by-election in July 1988, followed by her standing in her own area of Streatham in the 1992 UK General Election. She did not gain a parliamentary seat.
There have been two films made that are loosely based on her life. Wish You Were Here (1987), about her adolescence with Emily Lloyd in the lead role, and Personal Services (also 1987) about her adult life starred Julie Walters. Both were written (and Wish You Were Here was directed) by David Leland.
Cynthia Payne has made appearances as an after-dinner speaker and launched a range of adult services and products in 2006.
... Paul Bailey Cynthia Payne (1982), An English Madam Life and Work of Cynthia Payne, Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0-224-02037-4 Cynthia Payne Terence Blacker (1987), Cynthia ...