The Chronicle -

By Finn J.D. John
FOR THE CHRONICLE 

Bordello madam Carrie Bradley was the Brigid O'Shaughnessy of 1880s Portland

 

October 17, 2019

IMAGE: The West Shore

This cartoon was published in The West Shore in 1889 as a criticism of the quality of policing in Portland. The woman in the window on the extreme right is a prostitute negotiating with a prospective customer. It is possible, if not very likely, that this cartoon was drawn with the Carrie Bradley case in mind.

One of the most enduring and appealing tropes in popular fiction is the "Femme Fatale," like Brigid O'Shaughnessy in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. Assertive, sexy, and utterly free from the soft bondage of conscience, she plays the men around her like pianos, getting whatever she wants and leaving them stranded afterward gasping for air like fresh-caught fish flopping on the dock.

Usually, in the old hard-boiled pulp stories and noir films, she comes to a bad end - as O'Shaughnessy does, more or less. But occasionally she doesn't, and when the Femme Fatale is done right, it's impos...



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