Back in the day, Tribune feature writers used to rotate responsibilities for a Friday feature called “Our Side of the Valley,” meant to show East Valley residents there was puh-lenty to do without heading into the P-H-X. I always liked finding the off-kilter stuff, so when I found out that Goldfield Ghost Town had a bordello museum, I got very excited about my next turn up for OSoV. Here’s what ran:
[I can’t tell you how excited I was to see the word “obdurately” made it into print, but today Editor Sam would suggest replacing it with a more common word. And getting to the whole “statue” part earlier.]
The luckiest breast in the West
E.V.’s Goldfield Ghost Town holds attraction for touchy-feely folk
By SAM MITTELSTEADT
Just looking at her, you know she wasn’t meant to end up here.
With a figure like that, she probably was a lingerie model — before things went bad, that is, and she ended up a fixture in a Nevada brothel. (If you listen to the rumors, that is; Miss Torso remains obdurately silent about her history.) Adding to the indignity: Folks hoping to get lucky started copping a feel — in public. And with her condition, she couldn’t slap their hands away — heck, she couldn’t even tell them to keep their hands to themselves.
Then a man tried to save her, take her away from all that. An antiques dealer, he even owned one of President Ulysses S. Grant’s beds. But no decent man could keep her around — with a past like that, imagine the stories his friends would tell! — so he unloaded her at a public auction, like chattel.
Bob Schoose, mayor of Goldfield Ghost Town a few miles northeast of Apache Junction, took one look at her — hair in a Gibson Girl updo, serene expression — and knew she could be a star at LuLu’s Bordello there. So he bought her at an auction six years ago and she’s been at LuLu’s ever since. Word is out that touching her breast brings good luck. Men and women alike sidle up for quick gropes.
Miss Torso (given name: “Big Nose Kate,” after one of Tucson’s more famous ladies of the evening) doesn’t complain, though. That’s the way it goes when you’re a metal statue, even if only one of your breasts has been “polished to beat the band,” as Schoose puts it, from decades of not-so-furtive fondles by superstitious patrons of bordellos past and present. Now she stands guard in a corner of the bordello museum, presiding over displays of commemorative coins, books by Anne Seagraves, garters and T- and nightshirts (“Housewife by day” on the front, “floozy by night” on the back).
Offhand, fellow Goldfield bigwig Jay Zingler — he leads the mine tours most days — can’t recall if the lucky breast is the left or right one, but he reckons it’s the left.
“Most men are righthanded,” he said. “When you reach out, don’t you go for the left one?” Zingler’s wrong, as it turns out: Kate’s right bosom is shinier than her left — but they seem to be evening out lately.
Most of the luck involves minor lottery wins — one recent patron waited to scratch off his ticket until after he paid a visit to the bordello and ended up $100 richer, Schoose said. Another of one LuLu’s “ladies” says Kate helped her find a lost piece of jewelry.
The (live) women who hang out at the bordello have other stories, but mostly they’re there to shed some (red) light on a forgotten part of the West’s history. When Goldfield was a real town in the 1890s — its population rivaled Mesa’s back then — it housed no fewer than three bordellos.
“Any time you had a large group of men with no women, there was a bordello,” Schoose said. The business of pleasure “was the only way of keeping ’em in line.”
Feel for yourself
What: The lucky bust at LuLu’s Bordello, Goldfield Ghost Town
Where: 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Road, Goldfield
Cost: Free admission; attractions vary in price.
Information: (480) 983-0333 or http://www.goldfieldghosttown.com
|WHAT SAM WORE: 2-12-11|
|The shirt: Silver Lake cotton V-neck sweater, on clearance for $20 at Abercrombie & Fitch.|
|The pants: Dark-wash slim straight jeans from Lucky Brand, Chandler Fashion Center.|
|The shoes: Trainers by Diesel, from Last Chance.|