He put the 'strip' in The Comic Strip

Porn baron Raymond dies at 82

Paul Raymond, the porn baron whose helped the alternative comedy scene flourish in the early Eighties, has died aged 82.

His place in comedy history was secured when The Comic Strip – the troupe that included Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Alexei Sayle, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders – came into existence in a room above the Raymond Revuebar strip joint.

Raymond had opened the Soho club in 1958, and at the time was the only venue in Britain to stage live strip shows. He diversified into soft-porn publishing but made most of his estimated £600million fortune from Soho property. In the late Sixties, Raymond bought the Whitehall Theatre, which became famous for its trousers-down farces.

Even thought he alternative comedy movement prided itself on its non-sexist stance, it had close links with the soft porn world. The Comic Strip was set up because the comics disliked the rowdy atmosphere at the newly-formed Comedy Store where they first cut their teeth – which itself was based in a Soho strip club.

Comic Strip founder Peter Richardson recently spoke about the early days at the club, saying: ‘Robin Williams used to turn up and sweet-talk his way on stage. The only problem was that we could never get him off. Paul Raymond's security men would tell me “we're shutting down now,” and I would go to the side of the stage and hiss “off!”, but he would just carry on regardless!’

Other comics to have performed in Raymond’s venues early in their career include Eddie Izzard and Jerry Sadowitz

In 1997, Raymond – born Geoffrey Anthony Quinn– relinquished control of the bar. It was sold on in 2006 and is now known as the Soho Revue Bar, but continues to host comedy nights – including last year’s Chortle Awards and the launch of Russell Brand’s DVD.

Published: 3 Mar 2008

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