James Lipton has had a lot of jobs over the years: writer, composer, actor, producer, teacher, and (most famously) host of the Bravo series Inside the Actors Studio. One line on his resume that doesn't get mentioned very often? Pimp.
In a new interview with Parade magazine, Lipton, 86, opens up about his time working on the prostitution scene in Paris in the 1950s. Speaking about that period of his life, he says he was simply doing what he had to do to make ends meet.
"It was only a few years after the war. Paris was different then, still poor," he explains. "Men couldn't get jobs and, in the male chauvinist Paris of that time, the women couldn't get any work at all. It was perfectly respectable for them to go into le milieu."
Indeed, the Arrested Development actor insists it wasn't a seedy situation. "[The women] were beautiful and young and extraordinary," he tells Parade, adding that they were "inspected medically" every week.
One of these women, in fact, befriended Lipton and helped him break into the business. "When I ran out of money, I said, 'I have to go home.' She said, 'No, you don't. I'll arrange it for you.' So she arranged for me to do it," he explains of how he became a pimp. "I had to be okayed by the underworld; otherwise they would've found me floating in the Seine."
Lipton says he ran a very successful bordello and made enough money to live off of for a year. "I did a roaring business," he boasts. "That's how I lived. I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life."
That said, he doesn't endorse paying for sex. As he tells Parade: "I think if you can't earn it on your own, then you don't deserve it."