James Lipton has held just about every post in the performing arts, from acting to writing to producing. However, his career took a surprising turn when he became a pimp many decades ago.
Yes, you read that correctly. The soft-spoken and mild-mannered host of Inside the Actors Studio had a bit of a wild side way back when, and he told The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg all about it during a recent episode of the Awards Chatter podcast.
After filming a movie in Greece in the 1950s, James found himself in France, not quite ready to return home to the United States. "I was filled with that excitement and dream, and I needed to stay there," he said on the podcast.
As James explains it in the interview, he eventually befriended a woman that performed "exhibitions" for customers, i.e. made love with another person in front of them. "One night, I told her I had to go back to the United States. She said, 'Why?' She said, 'You're broke, aren't you?' And I said, 'Well, yes.' She said, 'No problem, you'll be my mec,'" James described his friend asking him to essentially be her pimp.
But before you let your imagination run too wild, James went on to explain that it was difficult for both men and women in post-World War II France to find work, and prostitutes were licensed, had weekly medical check-ups, and were "not disgraced." "They were all quite serious. And some were very smart," he explained. "And it was all just quite different from what you would imagine."
James' friend received permission for him to act as her "mec," and he held this job for the next couple of months. He seemed to be pretty good at it, too. "We did a roaring business," James said.
Eventually, James had to return to the U.S., and he never heard from the woman again. But he still looks back on his time as a pimp fondly. "It was a great time of my life," he gushed.
This installment of the Awards Chatter podcast turns the tables on the famous interviewer to find out all about his life, from his humble beginnings in Detroit to his initial aspirations of becoming a lawyer to how he ended up at the Actors Studio. Head over to the The Hollywood Reporter to hear the full episode.
Want to get more inside the mind of James? Check out the films and performances that have inspired him the most over the years, below.