I can’t but help admire this outspoken man who lived life his way

Peter Stringfellow with model Michelle at the 12th anniversary of the opening of his Stringfellows c

Peter Stringfellow with model Michelle at the 12th anniversary of the opening of his Stringfellows club in London. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Peter Stringfellow was certainly a man who lived life to the full. The night-club owner has died recently at the age of 77 and I can’t help thinking he had a life and outlook that I can’t help but admire. Character is something that these days we seem to sneer at and dismiss, and perhaps even discourage, as we too often laugh at eccentricity and tend to ridicule those who think differently to the accepted, politically correct, wisdom.

Stringfellow, in this respect, stood out: he made no apology for who he was, what he did and how he lived. Why should he?

To some his way of life and his business ventures may have been distasteful but he found and created a market, and entertained and employed countless people and as far as I can see he was a figure of more integrity than perhaps he might have been given credit.

Colourful and flamboyant he may have been, a master at getting himself in the papers certainly, indiscreet maybe, but he enjoyed almost universally positive media coverage.

It is intriguing that a man whose trade openly and publicly included adult entertainment, in a world where we seem less and less permissive and more and more puritan in our views while claiming the opposite, was also a national icon, and if not an icon a man whose contribution to the public sphere was rarely ignored.

Indeed his death has resulted in the publication of some of his better known quotations:

“These people are young entrepreneurs themselves and they’re going forward. They come from all around Europe. This is one of the reasons of course I’m a Remainer… I like those European people to come and earn money in my club. The English are more than welcome too.”

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“The City guys are a very large part of my market. The ladies are just as welcome as the men. The American way of handling these things is probably more politically correct, but we just have to hope we don’t go down that road.”

The former Prime Minister came to the club for a Conservative Party fundraiser. “‘Where are your girls?’ Thatcher asked me. I said: ‘Well ma’am, I was told not to bring them in tonight because of you.’ She said: ‘That’s absolute rubbish! Next time make sure they’re here.’ She was lovely, I had a photo taken with her.”

“I like Boris. It might be ‘Cometh the hour, Cometh the man.’ It’s like Churchill - he could not be prime minister until we went to war - and I think that’s the same for Boris. There are a lot of similarities.”

Just a little research uncovers the story of a rags to riches story, a man who made mistakes and talked about them, an entrepreneur who put his own money where his mouth was, a man who didn’t give up. A husband, father and grandfather. His colourful life, his place on our national cultural scene, his contribution was, I think, one that ought not be dismissed.

He once said: “It should be noted that we don’t consider Stringfellows a strip club, or a lap dance club – and we don’t think of our beautiful angels as pole dancers.

“Those are my thoughts on strip clubs – and now we have cleared that up let me tell you what we are: We are, firstly and foremostly, a Gentlemen’s Club in London with tableside dancing. Think almost unimaginable luxury and sophistication, the finest food, wine and service.

“Deep dark reds and sumptuous velvet fabrics line the walls, private rooms and booths creating the warmest of atmospheres and an air of opulence… Then on top of all this the most beautiful and enchanting girls from all around the world dancing and entertaining you throughout your experience.”

He also said: “I am a feminist. My interpretation is that women can do what they want to do, and not be told not to by a man.”

There’s no denying Stringfellow was a man of outspoken views, with which many might disagree, but he was prepared to go up with the best of them to argue his corner.

And in doing so was unwilling to compromise his character and his identity and for that I cannot help but admire him.

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