Cynthia Payne (born December 24, 1932 in Bognor Regis, West Sussex) was an English party hostess who made the headlines in the 1970s and 1980s when she was accused of being a madam and of running her brothel at 32 Ambleside Avenue, in Streatham, in the south-west of London, England.
In 1986, the police raided her home again, this time during a "special party" she was hosting. Although she was acquitted, the resulting court case in 1987 made headlines for several weeks with lurid tales, some details of which she aired on The Dame Edna Experience in 1988, with co-guests Sir John Mills and Rudolf Nureyev, where she also launched her book, Entertaining at Home.
On this program, she expressed an interest in becoming an MP, in order to change Britain's sex laws, which she followed through with by standing for Parliament as a candidate for the Payne and Pleasure Party in the Kensington by-election in July 1988, followed by her standing in her own area of Streatham in the 1992 UK General Election. She did not achieve entry into Parliament.
There have been two films made that are loosely based on her life. Wish You Were Here, about her adolescence, and Personal Services about her adult life. Both were written (and Wish You Were Here was directed) by David Leland, and both were released in 1987, but are vague in their similarities.
Cynthia Payne currently makes appearances as an after-dinner speaker and as of 2006 is also launching a new range of adult services and products.
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