The Bad Bitches of New Orleans

New Orleans was always well-known for its dark side, hunted feel, magical vibe, and spooky stories from the past.
On the list of the city’s infamous celebrities are also included strong, ambitious, powerful, sophisticated, notorious, and (some even) deadly women. They all lived and worked in the French Quarter area many years ago, and in time got nicknamed “The Bad Bitches of New Orleans.”
In books, tours, tales, movies, and while wandering the area of the French Quarter, you can hear the stories of serial killers, murderous madams, Voodoo queens, and aristocrat ladies.

On the map are landmarks of a high-class socialist who abused her slaves, a sex worker who used to stab men with her special knife, two famous madams who managed successful brothels in two different centuries, and one memorable Voodoo queen. Even if the original landmarks were demolished, you could visit the locations and learn about them when reading this short review.



Delphine LaLaurie (1787-1849)
Sadist and Serial Killer

LaLaurie was a member of a high-class family in New Orleans. When she was 13, she married her first husband, a Spanish royal officer. He suddenly died on a voyage to Spain, and she became a young widow with a baby girl.
Four years later, she married a wealthy banker, and together they had 4 children. He died 8 years after they got married.
A few years later, LaLaurie married a young physician but shortly filled for a separation request.
In 1831, she built a mansion at 1140 Royal St with an attached slave quarter. Rumors about her abusive behavior towards her slaves spread on the streets.
On April 10th, 1834, a fire in the kitchen brought a rescue team who found bound slaves in the slaves’ quarter and much evidence for LaLaurie’s violence and abuse. Soon, her mansion got vandalized and destroyed (rebuilt later) by angry people, and she fled with her family to France.
A later investigation revealed that between 1830-1834, there were records of 12 slaves’ deaths in her mansion.

Here stood her mansion (Photo from 2009)


Mary Jane “Bricktop” Jackson (1836-?)
Prostitute and Murderer

Jackson was born and lived in Gallatin Street, now called French Market Place. During the mid-1800s Gallatin Street was the slam area of the city, the home of the most dangerous criminals, prostitutes, street gangs, and many passersby coming from the port.
She became a prostitute by the age of 13 and worked at “Archy Murphy,” one of the roughest dance houses on Gallatin street.
She developed severe anger issues, carried a special knife with two five-inch blades on either end, beating and stabbing (sometimes to death) men who angered her, never losing a fight. Her temper made her lose her job at the Archy Murphy, and she worked on the streets and other brothels in the area, occasionally getting into fights.

Among the people she killed was a guy who called her a whore to her face, a seven-foot-tall man with whom she argued, a gentleman who asked her to be quiet.
And the last known one was her lover and business partner, whom she killed in 1861. She was sent to jail, got released after a year, and disappeared. She was 25 years old at the time.



Marie Laveau (1801-1881)
Voodoo Priest and Spiritual Leader

Although she is not one of the infamous ladies of NOLA, any review of powerful women in this city should mention Marie Laveau.

This iconic spiritual figure in the history of New Orleans had a colorful life while offering ceremonies and consultations to all people. However, her combination of Voodoo and Roman Catholic beliefs entitled her an exceptional position of respect and power in the black community of New Orleans.

Read more about her legacy and some fun facts about the unique leader in this post.




Lulu White (1868-1931)
Notorious Brothel Madam in The Red-Light District

White was born in 1868 in Alabama but claimed she immigrated from Cuba and Jamaica.
Little is known about her life before arriving in New Orleans. It was part of the mysterious character she created.

From 1897 to 1917, the city allowed prostitution in Storyville, the Red-Light District of New Orleans. White established her status as a successful brothel madam when she managed one of the most luxurious brothels in the city, Mahogany Hall.

Located at 235 N. Basin Street, it housed 40 Octoroon women (1/8 black), had 15 bedrooms, five parlors, luxurious furniture, chandeliers, oil paintings, Tiffany windows, and live jazz music.

White was famous for wearing expensive clothes and jewelry. In her other Entrepreneur ventures, she operated “Lulu White’s Saloon” in New Orleans and had some businesses in California.

She was arrested several times for violence, illegal liquor sale, and once for illegal prostitution.

It is mainly believed that she passed away in 1931, after the Storyville era, but someone claimed to see her withdrawing money in 1941.




Norma Wallace (1899/1901-1974)
known as The Last Madam of New Orleans

Wallace started her career as a prostitute in the streets of the French quarter of New Orleans when she was a teenager. A few years later, she became a madam and operated one of the city’s most successful brothels on 1026 Conti Street for more than 25 years.

Many clients who frequently visited the brothel were celebrities, politicians, movie stars, gangsters, and police officers. Wallace kept all their dirty little secrets and used them to protect her own interests. Still, in 1963 she got arrested, and after three months in jail, she decided to recalculate the route and opened a restaurant.

She was famous in the city, starring in newspaper headlines, a tough businesswoman who ran an exciting love life with five husbands. Her last husband was her next-door neighbor, who was 39 years younger than her. In 1974, she passed away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.







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