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Miss Kitty

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"No problem, man. Now go see Miss Kitty and she'll set you up with a nice hooker."
Chandler, playing barkeep to Joey dressed as a cowboy on Friends.

"Miss Kitty" is an older woman who runs a brothel. She's charismatic when necessary, but has no tolerance for rowdiness in her establishment and very often has a shotgun handy to make certain that her policy is enforced. She goes out of her way to make certain that no-one mistreats her girls, and she runs a tight ship with them as well. She acts as mother-confessor for anyone in town and always has time to provide people with advice and common-sense wisdom. Occasionally, Preacher Man berates her for operating a Den of Iniquity, but most of the time he accepts her business as a necessary evil (assuming he's not secretly a regular customer).

Initially, Bowdlerization restricted her activities to running a saloon or managing a burlesque house of dance hall girls, with only the implication that they're ladies of the night. In the 1950s, the dance hall girl manager role was used as a justification to add a burlesque song to a film. In today's media, it's usually much more obvious that she's running a brothel with ancillary booze service.

If the two are close in age, she will be the love interest of The Sheriff or the U.S. Marshal. She is the employer of the saloon girl and The Piano Player. The Bartender is always her trusted subordinate, if she employs one.

Miss Kitty is a staple of The Wild West and other types of frontier fiction. In fact, the trope was so pervasive in Western Canada in the post-World War I era that the phrasing "Miss Firstname" was (and to some extent, still is) used only to refer to madams and whores. This naturally surprises visitors from the southern US, for whom this phrasing is a respectable way to refer to mature women. Hilarity can ensue.

The Trope Namer is Miss Kitty, the proprietor of the Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City in Gunsmoke. Should not be confused with the burlesque dancer in The Great Mouse Detective or former WWE Diva Stacy Carter, who used this name before changing it to The Kat.

Has nothing to do with Cat Girl.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Strips 
  • In Rick O'Shay, Sheriff Rick O'Shay's love interest, dance-hall owner Gaye Abandon, is a family-friendly version of the trope.

  • Madame Zhou from The Seven Misfortunes of Lady Fortune runs a chain of brothels, and is very proud that no girl of hers is ever dragged into nor kept in the business against her will. After all, she knows firsthand how it feels.

    Film — Animated 
  • In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, there is a talking cat woman whose name is actually Miss Kitty. She is the head matron amongst the other "singers" in the saloon, and left her troubled past behind her in New York to go off to the west (but soon regrets leaving Tiger).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 5 Card Stud, Lily Langford is a madam who uses a barbershop for a front.
  • Advance to the Rear: The aging and hearty Easy Jenny is the employer of several flirtatious saloon girls.
  • Belle Du Jour: bored housewife Severine goes to work part time in a high class "maison" run by Madame Anais (or does she?).
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas has Dolly Parton as flamboyant Madam Mona Strangely.
  • Enid, played by Margo Martindale in Blow The Man Down, cultivates an air of this, but is a more sinister character behind closed doors, deeply embittered at her former partners feeling that the town's need for a brothel has passed, and possibly involved in the murder of one of her girls (who'd been stealing from her).
  • Poor Dixie Lee in Cimarron, who runs the local brothel, but mainly because she can't catch a break. She was orphaned as a teenager, taken advantage of and impregnated by a man who turned out to be a bigamist, and she was driven off the land she tried to claim in Oklahoma by the Moral Guardians.
  • Madame Du Vere in Dead Again in Tombstone is an evil version who throws in her lot with Col. Boomer once she learns what his scheme, and allows him to use her brothel as a base of operations.
  • Dick Tracy: One of Big Boy's partners, Texie Garcia, is a veiled woman in her late thirties who seems slightly less cold-blooded than her male associates (based on her reaction to Spaldoni's death) and is arrested inside a brothel during the Failure Montage.
  • Maudie in Howard Hawks' El Dorado.
  • Ronda in The Far Country is this—older, sexy, owner of a saloon, wearing bright dresses, rather strongly implied to have once been a prostitute.
  • Jenny in Frisco Jenny. The film begins in 1906 San Francisco.
  • In Ghost Town (1988), Grace ran the town's saloon when she was alive, and continues to run it in death. This includes the soiled doves upstairs.
  • In Ghost Rock, Mattie Baker (Adrienne Barbeau) runs the the saloon and whorehouse in Ghost Rock, is something of a mother hen to her girls, and is one of the few citizens willing to up Mayor Jack Pickett.
  • Nona Williams in Johnny Reno. After Reno left her, she became a prostitute. Saving her earnings, she eventually bought she own saloon.
  • The Legend of Frenchie King: Amelie, Maria's aunt, is an experienced prostitute who runs her own brothel, much to the chagrin of her niece.
  • Red (Helena Bonham Carter) who runs the brothel in Hell on Wheels in The Lone Ranger. The shotgun she totes to ensure there is no rowdiness in her establishment is built into her ivory prosthetic leg.
  • In A Man with a Maid, Madame Helena is the wheelchair-bound madame of a high-class cathouse who takes young Jack's education firmly in hand.
  • McLintock!: Camille Reedbottom is a decade or so older than her fellow scantily clad saloon girls, seems to be their leader, and clashes with Katherine after showing interest in McLintock.
  • Peter David's Space Western Oblivion (1994) has a Miss Kitty who's a Cat Girl, and of course, she's actually called Miss Kitty. And she's played by Julie "Catwoman" Newmar.
  • In The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Sassy Black Woman Mrs. Burrows is shown to be a very indulgent madam, even hand feeding her girls treats.
  • The owner of the titular salon in Tinto Brass' Salon Kitty even has the right name. Would be dead on this trope if it wasn't set in Nazi Germany...
  • Stella "The Midnight Star" in Silverado. Unlike other examples she wasn't forced into the life by circumstance, she chose it because the night life most suited her. Hence the nickname: "She's always there but she only shines at night."
  • The strippers in Hustlers work under the management of a den mother nicknamed "Mama" (played by Mercedes Ruehl). Among the strippers themselves, Ramona (played by Jennifer Lopez) also becomes something of a maternal figure to the others, especially after the 2008 financial crisis spurs her to develop a more ruthless MO of drugging and robbing wealthy patrons.
  • In The Lone Ranger (2013), Red is the one-legged owner of a brothel John and Tonto investigate. Her ivory prosthetic hides a shotgun in the heel which she uses to blow out an overly grabby client's chair. She only runs the brothel because her career as a ballerina was brutally ended when it's implied that Butch Cavendish ate her leg.
  • Undercover Heat. Dirty Harriet police officer Cindy Hannen (Athena Massey) goes undercover in a high-class whorehouse Mrs V's, run by Meg "Scary Eyes" Foster, to catch a murderer. She discovers the fake clients set up for her cannot be relied upon and when faced with real tricks decides to sew her "Wild oats" and enjoy a sexual adventure as a real prostitute, transforming from tomboy into Fair Cop via a Girliness Upgrade, essentially Becoming the Mask. Also played with when she does a roleplay as a Dominatrix cop for one of her unwitting clients and indulges in A Three Some Is Hot with an attractive married couple.
  • Wild Orchid 2: Shades Of Blue, a young girl is left destitute after the death of her heroin addict musician father but is taken in by a high class bordello run by the Madam Elle where she works under the pseudonym "Blue", eventually falling in love with one of her customers.

  • In the Bardic Voices series, the Madam of the brothel that Rune gets a job at (as a musician playing in the common room) goes by the name of Amber. (Not her real name, just the name that all madams of that brothel goes by). She is a nice person and cares for all her employees, from the serving girls and boys in the common room to the ladies working upstairs.
  • Dora Flood in Cannery Row is another Steinbeck example. In the sequel Sweet Thursday, her older sister Flora takes over, having changed her name to "Fauna."
  • Madam later Tribune Cymnea is one of these in Jim Butcher's Codex Alera.
  • Discworld: Mrs. Rosie Palm is one, having risen to President of the Seamstresses' Guild of Ankh-Morpork after working as a Seamstress herself. Seamstresses are referred to as "Miss" while the head of the guild is "Mrs". This causes Sir Samuel Vimes to commit a minor gaff in Night Watch when he travels back in time and comes across Rosie and calls her Mrs. Palm. At that point she was just another working girl and corrected him that it is Miss Palm.
  • Cathy/Kate from East of Eden kills her mentor, who is one of these, and then takes over her brothel and becomes a completely vicious version of this trope.
  • "La Señora" ("The Mistress"), one of Eva's caretakers in Isabel Allende's Eva Luna, is a former High-Class Call Girl and the owner of the most famous brothel in the capital.
  • Flashman hooks up with one of these in Flash for Freedom and the first part of Flashman and the Redskins.
  • Belle Watley from Gone with the Wind.
  • La Señora is predated by the Older and Wiser Tránsito Soto from The House of the Spirits. She's also a rather interesting example in that she began as an mixture of Plucky Girl and Hooker with a Heart of Gold, then went to the city with help from Esteban Trueba, worked hard to become the most beautiful and respected High-Class Call Girl, was still a HCCG when she became a Miss Kitty, and only later fully took up the Miss Kitty roles.
  • Miss Audrey in the Liaden Universe is a brothel owner in the Space Western equivalent of a frontier town. She's a canny businesswoman, and closer to being a respected community leader than the guys who are officially in charge. She even runs a school out of one of the back rooms.
  • Willie in Out of the Easy runs a brothel in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and acts as surrogate mother to the protagonist, Josie.
  • Gwen in The Riyria Revelations. Her efforts to become this is the secondary plot of the prequel book The Crown Tower.
  • Chataya of A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Patricia Utley in Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels, who takes good care of her "girls" and is a successful businesswoman, making sure that she only sends them out to high paying customers like celebrities and politicians.
    • Her protegee April Kyle, on the other hand, was doomed from the start (at least in retrospect due to already being pretty fucked in the head before she even became a prostitute).
  • Tales of the City: Mother Mucca , Anna's mother and Mona's grandmother, runs a brothel in the Nevada desert.
  • The titular character from Jorge Amado's novel Tieta do Agreste is one of these, albeit she spent a good part of the book hiding this from her relatives and the people of her birth town, by letting them believe she is a boutique owner and a senator widow. But then again, no one asked her the right question.
  • In Twig, Sy and Jamie seek refuge with one of these, herself a former Street Urchin who, now that she runs her own brothel, takes the opportunity to help children in need and provide shelter to those that need it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Adam Ruins Everything, Adam debunks the notion that the founding of the Wild West was all the doing of gritty white male cowboys. He meets up with a saloon owner named Pearl, and an actual historian, who explain that the towns on the Frontier were basically work camps, with no women. When women did come to the West, some of them found that there was a market for sex (and not many other options open to women)...and that it was a very lucrative one. The prostitutes of the Old West used their newfound wealth and power to transform those settlements from work camps to cities with schools, hospitals, etc. The gritty white male cowboy Adam was talking to is shocked and appalled.
  • Angel: in the episode 'War Zone' Angel visits the high class demon bordello "Madam Dorian's" to investigate one of its' clients being blackmailed, the Madam happy to help them in order to preserve her business' reputation for privacy. In 'Couplet' Angel and Groo visit a human but supernaturally enchanted bordello to obtain a sexual charm for Cordelia from its' sorceress Madam (the plan being that they would find ex-cop Kate Lochley from the first 2 seasons working there as a hooker but Elizabeth Rohm couldn't get time off 'Law and Order' to make the cameo).
  • In one skit from The Armstrong and Miller Show, Alexander Armstrong discovers that his ancestor was a prostitute, and determines to find out whether she ever improved her lot in life. Apparently, she did: a later entry into the records he's examining instead lists her occupation as "brothel owner".
  • The Book of Boba Fett: Garsa Fwip employs several scantily-clad Twi'leks in her cantina, and is occasionally referred to as "Madame Garsa".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: in the episode 'Into the Woods' Buffy discovers her boyfriend Riley is cheating on her in a low rent vampire brothel (which Giles hints that he has also frequented in his wild youth) and torches the place before killing off all the vampire hookers.
  • Eva in Copper. The Contessa is her High-Class Call Girl equivalent uptown.
  • Joanie Stubbs of Deadwood tries to be a Miss Kitty, along with her partner Maddie, but they fail.
  • Dollhouse: despite its' multitude of other uses the Dollhouse is essentially a brothel where they "make better hookers" as various characters observe through the series and Adele the ultimate Madam.
  • Nandi from the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold," though her establishment was less bar and more brothel (plus, she is officially shunned by the Companion Guild).
  • The Trope Namer, Amanda Blake's Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
  • Las Vegas: Mike Cannon takes a client at his request to a famous Nevada bordello whilst his wife is distracted by shopping.
  • Mama Mabel from Luke Cage (2016). She's long dead in the present day, but she was Mariah Stokes' grandmother and Harlem's crimeboss in the 70's and 80's by way of running a brothel out of her house and selling illegal arms. And, not unusual for a brothel madam, she used her resources to provide for the community (turkeys for Thanksgiving, disposing of abusive boyfriends, etc.), ensuring that she was loved and feared. She also has ties to a few other characters across the MCU Netflix shows, such as putting Benjamin Donovan—lawyer to Mariah and Kingpin—through law school, and Piranha was born to one of Mabel's girls and a customer.
  • Luci Prescott in Peacemakers.
  • Psych had an episode set in a Wild West-themed tourist town, complete with a Miss Kitty. After the case is solved, the town's sheriff proposes to her, and Shawn is touched that she's agreeing to leave behind a life of sin until Gus reminds him that she isn't a real madam.
  • In Reign, Greer ascends to this role by the end of Season 2 and she proves very good at it
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch got transported to a magical Wild West town. Aunt Hilda became Miss Hildy, the owner of the saloon.
  • Tales Of The City: the character of Mona befriends the elderly Madam "Judy" and becomes the receptionist at her Nevada brothel, eventually volunteering to do a roleplay where she whips a prominent politician whilst dressed as a nun.
  • Tropical Heat: one of PI Nick Slaughter's informants is "Lady Grace", the owner of a high class bordello/home for wayward girls.
  • Twin Peaks: Hotelier Ben Horne also owns a high class brothel straddling the US/Canadian border, called 'One Eyed Jacks' and run by the Madam "Blackie". The prostitutes are recruited from the girls working at the cosmetics counter at Horne's department store which unknown to him also includes his daughter, Audrey.
  • 'Warrior (2019)'': Ah Toy is the Madame in charge of the Hop Wei's brothel.
  • This is Maeve's main role during the first season of Westworld,
  • Mary Barrett from Wild Boys.
  • In Series/Xena one of her lookalikes, Meg, opens a highly successful house of ill repute whose girls seem remarkably keen on Joxer

    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, Rahab owns or works in a brothel (though she is sometimes described as an innkeeper instead). Because she hides the Israelite spies, she is rewarded with a husband and family of her own...and becomes one of the ancestors of Jesus.

  • Molly Fitzpatrick, the Bar Ghost of America's Most Haunted, was apparently one in her past life.
    "She died as she lived � going down."
  • Rosie the saloon bargirl from Cactus Canyon.


  • The trope namer Miss Kitty herself from Gunsmoke

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Calista Cypher aka Black Widow used to work as a prostitute (among other things) before she became the matron of Alent's finest brothels.

  • Mona Stangley in the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. (Played by Dolly Parton in the film version.)
  • William Shakespeare used this trope in the form of Mistress Quickly, a recurring character in both parts of Henry IV, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Her title is itself a possible sexual innuendo—she's a "quick lay"—and though she's an innkeeper rather than a "proper" madam, she fits the trope with her connections to crime, past as a former lady of the evening, status as a "pistol-proof" (read: menopausal) woman, and protective relationship with Doll Tearsheet, a young prostitute who frequents the inn. Mistress Quickly and Falstaff are longtime friends who love to prank one another—which is probably why she gets one of the saddest Shakespearean monologues in Henry V: she was with Falstaff as he died and recounts the experience of watching him go, breaking down and crying as she tells the story.

    Video Games 
  • In the Assassin's Creed games that take place in Renaissance Italy, Ezio finds allies in various brothel madams throughout Italy. Period setting notwithstanding, these women fit the Miss Kitty bill as shrewd, intelligent businesswomen who genuinely care about the women in their employ and aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. At one point, Ezio's own mother and sister become madams of a brothel in Rome, in order to feed information to the Assassins.
  • Miss Kitty from Fallout 2, the host of the most renowned brothel in the wasteland in New Reno.
  • Fallout: New Vegas has "Pretty" Sarah. Once she was pretty... before she was burned and raped by the Fiend leader Cook-Cook and not necessarily in that order. She now lives in the Casa Madrid Apartments in Westside acting as a madam for her three prostitutes. She may be burned, but she's much tougher than she looks and never likes people messing with her "merchandise". That .44 magnum is not just there for show.
  • Idol Manager: Fujimoto was a Gender-Inverted case of this trope back when he ran his brothel under the cover of a Hostess Club. He made sure the people selling their bodies were doing so willingly and that people who simply needed an extra revenue stream got an extra job that doesn't require to sell one's body instead.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon has Hamako, the proprietress of an establishment in Yokohama that is a restaurant...officially. Unofficially, the only food offered is tea and some small snacks. The main attraction of her "restaurant" is the working ladies. She provides Ichiban Kasuga official residency in her establishment to provide him with a legal address to find employment after he is exiled from the yakuza, as well as to exploit a legal loophole that makes it harder to crack down on her extralegal enterprise.

    Web Comics 
  • In the Western Arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, Morgan is the town's Miss Kitty and a Steampunk genius to boot.
  • Mama Gkika of Girl Genius appears at first glance to be one of these, running a (literal) underground establishment that caters to the Jaegers, and given the decor it is likely also a brothel. However, she's also one of the Jaeger Generals, and may in fact be a parody of this trope.
  • The Prohibition-era Lackadaisy features Mitzi May, a Miss Kitty who actually is a kitty...
  • Pandora's Tale has Miss Fortuna, nightclub owner and ex-courtesan who uses her current business as cover for resistance operations. She employs a number of dancers who offer extra services to patrons, and she seems to be quite protective of her employees, having assumed a mentorship role with Isabelle.
  • Problem Sleuth has an evil variant of this with Madame Murel, the Big Bad's Distaff Counterpart. She runs the Sleazy Brothel in the Sky, and she doesn't care for the prostitutes one bit.

    Web Videos 
  • Honey from Hulu's show Quick Draw acts as advice giver and lover to the entire town of Great Bend, including the new sheriff.

    Western Animation 
  • Little Dogs on the Prairie gives this a wink-and-nod reference, despite being a religious series; one of the main characters is introduced as Miss Kitty, here to run the local saloon — then she clarifies that it's Kittey, and she's here for the salon. She's a hairdresser. Still, she has the "heart of gold" aspect down.
  • Bart discovers and eventually ends up working for one of these women on The Simpsons. (Her business is called a burlesque house but it's heavily implied to be a brothel.) Even though the show is set in modern America, the matron of the house plays this trope completely straight and makes Marge look foolish by comparison. This episode led to the Awesome Music — "We put the *spring* in Springfield."

    Real Life 
  • Some urban examples from the well-documented world of Chicago prostitution of the period:
    • When Carrie Watson was a middle-class girl in Buffalo, New York, she saw her older sisters work for substandard wages as shopgirls, and became determined to avoid that fate. Since her career options were limited by social mores of the time, she decided on an unusual career plan: become a prostitute, learn the business end, and open her own house that would cater to a high-class, moneyed crowd. After an apprenticeship, she gained enough money to fulfill her dreams. Between the 1870s and 1890s, Watson's house was renowned for its women and its customer service. Customers were greeted by a talking parrot which said "Carrie Watson's. Welcome, gentlemen." (Watson was quite discreet; the parrot and a small brass plaque were her only forms of advertising.) Watson invested in real estate and became rich. Her treatment of her girls was renowned in the community at a time when prostitutes were regarded as virtual slaves. When pressure came to centralize prostitution in Chicago away from Watson's house, she decided to retire and quietly faded away.
    • Vina Fields had two handicaps in the 1890s: she was not only female, she was African-American. Her houses specialized in providing African-American women for white customers, although she didn't discriminate. In order to insulate her daughters from how she made her living, she sent them to convent schools. During the Panic of 1893, she provided thousands of free meals daily for out-of-work men. When she left the business, her departure was much-mourned.
    • The origins of the women who called themselves Ada and Minna Everleigh are still in dispute, although a great deal of detective work has been done (most recently by Karen Abbott in her book Sin In The Second City). What is known is that they made a windfall profit in Omaha operating a high-class house, then took that money to create a dream establishment on Chicago's South Side. Opening in 1901, the Everleigh Club soon became world-famous for its opulence and its employment of beautiful, talented women, who were treated magnificently by Ada and Minna. The brothel was down-right palatial in its furnishings; among other things, it had a perfume fountain, a gold-plated piano, and a solid gold spittoon in every room. Not to mention that they got 25 world-class chefs and musicians to work for them. It was as exclusive as possible; new customers needed a letter of recommendation from an established patron to be admitted, they only took checks at a time when only the rich possessed checking accounts, and people who spent less than $50 (worth about $2000-$4000 today) are politely but emphatically advised to never come back, the average "dinner and a night" service costs more than $200. They even entertained royalty. The house was forcibly shut down in 1911, and the sisters went into genteel retirement in New York City.
  • A literal Miss Kitty (Katharina "Kitty" Schmidt) operated a luxurious brothel in World War II Berlin, under the guise of the SD (SS's counterespionage department). She had to submit to them, after SS-Brigadeführer Walther Schellenberg himself had shown her clearly she had no other choice, charging her with money laundering and trafficking, using forged passports, other crimes linked to money laundering and forgery... and helping Jews to escape Germany, all of which could mean either a long prison term in a concentration camp or a summary execution at the hands of the SS. The entire house had been littered with state of the art surveillance electronics, and a large percent of the girls trained to register the slightest word which could mean a valuable secret. Despite prostitution being more or less legal in Germany and herself an agent of the state security, her house had always been more or less illegal, with no advertising and entrance via a password, to keep it exclusive and protect the VIP clients (nearly always married) from unfriendly eyes. Count Ciano while in Berlin used to go ostensibly to a cinema and sneak from the theater after the lights were off, to avoid anyone who might have snitched him to his all-powerful father-in-law, Mussolini.
  • John Steinbeck based the character of Dora from Cannery Row on a Madam named Flora Woods who operated the Lone Star Café on what is now called Cannery Row in Monterey, California. By all accounts, she was a generous woman who cared deeply for her girls and gave large sums of money and food to charity.