Prostitution was never legal in Central City but it was tolerated for a period, and in the end Louisa Bunch was the city’s last madam, keeping her brothel’s door open until 1914.
Madam Lou Bunch owned the most successful brothel (referred to as a “sporting house”) in Central City, Colorado. Located on Pine Street, the city’s red-light district at the time, the sporting house served the city’s miners who worked nearby.
When a tuberculosis epidemic threatened to decimate the population of Central City, Madam Lou converted the sporting house into a makeshift hospital. Without healthy miners, Central City’s economy would have been devastated. Now every second weekend of June citizens of Central City and visitors from all over the world commemorate the madam on Madam Lou Bunch Day.
One of the day’s most popular events is the Madam Lou Bunch Bed Race, which originated during the filming of an unused scene for the 1976 movie The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox. Teams of two men and one woman race wheeled beds, some elaborately designed, down Main Street. There are prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as a prize for best costume overall.
Other events include: performances by the the Sporting House Girls, live music, a parade, a costume contest, and the Madam’s and Miner’s Ball.