Oscar Owide, who has died aged 85, was a former East End hairdresser who built his reputation running restaurants, lap-dancing clubs and hostess bars in Soho; labelled “Britain’s biggest pimp”, he notched up several convictions, including an 18-month prison term for VAT fraud in 1989 and a court order not to serve as a director after being struck off in 2000, yet somehow he continued to pull the strings.
A small, rather scary-looking man, with a pencil moustache and slicked-back hair, Owide held the subleases on much of Swallow Street, off Piccadilly (owned, ultimately, by the Crown Estates), from a time when the district was a byword for sleaze.
He was first exposed by the News of the World in the 1970s, when, as manager of Chaplins club, he told a young female reporter who had pretended to apply for a job how punters would want to “take off her pants”. She would be “giving her body”, he...
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