Parton Tweets 35th Anniversary of ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’

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Operating from 1905 to 1973, The Chicken Ranch was a famed illegal but somehow tolerated brothel in Fayette County, east of La Grange, Texas. Maintaining a good relationship with local law enforcement, Jessie Williams (a.k.a. “Miss Jessie,”) ran the ranch, which was located just two blocks from the Houston-Austin highway, for close to 70 years, spawning not only the 1973 ZZ Top hit, “La Grange,” but also a Broadway musical entitled “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” as well as the 1982 movie adaptation by the same name, which has recently reached the recent milestone of being 35 years old.

Parton Tweets 35th Anniversary of ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’

Photo: Facebook/Dolly Parton – Queen of Country Music

The story goes that each evening, local sheriff, Will Loessin, visited the Chicken Ranch to learn the latest gossip and determine whether patrons had been recently boasting of any crimes. Through his evening visits, a number of cases in the immediate area had been solved, and Miss Jessie went one further by ensuring that no crimes against “her girls” would be committed within the brothel. It was rumored she chased off potential assailants with an iron rod in her hand.

Parton Tweets 35th Anniversary of ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’

Photo: Facebook/Universal Studio Lot

When the Great Depression hit, she was forced to lower her prices as the number of customers dwindled and the house had a hard time making ends meet. In a creative effort to keep the doors open, she implemented what was called the “poultry standard,” whereby each sexual act came at a cost of one chicken. Ultimately, the ratio of chickens to women exploded at the brothel, and Miss Jessie supplemented their income through the sale of surplus eggs and poultry. The property then garnered the name “The Chicken Ranch.”

In 1946, Sheriff Loessin’s replacement, Jim T. Flournoy, still chose to maintain the relationship with Miss Jessie, but rather than visiting the brothel each evening, he chose to install a direct phone line in order to still get the goods on local criminals. It proved a successful arrangement for quite some time. For the 1982 film adaptation of the Broadway musical, country music legend and actress, Dolly Parton, played the role of Miss Jessie, and Burt Reynolds played the local law enforcement. Parton sent out a tweet from her official account on Tuesday, July 11, commemorating the 35th anniversary of the film’s release, which was met with acclaim, and earned several Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Ultimately, it became the fourth highest-grossing live-action musical film from that decade and remains popular with fans to this day.