Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chicken Ranch report no. 34: TELEVISION!

Big news to share regarding the Chicken Ranch! The television series Expedition Texas is airing an episode dedicated to the Chicken Ranch this weekend, featuring yours truly prominently. Expedition Texas is most easily viewed by folks in East Texas, since it is based in the Nacogdoches area, but they have an array of stations listed on their website that carry the series. If you don't have access to a station that carries the program, don't despair! Expedition Texas makes individual episodes available for viewing online.

Okay, maybe I should back up a little bit now that the important stuff is out of the way. See that fellow in the picture below?

Bob Mauldin of Expedition Texas at the Chicken Ranch, La Grange, Texas. Lisa On Location Photography, San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin

That's Bob Mauldin, creator and host of Expedition Texas, a regional history-oriented television series that focuses on quirky, interesting, forgotten or otherwise intriguing stories of the Lone Star State. For those of you who grew up in Texas during the 70s and 80s like myself, it's a show not dissimilar from The Eyes of Texas and Texas Country Reporter. This past winter, I was contacted by Mauldin out of the blue. He wanted to devote an episode to the Chicken Ranch, and hoped I might lend my expertise in the area to the project. Now, it's not every day my vast knowledge of prostitution and brothels spanning 150-plus years of Texas history comes into demand, so naturally I agreed to help.

Bob Mauldin of Expedition Texas at the Chicken Ranch, La Grange, Texas. Lisa On Location Photography, San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin

I contacted the current owner of the property, Mike, who approved of the project quite enthusiastically. With everything in place, we gathered in La Grange in early February and spent the day filming and exploring. I talked about so much Chicken Ranch history that day my head started to spin. I fear I babbled quite a bit. Even so, the stories I told and the events I related can lose impact or relevance if not given the proper context--yet there's no way to properly give that much context in a 30 minute television documentary. If there was, I wouldn't have spent three years writing and researching a 110,000-word book on the Chicken Ranch, now would I?

Bob Mauldin of Expedition Texas at the Chicken Ranch, La Grange, Texas. Lisa On Location Photography, San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin

In the end, the whole experience was a great deal of fun. Mauldin and his crew were eager to learn and see all they could. We explored parts of La Grange then the Chicken Ranch property itself, making our way (carefully!) through the ruined, disintegrating building, and even had fun digging through the old trash heap. There's never been a place quite like the Chicken Ranch and there will never be another like it. Regardless of one's feelings regarding prostitution, this place was a very big part of Texas history for more than a century, and it's story needs to be told.

Bob Mauldin of Expedition Texas at the Chicken Ranch, La Grange, Texas. Lisa On Location Photography, San Antonio, New Braunfels, San Marcos, Austin

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2 comments:

  1. I would really like an insight into the corruption that was formented at the Chicken Ranch. What kind of back-room deals can be attributed to this place of not just social, but the far more damaging political iniquty?

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  2. If that was easily explained in a blog post, then I wouldn't have had to write the book! ;-) Seriously, there was definitely corruption involved, but not in the way most assume. Nor amongst the usual suspects. The Chicken Ranch was an odd, singular situation that doesn't bear much resemblance at all to places like the Everleigh Club or even the contemporaneous Wagon Wheel.

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