The Legend of the Dueling Madams

The passage of time turned a typical drunken brawl into the legend of Denver’s topless “dueling madams.” The city’s “unsavory” characters gathered to enjoy an August evening at Denver Park in 1877. Notorious madams—and competitors in the sex trade—Mattie Silks and Kate Fulton were present when a fight broke out. By night’s end, Kate had a broken nose and Mattie’s boyfriend had a gunshot wound. It was certainly a night to remember. Word of mouth transformed the donnybrook into a prearranged, formal duel between the two women. Both kept their shirts on; there was no topless duel.  Too bad—It’s a great story. Photo: Mattie Silks, unknown date. History Colorado, 10026978.


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