Rusty Gaynor: The Vice Queen

Pamela Green and Harrison Marks often photographed models that worked at the various clubs scattered around Soho in the ’60s. One such model was Rusty Gaynor who started working for them in 1962. She ended up being the cover girl of Kamera #55 and featured in her very own Kamera Cine Film (nos. 38), entitled Rusty Gaynor. She worked at the Queens Theatre Club on Berwick Street then run by the notorious Jimmy Humphreys who she married.

Kamera 55 featuring Rusty Gaynor on the cover.
Kamera Cine Films presents Rusty Gaynor. Photographed by Harrison Marks.

The polite Jimmy Humphreys was an old boy of Rochester Borstal and Wormwood Scrubs — the Eton and Oxford of the underworld. In 1962 on his release from Dartmoor prison, he was taken under the wing of crime boss Bernie Silver. Drilled by Silver in the ways of the Soho underworld, Jimmy learnt fast and was soon entrusted with greater responsibility. From clip-joint manager he went to strip club manager and was soon a fifty-fifty partner with Silver.

Jimmy owned the lease on seven porn shops and two strip clubs. When the police raided Soho’s porn shops in the ’60s, they would call up Jimmy and offer him the confiscated stock. He would drive down to Scotland Yard, hand over some cash and fill up his white Rolls Royce with the magazines. He had scores of Metropolitan Police detectives on his payroll. The head of the Flying Squad had a fondness for eating at the Savoy. Jimmy felt it prudent to give him an exercise bike.

Jimmy Humphreys may have officiated in the macho world of the crime boss, but when it came to keeping employees in order and looking after the business on a day-to-day basis, Rusty was in charge.

Twelve lovely girls in “The Striptease Set.” Directed and produced by Rusty Gaynor. Queens Theatre Club Souvenir Programme.

It all started to unravel for them in 1972 when the Sunday Mirror disclosed that the Flying Squad commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Kenneth Drury had been on holiday in Cyprus with Jimmy Humphreys. In the wake of the investigation, Kenneth Drury was suspended and eventually resigned. The Yard decided to mount a full-scale investigation into Jimmy’s business dealings. This led to a series of raids on his shops and his fourth story flat on Dean Street.

Rusty Gaynor was jailed for 4 months in September 1972 for unlawfully possessing a pistol and 5 rounds of ammunition. She was arrested when the gun was found on her at Heathrow airport. She was remanded on bail of £1,000 with two £1,000 sureties. Jimmy Humphreys was in Ibiza and she planned to ‘threaten’ him. She ended up just serving one month of her sentence.

City Varieties Glamorama featuring direct from the Panama Club, Rusty Gaynor. March 1962.

Around about this time, Rusty was supposedly having an affair with a petty crook called Peter Garfath. Jimmy vowed revenge. One night at the Dauphin Club in George Street, Marylebone, Humphreys and his henchmen caught up with Peter ‘carved him up’. Humphreys role in that night of violence was to get him a sentence of eight years, but before the law closed in on him he fled to the Continent. He was eventually arrested near Amsterdam on June 7th, 1973 at the urgent request of the British Police. While awaiting Jimmy’s extradition Rusty was given a three-month suspended jail sentence and £100 fine plus £300 costs for being party to keeping a brothel.

Jimmy Humphreys was eventually sentenced in April 1974 to eight years for grievous bodily harm. Convinced he had been set-up he began to tell all. He opened his diaries in which he had recorded all his dealings with the police. By the time he had given evidence against all the corrupt officers he had wined and dined, 74 had been arrested, 12 had resigned, 28 retired and 13 were jailed. It was the biggest police scandal in a century and two years into his sentence he was rewarded with a royal pardon.

In the aftermath of the scandal, Jimmy and Rusty went to America. Homesick, they eventually returned to London. In 1994, they were sent to prison for living off the earnings of prostitution; Jimmy got twelve months, Rusty got eight. The judge said they had cleared more than £100,000 over a 20-month period in a highly profitable operation. When Jimmy was arrested he apparently asked one of the arresting officers whether ‘something could be done’ about his charge. He was told this is 1993, not 1973.

Jimmy Humphreys and Rusty Gaynor eventually retired to the South Coast. Jimmy died in Hastings on September 22, 2003, aged 73.

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5 thoughts on “Rusty Gaynor: The Vice Queen

  1. Rusty is now being portrayed by Shirley Henderson in the Paul Raymond biopic ‘The Look of Love’ starring Paul Coogan. I haven’t seen it but Henderson does not strike me as having a comparable figure.

  2. Takes me back to the early sixties. I was running the backstage at a club in Greek Street. Rusty used to pop in occasionally to see girls who were her friends. One day she came chasing in saying ‘Look after me, Jimmy’s mad at me’, or similar. Next moment Jimmy comes bursting in, picks me up and slams me against the wall, shouting ‘Where is she’ at which Rusty came out of the loo and went meekly off with him. Meanwhile I’d pissed my pants!

  3. When I was 15 in 1964 I got a job as a kennel boy looking after jimmy,s dogs on his farm in Sandhurst a village in Kent , rusty lived in a bungalow when she wasn’t in London with Jimmie his favourite dog a Doberman bitch called Ollie , I lived in a chalet on the farm and there was a lovely guy a deaf and dumb mute called pinky who was one of jimmy’s heavy’s and Maltese’s Ted who was a doorman at walkers court a strip joint . When the bungalow caught / set on fire by some say the Richardsons a south London gang . At the time jimmy sent rusty and their son somewhere safe and he told me to leave and I joined the army

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