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Naughty Shanghai 1920s
Naughty Shanghai 1920s | Naughty Travels
Naughty Shanghai 1920s | Naughty Guide

Naughty Shanghai 1920s

When someone thinks of famous sin cities, perhaps Shanghai is not the city that comes immediately to mind.

However, Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s was actually considered the wickedest city in the world.

Known as the Paris of Asia, Shanghai was a thriving port city and was considered the whore of the East for tourists. Shanghai was a virtual supermarket of pleasure.

In Shanghai, if you had money you could get anything. The number of prostitutes, gamblers, and drug dealers surpassed even Berlin and Paris.

The smell of opium was rampant in the streets of Shanghai which was the most notorious of all the port cities.

In the 20s and 30s Shanghai was under British rule and was a melting pot of people from other countries.

Foreigners could live a life of opulence, ease and status as they usually had wealth and social status.

Neighborhoods usually reflected ethnicity and there was a strict social structure that put the British on top, then Americans, Germans, mixed raced persons and then the Chinese.

The poverty among the Chinese was staggering and each year over 30,000 people simply died in the streets.

Naughty Shanghai 1920s | Hollywood of China | Naughty Guide

Hollywood of China

The architecture of the time in Shanghai resembled New York or Paris and while the rest of the world was immersed in the Great Depression, Shanghai thrived and experienced a building boom.

Sir Victor Sassoon built the Cafe Hotel, a luxury hotel where Nowell Coward stayed and hosted lavish parties.

While the rest of the world suffered through the Great Depression Shanghai was full of Jazz, parties, vice, theaters and nightlife.

Shanghai was also known as the Hollywood of China with a thriving film industry. The devil may care attitude was the perfect place for people seeking adventure.

Shanghai was host to some very interesting people during the 1920s and 1930s. With the free living spirit in the air, men and women were free to live the life of their choice in Shanghai.

Sir Victor Sassoon was a British Baron who lived in Shanghai and devoted his time to protecting Western business interests in China.

He also helped many European Jews survive in Shanghai as they fled Europe to escape the Nazis.

Sassoon threw lavish parties at his hotel and stayed in Shanghai until he had to leave as the Japanese began occupying the city at the start of World War II.

Naughty Shanghai 1920s | Emily Hahn | Naughty Guide

Naughty Girl Emily Hahn

Emily Hahn, an American journalist and author often described her years in Shanghai as the most tumultuous of her life.

A free thinker, Hahn is credited with helping to open Asia to the West.

In Shanghai, Hahn became romantically involved with Sassoon and other prominent Shanghai figures.

She had a pet gibbon monkey that went everywhere with her often dressed in a diaper and miniature dinner jacket.

Hahn was introduced to the practice of smoking opium by one of her Shanghai lovers, Sinmay Zau.

She often visited him at his home which was very unconventional for Western women in the 30s.

She quickly became addicted to opium and later said it was her reason for going to China.

Like Paris and Berlin, World War II played a major role in things changing in Shanghai.

As the Japanese invaded and bombed the city, the prominent foreigners left in droves.

It would be years before Shanghai was free of Japanese rule but it would never again boast the thriving, free times as it did during the 20s and 30s.

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