Hooker with a heart of gold

Hooker with a heart of gold

The hooker with a heart of gold (also the whore with a heart of gold or the tart with a heart) is a stock character in which a fallen woman, usually a prostitute, is in fact a kindly and internally wholesome person. This character is often a pivotal, but peripheral, character in literature and motion pictures, usually giving key advice or serving as a go-between. She is sometimes established in contrast to another female character who is morally perfect but frigid or otherwise unyielding. Hookers with hearts of gold are usually reluctant prostitutes selling their bodies due to either desperation or coercion from a pimp. The stereotype might owe something of a debt to certain traditions surrounding the Judeo-Christian Biblical figures of Mary Magdalene and Rahab. But this stock character is pervasive enough in many myths and cultures in the form of a tragic story of the concubine who falls in love with her patron/client or, alternatively, young and often poor lover. Therefore, this might be considered not just archetype but also fairly universal, and somewhat indicative of many societies' complex ideas about sexual decency and moral character.

A variation on the theme, the dancer (stripper) with a heart of gold, is a tamer version of the character. A stripper is a sex worker but not a prostitute. Historically, social positions of dancers and actresses were low and their moral characters were often considered suspect.

In opera and musical theatre, a hooker with a heart of gold is most often portrayed by a mezzo-soprano. The hooker with a heart of gold is portrayed in a tragic light and often dies a tragic death.

In television history, the "tart with a heart" has become an important archetype in serial drama and soap opera, especially in Britain. During the 1960s, the character of Elsie Tanner in British series "Coronation Street" set the mold for future characters such as Bet Lynch (also "Coronation Street") and Kat Slater ("EastEnders"). Characters of this nature are often depicted as having tragic lives, but put on a front when in public to create the illusion of happiness. More often than not, these female characters are vital to their respective shows, and inevitably become some of the biggest stars in British Television.

In popular culture

The stock character is referenced in;
*the 1996 Oscar winning film, "The Usual Suspects". An excerpt:

Let me tell you something. I know Dean Keaton. I've been investigating him for three years. The guy I know is a cold-blooded bastard. L.A.P.D. indicted him on three counts of murder before he was kicked off the force, so don't sell me the hooker with the heart of gold.

*the "Firefly" episode entitled "Heart of Gold", with the focus of the characters on a brothel by the same name.


*Alex in "The Little Dog Laughed" [cite news |first=Wendell |last=Brock |title=‘Little Dog Laughed’ @ Theatre in the Square |url=http://www.accessatlanta.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/accessatlanta/atlarts/entries/2008/04/03/little_dog_laughed_theatre_in.html |work=Atlanta Journal-Constitution |date= 2008-04-03 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=And his hooker with a heart of gold is a sexually conflicted “rent boy” with a girlfriend on the side.]
*Aldonza (Sophia Loren) in "Man of La Mancha"cite news |first=Roger |last=Ebert |authorlink=Roger Ebert |title=Man of La Mancha |url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19721215/REVIEWS/212150301/1023 |work=Chicago Sun-Times |date= 1972-12-15 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=The only performance that really survives the movie is Sophia Loren's. ... She has kind of a thankless role (they've cast her as the whore with the heart of gold again)....]
*Belle Watling in "Gone with the Wind" [cite journal |last=Fox-Genovese |first=Elizabeth |authorlink=Elizabeth Fox-Genovese |year =1981 |month=Fall |title=Scarlett O'Hara: The Southern Lady as New Woman |journal=American Quarterly |volume=33 |quote=Belle Watling, to be sure, is not a lady, but the classic whore with a heart of gold, a shrewd and successful business woman in her own right, has a far deeper sense than Scarlett of the essential qualities that informed true ladyhood. |doi=10.2307/2712525 |pages=391]
*Bianca in "Othello" [cite web |url=http://www.amshakes.org/index.php4?cat=productions&body=shows/front&show=othello&showinfo=message |title=Othello, the Moor of Venice: Message from the director |accessdate=2008-05-26 |last=Nava |first=David |year=2004 |publisher=The American Shakespeare Project |quote=Bianca, the "heart of gold" courtesan, deludes herself into believing that she can escape outsider status by an alliance with Cassio....]
*Chandramukhi (Vyjayantimala/Madhuri Dixit) in "Devdas" [cite news |first=Vidya |last=Pradhan |title=Heart of gold, speckled with sin |url=http://www.hindu.com/mp/2008/01/21/stories/2008012150640300.htm |work=The Hindu |date= 2008-01-21 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Starting with Chandramukhi in "Devdas", the commercial sex worker in Hindi movies has usually been depicted with a heart of gold, forced into her profession by circumstances beyond her control.]
*Charity Hope Valentine in "Sweet Charity" is a taxi dancer with a heart of gold. [cite news |author=Associated Press |title=Molly Ringwald to take 'Sweet Charity' on the road this fall |url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/theater/news/2006-02-27-ringwald-sweet-charity_x.htm |work=USA Today |date= 2006-02-27 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Molly Ringwald will portray Charity Hope Valentine, the dance-hall hostess with the heart of gold, when "Sweet Charity" goes out on the road this fall.]
*Dallas in "Stagecoach" [cite news |first=David B. |last=Welky |title=Stagecoach |url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_tov/ai_2419101143 |work=St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture |publisher=Gale Group |date=2002 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Dallas (Clare Trevor), the prostitute with a heart of gold....]
*Doris Wilgus on "The Owl and the Pussycat"
*Donna Beck on "All My Children" [cite news |first=Catey |last=Sullivan |title=Theater: Sweet Charity |url=http://www.windycitytimes.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=7637 |work=Windy City Times |location=Chicago |date= 2005-03-09 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Ah, the hooker with the heart of gold. It’s a conceit that dates from Mary Magdalene to All My Children’s Donna Beck and beyond.]
*Danielle from "The Girl Next Door" is a former porn star with a heart of gold. [cite news |first=Sean |last=Daly |title=The Girl Next Door |url=http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=28414 |work=Washington City Paper |date=April 9-15, 2004 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Naturally, the budding porno princess with the heart of gold falls for nice guy Matthew—as he falls into her sin-soaked world and jeopardizes his button-down future.]
*Fantine in "Les Miserable"
*Goldie in "Sin City" [cite news |first=Robert |last=Wilonsky |title=Color Bind |url=http://www.dallasobserver.com/2005-03-31/film/color-bind |work=Dallas Observer |date= 2005-03-31 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=...the blood-red bed on which hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Goldie (Jaime King) gives herself to psycho killer Marv (Mickey Rourke)....]
*Helen Ramirez (Katy Jurado) in "High Noon" [cite news |first=Calvin |last=Trillin |authorlink=Calvin Trillin |title=Letter from Ecuador: Speaking of Soup |url=http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/09/05/050905fa_fact?currentPage=all |work=The New Yorker |date= 2005-09-05 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=That led, not unexpectedly, to my mentioning the noted Mexican actress Katy Jurado, who, of course, appeared in 'High Noon,' playing the role of what I think could be fairly described as `"la puta con un corazón de oro".′]
*Linda Ash in "Mighty Aphrodite" [cite news |first=Bill |last=Gallo |title=In Her Genes |url=http://movies.westword.com/1995-11-08/film/in-her-genes/ |work=Westword |location=Denver |date= 1995-11-08 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=The whore with a heart of gold and the punchy fighter with a rosin bag for a brain are not exactly new movie types—not even for that high Manhattan intellect Woody Allen.]
*Liza from Notes from Underground
*Lucy from the Broadway musical "Jekyll and Hyde" [cite news |first=Mark |last=Leib |title=The Half of It |url=http://tampa.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/the_half_of_it/Content?oid=5617 |work=Creative Loafing |location=Tampa |date= 2005-05-25 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=He terrorizes London and confuses his friend John Utterson and his consort Lucy Harris (the prostitute with a - you guessed it - heart of gold).]
*Luenell in "" [cite news |title=Loving Luenell: one on one with Borat's leading lady.(The Great Entertainers) |url=http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-32731466_ITM |work=Curve |date=September 2007 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=In addition to a multiple-decade career in film, theater and stand-up, Luenell is best known for her recent appearance as the hooker with a heart of gold (also named Luenell) in Sasha Baron Cohen's 2006 controversial mockumentary, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.]
*Lynn Bracken in "L.A. Confidential" [cite web |url=http://www.salon.com/sept97/entertainment/la970919.html |title=Too Little, Too Noir |accessdate=2008-05-26 |last=Garner |first=Dwight |date= 1997-09-19 |work=Salon |quote=Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger), a languidly glamorous hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold who resembles Veronica Lake....]
*Marguerite Gautier in "La Dame aux camélias" [cite book |title=Sisters in Sin: Brothel Drama in America, 1900-1920 |last=Johnson |first=Katie N. |url=http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/55051/excerpt/9780521855051_excerpt.pdf |format=pdf |year=2006 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |isbn=0521855055 |pages=7-8 |quote=From the middle of the nineteenth century, no other character epitomized the demise of the goodheartedfallen woman better than Marguerite of "La Dame aux Camélias", popularly known in the United States as "Camille". ... Camille soon became the iconic hooker with-a-heart-of-gold whose story would seduce audiences every Broadway season.]
*Nancy in "Oliver Twist" [cite book |title=Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist |last=Morris |first=Virginia B. |series=Barron's Book Notes |year=1985 |publisher=Barron's Educational Series |location=Woodbury, N.Y. |isbn=0764191616 |pages=14 |quote=For many readers, Nancy is the most important character in the novel. ... In contrast, other readers insist that she is just a cliché – the typical prostitute with a heart of gold.] and its musical version "Oliver!" [cite news |first=Colin |last=Thomas |title=Oliver! |url=http://www.straight.com/article-120309/oliver |work=Georgia Straight |location=Vancouver |date= 2007-11-29 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Nancy, the whore with the requisite heart of gold....]
*Nancy Callahan is a stripper with a heart of gold in "Sin City". [cite news |first=Mike |last=Clark |title=Flesh, fantasy run rampant in 'Sin City' |url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/reviews/2005-03-31-sin-city-review_x.htm |work=USA Today |date= 2005-04-03 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Jessica Alba plays Nancy Callahan, a stripper with a heart of gold in "Sin City".]
*Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) in "Trading Places"
*Satine (Nicole Kidman) in "Moulin Rouge!" [cite news |first=Joe |last=Queenan |title=French kiss-off |url=http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,545100,00.html |work=The Guardian |date= 2001-09-01 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Satine, the enigmatic hooker with a heart of gold, is obviously quite fond of the earnest but not terribly bright Christian.]
*Sera (Elisabeth Shue) in "Leaving Las Vegas" [cite news |first=Janet |last=Maslin |authorlink=Janet Maslin |title=Lurching Through a Life Of Alcoholic Abandon |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07EFDE1F39F934A15753C1A963958260 |work=New York Times |date= 1995-10-27 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=Ms. Shue gives a daring and affecting performance, but she's essentially playing one more whore with a heart of gold.]
*Sonya Marmeladova from "Crime and Punishment" [cite book |last=Wieland |first=Christina |title=The Undead Mother: Psychoanalytic Explorations of Masculinity, Femininity, and Matricide |year=2000 |publisher=Karnac |location=London |isbn=1855759136 |pages=229 |quote=It is in the person of Sonya, a young prostitute with a heart of gold – the 'Holy Sinner,' one might say – that Dostoyevsky glimpses the essential goodness, a goodness beyond the morality of a paternal super-ego, which will act as a good external object.]
*Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) from "The Machinist" [cite news |first=Moira |last=Macdonald |title=The skinny: "Machinist" is daring, haunting experiment |url=http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/movies/2002107532_machinist03.html |work=The Seattle Times |date= 2004-12-03 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote='If you were any thinner,' says his call-girl girlfriend, Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh, playing a scratchy-voiced whore with a heart of gold), 'you wouldn't exist.']
*Suzie Wong in "The World of Suzie Wong" [cite news |title=It's Suzie Wong Doing the Town |work=Chicago Daily Tribune |date= 1960-05-22 |page=G70 |quote='Suzie' concerns the life, loves, and woes of the proverbial tart with the heart of gold, the variation being that this one is Chinese.] [cite news |first=Jessica |last=Hagedorn |title=Asian Women in Film: No Joy, No Luck |work=Ms. |date=January/February 1994 |quote=Suzie and all the other prostitutes in this movie are cute, giggling, dancing sex machines with hearts of gold. Reprinted in Shirley Biagi & Marilyn Kern-Foxworth, "Facing Difference: Race, Gender and Mass Media". Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press, 1997. Pp. 32, 33.]
*Transito from "The House of the Spirits" [cite book |last=Allende |first=Isabel |others=Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden |title=My Invented Country: A Memoir |year=2003 |publisher=Perennial |location=New York |isbn=0060545674 |pages=26-27 |quote=Even though I don't consider myself an expert on the subject, I am not innocent of creating a whore with a heart of gold; mine, from my first novel, is named Tránsito Soto.]
*"V" (Melanie Griffith) in "Milk Money" [cite news |first=Marjorie |last=Baumgarten |title=Milk Money |url=http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Calendar/Film?Film=oid%3A138487 |work=Austin Chronicle |date= 1994-09-02 |accessdate=2008-05-26 |quote=The movie takes a recurrent narrative theme – the hooker with a heart of gold – and mixes it up with a suburban setting and a bunch of adolescent boys, one of whom, Frank (Carter), decides that this prostitute named V (Griffith) would make a perfect mate for his widowed dad (Harris).]
*Violetta Valery in "La traviata" [cite book |last=Lidov |first=David |title=Is Language a Music? Writings on Musical Form and Signification |year=2005 |publisher=Indiana University Press |location=Bloomington |isbn=0253343836 |pages=165 |quote=To go back to the root, this is the story of a prostitute with a heart of gold....]
*Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) in "Pretty Woman" [cite book |last=Orr |first=John |title=Contemporary Cinema |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=xtq1Px0nOfIC&pg=PA211&dq=Hooker+with+a+heart+of+gold&ei=bTqIR5_sAYjm6wKB4LWVBg&sig=wEWxyC6ADRcrTfh_GJDz4Jb0CTg#PPA211,M1 |year=1998 |publisher=Edinburgh University Press |location= Edinburgh |isbn=0748608362 |pages=211] [cite journal |last=Gibbs Van Brunschot |first=Erin |year=2003 | title=Community Policing and John Schools |journal=Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology |volume=40 |issue=2 | pages =215–32 |url=http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=L6hFhr64QkhPhVw3gcBf8GZv0LnfjsnTNJd8Cp2sFC24hCyDTcWG!338704384?docId=5001957098 |accessdate=2008-05-26]
*Garance in "Les Enfants du Paradis"


ee also

* List of famous prostitutes and courtesans
* Feminist film theory

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