HOT SPRINGS — In 1983, Hot Springs’ most infamous madam, Maxine Temple Jones, was retired and ready to “settle the scores.”
She penned her autobiography, Maxine: “Call Me Madam,” detailing the crime and corruption that plagued the city during its not-too-distant past, while also telling the story of how a “farm girl” from Johnsville, Ark., would come to live “a life in the rackets.”
But for many years, her book was hard to come by - the original copies few and far between.
“Maxine wrote about the corruption of the town and didn’t sugar-coat it,” said Jeremy Nelson, who formerly owned Maxine’s Live, a music venue that once housed one of Jones’ brothels.
Only a limited number of her books were printed, and many of those were purchased by the people mentioned in the book - even though Jones used different names - in an effort to keep the books off the shelves.
“ They didn’t want fol k s to k now how they ran this town and who was involved in all the corruption,” Nelson explained.
In 2008, with help from Garland County Library employee and local author Justin Lee, Nelson acquired the rights to Jones’ book and republished it. He printed about 3,000 copies, which are sold at a few establishments around Hot Springs.
After selling the live music venue in 2009, Nelson had more time to research Jones and her role in Hot Springs.
A resident of Van Buren Count y in north Arkansas, he grew up in Hot Springs and was aware of the city’s checkered past but said he never really gave it much thought until he read Bill Clinton’s autobiography, My Life, which mentions Jones and her book.
“I thought it was real interesting that he would write about her, and it made me realize that if Bill Clinton is writing about her, then she must be of some importance in the history of Hot Springs,” Nelson said. “As I started doing research, I found out what I have always heard about Hot Springs was so true.”
Jones was central to Hot Springs’ heyday. For some 20 years, she ran one of the town’s most successful brothels, catering to professionals,politicians and gangsters - many of whom would later turn on her - and she had a part in shutting down the city’s illegal casinos.
“She was not going to pay off the mob, so she ended up getting busted and went to prison,” Nelson said. “She was the one that disclosed information that got the gambling stopped. She told on everybody. With that information [the governor] gave her a full pardon.”
In an attempt to make Jones’ story available to a larger market, Nelson relaunched the book with Lily of the Valley Publishing and made the autobiography available online, in print form and, for the first time, as an e-book.
“I got this one really professionally done,” he said. “It looks a lot better, and it’s going to be a lot cheaper.”
The 226-page autobiography has been reformatted, with a new cover and an index added for historical references.
“I think it is a very important part of history, which should be available to everyone, and I have the opportunity to make it available,” Nelson said. “Maxine stood up to the authorities, the mob.”
Her story is available at www.amazon.com and www.createspace.com.