From re­bel­lious grand­daugh­ter of porn and prop­erty ty­coon Paul Ray­mond to an en­tre­pre­neur with a mul­ti­mil­lion-pound busi­ness em­pire of her own, IN­DIA ROSE JAMES tells Joanna Della-Ra­gione that she’s more than just an heiress

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She may be as rich as the Queen, hav­ing in­her­ited swathes of prime real es­tate from her grand­fa­ther Paul Ray­mond, but young mum In­dia Rose James likes ot keep it real

With her pink hair and edgy fash­ion sense, In­dia Rose James doesn’t look like roy­alty, but in London’s Soho she is as blue-blooded as they come. Af­ter all, her grand­fa­ther, the late porn baron and prop­erty ty­coon Paul Ray­mond, was the in­fa­mous King of Soho who left his 25-year-old grand­daugh­ter and her half-sis­ter Fawn, 31, a mul­ti­mil­lion-pound for­tune and acres of West End real es­tate to boot.

But don’t call In­dia the Queen of Soho, as she has been dubbed – she prefers ‘princess’ be­cause ‘it’s cuter’. Nev­er­the­less, wher­ever In­dia goes in W1, she is treated with the def­er­ence due to a sovereign. When we meet at the ex­clu­sive mem­bers’ club Soho House on Dean Street, the build­ing of which is owned by her family’s firm Soho Es­tates, In­dia looks more like a young creative than a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire. Yet as she pushes open the door, deftly wield­ing a Sil­ver Cross pram while her seven-month-old daugh­ter Sap­phire rests on her hip, she is greeted by gush­ing re­cep­tion­ists. ‘I think when they swipe my mem­ber­ship card there must be a note flagged on the com­puter telling them who I am,’ she says.

In­dia cer­tainly looks like her much-loved ‘Papa’, who died in 2008 aged 82. Born Ge­of­frey Quinn in Liver­pool in 1925, he changed his name to Paul Ray­mond at the age of 22 when he trav­elled to Clac­ton-on- Sea, Es­sex, to per­form as a mind-reader billed as ‘The Mod­ern Man of Mys­tery’. How­ever, his break­through came in 1958 when he opened the Ray­mond Re­vue­bar in the for­mer Doric Ball­room in Soho’s Walker’s Court, cun­ningly dodging de­cency laws that barred naked women from mov­ing around on stage by open­ing the venue as a pri­vate mem­bers’ club where those rules didn’t ap­ply.

Within two years the club had 45,000 mem­bers (reg­u­lars in­cluded Peter Sell­ers, Diana Dors and the Kray Twins), who were en­thralled by the x-rated en­ter­tain­ment and out­landish acts in­clud­ing scant­ily-clad per­form­ers gy­rat­ing with snakes, the Ding Dong Girl (who wore just three bells) and women strip­ping off in a wa­ter tank. In 1964 Paul founded an adult magazine em­pire and over the fol­low­ing years ploughed his prof­its into prop­erty to the ex­tent that it was said he bought a free­hold a week in 1977. By 1991 he en­tered rich lists with an es­ti­mated for­tune of £60 mil­lion – the self-ti­tled ‘spiv’ had ar­rived.

In­dia has noth­ing but ad­mi­ra­tion for Paul’s drive and busi­ness ac­u­men. And while many

I have no is­sues with how my grand­dad made his money

have branded his wealth, de­rived from erotic en­ter­tain­ment and porno­graphic mag­a­zines, as deeply un­savoury, In­dia is prag­matic. ‘He saw a gap in the mar­ket and he went for it. It paid off,’ she says. ‘I have no is­sue at all with how he made his for­tune. I have noth­ing against porn.’ She even ad­mits that ‘a few friends have told me they’ve vis­ited broth­els’, but re­fuses to judge them, re­spond­ing, ‘Do what you have to do.’ Though, tellingly, she adds, ‘I wouldn’t date those guys.’ How­ever, af­ter decades of seem­ingly bound­less suc­cess, Paul faced tragedy. His beloved daugh­ter Deb­bie died of a drug over­dose at the age of 36, leav­ing be­hind ten-month-old In­dia and six-year-old Fawn. Paul had Deb­bie and her younger brother Howard (who runs prop­erty busi­ness Ray­mond Es­tates) with his wife of 23 years Jean Bradley. (He also has a son, Derry McCarthy – born to his Clac­ton stage side­kick Gay Dawn, just 18 at the time – who met his fa­ther only once.) The mogul had been pre­par­ing to hand the busi­ness over to Deb­bie, but her death left him bereft and he spent his later years as a recluse. In­dia shows no self-pity about this early loss and in­sists she never lacked a mother’s love thanks to her fa­ther John James’s sec­ond wife. ‘Jilly is my mum, there’s no ques­tion about that,’ she says. ‘Dad met her when I was only a few months old. She stuck around and put up with me. They got mar­ried 18 years ago and I have a lit­tle brother, Har­vey, who is 16. Mum has been the best in the world. She took in two kids who weren’t her own and she raised us. I asked about ba­bies when I was a child and she had to ex­plain that she didn’t give birth to me – but I was OK with that.’ Un­sur­pris­ingly, the topic of Deb­bie, whom In­dia refers to by her first name, doesn’t of­ten arise. ‘Fawn talks about her more, but she was older and re­mem­bers. I was tiny when Deb­bie died. When the film came out I ques­tioned it more. I talk to my dad oc­ca­sion­ally but I find it dif­fi­cult to broach.’

In the controversial 2013 biopic The Look of Love there is a shock­ing scene in which Imo­gen Poots’s Deb­bie snorts co­caine given to her by Paul (played by Steve Coogan) while she’s in labour. But In­dia says: ‘My fa­ther wasn’t in the room while Deb­bie was in labour so I don’t know what is true. We don’t know if the drug-tak­ing when she was giv­ing birth is fact or fic­tion.’

Un­til re­cently, In­dia was very much on London’s so­cial cir­cuit, fre­quent­ing fash­ion launches and art open­ings. But she in­sists there’s no rea­son to draw com­par­isons be­tween her and Deb­bie. ‘Cer­tain peo­ple think I’m go­ing to turn out the same, but [ad­dress­ing the baby on her lap] I’m not go­ing to leave you, Saffi, don’t worry. It would make a good story to see me drug-ad­dicted and leav­ing my child, but that’s never go­ing to hap­pen.’

In fact, In­dia’s life ap­pears to be one of do­mes­tic bliss. She could af­ford an army of helpers and yet she shares child­care du­ties with her fi­ancé, The Kooks gui­tarist Hugh Har­ris. ‘I love so­cial­is­ing but some­times I’m out and miss Saffi and want to go back and snug­gle,’ she says. ‘Look­ing at her in her cot, smil­ing at me, makes me so happy.’

It’s a sur­prise to dis­cover that the cou­ple have only been to­gether for 18 months. They met at the celebrity haunt Brown’s Ho­tel in London’s May­fair, had their first kiss at Read­ing Fes­ti­val in 2015 and three months later In­dia was preg­nant and, de­spite her shock, de­ter­mined to be­come a mother. ‘I’m in a po­si­tion where I know that any child is al­ways go­ing to be looked af­ter, so there was no rea­son not to have the baby.’

Hugh pro­posed with an enor­mous emer­ald on the roof of the Ho­tel Café Royal in Pic­cadilly Cir­cus. Soon af­ter­wards Saffi was born, at The Port­land Hospi­tal in Cen­tral London, where well-heeled women in­clud­ing Victoria Beck­ham and the Duchess of York go to give birth. But In­dia is not, she in­sists, too posh to push. ‘I hate nee­dles and surgery, so the idea of a cae­sarean ter­ri­fied me. The epidu­ral was bad enough.’

Re­turn­ing to her pre-baby body hasn’t been a chal­lenge, thanks to the gluten- and dairy-free diet that In­dia is on in a bid to con­trol an eczema flare-up. ‘I dread Saffi suf­fer­ing with eczema like I do so I try to put as lit­tle on her skin as pos­si­ble,’ she says. ‘I only bathe her a cou­ple of times a week.’ But In­dia does cave when faced with the bis­cuit ac­com­pa­ny­ing her cof­fee. ‘Sod it,’ she

I don’t know if the story that my mum took drugs while giv­ing birth is fact or fic­tion

says, wolf­ing it down. ‘A bit of wheat can’t hurt.’ Few who knew In­dia as a re­bel­lious teenager would recog­nise this re­spon­si­ble young woman and lov­ing mother. She at­tended St Ge­orge’s School As­cot (which she damns as ‘bour­geois’) be­fore go­ing to Bear­wood Col­lege in Wok­ing­ham, Berk­shire for sixth form, where she so­cialised with ‘the Eton guys down the road’. She in­sists that she’s not ‘posh’, though her well-rounded vow­els tell a dif­fer­ent story.

In­dia de­scribes school as a ‘nightmare’ and ad­mits: ‘I smoked and drank and had what they called an “un­con­trol­lable at­ti­tude”. If the teach­ers told me to walk through one door, I’d nat­u­rally want to walk through the other.’ It’s lit­tle sur­prise that she was ex­pelled, although she clar­i­fies, ‘Dad says I was asked to leave, but I don’t see the dif­fer­ence.’

On school trips to London, In­dia would sneak off to visit her Papa in his Green Park pent­house. She re­calls: ‘He lived in an apart­ment next to The Ritz. There were mir­rors ev­ery­where, it was art deco and plush. He had a pro­jec­tor in­stead of a TV and bought an en­tire cat­a­logue of El­ton John’s be­long­ings at auc­tion so the flat was full of Lalique bowls and sculp­tures of pre-Raphaelite women – sur­pris­ingly there weren’t many nudes.’

When Paul died, the ma­jor­ity of his port­fo­lio was left to Fawn (whose bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther is Dun­can Mackay from the rock band 10cc, but was adopted by John James as a child) and In­dia, then 22 and 16 re­spec­tively. A hefty chunk was also left to Paul’s son Howard. Their for­tune, which was es­ti­mated at £482 mil­lion in last year’s Sun­day Times rich list, is de­rived from a prop­erty em­pire that in­cludes Soho land­marks such as night­club The Box, the site of the renowned Ket­tner’s restau­rant and the for­mer premises of the book­shop Foyles. Fawn works at Soho Es­tates’ Greek Street of­fices with John. The com­pany’s pro­posed re­de­vel­op­ment of night­club Madame Jojo’s and its sur­round­ing prop­er­ties drew much crit­i­cism (in­clud­ing from the Save Soho cam­paign, whose chair­man Stephen Fry has spo­ken against the ‘rush to gen­trify [Soho] to max­imise prof­its’), but In­dia has said the club will be back in busi­ness in 18 months, com­plete with a theatre up­stairs.

In­dia – who is not in­volved with the day-to-day run­ning of the family busi­ness – guesses that the com­pany owns about 60 per cent of the free­holds in the area, but says that the pub­lished es­ti­mates of their wealth aren’t ac­cu­rate. She won’t con­firm the size of her an­nual al­lowance – ru­moured to be £1 mil­lion – ei­ther. But one thing she doesn’t want is more money. ‘If I had ac­cess to more I’d prob­a­bly spend all day in Gucci,’ she jokes.

In­dia’s first in­stal­ment from her grand­fa­ther’s legacy came at 18, when she moved to a flat above a casino in Le­ices­ter Square. ‘I did go a lit­tle crazy at first,’ she ad­mits. ‘I’d go to The Box and buy ta­ble and bot­tle ser­vice for my friends, but the hang­overs were hell. I’m glad I got it out of my sys­tem then.’ In fact, she ad­mits to be­ing sur­pris­ingly naive about her in­her­i­tance. ‘I was brought up not know­ing about the money, apart from when my dad would say, “You’re go­ing to get this,” and I’d think, “Oh, I don’t need a job.”’

But she soon learned how her wealth changed other peo­ple’s be­hav­iour. ‘One ex was with me for my money. I could tell that he was us­ing me. He would ask me to get him cabs as he didn’t want to take the Tube. I gave him a fiver once and he threw it in my face – so I had to get rid of him.’ Hugh, in con­trast, is thrifty. ‘He’ll go to Tesco and buy Ev­ery­day Value peas,’ laughs In­dia. ‘I mean, I don’t ex­pect him to shop ex­clu­sively at Dayles­ford, but nor­mal peas would be fine.’

In­dia’s in­dul­gences seem rel­a­tively tame. She ad­mits to splurg­ing on hand­bags and first-class flights be­cause, she ex­plains, she’s a ner­vous flier. ‘It’s ex­pen­sive, I know, but ev­ery time there’s a bit of tur­bu­lence I freak out.’

Af­ter do­ing a foun­da­tion year in fine art at City & Guilds, In­dia worked as a fash­ion ed­i­tor on Fault Magazine, but ad­mits she has never had a con­ven­tional job. Last year she launched the art gallery Soho Re­vue, named in homage to her Papa’s club, with her ex-boyfriend Will Pel­ham, the Eton-ed­u­cated son of the Earl of Yar­bor­ough, to rep­re­sent emerg­ing artists and give them a plat­form in Cen­tral London. The pair plan to hold pop-ups of the same name, and new projects are on the hori­zon. ‘I’m start­ing a fash­ion busi­ness called Arty Farty Fash­ion Party, a store for emerg­ing fash­ion de­sign­ers that will also host reg­u­lar fash­ion shows,’ she says. ‘I’m just start­ing to plan now but it should be up and run­ning later this year – in Soho, of course.’


Above: Paul with his daugh­ter Deb­bie, In­dia’s sis­ter Fawn as a baby, and Fawn’s fa­ther Dun­can Mackay. Right: Paul and Deb­bie in 1989

Paul (above) and mem­bers of his Ray­mond Re­vue­bar Diana Dors (left) and Peter Sell­ers (be­low)

Above: In­dia and her fi­ancé Hugh Har­ris. Right: In­dia (left) with sib­lings Har­vey and Fawn

Left: Fawn with In­dia’s fa­ther John and their step­mother Jilly. Be­low: In­dia at the Soho Re­vue launch party

The poster for The Look of Love, the 2013 biopic about Paul

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