Mississippi Madam: The Life of Nellie Jackson

The true story of the woman who operated a brothel in deep south Natchez, Mississippi for nearly 60 years with a clenched fist, a heart of gold, and a Cadillac.
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Lauren Jones
Film
Natchez, Mississippi
United States
3 Team Members

Nellie's Story

"If you wanted a girl at Nellie Jackson’s place, you arrived before midnight and you arrived sober." - The Houston Chronicle

A known legend in Natchez is the place everyone called "Nellie's."  Nellie Jackson, a black woman from a small community 36 miles south of Natchez, was born into rural poverty in 1902. Despite the constraints of the times, she became one of the most powerful people in historic Natchez, Mississippi, rising up from being a housekeeper to running a very successful business, a bordello they called "Nellie's."

Despite the orientation of her business, Nellie Jackson was popular with many of the other business owners in historic downtown Natchez, as well as a friend of many mayors, law enforcement officials, and aldermen that took office during what we like to call her 'reign'.  Her business existed for about 60 years just blocks from the heart of downtown Natchez.

  "Miss Nellie" sat in her back pew in the Catholic church every Sunday, and it is said that she was generous in her donations to the church, catholic charities, and children's home.  She was also known to aid those who struggled with finances or health in more ways than one.

The story of Nellie Jackson is very enigmatic as well. After listening to stories from the Natchez community and conducting our own research, we came to realize the discrepancies of the perception of Nellie, and the reality of who she really was.   Throughout the years, several events took place in and around this brothel that are not for the faint of heart. Nellie is described as being "someone you didn't want to pick a fight with." We invite you to stay tuned to our YouTube Channel and Facebook Page to find out more and stay updated! 

"It seems strange that a community would have so much affection for a madam. It's very strange, I know, but she was the sort of person who was living in the presence of both the devil and the Lord."  -Former Alderman Paul O' Malley

UPDATES!!

Dec. 12: 10 days left in our campaign! We changed up the video, and are hoping y'all get a little more insight into what we're doing with this project!

Nov. 26, 2013: CHECK OUR UPDATES TAB FOR EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FROM OUR DOCUMENTARY! Mike talks about Nellie's black book....

Nov. 20, 2013: We released our documentary logo, designed for the t-shirts and koozies and other promo items that will be for perks and for sale later. 

Nov. 7, 2013: We've been featured in the Natchez Democrat once again, but this time 

WE MADE THE FRONT PAGE! 

When we launched our Indiegogo campaign, the local paper came out to talk with us about community funding, where we're going with the project, and why we desperately need funds. Thanks to the Natchez Democrat for supporting us, and thanks to their link to our campaign, we've gotten $100 so far from their article here.

Our Story

When we first started asking about Nellie and what people knew about her, what we heard was proof that the subject was worthy of a film. Our documentary research has uncovered stories, facts and records from within this community that have made our jaws drop, warmed our hearts, bewildered us, made us cry, and led us into a journey that we never expected when we began.

Natchez, Mississippi is the oldest establishment on the Mississippi River.  Nellie is an enormous part of this history, the story of Natchez, the story of prostitution, the story of a African American female who was allowed to operate 3 blocks from central downtown during the most crucial time of racial discrimination.

Since we started a Facebook Page for our project, we've had a HUGE outreach from all over; individuals wanting to share their information about Nellie and her 'girls.' In the first month, the page reached an outstanding 2,000 likes. We've even been featured in the "Style" section of the Natchez Democrat, and have also gotten a large response from the article about our documentary film exploring the life of Nellie. 

Who we are:  

Mark Brockway initially had the idea to film the documentary. After completing the majority of the production of a Blues documentary filmed in the Mississippi Delta, he saw Nellie as inspiration for his next venture. Mark is originally from New Jersey, and moved to Natchez a few years ago for the completion of his Blues documentary. 

After some initial research on the subject of the brothel, he invited me, Lauren Jones
(a Natchez native and graphic designer), and Tim Givens (also a Natchez native and Photographer)  to join him in research and development of the film. 


What We Need & What You Get

Where's the money going?

  • A more 'professional' quality camera 
  • Travel and Research 
  • Post-production and editing 
  • DVD production 
  • Poster printing and Website fees 

We are offering plenty of perks and rewards for those who are generous enough to help us create this film. Some include mention on the facebook page (optional), shout out on our website (also optional), commemorative items such as beer coozies and tshirts with our custom logo (yet to be designed). 

 We plan on adding more perks and rewards as we start being funded and production comes along, so keep an eye out for things like seats at showings, exclusive downloadable video clips, fabulous prints, posters and t-shirts. We will be posting updates on this page with news, the logo design, and any new perks! So stay tuned! You can contact us at this email address: mississippi.madam@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns... or want to get in touch about your contribution.

The Impact

The way to finding out how "Nellie's" survived is to find out about the life of the woman who lived there. We're slowly uncovering the secret of how Nellie Jackson ran an illegal business for 60 years surviving times of economic depression, racial discrimination, and pressing law enforcement. The lessons we learn through our research will surely create a documentary film that will be a conversational piece about the underground history of Natchez, Mississippi. 

Other Ways You Can Help

If you can't contribute funds to our campaign, there are other ways to help us.

Make some noise about this project! Tell someone who would be interested, give us a shout out on your facebook page, share on of our posts onto your page, or share a post on a friend's page. Don't forget you can also use the Indiegogo share tools!

Find This Campaign On
$5,144USD
raised by 62 people in 1 month
26% funded
0 time left
$20,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on December 21, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $1USD
    One Buck Chuck's

    For a $1.00 donation you will be given a Thank You in one of our Indiegogo Updates.

    0 claimed
  • $5USD
    Social Media Club

    For your $5.00 donation you will receive a Thank You on our Facebook page, Mississippi Madam: The Life of Nellie Jackson, and our twitter page as well.

    2 claimed
  • $10USD
    Minimum

    We'll add your name to our website as a sponsor. Reward is optional, please let us know if you don't want to be mentioned. We are happy to list all of our sponsors on our website if allowed.

    3 claimed
  • $25USD
    Most Popular

    You will receive an originally designed "Mississippi Madam" logo drink koozie, a "Mississippi Madam" logo stainless steel bottle opener and the optional website sponsor listing.

    12 claimed
  • $50USD
    2nd most popular

    Your reward is a "Mississippi Madam" logo t-shirt. Limited sizes and quantities available! Please let us know what size shirt via email. Also, we'd be happy to add you as a sponsor of the project on our website (optional).

    3 claimed
  • $75USD
    Combo #1

    We'll reward you with a combination of all above items: drink koozie, bottle opener, t-shirt, and added to sponsors page on website

    7 claimed
  • $100USD
    The Director's Cut

    We will mail you an autographed, original, 8x10 photograph print from of one of our filming locations, taken by director and photographer, Mark Brockway, himself. You will also receive a personal, hand written, thank you card from Mark Brockway. Limited prints available, this will be a specific edition! We'd also like to give you a facebook shoutout (optional) and add you to our sponsor list on the website (optional).

    8 claimed
  • $250USD
    Combo #2

    We'll include all of the above rewards. Facebook mention and sponsorship are optional.

    3 claimed
  • $500USD
    Natchez Package #1

    For a $500 contribution, we'll send you weekend passes to the Great Mississippi River Hot Air Balloon Race (October 2014), and offer you a director-guided tour of Nellie's neighborhood during your visit, filled with stories about the making of this documentary. Your name will appear in the DVD credits as a major sponsor.

    1 claimed
  • $750USD
    Natchez Package #2

    You will be rewarded with ALL of the above perks, and your name will appear in the DVD credits as a major sponsor.

    0 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Whoa Nellie!

    Gift certificate for a 1 or 2-night stay at Bisland House bed and breakfast in historic downtown Natchez. During your stay, we'll give you a tour filled with stories about making this documentary. Limited dates and stays available, offer expires August 31, 2014. A t-shirt and optional website mention, as well as your name in the DVD credits as a major sponsor are also included with this package. Email us for details about Bisland House Bed and Breakfast!

    1 claimed
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