James Lipton attends the Chairman's Reception Honoring Richard Gere, Ann Roth & James Schamus during the 20th Hamptons International Film Festival at the Suna Residence on October 6, 2012 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
(ABC NEWS) -- While James Lipton is best known for hosting Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio," a recent interview with Parade magazine proves there's more to him than quizzing thespians. Specifically, he was once a pimp.
Lipton, 86, explained that in the 1950s he held that position in the Paris sex trade, thanks to a recommendation from a prostitute friend of his.
"I had to be okayed by the underworld, otherwise they would've found me floating in the Seine," the host told Parade.
Lipton recalled, "It was only a few years after the war. Paris was different then, still poor. Men couldn't get jobs and, in the male chauvinist Paris of that time, the women couldn't get work at all.
It was perfectly respectable for them to go into le milieu."
Added the "Actors Studio" host, "The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days ... I did a roaring business."
Of his job title, which certainly has different connotations nowadays, Lipton said, "The French mecs didn't exploit women. They represented them, like agents. And they took a cut. That's how I lived."
"I was going through my rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of my life," he reminisced.