A madame is a woman who operates, and in many cases owns, a brothel or sex work operation. Influential members of the sex industry, madames employ male or female prostitutes and, in some cases, pimps.
Earning money as a madame is illegal in countries where sex work is forbidden by law, including the United States of America. Even in some countries where prostitution is legal, madames may be prosecuted for living from immoral funds.
Madame is a French term that translates as my dame. It is a respectful term, indicative of the standing madames have in the sex industry and, in some cases, the wider community. Madame may also be spelled madam.