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Posts Tagged ‘bisexuality’

A man can go from being a lover to being a stranger in three moves flat…but a woman under the guise of friendship will engage in acts of duplicity which come to light very much later.  -  Anita Brookner

“We’re going to have to move soon; I really think Eleanor is beginning to suspect.”

“What makes you think that?” asked Hazel, handing him his drink and then moving behind him to rub his shoulders.

“Nothing I can really explain,” he said, then after a sip: “When you’ve been married to somebody for twenty-seven years, you get to know all her little ways, and you notice when they change.  You were married before, you know what I mean.”

“Yes.  But how do you know she isn’t cheating on you, too?”

Ted laughed.  “You don’t know Eleanor; she’s as cold a fish as there is.  We were both virgins when we got married, and once we were done having kids she just wasn’t interested any more.  I’ve already told you this more than once.”

“There’s no need to get testy,” she said reassuringly.  “I just want you to consider all the possibilities so you don’t start acting nervous and setting off her radar.”

“Like I said, I think I already have.  Oh, I’ve been very careful; before I met you I saw escorts for years, and before that I had cultivated a pattern of not really telling her much about my comings and goings.  And since she leaves the money to me, it’s always been easy to use as much as I want without her being the wiser.  But lately, she’s been requesting a lot more money for all sorts of things, as if she’s trying to probe the state of our finances.”

“Has she been questioning you or anything like that?” 2X

“No, she wouldn’t.  Eleanor is maddeningly indirect; she never makes a statement when an insinuation will do, and whenever she’s angry at me it always takes me days to figure out why.  I’ll never understand why so many women are like that; is it something on the X chromosome?”

“You have an X chromosome as well, Ted.”

“I know, but maybe something on the Y cancels it out.  Maybe real sneakiness requires a double X.”

“Oh, really!  Now you’re just being ridiculous.  I’m relatively straightforward, and you’re extremely sneaky; if quietly converting most of your investments to negotiable form so you can fly off to Tahiti with your mistress doesn’t qualify, I can’t imagine what would.”

Ted looked as though he had been slapped.  “I’m not leaving her destitute,” he said quietly; “In fact, as per your suggestion I transferred the house and several large investments into her name.  I just want to divide the money fairly rather than leaving it to courts and lawyers who would probably give her everything.”

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she said, hugging him closely.  “I didn’t mean to hurt you.  It’s just that I feel nervous, too, and dumb female stereotypes always get me irritated.  Please forgive me.”

“See, Hazel, this is what I’m talking about.  You know how many women would apologize like you just did?  Practically none.  That’s not a stereotype, it’s just the truth; men usually end up having to apologize no matter who was wrong.  I don’t think you really understand how different you are from most women.  I never believed I would fall in love with anyone ever again, much less want to live my life with her.  But you just make me feel so special, so safe.  I know I can trust you, and that we won’t end up being strangers sleeping in the same bed like Eleanor and me.”

“I promise you that will never happen,” she said through glistening eyes.  And then she kissed him, and for a while there was no more conversation.

****************************************************************

airliner in flightA few days later, though, she brought up the subject again on the airplane.  “I just can’t help but feel guilty about what we did.  I know the two of you really shouldn’t have married in the first place, and that you haven’t had a sex life in over 15 years.  I know the kids are grown up, and we really do love each other, and there really wasn’t a home to break up.  But damn, don’t you feel bad about running off with all the negotiables as well as the stuff he put in your name?”

Eleanor shrugged.  “Not really.  I left documents donating the house back to him, and he’s still under fifty; he has twenty more years to build up again, and with no alimony that’ll be easy with his salary.  He’ll be a lot better off in the long run than I would’ve been had he been the one to run off with you as he thought would happen.”

“I suppose you’re right,” sighed Hazel.  “But I still feel bad about playing him like I did.”

“No worse than he thought he was playing me,” Eleanor huffed.  “He got what he deserved.”

“Maybe,” she replied.  “But I guess he was right about women being the sneakier ones, after all.”

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I love my wife and we have a great life together, but I resent the hell out of her not being more adventurous in bed.  I have a cuckold fantasy that I would never follow through on because fantasy is often more fun than reality, but I want some occasional dirty talk in bed about other men she was with before we were married or would like to be with now.  She’s too uptight to actually try anything kinky, but I don’t see how talking and fantasizing is an unreasonable expectation. I would do anything for her; I’ve begged her to tell me her fantasy and I will make it happen.  But her response is, “I don’t really have any”.  Who doesn’t have sexual fantasies?  I’ve bitched about it plenty of times to no avail, and I think she would do it if I demanded it, but that would be a hollow victory; that she won’t do this willingly makes me feel unappreciated.  I also don’t want to cheat, so how do I get her to come around?  Or can I?

Freud with cheeseburgerDespite what the anti-sex crowd likes to pretend, sexuality is not a mere “choice”, something dropped on top of a person’s personality at the last minute like pickles on a cheeseburger; it is a deep and intrinsic part of the human psyche, rooted in the hindbrain and woven throughout the psychic fabric.  Though we use the word “libido” colloquially as a synonym for “horniness”, it’s a lot more than that; Freud defined it as “the energy, regarded as a quantitative magnitude…of those instincts which have to do with all that may be comprised under the word ‘love’.”  He considered it part of the id, the unconscious structure of personality, and therefore no more a matter of choice than anything else springing from that tenebrous region of consciousness.  Now, we’ve learned a great deal since Freud’s day, and most psychologists feel he was wrong about a lot of things.  But this isn’t one of them; if anything, we have reached the collective conclusion that some aspects of a person’s sexuality are so deeply embedded as to constitute major structural elements of that person’s character, because such elements derive from idiosyncrasies of the brain architecture itself.  Homosexuals and bisexuals usually report feeling same-sex attraction from an extremely early age (mine goes back at least to my earliest distinct memories, about the age of four), and other sexual traits (such as my fascination with bondage) can start just as early.  Other aspects are not quite so deep-rooted, but still develop as interwoven components of personality development.  Sexual repression is in this zone; though people are not “born uptight”, the repression develops concurrently with sexual maturation.  The adage tells us, “as the twig is bent, so grows the tree”; though it isn’t possible to stop the tree of sexuality from growing, it certainly is possible to bend, warp and stunt its growth.  For example, though it isn’t possible to teach a child not to be gay, it is certainly possible to fill his brain with such fear, shame and self-loathing that he can never have a healthy sexual relationship with anyone, male or female.  Buried sexual feelings don’t die; they just rot in the dark, decaying into something unwholesome or even noxious.

What this all boils down to is that it’s very, very unlikely you will be able to get her to change.  Oh, you might be able to get her to do what you ask, but she won’t like it, and will probably resent it.  Women who can be coaxed into stepping outside of their sexual comfort zones are generally those who were inclined to do so anyway, and merely need help to overcome their reservations or get “permission” to be “bad”.  The latter is one reason so many women enjoy submission or rape fantasies; they allow displacement of responsibility for being sexual.  And though it’s true that some women do indeed become more sexually open-minded and willing to experiment over time even without coaxing, they’re generally ones whose bent is already in that direction; they just need time for growth to catch up with inclination.  If you doubt what I’m saying, let’s try a thought experiment:  imagine it was your wife who was my reader, and she said described the same situation but ended with, “how can I get him to stop feeling this way?”  Just as you can’t help feeling the way you feel, she can’t help the way she feels, and the fact that yours is an urge while hers is an aversion is neither here nor there.  And while I am in no position to figure out why you have the kind of fantasies you have, it doesn’t take a latter-day Freud to guess why they make your wife uncomfortable.warped tree  Furthermore, though you are skeptical that your wife has no sexual fantasies, I can assure you that it is very possible that she has desires which never gel into fully-formed fantasies, or that she actually means A) “I have no fantasies I’m comfortable sharing”; B) “I have no fantasies which you could help me to realize”; or C) “There is no way I would ever want to make my fantasies happen”.  You should certainly understand “C” (the “good fantasy, bad reality” principle) because you yourself feel that way about cuckolding; what you may not grok is that for some people even the fantasy may be uncomfortable, however much it may arouse (I have some like that myself, of which the less said, the better).

My advice to you is not dissimilar to that I offered the reader in “Late Bloomer”:  while it’s possible therapy might help her to get over her hang-ups, I’m not really sanguine about that because the right therapeutic alchemy is difficult enough to achieve with two people, let alone three.  Keep gently trying to get her to open up, but don’t badger her and for Aphrodite’s sake please don’t utter anything that sounds remotely like a threat, because that will only poison the good parts of your relationship.  If your need to explore your fantasy is so strong that porn won’t fulfill it, that’s what whores are for; just be sure you pick a good, dependable one, be discreet, and visit her only as often as you need to scratch that special itch.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Natalie wrote…that she was…madly in love with a woman…[who] outstripped all her other loves by a long way.  Rather vexed, I answered: “The best in your life was me! Me! Me!”  -  Liane de Pougy, My Blue Notebooks

Perceptive readers may have noticed that though I share a profession with the subjects of all of my harlotographies, I don’t think I would have gotten along with many of them.  This is especially true of the Grandes Horizontales of La Belle Epoque; while I admire their spunk and envy their income, most of them were possessed of character traits I find irritating or even repulsive:  among these are incredible irresponsibility, the tendency to use people and a pathological affection for falsehood.  Though the former two would probably have caused me greater distress had I known the ladies in person, it is the latter one which annoys me most as a chronicler of whoredom because it makes it almost impossible to declare anything about their lives with certainty, despite what biographers who have never personally known a whore (much less been one) seem to believe.  Case in point Liane de Pougy, whose statements about her exes (and herself) are usually reported as fact despite their conflicting with her earlier statements about the same people.

Liane de Pougy, 1887Anne-Marie Chassaigne was born in La Flèche, France on July 2nd, 1869, the daughter of Pierre and Aimée Chassaigne; like so many others of her time she was educated in a convent, but unlike most of her peers she somehow managed to evade the nuns often enough and well enough to get pregnant at 16.  She eloped with the father, a young naval officer named Armand Pourpe, but predictably the marriage was both short and unhappy; she treated her baby son Marc as though he were a doll, and professed to be disappointed that he was not a girl so she could dress him up and fuss over him more.  When Armand was transferred to Marseilles she remained behind and promptly took a lover, Marquis Charles de MacMahon; when her husband later caught them in flagrante delicto he shot at them but only succeeded in wounding her wrist.  In response she sold her piano, abandoned her son and lit out for Paris on the first train she could catch, changing her name to “Liane” upon arrival.  She later wrote in her memoirs that her husband had “taken her violently on their wedding night”, supposedly traumatizing her; consider, however, that she was already sexually involved with him before they were married, and that this supposed emotional shock didn’t stop her from having sex with someone else as soon as he was over the horizon.  Furthermore, her arch-rival La Belle Otero claimed to have been raped at ten; one must wonder if Liane didn’t invent her marriage-bed ravishment so that she, too, could have a sexual horror story for those who responded to that sort of thing.  She also claimed that her husband was a brute who beat her, and that she had a scar on her breast from one such beating; perhaps, but it also provided a convenient excuse for her infidelity.

In Paris, the 18-year-old Liane immediately set out to become a courtesan, and learned the trade from the highly-respected Countess Valtesse de la Bigne.  Much to her mentor’s annoyance, Liane was bored by intellectual pursuits, but she was simply more attuned to the zeitgeist than the older woman:  it was a time when appearance and style were prized over depth and substance, as evidenced by the fact that, though utterly devoid of any acting talent, she was hired to headline a show at the Folies-Bergere on the basis of the impression she had made while attending the Grand Prix with the Vicomte de Pougy (whose surname she promptly appropriated).  So hopeless was she that Sarah Bernhardt, who had been given the job of teaching her to act, eventually told her, “when on stage, just keep your pretty mouth shut.”  But as with so many others up to the present day, this did not stop her from becoming a wildly popular celebrity; it started on the night of her debut, when she picked up the visiting Prince of Wales as a client.

Liane de Pougy (November 3rd, 1902)The ‘90s were the heyday of Liane’s career and the period of her infamous rivalry with La Belle Otero, played out in the various theaters and the dining room of Maxim’s restaurant, a favorite of the demimonde.  Though Otero became more famous and sought-after than de Pougy by about 1895, Liane was the wiser investor and the more careful bookkeeper, and appears to have had a larger number of less-famous clients compared with Otero’s smaller number of kings and princes.  Both women derived a sizeable secondary income from licensing their images for postcards, as was typical for courtesans of the time; as I have noted before, this period saw the beginning of the modern cult of celebrity, and the Grandes Horizontales were at the center of it.

Like most courtesans, Liane began to opt for longer-term arrangements as she aged; unlike most, not all of hers were with men.  In 1899 the American heiress and writer Natalie Clifford Barney became infatuated with her after seeing her at the Folies-Bergere, and though their lesbian relationship was very intense it was also very short because Barney kept insisting she wanted to “rescue” Liane from prostitution (a notion much more popular in America at that time than in France).  The two continued to have deep feelings for one another, though, and corresponded for the rest of their lives (see epigram).  Never one to miss a moneymaking opportunity, in 1901 Liane published a thinly-fictionalized account of their affair, Sapphic Idyll, which became a runaway bestseller and caused Barney considerable trouble with her straight-laced parents.  She also profited in another way:  when it became known that she was bisexual, she gained a small but profitable upper-class lesbian clientele.

Liane de Pougy in a detail of Une soirée au Pré-Catelan by Henri Gervex (1909)On June 8, 1910 the almost-41 Liane married the notably-younger Prince  Georges Ghika, after which she was called Princess Ghika.  Though neither as rocky nor as short-lived as her first marriage, this one was not without its major difficulties; the first of these came on December 2nd, 1914 when her son Marc, a French pilot in the First World War, was killed in action near Villers-Brettoneux.  Though she had never been close to him, his death precipitated a period of soul-searching in which she turned back to the Church, becoming a lay Dominican sister.  Though this phase did not last long, she remained devout for the rest of her life (though like many Catholics, she ignored sexual prohibitions she found inconvenient).  In 1926 Ghika ran off with a much younger woman, and while Liane’s diaries of the period brand him a pervert (whereas before he was described in glowing terms), the two did not divorce.  She consoled herself with lesbian lovers until he came back to her a few years later, and they remained together until his death in 1945; the latter period was not a happy one, however, and each had a series of extramarital girlfriends.

After his death she re-entered the Dominicans permanently as Sister Anne-Marie, and spent her last five years caring for physically and mentally handicapped children; she died at the Asylum of Saint Agnes in Lausanne,  Switzerland on December 26th, 1950, at the ripe old age of 81.  Her memoirs, My Blue Notebooks, were published posthumously.  Though many who wish to believe in such things have praised the “repentance” for her “sinful” past (most especially her prostitution and lesbianism) she proclaims in this work, the more cynical eye of this harlot sees instead the pièce de résistance of a long series of deceptions.  While her previous writings merely reinterpreted other people in her life, this one reinvented herself; and while the others were only intended to deceive mere mortals, this one was designed to pull the wool over the eyes of God himself.  And no matter what else I feel about her, I have to admire her for that one, grand, final act of chutzpah.

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I have been considering going into escorting for quite a while now, but I’m not very sexually experienced; I’m 24 but I’ve only ever been with one guy.  I know agencies often accept girls without experience, but I’m sure they assume the women have at least unpaid sexual experience; do you think I’m too inexperienced to even consider this type of work?

Young Virgin AutoSodomized by Her Own Chastity by Salvador Dali (1954)Every escort has to start somewhere; I mean the first time she does it, she must be inexperienced.  But as you say, she usually has some non-commercial experience.  I’m not saying you have to be a slut or anything, but if you’ve only ever been with one guy, sex work may not be right for you.  Now, there are a few caveats:  this has nothing to do with the clients, because some guys really like an inexperienced girl.  And I know nothing about your sexuality; it may be that getting paid for sex really turns you on (I know it does me).  But if that isn’t the case, you may want to explore sex with at least a few more guys before getting into sex work; not only will it help you to map out what you like and what you don’t like (which is vital for setting your boundaries), it will also give you a better sense of the way different men tend to act during sex.  That will help keep you safe by helping you learn to anticipate things that can go wrong, and to recognize behavior that’s outside the pale.  The more you know, the more you can stay in control of the situation, and that’s necessary both for your safety and for the client’s pleasure.

I’m in my early twenties and sexually active, but very unfulfilled because I’m very repressed.  Can you tell me how to go about freeing myself from these inhibitions so when I find a great woman, I won’t be too hung up to have a good sexual relationship?

It’s very difficult to help another person ease his own inner repressions; paradoxically, we all tend to hold on to the things that hold us back!  I think the best thing for you is to read as many different things as you can from as many different people as you can, so as to be exposed to the wide variety of different preferences, viewpoints, etc.  This won’t smash your inhibitions, but what it will do is to show you that A) you’re not alone in feeling the things you feel, and B) that there are people out there with much more extreme desires than you have (whatever those might be).  Once you begin to realize that your needs aren’t “weird” or “bad”, you’ll find that the repression tends to just fall away on its own.  For example, when I was in high school over 30 years ago, one simply didn’t talk about bisexuality; it was a shameful thing to be hidden or at most joked about, but not seriously discussed.  But as I met other bisexual women it began to seem more and more normal to me, and by the late ‘90s I was totally “out” about it.  Furthermore, it’s not at all abnormal for people your age to feel unfulfilled by sex; it’s hyped as being this magical experience, but in actuality (as with most things) one has to learn to appreciate it.  And very often, it takes until one’s late twenties or early thirties to do that, and to really feel comfortable in one’s sexual skin.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I killed those men, robbed them as cold as ice.  And I’d do it again, too…I have hate crawling through my system…I am so sick of hearing this “she’s crazy” stuff…I’m trying to tell the truth.  I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again.  -  Aileen Wuornos

In my harlotographies, I’ve tried to cover as broad a range as possible: from the ancient to the recently-deceased, from streetwalkers to courtesans, from the noble to the self-centered, from the wise to the deranged and from the famous to the infamous.  Three years ago this month I presented short biographies of the victims of the first known serial killer, and today the first woman to be herself so labeled:  Aileen Carol Wuornos.

Aileen Wuornos as a childShe was born in Rochester, Michigan on February 29th, 1956 to 17-year-old Diane Wuornos, who had married Aileen’s father, Leo Pittman, less than two years before.  Aileen never met him; he was in prison when she was born, and her mother had already filed for divorce.  Pittman was a schizophrenic with a long history of violent behavior, and hanged himself in prison in 1969 while serving another sentence, this time for child molestation.  In January of 1960, Diane abandoned Aileen and her older brother Keith, leaving them with her parents Lauri and Britta Wuornos; they immediately adopted the children and for many years allowed them to believe they were their parents.  Unfortunately, they were just as bad as the real parents; Lauri sexually abused his granddaughter, and Britta was both physically abusive and an alcoholic.  Like many incest victims, Aileen became sexually precocious; she had sexual contact with boys at school in exchange for drugs, cigarettes and other things she wanted, and when she turned up pregnant at 14 she named Keith as the father.  As was typical in 1970 she was sent to a home for unwed mothers, and the baby was given up for adoption.  A few months later Britta died of alcohol-induced liver failure, and Lauri threw his granddaughter out soon afterward.  Though she and her brother were placed in foster homes, Aileen ran away almost immediately and lived in a patch of woods near her old neighborhood, supporting herself via prostitution.

But she did not stay there for long; by 16 she started hitchhiking around the Midwest, working mostly at truck stops, and was arrested for drunk driving in Colorado in May of 1974.  By the beginning of 1976 she had made it to Florida, where she was picked up while hitchhiking by Lewis Fell, the wealthy 69-year-old president of a yacht club.  He immediately fell in love with her and soon proposed; she accepted, and their marriage announcement even appeared on the local paper’s society page in May of 1976.  There the story might have ended had Aileen been merely the victim of a difficult life; as should be clear, however, mental and emotional instability ran deep on both sides of her family, and she was completely incapable of settling down to the comfortable situation of a trophy wife.  Instead, she insisted on drinking at bars and getting into fights; when she was jailed for attacking a bartender while on a trip home to Michigan (after her grandfather’s suicide), Fell came to his senses and had the marriage annulled.  She was arrested July 14th; her brother died of throat cancer three days later, and the annulment went through on the 21st.

Aileen blew through her brother’s $10,000 insurance policy in only a few months and returned to truck-stop prostitution, working her way back down to Florida.  But while she had been quite pretty in her teens, hard living and her volatile temper had faded that luster; it thus became increasingly difficult for her to make a living as a whore.  She was arrested for robbing a convenience store in May of 1981, and again for passing forged checks in May of 1984.  By 1986 she had just about hit bottom: she was arrested for car theft in January, then for attempted armed robbery of a client in June.  Soon after that, however, she met a hotel maid named Tyria Moore at a lesbian bar in Daytona Beach, and they moved in together; for a while Wuornos seems to have been happy in her way, and her earnings picked up enough for Moore to quit her job and let Wuornos support both of them.  But slowly, over the next several years, the chaos which followed Wuornos like a cloud returned and worsened.  In July of 1987, she got in a fight at a bar, then in March of 1988 with a bus driver.  And by the end of the following year, she had returned to where she was when she met Moore, and started robbing her clients…this time, killing them in the process.

Aileen WuornosThe particulars of the case are discussed in exhaustive detail all over the internet if you’re interested, so there’s no need to repeat them here.  Suffice to say that between December 1st, 1989 and November 19th, 1990, Aileen Wuornos murdered seven men – Richard Mallory, David Spears, Charles Carskaddon, Peter Siems, Troy Burress, Charles Humphreys and Walter Antonio, all with the same delicate little .22 caliber purse gun.  Moore was still with her at least until the fourth murder, but sometime after that they broke up and Moore went home to Pennsylvania.  She later admitted to knowing about the first murder, but claimed to have deliberately avoided asking about the others because she didn’t want to know.  Wuornos was a terribly sloppy criminal; she left a string of witnesses, fingerprints and pawned loot across Florida, and had the police been competent she would have been caught much earlier.  Wuornos was finally arrested on January 9th, 1991, and Moore the next day; she agreed to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and even talked Wuornos into confessing on the phone.  In that confession, Wuornos claimed that every single one of the men had tried to rape her, and that she had killed them all in self-defense.

Predictably, credulous feminists swallowed every word and touted her as some kind of heroine; remember, this was the height of child sexual abuse hysteria.  But she was neither a heroine nor the “man-hating lesbian” some pundits claimed; she was merely an unstable sociopath whose restless, violent life had exacerbated her existing problems.  At first, she seemed to enjoy the publicity and continually retold her story to recast herself more and more as the victim, ignoring her public defenders’ entreaties that she remain silent and insisting she be allowed to tell her story in court.  When the jury at her first trial (for Mallory’s murder) compared her absurdly-embellished version with the original videotaped confession, any credibility she may have had disintegrated; it took less than two hours for them to convict her of first-degree murder, and she responded by screaming “I hope you get raped!” at them.  She was sentenced to death.  Before her next trial could start, she decided to “get right with God” by pleading no contest to the murders of Humphreys, Burress and Spears, claiming in her statement that though Mallory (who had a previous conviction for the crime) did indeed rape her, she had only feared the others would and killed them before they could do so.  She was given three more death sentences.

Wuornos spent the next decade on death row, her mental health deteriorating the entire time.  In 2001 she fired her legal counsel and stated that she was giving up appeals, but then insisted that the prison staff were torturing her by contaminating and even poisoning her food so as to drive her to suicide before her execution; she also claimed that they intended to rape her before she died.  During the last few years of her life she gave a a series of interviews to Nick Broomfield, who had already made a documentary about her in 1993 (Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer) and was in the process of making another (released in 2003 as Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer); the video below is the last such interview, made the night before her death.

She was executed by lethal injection on October 9th, 2002 after declining a last meal (she wanted only a cup of black coffee).  Her last words were, “I’d just like to say I’m sailing with the rock, and I’ll be back like Independence Day, with Jesus June 6th.  Like the movie, big mother ship and all, I’ll be back.”

There are some women I’m proud to share a profession with, and others I’m not; women like Theodora and Skittles show whores at our best, while women like Aileen Wuornos show us at our worst.  But I think her story is an important part of the picture, because it demonstrates once again that there is no one type of woman who sells sex, nor any consistent pattern to our lives and fates.

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Abolitionism does not solve the problem of violence which…stems from the criminalization of sex workers and migrants, and the lack of rights that goes with it.  -  Sonja Dolinsek

Couples

Eve Ray on clients:

…clients of sex workers are regarded in many quarters as the scum of the earth…[so] it is hardly surprising that clients are so reluctant to speak out.  Yet talk to sex workers and they will tell you that their clients come in all shapes and sizes…not all clients are men…for my birthday we decided to…book…a girl from a local escort agency for some three in a bed fun…So I am a sex worker’s client…The girls we saw were bright and attractive and fully aware of what they were doing…Two Women and a Man by Giorgione (1510)We paid them well and they provided us with what we wanted.  It was…a business transaction of benefit to both parties. No coercion, no exploitation, no rape…

Whores and Wives

An Australian woman left her husband upon discovering his affair with a hooker, so she of course blamed our profession and published a stereotype-laden defamation of it.  Here’s an eloquent rebuttal:

…In…Sad Reality Behind Pretty Woman Tale, Louise O’Neale…claims…sex workers are home wreckers, men’s “chattels”, that we’re… “commodified”, “dehumanised”…packages to be bought and sold…She also argues we are sexual deviants…who require professional help.  I think O’Neale has watched too many Hollywood movies…feminists have spent decades…telling [us] how we should feel about our work, or [telling] others on our behalf how we feel about our work…They claim to be experts; they’ve got it dead wrong…

Good Fantasy, Bad Reality

Prosecutors must have dropped the claim that the girl was “mentally deficient”:

[Edward Bagley] was sentenced to 20 years…for holding a young woman captive as a sex slave for six years…he…also agreed to pay about $123,000 toward future counseling and medical care…Bradley Cook…received a 20-year sentence and…$123,000 in restitution…[for] sex trafficking…[and Dennis] Henry…was sentenced to 10 years, $123,000 in restitution and lifetime supervision…Marilyn Bagley…is to receive probation and [Michael] Stokes and [James] Noel five years each…

Sweden’s Ultra-progressive Views on Women

A pub in…Sweden has been cleared of discrimination charges after bouncers denied entry to several women of Asian appearance in what owners claimed was an attempt to cut down on prostitution…the court ruled…[the] owners had a “legitimate reason”…

An Educated Idiot

SWOP-NYC and SWANK…have significant questions about the “research” carried out by Sudhir Venkatesh…[and reported] in January 2011…in Wired Magazine…he made many outlandish, salacious, and false claims about…sex workers in NYC…he said he had “followed” 270 sex worker subjects…but none of our membership had ever been contacted by him nor knew of anyone who had been…Claims…regarding the dates, locations and numbers of people…were wildly inconsistent.  His conclusions…were easily shown by other researchers and commentators to be incorrect.  Other conclusions such as the fiction that “there’s usually a 25% surcharge” to have sex without a condom not only bore no relationship to reality but also endangered sex workers…We were so concerned by what we uncovered that in October 2011 we wrote a letter to the Columbia IRB

Make Up Your Damned Mind!

Cops “fight” violence against sex workers by subjecting them to violence:

A [California] task force…arrested or cited 23 people…on charges of prostitution or soliciting a prostitute…police mounted the three-day sting operation [after]…investigation into the rape and robbery of two prostitutes…led police to…the realization that victims rarely report the crimes for fear of being prosecuted…[Sgt. Kurt] Hixenbaugh said he decided to organize the recent crackdown to suppress the illicit market…“If we can make business bad, then we can put a dent in the activity,” he explained…

Hixenbaugh’s moral retardation is exceeded only by his ignorance of economics.

Dr. Schrödinger and His Amazing Pussycat

Weird science, truth vs. fact and all that kind of stuff:

Head Games

Slixa has published a number of excellent articles lately, but last week its management let a real clunker through:  a manipulative hobbyist giving advice on how to haggle.  After an outcry the editors removed the article, apologized and printed this rebuttal from Tizzy Wall:

…Tommy…advocated using review writing and being an active member of the hobbyist community as a bargaining chip to see if prices are negotiable…[but his] tips are less effective (and ethical) than he would like to believe…There is an implicit threat that comes with, “I am a loud, influential voice in a community that can affect your livelihood”…it seems as though he gets a thrill out of violating boundaries and feeling as though he has somehow tricked a provider for his benefit…The underlying message…is that providers aren’t worth what they charge…

Against Their Will (August Updates)

People attempting to leave a country without government permission are now classed as “victims”:

Philippine authorities have intercepted 10…human trafficking victims…who were bound for Russia to illegally work there…The Philippines has been trying to impress the United States with its anti-human trafficking drive in order for Washington to lift the Tier 2 ranking it gave…in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report…officer-in-charge Siegfred Mison said the incident should again serve as a warning to…workers against attempting to leave without the required overseas employment permits…

One Born Every Minute

A man…claimed he could use his penis to rid a woman of ghosts that had taken up residence in her vagina…Huang Jianjun was arrested…after he [charged] A Xin [$3000 for removing]…evil spirits…[via] sexual intercourse…Jianjun insists that he never had sex with…Xin and that he can’t get an erection due to diabetes…Meanwhile… “Godman” Asaram Bapu, 73, revered by millions across India for his sermons on “enlightenment”, has been charged with raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl…he…claimed he is physically incapable of rape but…medical tests show him to be in good shape…

Tyranny By Consensus (October Updates)

Here’s a concise explanation from Nina Hartley about why condoms in porn are an incredibly bad idea:

…It takes about two hours to shoot a good hardcore scene. Condoms were never intended for that kind of industrial use…[they] roll down, come off, dry out, split and otherwise fail on sets about 30% of the time…and…no matter how lubricated and how designed, [they] create more internal friction on a woman’s intimate anatomy than human skin, with which it’s evolved to tolerate contact.  All-condom players…tend to turn up at clinics with raw internal tissues and multiple surface infections.  This we call “condom rash” and it’s more than an annoyance…if your insides are compromised by friction burns and low-grade bugs…you’re that much more vulnerable to whatever might be turned loose should a condom fail…

Presents, Presents, Presents!Minneapolis Madams

Ed says hiI’ve received three gifts in the past two weeks: Chester Brown sent me his book Ed the Happy Clown, Korhomme sent The Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work and Aspasia sent Minneapolis Madams.  Thank you all so much!

Profit from Panic

Rescue industry schemes aren’t usually this blatant:

If you are interested in creating positive brand awareness…advertising at the Global Online Counter Child Trafficking Conference is the ideal platform…We have various opportunities which will leave a strong impression of your brand in people’s minds and make your company stand out as a leader in supporting organizations…to prevent…child trafficking…Our…sponsorship packages…include a number of marketing opportunities…to…showcase your social responsibility…and…align yourself with the Global Online Counter Child Trafficking Conference brand…

Bullies With Badges

“Human trafficking” is rapidly becoming a catchall excuse for tyranny, like drugs and “terrorism”:

…the Environmental Protection Agency…[conducted] an armed raid of gold mines near Chicken, Alaska…while investigating a supposed violation of…the Clean Water Act…The EPA said…it…sent in armed men because it had been given information by…State Troopers regarding “rampant drug and human trafficking…in the area.”  That explanation was debunked by a spokeswoman for the state troopers, who said they did not advise the EPA to raid the mine and that there was no evidence of drug and human trafficking…

Broken Record

The same lies, repeated over and over and over

MSPs fear that next year’s Commonwealth Games could lead to an influx of victims of human trafficking to Scotland…Myria Vassiliadou…has urged the Scottish Government to make people who procure sex and consumer goods from victims its top anti-trafficking priority.  Studies have shown that authorities must be vigilant to human trafficking during large sporting events…

Studies have, of course, repeatedly shown exactly the opposite.

Worse Than I Thought

The cancer reaches Michigan:

…Glenn Anderson…has introduced five bills…to more heavily punish…human trafficking…“The Polaris Project…was extremely helpful in shaping this legislation” [he said]…Anderson’s bills…Allow for assets…to be forfeited and dispersed to…law enforcement…criminalize the failure to report knowledge of…trafficking…[and] add convicted…traffickers to the Sex Offenders Registry…Overland Park Arboretum statue

See No Evil (TW3 #37)

A fresh effort is underway to bring criminal charges over a bare-breasted statue…The American Family Association…plans…petitions to empanel a grand jury to again investigate whether the sculpture at the Overland Park Arboretum violates state obscenity laws …Phillip Cosby…last year petitioned a grand jury…but failed to secure an indictment…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

a federal judge ruled…that…strippers…deserve…at least the minimum wage…The ruling came in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of current and former dancers at…Rick’s…[in Manhattan]…the…chain…argued that its dancers [are] independent contractors, more akin to stand-up comedians than fry cooks.  But [the] judge…said the list of rules Rick’s laid down could be described as “micromanagement”…

Hollow Claims

The German Prostitution Model: Reducing Violence Against Sex Workers” is a fairly self-explanatory title, but this short, yet thorough essay also sharply criticizes the Swedish model and those (like the European Women’s Lobby) who labor under the idiotic delusion that there could ever be a world “free from prostitution”, and are willing to subject real women to police violence in pursuit of that mad fantasy.

Due Consideration (TW3 #137)

Australia, are you really sure you want to go down the “tyrannical laws named for dead children” path?

…”Zoe’s law”…which could classify a foetus as a person in New South Wales…would allow grievous bodily harm charges to be brought against those who hurt a foetus of more than 20 weeks’ gestation…Melanie Fernandez…of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia (WELA)…said…”This…kind of precedent has been used as a…starting point to roll back abortion right in other places, such as states in America”…Portway's cage

Tales from the Dark Side

[When] prosecution for thoughtcrime has become a grim reality, it might be wise to restrict…discussions [of cannibalism fantasies] to fully-anonymized online accounts...”  And, I might add, to avoid actually obtaining the equipment one would need:

Geoffrey Portway’s attorney says the man’s “fantasy world” posed no actual threat of harm to a child.  But the…[Massachusetts] man pleaded guilty…to child pornography charges along with solicitation to commit a crime of violence…and the locked, soundproof basement with a metal cage…bondage equipment and a child-sized coffin serve as evidence…Two other men — one a puppeteer at a Florida church — have also been convicted as a result of the online chat sessions…[about] plans to rape, kill and eat children…

Legitimate Outrage (TW3 #329)

Scott Long on the way politicians like David Vitter and Eliot Spitzer suffer far less than the whores whose names get dragged through the mud along with theirs:

…Spitzer…[made] life miserable for both sex workers and clients.  As…Attorney General, he let…Equality Now goad him into a years-long campaign of harassment against a travel company that marketed sex tours…as Governor, he signed an…“anti-trafficking” law…that massively increased penalties for [buyers]…while maintaining penalties for sex workers…But what folks hate Spitzer for is having bought sex, not the repressive policies he promoted.  Paying women is offensive; persecuting them, fine.  Called out for “immorality”…he actually had the nerve to cite his crackdown on consensual activities in his own defense…In 2008, a jury convicted…Deborah Jeane Palfrey not of prostitution, but of money laundering…and “racketeering”…Palfrey killed herself before sentencing…And [her client David] Vitter stays in the Senate…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #337)

…in connection with the attack on Madaripur brothel on August 28…Borun Begum, a sex worker…filed a case…against 35 identified and 1965 unidentified people…[including] general secretary Milon Bhuyan…women affairs officer Mahmuda Akter and Islahe Qawmi Parishad leader Raju Hujur…She…sought compensation for…valuables worth [$385,000] and…properties worth [$64,000]…Parimal Sarkar…filed a case…against 37 identified and 300 unidentified people…seeking compensation of [$77,000]…for [vandalism of] 30 houses…

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If you are a woman interested in experimenting with woman on woman contact, how does one go about looking for a provider?

Lesbian KissReally, the process of looking for a female escort isn’t much different for a woman than it is for a man who’s looking for a particular appearance or activity; in fact, it’s probably easier than finding one who caters to an unusual kink, because bisexuality isn’t all that uncommon in women.  There is one catch, though; while most escorts will advertise the fetishes they work with, most don’t advertise that they see female clients (outside of couples) for the simple reason that there aren’t that many (I saw exactly two in my entire career).  So when you do your research (these two posts should help you there), don’t just look for ladies who specifically state that they will see female clients; also look for ones who say that they enjoy seeing couples and also do “doubles”.  If an escort sees couples and is willing to do two-girl shows with other escorts, there is a very good chance she will also be open to seeing a woman alone.

Once you’ve found a lady who appeals to you and who you think would be willing to see you, contact her by whatever means she specifies on her website; be sure you let her know that you are a woman and that you want to see her solo, i.e. your husband or boyfriend won’t be there.  Otherwise she may think you’re approaching her for a couple call, or even fail to recognize that she isn’t corresponding with a man (if your screen name doesn’t make your gender obvious).  Since you’ve never done this before, you don’t have any references; this may not be a problem because A) most women aren’t going to be as wary of meeting a strange woman as they are of meeting a strange man; and B) I sincerely doubt many cops are trying to set up escort stings with female fakers.  This is by no means a sure thing, however; some ladies may insist on screening you on principle, so just give whatever information they request and it shouldn’t be an issue.  If you want to be on the safe side, try to find one who says she’s “newbie friendly” in addition to the bisexuality factor; that usually means she’s willing to do full screening rather than relying on references.

I have one more suggestion:  since it seems from your question that you’ve never had any lesbian experiences before, you might consider hiring your escort for several hours rather than just one; you could then take her to dinner, chat for a while and warm up to her as you would on a regular date, instead of just jumping into the sack.  I think that would dramatically increase your chances of having a good experience, which would in turn help you to know whether you really like it or not.  After all, if you rushed things and things didn’t turn out well, it might turn you off to the idea of further experimentation when the problem was really with the uncomfortable situation rather than with the lady.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Of course, some people do go both ways.  -  Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) in The Wizard of Oz

A reader writes:

Siren Song by Boris Vallejo (1979)When I met my girlfriend she told me that she is bisexual and had been only with girls for two years; at first it only bothered me a bit, but the more I think about it the more insecure I feel.  She says she’s only been with two girls, one for a night and the other for seven months; she insists that it was just a phase of her life.  But I still feel hurt so I hope you can help give me peace on this.

I’m not sure why you should be bothered, hurt or insecure about her bisexuality; would you be equally concerned if she claimed to be wholly heterosexual?  Trust is trust, and fidelity is fidelity; a bisexual girl isn’t any more likely to cheat on you than a strictly straight one would be, merely because she has a wider range of sexual partners.  Bisexuality isn’t a sign of wantonness or sluttishness; it’s just that women are far more sexually fluid than men are.  As I explained in my column “Ice Cream in the Hand”,

…rather than being “target-specific” as men are, women tend to move around the sexual spectrum depending upon their environment, circumstances and experiences.  In other words, though most gay men really are “born that way,” that’s not so true of women, who are much more likely to move between heterosexual and homosexual relationships over time as their conditions change…This is why an open-minded woman can often be talked into swinging, BDSM or some other “kink” that she may not really have been interested in to start with; it’s not necessarily that she has a deep psychological affinity for the activity, but rather that she loves the person who does the talking and as a result can “flow” in that direction unless the process is obstructed by guilt, sexual hang-ups, fear, busybody friends or the like.

It’s all part of the way we’re wired; I explain it pretty thoroughly in the column I linked above.  The point is, women really can go through “phases”, so if she says dating a girl exclusively for seven months was a “phase”, that could very well be true.  For example, my “little girl” Denise went through an exclusively lesbian stage for several years but hasn’t actually dated a girl for over a decade now.  Her bisexuality hasn’t “gone away”; she’s still sexually attracted to women, but doesn’t get into dating relationships with them any more.  That doesn’t even mean she’ll never date another woman again, just not right now.  I’m bisexual as well, and though I’ve never really had an exclusive lesbian relationship, I’ve had plenty of non-exclusive ones.  Perhaps one day I’ll meet a girl who is as attracted to me as I am to her, and if that happens my husband’s already given his permission for me to fool around with her or even develop a relationship.  However, if it never happens again I’m not going to cry over it or anything, and if he was less sanguine about it I wouldn’t be any more tempted to cheat on him with chicks than I am with guys…which is to say, not at all.

There is one further point which you may not have thought of:  a bisexual girlfriend might – just might, mind you – be far more open to a ménage à trois  with another woman than a strictly hetero girlfriend might be.  Next time you feel bothered or insecure, contemplate that possibility and maybe you won’t find your lady’s predilections quite so troubling.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I have never deceived anybody for I have never belonged to anybody.  My independence was all my fortune, and I have known no other happiness; and it is still what attaches me to life.  -  Cora Pearl

Cora PearlThose of you who have read many of my “harlotographies” have probably noticed that few of the great courtesans were astonishingly beautiful.  To be sure, pictures often fall short of reality; some women’s beauty is based less on body contours and facial structure than on personality, style and presence, none of which can be captured by the camera.  In courtesans there is also a further component of sexual magnetism which, though impossible to depict on film or canvas, is equally impossible to ignore in person.  And what separates the fantastically successful courtesans – Les Grandes Horizontales as they were called in Cora Pearl’s time and place – from the merely successful ones was then, as now, marketing.  And though Cora was lovely, it was her ability to create an image which won her fame and wealth…and her inability to sustain that image which precipitated their loss.

The details of her birth are a litany of “probablies”; she was probably born in Plymouth, England on February 23rd, 1835, but that may be the date of her christening and she later claimed the year to be 1842.  Her birth name is usually given as Emma Elizabeth Crouch, but her death certificate calls her “Eliza Emma” instead.  Her father was a cellist named Frederick Nicholls Crouch who was the composer of “Kathleen Mavourneen”, a song which was extremely popular in the United States during the Civil War period.  Unfortunately, Crouch was a “one-hit wonder”, but never learned to live within his means; he fled his creditors in 1847, abandoning his wife and six daughters and moving to America (where he is known to have remarried several times before dying in 1896).  Lydia Crouch was an attractive woman and soon found a live-in boyfriend who was willing to support her children, but Emma did not get along with him and so was sent to a boarding school in Boulogne, France to be educated by nuns.  After eight years (and numerous lesbian relationships mentioned in her memoirs) she returned to England in 1855, moved in with her maternal grandmother and went to work for a milliner in London.

Emma chafed under the strictures imposed upon middle-class Victorian girls and one day she ditched her chaperone, accepted a man’s invitation to have cake with him, and drank a bit too much gin…with predictable consequences.  In the morning she found he had left her a five-pound note (about £250 today), and though she later claimed to have been “horrified” by the experience, the truth is that she used the money to rent a room for herself and immediately began hooking.  It wasn’t long before she started working at a brothel called The Argyll Rooms, whose owner Robert Bignell soon recognized her potential and asked her to be his mistress, moving her into a suite of her own.  Within a year he took her on holiday to Paris, and she so fell in love with the city that she decided to remain; she adopted the stage name “Cora Pearl”, took a cheap room, and made her living as a streetwalker until she met a pimp named Roubisse who set her up in better quarters.  He paved the way for her future success by teaching her the business and insisting she develop her professional skills, and by the time he died of a heart attack in 1860 Cora was already well-established with Victor Masséna, Duc du Rivoli (later Prince of Essling).

Cora Pearl photoIt was the Duc who first introduced her to extravagance:  besides the money, jewelry and servants (including a chef), he gave her funds for gambling and bought her the first horse of the sixty she would eventually own.  She quickly became an excellent rider, and her equestrian skills attracted the attention of many a French noble.  Though the Duc remained her primary patron until 1862, she had many other clients including the Prince of Orange, the Duc de Morny (Emperor Napoleon III’s half-brother) and Prince Achille Murat, grand-nephew of Emperor Napoleon I.  In 1864 she bought the gorgeous Chateau de Beauséjour and began to hold the parties for which she became renowned, including the one at which she had herself presented to diners on a huge platter; she was fond of dancing naked before her guests, and even had a custom-made bronze bathtub in which she would bathe with clients in champagne.  And when she wasn’t naked, she wore only the finest clothes by Charles Worth, the first superstar designer.

In 1865 she became the mistress of Prince Napoleon, the Emperor’s important and fabulously wealthy cousin.  He supported her for nine years, usually for about 10,000 francs per month, and also bought her many expensive gifts and several houses (including a small palace, les Petites Tuileries).  And though he frowned on her seeing other clients, she secretly did so anyway and charged them that much more for the risk.  It isn’t that the Prince didn’t give her enough; it’s just that she was incredibly extravagant and regularly sent money to both her mother and father.  She became a very popular celebrity and was well known for wearing heavy makeup and dying her hair outlandish colors to match her wardrobe.  In 1867 (the same year a cocktail was named for her) she took the role of Cupid in Offenbach’s operetta Orpheus in the Underworld, dressed in a costume which consisted of little more than a diamond-studded bikini; she only appeared twelve times, but the jewels brought 50,000 francs at auction.

Cora’s downfall began with the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, during which she allowed her homes to be used as hospitals and paid for doctors and medical supplies for wounded soldiers out of her own purse.  But the disastrous defeat of the French meant the end of the Empire; Prince Napoleon fled to England along with the Imperial family, and though Cora went with him the Grosvenor Hotel refused to let her stay for fear of scandal (ironically, the hotel’s modern management has capitalized on the incident by unveiling a “Cora Pearl Suite” last year).  Within a few months she returned to Paris, but the postwar mood was no longer conducive to the social climate in which a courtesan thrives; so, when the wealthy young Alexandre Duval became obsessed with her, she did not discourage him despite the fact that she despised jealousy in her patrons.  In less than a year he had spent literally his entire fortune on her, and when his family refused to give him any more she refused to see him any longer.  On December 19, 1872, he went to her house with murderous intent, but the gun accidentally discharged while he was trying to force his way past her servants, shooting him in the side.

Cora Pearl photo 2Though he eventually recovered the public disapproved of the way Cora had handled the affair, and the government ordered her to leave France.  She spent some time with a friend in Monaco, and after a time returned discreetly to Paris.  But the party was over for good; in 1873 she started to sell off her properties, in 1874 Prince Napoleon sadly informed her that he could no longer support her, and by 1880 she was down to just her chateau, which she finally sold in July of 1885.  In 1883 she rented an incall on the Champs-Elysées and returned to middle-class harlotry, then published her memoirs in 1886; unfortunately she was too discreet for her own good and the tame result with disguised names did not sell well.  By that time she was terminally ill with colon cancer and died on July 8, 1886.  She did not end her days in abject poverty as some accounts claim, but neither did she have anything put aside for a funeral; her meager plot and small service were paid for by some of her old clients.

After her death she passed into obscurity, and would barely be remembered today if not for a curious epilogue which occurred almost a full century after her death.  Apparently, Cora wrote an earlier version of her memoirs during her slow decline in the ‘70s, containing real names and many juicy details; it was released by a British publisher in 1890.  The few who knew about it assumed it to be an English translation of her bland 1886 memoir, but when a modern collector named William Blatchford got ahold of a copy he realized that this was not the case.  Blatchford publishing the find in 1983 under the title Grand Horizontal, The Erotic Memoirs of a Passionate Lady, and its vivid, on-the-spot  descriptions of the gay life during the Second French Empire rekindled interest in its author and has given her, albeit posthumously, another chance at the fame she so enjoyed in life.

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To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind.  ―  Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

Because I’ve done so many Q & A columns, I’m starting to see some repetition in the questions readers ask.  This isn’t exactly surprising, considering that there are over 900 daily columns now and even a person who’s good at using indexes and searches might not phrase the question in the same way as the original questioner.  So, I’ve decided to publish this linked list of all the questions I’ve answered so far, rephrased for simplicity and clarity; within the next few days it will be duplicated in a static page that will grow as I answer new questions, and that I can then link in each new Q & A column.

General Sex Questions

Vargas Fleurs du Mal

General Sex Work Questions

Questions About Whores

La Belle Esclave by Henri Tanoux

Questions About Clients

Mentoring Questions

Requests for Advice

Personal Questions

Illustration from Guy de Maupassant's La Maison Tellier by Edgar Degas (1881)

Blogging

Miscellaneous

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