You must be a lost angel
Dressed in your silk lace
Born somewhere between heaven
And hell, I don’t know what place
Yes, I can tell that you’ve cast your spell
The way you hold me, somehow
If this is sin, baby, count me in
I can’t turn back now. – Don Felder, “All of You”
Moralists, male “experts” and neofeminists love to regale anyone who will listen with their “explanations” for the reasons a woman becomes a prostitute, and the hopelessly gullible accept their opinions despite the fact that none of these people have ever practiced prostitution or even bothered to talk to any of us objectively and without prejudice; it’s a little as though every anthropologist who was considered an authority on some African tribe derived his conclusions from seeing a few members of the tribe at a distance and interviewing some of their enemies while completely discounting the testimony of a large number of them who were educated in England. Some of these ignoramuses state that all prostitutes are poor and/or uneducated and have few if any other options; moralists claim that we are lazy or lacking in proper moral upbringing; neofeminists insist that we are all victims of childhood sexual abuse (whether we remember it or not), and all of these “authorities” agree that the vast majority of us are drug addicts. The fact that many educated whores have spoken or written about our lives at great length over the past few decades seems to completely elude these twits, who maintain that they know more about us than we do. I therefore have absolutely no hope that anything I say will be taken seriously by any of these ostriches, but that’s all right because it isn’t for them I’m writing this but rather for the intelligent and open-minded reader who actually bases his opinions on facts rather than on his cherished beliefs.
Undoubtedly, many prostitutes have one or more of the aforementioned problems, but then so do many non-prostitutes (including many members of the groups who pontificate against us). But a large number of others have none of these problems, and that includes me; I came from a conservative, middle-class Catholic family and am both well-educated and unusually intelligent. I don’t drink or smoke, have never as much as tried any illegal drug (not even marijuana), and was never touched sexually by anybody until I started voluntarily experimenting with boys when I was 14. In yesterday’s column I talked about my sexual history up to the end of 8th grade, so if you haven’t read it yet I suggest you do so before continuing with today’s.
In the mid-‘60s my home town was beginning to expand, and several members of my father’s family purchased lots together on a new street; I therefore grew up next door to first cousins on one side, third cousins on the other and a number of cousins by marriage across the street. My favorite of these cousins (whom I’ll call Jeff after his hero, Thomas Jefferson) was three years older than me and very protective; he taught me to read when I was four and suggested the majority of my reading matter for the next ten years, and it was his pet name for me that I adopted as my stage name when I started dancing and kept throughout my professional career. I thought he could walk on water and told everyone who could listen that I was going to marry him when we grew up. I never stopped loving him, but though third-cousin marriage is completely legal in Louisiana our families would never have accepted it because they thought of him as like a brother to me. And indeed he was; my overprotective mother trusted him and so I got to go places and do things I would not otherwise have been able to do because she did not allow me to date until I was 16, and even then only in groups to chaperoned events. As I’m sure you have already surmised, however, this didn’t stop me for one minute. I was a clever, sneaky and fiercely independent little minx who chafed at arbitrary restrictions (come to think of it, I still am) and Jeff encouraged me to think for myself, disdain arguments from authority and accept responsibility for the possible consequences of my actions. The latter is very important because though he never stopped me from doing what I wanted to do, he insisted that I make only informed decisions and warned me that if I chose foolishly or disregarded his advice he would let me fall flat on my face. And though he was always there to pick me up afterwards, he never refrained from saying “I told you so” if I deserved it. I owe him a great deal, and never would have made it through my teens without him.
Jeff started introducing me to his friends soon after I turned 14, and I’m sure that my lifelong preference for older men has something to do with the fact that most of these guys were not only older than me, but mature for their ages. I reckon they viewed me as a sort of mascot at first, but soon came to like and respect me in my own right. They all treated me with perfect chivalry (either by inclination or because of respect for Jeff), and I tagged along on every group outing and therefore got to see lots of movies my mother would never have allowed me to see. I of course enjoyed all the male attention, and before long was discovering the power of my sexuality. It certainly wasn’t because of my looks; I was actually quite plain at the time, not blossoming until 16. But I was one of those girls with a pronounced sexual aura, and coquettishness came naturally to me. Jeff answered every question about men I could come up with, and I was as eager to learn as he was to teach me; he understood what my mother did not, which was that if I were kept sexually ignorant I would quickly get myself into serious trouble. He extracted a promise from me that I would not give my virginity away until I was at least 15, and I kept my word to the letter: My first time was with an 18-year-old university freshman of my own choosing at my 15th birthday party (the parents of the party’s host were out of town, and we went off to a bedroom while Jeff was out picking up some guests who needed transportation).
The guys I knew through Jeff were really the only ones I socialized with, because as I mentioned in my July 22nd column I attended an all-girl Catholic high school in New Orleans; it was a long bus ride back and forth, but worth it since there were no quality schools in our area and I wanted to be out from under my mother’s gaze as much as possible anyhow. One might think that the nuns would be worse but this was not the case; I felt so much freer in a school where nobody knew my family and I could simply be myself. My new friends came from all over the area and few of their minds were mired in small-town provincialism, so they accepted my sensuality and tendency to speak my mind; thus encouraged I grew ever bolder except around teachers and other adults, in whose presence I behaved like a perfect, virginal little angel. After I started socializing with Jeff’s friends in my sophomore year my budding whorishness become more difficult to hide, however; one girlfriend used to tease me by singing “Hot Child in the City” and “Bette Davis Eyes”, and I’ve already told you what my favorite teacher said about Mary Magdalene being my patron saint. After I became sexually active in my junior year with boys, and in my senior year with one of my girlfriends, I worked harder at hiding it and generally succeeded, though people still perceived my precociousness; as a friend of the family once said, “Maggie was born adult.”
I will still never know how I managed to talk my mother into letting me stay with Jeff the summer after my senior year; I used the excuse that I wanted to learn the area around the University of New Orleans and get a summer job at the neighboring amusement park (alas, in its last year of existence then) in order to make a little pocket money. But convince her I did, and because I had matured into a beauty my sex life took off in earnest once I turned 17 and Jeff replaced his final objections with “just don’t do anything stupid.” I only stayed in the dorm for two semesters because I had discovered that roommates are an impediment to promiscuity, but by the end of 1984 I was beginning to realize just how difficult it could be for an 18-year-old university student to make ends meet. Since I had no shortage of suitors I soon hit upon the idea of getting money from them; after all, I reasoned, was there really a difference between a guy spending money to take me someplace nice and his directly giving me the money instead? I’ve already described the method I used in my column of July 12th so there’s no need to describe it again; suffice to say it worked well but not quite well enough, so I was forced to supplement it with odd jobs.
One of these was near the beginning of 1985, and is important to my story for reasons which shall soon become clear. An engineer who was a friend of one of my professors had to go out of town on business; his wife, also an engineer, was away as well, but they had been waiting for some time for a contractor to do some work on their house and he had offered to squeeze them in between two long jobs. The gentleman was willing to trust the contractor in his house but not with his keys, but I came highly recommended so I was offered a house-sitting gig. All I had to do was open the house at 8 AM, supervise the contractors until they left and close up by 6 PM. For this I was to be paid $5/hour, 10 hours a day for seven days, or $350 total; not bad for a broke coed in those days. The contractors got done ahead of schedule, by Friday morning, and the engineer also came home early and arrived about 4 that afternoon. While I was showing him a few things the contractor had asked me to point out, he kept finding excuses to rub up against me and eventually came right out and propositioned me.
I honestly don’t know what got into me, because without hesitation I said, “Can I stay on the clock?” He raised an eyebrow and I elaborated, “I was counting on being paid through the weekend.”
“OK, if that’s what you want,” he said, and he was as good as his word. It took less than an hour, and when he forked over the whole $350 I felt rather proud of myself. Yes, I had earned most of it by house-sitting, but I had made the last hundred merely by doing what came naturally to me. I had crossed another invisible line, and though the final step into whoredom was still more than a decade in the future, I was two-thirds of the way there.