Lady Madonna, children at your feet
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet
Who finds the money when you pay the rent?
Did you think that money was heaven-sent? – Paul McCartney, “Lady Madonna”
The classic Madonna/whore fallacy teaches that women can be one or the other, but as I’ve said many, many times before this is complete and utter hogwash. Any normal woman is capable of playing either role as required or even both simultaneously, and about half of the girls who worked for me had children. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that many women enter prostitution because of their children, which is certainly the case with the three I want to talk about today.
I’ll start with Debbie, a small, soft-spoken blonde from Mandeville who was probably the most dependable girl I had. When Debbie said she was on you could count on it, and she was always prompt and trustworthy. If there was ever a stereotype-breaker it was Debbie; she was pretty but had a very girl-next-door look and housewifely air. She dressed conservatively, drove a minivan and practically had “I have two kids” stamped across her tits; nobody who did not know could ever have guessed in a thousand years that she was a prostitute. After she was divorced in her late twenties she found that there was no “honest” job which would allow a middle-class woman without a college degree to support two little boys at a middle-class level and still allow her time to be their mother, so she made the pragmatic decision to enroll with an escort service. She worked the day shift on the North Shore while her boys were in school, and every weekend in New Orleans while they were with their father. Once they got old enough to ask what she did for a living she told them she worked as a maid, and bought herself a full set of cleaning supplies which she kept in her van to support the façade. Now personally, I think it’s pretty sad that our culture thinks it’s perfectly acceptable for a pretty young woman to ruin her looks slaving for a pittance as a charwoman but not making a good living for her family with her wits and charms, but since it does she was forced to lie.
Debbie was a generalist; she was great on normal calls but was neither exotic enough for fetish calls nor glamorous enough to be a stereotypical call girl. But I did take her on a three-girl call once; it was near Christmas and I was visiting friends on the North Shore when I got a call from a lawyer who lived way out in the country above Baton Rouge; he wanted to celebrate winning a huge case with three whores for four hours. I contacted my two North Shore girls, Debbie and Karla, because we could get there much more quickly than any New Orleans girls could; then I ran his credit card for $3000 and we were on our way. It was a long drive but well worth it; the client was ecstatic because I had purely by chance provided him a blonde, a brunette and a redhead! The call was a blast; we danced, played naked hide and seek in his mansion, and just generally clowned around beside providing him sex, and he enjoyed himself so much he called us again after his next big case and specifically requested “Charlie’s Angels” as he called us.
The only time I ever took Barbie on a two-girl call didn’t turn out quite so well. Like Debbie she was a young divorced mother of two, and had turned to escorting as a way to pay the bills while still having time to be a stay-at-home mother. But unlike Debbie, she was not at all sanguine about her profession, and though she accepted the necessity of it she never liked it. Barbie would periodically flake out due to shame and take a “normal” job, only to return to escorting once the bills started to pile up. In the call I mentioned above we had agreed to provide services for a small party in two rooms off of the main suite, but poor Barbie got very upset and started crying when some stupid ass banged on the door of the room where she was and shouted to his friend, “Aren’t you done with that whore yet?” I would’ve laughed at the moron, but Barbie was deeply wounded. Luckily we were almost finished anyhow, because that was it for her that night.
Barbie was extremely pretty, petite, slender and Hispanic, with beautiful doe-like eyes; she often wore clothes with glittery patterns, and since they would shed glitter onto chairs where she sat my husband’s nickname for her was “Glitter Barbie”. Her mother lived right next door to her and knew what she did, which was invaluable because she could simply run over and ask her mother or younger sister (Barbie was only about 23 when she started working for me and her sister about six years younger) to watch the kids while she went on a call. They were early risers, and it was not at all unusual for me to call Gilda upon awakening about 10 or 11 AM to find that Barbie had already done two calls and shoved the money under my door while I slept! Like the little girl in the familiar rhyme, when she was good she was very, very good – dependable, predictable and pleasing to clients – but when she was bad she was horrid. When she flaked out for the final time (after working for me for years) she stole a client’s credit card number, charged several fake calls with it and I had to refund his money after paying her fees weeks before.
So, far from being the opposite of Madonnas, women like Debbie and Barbie fit the type perfectly. I sincerely doubt Debbie would ever have chosen prostitution as a career if she had not had two children to support, and it’s pretty obvious that Barbie wouldn’t have. Neither of them had the education or other skills necessary to land the high-paying jobs which could’ve supported their children without escorting; certainly Barbie proved that time and again. But my third example did have an education; in fact she was a nurse with an excellent job, but circumstances involving her son drove her to prostitution anyway.
I’ll call her Florence after a certain famous nurse, and she was a tiny little thing; five feet tall and about ninety pounds soaking wet. Though she was in her late thirties her size and features made her seem much younger, and when she applied to work for me she explained her situation because she felt I needed to understand. She said she could only work at night because she had the day shift at her hospital, and only planned to work a few hours a night except when she was off, at which time she wanted to be on call twenty-four hours a day. The reason for this was that her teenage son had been diagnosed with leukemia, and though she was insured the copayments would have bankrupted her even if she took out a second mortgage on her house. She explained that she only wanted to work until she had raised the money, and asked if I was okay with that.
Of course I was, and I never regretted it; Florence didn’t work as many hours as the other girls, but when she did she worked like a demon. Gilda always tried to get her an early call to justify her ninety-minute drive down from Baton Rouge; she then stayed on until about eleven, drove home and slept until she had to go to work the next day. On weekends she sometimes slept on our couch or at friends’ houses, and even if we woke her at some strange hour for a call she never complained. The customers adored her, and I recommended her to Doug as well so we could increase her income; every week she gave me updates on how much more she had to go, and she made the last $2000 in one all-night two-girl call with the wealthy cokehead regular I mentioned in my column of July 14th, a call I gave her on purpose because I knew she had the energy and drive to stick with him for as long as he continued to throw money at her.
Of course, I had mixed feelings about her reaching the goal; on the one hand I was happy she had the money for her son’s treatment, but on the other hand she was such a good worker I hated to lose her! We did occasionally hear from her again; once she came down to New Orleans with a boyfriend and I waived the agency fee so they could have a couple call, and then about a year after she quit she called me to tell me her son’s cancer was in remission. I can’t tell you how much that call meant to me, not only because I was glad to hear that her struggle had paid off for the boy, but also because it really touched me that she thought highly enough of me to call.
The most heroic actions are those which are performed only because they are right, and not for glory; Florence’s story will never be in People magazine and she will never appear on Oprah, because there are too many stupid assholes in the world who would pronounce what she did “wrong” or try to turn her into a victim for their own ends (“This poor woman wouldn’t have had to engage in this inherently degrading activity if we had national health care!”) She worked two difficult, demanding jobs for months to save her son’s life, and only God and a handful of people will ever know about it; if that’s not a Madonna, I’ll be damned if I know what is.