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Archive for November 30th, 2010

Well you should see Polythene Pam
She’s so good-looking but she looks like a man
Well you should see her in drag dressed in her polythene bag
Yes you should see Polythene Pam
.  – John Lennon, “Polythene Pam”

I’ve mentioned Pam, the owner of the first escort service for which I ever worked, a number of times before, but today I’m going to talk about her in a bit more depth.  When I decided to officially start working as an escort I called a number of agencies and chose hers because I thought a female service owner would treat her escorts more fairly and properly than a male one; boy, was I naïve.  In her defense I must say that I truly believe that she originally wanted to do so, until the degradation inherent in chronic drug use induced an irreversible moral decay which eventually earned her the nickname “Pimp Mama” among the girls who had left her agency.

Pam was a pale-skinned, grossly obese dishwater blonde of roughly my age whom one could tell had probably been pretty ten years, 200 pounds and a whole lot of heroin ago.  She apparently entered The Life as a working girl right out of high school and had eventually built up a large and successful agency in her native state until she got into some mysterious difficulty with the federal government which resulted in the loss of her mansion, car and savings and resulted in her seeking a fresh start in New Orleans.  I’m not sure if she got off the junk in prison or merely as a result of her economic ruin, but apparently the weight had gone on after she dried up and apparently substituted food for dope in her addictive personality. I do not know for a fact that she did go to prison; she never said that she had and if her difficulties involved the IRS rather than the DEA the feds may have been satisfied with stealing everything she had. In any case, I sincerely doubt it had anything to do with her owning an escort service per se; in those pre-trafficking-hysteria days the feds didn’t give a damn about prostitution.  The only possible clue to the nature of the difficulty might be derived from the fact that she could not accept credit cards even though every other agency in town could.

There was one other difference between her agency and the others; she was the only one with a website, and she was determined to keep it that way.  Her computer geek boyfriend, who had set up the website for her, also managed to forge her a number of different identities on a popular escort review site and she spent literally hours every day writing good reviews for her employees and bad reviews for others; once the bad reviews began to be removed due to challenges from the girls, she then changed her strategy to starting ugly rumors instead.  One popular girl was said to be working with the DEA, another became HIV positive, another became a post-op transsexual and still another became a blackmail extortionist.  By late 2001 the other local agencies had essentially washed our hands of the internet entirely; Pam devoted so much time and effort to these shenanigans that it was simply not possible to beat her at her own game and besides, at that time it really wasn’t necessary in the New Orleans market.

She hadn’t always been that way; when I first met her in January of 2000 she was friendly, helpful and seemed genuinely concerned with the safety of her girls.  But what I did not know was that, under the influence of her boyfriend, she had recently replaced her older drug of choice with crack cocaine and was beginning to suffer from the mental breakdown that drug inevitably produces.  Even after she traded the crackhead geek for an old-time gangster she kept on the stuff, and he had no desire to discourage her because after getting out of prison (where he had served a number of years on racketeering charges) he could no longer operate an escort service of his own and therefore had to squeeze his new girlfriend for his beer and racetrack money.  By getting her all the dope and booze she wanted he kept her too sedated to notice money was disappearing, and when I suggested new accounting procedures to keep a tighter rein on the cash flow he started whispering things in her ear to turn her against me.  Since her behavior was rapidly degenerating from the combination of crack, liquor and a sleazy boyfriend I was on my way out anyway, and when she tried to force Marilyn back into a dangerous situation (as described in my column of August 27th) I quit for good.

I did not, however, break contact with a number of the girls, and so I was easily able to contact them once I got my own agency up and running a week or so later.  Since I obviously didn’t have the traffic Pam did for a long time, most of the girls kept working for her as well and so I got to hear about her increasingly bizarre, callous and controlling behavior.  Once she became known for abuses like repeatedly giving calls to less experienced girls after they had been rejected by more experienced ones as dangerous, it became more and more difficult for her to keep quality talent and that was when she started practicing the wholesale internet fraud I described earlier. By that point she was really becoming a dog in the manger; internet “hobbyists” tend to dislike dealing with agencies in the first place (because they’re more expensive and the girls are more carefully monitored), and Pam’s increasingly erratic behavior and decreasing quality of service made it more and more difficult for her to do business online.  It was at that point, I suspect, that she started her rumor mill under the philosophy that if she couldn’t get business from the internet, nobody would.

Around that time the other agencies started hearing horror stories from burned clients; she tolerated extortionists and other trash, and developed a reputation for practicing bait and switch (both Dawn and I had to threaten her with lawsuits to get her to stop using our pictures, and she continued to display April’s photos long after the poor soul had died).  Girls who had left her employ reported threats and coercion to take blatantly unsafe calls, rampant drug use in the office and an appalling lack of regard for girls’ safety.  One night she actually sent three girls in succession to what everyone else already knew to be a sting; I honestly have no idea what she believed she stood to gain by this.  By 2003 her agency had become little more than a bad joke, and the rest of us routinely warned new girls away from her; unfortunately, in a tourist town like New Orleans even a terrible agency can stay in business as long as it has some girls (no matter how substandard) to fill the calls, so she probably would have gone on cheating clients and risking girls’ lives and freedom indefinitely had she not been shut down by a federal drug raid in 2004.

The reason people like Pam can continue to victimize others unhindered is, of course, because our business is illegal.  If prostitution were decriminalized agencies like Pam’s would be reported to the Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and other such entities and quickly drummed out of business.  But because the law prefers to demonize the honest whores along with the dishonest, people like Pam (and, alas, those who exploit naïve and frightened young girls with no one to turn to) who thrive in the darkness can continue to peddle their poison unhindered by any legal, professional or ethical restraints until they are finally destroyed by their own excesses…which may or may not ever happen.

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