For the past week, I’ve been spending most of my waking hours at the hospital with Jae; if you don’t understand why, you should read last week’s diary and Q&A columns. Since last week, she’s improved steadily but very slowly; she’s now breathing for herself during the day, with the respirator serving only as a safeguard. On Sunday, I asked the nurse to stop giving her one drug that seemed to be giving her nightmares when the dose was high and severe disorientation even when it was low; the results were very positive, and she woke up several times and interacted with me for several minutes each time. She smiled at me, squeezed my hand, looked at the faces of the nurses and therapists when I introduced them and nodded her head at them; it was obvious she was lucid and aware of her surroundings. Every day I make sure to let her know what day it is and how long it’s been since the accident, and I’m keeping a journal of all the important events so she can read what happened while she was in Sleeping Beauty mode. I also plan to show her the Twitter timeline from these weeks so she can see all the love and support she received; if you would like her to see your message, just tweet to @BOBCATGIRL and she will see it then. If you can afford to send a donation for her support after hospital, please visit her GoFundMe site; Mistress Matisse will be posting updates about her condition there, and I’ll be doing the same here every Tuesday. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have also noticed I’m doing short videos via Periscope; even if you don’t have that app, you can watch the videos every day to get the latest update on how she’s doing. As for how I’m doing, since many of y’all have asked: I’m OK, under the circumstances. Obviously it’s pretty overwhelming, but I have the best circle of friends in the world and I do pretty well in crises, so no worries. Thanks to some of those friends I have very inexpensive lodging in a house just about a mile from the hospital; I plan to start walking it today so I don’t get dumpy through lack of exercise. And the less money I spend to support myself here, the more there will be for Jae when she gets home.
Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category
It’s so strange how quickly fortunes can turn, and happiness can become agony. Last week Jae asked me to divert a little way on my return home to spend a day with her in a lovely mountain town; Friday morning was spent exploring a little park with multiple waterfalls, then later soaking in a spa together. I then went on to Seattle, and she to visit a friend as the last stop on her motorcycle tour before returning home herself. But only about four hours after leaving the hotel, something happened; we’re not sure exactly what, but Jae spilled her bike and slammed into a barricade. Because her phone was lost in the accident, the hospital staff was unable to contact me or any of her other loved ones; on Sunday afternoon they called the Seattle police and asked them to go to the old address on her driver’s license. Luckily, our friend Vignette still lives there; she called me and passed on the hospitals’ number, and within 15 minutes I had packed my things and was headed east on I-90. I arrived about 2 AM, and though it was long after visiting hours the nurse very kindly allowed me an hour with Jae. She is in critical condition and is still unconscious since Saturday, but she shows none of the signs associated with severe brain damage; however, it may be weeks before she awakens, and there’s no telling how long it will take her to fully recover. And if you think I’m not going to stay right by her side until I can bring her back home, you haven’t been paying attention for the past five years. Jae is much beloved by the Seattle sex worker community, and our friends have really stepped up to help her by providing the funds I need to stay here with her; I’m going to try to get some work, but I’m honestly not sure how to accomplish that under the circumstances. So if you can afford to spare a little to help out, please send it along via PayPal or allow me to process a credit card donation via Square; I’ll keep everyone posted on her progress, and I hope to have some better news for y’all very soon. To everyone who has already donated: thank y’all so very much, and I’m sure Jae will want to write a thank-you herself once she has recovered enough to do so.
It’s been an amazingly busy week! I said on Twitter that nobody should mistake this trip for a vacation, because it wasn’t (not for me, anyway; Jae & Grace had a fun, if exhausting, trip to Sturgis). But that doesn’t mean I had no fun; in fact, every single date I had, with both gentlemen I already knew and with those I was meeting in the flesh for the first time, was lovely. And though I was busy jetting around eastern Oklahoma for work, I also managed to make time to catch up with several friends and readers (I won’t name-drop, but they can identify themselves in the comments if they like); get my divorce paperwork filed; copy Never On Sunday for Matt (I did tell you we’re still very close); catch up on my writing a little; place some new escort ads; visit with Grace after she got back; and probably half a dozen other things I’m forgetting. Then in the middle of it all, I got to see myself quoted in an editorial in The Daily Iowan, of all places; fame marches on! Today I’ll be finishing up here, packing a few things for my return to Seattle tomorrow; I’ll be sleeping in Denver tomorrow night, taking a day off with Jae in Idaho on Friday and then I’ll be back in Seattle sometime Saturday.
The whore is despised by the hypocritical world because she has made a realistic assessment of her assets and does not have to rely on fraud to make a living. – Angela Carter
Because of the stigma against it, sex work is often taken up by women whose choices are otherwise limited; in other words, it is often the best of a limited range of options. And for much of recent history, it was virtually the only worthwhile option available to women viewed as sexually “soiled” or “ruined”, often through no fault of their own.
Take Mary Elizabeth Haley, for example. She was born in Belton, Texas in 1855 to James and Mary Haley, a fairly well-to-do couple. Unfortunately for Libby (as she was called), if her family hadn’t had bad luck it would’ve had none at all; first they were financially ruined by the Civil War, and then the nine-year-old was abducted by Comanche Indians in 1864. It took her father three years to raise the ransom the Comanches demanded, and even after she was released her ordeal was far from over: “civilized” whites assumed she had been raped by the Indians, and her parents found themselves with an unmarriageable daughter. Her father seems to have been deeply in denial about her ostracism, however; when young Libby’s looks and personality attracted a suitor mature enough not to care about her “reputation”, her father responded by shooting the man to death because he was too old.
Libby was both intelligent and pragmatic, and thus understood that her hotheaded father would either murder or frighten away any man willing to overlook her history, so at 14 she ran away to Abilene, Kansas and became a dance-hall prostitute. Nobody in the boomtown knew anything about her, so it wasn’t difficult for her to find a boyfriend: a professional gambler and sometimes-cowboy named Billy Thompson, younger brother of the gunslinger Ben Thompson. From 1870 to 1876, the couple drifted across (mostly) Kansas and Texas, following the cattle drives or running from the law and/or people Billy had cheated; each brought in money by their professional skills, and they were married in 1873 after the birth of their first child.
Near the end of 1876, however, their luck began to change. In October, Billy was arrested by Texas Rangers and extradited to Kansas to stand trial for the 1873 murder of Sheriff Chauncey Whitney; miraculously, he was acquitted, and for the first time they felt as though they might actually settle somewhere. Both Billy and Libby were quite good at their professions, and had put aside a sizable stake; they purchased a ranch and a dance hall/brothel in Sweetwater, Texas, and moved into management (Billy as a rancher, Libby as a madam). During the years they had spent much of their time on the range, Libby had developed a fondness for prairie dogs; now that they lived in town she started keeping them as pets (some said she even walked them on leashes). From this and the prominent gap between her front teeth, Libby at last gained the name by which she is known to history: Squirrel Tooth Alice.
The next twenty years went quite well for them; both businesses prospered (especially the brothel), and Alice’s fame spread across the West. They had nine children in all and their marriage lasted for 24 years, until Billy died of some sort of stomach condition in 1897. Alice continued to run the brothel until she retired in 1921 at the age of 66. Alas, her declining years were not as happy as they could have been; though several of her daughters followed their mother into our honorable profession, several of her sons inherited their father’s worse characteristics and turned to crime. Alice lived in the homes of several of her children who had settled in Palmdale, California, and when she became too ill to care for themselves she moved into the Sunbeam Rest Home in Los Angeles. There she died on April 13, 1953, at the ripe old age of 98.
Prohibitionists are fond of pretending that because sex work is often a constrained choice, that this is an argument for criminalizing it (as though it made any moral or logical sense to remove the best choice from a limited range of options!) How would it have helped young Libby Haley to cut off the means of her escape from the narrow-minded bigots of her home town? Prostitution not only allowed her to make a living, but also to find love, acceptance, fame and personal satisfaction; I guess the prohibitionists would prefer she had died a lonely charity case, unsullied by either men or money.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back at the ranch for almost a week now, but it’s true; I arrived last Wednesday. But don’t think that means I’ve been relaxing; in fact, I’ve been doing anything but. Even in the car I was busy; on the drive to Wichita last Tuesday I was giving an interview to Colleen Curry of Vice, then Wednesday I did the same thing between Wichita and Oklahoma City with Hilary Hanson of the Huffington Post. Both of those interviews were on the subject of Tom Dart’s anti-Backpage crusade, but there were at least two other big stories in recent weeks: a serial killer was himself killed by a sex worker named Heather, and Amnesty International is about to vote on finally coming out in favor of decriminalization (prompting uproar from empty-headed Hollywood types who claim that supporting police violence against women is “feminist”). On Sunday, I talked to Eric Barry of the Full Disclosure podcast about the latter subject; that episode will be out today. And between all those things I also met with several clients, spent some time with Jae before she and Grace left for the Sturgis motorcycle rally yesterday morning, tried to catch up on my work and correspondence, did some bookkeeping and otherwise kept myself occupied. I’ve also reached the stage where even if I’m not working, my blog still is; it’s becoming a common occurrence for me to open up an article (like this one in Think Progress) and discover a link to one of my previous essays. That’s exactly what I want; as my work spreads through the internet, it will act as an acid on the supports of prohibitionist mythology, hastening the day when the whole jury-rigged structure collapses.
On a slightly more mundane subject: I’m leaving to return to Seattle a week from tomorrow (the 12th), planning to spend the first night in Denver and the second in Idaho. But I have as yet made no reservations, so if you’d like to see me en route please let me know ASAP and I may be able to modify my course to accommodate you.
It’s been quite a week! Kaytlin Bailey stayed at my place for a few days after the show, and we showed her the full hospitality of Seattle’s sex worker community; she showed us the video of her one-woman show, and I think it’s fantastic; I really hope she gets the opportunity to bring it to television. Jae left on her cross-country motorcycle trip on Wednesday, after two false starts (one of which was, I’m sorry to say, completely my fault). Later that same day, I got to take the private rope-bondage lesson from Max Cameron, Seattle’s best teacher for the art; we had been trying to synchronize our schedules (and that of the young lady who volunteered to be my practice subject) for almost two months, so I was really glad we were finally able to make it happen. My rope bondage has always been simply utilitarian, and I wanted to give it more style, range and artistry. Then on Friday, I went off for the weekend with Mistress Matisse and a very wonderful (and fortunate!) gentleman; we spent it here:
And that’s as much as I’ll say on the topic (professional discretion, y’all). Yesterday I set off from the lake to meet Jae in the Denver, Colorado area, which is where I’m typing this; today I’m driving to Wichita, and tomorrow home for two whole weeks! Then I’ll be headed back to Seattle on the 12th. I hope none of the other legs are as stressful as today’s; if I never again have to drive through Montana at highway speed in a downpour for seven hours straight, it will be too soon.