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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

fabrics at Maggie's office 5-18-15Last week I mentioned two forthcoming events, one of which dominated most of my week.  And I don’t mean the photo shoot with Mistress Matisse, either, though that was fun (and pictures will be forthcoming soon); no, I mean the decorating of my office.  Jae has piles of lovely fabrics here and is arranging them on my walls and ceiling; I picked up a new bed and some kitchen stuff, and as I write this (yesterday) I’m about to pick up some floor mats to serve as a base for the rugs, soften footfalls and dampen sound (and, not incidentally, to make the floor more congenial to wrestling and other such sport).  Jae has quite a talent for decor, and what I’m seeing so far has me excited not just for this place, but also for my permanent residence at the country place once it’s done.  We have big plans for that place, by the by, and I’ll tell you about them as they develop; for now suffice it to say that a lot more people will be seeing my ranch in the future than have in the past.

Last Wednesday I had dinner with an ally from California who traveled here specifically to meet me, my SWOP friends and other allies; he has some ideas I’ll be telling you about as they unfold, but which could really help the sex worker rights movement in the PR department.  Also, business is starting to pick up for me, albeit slowly; it takes time to get established in a new city, especially in my price range and under the current climate of fear and sexual repression.  But I have lots of help and true friends, and it’s only a matter of time; I think by midsummer I should be well and truly back in the saddle again, and it shouldn’t be long before my writing schedule ramps up again and I get that promised book of essays on the press.

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I’d rather drink and die.  –  Barbara Payton

I’ve often pointed out that the professions of actress and whore were at one time indistinguishable from one another, and that even now they are at best two branches of one stem (with a large area of overlap in porn and explicit general cinema).  Furthermore, it’s not unusual for actresses in difficult circumstances to practice the more stigmatized branch of our shared profession in a more direct fashion.  But generally, such deals are both highly discreet and in the “high end” price range; the case of Barbara Payton is an extreme and notable exception.

Barbara PaytonBarbara Lee Redfield was born in Cloquet, Minnesota on November 16th, 1927, to Erwin and Mabel Redfield.  Her family moved to Odessa, Texas when Barbara was 10, and though she was very  fortunate in the looks department of the genetic lottery, another of her inheritances eventually destroyed her: both parents were alcoholics.  Barbara eloped with her high-school boyfriend William Hodge just after her 15th birthday, and though her parents had the marriage annulled she was determined to get out of their house via matrimony; just two years later she dropped out of school and married a decorated combat pilot named John Payton, with whom she moved to Los Angeles.  Barbara dreamed of Hollywood success, and persuaded her husband to have some professional photos done; she quickly attracted attention and was a very successful model before she turned 20 (despite the birth of her son in March of 1947).

But success went to her head, and Payton eventually tired of being married to a party girl; they separated in July of 1948 and were divorced in 1950.  Her self-promotion had already attracted the attention of William Goetz of Universal Studios, however, and in January of 1949 he signed her to a $100/week contract (about $1000/week today).  After a couple of minor films, she won critical attention for her performance in Trapped (1949), and was highly praised for her work in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) opposite James Cagney.  The star’s brother, William Cagney, was so taken with her that he bought out her contact with Universal and got her one with Warner Brothers for $5,000/week, an unheard-of amount for such an inexperienced performer.  Despite this, her career began a sharp decline by the following year, when she appeared in Bride of the Gorilla (1951) with Raymond Burr; by 1955 Hollywood was done with her.  Ironically, her career was destroyed by the same thing which had first ignited it: her hard-partying lifestyle.

From the very beginning, Barbara used speed to keep her weight down, tranquilizers to sleep and alcohol for just about everything else.  She was incredibly promiscuous, and was not afraid to ask for money; soon after she signed with Universal she caught the eye of Bob Hope, who gave her an allowance and kept her in a luxurious apartment.  But Hope dumped her when she started demanding more money, and she took up with her drug dealer, a sometimes-movie-extra named Don Cougar; that ended sometime after Cougar beat up Payton’s elderly landlady over a rent dispute.  Over the next couple of years she is known to have been involved with Howard Hughes, Guy Madison, George Raft, John Ireland, Steve Cochran, Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper, plus many others who weren’t involved in the movie industry.  In 1950, Franchot Tone fell in love with her and proposed; she accepted, but began an affair with a minor actor named Tom Neal.  While Tone was away she even invited Neal to live with her (in the apartment Tone was paying for); when Tone returned she kicked him out.  She went back and forth between the two men until September 14th, 1951, when Neal beat Tone so severely he was hospitalized; she then married Tone on September 28th, lived with him for 53 days and then returned to Neal, who as you might expect beat her regularly as well.  The two never married, but stayed together for four years; and though both their careers were badly damaged by the scandal, the straw that broke the camel’s back in racist 1950s Hollywood was Payton’s relationship with her next boyfriend, black actor Woody Strode.

I Am Not AshamedHer life soon followed her career onto the rocks; she began pawning valuables to pay bar tabs and was arrested for giving bad checks to a liquor store.  She was temporarily reprieved in November of 1955 by marrying George Provas, a furniture store owner, but after their divorce in August of 1958 she resumed her downward spiral.  Her face and figure ruined by hard living, she was no longer able to attract patrons of the caliber of Bob Hope or Howard Hughes, and turned to streetwalking to survive; on February 7th of 1962 she was busted for prostitution on Sunset Boulevard.  She was homeless for much of that year, and was beaten on multiple occasions; she lost several teeth and once was severely stabbed.  In 1963 she got $1,000 for a ghostwritten autobiography entitled I Am Not Ashamed, but the money didn’t last long and things just kept getting worse.  In 1964 she was arrested for shoplifting, and in 1965 for possession of heroin.  Finally in 1967 she admitted she could not survive on her own, and moved back in with her parents (who now lived in San Diego); there she died on May 8th of heart and liver failure.  She was only 39 years old.

Barbara Payton had always been a whore from the time she first realized that she had sexual power over men, in her mid-teens; it’s a sign of our society’s deep misunderstanding of harlotry that nobody ever really accused her of it until she lost control of her behavior and was unable to actually make a living at it any more.  The most successful whores are never so labelled, and the greatest legal penalties and social stigma fall upon the least.

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sugar bowlOn the day my last diary appeared, I went to dinner with a potential sugar daddy; he was quite nice and I enjoyed our conversation, but unfortunately we couldn’t quite make a deal because he wanted more time than I could give for the money he was offering, and I wanted more money than he could give for the time he wanted.  C’est la vie; this was only my second attempt, and it felt a lot closer to something that could work than my first one did.  Last week I was also contacted by several readers due to last Monday’s bald statement of my return to sex work; it did wonders for my ego, let me tell you!  And now you readers that missed that column may want to act on it as well!

On Wednesday, I went to dinner at the home of one of the SWOP members, and it made me realize how truly amazing the sex worker community here in Seattle is.  Most of my friends here are sex workers; we see each other often, socialize with each other, visit each other and help each other.  And that is simply not the norm in this country; in most cities one might have a couple of sex worker friends or see each other at SWOP meetings, but the sense of community here is like nothing I’ve seen in any other US city (and remember, I visited quite a few last summer).  It’s one of the reasons I chose to relocate to Seattle; I really wanted to share in that, and I think it will really help me get into the right mindset to write my big book.  Oh, speaking of activism, I was on a panel that spoke to a class at the University of Washington last Thursday night; the other members were Danielle Askini of the Gender Justice League, Tobi Hill-Meyer of both GJL and SWOP, and Hawk Kinkaid of HOOK and Rentboy.com.  I asked Hawk if he’d like to do a guest column on male sex work soon, and he said he would; that will probably appear in July.

Today I’ve got a photo shoot with Mistress Matisse; I’m sure y’all are all anxiously awaiting the results!  And all this week, Jae will be working to turn my office into a comfortable space for writing, giving interviews and the like; I’m anxiously awaiting the results of that!

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Parents should be mindful of the advantage provided by bedtime reading.  –  Adam Swift

This week’s video was suggested by the musician friend I mentioned in my last diary column, Drake Sherman; the links above it came from Grace (“fascism” and “Whitney”), Scott Greenfield (“lock”), Jesse Walker (“Terry”), Radley Balko (“never” and “Karelia”), and RMV (“satire”).

From the Archives

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Diary #253

Maggie 4-28-15Last week was hectic, chaotic and full of both good happenings and bad.  I won’t go into the bad ones because they were mostly just financial issues, and would thus not only be boring, but also the predictable result of periods when I fail to devote enough of my time and energy to sex work.  Ultimately, such issues are just transitory; no matter how stressful they are at the time, they always blow over once I get myself re-established as a sex worker, and this time I’ve learned my lesson.  Now that I’m out and have a loving and supportive network of sex worker friends, I have no plans on stopping until I’m just too old to physically do it…and even then I’ll be writing and speaking until a few months after I keel over.  Still, while I’m struggling to get back into the full-time groove, I’d appreciate any help my readers who have disposable funds can give me!

On Tuesday Mistress Matisse took me to her hair salon to get my hair professionally done for the first time in years (it may actually be the first time this century but I can’t swear to that).  I was a little nervous, because I felt that the stylist would think me an idiot for telling her that I wanted my hairstyle changed, yet not changed; however, since Matisse and Jae were treating me, I couldn’t very well refuse even had I wanted to.  Besides, when I came here in November I vowed to thenceforth be open to new things, and that includes my hair.  And my fears turned out to be totally unfounded; the stylist understood exactly what I wanted, and the amount of hair she cut off wouldn’t have filled a teacup (and most of that was around my face).  She then gave me some good advice on keeping it from frizzing, and taught me a new styling technique that…well, see for yourself!  Everyone who has seen it loved it, including the gentleman Matisse and I spent Saturday evening with.

Last Tuesday I also brought in the documents required for me to get my new Washington state driver’s license, and everything seems to have gone through OK; my long-standing ID issues appear to be nearly solved, and that could mean the possibility of a Canadian tour (speaking, escorting or both) in the future!  On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning I gave my annual guest lectures to the human sexuality classes at OSU, this time via Skype; my friend Drake Sherman handled the tech end for me.  Drake is a talented musician, and on Thursday night we went to his concert at the Central Saloon; do yourself a favor and check out his original music!  Finally, on Friday I moved into my new office space, from which I hope to catch up on my writing.  I say “finally”, but as I’m writing this on Sunday I can’t speak for tomorrow; if anything else good happens I’ll share it with you next week.

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Ridin’ the range once more
Totin’ my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again.
 –  Gene Autry

Though I hinted at it in the comment thread of “An Ending and a Beginning“, stated it explicitly in “Diary #245” and have referenced it in a number of diary posts and tweets, it seems as though many readers haven’t quite realized that I have returned to active sex work.  You won’t find my escort website by Googling my name, and I’m not going to post rates or anything like that here; frankly, they’re in the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” category anyhow, though I’m wholly willing to negotiate for regular readers and references from my many sex worker friends.  And though I do have a new work name (that I’m not going to share here), I’m not really concerned if anyone figures out that she is me; in fact, at a recent multi-escort, multi-client party I told the ladies not to fret if they slipped up and called me “Maggie” in front of the gents.  The important thing is that there not be a direct link between one and the other, and if you can’t understand why you haven’t been paying attention.  Simply put, I’m sure there are a number of vice cops who would just love to have my pretty head as a trophy on the wall, and I’m not going to facilitate that any more than I inevitably must (my appearance is, after all, pretty distinctive).  Just last week a reader recognized my picture on a sugar baby site, and messaged me to say hello; my reply was quite friendly because I have absolutely nothing to hide or be ashamed about.  I am a whore; I have always been, and I always will be.  I make my living by entertaining men (and, to a lesser extent, women) and the only thing that has changed about that for 18 years is the exact nature of the entertainment and the details of the contract.

That last is a very important point that I can’t possibly stress enough: the exact details of the contract are of no importance whatsoever from a moral or logical standpoint, and the pretense that some forms of transactional sex are “better” or “higher” or “purer” or “less skanky” than others is pure bullshit rooted in the deeply-dumb attitudes about sex held by the human race in general, and Western society in particular.  Just because I had a state-issued license to take money in exchange for sex and companionship to one particular man (that I happen to have great affection for) did not make my life from 2007 to 2014 any better or nobler or safer for the eyes of children than my life before ’07 or since my return to a more directly commercial form of sex work.  Nor was that return as recent as you might think; soon after starting this blog in 2010 I went back part-time (with Matt’s blessing) under my old stage name, partly for pocket money and partly to put myself in the right frame of mind to write the blog.  Rather than attempt to work for an agency I took out an ad on Craigslist for a week or so, then on Backpage for a couple of weeks, then on a national escort board.  “But Maggie, Craigslist?  Backpage?”  I hear some of you cry.  Yep, and if you don’t understand why please reread the first sentence of this paragraph.  I wanted to see what that form of whoring was like so that I could write about it with understanding and compassion, and I’m planning to eventually do a stint in a legal brothel for the same reason (if any Nevada owner or manager reads this and wants to negotiate a deal for this, please email me at your earliest convenience).  Mistress Matisse has been schooling me in domination, and my sugar baby profile?  That too.  Maybe I’ll even do a few weeks in a massage parlor.

cowgirlNow, I’m not saying that I’m going to stop being a courtesan; it’s the style of sex work that suits me best given my education, eloquence, presence and economic needs.  I eventually hope to get a solid group of dependable, generous, long-term clients who recognize the importance of my work and are willing to either travel to see me or give me space to be sick in the day I travel to see them.  I also plan to continue writing, speaking and advocating just as I have for the past five years.  That doesn’t mean I plan to stand up and orate in restaurants or lecture my gentlemen in bed about the harms of criminalization; what it does mean is that I consider my sex work and my sex work advocacy to be two parts of one unified whole.  Though it may look to y’all as though I’m back in the saddle again after an eight-year absence, in truth I never actually left it.

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Diary #252

Endza with Monk's treeThough I’m continuing to get busier in some ways, I’m also finally done with most of the crap related to relocation and re-adjustment.  Everything, that is, except getting my Washington state driver’s license…about which the less said, the better (they do NOT want this to be easy).  But even that is mostly done, though I have to bring in some more documents today; the good news is that a helpful DMV supervisor (yes, I just typed that phrase) seems to have tracked down the computer error which caused all the trouble with my passport and other government records, and within a couple of weeks that should be all resolved, too.  That doesn’t mean I’ll be traveling much overseas, because my terrible motion-sickness can’t be corrected by bureaucratic paperwork; it will, however, re-open Canada and Mexico to me for the first time since the police state started demanding passports to return to the US from there.

But last week wasn’t all paperwork; on Friday night I attended the Seattle Erotic Art Festival accompanied by the lovely Endza, who was a volunteer docent at the festival and was able to tell me something about nearly every piece there (including one that she introduced with, “and of course you recognize these models because you live with one of them.”)  The next night Jae and I attended our friend Abby May’s burlesque performance, and the rest of my funtime activities for the week are not anything which could be described in non-pornographic language, except for the ones involving chocolate.  Today I’m getting my hair done professionally for the first time in years, and tomorrow…oh, let’s just leave something for next week’s diary!

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