Last week was a busy one, but in a good way; very few of the things I was kept busy with were unpleasant. I always enjoy visiting my beauty doctor, and I saw several regular clients whose company I always enjoy (plus several meals with friends). And we made some progress on a major project for my ranch, the first one in a very long time. But of all the things that brought me joy last week, one of them may surprise or amuse you: I got my TriStar back. Well, not back exactly, because this isn’t the same one I was forced to sell 20 years ago, but it’s the same model. Some or most of you are probably scratching your heads or checking to make sure that you’re on the right blog; Maggie McNeill is delighted because she bought a used vacuum cleaner? Huh? Some of y’all are probably thinking something like, “No offense, Maggie, but you’re not exactly known for your housekeeping skills.” And you would be right. But this is different; this is one of those little victories that mean nothing to anyone but oneself. Jack bought me a TriStar back in ’92 or ’93; they’re really expensive, but I’m very hard on vacuum cleaners because it makes me crazy to have to go over and over the same damned spot and yet have it NOT GET CLEAN. I want a vacuum cleaner that would be at home in a cartoon, a vacuum that needs to be turned off if the drapes get caught in it because there’s no way to get them out otherwise. In this picture, that heavy hose is being held to my hand by the power of suction alone, and the circular mark is still visible on my hand as I type this over 30 minutes later. This is a sho-’nuff, no-messin’-around vacuum cleaner, y’all, and its air filtration is so good that the exhaust is cleaner than the air already in the room (suck that, Kirby). But after my marriage broke up and the bills started to get overwhelming, I had to be sensible and sell it to cover them. And as the years have gone by and I’ve been forced to clean filthy rugs with crappy Hoovers and Electroluxes and Dirt Devils, I’ve often missed my good old TriStar and vowed to get another one day. Then last week I was in a vacuum cleaner repair shop helping a friend to get a refurbished one, and I said to the guy, “You wouldn’t happen to have a TriStar for sale, would you?” He named a price higher than most of you probably paid for your new vacuums (but still less than a third of what my new TriStar cost over 20 years ago), and I said “Sold!” and peeled the bills off of the roll in my purse. Then I took it home and vacuumed all of my rugs, which were visibly brighter after the treatment. And though that’s great, and I’ll certainly vacuum much more often now, the really important thing for me is that after 20 years I managed to undo one minor example of the countless humiliations and defeats that life has saddled me with more than my share of. And that gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to undo at least a few of the others.
Posts Tagged ‘anecdote’
Posted in Biography, Miscellaneous, Perception, Philosophy, The Dark Side, Tyranny, tagged activism, anecdote, blogging, cops, escort services, fantasy, hysteria, law, lawyers, neofeminism, pimps, stripping on July 28, 2016 | 3 Comments »
The problem with abusers is that they’re often extremely charming; after all, if they weren’t, who would stick around to be abused? – Maggie McNeill
Yesterday, Fault Lines on the Mimesis Law site (which you’ve often visited if you actually click on the links in my Links columns) published an interview with me as part of their “Cross” series. I don’t often do email interviews any more because they take so much longer than telephone ones, but Scott Greenfield has been an online friend of mine for years and I’ll do things for my friends I won’t do for others. I honestly think it was a really good interview, and he gave me leave to cut loose, be snarky and swear, so I thought I’d share it with y’all here, too. Not the whole thing, mind you; I want you to see it as presented. But here are a few excerpts from my replies; you’ll have to go there to see the questions and the rest:
…I was never exactly conventional, despite the efforts of parents and nuns; I was always a freethinker and never managed to absorb any negative attitudes about sex. I was fascinated by whores from the time I understood what the word meant, and as a young teen I counted several famous courtesans among my heroines. My very first D&D character at the age of 14 was a cleric who was a sacred prostitute, and I took money for sex for the first time just a little over two months after turning 18…
…while I probably made less money than the young girls while on the stage, I absolutely cleaned up in the VIP room. There’s not really a support network for new strippers; in fact, a lot of the girls are very competitive. But though I’ve never done pageants, I’m the type who would’ve often been named “Miss Congeniality” if I had; I make friends easily, and it didn’t take long before the more experienced ladies were showing me the ropes…
…Sex workers’ ads take advantage of the fact that paying for company isn’t illegal, only paying for sex. Now, you and I both know that the line between those two isn’t remotely a bright, clear one such as the law pretends it is; lots of clients don’t want what most cops would call “sex”, and lots of sex doesn’t involve the body parts prudes code as “sexual.” And by the letter of the law in most places, it isn’t “prostitution” unless there’s an explicit agreement to trade x sex act for y amount of money, which absolutely no whore in her right mind will ever do. So in a sting the cops either lie and say that such an agreement was reached, or else rape the sex worker and use that as “evidence of prostitution”…
…I am continually amazed that over a century after the end of the Victorian Era, supposedly educated adults, especially people who call themselves “feminists”, actually believe (and expect others to believe) that all women are passive, childlike creatures with such a naïve, romanticized view of sex that our fluffy, pink little brains couldn’t possibly conceive of doing it for any reason other than loooooooooooooove or animalistic pleasure. This is especially absurd given that these same “feminists” pretend that it’s better for women to be valued for our intelligence than for our beauty, while at the same time pretending that sexual motives deriving from the hindbrain (love & pleasure) are morally superior to those deriving from the frontal lobes (profit motive). It’d be quite a fascinating case study in cognitive dissonance if it weren’t for the fact that these Froot Loop notions are used to justify sending armed thugs out to deceive, rape, brutalize, rob & cage people…
…[The Nordic model] stated that a minor boy is morally superior to a woman of any age. This is called “feminism”…
…If nobody actually complains about something, the cops shouldn’t be driving around looking for trouble. Firemen don’t rove around looking for fires, and paramedics don’t rove around looking for injuries, yet we don’t see huge numbers of buildings burning down & accident victims dying because nobody got there in time. Let the cops stay in their fucking police stations until called out, and they’ll have a lot fewer opportunities to murder black men, execute dogs, rob bodegas and rape women…
…Prohibitionists only accuse me of dishonesty because I won’t support their ridiculous wanking fantasies of international cartels of magical ninja pimps with mind-control powers abducting screaming white girls from shopping malls and bus stops, transporting them around the country in dog crates, and serving them up to hundreds of salivating sex maniacs per week until their genitalia collapse and the diabolical monsters then dispose of them, presumably by flushing them down hotel toilets like unwanted goldfish…
Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere else. – Mae West
Lately, a number of people (including interviewers, clients and even other whores) have asked me about the different types of sex work I’ve done, when I did them and how I got started. And though this was the subject of a three-part column soon after I began this blog six years ago, there were a few passages I omitted way back then and only wrote about much later, and a couple I think I’ve only spoken about (but never written). So in the interest of collecting everything in one place and filling in the gaps, I hereby present a concise history of my personal journey through harlotry.
The very first time the word “prostitute” was ever applied to me was when I was 12 years old, in the spring of 1979. Don’t be too shocked, y’all; the term was used by the nun who was the principal of my grammar school in reference to a punishwork-for-pay scheme I had dreamed up in 8th grade, and I was still a virgin for another two and a half years after that. The first time I took money for actual sex was at the beginning of January, 1985, a few months after I’d turned 18:
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…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…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”…It took less than an hour, and when he forked over the whole $350 I felt rather proud of myself…
It didn’t take my whorish little brain long to realize that my sexuality was now monetizable, and I had a number of guys I could subtly hit up for cash in exchange for sex when bills came due. I went on like that until the spring of 1987, when I stupidly agreed to marry Jack (because I was fucking stupid); my hiatus from whoredom lasted until he left me on January 2nd, 1995. The part I haven’t previously mentioned in print was that my ill-fated marriage was bookended by two sugar relationships, but with sugar mamas rather than sugar daddies. Remember, I’ve always been bisexual, and when Jack proposed I agreed only on the condition that I could still have girlfriends. Since the autumn of ’84 I had a sugar mama (in her late 30s then) I was very fond of; she almost never gave me cash, but took me out to dinner and a movie several times a week (especially in ’85). The sexual part of our relationship actually dried up pretty quickly; she was seeing a therapist who thought homosexuality was immature and had convinced her that “Gay is not the way”. I know that seems weird and even unethical to modern ears, but that was not an unusual viewpoint among psychiatric professionals in the ’80s. Anyhow, she met a man in the summer of ’87 and dropped me pretty soon after; I did date girls whenever Jack and I broke up (which was often) from ’87 to ’92, but none of those were pragmatic relationships.
My next foray into whoredom came in the autumn of ’95; I was so distraught after all the events of my Year of Disaster that I just wasn’t able to work anymore, and quit my job. I survived on pure momentum, some help from my mother, frequent handouts from friends and the patronage of another sugar mama, a woman in her late 50s who took me to dinner at least three or four times a week, gave me many presents and even gifted me with small sums of cash that were sufficient to pay the electricity & water bills. I never actually had sex with her, either; she was very attracted to me and was clearly hoping for something in return, but I never actually promised her anything and was able to avoid the half-dozen or so direct passes she made at me over the next year by telling her (honestly) that I was still too messed up to be sexual with anybody. So though I wasn’t technically selling her sex, I was certainly being paid for my emotional labor and for paying attention to her, which is a huge part of GFE and sugar-dating both. She got tired of my coyness by November of ’96, and found Jesus soon after; I’m not sure what part (if any) our relationship played in that.
Almost a year later, at the end of September of ’97, I started stripping; soon after that I met Grace and we moved in together, and her truck allowed me to commute to the clubs on Bourbon Street where I could make more money than I could in the little suburban club where I’d started. By the autumn of ’99 my outstanding debts were paid off and I took a few months off before starting at Pam’s escort service on January 2nd, 2000. I started my own agency by Easter, and also worked for two others after leaving Pam’s; I finally retired from agency escorting in June of 2006, after burning out due to overwork and Hurricane Katrina-induced chronic illness. At that point I moved into the long-term contractual form of prostitution we call “marriage”, and from July of 2006 until July of 2010 I saw no other client but my husband. As most of you know, that didn’t work out as well as I might’ve liked; my retirement seems to have been a major factor in the disintegration of my marriage, and soon after starting this blog in July of ’10 I also returned to sex work, this time as an independent, “partly for pocket money and partly to put myself in the right frame of mind to write the blog.” But as my activism developed I felt less and less willing to hide the fact that I was no longer retired, and as I prepared for my book tour in the spring of ’14 I let a number of trusted friends, patrons and whore sisters in on my secret.
The last step to where I find myself now began last summer; frustrated by the slowness with which I was building a clientele under my work persona, I decided to throw caution to the winds, ditch it and just work under the name I’d so painstakingly built up a reputation under for the previous five years. Since then, what little was left of my anonymity has fallen away or been tossed aside, and I now get as many clients from Twitter and this blog as I do from referrals or my escort ads. I’ve even scheduled an appointment with a gentleman who Googled me after seeing me on KIRO-TV back in January. So in a way, I’ve come full circle: for the first decade, my pragmatic sexual arrangements were conducted under my own name, sans any kind of marketing or work persona; now I’m back to doing everything under the same name, even if it isn’t the one on my birth certificate (nearly all of my friends call me “Maggie” at home), and my work, activism and “real life” are so tangled together as to be nearly indistinguishable. I’ve been charging for my favors in one way or another for over 60% of my life, and I have no plans to stop this side of the grave.
Who did your tits? – practically every doctor client in New Orleans
I love my tits, and I know I’m not alone in that; of all my features, they probably get more compliments and other commentary than any other part of my anatomy (including my hair). But neither I nor genetics nor the gods can take credit for them; the responsible parties were my bank account and an unusually-gifted plastic surgeon whom I silently bless every time someone bestows praise upon what Matisse is pleased to call my “jaw-dropping rack”. And the reason I’m mentioning that now is that it was sixteen years ago today when Grace went, in her words, from “having the only tits in the house to having the smallest”. Yes, today is my tits’ Sweet 16! And though I’m not quite as overwhelmed with them as I was when I first opened my eyes to see them there, I still occasionally catch myself in the mirror and say something like, “Wow, these really are pretty spectacular!” Please excuse the slight – OK, not so slight – vanity, dear reader; you’ve got to recall that I was quite plain in my formative years, and was extremely flat-chested for considerably longer than that. So I hope y’all can forgive me for looking for any excuse to display them, and for occasional jokes like, “Hi, I’m Maggie McNeill and these are my tits.” I’m not really that full of myself, except when I am. Those of you who have never been fortunate enough to see them in all their glory up close and personal will just have to content yourself with a few pictures, at least until you make it out to Seattle and book an appointment. And I promise, I won’t say much more about them after today. Not in the blog, anyhow.
Last week was so incredibly busy I’m amazed I was able to keep up with everything I had to do. I knew at the beginning that it would be busy work-wise because I had a solid schedule of appointments, but I had no way of knowing that on Wednesday the pigs would barge into the lives of Seattle sex workers, uprooting one of our major advertising venues and shitting all over our reputations to the press. Of course, the excuse was “sex trafficking”; Korean sex workers in the area were denied agency, claimed to be “trafficked”, and a number of their clients, bookers and other associates were arrested. Naturally, nobody has seen any of these supposed “victims” or been allowed to talk to them, but the sheriff of King County nonetheless felt qualified to say that the members of SWOP were “delusional” for saying that advertising boards help us to build communities and screen clients. Because obviously, his magical swine-o-vision allows him to see into our lives despite the fact that he was too afraid to allow us into his press conference. But whatever he hoped to achieve by this ham-fisted attempt to shut us up was a failure; by Wednesday night, over 12 hours before his press conference, I had already appeared on not one but TWO local news broadcasts to give our viewpoint, and the sheriff and other officials were flustered and annoyed by several reporters asking them about us and our concerns. Furthermore, when the conference let out we were waiting, and most of the reporters got statements from us (as I detailed in Friday’s column). We’ve had several emergency meetings since Wednesday (the first mere hours after the seizure, ’cause we don’t work 9-5, y’all) and plenty more conversations via email and text; I think I’ve received as many text messages in the past week as I would in a typical month. As a kind of side-effect of all this, I’m even more out now than I was before; on Saturday my pedicurist told me, “I saw you on TV!” But while I’ve been hailed as a badass in my community for saying “I am a prostitute” on TV while standing in a courthouse full of cops, the truth is that I’m really just plain stubborn. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bunch of morally-retarded thugs tell me how to conduct my life or what motivations for sex I’m allowed to have, and I’ll be thrice-damned if I sit by and let credulous ignoramuses slander my sisters and endanger all our livelihoods. I may not be able to win against the colossal machine of prohibition, but by Aphrodite I’m going to go down fighting. And even if they crush me, I’m not going to suffer in silence.
Then, I was inspired;
Now, I’m sad and tired. – Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar
This has been a year of dramatic change in my life, and to a slightly lesser extent in this blog, and so I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised when this column breaks the tradition of New Year’s Eve columns that I maintained for five years. In the past, I would write a thorough synopsis of the year’s events, with copious links to the columns in question; this year, I’m afraid that I have neither the time nor the energy for such an exhaustive reiteration. Whereas I used to prepare non-news columns weeks in advance, now I’m lucky if I’m two days ahead; most of the time it’s only one, and sometimes I hit “schedule” just hours (and in a few cases, mere minutes) before press time. The main reason for this is that my life is a lot busier now: rather than living in semi-retirement on a ranch in the country with an estranged husband and a minimum of face-to-face interaction with others beside Grace, I’m now back to work full time in Seattle with a girlfriend recovering from a severe motorcycle accident, and I have to make a specific effort to get the time and privacy I need to write. That’s why I haven’t managed to get another book out; I’ve only barely managed to keep the blog going, and I can’t recall a time when I was so continually exhausted yet so unable to obtain adequate rest and recuperation. On top of that I’m almost six years older now than when I started – I’ve gone from not-much-past-forty to nearly-fifty in calendar years, and I couldn’t even estimate how much I’ve aged experientially. Barely anything about my life is the same now as it was two Decembers past, and even my self has changed to a point that would cause the Maggie of 2010 to reel in shock. I spend hours every day processing my thoughts, feelings and newly-acquired knowledge, and yet the sheer volume and gravity of the stuff I have to process precludes my getting it all done anytime soon. But if there’s one thing I know with certainty, it’s this: my commitment to the cause of sex worker rights is greater than it has ever been, and if anything it will only increase in the year to come.
And so we wind down toward the end of another year; this will be the last diary column of 2015, and a number of the others will be very short. See, I really AM learning to relax a little. Tomorrow Grace arrives for a Christmas visit, and she’ll be here until January 3rd; that’ll be even more relaxing, because I really do miss her terribly and having her here (even for a little while) will be a great comfort.
SWOP Seattle held several events to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers; the vigil itself was the most meaningful to me, because as I wrote on the day itself I have never attended one before. The attendance was very good despite the cold and rain, and we walked across Pioneer Square under red umbrellas, with volunteers (including me) reading the names and ages of all the sex workers who died by violence in 2015, while everyone else repeated them in chorus. It was very powerful and moving, and I plan to attend every year while I’m here. But for the next couple of weeks, all the group activities I’ll attend will be with my friends and loved ones, and that is just fine with me.