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.