Jef Poskanzer (jef) Sat 22 Sep 01 23:25
20 minutes! Geez. I'd spend half that time just getting undressed and dressed again. Do you think that there are girls who specialize in kissing, just like some other unusual kinks like anal or S/M?
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 23 Sep 01 00:02
So a call girl is much more of a business woman than a sex addict, it sounds like. One thing I've always wondered, and which your book doesn't touch on - not that it should! - is are there male professionals, too, available for women? I've always thought there should be, but it seems like it would be much harder to do, no pun intended.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Sun 23 Sep 01 09:12
Jef, it doesn't really take 20 minutes to get dressed and undressed. It just *seems* to. As for the girls who do put kissing on the menu... It's more of a flourish, not a specialty item. Where there are code words for the activities you mentioned -- and you will see these code/slang terms in some of the raunchier advertisements for the sex trade -- I have never seen a reference to kissing in a sex ad. (Have you?) Even though Nancy Chan makes a big thing in the novel -- a class-distinction fetish -- out of *not* advertising, the reality is that sex ads tell us a lot about what makes people tick. I'm talking about some of the ads in adult weeklies, or the notorious London phone booth cards which have been in the news lately. (The phone booths of London are often chock full of these hilarious colorful ads and tourists collect them like baseball cards, but the police have been trying to clean up the phone booths...)
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Sun 23 Sep 01 16:59
>One thing I've always wondered, and which your book doesn't touch >on - not that it should! - is are there male professionals, too, >available for women? Yes, for sure. In the Salon series, there's a miniplot -- when Jasmine met David -- about a male escort who is so discreet, so good at blending in, that nobody suspects his true calling. By coincidence I had lunch today with a good friend who was the inspiration for David's character! We met at a PONY meeting some time ago and became pals. My feeling, after listening to many of his stories, is that "David" (the real version) has to be incredibly diplomatic and compassionate to succeed at what he does. The women he sees are realistic and worldly but they can also get attached and feel possessive... there are many more nuances to what he does. I have to say, as a sex worker, I take my hat off to this guy for managing the sexual and emotional isues presented by all these different ladies ...Men are way easy, by comparison! http://www.salon.com/health/sex/urge/chan/1999/11/22/nancy38/index.html
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 23 Sep 01 18:49
Wow, I had no idea. My hat's off to him, too. So, how does the average citizen go about finding someone, assuming that, like Nancy, she has a book, and a network who provide referrals, and that basically you'd want to avoid someone who advertised in the yellow pages. I read a lot more of the book today, still not quite finished, but did get to the part about how Jason turns out to be Allison's "friend" - that was quite a shock - and then copped out with a "bug" at the following night's dinner. The story is really good and is keeping me captivated.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Sun 23 Sep 01 19:12
Thanks, Linda... music to my ears!! "Finding someone" ... along the same lines as Nancy? Or David? I know that the real "David" got into business by way of working as a Chippendales type dancer -- when he was in college. Now, I think, he meets his contacts by word of mouth -- though I think that is also tricky because some of his contacts are so possessive. So I guess they are not so quick to give his number out! Double standard alert: I'm skirting around the word "customer" because I've never once heard him use this term. In fact, one of the first questions that came up when I met him was "What do you call a woman who pays you?" His answer: "A friend." The exchange is less blunt. Linda, I'm wondering how you yourself would feel about being called a customer if you were paying for sex?
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 23 Sep 01 22:35
Depends on how good the sex is. %^) I don't know. I think I'd prefer "client." But "customer" doesn't bother me a whole lot. About find them. Well, of course, being female, I'd want to know about finding "David" but I imagine our readers might also want to know how to find "Nancy." And what if a female reader wanted to find "Nancy"? Is that out of the question?
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 00:28
Not out of the question but certainly atypical! Some call girls are more bisexual than others and will visit married couples. I'm using the term married rather loosely. (Sometimes I have found that the man and woman entertaining a call girl are married -- just, not to each other!)I think it's conceivable that Nancy could have seen a single woman when she was working escort -- that's been known to happen. But in her current circumstance, it's more likely that she would meet a woman on a "couple call."
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 00:39
I want to say that, while Nancy the fictional character is a snob about all forms of advertising, you have to be a fairly together person to run an ad in the Yellow Pages. I don't think it's an advertising medium that attracts a fly-by-night person, whatever the industry... So a person running such an ad might be as talented as Nancy -- just not as privately connected.
Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Mon 24 Sep 01 06:35
Tracy, do you want to say something about the extent to which call girls are moving onto the Web? I'm wondering if the New York magazine and Village Voice ads are someday going to be wholly superseded by online advertising, facilitated by search engines and online-review services. Nancy is clearly not going to part of that first wave of early adopters, but it seems likelier that Allison might (she's always following trends), or that Jasmine might (she might object to the medium, but she also is focused on going where the money and business is). Also, could you say something about the differences between writing the serial and writing the novel? I think some people are under the impression that the novel is an adaptation of the serial, but they wee different forms and different challenges, weren't they?
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 10:18
The book literally picks up the plot where the series ended -- when her boyfriend Matt proposes marriage, still knowing nothing about Nancy's job, and Nancy asks herself: "Can I get away with this??" In the book, Nancy isn't yet living with Matt but she's already feeling the high tension of leading a double life at close proximity to him. They are planning a wedding but something in her resists the finality of marriage. His family is closing in on her, a quality some in-laws have. I would argue that these are problems a lot of people wrestle with when they know how to be single yet wish to be married. In all professions and for both sexes. (I know an engaged couple going through this right now, and neither party is a sex worker -- but the freedom that comes with being alone is undermining their marriage plans.) Marriage is like this beacon or what have you, which people like Nancy are attracted to, but something starts to tug at us internally. In many ways, she is a freer, more selfish, person than Matt -- she indulges in her freedom privately, in secret, which makes her even freer to do as she pleases ... and she makes up her own life as she goes along which is something successful teen runaways know how to do. So the book is as much about the problems of being single as it is about being a prostitute. On a more practical note, the energy of writing a book is different from a weekly column. I developed what was surely the precursor to carpal tunnel syndrome while finishing my book, had no life for periods of time and literally forgot a manicure appointment on one occasion -- which made me feel ashamed and idiotic. The column did not have this disruptive effect on my life, it was easier to control. The book was more like a bulldozer, controlling and ruling my emotional and physical life. Does that sound melodramatic??
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 10:26
Mnemo, I will say more about the sex ads in a bit ... I am currently helping to plan a panel discussion on prostitution with some people from New York University and PONY. Deadlines for that are looming...so I will return to Inkwell later this afternoon! Looking forward to it! BTW, if anyone here happens to be in New York, the event is October 2. More later.
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Sep 01 11:29
E-mail from Cindy Wales: A question for Tracy Quan : It seems that you live with the illegality of your actions by believing that they should be legal. How do you live with the ethical problems involved, for example, having sex with other womens' husbands? Does it ever keep you awake at night?
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Sep 01 11:30
<scribbled by castle Mon 24 Sep 01 12:05>
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Sep 01 12:05
E-mail from Anthony Cagle: Hi Tracy! An earlier response dealt with the whole kissing aspect: "Kissing is rather special and it just would not feel right, physically, to be kissing so many people in a given day or week! " I have read something like this before, regarding prostitutes who refuse to kiss because it is "too intimate", and some even refusing face-to-face intercourse for similar reasons. Do you think this has to do more with perhaps an avoidance of *eye* contact, rather than one of simple lip contact? Do johns try to avoid eye contact? Eyes are, perhaps, a person's most distinctive feature -- "mirror of the soul" and all that -- and it seems to me that is a way in which one would distance one's self in what would ordinarily be very intimate contact.
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Sep 01 12:06
Response 39 scribbled and reposted by request of the e-mail sender who asked that his .sig info be removed.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 13:15
Q: "It seems that you live with the illegality of your actions by believing that they should be legal." A: Not exactly. I do believe the laws should change. However, I also think prostitutes in this culture should be emotionally prepared for illegality. If you go into the sex trade, you need to be strong enough to handle everything from hatred to illegality -- two very different things, because one is emotional and the other official. That's also the conflict between the more traditional pros and the new age activist pros, between girls like Jasmine and girls like Allison. Jasmine thinks that any hooker who can't handle being illegal is an amateur. Allison, however, wants to make the world a safer place for the "amateurs." Q:"How do you live with the ethical problems involved, for example, having sex with other womens' husbands? Does it ever keep you awake at night?" Yes, that is to say: most hookers are forced to ask themselves some very tough questions about sexual fidelity. I don't think the question is ever resolved -- especially if you're a working girl who has herself experienced marriage, love, jealousy or sexual complication. Many call girls have a double standard -- like straying guys who want to believe their women are faithful. One approach is to face the fact that my own partner might have sex with a professional. Live by the sword, etc. As a former pro, that doesn't bother me -- not much. But it *would* bother me if his sexual straying were the result of unhappiness in the marriage -- and perhaps I would still prefer not to know about it, even if it were just a diversion. Call girls and madams view men as commodities and we generally see wives as the ultimate owners -- a prostitute who might sell a client to another or "steal" a client from a madam would still shy away from doing anything to remotely piss off his wife. This is regarded as sacred territory. How do you live with the ethical problems involved, for example, having sex with other womens' husbands? Does it ever keep you awake at night?
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 13:29
Sorry about the bad cut and paste job above! Q: "Do you think [the taboo against kissing] has to do more with perhaps an avoidance of *eye* contact, rather than one of simple lip contact? Do johns try to avoid eye contact?" It's true -- there are sexual positions and activities which do not involve a lot of face-to-face contact, and these are popular in the profession. In fact, I'll admit that this topic makes me slightly uncomfortable because eye contact is such a personal matter! (But that is not to say it should be avoided; I am just "sharing" as the fictional Allison might say.) There are different forms of eye contact. I would say that johns and hookers specialize in the more playful variety. It's not possible to avoid it completely -- that would be creepy! Sex between commercial partners can be warm and friendly, rather than deep and romantic. A prostitute continues to flirt throughout the sex act -- making the kind of eye contact that a woman might make from across a crowded room. But she's in bed. Lovers do not often do this if they are deeply involved. (Do they?)
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Sep 01 15:03
To me it just sounds like how you behave when at work, being different from how you behave when you're not at work. I think it applies, to a greater or lesser degree, whatever the profession. You draw the line where you feel its comfortable and then stay on your side. Changing the subject a little bit, I'd like to mention that I have gotten an e-mail taking me to task for having this interview at "a time like this." Perhaps I'm just more open-minded than most, but it sure seems to me that if we are to get on with life, then sex, no matter with whom you have it, it certainly a part of life, and should be gotten on with. I'd be interested to know if you have any reply to that, Tracy, or if anyone else feels like they want to weigh in on the subject.
Jef Poskanzer (jef) Mon 24 Sep 01 15:32
Tracy and I actually talked about that on the afternoon of the 11th. Not whether it would be appropriate to talk about sex, but whether it would be appropriate to talk about anything at all besides the attack. While it is obviously still on everyone's mind, my call then and now was that life goes on.
Bedroom eyes, dining room lips (drsmith) Mon 24 Sep 01 16:08
I think that was a good call. The best things one can do at a time like this are to (a) give to an appropriate charity, and (b) refuse to let recent events destroy all life as we know it.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 17:11
I think drsmith is right and a person has to be productive to be philanthropic. So, those of us who are feeling cheerful enough and stable enough to get on with our lives really must! My work, at present, is about making people aware of my book. I cannot contribute anything to society if I cease to be productive and I am acutely aware of this! I'm all for shutting down activities or discussions for legitimate *security* reasons -- if they want to close theatres and restaurants and have a curfew or a black-out for reasons of military security, I will certainly cooperate. But there is no reason to stop playing cheerful music or dealing with sexual reality if it's just a symbolic gesture to people's feelings about a catastrophic event. When I lived in London there were bombs going off and people got killed -- but the theatres didn't cease to function, people just had to deal with it. And the prostitutes didn't stop working, either because like everybody else they had a living to make. It is not as if I am lying in a hospital with half my arm blown off. Nor have I been laid off by an airline and nor do I have to apply for government aid to get back on my feet after seeing my home turned into rubble. In fact, I feel a bit of guilt about letting my productivity and promotion of my book go off-course for about ten days after the catastrophe when other people are truly devastated. I did lose some of my concentration and so did other friends of mine who are freelancers -- and sex workers. We have to be very self-motivated. New York is filled with such people, by the way, people who work hard at some freelance endeavor. I think that point of view -- no frivolity or humor or naughty sex "at a time like this" -- is the minority viewpoint in New York right now. Our entertainment economy -- restaurants, bars, theatres, fashionable clothing, commercial sex --is very important to our survival!
Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Mon 24 Sep 01 17:55
Tracy, you never did answer my question about Web advertising and outreach to new clients. As you recall, my prediction was that Jasmine and Allison would move to the Web (for different reasons!), but that Nancy wouldn't. Am I right about this?
Crystal Blues (sangfroid) Mon 24 Sep 01 18:43
Perhaps the profession is more ethical when the workers aren't forced into it by pimps and panderers?
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Sep 01 18:57
No, I think Allison might be tempted but she's not really tough enough to go online and screen out all those guys -- it takes a certain kind of nerve to advertise, similar to the nerve required to work on the street. Allison is too suburban and soft to deal with all that. Jasmine would never advertise because she's a former drug dealer -- she knows too much about the dangers of getting busted. Jasmine realizes she could be subject to all sorts of ramped up charges due to interstate activity and goodness knows what else if she picked up clients on the Web. Instead, she would invest in another black book -- or buy a ticket to a high-profile charity event where she could collect business cards from the wealthier donors ... a practice she promotes in the novel, when she tries to turn Nancy into *her* sidekick. (Author note: To no avail.) As for Nancy, she might shy away from the Web for aesthetic reasons. Those escort ads on the Web with the faces blanked out and the gals in their come-hither outfits give poor Nancy the creeps! There is something grotesque and deeply unfeminine about these faceless bodies -- this is not a stylish approach to secrecy, in Nancy's view. Before there was a Web, Nancy worked for a dubious operation that advertised elsewhere. She took her share of risks as a teenager and now she wants her life to be as pretty as possible.
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