Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Fri 21 Dec 01 18:32
<correspond> asks: "Is one place better? What is the worst place and why? Is there something special about New York?" I don't know anything about LA or Vegas prostitution -- so I can't comment. I am a New Yorker at this point and I can't imagine doing this job anywhere else. In reality, I know that there are sex workers all over the US and all over the world. But this is my home and I don't think I would do this in a town where I don't feel "at home." I think, also, New York became my home *because* of the sex business. So, for me, being a prostitute was a stabilizing force -- emotionally and geographically. Prostitution made it possible for me to say that "any place I hang my hat is home" and this where I created a home. I've never turned tricks in another US city and can't imagine doing it.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Sat 22 Dec 01 00:07
"Christmas Day or Christmas Eve a particularly busy time for hookers?" Not especially, in my experience. But sometimes there is a bit of largesse happening right around that time of year. Some clients pop by for a visit just before the holiday, perhaps as a way to prepare for that block of family time. And Xmas is, of course, end of the year bonus time. I think, in Manhattan, with so many different religions competing or coexisting, it's actually easier to think of this as just another day. (I say this *despite* the ridiculous traffic jams and shopper gridlock and pilgrimages to the Rock Center tree.)Christmas is really the time of year when hookers take care of their own support staff, as it were. Doormen, housekeepers, beauticians -- all the people who help us to stay in business or run a smoother operation -- this is when we can reward them without seeming to corrupt them with a piece of the pie. It's really a very handy holiday.
Joseph Dowdy (correspond) Sat 22 Dec 01 00:55
That's an interesting comment about "support staff" that you make. I'm sure you would have to deal with their feelings about what you do and ask that it not become something personal. Has that ever put you in a jam? I can't imagine what it would be like if you had to get your hair done in a hurry and the person you sit with doesn't like you because of what you do...or that you are "rumored" to do. It would make me want to not say a word about what I do to anyone who might intimate my line of work if it wasn't above board. Myself and other friends in the computer business find it very awkward just discussing the possibility of running a porno website. "How do you introduce yourself?" seems to be the biggest bugaboo. Ha!
Joseph Dowdy (correspond) Sat 22 Dec 01 00:58
...and thanks for popping back in! Merry Christmas and have a very happy New Year!
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Sun 23 Dec 01 00:14
Thanks <correspond> for your Xmas greetings. We had a holiday benefit for PONY on Tuesday the 18th and it went quite well -- SRO! This gets back to what you said in #153: what if you have to get your hair done in a hurry and the person doesn't like you because you are a prostitute or are "rumored" to be one? In fact, I find that there is a lot of good will toward prostitutes and I rarely meet people who don't like sex workers. The other night, I saw a range of people -- not in the industry -- who came out to support our cause. I want to add that doormen, cab drivers, housekeepers, hair stylists, beauticians, bartenders, restaurant staff, personal trainers -- they view us as regular people, like them. A beauty professional knows what it's like to take care of other people's needs and does not look down on you for making a living with your body! People in service industries are not a highly judgemental or uptight lot -- they see much more than they admit and know what life is about. That's a generalization, of course, but I find it to be true. Most people in service professions or jobs also have a practical attitude -- it's pointless to look down on a customer. That would ultimately be self-hating since the customer keeps you in business. Hostility toward hookers is generally found among people who do NOT deal with hookers in their day to day life -- people for whom prostitutes are alien beings.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Sun 23 Dec 01 00:40
I also forgot to answer this question about writing that you posted earlier: "I have been conflicted about using a pen name, thought about what my family would think if they read it and what my friends would think and how my girlfriend would react. How did you deal with [these factors]? How did these influence what you wrote?" I wrote whatever I wanted and sometimes allowed myself to believe my parents, former boyfriends and god knows who else would never read the book. Whenever I was nervous about what they would think, I had to use the material. I decided the work was more important than any other person in my life and proceeded on this basis. I took some painful moments in my personal life and totally played with them -- in ways that might well offend those who were there in real time. But if the situation were reversed, I would NOT be offended -- I'd be flattered -- so that made it okay. I sometimes wonder if certain people are pissed off about the story I've written but I'd rather wonder about it than have the regret of not writing it. I also decided that people who can't deal with that aspect of knowing a writer shouldn't know me -- whether they are relatives, friends or boyfriends. This may sound brutal, but who wants to read stuff that was written in order NOT to offend your mom, husband, wife, kids, or best friend? Even your best friend doesn't want to read that!
Joseph Dowdy (correspond) Sun 23 Dec 01 22:58
Thanks for the answers! The answer to your last question reminds me of a quote from Muhammed Ali (paraphrasing) that he always asked for advice, but never asked for permission. However, I don't think that he is as vulnerable to lawsuits as writers are. There is no such thing as "libel" for boxing, although I suppose that in a litigous society that could happen. I wonder how often people get sued for this kind of stuff anymore? Comment? Also, it occurs to me that some prostitutes and sex workers may have very absurd views about AIDS and the risk of exposure. Do you find that to be true? Do prostitutes insist on using condoms for fellatio? Are there ever situations when prostitutes you know would just not use a condom when a doctor who deals with AIDS patients would advise them that they should?
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Dec 01 10:40
Actually, many prostitutes use condoms in situations where other people (including doctors) would not bother. When I was working, I had a few clients who were doctors and they were not the most careful!I was the one who had to police the situation. Doctors are famously flakey and many have drug/alcohol problems.
democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Mon 24 Dec 01 13:01
A while back, mnemonic and I had an argument about the ethics of cheeking condoms (I said it was always permissible but he said it was unethical if done deceptively and counted as a breach of contract or something). Do you have an opinion on this, Tracy? Is this an odd question?
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Mon 24 Dec 01 23:23
It may be that mnemonic's sense of humor is different from yours. I would have to know the context in order to say more about that. When you use a term like "permissible"... I'm curious to know: permissible by whom? If we're talking about prostitution in New York state, it's part of the informal economy. So who decides what is permissible? The prostitute? The state? The random voyeur? This is mysterious!
Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 25 Dec 01 05:33
I don't recall the details of my discussion with ludlow, but it seems to me that his question is likely omitting a whole lot of context, perhaps intentionally in order to be provocative. Not impossibly, ludlow's original discussion was predicated on the assumption that prostitutes don't have the ability to negotiate over condom use, and so are compelled to be deceptive about it. Certainly deception is not unethical, in my view, if in fact one is compelled to be deceptive. And it seems to me that there are also circumstances in which a client might want to be "deceived" about condom use -- in which he's buying into an illusion of unsafe sex, and both prostitute and client are aware on some level that the illusion is part of the deal. But I'm perhaps not so quick as ludlow to buy into the mythology of prostitute as most likely a powerless victim in desperate straits, compelled to lie about condom use, or otherwise face starvation. Or at least not when we're talking about prostitutes in our particular culture. So the original disagreement was probably less about the ethics of condom use than about the presumption that prostitutes are typically powerless to negotiate.
Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Tue 25 Dec 01 05:52
I should add that I'm flattered TQ knows my sense of humor well enough to suspect I might be using legal or ethical arguments to tease ludlow into surfacing his assumptions about the relative negotiating power of prostitutes.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Tue 25 Dec 01 06:31
Happy Christmas to all! People make a big thing out of condom use -- as if men are conspiring to get condomless sex from hookers everywhere they go. These are a minority of customers, I think. If you look at countries where condoms aren't in use, it's often because people can't afford the condoms. So, once the condoms are available or affordable, the problem is resolved. We don't have to assume that the customer is trying to take advantage of a prostitute's economic disadvantage -- in fact, many customers in those situations are also rather poor. In Calcutta, there's a prostitute's cooperative that buys condoms at the best price so that they'll be affordable -- they also pool their money for other things. These aren't the high-living courtesans but rather the hard-working brothel prostitutes in the red-light area who face a lot of discrimination and adversity. In many ways, the prostitutes' movement there is far ahead of our own here. They have bigger membership numbers. Outside of the US, in other countries, the most visible prostitutes with less to lose are often the leading activists.
democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Tue 25 Dec 01 08:11
The context for the great condom-cheeking debate was ethics 28 from post 100 on (the topic was also linked to eff). In rereading it I note that Mike makes reference to a former sex worker involved with PONY, so maybe that was you, Tracy. In fact, a lot of the thread turned on whether prostitutes are sometimes coerced into not using condoms, but there were other issues involved. By "permissible" I simply meant "morally permissible" in the abstract. I didn't mean it in the sense of legally or culturally permitted. By the way, I'm only just now reading the book, which is fantastic. After doing my required (for work) reading I usually can't stand to read anything, but this one is easy to pick up and hard to put down.
Joseph Dowdy (correspond) Tue 25 Dec 01 11:48
I had always imagined that there are prostitutes somewhere in places like New York that are paid significantly higher amounts of money to have condomless sex because they are guaranteed to not have STDs by their madam or whatever service or broker they use. I know that if I was a multimillionaire and I wanted a regular prostitute that I would pay enough money so that she is kept, which I know of someone who does that BTW, and so is it just fantasy (or just my "writer's version of New York") that such women exist. And also, what's up with that whole scene from Eyes Wide Shut with the secret sex society and all that. I can see that actually happening, but not to that degree (number of people, number of good-looking rich guys, etc.). It's like the reality of nudist resorts...the ones that go are usually the ones that you wouldn't want to see there. :) (Merry Christmas all!)
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Tue 25 Dec 01 15:21
<ludlow> I'm glad you enjoy the book. More than anything, I would like people to have a good time with this story. In answer to your comment about what "permissible" means, thank you for clarifying. I'm a pragmatic sort, as are most hookers, and the abstract dimensions of condom use have never been my thing. Other people may have lots to say about that but I have to admit -- I'm drawing a blank here! I'd be more concerned about whether sneaking a condom on compromises the effectiveness of the condom in any way. (Teeth, emollients from lip gloss, storage temperature, stuff like that.) <correspond>, most men who deal with private madams aren't multi-grillionaires --but they're affluent men who go to the gym, visit the doctor routinely, plan for the future, own property, eat healthy food. Many of these guys take very good care of their bodies. They're accustomed to being around high-maintenace women who take vitamins and all that. They are attracted to well-groomed, healthy women who take good care of themselves. Using a condom is part of that lifestyle. As for having a permanent exclusive commercial sex partner, that's more often a fantasy than a reality. Most men go to prostitutes because they want sex without commitment. There are many more johns than sugardaddies.
Joseph Dowdy (correspond) Tue 25 Dec 01 18:04
A local TV news show aired some highlights of an interview with Heidi Fleiss about a new video about her where she talks about "the business" and offers a bunch of other insights into the "Hollywood sex scene" and made some interesting statements. She said that whatever you can imagine is going on in Hollywood is not just happening, but it's happening almost around the clock and much kinkier than you can imagine. Any comments? (By the way, I'm sure there are many more johns than sugardaddies.) Did you ever wish you had one? This German guy that I know pays a girl in New York about $5,000 a month so that he can see her when he is in town and sometimes she goes on vacations with him. I don't know if he found her through a service. Since he's a fat guy, at least 300 pounds, I'm not so sure that he'd make a great sugardaddy. How choosy can prostitutes get when some fat guy wants a girl for a night? Do they tell their madam they don't do fat guys?
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Tue 25 Dec 01 21:16
Just got back from a Christmas dinner with some friends -- one of whom told me she had seen my name on Page 6 of the December 25 New York Post! In the "Sightings" column. I feel like a real New Yorker now. :)
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Tue 25 Dec 01 22:30
And here's the link -- good until 12/31 or so. http://www.pagesix.com/seven/12252001/pagesix/36708.htm
democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Wed 26 Dec 01 06:16
Page six of the post! (Christmas day, no less.) Too cool!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 26 Dec 01 06:24
We always knew you were destined for stardom, Tracy!
Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Fri 28 Dec 01 21:08
The Page Six piece can be found at <http://www.pagesix.com/seven/12252001/pagesix/36708.htm>, at least for right now.
Tracy Quan (tracyquan) Sat 29 Dec 01 13:02
Thanks, Mike!! I just found out, also, that an interview I did in DC is up at <http://www.eyeonbooks.com> A faster way to get there is the title index: <http://www.eyeonbooks.com/fiction4x.html#td> In the New Year, here is what January-Feb looks like: a profile in Taiwan Next (Chinese language weekly), an interview in DOJO magazine, something in Visao (a Portuguese news weekly) and a segment on Candice Bergen's new cable show (Oxygen Media)... I will also be on the radio at 6 am next Sunday Jan 6 in Philadelphia (WIP-AM 610)and a feature about the book in Yahoo Internet Life. In March, Florent-Massot will come out with the French edition of "Diary" -- exciting to see already on French Amazon "Le journal d'une call girl" ISBN: 2845880456 But they did not mention the translator yet: Dov Rueff who is also responsible for making Dave Barry accessible to Francophones. Anyway, my website is a good place to keep up with all this news: www.tracyquan.net and I'm looking forward to 2002!
Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Thu 18 Apr 02 10:32
April 18, 2002 Star Dials Up 'Call Girl' Picture By REUTERS Filed at 4:15 a.m. ET NEW YORK (Variety) - ``Sex and the City'' creator Darren Star is sticking to a familiar subject, but this time he's taking it to the big screen. Star will adapt and direct Tracy Quan's book ``Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl: A Nancy Chan Novel'' for Sony-based Revolution Studios. The book is based on Quan's successful Salon.com column. It centers on the diary of Chan, a call girl who lives and works on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The picture will be a comedic take on the behind-the-scenes world of the oldest profession. Star, whose other credits include ``Beverly Hills, 90210'' and ``Melrose Place,'' created and worked on ``Sex and the City'' for the show's first two seasons. He subsequently created Fox's ''The Street.''
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 18 Apr 02 12:11
Congratulations to Tracy!!!
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