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Like Alix Tichelman -- the high-class call girl who allegedly provided heroin to Google executive Forrest Timothy Hayes, then stood by, sipping wine, while Hayes overdosed on his yacht in the Santa Cruz Harbor -- I was also a sex worker during my twenties. Namely, I worked as a professional dominatrix.
Just like Tichelman, I was tall and thin, with long, black hair, porcelain skin and a heavily made-up face. I was also hard into music, darkness and rebellion. I had been to college, and also came from an upper-middle-class family. I had some modeling on my résumé, and similarly had aspirations to become a writer. I could have ended up like Alix Tichelman -- easily.
Luckily, I didn’t.
Unlike Tichelman, who is now being charged with manslaughter for the crime of providing Hayes with heroin then leaving the scene when he overdosed on the drug, I never engaged in actual sex with my clients. That’s not the job of a dominatrix. The whole submissive male mindset rests on the premise that he isn’t “worthy” of having sex with his dominant.
Still, I tread over similar ground as Tichelman did with Hayes. I had many clients who were wealthy executives, married with children –- supposedly upstanding citizens -- but who led double lives as drug-hungry perverts.
I never supplied the drugs to my clients. They brought them along themselves. At one point, I found myself essentially “baby-sitting” men while they consumed hard drugs. It wasn’t pretty.
One client liked to smoke crack. I’ll call him Dan. Dan was a thirty-something-year-old movie producer whose wife had attended an Ivy League university (he told me her name and I Googled her). She had a law degree. They shared a grand house in the hills of Los Angeles. (So he said.) On the surface Dan seemed like the epitome of success and status. He wasn’t.
The first time I met him, he arrived at the dungeon (the house in which I conducted my sessions) with his bag of crack cocaine in tow. He had a glass pipe with which to smoke the drug and a torch with which to light it up. I agreed to carry out the session because he told me how much he would pay me: $10,000 for six hours of work.
I told him I didn’t want to smoke the drug with him. He said all I had to do was to sit passively in fetish clothes while he did. Easy peasy.
Not so much.
The fumes were disgusting and gave me a headache. Dan became quite agitated toward the end of the session, especially as his crack ran out. I had already entertained the idea that my life could be in danger, but I never once thought about Dan’s life. What if he had a heart attack? What would I have done had he suddenly needed medical attention? What measures would I had taken? Would I have called 911?
I’d like to think I would not have acted as coolly as Tichelman allegedly did, taking a last drink of wine before shutting the blinds over the windows, then fleeing the scene without ever bothering to call 911. I am sure I would have been freaking out. I’d also like to think I would have done something to help Dan. But would I have? In that line of work, you’re not exactly in the business of caring about people. No one cares about you, so why should you care about anyone else?
Dan didn’t care that by bringing drugs into my place of work, he was implicating me in his crime. Nor did he care about the effects on my health of breathing in his crack smoke all day long. Dan didn’t care about his own health.
That’s the problem with such clients. Men like that are the definition of selfishness. Dan didn’t care about me, he didn’t care about himself, he didn’t care about his wife. All he cared about was his high.
About six months later, I chanced running into Dan at an art opening in Hollywood. He immediately approached me. “Are you embarrassed to see me here?” he asked.
“Why should I be embarrassed?” I said.
So I was the one who was supposed to feel shame? But again, that is the mentality of such men. Dan left our session feeling like he had left all his dirt behind –- his drugs, his perversions. He just transferred all that filth onto me. He was the upstanding family man. I was the immoral sex worker.
It’s not my place to judge Hayes, or to presume that I know why he felt the need to call a prostitute for sex and for her to bring him heroin to shoot. It’s also possible that Hayes was able to compartmentalize his life to the extent that he could maintain the semblance of a happy relationship with both his wife and his kids. I also can’t deny that Tichelman (at least as it’s been alleged) acted with the cool demeanor of a sociopath in the face of the Hayes’ overdose. But to paint Tichelman as the sole criminal in the case and Hayes as the innocent family man....
After the experience with Dan, I began to see another client who liked to take drugs, a stock broker, named Bill. His drug of choice was cocaine. All I had to do was show up at his luxury apartment in Beverly Hills in a pair of dirty stockings then perch my toes over his nose while he breathed in the scent of my body odor, every so often moving my feet aside so Bill could snort more cocaine.
For this service I earned $1,000 an hour.
But as Bill never had the cash on him, he paid me by check. I trusted him, because I had been referred to him by a friend of mine, another dominatrix, and that was how he had always paid her.
Bill never put my real name on the check. The idea was that he wasn’t supposed to know my real name, so he left that space blank. But the concept that my identity could remain a secret... All Bill had to do was look at his statement to find out what my real name was. I can’t believe I was so stupid.
After seeing Bill for about a year, I finally got a phone call from a detective asking to know more about the nature of our relationship. My name was all over Bill’s bank statement. Why?
Though working as a dominatrix is not necessarily illegal in the state of California, it’s not totally legal either. I didn’t want to take any more chances. The detective wouldn’t tell me exactly what kind of trouble Bill was in, but one phone call from the cops was enough to scare me into finding another line of business.
There is just something too sketchy about doing sex work with men who take hard drugs. Such men can’t be controlled. They’re wild cards. With a guy like that, anything can happen. In Tichelman’s case, it did.
Luckily I escaped the same fate.