I used to sell sex.
I have been called a pimp numerous times, however the title of madam is the one that has stuck with me for the last part of my life. I know these titles elicit a wide array of emotions, most notably hatred, because people assume that I forced women to sell themselves and put them in bad situations.
Before you judge, I am writing this to break some of those preconceived notions and give you a first-hand account of the my experience in the sex industry and what the life of a madam is actually like.
I was a madam for close to five years. I ran New York’s most successful escort agency and at its height I employed over 120 women. I had five apartments in Manhattan, and permanent locations in Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Miami, Las Vegas and California. Throughout those five years, I worked with well over 500 women and interviewed at least 1,000 prospective candidates. I charged a minimum of $1,000 per hour, and my top model commanded a $12,500 minimum just to see her. My company grossed millions of dollars and paid taxes. I was arrested in 2008 for my connection with then New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was one of my agency's clients, though not one of its top clients.
My client list holds over 10,000 names (I still have it) and consisted of top athletes, high-ranking politicians, Wall Street CEOs and movie stars.
My first introduction to the sex industry was during my job as a trading assistant at a hedge fund. My boss was the firm’s top trader. I was hired to ensure the timely processing of his stock trades, however a good part of my day was spent handling his personal issues (i.e., catering to whatever whim he had to make sure he kept making the firm money). Whenever my boss had a big stock win, he would celebrate by going to Las Vegas. Most of his trips centered around his entertainment, which was in the form of spending time with hired models — AKA escorts. I would book my boss's trip with his VIP host and was given the task of securing photos and bios of prospective women for him to spend time with. My boss talked about these women openly at the office, and the other men at the firm often did the same.
In the comments on my last post, readers assumed that my boss and the other men at the firm spoke negatively about these women. However, that is entirely incorrect. My boss booked escorts when he had a financial success; these women were correlated to success in the minds of these executives. When you won big in the stock market — you celebrated. The men looked forward to their time spent with these women. They would often take them shopping and out to the best restaurants, shows, nightclubs. These women were treated very well and received a generous compensation for their time.
My boss spoke very highly about these women, bragged about them, bragged about what gifts he bought for them and where he took them — in a positive way. He remained friends with many of them and would send them money for bills or education needs. And this is not an isolated way of thinking. In my experience, most of the clients of my former agency felt the same way.
One of the biggest preconceived notions people have is that all women who work as prostitutes are forced into it, and that the men who spend time with them are using them and degrading and devaluing them. The above scenario exists, but is not always the case.
As a madam, I ran my business with the same mind-set my boss had. I expected the men to treat my girls well. Money was exchanged for companionship and girls were encouraged to set their own boundaries. I was picky about my clientele — I expected them to value the girls and be appreciative. I trained my phone bookers on how to evaluate clientele over the phone and determine who gets an appointment and who does not. I turned down many potential bookings because they just did not feel right — or because they did not meet my screening protocol.
I ran my business like a business. I carefully interviewed the women who wanted to work for me, I used the yearly 1099’s, paid taxes and had a management team in place for problems and to ensure smooth daily operations. The women had flexible schedules with “calling on” when they wanted to work, and I tried my best to allocate calls to all of the girls so that everyone made money. Many of my girls made over $10,000 per week for a couple of nights' of work.
The girls who worked for me did so by choice. None of them were forced to do anything and they could leave a booking at anytime if it did not feel right or they were uncomfortable. These bookings happened behind closed doors. The girls were not forced to stand on a street corner or disclose their real identities at any time. They went to bookings in jeans or slacks and a nice sweater. The more demure and unnoticeable, the better. Clients did not want the girls attracting unnecessary attention, and neither did I.
The women who worked for me were beautiful, smart and funny — and they had goals. Many of them had college degrees and were trying to pay off debt or were artists pursuing a dream. Many of these women viewed their roles in the sex industry as empowering because they were working toward a goal or because the money they made helped better their life.
I am in no way trying to minimize the dark side of prostitution. I spent four years working with sex-trafficked women in my nonprofit, Hope House, and have seen both sides of this industry. However, that is a topic for another post. It is my ultimate hope that we can decriminalize prostitution so that the women working have legal protection under the law.
Much of the abuse and violence in this industry occurs because women are afraid to report crimes against them for fear of being jailed. Decriminalization would allow them to call the police without fear of backlash and would ensure the police help them. There are many sides to the sex industry, and I am giving you my first-hand experience in dealing with hundreds of women and thousands of clients on a high-end level.
In my next post, I will give you a look into what a “normal” day was like as a madam.