Dec. 23, 1999
Wednesday, October 27
Allison was more than happy to tell us about Roxana Blair, her latest mentor. "Come to Roxana's workshop on Sunday," Allie proposed. "I'd like you both to experience" -- there was a beatific pause -- "the healing force in my life."
Roxana is an ex-hooker who runs a series of workshops -- Retrieving the Lost Slut is one of them -- in the East Village. Jasmine was unimpressed by Allison's descriptions.
"A bunch of whiny chicks looking for their G-spots," she said. "If it's that hard to find, maybe it's not worth the trouble. That's something I learned on my second Easter-egg hunt -- at the age of 5! Your friend Roxana has these women convinced they'll be totally unfulfilled if they don't shell out $100 to join her vaginal search party. Well, she's obviously better at hustling other women than she is at doing business with men! And what makes her think she can represent hookers?"
"She's empowering women by helping to heal the Madonna-whore disorder in this culture. We all have a goddess within us -- "
"So, do you get a discount when you bring extra bodies to this New-Age pussy klatch? Like at the health club?"
"I'll share the discount between us three -- "
"Aha. Well, I know where everything is, thanks. Nancy doesn't need a tour guide, either, to locate her -- "
"You don't speak for Nancy," Allison interrupted.
"I, uh, can't take off my panties in a room like that with a lot of women I don't even know," I explained, tactfully.
"But this is how we all get to know each other!" Allison said.
"It's on Avenue A," I pointed out. "You know I get a nosebleed when I go to the East Village. And Sunday's Halloween! The traffic down there will be awful!" To appease Allie, I promised to consider meeting Roxana -- over dinner, perhaps.
Thursday, October 28
This morning, in preparation for Milton's appointment, I called Allie: "Don't forget to bring your strap-on," I reminded her.
"I, um, threw it out last summer because of Zack," she explained. She didn't want her meddlesome ex-boyfriend to find it. "And I haven't replaced it. These phallic sex toys are so disempowering ... for men, too! Masculinity is in crisis, you know."
"Milton's masculinity is not in crisis," I said. I was tempted to boast about the large, reassuring envelope he recently delivered. "He just likes to watch two girls playing around with a dildo. It's something he doesn't do at home."
"Well," she said, "what happened to your strap-on?"
I didn't want to admit that I threw mine out, too -- my boyfriend had been spending too much time in my apartment. After all the lectures I've given Allison about how to keep a boyfriend at bay, the truth might sound a little wimpy. Talk about a masculinity crisis.
"It got scuffed by some boxes when I was tidying up," I lied. "I'll go out and get a new one."
Yesterday's appointment went better than expected. When the buzzer rang, I warned Allison: "We're going straight into the bedroom. No talking! We'll discuss all your interesting new ideas after Milt leaves." The subject of goddesses and disempowered dildo-worshippers never came up.
Allison did most of the work, so it was a bit like a paid vacation. But I found myself missing the very thing I once gave Milt such a hard time about -- kissing. Our sessions alone have been less lewd, more tender. Watching me plunder Allison with a dildo satisfies his need for variety. I never thought I could have tender feelings for a guy who wants me to wear something so vulgar and silly as a strap-on ... how on earth did this happen?
After Milt left, Allison tried to convince me that I should meet Roxana this weekend -- to discuss a four-day conference they'll both be attending in San Francisco.
"Sex Working the Millennium -- SWIM for short," she explained. "Roxana's a very talented performance artist and everyone's coming to see her one-woman slide show. She says Anabel Weston might be the keynote speaker. She wants everyone to show support for Anabel and she'll make sure you get the conference rate on your hotel room."
"Why does Roxana want me there? She's never even met me," I said, wrinkling my nose. "And why does she want me to get involved with some tacky madam from California who advertises? Anabel Weston's caused a lot of trouble for me, indirectly. I don't even know her and I'd like to keep it that way." I stripped the work sheet off my bed and bundled it up, then gathered all the condom wrappers for the trash. "It's wonderful that you've found something you really care about, Allie, but I don't want or need to be part of this."
"Yes, yes, you do," Allie insisted. "You just don't realize it. We're fortunate to have worked for a madam like Liane because she never had to advertise. But Anabel wasn't so lucky. There's a whole world of other kinds of working girls out there ..."
"You're telling me!" I exclaimed, taking the strap-on apart. "Why do you think I spent 10 years building up my book? So I could avoid that world!"
Allison never worked for an escort service. She doesn't realize that Anabel's is a hi-tech version of the tacky operation I worked for when I first came to New York. Why should I be dragged back into the world of Jeannie's Dream Dates? Cocaine dates that end at 4 in the morning? Johns who scour the Yellow Pages -- or worse -- because they don't have private connections?
"Think about it," Allison urged me. "Sitting in jail for 12 years because you ran an escort service -- that's what they're trying to do to Anabel. You said yourself that you didn't want Liane to go to jail. Is Anabel less of a person than Liane, just because she advertises?"
As I massaged the rubber shaft with liquid soap, I thought not of Liane but of Jeannie. Allison wouldn't have lasted five minutes, let alone one hour, working for Jeannie's Dream Dates. One day, Jeannie just called me to say she was closing down, immediately. The day she left New York, I had to move out of a new apartment into a hotel room and put my brand-new furniture in storage. Jeannie didn't know I was 17. Technically, her star escort was underage. Jeannie was in more trouble than she herself realized. Thank God the police never caught up with me -- or with her. I never found out what happened to her.
"I'll meet Roxana," I said finally. "I don't see how I can help Anabel but if she has any ideas ..."
I'll do it for Jeannie, I thought, after Allison left.
Sunday evening, October 31
This Halloween has been a mini-nightmare. Following a vegetarian dinner at Zen Palate with Roxana and Allison, I struggled my way through the throngs of masked revelers hogging the sidewalk and all the cabs. When I finally got home, I fixed myself a much-needed kir. Just as I was sinking into the latest issue of Vanity Fair, my business phone rang -- twice. Then, my personal line. It was Jasmine.
"Why are you dialing all my numbers?" I asked Jasmine. "I'm hopping around the room here -- "
"Because," she said tersely, "after two rings, I remembered that I was making a personal call, not a business call. I don't like to clutter up a friend's business line with personal matters. But," she said, growing rather shrill, "since you are answering your personal phone, what difference does it make? Why should I have to explain all this? I'm showing some fucking respect for your personal boundaries and you don't even appreciate it!"
"Calm down! What's wrong?" I demanded.
"It's David! That -- that -- "
She seemed to be choking. "Did he hurt you? Do you need an ambulance?"
"Don't be stupid! No! He asked me for money! Can you believe it? Do you know why he goes to Sexaholics Anonymous? That deceitful son of a bitch!" She paused and lowered her voice. "He's trying to meet women for their money!"
"Where were you when he -- "
"In fucking bed!" she yelled. "We were in bed! And he asked me for money!" There was a pause as she collected herself and then, to my surprise, her voice cracked. "After we -- you know."
"I guess you could call it that. Except that he tried to charge me! And he has the nerve to be insulted because I called him a gigolo!"