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Monday, July 27, 2015

HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN SEX TRAFFICKING MOVEMENT

THE CULTURE OF THE TIMES BEFORE THE TRAFFICKING ACT OF 2000

A few days ago, I saw a Linkedin profile for a woman who teaches at police academies nationwide. I shot off an email asking if she could help me figure out how I might prepare a class to teach up and coming officers some things I think they should know before coming out into the streets where they are going to be dealing with prostitutes, strippers, escorts, madams, pimps, and possibly even trafficking victims.


For one example, the word “whore”. I find that word as offensive and degrading as I would imagine most African Americans find the “n” word. It's used the same way. Watch any cops show on TV and you hear them referring to the “whores” on the corner in very demeaning ways. Not exactly sensitive to the fact these might be men and/or women and/or transgenders who are just trying to get food on the table for their kids, or they may be victims of coercion by a pimp. It also “objectives” the person – which is something they need less of from an officer who may be their only link to getting help to get off the streets whether they're a trafficking victim or not.


So I asked her for some advice on how I might go about preparing a class to offer to the police academies. Her response was interesting. She said that my website would “preclude” me from being recognized as an “expert” in the field because I “didn't have a photograph of myself on it”. To quote her opinion - “experts don't have anything to hide”.


That took me aback for a moment. Again, I can see the damaging effects these “fake” trafficking survivors have had on this work who went around doing everything but handing out autographed photos of themselves to people.  Sure they had “nothing to hide” because they are getting paid to go out there shaking hands, plastering their face all over the internet, and talking openly about “being a survivor” because they AREN'T REAL.  There's no trafficker, or witness, or someone on their payroll, sitting at home seeing them on TV getting “nervous” about what this person is going to say UNLIKE someone like myself who is real that is making REAL traffickers very “nervous” when I open my mouth in the media. Especially when I was a witness to wide scale trafficking by our CIA during the Iran Contra situation that was going on in the 1980's.


To try to see how deep this wave of propaganda has taken root – I asked the woman “do you know the history of this movement?”  I can tell this woman has no idea she's telling the very founder of this movement in America that she doesn't consider her an "expert" in how to recover from sex trafficking simply because I'm not putting my photo up next to my Linkedin profile?  But as we all know – history isn't written “factually”. History is written by the “victors”. When it's written that “Columbus discovered America” - it's not the Indians who were already here writing that. No, it's the Spanish who were plundering the land wanting to convince you that “Columbus was here first” that wrote that. So “history” can be a matter of “perspective”.


She says to me “sure I do”. She goes on to say that the “modern day trafficking movement was started by Shared Hope International when they released their report coining the term 'trafficking victim” in 2007”.   First of all, the first trafficking act was passed in 2000 - the Trafficking Act of 2000.   But I remember that report she's referring to.   It says that it was “prepared after receiving funding from the Department of Justice to determine the validity and extent of domestic sex trafficking”. Okay, but now the question is “why” would the DOJ give a grant to Shared Hope to go out and verify that sex trafficking was real in this country?


To answer that question, one has to look at our history with respect to the sex industry. I don't just mean prostitution either – but the whole sex industry. Prostitution, stripping, porn, phone sex, and all forms of commercial sex can not be separated anymore than you can separate out cigars and cigarettes from being in the tobacco industry. They may be different products and different customers – but they are still derived from tobacco. The sex industry is very much the a large grouping of subindustries that intersect and overlap just as is the tobacco industry or even the food industry also has subindustries.


To explain what I mean by this – let me go back in time first. For those of you who are younger, you may not remember Mae West. She was a writer and movie star known for her tight dresses, sexy walk, and telling Cary Grant to “come up and see me sometime”. The woman was not married – yet was always sporting furs and jewelry. Furs she was quoted in one movie as saying “goodness my dear had nothing to do with it” when a coat check girl commented on how beautiful the fur was. In times of heavy censorship – it was clear the woman supported herself through the “kindness of strangers” or as a “high class prostitute”. In some of the movies she made no allusions about being a madam in the saloon either. This was a very popular icon in films when I was growing up.


Xaviera Hollender was a huge phenomena in the 1970's as the “Happy Hooker” franchise. She came out with her memoirs of the same name glorifying her work as a prostitute and madam despite the chapter on sex with a dog. The book became a NY Times best-seller actually in 1971. A movie was made about her life with Joey Heatherton playing her, and then she became the “toast of Hollywood”. An advice column with Penthouse Magazine followed after that. Soon she was missing home, and went to open a B&B in Amsterdam. But her impact upon the American culture was huge.


I say that because prior to Xaviera Hollender if you wanted to see an XXX movie in America you had two choices – you could go to see a foreign “art” film, or if you didn't want to sit through sub-titles and some semblance of a plot you'd have to go to an “adult” theater. For those of you who don't remember these – they were horrible little places in bad parts of town where men would sneak in during their lunch breaks to go sit in tiny theaters placing a newspaper over their laps to cover their “reaction” to the movie. They'd always have only men in them usually who wouldn't say a word, and leave usually in 10 minutes or so. We didn't have DVD players, or the internet, or even VCR's – so the movies would be played on the screens in these theaters that were dedicated to only playing XXX films.


In connection with the popularity of the “Happy Hooker” franchise – in 1972 the movie “Deep Throat” was the first XXX movie that actually opened in “main stream” theaters. It was ground-breaking and all of the 'hip” couples lined up around the block to see the film. The film starred “Linda Lovelace” (her porn name – her real name was Linda Boreman) and Harry Reems. While the movie did get released in mainstream theaters – the laws regarding “obscenity” hadn't updated yet and actually Harry Reems was arrested for making that film in 1974. Not the producers mind you, nor Linda, but Harry. He was acquitted in 1977.


Larry Flynt created the adult magazine “Hustler” in 1972. It became the largest selling adult magazine, second only to Hugh Hefner's “Playboy” which was originally marketed as a “gentlemen's lifestyle guide”. Important to recognize because Playboy also used to have clubs across this country. If you wanted to impress a client with how “hip” or “sophisticated” you were – many a contract was signed at a Playboy club back in the 1970's. Hefner even had a TV show back then where he would interview famous celebrities from all walks of life and the parties at his mansion are legendary even today for being a virtual “who's who” of the rich, famous and powerful.


I was born in 1960. There was an episode of “Mad Men” where it talked about there being “two types” of women to emulate back then. Either Marilyn Monroe or Jackie Onassis. Which up until I was born – it was pretty much either the wife and mother type of woman or the career woman. Even when I was born the “career woman” was only won by the feminists fighting for our “right” to try to get equal pay to a man (we still haven't won the Equal Rights Amendment though). Despite the large number of single mothers that existed– we were still viewed mostly as “wives” and “mothers” back then.


But after I was born a third woman started coming into being an archetype – that of the “sexual revolutionary”. This didn't exist really before Mae West. You were either “madonna” or “whore” before the “sexual outlaws” started to develop. Which if you start looking at how all of this stuff started developing in the 1970's – you might wonder “why the 1970's?” Simple answer.


The birth control pill came out in 1960. Just as the birth control pill had an impact on our culture, married life, dating, etc. - it also had a huge impact on sex work. Because for the first time now a woman could be prostituted without fear of pregnancy.


So it's not just a random “coincidence” that the sex industry was being promoted everywhere one looked in the 1970's as “cool”. Linda Boreman, Xaviara Hollender, Mae West, Marilyn Chambers, Playboy Bunnies, Penthouse Pets – all were being promoted as “desirable” and “independent” women who “didn't have to answer to some man” AND they could making money while doing it.


One of the main reasons a woman would hold onto her “chastity” back prior to 1960 was the fear of pregnancy. But don't tell me the manufacturers of that birth control pill didn't use some of these media outlets to promote “sexual freedom” in order to help promote their product. Marketing is as American as apple pie – and people had a product to sell with respect to sex. I mean think like the marketing department of the “pill” manufacturers are going to think – who is going to buy more of your product – married women trying to keep the number of their children down OR single women with multiple strangers for sexual contacts they really don't want to get pregnant by?


It wasn't just the pharmaceutical companies that had a product to sell that benefited by removing the “shame” from creating a woman of “sexual commerce” in our popular culture – it was also the pornographers, the strip club owners, the pimps, the madams, etc. I mean someone had to put on those bunny tails and someone had to pose for those centerfolds. Now that the adult movie industry was opening up in mainstream theaters – someone had to be on the other end of those cameras. Someone had to get up on the stages opened by the Mitchell brothers. Birth control, pornography, movies, the club scene, and sex all were rolling up into one big fat payday for a lot of people very suddenly.


Plus there was a huge connection always between Hollywood and the sex industry back before the invention of the VCR. Adult movies had to be made by film back prior to the invention of the beta, and then VCR machines. The film “Boogie Nights” is a great historical movie about the impact these inventions had on the industry – because one did have to invest a lot of money in films back then because of the expense not only of the camera and film stock – but also to find a cameraman who could operate the camera. There was also the need for editors, lighting, sound, etc. Which meant that when one in the “mainstream” film industry was not working – one could always find work on an XXX set.


The same for the “performers”. I mean Harry Reems says he was only paid $100 for the movie “Deep Throat”. One couldn't support ourselves entirely off what they would make filming adult movies back then. There just wasn't enough adult films being made to pay the rent that way. But once an actor or actress was “branded” as being a porn performer – you couldn't go get a job now at the local bank or YMCA. You had “crossed a line”. So to make sure the lights were kept on – the performers would either strip or prostitute. There just was no way to go back to a “regular” job once you've crossed over into the porn industry because no one would hire you. So once you made one XXX movie – then you had to start working in other parts of the sex industry to support yourself.


Which means by 1980 – there were a lot of jobs and paychecks on the line here. There were strip clubs opening every week, Playboy clubs booking acts for the night, Hef scheduling guests on his show, centerfolds having to be scouted, and sound stages needing performers in them to have XXX films shot. It's very well known if you want to “recruit” someone – you make TV shows or movies. When our country needed more police officers – we came out with the TV series Dragnet and then Adam 12. The lawyer shortage made for the show LA Law, and the doctor shortage was behind Grey's Anatomy.


The sex industry is no different – it's a business that had jobs to fill and payroll to be met. With the connection that Hollywood had with the film industry, and now the club circuit with Hefner's Playboy clubs, and even the strip clubs that were now opening up – of course there's now going to be “positive” imagery in film, TV, radio, and magazines all encouraging one to become a “sexual outlaw” and “screw shame”.


And like any “trade” that's developing – there's also going to be a “trade association”. The group “COYOTE” was formed by Margo St. James in 1973. The initials stood for “call off your old tired ethics” for just this purpose – to throw off the previous “shame” associated with having sex for money that women were indoctrinated with prior to 1973. Margo even organized the first “Hookers Ball” in 1978 for her members to celebrate the new acceptance of the “oldest profession”.


Men were also having a new archetype being introduced to them as well in the media. It was embodied in “John Holmes”. This was a man who appeared in many XXX films when he first came onto the “scene”. Referring again to the movie “Boogie Nights” I'm sure the “Dirk Diggler”character was referring to John. A regular at the Playboy Mansion and many Hollywood parties, John played against all the top “porn” ladies of the day from Linda Lovelace to newcomer Marilyn Chambers.


Men viewed it as an American “dream” to go to the top clubs, be invited to the coolest parties, and to be paid to have sex on camera with beautiful women they weren't married to like John was. Granted, the man died of AIDS in the 1980's – but this didn't alter the fact that during the 1970's many American men totally looked at John like some kind of rock star.


The movie “Midnight Cowboy” was released in 1970. Jon Voight played a male hustler with Dustin Hoffman playing his sickly “sidekick. Despite Jon's character not being very bright – the movie did win an Academy Award for “Best Picture”. Sylvester Stallone actually made his movie debut in the 1970 “Party at Kitty and Stud's” softcore porn film. So we have men like Hugh Hefner romping with the rich and famous in his PJ's being waited on by “bunny's” at the mansion, in his own clubs or even his TV show, Larry Flynt has started his own porn empire showing a more “realistic” type of centerfold, John Holmes is a new idol of men everywhere, movies about male hustlers are winning awards, and Syvestler Stallone has even crossed over from porn into becoming a blockbuster screen writer and star with “Rocky” just a few years after his porn was released.


This is also the first time in history where “buying” commercialized sex products, and even women, has also become a status symbol. Hugh Hefner has his “playmates” and “bunnies” living at the mansion. It's considered a very high status symbol to have a “Playboy Club Gold Key”. Men who were paying “top dollar” to have sex with porn stars like Linda Lovelace were considered “lucky dogs”. Top business executives always had the phone number in their rolodex to the local high-class madam for “business purposes”. The media and pop culture are making it very “cool” to not only be a part of the sex industry that was exploding onto the scene in the 1970's from a “worker” point of view – but also from a “patron” perspective as well for both men and women.


So the 1970's was all about building the sex industry into just that – an industry. Like any industry however with “dirty jobs” that sometimes is going to have more of a “demand” than “supply” - what do you do? If you're a farmer and you have crops that have to be picked and not enough laborers – what do you do? Well that's where human trafficking comes into play. The same for those working in the cleaning, meat packing, labor, fishing, and other industries where human trafficking exists.


The sex industry is in fact the same. You are a strip club owner and you need to have a stripper on stage at 9:00 o'clock or you'll have angry drunken customers tearing your club apart – what do you do?The same if you've invested mob money into a porn shoot and you can't find an actress for your lead. Which is exactly what happened with that ground-breaking movie “Deep Throat”.


The year I'm writing this is 2014. We all know the celebrity “Snoop Dogg” as being a man who “loves to smoke marijuana” right? He has made music about it, been in movies about it, lobbied for legalization of the plant's medicinal properties, and just about every time you see a photo of the man there's a haze of smoke in the air. So we all believe 100 percent that Snoop Dogg “loves” his weed – correct? I mean Snoop Dogg, and his related “culture” all heavily promote the use of marijuana today much like the sex industry was being promoted back in the 1970's so this is a fair comparison.


Well imagine how you'd react if you saw him come out with his memoir that the whole thing was a complete lie. That he had only smoked joints because he was forced to at gunpoint. How would you react if you read him confessing that someone had been threatening to kill him, and his family, if he did not “pretend” to love the plant, and the culture that goes along with it? You'd probably wonder if he was high when he said this, if you were being punked, or if this was a misprint or something right?


By telling you what our culture was in the 1970's, along with how Linda Lovelace was considered a “ground breaking sexual revolutionary” when she released the XXX film “Deep Throat” to mainstream audiences, going on to make more adult films, and touring to make appearances to promote her films at adult clubs – I'm setting the stage for you as to how the American public reacted to what she released her 1980 memoir “Ordeal”.


Because in this book she revealed she had been forced to film this movie by her pimp, Chuck Traynor, holding a gun to her head off camera while no one intervened to stop it. She even pointed out to audiences the bruises on her legs that appeared during the bathtub and pool scenes from her pimp kicking her over and over again with his cowboy boots to force her to not only make this movie, but also to “turn tricks” for him while he took the cash.


The public was completely dumb founded by this confession The reaction was about the same as if Snoop Dogg were to confess that he had only “pretended to like marijuana because he was being forced to at gunpoint”. If someone were to come forward claiming to be “abducted by aliens” today they would receive more people possibly considering they might be telling the truth than Linda got when she started talking about being “trafficked” into porn, prostitution, and stripping by her pimp. Yes Andrea Dworkin talked about the “harms of porn” before Linda released her memoir in 1980. However, Linda was the first “survivor” of trafficking within the sex industry to come forward to tell us her story.


Talk show audiences were merciless. I know because I was watching them carefully. She'd go onto a show like Donahue for example and try to talk about being forced to do a film, or coerced into turning a trick – and the audiences would literally stand up and loudly “boo” at her. They'd scream “liar” at her in loud voices from the audiences. Even the talk show hosts would shake their heads in disbelief.


Mind you she was standing up on these stages and podiums alone. No one was stepping up to validate her claims which made it even harder for people to believe her. You have to realize this was at a time when not only was the sex industry being heavily promoted night and day by all forms of media – but also people had been saying that “white slavery doesn't exist anymore” for years by this point in time.


Let's face it – no one wanted to feel like they had gone home and had probably the best sex of their lives after watching that movie “Deep Throat” to what now was being told to them was a documentary of her being raped and her pimp being paid for said rape. It was also a complete stretch of the imagination for people to believe that no one would step up on the set and stop this from happening. Her “disbelievers” kept saying that if Chuck was “really holding a gun on you then why didn't someone call the police or even just try and stop him?


First of all, very little was known about domestic violence and child abuse in the 1970's. It still was not considered a “crime” to rape your own wife in this country until the mid-1970's. That's when this country FIRST started the push towards writing the laws making it a crime to rape your own wife. Marital rape was not a law in all 50 states in fact until 1993. Which means people in this country were still considering “rape” to be something done by a stranger breaking into your house, or dragging you into an alley when you were just walking down the street.


I bring up child abuse in connection to this because we now know that in families where there is abuse going on that they used to rarely call in the police. That was considered “breaking up the family” back then. Children weren't taught things like how to report things to the outside authorities when being abused in the 1950's and 1960's when these people in the sex industry were growing up.


This country was also in the very infancy of even understanding how the mafia worked back then. Joe Valachi was the first person to come forward and publicly confess there actually was a “cosa nostra” operating in the USA led by Italian immigrants in 1963. Up until 1963, even the FBI director, Herbert Hoover, had been denying the “mob” even existed in the first place. The movie about this “The Valachi Papers” starring Charles Bronson, wasn't released until 1972. So this country was only just beginning to grasp that we had such a thing as an “Italian mob” that did things like run gambling, vending machines, bootleg liquor, drugs, hired assassins, and yes run prostitutes.


Now we know thanks to a lot of research, that most people in the sex industry are coming out of families where there's been a history of abuse. This has trained, or pre-conditioned, them to be “mum” to outsiders whenever anything is wrong. These types of people have been raised since infancy to “handle things within the family”. Which was only compounded once you added in the fact that the movie “Deep Throat” was funded by mob money that was loaned to the producers. The film crew who didn't stand up for Linda while this was happening were people who were already used to working for “mob” ran operations where silence was also a job requirement as well as a “way of life” to them. It wasn't exactly like the Boy Scouts were one the set making this film


Pimp/prostitute relationships mimic the classic “domestic violence” relationship almost identically as far as what it looks like to an “outsider”. The culture of the 1970's when one would see a “regular” couple quarreling would be to stay out of it and let them “resolve it themselves”. So you put all of the factors into the pot and mix them around and yes when Chuck was holding that gun on Linda off camera and giving her stage directions – yes the stage crew is going to stay quiet and just call it “another day on the set”.


Besides, with the obscenity laws still in place that led to Harry Reems' arrest in 1974 – no one wanted to risk getting arrested for being on the film set by playing “hero” for Linda and calling the police on Chuck. I mean can you imagine what the cops might say as they walked onto the set if they were called? I don't think the crew members wanted to find out how the cops would react when walking onto the set if called to help Linda either.


As for why no one was stepping up to validate her story – that answer is simple also. When Linda had finally escaped Chuck's clutches – he'd gone on to “manage” Marilyn Chambers. She was a “new kid on the block” with a fresh face. So fresh she was the model for the baby[s face on the box of Ivory Snow Flakes soap (no kidding). Marilyn was the one making adult movies now in Linda's place – and her movies were selling like hotcakes. She was doing still photo shoots, club appearances, media interviews, and basically had taken over Linda's “position” as the “hot new porn star” within the sex industry.


The popular talk was that Linda was only saying what she was saying because she was “jealous” of the “new younger version” that Chuck had “advanced to” as he was quoted as saying. The same people that had been working on Linda's career were now working on Marilyn's career – so people were protecting their jobs as well as making sure they kept their daily drug habits in supply. I know this because I was seeing Marilyn at Narcotics Anonymous meetings a few years after this along with most of those film crews and club staff. I can say that now without violating anyone's “confidentiality” because they've all passed away now.


But I kept watching what she'd say on TV.  She talked about how you could watch the film "Deep Throat" and see the bruises on her legs in the bathtub scene and the pool scenes.  So I did and they were there.  I myself had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that she'd show up to the set covered with these bruises and then everyone would just go forward with filming - but this is Hollywood for one thing.  For another, the film was being financed by the mob.  So yes the filming went on because it had to.  No one was going to speak up for the same reasons no one speaks up when they see any woman, child, or animal abused.   No one wants to get involved and if it's your job especially - you're going to keep your mouth shut.  People don't make adult films because they're rich generally.  They make them when they're hard up for money.  So yes people are going to show up to the set, do their job, keep their mouth shut, and go home.


I'd watch as all the men in the audience just tore her apart.  The women were just speechless generally or they didn't want to hear what she had to say.  Remember "straight" women viewed women like Linda as scum.  So the last thing they wanted to do was to empathize with her or embrace her as one of their own.   The general consensus of the mob was that Chuck had thrown her over for a younger model and now she just wanted the spotlight back on her any way she could.  But she couldn't have made up those bruises just because she wanted some attention today.  I knew her story was real and when I watched the crowd tear her apart - I knew they'd tear me apart even more if I told about what I'd seen happening to many women in the sex industry.  I mean if they felt she deserved this as a porn actress -  I could only imagine how they'd feel if someone who said they were a prostitute got up and talked about their abuse.


But something had to be done.  Linda had come out in 1980.  I was still in the business then.  When I saw how the world reacted to her - it felt like a door closing down on me.  I knew the world would not believe not only what I was experiencing, but what I was seeing also.  I had started taking psychology classes in community college off and on while I was in the business from 1976 to 1983.  During that time I took classes like Psychology 101, group therapy, human sexuality, etc.  No where in those textbooks could I find anything on the life I was living.  I found a few lines or blurbs in the textbooks about mentally ill, junkie prostitutes.  But nothing that reflected the life I was living.  


What I mean by that is by 23 years old I was living in a beautiful house south of the Boulevard in Tarzana, California.  i was driving sports cars, Mercedes 450SL's, and a Cadillac when I needed a bigger car.  I was wearing designer clothing, expensive one of a kind shoes, custom made jewelry, having weekly facials, getting my nails and hair done regularly, shopping at the mall for fun, and a closet full of furs.  The majority of my clients just wanted to talk to someone and I didn't have a pimp or a drug problem.  My appointments were held at the Beverly Hilton and I've never stood on a corner in my life.  Yet according to these textbooks I'm seeing in school - someone like me doesn't event exist.  


Then one night I remember I was in a bathroom of one of this Beverly Hills hotels down in the lobby cleaning up a bit before going upstairs to see my client.  I must have looked like another working girl as this other one came into the bathroom also.  She looked terrified.  She asked me for help - telling me her pimp was right outside the door.  This woman told me she'd hoped someone was in the bathroom so she could ask them to call for help for her.  She said the pimp wouldn't leave her alone for one minute and that she couldn't get away from him.  Asking me if I had a pen - she asked me to write down this address.  It was the hotel they were staying at.  The windows had been boarded up she said so she couldn't leave while he was sleeping.   Clearly she was terrified and you could see the fear in her eyes.  


I heard "are you about done in there?" by his voice booming into the bathroom.  I told her "don't worry - I'll take care of it" and walked out of the bathroom so I could get a good look at this pimp. Typical stereotype of what you think of when you'd think of a pimp.  Tall, dark, gold chains, cane - the whole nine yards.  I saw her come out and him put her hands around her throat and walk her out like she was a dog he owned.  Clearly she was a piece of property to him.   I went to the nearest payphone and called the police.  I told them what had happened and asked them if they could send a car to her to get her out of there.  


The cop told me "oh yeah that's Dante - he's a well known pimp".  


"Okay what does that have to do with anything?" I'm asking him.


"Well it means she wants to be there and I'm not going to waste a car on her that's what that means" he retorted.


"Now let me get this straight - because the guy who is holding her against her will, and forcing her to prostitute for him is a "known" pimp you're not going to go get her out of there?" I responded in shock.


"Yep - you got it right.  Look lady - what's the point?  I take her out of there and she's just going to go back so I'm not wasting our time on this" and he slams down the phone.  I called him back and pushed harder.  


"The point officer is you're telling me because this guy is 'Dante' he can just kidnap and pimp any woman he wants at will and you'll do NOTHING to save this woman because oh well it's 'Dante' is that what you're telling me?" as I get more angry.  I mean this is a frightening thought to me.  I mean can Dante come and grab me by the hair and no one will come and stop him because it's "Dante" that has done this to me?  No - someone needed to stand up and I didn't care who this guy was - he had no right to make that woman do anything against her will.  


Then the cop flips it on me.  He says "well why did she tell you about this?" and "why were you in that bathroom?" and I can tell what he's thinking and about to say.  He can tell I'm a working girl and I can tell if I push this any harder - he's going to come after me instead of helping her.   He finally put me in a corner where I could tell if I pushed any harder I was going to wind up in jail so I backed off.  

Of course I looked around for some kind of program that would help her and there was nothing.  There were some domestic violence shelters - but they didn't go out and "rescue" these women.  So I'm now left with a dilemma.  This woman asked me for help.  The police won't do it.  What am I going to do?


Needless to say, I knew a few people.  So I made a few phone calls.  I found someone who was eager to try out a new gun he'd bought.  He said he'd go with me.  So we packed up and went to the address of the hotel she said she was being held at.   I went to the desk and asked if they had a phone in the room.  We didn't have cell phones back then.  They did so I rang the phone.  I told the pimp that I'd just seen someone messing with his car and maybe he'd better go down to the parking lot and check on it.  That was to get him out of the room.


Once we saw him leave - I went to the room.  I knocked and heard her voice from the other side.  She told me he'd locked her inside and she couldn't get out.  I told her that I was going to wait until he opened the door, rush him, and she'd better be prepared to leave when we did that.  She agreed.


Sure enough he comes back to the room.  My friend and I started making out and looking like we were trying to get into the room next to his.  As he opened the motel room door - BAM.  We pushed him through the door and onto the bed.  Then we grabbed her and ran while he was still in shock about what had just happened.  My friend kept the pimp down in the room while her and I ran for the car.  I had a burgundy red MGB convertible back then.  I told her to jump into the car and let's split.  Which is what we did.  We just took off.  I knew my friend back at the room could take care of himself and I also knew he loved the idea of kicking some pimp's ass that would beat up on women.  As we hit the 101 freeway she starts crying telling me she never thought she'd ever get away from this guy.


Then silly me asked her "where can I take you?" just assuming she's got a home to go back to.  I was a hooker.  I didn't think past the moment.  


"I have no idea" was her answer.

She was 27 years old.  This guy had gotten ahold of her coming out of a nightclub she said.  She'd been staying with a boyfriend and he just assumed she had left when she didn't come home she thinks.  She doesn't know because she hasn't seen him in a year.  Then this pimp raped her and told her she was "his property' now.  He never left her side.  The appointments were booked through a madam, he'd drive her to the appointments, and he'd lock her in the room when he had to go out.  Recently on TV I saw a case of these three women who had been kept in a house for 10 years.  People don't realize how easy it is for a big man to take physical control over a tiny woman like this - and how often it happens.


All she had on her was her purse at this club so she has no money, no ID, no clothes, etc.  I don't know what to do with her.  I can't take her home.  I wouldn't take my enemy to the homeless shelter downtown on skid row which was the only shelter I knew about - so I figured I'd get her into a battered woman's shelter.  I told her I was going to go get her something to eat and make some phone calls from the coffee shop after I'd asked her if she was hurt and needed to go to the hospital.  She said she was okay physically so I took us to Nathan's.  There were an all night coffee shop far enough away from the hotel I thought we'd be safe.  


We got her some food and coffee and I remembered I called Children of the Night.  But they only took people under 18 years of age and they didn't know of anyone who took in adults.  The Mary Magdalene Project was an option but they said she had to be interviewed, and it would take about three days to get her settled in if she passed the interview.  I asked what the guidelines were and they said she couldn't have a felony, couldn't have any kids, no drug problem and no history of mental illness.  I set up the appointment for her interview and went back to figuring out what to do with her for three days.


I called all the battered womens' shelters and they all asked me if she'd just been beaten.  I told them how this guy controlled her through threats and physical domination.  They said they needed broken bones and bruises to admit her.  Plus they told me the strangest thing - that the man had to be her husband or boyfriend.  No pimps allowed.  I didn't understand.


They told me they would not take a prostitute because the pimps would come looking for them - usually armed.  None of them had security for that and they didn't want to risk or endanger the other women.  I'm like "don't the husbands come looking for them?" and they agreed yes the husbands would try.  


However, the pimps they said would show up in groups armed and not even try to negotiate their way in first.  They'd come in blasting.  The husbands they said would show up at the door talking at first.  That would give them time to call the police before he got wound up.  With the pimps they said they didn't have that time for the police to arrive.   They also told me the other women would revolt and kick them out.  That "straight" women wouldn't share a room with a prostitute.  I explained this woman wasn't a street prostitute - she was a "straight" woman who had been kidnapped and forced to prostitute.  They said "once the cucumber becomes a pickle - it's a pickle" and refuse to budge from their position they wouldn't accept a prostitute into their shelters.


After calling every domestic violence shelter in Los Angeles that night - there was no where to put her.  I told her I'd check her into a hotel room at my expense and then take her to the intake at the Mary Magdalene Project the next morning.  I checked her in under my name so she couldn't be traced and went home.  A few hours later I got a frantic call from her.  The pimp knew all the motel owners.  He'd been calling asking if anyone like her had checked in.  Sure enough the desk clerk remembered me checking her in and told him she was there.  He was outside the door banging.  I reminded her that she was safe in the room and she could call the police on him now.  So she called 911 and got him backed off the room.  I know she didn't sleep a wink before we took her to the MMP interview.


At the MMP interview - we ran into a problem.  The director calls me in and tells me they can't accept her.  I'm like "why not?"  They explain their program is to rehabilitate women who have been prostitutes by choice.  This was a woman who had been forced into doing it.  Therefore, she needed professional treatment they said and her problem was trauma - not prostitution.  Okay well how do we do this without insurance?  Where do we take her?  Remember this was about 1981.  They just shrugged and told us "good luck".  Pointing back to Linda's experience with her trying to convince America about women being forced to be in the sex industry - no one was buying it.  


I think we were kind of dazed coming out of there because we really thought she'd be accepted there.  I mean shouldn't someone forced take priority over someone who had been doing it by choice?   But they didn't have words like "trafficking victim" back then.  We just called it "forced".  She can tell I'm out of ideas.  I don't want to leave her on the side of the road either .  There was no point in filing charges against the pimp because there were no "victims' services" back then.  She finally said to me "look you're a working girl right?"  


"Yeah and?"


"Well look - I'm already a prostitute.  I've been out there for a year now so I'm not a newcomer.  My tricks were pretty nice to me.  The only one mean to me was the pimp.  Can you set me up on some appointments until I can get on my feet and figure out what I'm going to do?" she asked me.


"No I'm not comfortable with that.  What about one of your regulars?  Can you go to them for help."

She laughs "they knew". 

"What?"

"They knew.  He would stand right outside the door or sit in the car.  They knew and didn't care.   If I call any of them they'll just tell him I'm there and I'm toast."


I'm having a hard time wrapping my head about this.  But it's not like I haven't seen it before.  I remember that one woman where they'd broken both of us legs, put them in casts, and then left her upstairs in the bedroom with two casts on her legs.  The "johns" came (no pun intended) anyway.  I'd heard stories of women chained to bed posts and the men still came and paid and then left them right where they found them as they found them.   So i knew she was right.  The customers didn't care as long as they got off so we couldn't turn to them for help.


"What about that old boyfriend of yours?" I asked her.  


"I don't know.  We can go look for him if you want." 


"Yeah I want".  So I asked her for the address and we went to find him.  Only when we got to the address it was a vacant apartment.  No forwarding address.


"Are you absolutely sure you have no family?  No friends?  No one you can go grab a couch to sleep on?" I asked her after finding the old address abandoned.


"No I have nowhere to go." she told me.  


Honestly I"m thinking maybe she's right.  I know a lot of very nice men in my little black book.  A couple of dates while she's looking for a job - well maybe that's our only solution.  Then she gives me the answer.


"Look if you don't help me out - I'm not going to have a choice but to go out and stand on a street corner.  If I stand out on a corner with this guy looking for me - he'll find me.  If he finds me - my ass is grass.  So really you need to help me out here until I can get on my feet." she explains.


I don't see what else our options are.  I took her to another hotel, this time we hid her in the parking lot so the clerk wouldn't know she was staying there, and I went home to talk to a few regulars of mine.  I set her up on a few dates, she was able to pay up her rent for a month.  Then she was able to find a job.  So that was a success story - but I was still bothered about how I had to help her. Why wasn't our system set up to help her?


Not long after that - I got a phone call from a woman.  "Are you the hooker with the red sports car?" I get asked.  I don't know whether to answer or not - so I ask what this is about.


"What this is about is Dante said that some broad with a red sportscar came and took his property from him.  He's looking for you.  So I thought I'd warn you and also thought I'd ask you if you wanted to rescue someone else?" 


I'm intrigued.  "Tell me more" I asked.  


"Well you aren't a street walker if you got a red sports car so I figured you must advertise in one of the papers.  So I thought  if I started calling the ads - then I'd find you.  Clearly you don't seem worried about these guys coming after you for taking them 'out of pocket' so I thought maybe you could help me with my sister" she explained.


As she starts telling me the story I can tell it's a lie.  She also sounds like someone is behind her - like someone is telling her what to say.  I realize the more we are talking that this is Dante's way of trying to flush me out.  I'm the kind of person then living in the moment.   I hadn't even thought this guy would just go out and get another victim to replace that one I took.  


"Put Dante on the phone" I told her.  She argued a bit but they realized the jig was up.  I knew if I hung up - he'd just call back.  Remember, these are the days before cell phones and google phones.  I can't change my phone number or I'm out of business.  No I'm going to have to deal with this now.


"You put me out of pocket bitch and now you owe me one bitch" he tells me as he comes on the line.

"Look - she said she didn't want to be there so I helped her leave.  What did you expect me to do - say no?" I fired back.


"She lied to you.  She just didn't want to work anymore and you were her sucker to get her out" he tries to tell me.


"I don't care.  Either way she didn't want to it anymore and wanted to leave.  So yeah I helped her leave." I explained.


"Well you just took my meal ticket.  Yeah I got me another one but she's worthless.  So now you're working for me bitch" he threatens.


"Oh my God does that really work on anyone?  Do you really think I"m going to come over there and give you my money because you simply tell me to?" I laughed.


"Well someone is." he growled.


"Look why are you even doing this?   With all the woman out there who want to whore and want a pimp - why are you making anyone do anything they don't want to?" I told him.


"What are you talking about?" he asked reminding me of Willis on "Facts of Life".

"Look there's pimp bars you can go to.  The women will just go and choose you.  So why don't you go there and stop forcing women to be with you.  I just don't understand."


"What pimp bars?"

"Pimp bars. Don't tell me you don't know about pimp bars?"

"Where?"


"Red Onion." I told him thinking about Jeri.  I remembered that any Red Onion we'd go into was full of pimps.  She would just choose a new one when she got the itch.  Certainly he would go I'm thinking.  I'm also thinking if he can tap into a "voluntary" source of women maybe I won't have to worry about this guy coming after me for what I'd just done.   It's not like it's an exclusive club or anything.  So I told him about what I'd seen Jeri do and suggested that all of this force wasn't necessary.  He hung up but then I also started worrying about the woman who he had put up to calling me.  I didn't have to wait long.  


The phone rings about 4:00 a.m.  It's the woman.  She's gotten the pimp to fall asleep pretty drunk so she thinks he's not going to wake up if she takes the keys out of his pockets.  Remembering the phone number from the call she'd made to me - she figured if I helped one woman I'd help her.  Dante had gone to a Red Onion, got himself drunk as a skunk, then came home to pass out.  She was asking me if I'd come and get her out of there if she got the keys to get out of the room.  I could tell by her voice she wasn't tricking me and agreed to come pick her up.  I told her to wait in the alley for me where it was safe behind the hotel.


As I enter the alley - I'm not seeing her anywhere.  Suddenly the lids come up off the trash dumpsters.  She had been hiding inside the dumpsters until she heard me arrive.   Hearing me she jumps out of the dumpster and dives into the car.  As I'm pulling off Dante appears at the end of the driveway.  He'd woken up, found her gone, and then went looking around outside for her.  After a bit of a stand-off I let him know I wasn't stopping so he jumped out of the way and we were gone.  I did lose a headlight though.


I am not taking someone home and I feel like I've riskd my life enough.  So I went to the first woman I'd saved from this Dante and asked her if she'd take victim #2 in and help her out.  This was their karma - not mine.  She agreed.  They both became hairdressers last time I talked to them.


I had started coming down with what was called Ebstein Barr when it first hit.  It was a virus they later renamed "chronic fatigue syndrome".  Bottom line was I had started becoming so tired and depressed the last thing I felt like doing was getting dressed, doing my hair, putting on make-up and going out and being nice to someone.  But I'd invested a lot of money into my warehouse project, and my 900 phone line, and even the porn studio.  The rent was coming due every month and so were the other bills.  Only I can barely comb my hair now I'm so tired.  I have no idea what I'm going to do.


But then I remembered Jeri's nail lady.  That woman did the nails of practically every hooker in Hollywood.  She knew who was cops and who wasn't.  I thought about putting an ad in the paper but then how was I going to tell they were a cop?  Sleep with them?  I think not.  i thought if I got a referral from the nail lady - she'd steer me someone who wanted to get away from their pimp and I'd get some help around the shop.  


So I went to talk to the lady.  At first she acted like she didn't speak any English.  I soon found out that was an act.   I told her that I had a place to run and I was looking to find women that wanted to get away from some crazy pimp.  Figuring I could tap a market here.  Women who wanted to get away from crazy pimps.


Sure enough she did.  I told her I'd give her a finders' fee for everyone she tipped me off to.  Denise was the first referral.  Her pimp had literally broken her arm and cracked her nose.  She was done with him.  The deal was the pimps would drop them off to get their nails done thinking "where they going to go?"  Knowing that no shelter would take them and the cops wouldn't lift a finger to help them they were pretty cocky and would drop them off figuring "where are they going to go?". 


What we worked out was this nail lady would call me when they'd come in and I'd show up and ask her if she wanted to leave.   When she said "hell yeah get me out of here" we'd run out the back door.  I made up a bedroom in the warehouse for them and started kind of an assembly line.  I'd sit them down and tell them "yes I got a place to run but I also know you want away from this pimp.  So tell me what your plans are and I'll help you if you help me".  


The warehouse had been set up kind of like a house.  They had their own room in the warehouse, kitchen, bathroom big screen, radio, VCR, etc.  Then we had the big living room with a big U shaped couch.   There was a patio outside where we could have BBQ's.  The offices had been turned into bedrooms.  The point of being in this industrial section was so that all the foot traffic from the men would go unnoticed.  I'd also got it so close to the police station to keep the pimps, bandits and maniacs away who wouldn't want to get that close to the police station (we were only one block away from the Van Nuys police station).  The cars were parked behind a security gate and we had bars on the doors and windows.  We were even on the 2nd floor behind two security doors.   So it was very safe and secure.   No pimp was getting inside unless we let them i.  


But I needed to make enough money to make the bills too.  I had placed ads in magazines like Hustler that had taken months to get placed and the phone rang day and night.  I didn't want that money to go to waste either because I was sick.   There was no safe house for these women to go to.  I didn't have enough money to just take them in.   This was the best way I could think of to solve both problems.  I'd pre-screen the dates and collect the money.  I'd gotten a theater license for the warehouse and cleared it with the licensing board I could charge whatever I wanted for a ticket.  So I charged $250 to "watch an adult movie with a nude hostess".  Then I'd pay them $125 for each movie they'd watch and whatever else they did was their gig.  I told them the sex was free so it wouldn't be prostitution and they couldn't get busted.  I then explained if they wanted more of a tip - sell him another "video".  This way it still wasn't prostitution.   Since I paid them at the end of the night it wasn't pimping in the eyes of the law.  


But it was more than that.  I wasn't doing this to become their replacement pimp - just to help them get out of there.   So we'd sit down and talk about "what are you going to do now?"   I would find out what else they wanted to do and we'd work towards that.  One woman wanted to open a flower shop.  So we set a goal for what she needed and then when she'd made that money - she went off to open the flower shop.  Another wanted to go back to school.  So we set a goal for that and then when she hit the goal - she was off.   I had room for two women in the warehouse at a time.  


When one would leave - I'd go get another one from the nail lady.  But sometimes a woman would just show up at the nail salon black and blue.  I didn't want her to go back to the pimp so the nail lady would tell her she had a way for her to leave him and she'd call me.  I would go get them and then sometimes we had three in the warehouse at the same time.  One time we had five at once.   Two of them were sleeping on the couch.  I learned during sporting events like the Superbowl violence against women goes up.  After the Superbowl was when we had five women beaten badly they all wanted to leave their pimps.  So if the Superbowl does anything - it would make the pimps go violent.  


Each case was different but no matter what we tried - the police wouldn't help.  The system wouldn't help.   We were on our own.  Turned out it was a good thing the warehouse was secure when we rescued one woman in particular.  After this one disappeared out of the nail salon he pulled a gun on the nail lady and demanded my phone number.  From my phone number, he had a friend at the phone company who told him where I lived.   Remember, all we had was land lines then.  So my phone number was traceable to my physical address.   That night he showed up knocking at the warehouse door.  Of course I wouldn't let him in so he tried to shoot through the front door.  I'd had bullet proof glass installed and he wasn't prepared for that.  But he had come prepared.  He had two buddies with him and they proceeded to storm the place.  One climbed up a tree and got onto the 2nd floor.  Luckily he couldn't get through the patio door.  The other one climbed up our fire ladder on the back end but still couldn't get in.   


So we found ourselves surrounded with a pimp on three sides of us trying to break in to get at us.  Only we couldn't call the cops.  The minute the cops would come see those beds with velvet sheets in a warehouse they'd know what we were operating.  These pimps knew we couldn't call the cops and came ready to break in like the big bad wolf.   Good thing I was prepared.  I let them see the other end of my double barrel shotgun and they left.  I didn't have to pull the trigger thank God.  Just the sight of the gun seemed to do the trick.  My point being that regular shelters that don't have armed security are no match for these guys.  


But the places to put these women as we got them away from the pimps was getting slimmer. When the HIV epidemic got worse - soon drug treatment centers wouldn't even accept prostitutes.   Because sometimes the pimps got the women hooked on drugs to keep them under control.  So when I'd get them we had to first get them into treatment.  So I had developed quite a relationship with the treatment centers around town.  Probably once a week I was putting someone into treatment that a pimp had gotten hooked to control them.  


But when HIV was soaring - people got real paranoid about hookers.  The treatment centers were now refusing them in fear of the virus.  People wouldn't rent apartments to you if they suspected you were one.  Because when it came time to leave the warehouse - I'd go and help them rent an apartment.  But now it was like no one wanted us around - period.   I did a lot of make-overs back then.  I had to make sure that no one thought any of them were hookers or we just got a lot of grief out of people back then.  So I got real good at helping them to change their hair cuts, the color of their hair, their clothing, even the color of their nail polish had to change.


As for the violence from the pimps - we would sometimes try and press charges - but the police viewed us always as "asking for it" or "deserving it" or even "wanting it".  One cop actually said "well she must get off on it".  No matter what we did we could not get these cops to understand that no these women did not want to be beaten and raped by pimps and maniacs.   What just burned my butt was when the women had children by the pimps.  They couldn't leave because if they did then he'd file kidnapping charges against them for taking the kids without leaving a forwarding address.   Then when he'd show up to see the kids, then not get his money - he'd get mad and beat her up.  We'd call the cops and they'd say "well she's not leaving so she must like it".  I mean they just weren't getting that THEY COULDN'T LEAVE because of the kids.  What was she supposed to do?  Leave the kids with him?  


The pimps and maniacs know this also.  There were two pimps back then operating that we all heard about.  They would roam the streets looking for a girl just walking around.  Then they'd throw her in the back of their car, take her somewhere, beat her, rape her, torture her, and then they'd take her to a motel room.  They'd run an ad in one of the hooker papers and then send in the customers - telling her she'd better take the money and be nice to him or else they'd pay for it in flesh.  They had the woman so terrorized they'd be afraid one of them was right outside the door.  Some would stay in that room for two weeks just paralyzed with fear.  When they'd get out - the police would do nothing.  They were a prostitute after all.  They wanted it.  That's all we kept hearing to justify them turning their backs.  


So word had spread back then - call Jody.  She'll get you out of there.  She'll do something.   So they'd call me.  Tell me all about what happened.  Now these were not all prostitutes.  These were women who had been labeled that so that they'd be ignored by the law the way the "real" prostitutes were.  When we'd get a case where she wasn't really a prostitute- but a 'straight' woman who had been forced into sex work by a gorilla pimp - we'd take up a collection from the girls and find a way to get them back home without putting them to work in the warehouse.  No one worked at the warehouse unless that's what they wanted to do.  But this was when I got even angrier at the system for failing us as women.  I mean now all a maniac has to do to get away with rape is CALL us a prostitute and then he gets immunity? 


Trying to understand all of this - I took some rape classes and some on domestic violence.  In there I learned this was actually pretty common.   Label your victim a "whore" and no one lifts a finger, shuts her out, and he gets away with literally murder.   Only instead of forcing them to turn a trick so the system would ignore them all the pimps would do would be smear them.   That's all it took.  Just tell a few neighbors she's a "whore" and that's all it took.   Other women started telling me they didn't even have to turn a trick - just get labeled as one by rumor.  They said if one neighbor said "oh she's a whore" that would be it - investigation over.  Book closed.  Cop goes home.   


I started noticing things like on the news.  If a "straight' woman went missing - the whole country would go out looking for them.  The blood hounds would come out.  The helicopters would be called in.  Teams of neighbors would go up looking for them around the clock.  They would also call them by name.  


But oh boy if  a "prostitute" went missing you'd be lucky to hear a blip on the news about it. You would also rarely hear their name - just "a prostitute today was reported missing" kind of thing.   Funny - I never once heard them say things like "a secretary today went missing".   No blood hounds for prostitutes missing.   No helicopters.  No search teams.  Just "another hooker disappeared" and that would be all I'd hear on the subject.   Listen to how they report on us on the news and you'll see that even they weren't reporting on us like we were human.   In the Jessie Foster case, the police didn't even search the house until TWO WEEKS had gone by.  In that time, he'd replaced the carpets, repainted the interior, and even cleaned the place with bleach.   But when Laci Peterson went missing - we had half the country out looking for her.


I started wondering how far this went.  There was a movie out in 1988 called 'The Accused".  But I remember hearing about the real case on the news when it happened.  I saw the people on the TV duking it out whether it was rape or not because of her being drunk, being in a bar, and because of her "reputation".   I would then see attorney Gloria Allred was the only one standing up for us legally.  No male cop or attorney or judge would - but Gloria would take on the cases of women no one wanted to defend even in conversation.   


In the 1970's I remember hearing how they'd just passed the law to where you couldn't legally rape your wife.  So the idea that you could actually rape your wife didn't come into our consciousness until the 1970's.  But in the public's mind - you still couldn't rape a whore.   One judge even called it "theft of services" but not rape in 2007!    http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/11/01/judge-criticized-for-considering-gang-rape-on-prostitute-theft-services.html  So if a judge in 2007 can still consider a gang rape "theft of services" then you have an idea what I was up against with even thinking of trying to convince America that SOME prostitutes might be there by force and that we had to acknowledge this fact so the system could change.  


But the point I wasn't seeing get across was that you couldn't rape someone who was considered a "whore" whether she charged or not.  I started scouting through the news and not finding one single case where a prostitute had won a case of rape against her attacker.  Now I'm thinking if we can't even get the system to give us a rape charge - how are we going to get the system to do anything about these pimps where their whole "turning out" process IS rape?  But literally the only person I remember seeing stand up on TV and declare on the news that rape of ANY woman, regardless of her profession or reputation, as wrong was Gloria Allred.  Power to you sister!!! 


Why is it an issue?  Because EVERY woman, or men even for that matter,  I had heard of, knew of, talked to, where the pimp "turned them out" was a rape process.  So every victim of a pimp was a victim of "date rape" and also of "rape" period.  He might not have killed them but certainly there were threats.  We didn't even have the stalking laws back then we have today.  I mean you really need to seriously look back and consider what we were dealing with in the early 1980's when it came to the legal system.  Because I even remember hearing about that case on the news where this woman was gang raped in a bar and how people had to even THINK about whether or not this was rape.  I was listening to this thinking "my God if they had to DEBATE whether or not this woman in a bar who was simply promiscuous was a victim of rape - then we as actual hookers are screwed" (No pun intended here.)


So war was declared on us.  We were disposable and had become targets in Los Angeles in the 1980's.   We had the Green River Killer, the Hillside Stranglers, the Southside Slayer, the Nightstalker, and those were just the big named ones.  I invite you to watch "Frozen Ground" with Nicholas Cage if you want to see how the police treated us back then when a man would be out murdering us.   That was a very realistic movie.  Here was a woman who had just described being tied up, raped, almost murdered, she'd escaped before he could kill her - and the police were saying they didn't want to "disturb him" with a warrant because she was just a "whore" you know.  


Which got driven home even harder with the case of Cheryl.  I had gotten a call from her husband.  Cheryl hadn't come home last night from a call.  Everyone would kind of turn to me back then because they couldn't go to the cops.  You tell the cops that someone didn't come home last night from a prostitution appointment and they'd say "so what" and click.   Again, this wasn't a moral judgment but a legal one.  In the eyes of a cop if you were to not come home from a bank robbery - they figured that anything that happened to you during the commission of a crime was not their responsibility.  The cops looked at it like their job was to protect taxpayers - not criminals.  It just never entered their minds that sometimes these "bank robbers" were being forced to go rob that bank was the problem.   So I asked him for the address and went out to find her.


I don't know how I got so lucky - but I wound up at the now infamous auto body shop of who was later to be identified as the Hillside Strangler.   http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/mapping_21_of_los_angeless_most_notorious_murder_sites_1.php  She was chained literally to a refrigerator.  They'd just left for lunch or something I don't know but the door was open when I walked in.  I found her, got her out of there and we ran like hell.  Blood was all over my car as she'd been stabbed.  I took her to the nearest emergency room who literally refused to even touch her at first.  They could tell we were hookers and again this was HIV season.  I had been studying the law with these rape cases because others with HIV were being turned away from medical care and told the ER doctor he legally could not turn us away because she didn't have health insurance because of his fear of HIV or we'd sue.  He agreed to stitch her up but said she wouldn't be admitted.  Whatever.


After she was well enough to come with me - we went to the Hillside Strangler Task Force's office.  Her stitches were still fresh.  We told them everything - giving them the address, their names, descriptions, etc.  Only they threw us out of their office.  As they're doing that I'm demanding to know why.  They said "because we can't get a warrant based on the word of a w hore".  I got angry and said I wasn't leaving until he explained that.  


"Fine.  We can't get a warrant based on the word of a whore because in the eyes of the law you're a criminal.  Which means that if he challenges the warrant or what we find when we search - they will consider you an "incredible" witness - meaning your word means nothing in the eyes of the law" he explained.


So I asked him "is this why you won't press charges against the pimps that are kidnapping women, raping the, beating them, then forcing them to stand out on street corners?"


"Yes that's exactly why"


All I could think of was the Patty Hearst case.  https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/patty-hearst-kidnapping  This woman was sitting at home minding her business when she was kidnapped, brainwashed, then turned out to rob banks to raise money for terrorists.   Now I watched as the judges let her off the hook.  Sort of.  She did get two years in prison.  But then I saw her pardoned because they accepted because she's been brainwashed that she didn't commit those crimes of her own free will and let her off the hook.  


But I kept saying to myself that i just didn't see any difference.  I mean here were these women minding their own business when they were either kidnapped or outright sold.  Then they were forced through one method or another to do some form of sex work - prostitution, stripping, porn, etc.   Instead of the money going to the terrorists - the money was going to a pimp.   Instead of robbing a bank - they were rolling a trick.  Instead of standing in a bank - they were standing on a corner or dancing on a stage or being filmed.   Now if Patty could get pardoned - then why weren't these other victims able to be pardoned?  Because they weren't white and had rich daddy's?  Why wasn't the law acknowledging those of us who could be forced also.  No - something had to change.


I went and talked to my family attorney.  He told me "you'll never make a change as long as you're in the business".  


"Why not?  Why can't I fight to change this right where I'm at now?" I demanded to know.


"First of all - no one will listen to you.  No one listens to the pot head talking about his right to get stoned.  They figure you're just defending it for yourself.  Second, no one listens to women any way let alone a hooker. The women hate you and won't help you.  The men don't want you to be legitimized and empowered.  Plus no one listens to someone they think is a whore anyway.  The only way these feminists are being listened to like Gloria Allred is she's an attorney.  Third - the minute you start speaking out the cops will be all over you busting you to shut you up.  The minute you jaywalk they'll bust you to discredit you.  So if you want to fight for this - you got to go straight.  There's no way around it - you have to be clean if you want to fight for this." he explains to me like a dutch uncle.


Little did I know that day was coming when I left his office.  Because not long after that I got arrested.  This was when I really came to understand our system wasn't at all prepared for our needs.  You have to realize what I was dealing with first of all back then when I got arrested.   First of all, I had some very high power famous celebrity clients.  I mean very famous actors that I can say now because he's dead like Tony Curtis was on speed dial.  There was also directors, producers, politicians, bankers, real estate tycoons - you name it.  These men wouldn't see street walkers on a dare.   Many of my clients were married and many would have their careers ruined if it leaked out about what they were doing.  Robert Reed has now passed (the father on the Brady Bunch) and he liked to hire young men.  I mean that kind of thing leaking out could tank someone's marriage or career.  If you doubt me - take a look at what happened to Eliot Spitzer for the kind of damage that could have been done in 1984 if they had found my phone book or I'd named names. 


Second, I had gotten myself involved in Iran Contra and some very big deals that went way beyond prostitution.  Again, I refer back to the documentary "Cocaine Cowboys 1".  They talk about the boats and planes full of cocaine.  Well I used to drive some of the trucks that would take the crates of the raw cocaine off those docks and landing pads because I had the kind of face no one would pull over.  It was very unlikely they'd pull over a white woman - but they sure might pull over the black guy driving a big unmarked truck at 3:00 a.m. down in Beverly Hills.  Which was another thing - I could drive into nicer parts of town without being stopped.  


So I had a lot of very high level criminals knowing that I knew their names, faces, and addresses.  I knew where whole rooms of cash and cocaine were kept.  I knew where there were warehouses of counterfeit money.  I knew where the chop-shops, the illegal brothels, the crack-houses, the processing places where they'd process the cocaine for sale and put them in those little baggies, I mean I knew where the rugs were and the dirt that was under those rugs as well as what house those rugs were in also.  


To top it off - I had something else I didn't even know at first.  A woman had called me up saying she heard I could stash her away from her pimp.  She told me her pimp/drug dealer boyfriend had just beat her up in a drug rage and she wanted to leave - now.  I told her about the warehouse and she said "please come get me out of here".  So I drove all the way to Lancaster to get her out of the house.  When I arrived - it was in a complete shambles.  He had really gone on one hell of a rampage.  She had a dislocated shoulder it turned out after I got her to the hospital.  But when she'd called me I was in the process of retiring.  I had turned off the phones and saved up enough money to quit.  But breaking everything took time when you have chronic fatique syndrome and you can't pay someone to help you with that kind of stuff.  


So I told her I couldn't supply her with any appointments because I'd just shut off the phones, I hadn't renewed my ads, I was closing down the offices, etc.   She told me she could apply for disability and get into a section 8 apartment - so I told her she could stay in the warehouse until she got on her feet in her own place.  I really didn't think she'd go out and keep working behind my back - especially that close to the police station.  But that's what she did.  She started going to the men in the buildings across the street, next door, etc. and coming onto them.  One of them was an undercover cop.  She was also selling drugs she'd brought with her I didn't know about.  So she got herself popped for prostitution and drug sales while it turned out she was also on probation.


Only when they arrested her - they found my under cover camera equipment.  Surprise!  You're on Candid Camera.  So it turned out that my video recorder had recorded her having sex and doing drugs with undercover police officers for about two weeks before they popped her.  Meaning they knew I had this incriminating tape of them on me once they started tearing up the place looking for cash and drugs to confiscate.   


Back then everyone snitched.  So everyone thought i'd snitch too.  The tabloids paid a lot of money for what I knew - so a lot of people were really worried what I'd say.  They didn't want to wonder either.  They wanted to sleep at night.  So they just ordered me whacked.  Which meant when I got myself arrested - I had criminals, celebrities, mobsters and the cops all wanting me dead at the same time.  I mean what's one more dead hooker right?  They knew no one would care or bother even investigating.  So it was on.  


The DA said to me that he knew I didn't want to do a lot of the stuff I did because he knew that I'd been threatened by the "family" I was with when I first started in the sex industry.  He even told me "you're the only person who has left them and is still alive - so you have to tell me what you saw".   He wanted me to turn state's evidence as they called it and was trying to assure me that they could give me witness protection if I did.   They even changed my case name to the male spelling of "Rene Le Blanc" thinking that would assure me they could protect me.  


It wasn't so much that I wasn't a snitch - I just was realistic.  I knew I wouldn't be believed for one thing.  Who was going to believe I was seeing women behind sold to drug dealers like dogs?   Who was going to believe that these women were being deceived into flying to other countries for "jobs" that didn't exist?  Then once they got there their passports were taken and they were forced to work in brothels to work off their contracts.  Who was going to believe me that I had seen our own CIA men kidnapping women, putting them on diplomat planes so they wouldn't be stopped, and shipped off to keep some guy happy in a drug or oil deal?   I mean watch the documentary "Cocaine Cowboys 1" real close.  Look at what was going on in the 1980's.  There were planes and boats of cocaine coming into the country - but what they left out of that was that sometimes when they'd be pulling back out they'd have women and/or young boys on them to take back before loading up the cocaine.  Who was going to believe me?  If they did believe me I knew the government would just come in saying "national security" and silence everything also.  No  I was screwed.  


At first I thought I was safer in jail so I didn't post bail.  Until they tried to kill me in jail.   They had tried to do a Sandra Bland on me.   First they put me in the psych ward in a solitary cell so I was alone and there was no witnesses.  Then a guard came in at 2:00 a.m. and tried to get me hung with my own dress.  I was just lucky that the cleaning crew had forgotten something and came back for it or I would have been dead.   That's when I told my attorney to post my bail and get me out of there.  


Then I had cars chasing me trying to run me off the road.  I didn't know if I was imagining it or not but I stopped driving.  I gave my car to a girlfriend who looked a lot like me.  That day someone broad sided her at 110 mph and killed her.  The police told me that an illegal alien ha said that he'd gotten paid $100 to plow into my car - only he thought she was me.   But I knew I had to get off the streets.  


I checked into a motel.  But then I got antsy.  I left and another girlfriend of mine stayed in the room.  When I got back the police and news were all over the motel.  Turned out a guy showed up with a gun banging on the door.  She'd called the cops who then confronted him.  He refused to surrender and charged the cops supposedly so they had to kill him.  So I wasn't safe driving and i wasn't safe on the streets.  


Where was I going to go?  A shelter?  I had cops coming after me.  One flash of a badge and anyone would tell them something or let them in.  My apartment had already told me cops had been there trying to get a key to my apartment.  The cops had already told my attorney that if I didn't give them the tape they'd kill me.  He told them if they killed me he'd put the tape on the 11:00 o'clock news.  So they were posturing.  


Then my attorney told me to go stay with my 70 year old grandmother.  He told me they would try and kill me and make it look like a suicide.   That if I stayed with her - I'd have a witness about where I was at all times and they couldn't kill me if I stayed in her house and didn't come out for a while until things cooled down.  Now he warned me "they'll try and lure you outside or her outside so don't leave the house no matter what".  Which is exactly what happened.  We got the knocks on the door and weird lame excuses to try and make one of us come outside.  I just refused and so did she.  (Might be why Jeane Palfrey didn't make it.  I had warned her not to go outside at her mom's house for this reason.)


In the meantime, my attorney was doing a lot of negotiating for me.  He was letting a lot of people know that I was not "snitching" and they had nothing to worry about to calm everyone down.   He got threatened himself a few times - but he really saved my life back then.  Without him negotiating like that - I would probably be dead.   He did things like let the cops know that if I got left alone the tapes would never see the light of day - that sort of thing.  


But after what I went through - I knew there was no way I could have stayed in a program like the Mary Magdalene Project and survived.  I would have been murdered if I had not been in a place like my grandmother's where I had a witness who wasn't leaving for any reason.  I mean they even sent someone to the door trying to get her to come outside saying a "water main broke out in the front of the building - you have to come look at it".  Grandma just said "call the water company" and slammed the door in their face.   It's one thing when you've got criminals coming after you - it's a whole other thing when you have someone with a badge coming after you.  


If you listen to them in that documentary - you'll hear them say that people didn't believe what was going on with the drugs.  They sure weren't going to believe us about the sex trafficking.  My attorney had said I could only "change the system" if I made myself a "respectable member of society".  I took my plea bargain is the short version of what happened and I got three years probation.  I did my probation and kept my nose clean.  I became that "respectable member of society" he told me I had to become if I was going to take on the system to the point where I even was working as a paralegal with lawyers and wearing a suit to work.  


I'd gotten some clean time and a little apartment and a cute little Dodge Colt and now I was ready to change the world.  But it was more than that.  People kept seeking me out for help to escape a situation where they couldn't get help from our traditional system.   I mean how many times do you have to ask for help to leave the sex industry and be referred to a church, or a drug program or a homeless shelter before people realize that's not what's needed?   Through a series of very lucky accidents I go more into in my memoirs - I'd now made it out.  But what about the others?  Who was going to help them?


THE MOVEMENT BEGINS

The only way to change the world I know of is through the media first.  So I went back to my attorney and asked him if I could go on national TV to talk about what I'd seen and to promote our hotline for people to call in for help.  I had started now the first hotline and the first program for adults focused on recovery for "us".  We went over the statutes on everything and he cleared me.  In the two years I was going through probation and going "straight" I kept looking for some type of program that would do what I was doing while I was in the business and found nothing.  Not even the Mary Magdalene Project was set up for us.  If I'd gone there when I first left - I would have been murdered because they didn't have any security.  


Again, I was still dealing with a world that didn't even realize people like that existed.  I couldn't ask this country to bring about changes until I first made them realize there was in fact a problem.  Before starting a program - I did exhaustive research to make sure absolutely totally sure no one else was doing a hotline, a program, etc.  I also did extensive research into what "worked" and what didn't.

As I started this research people started telling me about this church that was "getting women off the streets".  So I went to interview them - the Children of God.  This was 1986.  Only as I interviewed these women and looked around - I realized they might be off the corner and not have a street pimp but these women were being pimped and their children sexually exploited.  But what to do?  Children of the Night wasn't set up to take in 10 families.  No one was set up to take 10 families and the dog.  

To top it off - no one was still even believing Linda's story about what Chuck had done to her was true - I went ahead and sent off a couple of my news clippings to all the talk shows. The Sally Jesse Raphael Show was the first one to respond and offer me the whole hour.   I went on there talking about my story - the need for our society to change - giving out the hotline - and talking about how these women needed help.  Thankfully, an apartment owned stepped up and let these women move in for no money.  That was our first "rescue" as Prostitutes Anonymous.  The Children of God cult then left the USA that year and changed their name after the bad press and word spread around town about what happened.  


I'd also sent some clippings to Ms. Magazine, along with some other feminist publications and authors.  I honestly thought the feminists would be supportive.  They were anything but.  It confused me a lot at first to be honest because I really thought women like Gloria Steinem and Erica Jung would be supportive of me striking out saying that there were these women out there by force and we needed to give them their choice back.  To my absolute shock the only person who was receptive was Gloria Allred.  She had a talk show then on ABC radio and she interviewed me on her show to help give us a boost.  


Gloria Allred also knew we had some women who had some child molestation and some rape cases.  She agreed to discuss them with the members of Prostitutes Anonymous for free.  She even talked to some of our male victims about representing them on rape charges against their "johns".  Gloria even talked to me about whether i could sue my father for what he did to me and about incorporating our program.   She told me about how I might get some help through the ACLU and let me use her law library for research.  On a personal level she was very supportive and encouraging.   That woman is the "real deal".  Even now - she's "Friended" me on Facebook to show support but I still can't get Gloria Steinem to even speak to me.  Samoly Mam she's all over.  Me?  Nothing.


It took me a while to wrap my head around the feminists being against pornography but unwilling to help us who were saying we were "survivors".  Because the feminists were trying hard to push that sex work was work and a woman's right to "use her body any way she wanted" which I also agreed with.  I should be the person to decide what I do with my body and if I want to sell it I should be able to.   So along that same line of reasoning - then someone shouldn't be forcing me to sell it either.  I thought our lines of reasoning were in alignment because if I have the right to control my body then wouldn't you also be supportive of not wanting to allow someone to sell it against my will also?  But I heard a resounding thud when it came from the feminist factions.  Now if I wanted to let them exploit me  like they'd done Linda - they would have been very happy to oblige.  Because I soon learned that when these icons of "female empowerment" were talking about the subject - it was about "their" empowerment - not "ours" across the board.  


I learned this when I started putting together our own events like a panel I put together at UCLA.  I invited them to come to "our" event- but heard nothing back.   Yet I'd seen Linda go to "their' events and that seemed okay with them.  In other words, if I wanted to come to their events to support their agendas and their fund raisers and line their pockets - they would be very happy to let me be exploited by them.  


Their people (not even them but their people) did approach me a few times asking if I'd speak out against pornography at that events like Linda had done.  I said I'd be happy to organize an event they could come speak at to help me raise money for my project - and they'd back away.   See I felt Linda had gone from being pimped by Chuck to being pimped by the feminists.  I didn't want to substitute being exploited and used by one person by another . I didn't want to be anyone's "token" anything.  If I was going to stand up on a podium with Gloria Steinem or Erica Jung - I wanted to do so as an equal or not at all.  


Only they weren't interested.  I saw the same thing with Samoly Mam years later.  During his rise to fame in the field I created they would celebrate her.  They made her their "poster child of sex trafficking".  They had her accepting checks and speaking on stages with them just like I'd seen Linda do.   I saw them hugging her on the stages of these fund raisers and seeing them applaud her - but I still didn't see her over at their house for Sunday dinner as one of them.  I still didn't see Samoly Mam put together an event that they were a part of as equals.   No - I saw them parade her around like a pet monkey, stand up and tell us your horror stories, then we'll give you a check and send you back to your hole.   It didn't bother Samoly because she wasn't a "real' survivor of trafficking that needed to be empowered to recover.  However, I was and did.  Linda went back to making adult films and doing drugs and Samoly Mam was exposed as a fraud.  But they were also willing to let those people use them for money.  I wasn't.


I gpt the call to go on Sally's show the first time in August of 1987.  That was my first national talk show appearance where I had the whole hour to myself.   I talked about Linda trying to tell America about her trafficking experiences but took it one step further.  Her campaign had been to try and stamp out pornography with her truth.  That however didn't change our legal system or the way we were viewed by people.  


Taking away a Playboy was not going to change the system and allow people like these victims to get recognition we existed and help.  It wasn't going to stop cops from rounding us up every Thursday night in paddy wagons like dog catchers when probably 1/2 of those women out there were there by force.  No one even asked them if they wanted to be there - everyone got arrested and treated equally as criminals.   My goal was that I wanted to see a woman branded as a hooker to be able to pick up a phone, call 911, and have a car come out and arrest that guy if she was being held there against her will without her being thrown into the black and white along with him as a criminal.  


I told the audience these stories of what I'd seen.  I told them our legal system needed to change.  I explained we needed a different kind of shelter for these victims.  I explained we couldn't call the law because many of the cops were part of the problem.  Many of them were taking bribes by the pimps and the drug dealers - so they wouldn't help us but just drag us right back to the pimp if they tried to run.  I heard stories of social workers taking bribes to return victims to the pimps, and foster parents selling kids to pimps.  


No - we needed to change the very structure of our system is what I said.  Of course no one believed me at first either.  Again, I liken the way I was responded to as if I'd gotten up and said I was there to say that Americans were being abducted by aliens and we needed to build a military that would stop them, and special shelters to treat abductee victims.  That we needed to train counselors that alien abduction existed and how to properly treat them for the trauma they'd just gone through.   I would see the way people would react to someone talking about seeing a UFO and it was the same reaction that I got at first.  That's how crazy and strange it was received when I first stepped up in 1987 about this issue.  We literally got the same reaction out of people that we would of if I'd said little green men had done it. 


So I went on another show and another until I was on the Geraldo show.  His wife at the time, C.C., pulled me over when she saw the audience reaction and said "I think it would work if you brought on more people to talk about their experiences".  She was right.  People were just dismissing me as "crazy".  By then we had quite a few members in our Prostitutes Anonymous meeting who had been forced into it.  So I went to them and asked if they'd go on national TV to tell their stories.  They weren't happy.  This meant losing their jobs, losing relationships and possibly even losing where they lived.  People did not react well to this stuff back then.  


A few said "we're not going to change the system until we get people to believe us".  I called C.C. and said "I got them".  She booked us for a second show.  Gerardo liked stories that shocked back then and he especially liked stories of the underdog.   He was a Hispanic reporter in the days when reporters were like blond blue eye'd Ken Dolls.  So he had his own challenges about changing perceptions too.  We'd found a champion.  


We stepped back up on that stage with myself, a woman who had been pimped out by her grandfather starting when she was five years old, another woman who had been pimped out by her father, and a man who had been sold to a biker gang when he was eight years old.  It was a pretty shocking show.  The audience was torn between horror, shock and pity.  


Things really turned around when Andrea tried to speak.  Ever since her grandfather had forced her to give oral sex starting when she was only five years old - she'd had a stutter.  So she was trying to tell her story where she'd stutter really badly when it got stressful.  At one point she couldn't even speak at all.  Geraldo reached over and touched her in a gentle, fatherly way.  She calmed right down because of being accepted like this and was able to finish.  The audience was greatly moved and this was when they started to believe.  


I still was getting accused of "only saying this to sell a book" or "make a movie" so I kept refusing the contracts.  Then Geraldo gave my number to Joan Rivers.  She had just started a talk show in New York and I agreed to go.  I went on her show with those contracts that totaled over $1,000,000.  I showed them to the audience and then I tore them up.  I explained that I needed people to BELIEVE me - not sell a book.  Selling a book was just money.  If all I wanted was money - I could go back to sex work.  That I needed people to believe us - because then and only then were we going to get the legal system to change and realize that victims like us existed.


That's when things started to change.  

(Continued in Part Two - How we got from the talk shows to the Trafficking Act of 2000.)





(copyright 2014 J.L. Williams – All Rights Reserved)



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