There is a Hooker in All of Us. Isn’t there?

When I was small, I used to tell my mother, “When I grow up I’m moving to Hollywood.”

She paid little attention to my many officious pronouncements. What spawned this particular goal was our summer vacations. My family and I would pile into our station wagon and make the trek from the Arizona desert to the cool California beaches. My uncle rented a house on the Balboa Peninsula in Orange County where my cousins, brothers and I would run free all day while our parents played cards and drank. A lot. Enough to ignore us most of the day. My main activity was lying on the beach and reading. This is where I fell in love with California. I knew for certain one day I would return.

And return I did. I left college in Arizona and moved to Hollywood. Yes, Mom, I was serious. West Hollywood to be exact. I lived in an apartment building near the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega Boulevards. Down the street on Melrose Avenue, the soon-to-be tres chic Ma Maison had just opened by owner Patrick Terrail, whose uncle headed the iconic La Tour D’Argent in Paris. I’d stop by to say hello and pet his little dog who slept in a basket inside the kitchen. It was all very cozy before fame and Wolfgang Puck discovered him. We dated for a short time, and he taught me how the French prepared steak, plus a few other French skills.

I landed a job working for an auction company whose office was in the 9000 Building on Sunset Boulevard, not far from where I lived.

Three things are worthy of note from that time.

First, I read Charles Manson’s prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” alone in the office and became so frightened I locked myself inside for a week.

Second, some unfortunate soul decided to jump off the 15th floor where I worked. Curiously, I stupidly leaned over the balcony edge and looked at the first dead person I had ever seen who appeared to be sleeping peacefully.

And third, and certainly a tale worth telling, I began a year-long affair with the owner. But that’s a story for another day.

Indulge me in returning to my apartment on La Peer Street.

This is where it all happened. It was a square shaped security building where I entered from an underground garage through an elevator into hallways. Three storied, all of the apartments had balconies that faced the middle of the square where a gorgeous pool and lounge chairs were arranged. This was California after all, land of the sybaritic sun worshippers. The pool was a required amenity and was full night and day.

I did not know anyone in the building, but I did notice there were many beautiful young women in their 20s. I would see them gliding around in their expensive clothes at the pool, in the laundry, and driving into the garage in their Mercedes, Porsches, and cars I’d never seen before. For the record, I drove a VW Bug.

They were very friendly, introduced themselves with exotic names, and I imagined that perhaps they were actresses. Although actresses who could afford this rent was a stretch. I also noticed they were often home. Interesting. But, what did I know? I’m just a small-town girl from the desert.

It did not take too long for one of these gorgeous swans, “Dixie,” (for real) to offer an explanation of her “business.” Dixie was from the south and her sentences sounded like, “Oh, honey, I thought you knew we was all working girls.” Working girls?

Dixie did not name herself as such, but she was a madam, and these working girls worked for her. I was fascinated, and fortunately Dixie just loved to talk.

Her “tricks” came to her apartment, often two or three at a time, had drinks and conversation, and then disappeared into bedrooms. Just like any other business. Sort of. Only Dixie took 40% of the money.

“For overhead, honey, you know, drinks, linens and such.”

“No, actually I didn’t know, but please, do go on.”

As time went on, I met more girls, as they preferred to be called. Call girls. Due to their appearance, high rent apartments, and first class parties, these girls would never dream of considering themselves prostitutes or hookers. Oh, no no. Those girls worked the streets. These girls owned books of known tricks (I love that word. Were they being tricked?) who were personally known to them and repeat clients.

One of the most ironic things I saw at Dixie’s apartment happened one night when I was visiting and met this great looking young guy dressed in a dark blue suit. It was clear that he and Dixie were old friends. He was funny, sexy, and owned the room. I asked who he was later, and she told me in her southern drawl, “Oh, him? That’s just Joe from Vice in the Hollywood Division.” Apparently Dixie even had insurance.

I lived in that building less than a year before I eventually moved in with a boyfriend. But what a year it was. I wish I’d had the courage to write home, “Dear Mom, Hollywood is everything I thought it would be and more. I’m sleeping with my boss and hanging out with call girls. Love, Dori.”

It was the summer, and that was my introduction to Hollywood.

Years later, I lived in Nevada where prostitution was legal and a non-issue. After becoming friends with this wide variety of women who’d chosen this life as an occupation, I never felt I was in a position to judge anyone.

After all, was I not sleeping with my boss who paid me money? So—when is a hooker not a hooker? If you asked a very beautiful and wealthy southern girl named Dixie, I believe she would have told you it’s when they’re just working girls.

 

Dori Owen

Dori Owen blogs on ArizonaGirlDiary.tumblr.com, is a columnist on FeminineCollective.com, a contributor/editor for The Lithium Chronicles, created the Facebook page Diary of an Arizona Girl, is an author on AskABipolar, was featured in the books FeminineCollective RAW&UNFILTERED VOL I and StigmaFighters Vol II, and is a zealous tweeter as @doriowen. She's a former LA wild child who settled into grownup life as a project manager, collecting an MBA and a few husbands along the way. Dori spent her adult years in Southern California, with a brief stay in Reno, and has now returned to where she ran away from in Arizona. She is a shown artist, writer, and her favorite pastime is upcycling old furniture she finds from thrift stores. She lives with her beloved rescued terrier, Olivia Twist, and the cat who came to visit but stayed. The love of her life is her grown son in Portland, Oregon who very much resents being introduced after her pets. But she she does love him the most.

10 thoughts on “There is a Hooker in All of Us. Isn’t there?

  1. Pandora Reply

    Dori, thank you for this awesome and witty article! You are an amazing writer! Can’t wait to read your next post! xoxo <3

    1. Dori OwenDori Owen Post author Reply

      Thank you SO much, Pandora. It was a great moment in time and some interesting people, to say the least! Thanks for reading, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Mary Rowen Reply

    Great, thought-provoking piece, Dori! Makes me wish I’d been there. For an East Coaster like me, California–a place I’ve only visited a few times–still seems like a dreamland.

    I often wonder about where to draw the line when it comes to prostitution, especially when the laws are different in various states.

    1. Dori OwenDori Owen Post author Reply

      Even living there, Mary, it WAS a dreamland. Paradise, especially if you were close to the beach! I, too, am conflicted about prostitution. On one hand, I know there is horrific human trafficking. Yet I know of legal brothels. But the women I met were a small, organized enterprise. It was fascinating, indeed. Thanks for reading!

  3. Jackie CioffaJackie Cioffa Reply

    “After all, was I not sleeping with my boss who paid me money? So—when is a hooker not a hooker? If you asked a very beautiful and wealthy southern girl named Dixie, I believe she would have told you it’s when they’re just working girls.”

    I have often wondered about this. Dori Owen, this piece is phenomenal. It makes me long for the freedom days of West Hollywood and starry eyed, naive girls.
    California dreamers.

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