Susannah Breslin, whose work chronicling first-person testimonies of prostitutes and their clients I've blogged here before, has a feature in Newsweek today. The topic is of particularly broad interest right now, it would seem, because of the scandal surrounding New York's recently-former governor.
She's been gathering letters from hookers and johns, and today she explores what we might learn from them about Eliots. Snip from Susannah's Newsweek piece:
One letter in particular may offer a window into the mind-set of a man like Spitzer. It came in the form of an encrypted e-mail from a state investigator. Professionally, he was dedicated to enforcing the law. Personally, he was in a relationship with a woman with whom he hadn't had sex in years. He'd been seeing prostitutes since 1991. In his encoded diary he recorded his encounters. "1 dot is oral, 2 dots is vaginal sex, and 2 connected dots is anal sex. In the event that someone questions the dots, they are associated with good or bad days: no dots are normal days, 1 dot is a good day, 2 dots is a great day, and 2 connected dots is the best day for that week." For him, sex for money was sex without strings, attachment, or guilt–a transaction.
But for some it's the financial transaction itself that is alluring. In the first letter I received I heard from a successful twentysomething who described himself as "attractive and ambitious." He had a girlfriend–"a wonderful woman"–but there was something about the act of paying for sex, he confessed, that turned him on. "I find the idea of paying for sexual acts to be erotic," he confided. For some men, especially those who are seen as particularly moral or righteous in their public lives (think of all those fallen preachers), part of the appeal is the fact that it is illegal and a moral transgression in their eyes.