I interviewed Debra over the course of several weeks in order to prepare for ghostwriting her memoir. Debra is a slight woman with a calculating stare and a bubbly personality. Either way, you’re thinking of a woman in charge of a house full of prostitutes, who runs her girls with a firm but loving hand. It’s true that some madames are exactly like that. In those meetings, she shared many insights into her history before becoming and her experiences as a madame.
Her background is very dark
A safe and happy childhood eluded Debra ; who only managed to escape her sexually abusive stepfather by running away from home as a teenager. Things didn’t get any easier, though — from the time she was 16 well into her 30s, she managed to date assholes: guys who hit her, scammed her, abused her, and robbed her.In a darkly ironic twist, Debra took the burden of this pain and manipulated her way into the hearts and wallets of other men later on. She took up exotic dancing, and after a few hundred times of being asked to do a little more than dance for a lot more than dollar bills, she forayed into prostitution. The first time it happened, she’d been asked by a regular client to join him for a weekend trip… and to invite along some additional female guests to be his traveling companions. She said at the time, it didn’t feel surprising. These asks were just natural progressions of what she was already doing. Plus, they were opportunities to make more money — opportunities she took.
Debra has hundreds of stories about milking regular clients for thousands of dollars in the club, for investment money out of the club, and for gifts and favors that would make a senator blush. She was happy taking the power in a work relationship. But as soon as that relationship became an affair, she relinquished control instantly; voluntarily. I personally saw that in action while negotiating the contract to write for her. She wasn’t an unreasonable bargainer, but took control of the conversation instantly and was completely frank about what she needed financially and professionally.
Madames rarely consider themselves as such
Debra hired me to do a stripper memoir with a stronger angle toward her more legitimate business ventures than the part with the T&A. She was proud of some real estate and event management she’d made decent money from, and considered herself a businesswoman. When she began telling me stories about convincing, coercing, and even threatening women in order to get them to have sex for money, she was honestly surprised when I called her a madame.
Famous people are part of the package
Madames like Debra aren’t overseeing the stereotypical group of women frequenting street corners — they’re arranging nights, weekends, or vacations with companionship to the tune of four and five figures a night. That means money, and money means celebrities.One of Debra’s straight jobs was as a promoter for a Vegas nightclub. During that time, she gave VIP treatment to visiting bigwigs — including sports stars, politicians, musicians, and the head coach of a college basketball team.
Debra claimed she wasn’t particularly starstruck by most of these encounters: they were just more chances to make big money. But one time, as a madame, Debra set up an encounter for a lead player on her favorite basketball team. She found out he was coming to town through a handler, made arrangements through that intermediary, found a “partner” for him, and arranged “delivery.” She was excited to meet the athlete during the hand-off; but admitted to ultimately feeling a little disappointed in him for his proclivities.
“Weird” is just another workday
And, actually, violence plays a role in the fantasy element of escort services as well. Jenny told a story about a man who stopped her at random at a gas station and offered her $100 to slap him in the face. She talked him up to $200, then hauled off and hit him. Debra told me she’d see him from time to time on the Strip and he would always make the same offer. Each time, she hit him, he thanked her, and he disappeared into the night. Jenny knew a variety of “specialists” who were happy to indulge in any fantasy you can imagine — plus a bunch of fantasies you can’t imagine.
The weird didn’t stop at fetishes , sex acts, or inserting every imaginable kind of Tab A into every standard-issue Slot B found on the human body. Debra’s girls role-played with clients and assumed names of those clients’ daughters. They accompanied clients to events while posing as wives or sisters. And a surprising number of Debra’s workers simply gave back rubs and basic spa treatments.
Once you cross over into this world, Debra explained, it becomes easier to break right through any taboos that present themselves. If you have someone willing to pay for sex, the kind of sex , and the behaviors surrounding it , is pretty wide open.