The Happy Hooker's Code of Ethics

By Xaviera Hollander
Sunday, May 6, 2007

AMSTERDAM

There is a code of ethics in prostitution. You are not supposed to divulge names. That is the lowest thing you could do in this profession. People go to prostitutes to keep their secrets. My father was a doctor; I knew the rules. You don't talk about your patients, and as a prostitute, you don't talk about your Johns. People trust you, and they pay enough for you.

From my experience, I know what it's like to have people coming after you. I got involved in a massive police corruption scandal. My place was entirely bugged, and ultimately I was arrested and deported from the United States in 1971.

I wrote about it all in my book "The Happy Hooker," and when it was published, I was asked by Time and Newsweek: Can you now tell us who your famous customers were? I refused. I don't kiss and tell.

Now, of course, I can say that Frank Sinatra was a fan, but that's only because he's long dead. I had some White House numbers on my list, too. But I would never name names while they're living -- and none of my girls would ever talk, either. They were just happy to have a job.

Keeping such secrets provides an adrenaline rush. I've given lectures about the power of running a one-woman show. To run a business like this is to constantly reinvent yourself. You are filling demands. You are not selling things; you are renting out people, emotions. It's power. You're catering to the powerful, so you are powerful yourself.

I started off as a secretary in Holland, and then I ran a temp agency. When a banker calls to ask for a secretary who speaks four languages or a banker goes to a whorehouse and says, "I want a buxom redhead," it's the same kind of transaction. And depending on what I have for him, I have to push his boundaries. I have to know how to play the body as well as the soul. When all I have is a brunette, I have to convince someone who wants a redhead that what he really wants is the brunette.

I have the power to change their ideas.

Mostly, men want what they cannot get at home. And women in this business are prepared to listen to their stories.

Nowadays, of course, with the Internet, choosing your sexual fantasy is like ordering a pizza. There is so much permissiveness. It doesn't make it exciting.

When your mother forbids you to go out with little Timmy and then he has to scale the wall to your bedroom window, that's very exciting. There's a scene like that in many movies. Now people say to their kids, "Here's birth control, Timmy can spend the night if he wants." And the girls must say, "Look, Mom, I'll decide for myself." It's too permissive.

Maybe that's what makes buying these so-called fantasies so appealing. The taste of forbidden fruit is always much sweeter.

Not that everything has changed. Americans are still so prudish. But the more prudish you are, the more books like mine sell. For a long time, as my signature at the bottom of my e-mail, I had this quote: "In America you can get away with murder, but not with sex."

At least this latest D.C. Madam is an American, and she can't be deported. But if you're open about sex and you make a scandal, you're finished. She will be dismantled. She'll probably end up broke. I think the Mayflower Madam now sells costume jewelry somewhere.

Sex is powerful. You can do a lot of things with sex. But it's not my main subject anymore. I am back into beds, though. I run a bed-and-breakfast here in Amsterdam.

Xaviera Hollander's book "The Happy Hooker: My Own Story" was first published in 1972.

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