What's a mother to do when her 22-year-old daughter appears on national television to admit she is a prostitute? What do you say to your Fairfax County neighbors when she details in a paperback her sexual adventures as a Washington hooker, a career that included a six-month stint as paid escort to a celebrated Russian defector?
The parents of characters in Washington's sex scandals are generally anonymous, and the case of Judy Chavez's kiss-and-tell adventure last year with a Soviet defector, diplomat Arkady Shevchenko, was no exception. Chavez's parents avoided reporters clamoring for details about the mystery woman who claimed the FBI and CIA provided Shevchenko with more than $40,000 to buy her expensive company.
"What do you do?" Marlyn Taylor, 51, asks today. "You try to keep yourself busy doing something else.You don't think about it and hope everything comes out for the best."
Taylor (Judy Chavez kept the surname of her former husband) is a feisty McLean housewife and mother of two adopted daughters who thinks everything has come out for the best. After 28 years as a civil engineer with the U.S. Forest Service, her husband, Heyward, is looking forward to retirement. The couple have put their home on the market and plan to head for the sun to operate the Gold Mine Saloon they recently bought in Panama City Fla. But this time last year the Taylors sat in their tastefully decorated living room and watched in horrified fascination as their older daughter's face appeared on network television and the nation's front pages.
At first they were shocked. But by the time their daughter's paperback autobiography appeared last spring, Mrs. Taylor was sending autographed copies to friends. She collected press clippings and today says, "Judy is grown up and she's turned her life over to the world now. We talk about once a week . . . she was always very individualistic."
As a young girl, Judy was a Brownie and Girl Scout whose interests included ballet, tap dancing and the piano. She graduated at age 16 from Fairfax County's Oakton High School after quitting Fairfax Christian School. She married a local boy and the couple moved to California before returning to Washington to find a job. They separated in 1975.
Gradually Mrs. Taylor began to wonder how her daughter supported herself.
"I always had a feeling," she says. "She lived well, drove a new Camaro, had a nice apartment, kept irregular hours. But when I asked her what she was doing, she'd just get up and leave."
Recalls Judy: "I believe they thought I was in real estate -- I was evasive."
She gave her parents several hours' notice before NBC-TV broke the story of her vocation and expensive liaison with Shevchenko.
"I asked her why she didn't marry him," Mrs. Taylor recalls, "and she said because he's too old, 48. You know how I feel about him? He got exactly what he deserves, messing around with a 22-year-old. That dirty old man."
Today Chavez lives in New York and works on a book about how to be a femme fatale. She attends classes in French, music and ballet because, she says, it keeps her out of trouble. A romance with a minor rock musician has faded, which makes her mother happy -- she didn't much like him the one time they met.
"Judy likes good living," says Marlyn Taylor. "Maybe what got her off on the wrong foot was I never gave it to her. I always told her she had to work for it. But evidently she found an easier way."