In a society where lawyers become lapdancers, escorts land record deals, and Internet sites provide 24/7 erotic access, it’s often difficult to draw the line between owning and losing control of your sexuality. “Party Girl” author Anna David became a de facto expert on transactional sex while researching an article about prostitution, and her new novel “Bought” draws on her experiences to tell the (fictional!) story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with a high-class escort. Sirens sat down with David to discuss prostitution: the definitions, motives – and even how it may be affecting your dating life.
How did your research for the Details article prompt you to write this book?
I had thought it was going to be a simple reported story, where I would just go and interview people and write up some anecdotes. I ended up spending six months infiltrating this world, and found out a lot about this madam and her girls. She had risen to become the new Heidi Fleiss, but everyone hated her. Normally you wouldn’t have great access in a story like this — why would anyone want to talk to a journalist about illicit activities? — but because there was so much resentment towards the madam, the floodgates opened. Women called me saying, “I heard you’re doing this story, and I need to talk to you.” The piece ended up being a silly article that didn’t really encapsulate any of what I learned, so I decided to fictionalize it and make it into a novel.
How did the process change your ideas about prostitution?
Initially, I probably had the same thoughts as most women who are reasonably liberal but still self-respecting — I judged it as sad. Once I started interviewing girls for the article, I felt more judgmental of the men who were paying for it than the women who were participating in it. Most of the girls that I interviewed seemed lost. They were porn stars and Penthouse pets and Playmates who had realized that through side work, as they called it, they could make this money. But they didn’t have a lot of other opportunities.