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Thoroughly Modern Madam: 3Thoroughly Modern Madam-
an interview with Rebecca Rand (part 3)

They could have gotten you and your money and not spent so much! So your money didn't help them because they just paid themselves back for the expenses they incurred in your case. To bad. They could have spent a few hundred thousand on social services to reform prostitutes. Yeah, right...

My lawyer said that they didn't make a deal earlier because they were waiting to find out how much money they could get their hands on. They hadn't had time to see what assets of mine they could glom onto. Why make a deal for two hundred thousand, when you could get your hands on ten million. My attorney came back and told them that charging your daughter was the most immoral thing that they could possibly do, that he never, in twenty five years as a criminal attorney seen anyone stoop that low. And even after all the bad publicity coming from the sex phobic columnists around, one at least wrote, "It doesn't make sense that you charge somebody with a major felony and then dismiss it because somebody else pays 200,000 dollars. The government shouldn't be doing that. If you charge somebody, it should be because you have some evidence. If you negotiate their case, it should be a plea bargain with them, right. If you take money for dismissing a case, that's just extortion. It was just a really sleazy, slimy thing to do, and the prosecutor who did it, I just read in the paper, is going to make a run for Senator. I have a very low opinion of politicians in general, anyway. And now, I just got a call from Lehrer. It's her birthday. The Michigan Bar is messing with her about this case. She has to hire a lawyer in Michigan, and appear before the bar, and try to convince them that she's a fit person to be an attorney. It's was dismissed. What more do you want?

Has she read Mrs. Warren's profession?

Mrs. Warren was too ashamed of it. I need to not take the position that it's a regrettable, unfortunate necessity that we have to tolerate. No! It's innocuous. It's only your thinking that makes it seem so bad, not the actuality of it. I went jail for four months and had to deal with Evelina1 and the other sex phobic feminists.

Did they support you when the cops break into your house an arresting all these women? What about your mother, and your daughter or anything?

Evelina came to the trial and held little press conferences outside, telling should have seen her parading. She just pranced up and down and back and forth in front of the camera's and ran her hands through her hair. She's going on, "Well, at least one pimp has gone out of this city and the women will be safer." It's like, Evelina, there are sixty women there. Go talk to any of them. There is not one woman who wants to lose that job. And the prosecutor's saying, "Well, I hope these women can get on with their lives now that we straightened them out. They can do something more constructive." So, they took the typical WHISPER view, that I am not a woman. I am a pimp and an exploiter, and an apologist for the patriarchy or something. And that they women have been liberated from their slavery at the sauna. None of them ever talked to the women. Nobody ever asked them if they wanted to be liberated. It's a silly concept because there's so much dishonesty in their ideology. It presupposes that the reason a person stays in prostitution is force when the reason is economics. You don't take somebody's job away unless you have a better job to offer them. If you have a better job to offer them, you won't have to take their job away. They will walk away if you can offer them something better.

I want to get back to your charges now. What were they exactly?

There were about seven or eight felony charges. There were repetitive, things like promoting prostitution, receiving earnings from prostitution, hiding the earnings of prostitution. Before the raid I had nothing hidden. It was all in the bank, in real estate and stocks. But when they raided my house, I liquidated and hid it. They were going to steal it! If someone says they're going to take your money , it's natural to hide it. They made an additional crime out of that. The outcome was, I pled guilty to receiving earning from prostitution and promoting prostitution. I refused to plead guilty to hiding money. That was the stupidest charge. I will not do that. He goes, "What difference does it make what you plead to." I go, "It's just a matter of principle. But I will gladly plead guilty to promoting prostitution. I've been promoting it for twenty years and I'll keep on promoting it. It's no secret that I promote it and that I receive earnings from doing so. I think both those things are fine and good and perfectly okay." So then you have to go into court. I didn't mind at all and I'm quite open about it. The only problem was that when you plead guilty you have to say that you are freely doing so and you have not been bribed or coerced. That's part of a plea bargain. I really hate plea bargaining. I think that there's nothing that has destroyed the criminal justice system more than the existence of plea bargaining. It's really dishonest. Because nobody makes a plea bargain who hasn't been promised something. It's always a lie.

So what's your solution?

The government should be in the position of only charging people with things that it could prove in court.. What plea bargaining allows the government to do is charge us with exaggerated crimes that you didn't do that are way beyond your actual crimes, but the threat of the punishment of those additional crimes is so great so that to the individual, it makes me accept the plea bargain. If I have even a five percent chance getting convicted of something I could do twenty years for, I won't want to take that five percent chance. I'd rather plead guilty to something and end up with one year. It robs a person of their right to a trial. In order to get your right to a trial, you have to be willing to risk a punishment far greater than you deserve. In the mind of the public, plea bargaining is an advantage to the accused. It's overwhelmingly an advantage to the government. There should be a minimum standard of proof to charge someone. If they have to go to court, they're in a much weaker situation because they are dealing with a high standard of proof. I hate plea bargains, but I've made them every time. Part of it is that I can't possibly win a trial, because I am guilty, because I have openly said that I am a prostitute and that I'm running a brothel many , many times. How can the poor lawyer put on a trial. It would be silly. But a lot of it is always all the other people they involve. My sentence was five years in prison from two counts, because of racketeering. Promoting prostitution, you would not get any time in prison for that. Racketeering is a strange concept because what they do, they take something that there's already a law against and it's not very much, and they twist it around.

There was a businessman in town who got charged with a felony because he knew a prostitute who he'd had sex with and he introduced her to another businessman. There was no money to him involved at all. It's like, I now this really great hooker. Do you want her number? He got charged with promoting prostitution, which is a felony, and he lost his business, which was a bar. With these racketeering charges, they are trying to distinguish promoting prostitution just as an incidental thing such as when one prostitute gives another one a guy's number or arranges a date. Or the case of that businessman, who they only want to strip of his reputation and his means of support, the business he's dedicated his life to. For people who are running businesses, they want to increase the punishment by twenty times. But in the case of prostitution, that's ludicrous. Prostitution, by definition, is a business. If it's not a business, it's not prostitution.

So I got a five year sentence, which they made into a twenty year probation. Because racketeering was new, it wasn't on the sentencing guidelines, so I would be going to court a long sentence. Our sentencing guidelines put this at one to ten. They started arguing for twenty years, and their guidelines were seven or eight. Of course, they'd like to put everything at ten. They were trying to convince the judge how serious this racketeering charge was. I thought, this is nonsense. What makes it any different than the crime? Racketeering could be anything, from prostitution to murder-for-hire. It seems like you shouldn't be able to say racketeering is a blanket seven on the scale. It has to be related to the sentencing guidelines for the crime, itself.

My case was the first time the were used and they way they applied it was not fair. I feel like they took from me things that I earned before the racketeering law existed. They had only been adopted two years before my case.. That's why, when they passed the federal racketeering law, they waited ten years to enforce it. They took the money, plus both of the properties which haven't been sold. They are both still sitting empty. I guess we can conclude they have no market value to anyone else, but what I paid for them. I put a hundred and seventy five thousand for one and probably put half a million into it. And the other one, I paid about ninety thousand for and put about an equal amount. I put a lot of money into them, but they generated a lot of money. There is a depressed real estate market. They are not in neighborhoods that real estate is very high in anyway, and they are both sitting empty, doing nothing to this day and probably will be for quite some time. Basically, the government destroyed a viable business that was kept up. The sidewalk was shoveled. It was neat. It was clean. The taxes were paid. They destroyed that for nothing.

I had to plea for a few reasons, but the major one was my daughter. Sentencing was a part of it.. My lawyer found a probation officer to make a recommendation to the judge, which is usually done after the trial, but we arranged to have one before, and that recommended probation and in a private conversation, the judge indicated to my attorney that even if I went to trial he was unlikely to send me to prison. So if my daughter had been cut out of it, I would have been likely to go to trial and I wouldn't have had to pay them the money. So charging her really was an extortionist act. I'm not saying that I wouldn't have paid it, because I might have to avoid the risk of more jail time because it was only a matter of a few months or a year, but the person I live with was also pressuring me a lot. I didn't want to be in jail, but he really didn't want me in jail. If I didn't live with him, and if they didn't charge my daughter, then there's no way I would plead. Because jail's not that hard to duty for me. It doesn't scare me that much. I do what I do anyway. There's something in the outside world that I have to miss but I read books alot and I write letters and do Jane Fonda and you have your own room and you can go and sit in it and be alone whenever you want. It's not horrendous. I've been there.

Don't' they make you work all day?

No, they don't. That's only in prison. But even if I had to go to prison, I would have. But I wasn't afraid. It was the other people in my life. We're stuck in a thing where incarceration is our only punishment. We've got a one note song here. A punishment that punishes other people as much or more than the individual is immoral.. We should think about some other punishment, like a contribution to the victim or their family.

I don't think punishment is the right angle for criminal justice, anyway. Punishment is just revenge by the powers that be.

I think there are some people who we need to be protected from. As long as they're locked up they're not a threat. But this system does not work as a deterrent. I've met a lot of women in prison who'd rather be there. Obviously it's dysfunctional. I think we should try to get the best judges we can and let them have a little more leeway in sentencing. Punitiveness is very expensive and not effective or useful. Katherine Porter in jail for eight to ten years is not going to help the family of the dead cop, is not going to teach her anything she doesn't already know, and it can only damage her son who is without his sole means of support.. Throwing me in jail is doing nothing at all either. I'm not going to change my mind. Twenty years probation might be more offensive to me, but it's more effective. It's keeping me out of the business when nothing else would. At least society is doing something that's cheap, and getting what it wants. I'll be sixty-four when it's up.

That's a great time to open up a brothel. By that time we can make it legal. So, we've pretty much covered the case. What's next?

We started talking about the business and I'd like to talk about that. One thing that happened really strongly that often bothered me...when I started working, immediately it occur to me that this business wasn't run right. My motivation for being in prostitution was financial, overwhelmingly financial. I wanted to make money. Along with that I have a libertarian philosophies and ideas about human sexuality that are more complex that other people's, but I could have practiced free love anywhere. I picked prostitution because I wished to make a lot of money at it, so I worked for a couple and I saw things that they were doing that made no sense. I disliked it, but they were in charge, so I had to go by their rules, but after two years they sold it to two men and when they sold it I said to the new owners, "How much money do you want to pick up a day?" And they said, "A hundred bucks each," and I said, "Fine, you can pick up two hundred a day, just leave me alone. Let me hire who I want. Let me run the ads. I'll do everything."

So they got a free manager, but they got two hundred a day and everything else was my responsibility and my money. But after working for many years, something became obvious to me...and this all came up because you asked me about how my employees felt about me. Well, I had a lot of good things happen with the employees and they had certainly a certain respect for me, but also there were a lot of confrontations and that came about because other women do not necessarily have the same motivation for being in prostitution. Some of them do not even have the same ideas about prostitution. Some of them see this as a way of playing on men for their money, so they are extremely feminine. Bring out all your feminine wiles and get him to be stupid kind of mentality. My approach to prostitution is very businesslike. I'm in competition with all the other sauna, with all the other prostitutes and I'm even in competition with all the other ways they might spend their disposable income. I not only want them to come to my sauna instead of someone else's. I want them to come to my sauna instead of the golf course. I want to make this a more pleasurable and interesting thing to do with your time and money, which is not the way that most of the other women that I worked with viewed it. I also took a long term view, that I wanted to build the business. I wanted it to keep getting bigger. I had an expansionist mentality about the business and so, I would do things or institute policies that were designed to make more money. They were not always popular with the women. And then I would be confused because they were not employees. They were working for a percentage of the gross. As the gross increased, their income increased.

Why were they fighting you? Give me an example.

Well, when I first opened the place the shifts were ten hours long. I noticed that customers would call in the afternoon and say, who is working and it would be the same people who were there when they called in the morning and they were not interested in coming in. You've got five or six people on a shift and that variety is important to them. I also noticed that women had a lot of trouble staying awake until four in the morning. Ten hours seemed too long. When they first came in they were sort of up. They got dressed. They got ready. They're bopping around. Those last few hours they are dragging. Guys come in and they aren't too enthused about seeing them. They don't really smile real big or anything. A lot of my confrontation with employees just had to do with the fact that human beings are resistant to change.
I would see something that was bad for business that was a negative. First I changed the hours to three shifts and they fought me, because I was taking money out of their pockets. They said they can't make enough money in seven hours. I said, "You'll make just as much, if not more, in seven as you do in ten because it's plenty of time for a guy who wants to see you to get over here. And business will improve, so we'll all make more money." I told them they could still work the same number of hours a week if they want.

It's hard to believe they would fight that.

Oh, they fight you on everything. Every time you run a special, or you dream up a promotional thing, they fight you on that, too. But part of it is just human nature to resist change. But sometimes it comes down to a real difference. One of the arguments we used to have is about not seeing customers. The WHISPER people say any woman should be able to turn down any customer she wants. I go, well, that's very nice in theory, and if you want to work alone, as a sole practitioner, I guess you could do that. But if you want the benefits of an organized group, and you have to look at the pros and cons and see which is right for you, but if you want to work in an organized group, I can not have five women who. And I say, if it's for a cause, I will side with the employee, if he looks dangerous or drunk ...the biggest thing I had is that they want to turn down black guys. Now, for the most part, they all have black boyfriends. Now, this is a town with not a very high percentage of minority population. To a large degree all the black guys know each other. So, what the men say to the women is, you can't see black men because he could turn out to be my friend or something. And I'd say, "Well, excuse me, but if a guy comes to the door and he's got the money and he's behaving himself and he gets introduced to five women and they all go, "Well, I'm sorry, I can't see you, it's not okay with me. We're not going to do this. The manager gets to decide this. That's not going to be your decision."

Well, I don't like that. No manager has ever done that with me. In those days we had a policy not to let people in because of the gangs, but it could be any race or any group now.

Well, the manager makes the decision about who to let in and that has more to do with their age, the time of day, whether they are alone or with somebody, more things than just their race. Now if somebody says to me, "Oh, I don't want to see him. I used to know him in high school or something. I'll say, "Oh, fine, you're busy," but what you can get is a situation where there's a certain customer and he would come in and he would choose to see someone and she would be happy that he chose her and she would go off, but before he had finished the shower, when they are all sitting in the lobby, the other four would start in about what a jerk he was. It's not that he's really a jerk. This was their way of getting back that he didn't choose them. You're constantly dealing with ego problems.
Sometimes I'd say, "If you don't have something good to say about a customer, don't say anything. Just shut up." Because they poisoned the woman who has never met him before, before he ever goes in the room.
"Oh, he's so boring and he does this." You gotta try to reduce that. If you let it go, pretty soon you have people turning down every other guy who came to the door, there'd be something wrong with. Probably, it would get real out of hand.

The only time I ever worked in a group was in a massage parlor in the Tenderloin. I worked with women from all over the world who spoke different languages. We didn't wrestle with jealousy or anything. We were all very supportive and our relationships were good. On the other hand, I heard that the women who worked at night used to fight. Our management was completely hands off. There were almost no rules or pressures. It was the sleaziest parlor in town. Maybe we made less money than the other parlors.

Another thing was, when I first started working there, we took turns. A guy came to the door and you met him and took him to the room and that was that. That's how they are all run. That's how we did it. It reduces the conflicts.

But it's not good business. What if, the one who goes to the door, he has no interest whatsoever in seeing. If you look at the total amount of business that a sauna's going to do, if a guy comes to a place three times and he keeps getting somebody he doesn't want, it's very likely he's too embarrassed to say anything. He's usually too much of a gentleman. He hands over the money and does it and he's in the position of paying for sex with someone he doesn't even want to have sex with.

That comes around to capitalism. Necessarily, in a capitalist, free market system, you're going to have to compete and to prioritize business success over all of the feelings that women have.

The problem is that your feelings don't have any place in a business. I can sit there and have somebody pick someone besides me. This does not lessen my self esteem because my feelings of self worth are not tied up in whether Joe Schmoe picks me or Betty or Suzie. My theory is just, push it aside. We're here to make money.

Then it does sound like capitalism is the problem there, because, for me, I don't like money to be that important that I would have to work in a competitive, stressful situation. If you're just a worker you aren't rewarded that much more. It's more of an advantage to the owner. A lot of these women don't know how to save or manage money anyway. If we had a guaranteed fixed income or a socialist system, you wouldn't be pushed into that.

You wouldn't have prostitution, not in a society where everybody makes the same amount of money.

Yes, you would.

The person who is paying the money has the right. This is like going in a restaurant and they bring out whatever they feel like feeding you and set it down.

The fact that we are forced to compete this way is in conflict to certain feelings. That's why the WHISPER people hate this. They don't like to prioritize financial need over women's feelings when there are other options.

I mean, I agree with that. We should have a choice about how to work. But there are different kinds of prostitution, so if you have a big problem with this kind of work environment, then you should work somewhere else or on your own.

But if a lot of the employees don't like it, then it's up to management to reexamine policies.

And that's what happened. Another thing they didn't like was most of the other places had only three women on a shift, but I had five rooms, so I figured I would have five to a shift. The girls at my place as much and usually more money. They just didn't like the competition. They see a limited number of customers coming through the door that they have to divide. I see that if I have more women there, it's not a limited number of customers. It's expandable.

Continued... Thoroughly Modern Madam (part 4)