By chance, I bumped into Pamela D. at a nightclub in downtown Huntington Beach, California not too long ago. We were classmates and very good friends at San Dimas High School - class of '88, as our cheerleaders used to chant, was great. While I was drinking beer with my small core-group of friends in the parking lot happy with C averages, Pamela was earning straight As, she was the photo editor on the high school yearbook committee, and was the co-captain of her debate club - she was even accepted to the prestigious Otis College of Art and Design in Pasadena. But sometime in the early '90s, Pamela threw convention out the window to dance at strip clubs which eventually led to mid-priced prostitution.
Pam, can I ask you a few questions about what you do for a living.
First let's talk about what you're up to right now‚Äîwork-wise, that is.
Right now, I promote nightclubs in Los Angeles and Orange County. That's what I really want to do long term, but I kind of have to supplement club promoting with working for an escort service.
I find that hard to believe, considering that you were a pretty bright student in high school and you were accepted to a pretty exclusive design school.
Why? What's the big deal? A lot of girls do it.
Yeah, but when you have all these cool things going for you like you did, and you're cute and popular and seem like a sure shot to become one of the most successful graduates from your high school, it's kind of strange to wind up a, umm, prostitute.
You mean escort? [Obviously not pleased with the word prostitute]. Well, it doesn't start out like that. You just don't jump into it one day and say, "Hmm, the rent's due in two days, I better go fuck some guy for my share of the rent money today." It happens in blurry stages and before you know what's going on, you're kinda just doing it.
Amazing. So when did you get started?
Technically, I didn't start until a few years ago‚Äîthe summer of '99 I think.
Well technically because, after high school, I moved back to my mom's in Michigan. I went there to get a job and live with my mom so I could save money for school, 'cause even though I got accepted to Otis, it wasn't a free ride and the tuition there is outrageous. So [after a few weeks] I started dating a few older men, and I mean like men in their mid- to late 50s, one after the other. I just dated them because they had a lot of money and they would just give me anything just for being their girlfriend. It's pretty much the same thing I do now, just without an agency and I let them call me their girlfriend. Actually, it was a lot sicker than what I do now because with those guys, I had to pretend that I was in love with them for weeks and months on end. With the guys I meet with now, we both know it's just a business transaction. They do their thing and they're gone.
How did you meet those older guys?
I met them all through the restaurant I worked at‚Äîit was a really expensive place and I was a bartender there.
So you had the pick of the litter. That must have been about 1990 to 1993, right?
Something like that, yeah.
What did your mom and dad think of you dating all those older men that probably were their age? Did you bring them around the house?
My mom didn't know for a long, long time. It was like the perfect crime: The guys would pick me up from work and we'd do whatever, you know? It would usually be just a nice dinner and a movie or a nightclub. Basically I was just window dressing for them‚Äînone of them ever said that outright, but I could tell just by the way they'd introduce me to their friends we conveniently bumped into at those places. I was cool with it because I was getting something out of it too, you know? My car was running again, my bank account was growing, I fixed my teeth, got new boobs, and I was getting a lot of attention.
But your parents‚Äîdid they find out about all these old guys taking you out?
I don't really know my father because we only saw him a couple times a year.
Aha! Now things are starting to add up - daddy issues. Love me, daddy.
I so knew that you were going to say that.
What? You mean that because you never knew your father you used to date older men and you're now an escort?
[Sarcastically] Uhhh, yeah.
Well, let's think about it - anyone in a high school psychology course could figure out that you do what you do because you're looking for a father figure to give you the love and reassurance that your real dad never gave you.
But I don't know if it's like that - it's not that complicated. I've always been poor, ever since I could remember, and I just thought: OK, I'm 18, I'm out of high school, I'm in Detroit where no one knows me so I don't have to worry about my reputation, so I'm just going to take advantage of the situation.
That's how you justified it?
I didn't have to justify it. I guess I did it without knowing it, but I never felt bad about [dating those old guys]. I mean, you could call me a whore, but at the time, I didn't feel like one. I was just dating guys who were older than me.
And now? How do you justify the fact that you've taken it one step further? You kind of really are‚Äîto use your exact word‚Äîa whore now.
Hey, it sucks, OK? I don't like what I'm doing‚ÄîI hate what I'm doing, but it's where I'm at right now. I try and figure out ways to get out of [escorting] all the time - it's tough, though.
When you returned to Southern California from Michigan in 1995, you went back to school for a few years, right?
Yeah, I had these big dreams of becoming a fashion designer and everything. I went to FIDM [Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, a trade school in Los Angeles] for a few years, but that was pretty much a scam and it left me in tons of debt so I was financially screwed because of that. Then I just kind of dropped out of society and went to clubs every night and just got loaded on anything anyone gave me: alcohol, drugs, whatever. I probably lived that way for about a year‚Äîeverything was paid for with credit cards.
[It was about then that] I started to get into escorting. I was desperate for money because I was in serious debt and all I was doing was going to clubs and getting wasted but I had no money and I was renting this crappy room in an apartment from some guy I met at a nightclub.
Were you having sex with him?
No, he was the guy that got me started in promoting clubs, but his girlfriend was a dancer at a local bikini bar called, umm, I think Fuzzy Bear's. I started dancing there once or twice a week for the cash. Most of the girls there were really cool with each other 'cause it's a small place and there's no competition. Anyway, this one girl Jennifer and I became good friends and we hung out at clubs and went shopping and everything together. Long story short, she told me that she was, like, working for an escort agency on the side.
So she got you into it.
She just introduced me to the guy that runs the service.
And you just started like that? Did he make you do anything freaky like take your clothes off in front of him or have sex with him - you know, just to make sure you had the right stuff?
No, it wasn't anything like that. He knew me through Jennifer and he knew I danced a little bit at a bikini bar so he knew I wasn't going to freak out about the whole situation.
So give me the whole process‚Äîhow did it progress?
He kind of told me how things work: He calls me up when he gets a call from one of his clients, gets a feel for what the guy wants, and then he calls the girl that he thinks best fits that description. He told me it's a strict dance and massage thing‚Äîno sex, but he knew that sex happened if the girl let it‚Äîand we always meet the guy at a hotel or motel room with a driver in the parking lot. Never a private residence. Anyway, I gave the guy my cell number and told him I'd think about it.
How long was it after you called him back telling him you'd work for him?
I think a few days later. He gave me a client that same night.
Did you freak out? Did he give you any pointers or tips?
No, he just said some guy wants a stripper at this hotel room - just dancing and stripping to music. He said he'd have someone pick me up‚Äîkind of like a driver and a bodyguard rolled into one big black muscular weightlifter guy. Actually, Jennifer gave me the tips since she had been doing it for about a year. She just told me to act cool, never suggest anything extra just in case it was a cop or vice, let the client suggest anything other than what you're supposed to be there for, and always let the client know that there's a driver in the parking lot.
What do you mean, "let the client suggest anything other than what you're supposed to be there for?"
A guy will always want more - c'mon, it's natural. He'll ask how much something extra costs, like a handjob or a blowjob or whatever.
Interesting. And are you supposed to tell your boss about anything that goes on besides the massage?
Nope. He doesn't want to know and it's not something that I go around advertising. He takes his cut‚Äîwhich is usually pretty big‚Äîand I take mine, plus whatever I make after the job, but I usually decline half of the offers of oral sex or hand jobs or sex because there's just something I don't trust about the guy and it's not worth it.
How much do you charge for the extras? Like how much for a handjob or blowjob or sex - do you girls still call it around the world - all orifices?
No, I'm pretty sure the term "around the world" went out with the last "Starsky and Hutch" episode. As for the price for extras, it just depends. I size the guy up on how much I think he can afford. If he's totally gross, I price things high so I know he can't afford it. Sometimes, I'll just tell the guy that I can't do [sexual acts] for money - that's the failsafe.
Do you get off on it? Do you enjoy it - the stripping, massaging, the sex?
Not really. Every once in a while, I get a cute guy in his thirties and it's OK, but then I wonder, "What's this guy's problem that he needs to see an escort?" Usually, it's just kind of shitty, though. I mean, you get the weirdest thoughts in your head sometimes right in the middle of the most humiliating moment like when you have some guy's dick in your mouth‚Äîlike childhood or high school memories and how everyone had all these high hopes for you.
Like you're letting everyone down.
Yeah - like "Requiem for a Dream." Have you ever seen it? Sorta like that.
Yeah, you're Jennifer Connelly. What was the worst time you've ever had with a client?
When I got busted‚Äîit was a sting - I got busted in a Huntington Beach motel just off Pacific Coast Highway. I spent the Thanksgiving weekend in jail. It was so fucking shitty. He said something like I brushed one of my boobs against his face when I was doing a lap dance for him. It was a total frame job.
How much has a guy offered you for anything?
This one guy offered me $500 to spend the weekend at his house and just party with him. Actually, I got $800 out of him. All I did was spend the weekend in bed with him on Ecstasy. At the time it was so fun, I remember calling my friends from his house and telling them what a rad time I was having with this rich guy in Hollywood in his huge house on a hill with a view of downtown‚Äîlike he was my boyfriend or something‚Äîbut now I look back on it and it was pretty sad.
So you're thinking of stopping?
Everyone tries to figure out when they can stop, you know, like calculating how much money they need to live comfortably for a while to get back on their feet, but when you're doing it, you're pretty much caught up in the clubs so you're spending all your money on drinks and drugs. It's a shitty cycle.
You know, you're a girl. Drinks and drugs are the things you get for free from guys.
Well, most of the guys in my circle are cheap.