If You Were Willing to Pay For It… (Column by M.A. Mohanraj)

NOTE: If this is your first visit to one of my pages, you might want to
check out my home page first, so you have an
idea where I’m coming from.

In my last column, I promised to introduce you to Lady Sally, who
runs the best little whorehouse in sf. But before you meet the lady, I’d
like to talk about language. Specifically, the word ‘whore’, as used in
‘whorehouse’. It sounds pejorative, doesn’t it? Calling a woman a
‘whore’ (or a man) is usually an insult. The word is sometimes used for
artists who do hackwork for cash, or for women who use men, or as a
generally abusive term (almost always directed at a woman). A whorehouse
isn’t the sort of place where a nice girl would visit — even a nice guy
wouldn’t. And what alternatives do we have? House of prostitution?
Hookers’ house? I wish I knew someone from COYOTE (the prostitutes’
guild) that I could ask about appropriate, non-derogatory terms, but since
I don’t, I’m going to go with whorehouse. It has at least the advantage
of being direct. As for all the other unpleasant connotations — well, if
you don’t know by now that I don’t look down on honest whores, then you
haven’t been reading my words very carefully.

Back to Lady Sally. She’s a lady to the fingertips, and the best
whore you’ll run across, with the proverbial heart of gold. Since she’s
the creation of sf writer Spider Robinson, she also happens to be a time
traveller with pretty unlimited resources in our time, which gives her
some advantages when setting up a whorehouse, the kind of whorehouse that
I’d like to visit. Heck, one I might even be willing to work in. You can
read about her adventures in Spider’s books — the first is Callahan’s
Lady (Mike Callahan is Sally’s husband), and the second is The Lady Sings
the Blues, if I remember correctly.

I’m going to note here that Lady Sally makes a very clear
distinction early in the book — the people who work in her House are
Artists, not whores. From now on, I’ll refer to them that way, and the
House is just a House. You can bring your own connotations to the

So what do you find in a classy House? Unfortunately, I
don’t have a copy of the book with me, so I’m going off of memory. What I
remember first of all is the Parlor. The parlor has a fireplace. It has
a piano. When we’re first introduced to it, it does have some lovely
ladies in evening gowns, but it also has some lovely gentlemen too. And
some not so lovely. And there’s no obvious correlation between
loveliness/unloveliness and artist/client. Some of the artists are people
you wouldn’t look twice at on the street, which makes you wonder what
skills they might have that would earn them a position at Sally’s. And
some of the clients are so gorgeous that I might assume that they’d never
need/want to go to a artist. Yet there they are, turning assumptions
on their heads.

In the Parlor, people relax. They tell bad jokes (usually puns).
The play the piano, or listen to it. They have arguments, but friendly
ones. They might make a connection and go upstairs with a artist, or they
may simply hang out all night and enjoy the party. The Parlor is low
stress, comfortable. The kind of place you could take your wife, or
husband. If you don’t mind ’em hearing some bawdy jokes, you could even
take your little kids there. The Parlor is civilized.

Then there’s another room, whose name I sadly forget, but let’s
call it the Orgy Room. What it really is is a place with padded floors
and cushions, with dim lights and lots of cheerful laughter. Where you
can indulge your interest in exhibitionism or voyeurism, take on one or
ten or none. You and your partner could come and spend the entire evening
playing only with each other. Or you could go through every artist in the
house. A fun place to visit, if a little rich for a steady diet. Sally
notes that most people do visit, but few are regulars there.

Then there are the artists’ individual studios (which are separate
from the artists’ actual apartments, up on the third floor). The studios
are generally bedrooms, perhaps with some extra equipment. General
purpose, nicely appointed. Each with a spy camera and audio pickup, so
that down in the monitoring room, someone can keep an eye on the artists
and make sure they’re not being taken advantage of. So that even if the
artist is all tied up, a little hand signal will bring the bouncers
running. Wouldn’t that be a nice bit of security? Wouldn’t that make you
feel safer?

There are also the specialty studios (the cheerleader’s bedroom,
the doctor’s office, the dungeon). There are the privacy rooms, for those
public leaders or others who need to not be observed (though they all have
to get by Lady Sally first). There’s Doctor Kate, who either collects a
blood sample from you and certifies you clean, or hands you some rubber
which you are darn well going to use. (That applies to artists as well as
clients, of course). And best of all, there’s Lady Sally, who gives
Master Classes in the Art.

That last one is the most important, I think. Much of the rest is
basically glitz and glitter — emblematic of the basic philosophy, but not
really necessary. It’s what you can afford if you’re a time traveller
with lots of great sf gadgets. But at the core of it all is the

The philosophy is simple. Sex can be an art form. Great sex can
be great art. And if you want an artist to produce great art, one
approach is to give them comfortable surroundings. You keep them from
worrying about money, about their safety. You let them learn and teach
and share. You appreciate what they do. You respect their work.

That’s the heart of Lady Sally’s House. Isn’t that a place where
you might want to visit? Maybe watch a Master Class or two, or
participate? A place to learn and share and grow…a place to experiment
and play. In a House like hers, paying for it isn’t something to be
embarrassed about — of course you’d pay for great art. And great art
that could be experienced so deeply, so immediately, so viscerally —
perhaps you’d pay a lot. And be proud of it. Like hanging a Renoir on
your wall, you could casually mention to a friend that you had the
privilege of attending a class of Sally’s. And they would be
appropriately impressed. Perhaps you might even be so inspired that you
would take up the study yourself, and wouldn’t that be exciting? Wouldn’t
that be a thrill?

Isn’t that something to strive for — that all whorehouses could
turn into Houses like Sally’s — that all whores could someday learn to be
artists? And that the clients could learn to be artists too? It’s
something I’d like to see.

I’ve never heard of a House like Sally’s, but in my next column,
I’m going to tell you about FantasyMakers, a BDSM House modelled in part
on Lady Sally’s House.

If you have ideas for future columns — issues you want addressed,
questions you think I might be able to answer, drop me a line at

– Mary Anne
September 10, 1997

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