By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
They married just four months after meeting, and along with her daughter moved to his native country, which she asked New Times not to identify.
"He was powerful and brilliant," Sonya continues, "and he had tons of money he had made as a developer. He opened up a whole other world to me. We ate in the finest restaurants and stayed in the finest hotels. I had a five-carat ring on my finger after knowing him for only three months. I had never even watched a porno movie until I met him. I was 32 years old then. I never knew anything about porno services. He opened up that world to me. His friend owned an escort service, and I got friendly with the wife who ran it. She really liked running it because it gave her independence."
Two years ago she divorced husband number four because of his infidelity. In an ironic twist, his familiarity with escort services provided her the means to establish her financial independence from him. At that time her resume qualified her for little more than an entry-level job in sales. Rather than take her place alongside twenty-year-olds, she chose to venture into the escort business. "I guarantee if I had never met [my fourth husband], I never would have gone into this business. At first it seemed natural because it was a part of my life at the time. It kind of still kept me attached to him in a sense, psychologically. Of course, now that I have gone through the healing process and that marriage is a distant memory, I hate this business with all my being."
Sonya started out answering phones for an established service. After a month she thought she knew the field well enough to strike out on her own, taking a number of escorts with her. (In gratitude, Sonya says, her old boss vandalized her car.)
She charges $180 for an hour with one of her girls. (That price is at the high end for South Florida, but in New York City the same escorts could cost $600 an hour or more.) She takes $80 from each visit, using some of that to cover phone bills, electricity, and other expenses.
Those girls summoned to expensive South Beach hotels are the most attractive on her roster, and their price is higher: between $250 and $300 per hour. Fifty dollars of that money, Sonya claims, goes to the concierge. All transactions are in cash. There is no paper trail.
Sonya also employs five drivers, who work shifts dropping off her girls at private addresses and collecting Sonya's cut of the money afterward. "The $180 price is good. It helps me weed out the undesirables, because $180 is a phone bill or an electric bill. It can feed a family. And at that price, on a good day, when all my girls are working as much as they can, I can clear $20,000. In cash."
That may or may not be an accurate figure, according to the Free Speech Coalition's Jeffrey Douglas: "It's impossible to know exactly how much money an escort service makes in a year. These are largely cash-only businesses operating in an underground economy. Often business owners themselves aren't aware of how much they really make. When you factor in the continually high demand for the service, it's safe to say it's a profitable industry."
It's 7:30 on a Friday night. Sonya calls unsolicited, talking even faster than normal. She's just turned off her phones for the night, she says, ending a busy day. "I took more calls than you would ever believe!" she crows. "I seriously have been working without a break since noon. I don't know what it was today, but the calls were nonstop."
When she first began talking to New Times, Sonya declined to provide the names of any of her clients. She spoke only in general terms about athletes and musicians and actors, and about the suburban lawyers who constitute her core clientele. Revealing actual names was unthinkable. For whatever reason, however, she feels like talking about her customers tonight.
She reads an abbreviated list of about 50 names, offering first names as well, along with phone numbers and professions if she knows them. Most names are unremarkable. A few merit attention: the former head of a prominent civic organization and a man affiliated with a local professional sports team. There is the name of a fairly well-known, out-of-town rock musician (according to Sonya's notes, his escort reports he is "huge"). A couple of members of a popular local band use the service regularly and are allowed to pay by check. A television and film star used his bodyguard to facilitate a meeting at the Delano Hotel. Another actor instructed two escorts to gyrate atop an acrylic box while he lay underneath masturbating.
At least according to Sonya.
In every instance possible she provides corroboration. Usually that constitutes a phone number and some details about the client's life only she could know. A few of her clients are police officers, or "pig fuckers" as she calls them. One of them holds a very high rank. She claims to have videotaped this particular law enforcement officer as he demanded to use a candle as a sexual aide. Sonya declines to let New Times view the videotape. "It's up in Daytona," she notes, stashed in a safe-deposit box.