Pandering for Fun and Profit

Welcome to Sonya's world, where the clients are grateful, the money is good, and the risk is minimal

"We'll go to Daytona. No problem."
"No, never. I can't. Never. She [the escort] refuses to let anyone see the tape. No. Never. Never. Sorry. No."

Nevertheless, Sonya is insistent that the story is true. "Would it help if I said that the last time he used my service, I was sitting in a closet listening to him?" Later she hands over one of the high-ranking officer's business cards.

The information about the policeman and the others, if true, would be enough to obliterate a few careers. Or at least a few marriages. The explosive nature of the information underlines how much trust has been placed in Sonya, and in the proprietors of dozens of other escort services. They have been empowered to keep secrets about illicit sex. Quite obviously, Sonya doesn't.

When she first began speaking with New Times this past September, Sonya promised she would be out of the business by the new year. As the reporting of this story progressed, however, she advanced her departure date. "Oh, God, I swear I'm out by Thanksgiving now," she said a week before the holiday. "That's it. No more calls. No more anything. I am done. I have all the money I'll ever need and I'm sick of it."

On the Monday after Thanksgiving, she confirmed she had indeed pulled the plug on her business. "I am out. Absolutely," she said during a late-afternoon phone call. Her business -- the client list and roster of escorts -- had been sold to another provider for $20,000. "I am just sitting here now on the couch," she said casually, in a mood to talk. "You know what I'm doing? I'm watching Rosie. She has Bette Midler on. I love Bette Midler."

Is this what her future holds? Daytime television? How is she planning to fill her days? "I have no idea," she said as Midler warbled in the background. "I don't need money anymore. If I ever need to, I could just sell some of my jewelry; it's worth a fortune. I really have no idea."

As of the new year, Sonya had disappeared into the ether, just as she had planned. Her ad no longer appears in the Herald. The phone lines to the bordello have been disconnected. She changed the number on her cell phone. "You wouldn't believe how many people have asked to be my partner or to buy me out," she noted in parting. "The number of people interested in getting into this business is astounding.

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