As I surmised in my recent feature about Pauline Tabor and her legendary whorehouse in Bowling Green, Kentucky, multitudes of worried people are planning to counterattack recession-induced financial woes by opening their own commercial houses of delight. Though Pauline sealed the doors of her regal establishment two generations ago, in 1968, and died in 1992, she would understand contemporary motivation. During thirty-five years of skillful entrepreneurship she transformed herself from an obese part-time hooker and Great-Depression cosmetics seller into an enduring personality and respected philanthropist whose adventures were chronicled in “Pauline’s: Memoirs of the Madam on Clay Street” and discussed by the madam as she rocked in a chair on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971.
Many readers of this website recently responded to her still-relevant insights. A few of the letters follow.
Dear Mr. Clark,
Thank you for saying it. Thousands of us in this country have already done it and so have tens of thousands globally. I’m not ashamed. My real estate agency in Newport Beach had lost half its annual sales, I’d defaulted on all of my inflated investment properties, and my principal residence, within sight of John Wayne’s former residence, was and is way under water. My wife, who was accustomed to leisure and luxury, had become quite tense and unresponsive, so I told her, “You want to live the way we had been, then help.” She surprised and delighted me by agreeing to move with me into an apartment and use our beautiful home to host a carefully-screened group of wealthy men who are utterly spoiled by our staff of four beautiful Southern California ladies. At first we trusted the employees with receipts exceeding several thousand dollars a day, but that proved unwise. My wife volunteered to move back into our home, albeit into the maid’s quarters, and is proving herself a shrewd and tough madam. In a few years we’ll be out of debt, if we can maintain our primary business. And we’re determined to do so. Whenever the police come – prompted by fussy neighbors, they’ve made a few visits in nine months – my wife simply explains the only way we can keep our home is by renting out the spare bedrooms to college students and young career women. We now instruct gentlemanly clients to avoid ostentatious entrances by calling just before arrival so our big garage door can be opened.
Dear Mr. Clark,
It’s always rankled me that I’m a better computer technician than Bill Gates, at least some former Microsoft employees have told me I am, but I’m neither the innovator nor entrepreneur he is, and have laid off precisely as many people as I’ve hired since the late 1970’s. I imagine they’re now working somewhere in Asia. And my former wife, last I saw on Facebook, resides with one of them. I hope they’re quite comfortable living on half the proceeds from the sale of our house, in which she’d also dutifully invested as a well-paid junior high school principal and which corporate bankruptcy court mercifully protected when I again became a one-man operation in my den. Now I rent another den and the rest of a home on a large wooded lot outside gloomy Seattle. Acknowledging that my business skills would likely always be insufficient, I vowed to start and keep this business small. I never have more than two girls working for me and don’t worry when there’s only one. While I repair computers and design websites, my best business operates at a prudent pace, with little overhead, and puts about a grand a week in my pocket. I won’t be living near Bill Gates but won’t be in the street, either.
Dear Mr. Clark,
A bold and creative attorney I have been since my valedictory graduation from a distinguished law school several years ago. I have defended businessmen accused of beating their wives, professional women said to have clobbered their cheating husbands, and many of both genders who swore roadside sobriety tests were unscientific and inaccurate. Alas, many such businessmen are now bankrupt, the professional women earn less than they did five years ago, the drinkers are indigent, and all now use public defenders. As a result I’ve been cruising the nightclubs and hotels and even a few scary streets of Sacramento, seeking some some excellent pros. The ones with pimps I immediately eliminated. And no, I’m not therefore the pimp of the others. I’m their attorney. In that capacity I last week rented three low-end motel rooms. Lots of bad dudes came around and few had money for my girls. I’d like to operate in private but the walls of my condominium are rather thin and my neighbors snooty. Maybe my office would be a divine location. There’s parking in the back. What do you think?