Adrienne Hillard* had never had a problem with sex. Actually, according to the rehab center where she spent time for a small possession charge, she liked it a little too much. At the rehab center, Adrienne divulged some “shameful” admissions for the benefit of fellow patients, and particularly staffers who were to dictate the process leading to her release.
In her mind, it was the women who supposedly fell in love with every man they slept with that harbored the real mental illness. Despite not precisely acquiescing to the beliefs of rehab facility staff, Adrienne was able to make enough progress in satisfying them to facilitate her release. After her release from the treatment center, Adrienne stayed briefly at a halfway house in Shreveport. However, it wasn’t long before she made her return home to a post-Katrina New Orleans. Here, the court system database had been obliterated by the storm, so in order to avoid being enrolled in active probation, she merely had to avoid showing a cop her driver’s license. The probation would only kick in if an officer saw her license before the date of her fourth amendment rights violation appeal, which she won.
Following her stay in the halfway house in Shreveport, Adrienne was easily able to secure a delivery job at an Uptown Pizzeria. Things went well at the pizzeria, but it wasn’t long before she started sleeping with her boss at the pizzeria. Her younger sister joked, “He’s your boyfriend,” though Adrienne didn’t exactly see it that way. She quickly realized her fellow pizzeria employees were not quite as adept at the “party life” as she was; this led to them blaming her for things that weren’t entirely her fault.
The manager she was sleeping with decided to use Adrienne as an excuse to stop showing up at work. Adrienne was left lying through her teeth to coworkers, all of whom felt she was full of it. Eventually, a real Iago (Per Shakespeare) who had always coveted the house manger’s position spun an embellished “expose” to the kitchen manager who had just traipsed back from vacation. The disgruntled employee went straight to the owner who ordered the shift manager to fire Adrienne, for being the cause of another person’s mistakes. For Adrienne, it felt like the Salem Witch Trials or perhaps The Spanish Inquisition; she was different, and her fellow employees didn’t exactly welcome and those differences.
Upset over the entire situation and needing a new source of income, Adrienne decided to contact the proprietor of a local escort agency whom she had met in Central Lockup after the arrest as mentioned earlier. This madame was in for a domestic disturbance, and she and Adrienne hit it off. The madame told her the adult “back page” of the Gambit advertised her agency and if Adrienne ever wanted work to give her a call and that’s just what Adrienne did after losing her job. The madame wasted no time putting Adrienne to work, and the next thing she knew she had stopped at two French Quarter Hotels and one uptown bachelor pad. At the end of the night, she made her end of shift deposit at a favorite downtown bar as she had been instructed.
Adrienne found the work relatively easy. Most of the clients were no less attractive than some beer-goggle mistakes and pity fornication in Adrienne’s past. Unlike stripping, which she had attempted at an earlier point in time, escorting seemed much less hassle. Everything was prearranged; there was no need to hustle. Some men asked for a “type,” some simply wanted an “attractive woman.” However, as time went on more clients began to request her specifically. At first, the service’s website had no photographs of her, so the madame assigned her the name of a girl who had left town and to whom Adrienne bore a reasonable resemblance. So at work, Adrienne went by the name “Amber.”
Once “Amber” and one of her clients were in the hotel room, the process was quite simple. “Amber” greeted the client, then she would say, “So, why don’t we get the payment part out of the way so we can get to the fun?” She then told him to set the cash on a nearby table (hand to hand accepting of cash holds a legal technicality which was never quite explained to her, but she was not willing to take any unnecessary risks). Then Adrienne excused herself to the bathroom, taking the cash with her so she could make sure she received the amount that was agreed on. She then quietly called “Kelly” the madame to confirm the job was on. Returning to the room with her client “Amber” got down to business. The rate was $250 per hour although “hour” could often be a subjective term, thought the upfront “entertainment fee” was nonrefundable and non-negotiable. If it took an escort over an hour to service a client to his bare minimum expectations, she was clearly in the wrong business. Adrienne’s enjoyment and personal comfort with sex along with specific exemplary skills often ended a session, prepaid $500 for two hours in forty-five minutes.
For every hour or “hour” $100 went back to the service, but the remaining $150 made Adrienne aka “Amber” not so vengeful about the unfounded termination from her previous employment. Some clients were incredibly fond of cunnilingus. These would often ask her to call “Kelly” to have more time approved. Even though this meant more time spent with these guys, much of it was spent merely sitting there.
Eventually “Amber” acquired a room at the Landmark hotel for several days per the madame’s request for her to be the girl stationed centrally in Jefferson Parish. During the last few of hours of the shift in this particular room, “Amber” was put in touch with another girl named “Sonya” who would be taking over for her in the room. After “Amber’s” last client of the day, the madame had called and asked another favor of her. A young Creole woman, barely 18 had been working the streets and was being given a shot at upgrading. “Amber” was to leave the room to the new girl while she saw a man who only liked “busty Latina women.” This girl passed far more than “Amber” did so she decided to make a trip down to the hotel bar to buy herself a drink. After the client came and went, “Amber” was alerted to go to the room and gather her things, leaving the last two hours of her shift before “Sonya” turned over the room to the new girl.
The moment “Amber” returned to the room, she instantly recognized the smell of crack being smoked, being acquainted with a few former crack smokers from her earlier days. This made her apprehensive about the other girl’s future with the service. However Adrienne was off work and bought some cocaine from the new girl’s crack dealer; this was not her problem, she thought as a close male friend from high school picked her up for the evening, and they returned uptown. It later turned out, according to “Kelly,” the new girl had smoked too much crack, flipped out, trashed the room, and been arrested. That was the end of HER career with the service. “Amber” never knew or cared to know how “Sonya” still was able to utilize the room, still under Adrienne’s actual name regardless, much less why the police had not approached her. The short term new girl’s arrest must have satisfied the cops and the hotel. Perhaps she was treated as an intruder, or maybe the madame pulled some strings.
Eventually, the go-to photographer for the service was available, and photos of Adrienne as “Amber” were taken. The photos were bartered for in the obvious fashion, but the madame had neglected to set a price or time limit on the photographer. He began to get on “Amber’s” nerves after it had been more than an hour. Finally, the madame called the photographer. She was irate, and discussed the situation with “Amber,” who was already close to breaking character and yelling “get out.” “Amber” pointed out that the madame had never given her specifics, and it would have been unprofessional for her to correct the matter. Momentarily, the photographer’s cell phone rang, and he took his leave. “Amber” gladly resumed taking paying customers, most of whom were satisfied in very little time, even if they wanted to spend the rest of the hour talking. Many of the talkers were very interesting conversationalists, and a few clients were also kind of attractive, only paying for it as a novelty.
To the madame’s pleasure, “Sonya” and “Amber” became quick friends and shared more than one in-call hotel room. Once, while the two women were working out of what at the time was called Hotel Le Cirque (the old YMCA building on Lee Circle), it was “Sonya’s” birthday and with “Amber’s assistance was stocking the room with the necessities for an after-hours girls night. During the day shift which they had been alternating turns entertaining customers in their shared room while the other walked to Lucky’s or another neighborhood bar. The ritual was interrupted when “Amber” received a call from the madame while in the passenger seat of “Sonya’s” car, informing her that it had to be her turn for the second time in a row; the client was highly averse to “Sonya,” particularly her breast implants. Not wanting to hurt her coworker and friend’s feelings, “Amber” told “Sonya” that she had been expressly requested, a far less harsh explanation.
Once with the man, “Amber” realized how much he TRULY did not like fake breasts. A verbal jab followed every compliment to her natural breasts at “Sonya’s” fake ones. This seemed more a waste of the client’s time than anything, but, as usual, he was gone in no longer than forty-five minutes, and the two escorts met back up.
Eventually “Amber” got tired of the taxi rates and lack of a male presence looking out for her, so she recruited a male friend of hers who was getting back on his feet and had a car as her paid chauffeur and security. $50 a night was very reasonable on an escort’s income to not be harmed or constantly fork out for cabs. This arrangement worked out well and finally a set in call apartment was secured by the madame. It was an efficiency apartment above another downtown bar. A handful of escorts, “Amber” and “Sonya” included contributed close to nothing individually to pay for the shared space.
When the original “Amber” returned to New Orleans, Adrienne was assigned the name “Candy.” The name did not exactly bode well for Adrienne; sharing the name of the title character in a movie about heroin addiction costarring Heath Ledger which was quite popular among many of her friends. She knew better than complain; that was an argument not worth taking up with the sometimes testy madame. No clients seemed to be aware of the stigma attached to the name either, fortunately, and the pay was the same.
The end of now “Candy’s” career with the service came a few months later. She had miscalculated some money for her deposit and came up $60 short. Though all she had to do was work a shift and repay it, still keeping significant earnings for herself, Adrienne felt incredible guilt about her mistake as well as paranoid as the potential consequences ran through her head of her making another. (This was an illegal operation, so termination, she felt, could mean far more than dismissal and a pink slip.) The madame who had grown fond of Adrienne, or perhaps her little profit value tried several times to change her mind, explaining that when “Amber” had joined the service, they were short-handed and unable to take her out for drinks and otherwise acclimate her. Adrienne explained that she was very appreciative of her time working for the service and she had no problem with her actual duties; she did not want to mess up again. The madame remorsefully conceded and urged that if Adrienne ever changed her mind to please give her a call. This did not happen.
Briefly, Adrienne and a modern-day libertine male “friend with benefits” who had experience in the driver/security side of the business, started a private operation, profiting from his well-off, blue blood friends. This came to an abrupt end one night. Charles (her new business partner) was in Harrah’s Casino with another friend and Adrienne in a room with one of Charles’ friends. The friend got a bit rough with Adrienne after the two men lost track of time while wandering the casino and did not hear their phones. When they finally returned the room and Adrienne informed Charles and their other friend of the guy’s misconduct, she watched Charles drag the guy out into the hallway and presumably (in some fashion) to the elevator. When he returned a couple of minutes later, he announced that they were closing down shop. He was very agitated. Adrienne, now only Adrienne, took a coffee shop job, and she and Charles remained friends for several years until they parted ways on no bad terms. Still, Adrienne speaks of this time in her life with no ill will or regret; the past is the past she says, and that’s where this part of her life would remain forever.
*Names have been changed to protect those mentioned in this article.