Ever hear of the Baby Dolls of Mardi Gras? Or Black Storyville?

Some of you might know that one of my personal goals is to never, ever stop learning (this is why I sometimes need to schedule dates around classes I’m taking, even though I’ve finished school).  And some of you might also know that I love local history, especially the history of the “adult professions” in New Orleans. I’ve written a bit about the era of Storyville in New Orleans.

Storyville was the red-light district of New Orleans between 1897 and 1917, and it was just across Rampart Street from the French Quarter. Of course, the “ladies of the evening” had been working in that neighborhood long before then, and its closure didn’t stop them–as Martin Behrman famously stated upon learning that the Navy had ordered the district shut down, “You can make it illegal, but you can’t make it unpopular.” Storyville is, of course, a fascinating topic, and it’s a neverending source of subject matter for a variety of stories and films set in New Orleans, both fiction and nonfiction. But it isn’t the end-all be-all, even for its time period. It’s actually just a small part of the story.

New Orleans is a diverse city, and it always has been. In Storyville, white gentlemen could visit white, black, or creole “ladies of the evening” in small rooms they’d rent called “cribs.” But Black men weren’t allowed to visit these ladies Storyville. In fact, Black men in Storyville were usually there to perform as musicians–they weren’t allowed to play, as it were, with the ladies of Storyville, but they could play for them and their clients.

So, what was a Black gentleman to do? Well, just uptown there was a neighborhood called “Black Storyville” where he could find a lady willing to spend a little time with him for a price. It wasn’t technically legal (like it was in Storyville), but officials turned a blind eye.

A sort of Mardi Gras rivalry between the ladies of Storyville and the ladies of Black Storyville developed, and the Baby Dolls tradition grew out of that.

Book by Kim Marie Vaz - The Baby Dolls
And lucky me! Knowing how much I love local history (especially parts of it that aren’t so well-known), one of my sweet clients bought me a book all about it: The “Baby Dolls”: Breaking the Race and Gender Barriers of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition, by Kim Marie Vaz of Xavier University of Louisiana and published by LSU Press.

It’s a really fun and fascinating read about a subject most people don’t know much about. Highly recommended to anyone who’s interested in learning more about the history of New Orleans, and much appreciated by me. So thank you–you know who you are ;)

More unexpected kindness and generosity from clients…


I came home a couple weeks ago (I know, I know, I’m really behind on blogging) to find these gifts had arrived in the mail. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that they were from an incredibly sweet client I’ve been corresponding with.

Just in case you can’t see in the image: it’s John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and herb garden seeds that I had just added to my Amazon wish list. What a nice surprise. And I have the perfect sunny window for an herb garden in my new place :) I’ll take pics when they start looking like actual herbs, lol.

Oh! And if you get a chance, and you’re so inclined, please show some kindness and generosity to the woman in Charleston, WV who shot and killed Neal Falls (a man now thought to be a serial killer responsible for the deaths of at least 9 escorts) in self defense.
(Update: Fundraiser now over, thanks!!)

It was like Christmas morning…

Just one example of some of the amazing generosity I’ve been on the receiving end of lately:

Presents for me!  Good ol' "St. Nick" brought me the following presents:  Pink Fendi bag, portable Bose speaker, Tom Ford Black Orchid set of eau de parfum and "hydrating emulsion" (or, as we plebes call it, lotion, lol) a book, and, of course, wine. <3 Good ol’ “St. Nick” brought me the following presents: Pink Fendi bag, portable Bose speaker, Tom Ford Black Orchid set of eau de parfum and “hydrating emulsion” (or, as we plebes call it, lotion, lol) a book (John Fowles’s The Magus), and, of course, wine. <3[/caption] I swear, it was like Christmas morning. And it was all such a surprise! I really wasn't expecting all of this, but I will admit it was a nice way to start a date ;) This is from way back on June 29th. I can't believe this month has gone by so fast. And I've received so many gifts in the mail from so many of you since then, it's made moving into my new place an absolute joy. If I haven't thanked you individually, please contact me, because that was either an oversight, or your gift never made it to me. I would never purposely not show my appreciation for a gift received, and if I didn't receive it, I would really, really like for you to know that so that you can get your money back. Anyway, I hate to say "it's the thought that counts," because that's a cliche, but what it all boils down to is (hahahah, see what I did there?): it warms my heart that you're thinking of me, and that you think highly enough of me to take time out of your day to bring happiness into mine. Thank you so much, all of you, for the gifts, for the time, and for your presence in my life.

First Video Blog (Vlog?) Post!

(thanks to a certain lovely gentleman for making this post possible)

Well, I made good on my promise–I recorded my first video blog post yesterday! And I opened the mystery golden rectangle to reveal…well, I guess you’ll just have to watch the video. It’s SFW (as in Safe For Work, meaning it’s G-Rated), though I know some of you would probably prefer otherwise, haha. But I’m an escort, not a porn star…though, when it comes to future careers, I guess I wouldn’t totally rule that one out…

I came up with a low-tech solution for the whole “I probably shouldn’t broadcast my face all over the internet” problem: I simply kept my head out of the frame. This worked out fine right up until I started talking and forgot to sit still, haha. I added a blur, which works for now, but I’d like to find an easier way. Maybe next time I’ll wear a really creepy clown mask and lacy lingerie (kidding, kidding).

By the way–this is a BIG step for me, y’all. I am a huge cameraphobe, and as I’m sure you can tell in the video, I get pretty nervous when there’s a camera on me. But I promised I would do it, so I did. That’s how much I love y’all, hahah.

Maybe if I do a bunch of these, I’ll lose the virtual “stage fright”…

Anyway, here it is:
Continue reading “First Video Blog (Vlog?) Post!”

Oh no!! I’ve got The Plague!!

Camus - The Plague

I’ve got The Plague!! And it’s on my boobs! Why meeeee???

…Oh. Maybe this is why.

Ok, so which one of y’all gave me The Plague?

Just kidding. I know which one of you it was. Thank you! And, while I appreciate your aversion to snobbishness, I can assure you that, unless you had used subject pronouns as object pronouns (or committed an equally terrible offense), I wouldn’t have judged you to be a snob. But I would like to hear your take on the book. Maybe after I finish reading it?

Thanks again for thinking of me ;)

Oh! And Happy French Quarter Fest to all my local clients and friends. Keep an eye out and you might just see me there…

Another Gift!! And What a Perfectly Perplexing Present it is!

I received a gift (again, a surprise!) from one of my now-favorite (we’ve met twice since) clients the other day:

Luigi Serafini's Codex Seraphinianus - a gift from one of New Orleans escort Annie Calhoun's favorite clients ;)
Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus

It’s Luigi-Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus. I had it on my Amazon Wishlist for a while, but I never expected anyone to actually choose this, of all things! I’m so glad he did, though. I think it is the perfect addition to the other books on my coffee table: Bellocq’s Storyville Portraits and this coffee table book about Catholic churches in New Orleans. I love watching people’s faces when they sit down and idly flip through the pages of each, speculating on my choice to display these three books so prominently in my living room, and wondering what in the world that says about me, hahaha.

I love Codex Seraphinianus because it’s such a weird book, and I guess it’s only really a book in the strictest sense of the word. It’s more like a piece of art in book form. Continue reading “Another Gift!! And What a Perfectly Perplexing Present it is!”

Well I, for one, am loving 2014…

We’re already 11 days into the new year, and it looks to be a good one from here. I’ve already traveled to visit friends (with another trip in the works), met some really cool new people, and reconnected with a few old friends. Annnndddd…I’ve made my New Year’s resolutions!!

My Resolutions for 2014:

  1. Come up with a daily schedule
  2. This is a big one. Because I do a few things part-time, my schedule is constantly changing, which isn’t very conducive to managing time efficiently. But I’d love to be the type of person who always wakes up, walks the dog, eats meals, and works on projects at certain set times in the day. This is my big goal for this year.

  3. Learn to give a good massage
  4. I admit, I have no idea how to give a good massage. I’ve been told I give a good backrub, but I really have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m afraid my backrubs are more about strength than sensuality. I’d like to change that.

  5. Start painting with oils again
  6. At first I set the goal to do a still life a week. That way, I’d get really bored with still lifes (still lives?) by March, and, having regained my proficiency in painting vases and flowers and books and things, I might be motivated move onto something more challenging. And if not, well then, at least I’d have 52 paintings of vases and flowers and books and things by the end of the year. But now that just seems like too many paintings, and an abandoned resolution in the making. So I’m leaving this one a little hazy for now.

  7. Travel more
  8. Travel used to be a big priority for me, but in the last few years it has sort of fallen by the wayside. I’d like to get out of town and enjoy a short vacation every once in a while.

  9. Finish at least one of my unfinished novels
  10. This one’s self-explanatory.

  11. Read more novels
  12. In 2013, most of my reading consisted of the short fiction in the New Yorker. I would like to get back into the habit of regularly reading full-length novels again.

  13. Make resolutions throughout the year, not just in the beginning
  14. Resolutions: They’re not just for New Year’s Day anymore.

That’s all I’ve come up with so far. I’d love to hear what goals my readers have set! Oh, and if there’s anything you think I should do in the coming year, feel free to comment below. Suggestions are always welcome ;)

A Long-Awaited Escort-Client Private Party

I had the sweetest client the other night. After emailing back and forth a few times over the past couple months, we finally met…and he had something of a surprise waiting for me…

First I saw this, and I didn’t think anything of it…

New Orleans Escort Annie Calhoun

…and then I saw this:

Annie Calhoun - Escort in New Orleans - Appointment with client

He decorated his room at Le Richelieu Hotel and we had our own escort/client private party ;)

And to top it off, he also got me a book!

HR Mencken - Client Gift

I <3 my clients!

“Valentine” (Short Fiction)

Yesterday at the gym, I pulled out my trusty New Yorker, turned immediately to the short fiction for this week, and began reading Tessa Hadley’s short story “Valentine.” I really enjoyed it–so much so that I ended up losing track of time and putting in an extra-long workout, and then I went home and read the critique here (and commented, because I can’t keep my opinion re: fiction to myself, haha). If you haven’t already, you really should pick up this issue if you get a chance, just for this story. For me, it provoked something like a bittersweet nostalgia: it’s about young love, young sex, young disappointment, and lots of other things that seem especially momentous when it’s your first time experiencing them.

And now I’m headed out to French Quarter Fest! Have a great weekend, all!

“Best Escort in New Orleans” – Things That Made Me Happy Today

  1. Emails from my favorite clients ;)
  2. The scent of Night-Blooming Jasmine.
  3. A trip to the park with my dog to enjoy the lovely weather.
  4. It was warm enough to wear a tank top!
  5. Riding my bike in the French Quarter through crowds of happy, ridiculously-dressed drunk people celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
  6. This video. Even monkeys understand fairness.
  7. Lovely gifts! This week I received Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and these amazing and fun shoes!
  8. The great big pot of homemade jambalaya I made and shared with my best friend.
  9. The wonderful company of said best friend.

  10. and last, but certainly not least…

  11. Just for fun, I did a Google Search using the terms best escort in new orleans, and look what came up!!
    Annie Calhoun - best escort in New Orleans, and New Orleans's best escort.
    Well, if Google says I’m the best escort in New Orleans, it’s GOT to be true. /sarcasm.

    I’m the third result on page 1 of Google’s search results!!! Wow! Pretty nifty. It also works for: new orleans best escort. Yay! Thanks for the ego boost, Google! (Google’s results will probably have changed by the time you click on those links, but whatever. Trust me on this. I took a screenshot for you and everything!)

Words to Live By

This is one of my favorite quotes, and it just occurred to me to put it here:

“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?”

— George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Middlemarch

I’ve always loved this quote, and I try to keep it in the front of my mind and to allow it to guide the decisions I make. I’ve been an escort for a little over a year, and I’ve had this website and blog since March of 2012. Given the unique nature of the relationships I have with my clients, I’m surprised that it took me this long to realize how appropriate it is in this context.

New Year, New Resolutions

Last year I made a few New Year’s resolutions, and I’m pretty proud to report that I actually kept them! They were:

  • Work out regularly
  • Do yoga regularly
  • Make a website
  • Make Greek yogurt a part of my daily balanced breakfast ;)

I’m still working out–I actually kept with it! I found that, for me, the key was to make it as easy and convenient as possible for myself. I only work out for about 20-30 minutes, and I read the Short Fiction inThe New Yorker (generously gifted to me by a particularly awesome client) while doing so. This way, I’m doing two things at once, which makes me feel like I’m being efficient, haha. Also, the story distracts me from the fact that I’m doing something not only strenuous, but boring.

As for yoga, about halfway through the year I started taking weekly yoga classes. I cannot extoll the virtues of (good) yoga enough. There’s nothing like that post-yoga-practice “high.” It’s amazing.

Obviously, I made a website. This, I have to say, might be my proudest accomplishment this year. I never thought I’d be able to figure this kind of thing out. I remember when I first bought the domain and hosting back in March. Wow. I’m ashamed to admit it took me DAYS to figure out how to point a domain to a server and then download the software. And that’s before you even start making the site.

Greek yogurt: OK, I know this one sounds hokey, but that stuff is really good for you! Live cultures are great for keeping your digestive system balanced. Also, I went years without eating many animal products–I’m not big on dairy products, and I rarely eat meat other than seafood (and I only get seafood about once a week)–and I finally realized that it’s just too difficult for me to get enough protein from a plants-and-seafood-only diet.

So, what’s in store for 2013? I’m not quite sure yet. I want to set sensible, reachable goals.

I’d really like to learn how to work on cars, but as you can probably gather from that statement, I have no idea what that entails, and I’m sure it’s far too complex for me to figure out in my spare time.

Maybe I should aim to get back into photography? I wanted to take a course, but I missed the deadline to sign up. :(

I’m really at a loss on this one. Obviously, I should continue with the progress I’ve made on my previous goals. For instance: a few years ago, I decided to start donating money to a different worthy cause each month–that’s one I’m still doing (Check out the one I chose this month: Pets of the Homeless), and will continue to do. And there are things I always need to work on, like writing more, etc. But it’s fun to have a new project to work on. I had a client recently who writes a quick note on a postcard and sends it off to a friend every morning. Perhaps I’ll do that. I love snail mail, and I know others do, too. I know I loved getting this little gem in the mail a couple months back. I’m just afraid that the whole “do this every single morning” thing will be too tough and I’ll get discouraged. My morning “routine” is, um, not very efficient. I’m actually surprised I was able to add the Greek yogurt commitment in there for an entire year; it’s more of an accomplishment than you might think, lol.

Well, if you have any suggestions (or especially cool resolutions of your own that I might be able to adopt as well), feel free to comment or shoot me an email!

Accolades, Fan Mail, and Praise

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while. I occasionally receive gifts and/or flattering emails from readers of my blog. Some are potential or former clients; some are simply folks who either stumbled upon my site accidentally while perusing other sites or found it while searching for tell-all blogs full of racy stories written by professional companions (if you read this blog regularly, you know that’s not what they found here, haha).

Sometimes I feel like when I’m writing this blog I’m sending posts out into a void: a vast and empty space on the internet where no one actually reads anything, they simply click around in search of free photos and spammable email addresses. And because I rarely receive comments (hint, hint–I love comments, people. I even have it set so that you can leave them anonymously, jeez.), it’s easy to convince myself more and more often that that is the case. So, it’s always nice when someone drops me a line to let me know I’m wrong ;)

Anyway, these generous gifts and thoughtful emails always brighten my day (or week, as it were). And, ya know, I don’t want to brag…well, yes I do. So, I thought I’d share a few with you.

Fan Mail

November 2012

I would be ashamed to admit how many courtesan/escort websites I have
perused (and admittedly judged). You have done a magnificent job of
arranging yours. It is one of the few that I’ve seen that is FUN to
explore. From the alluring photos that make you a very desirable woman
to trying to guess where the photos taken, it rates as one of the
best. Your personality flows from page to page.

When I sent the link to my girlfriend, her reply was “She’s Funny!”.
High praise from someone who is difficult to impress.


October 2012

Folks…If you are looking for a young lady who is sexy and well educated, then Annie is a must see in New Orleans.from TER

October 2012

Hi Annie! :)

My name’s ____…and no, this isn’t what you think. I am a hobbyist and have more than a few references that can vouch for what kind of gentleman I am…

in (city that’s really far away from New Orleans)!

I just started reading your blog and really enjoy it. (Insert semi-identifying info about this gentleman’s connection to New Orleans).

Hopefully I’m not wasting your time with this email. Obviously, it would be difficult for us to schedule time together because of our distance issue. I am hoping, however, that I may call you a “blog friend” and fellow New Orleanian and continue to enjoy your writings. Maybe someday in the near future, a meeting could take place.

Until then, thank you for the enjoyable blogging, and stay safe.


September 2012

Hi Annie,

I hope this message finds you well and in good spirits.

Up front, with 2 kids in out of state private colleges to the tune of
100K a year, I’m not a potential customer…I feel like it would be
taking something away from them if I was. I just wanted to share a few

Anyway, I divide the world up into two groups of people. Interesting
and not very interesting. Money, power, or social status have nothing
with my decisions, you are either interesting or not.

Well, Annie, YOU are interesting. Continue reading “Accolades, Fan Mail, and Praise”

Reviews! Fan Mail! Gifts! My clients and readers are awesome!

Well, this past week has been pretty surprising. Let’s review, shall we?

First off, I got an email from a woman whose partner had sent her the link to my blog. The subject line reads: “Add me to the fan club!” (I ain’t too proud to admit that flattery will get you everywhere.) Turns out she’s something of a kindred spirit–not only does she have the same fond memories of being absolutely perplexed by the advice in Cosmopolitan Magazine when she was a teen, but she also shares my passion for Bellocq’s photographs of the Storyville prostitutes.

And who doesn’t love positive feedback?

Speaking of which, I got another type of positive feedback this week, this time in the form of a very flattering review on TER (The Erotic Review) from a client who was an absolute pleasure to meet with.

And then, I realized that I hadn’t even noticed a positive review I received on ECCIE a few weeks back.

And! A client bought me a gift off of my Amazon Wishlist! He got me a year’s subscription to The New Yorker!! It was perfect timing, too, because my subscription was just about to run out. It’s my favorite magazine, and I don’t know how I’d ever convince myself to work out if I didn’t have it to read at the gym. Anyway, he scheduled an appointment and I met with him, and it turns out he’s just as awesome as his taste in gifts :)

Full Disclosure: My Thoughts on Reviews

I don’t have many reviews at all, but I like it that way. While I do allow reviews (I address this briefly on my FAQ page), I don’t want a ton of explicit descriptions of my time with clients floating around the internet. For one thing, I feel like it’s disrespectful to me, and it cheapens our time together (it’s called “intimacy” for a reason, lol). Why should a bunch of men I’ve never met get to be titillated by the time I spent with you, that you paid for? Also–and this is purely from the standpoint of a writer–I believe that, ultimately, these review sites are more predatory than helpful. What it really amounts to is that clients are basically writing porn for the sites, for free, and then the sites turn around and charge other clients to read it. So you’re supplying the content for a site that is selling it, and you don’t even get a share of the profit. Yeah yeah yeah, I understand that everyone profits by getting access to the reviews, but still. If they were really there only for review purposes, they wouldn’t demand in-depth, detailed, explicit play-by-play descriptions of dates. They’d simply require a yes/no recommendation and a short explanation, and leave it up to the reviewer to decide how much to include. That being said, I stand by what I say on my FAQ page: if you’d like to write a brief, tasteful review of our time together, please feel free ;)

Blue Books and Brothels: Storyville and the Legislation of Morality

A while back I met with a gentleman, and one of the topics that came up in conversation was New Orleans’s “sordid” history–namely, the period from 1897-1917 when the city set up Storyville, a red light district where prostitution was legal.

We discussed my fascination with E. J. Bellocq, a photographer working at that time who, despite earning a living photographing (among other relatively mundane things) Catholic school students’ school pictures, was drawn to the…less wholesome side of New Orleans in his art.  He is now best known for his Storyville Portraits, a collection of photographs of Storyville prostitutes taken around 1912, just five years before Storyville was shut down. These pictures weren’t found until after his death, but they’re wildly popular now–so much so that they have completely overshadowed his other work, such as his photos of the opium dens in what was then New Orleans’s Chinatown (now the CBD).

Clara Miller of Mahogany Hall, Prostitute in New Orleans's Storyville
Anyway, a couple days later, after he’d left town, I got an email from him with a link to this site.  It’s a fun little site with lots of info, but I think the most interesting thing about it is the collection of photographs of Blue Books.  Blue Books were basically guides to Storyvile–like the Eros-nola.com of paper.

It’s striking how similar the Blue Books are to the advertising methods used in the industry today.  Look at Clara Miller’s ad–her main selling points are her lovely disposition, her worldly (she’s traveled to Europe) yet relateable (she’s a local girl born near Baton Rouge) personal history, and her eagerness to please (she “can sit up all night if necessary”).  And of course, she’s a beautiful octaroon.  Sounds a lot like an elite professional companion, seeking extended dates, no?

I love the intro, in which the publishers swear that the listings contained in the book are truthful representations of the ladies and services they advertise.  “This book contains nothing but Facts,” they write.  Oh, I wonder how many men were duped by the ol’ bait-and-switch back then.  The predominant business structure in Storyville was the brothel arrangement, where several women worked in a house under a single owner/employer. It was basically the equivalent to today’s agencies. And the brothel owners (Madams) could really submit whatever information, real or false, they believed would attract customers (is this sounding familiar yet?).  I hope they made sure the girls had a chance to read the ads first!

And on that topic, what of the bait-and-switch?  Back then, since the business was legal, I guess situations like that one were much less problematic–it was just a matter of the gentleman saying, “No, thank you, that’s not what I was expecting,” and moving on to the next available lady that struck his fancy.

And what of brothels?  There weren’t really any “independent escorts” in those days; women worked for business owners, who charged them a fee for the room, the advertising, security, etc. (again, like an agency).  This is one of the reasons I’m against “legalizing” sex work–once there are strict regulations, we basically lose all control over how and where we work, and what we do with our own bodies.  Look at the situation in Nevada.  Sure, the brothels are legal, but the women working in them are dehumanized to the point that they are simply equipment, and the laws are such that the person who benefits most from their work is the employer (brothel owner).  The women are not permitted to leave the property (?!????!!!!!??), they are subjected to–and charged for–weekly medical exams*, they must pay rent, a flat grocery fee (regardless of what they eat), and several other miscellaneous fees for services and items they are forced to buy, and they are forced to directly compete with the women they must work and live with for the duration of their stay.  And before they receive their paychecks, the employer takes (from what I understand) about half of their earnings.
Continue reading “Blue Books and Brothels: Storyville and the Legislation of Morality”

Books! Goodreads!

I’m going to write a real blog entry soon, but just for the heck of it, I made a Goodreads profile and rated some of the books I’ve read (and marked several that I want to read).  If you’re interested, you can add me if you have an account.

My Profile on GoodReads:

(I also added little buttons to the sidebar of this blog for my profiles on Goodreads, IMdB, Youtube, and my Amazon Wishlist).

Movies and Books in the Bedroom, Oh My!

So, I’m a pretty lucky girl.  My job provides me with opportunities to meet some really interesting, surprising people.  Well, maybe they’re not inherently surprising (they’re probably a better judge of that than I am), but I’m continually surprised by them.  There’s nothing like meeting up with someone for the first time–you know, when you’re not quite sure what to expect, even though you may have been corresponding through email for a few days or even weeks beforehand–and, over the course of your first real face-to-face interaction with them, realizing that you have so much more in common than you anticipated.  It’s quite an exhilerating feeling, and one I enjoy a whole lot more than I expected to.

Allow me to provide an example:

Today I met up with a gentleman, a new friend with whom I’ve never met before.  He had just gotten off the plane when I arrived for our appointment.  I was a bit flustered because it was rush hour and I got stuck behind a horse-drawn (well, mule-drawn, actually) carriage tour in the quarter, and it was 90 degrees out.  I walked in and he was warm and welcoming, and he offered me a drink.  I sat down and we began to chat.  At first, it was just normal stuff–what he does for work, where he’s from, where I’m from, what to do in New Orleans, that kind of stuff.  But within a few minutes we somehow ended up on the topic of books and literature.  I won’t divulge the details of our discussion here (though I will say that it did involve F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, John Grisham, and others).  But the point is, even though we live very different lifestyles, we were able to touch on a common passion (books, stories, reading), and we were able to reveal a bit of ourselves by sharing with each other the ways in which we fit that passion into our own lives, what we gain from it, and how it has shaped us.  I found that aspect of our conversation really inspiring.  And that was quite a turn on  ;)

Continue reading “Movies and Books in the Bedroom, Oh My!”

E. J. Bellocq’s Storyville Portraits – Prostitutes in 1912 New Orleans

Look what came in the mail today!!! It’s my new Bellocq book!

E. J. Bellocq : Storyville Portraits - Book of Photographs by Bellocq printed in 1972
E. J. Bellocq : Storyville Portraits

I’ve wanted to get my hands on this book (and that girl’s stockings!) for so long.  I remember the first time I saw these images.  I was taking a Sophomore level Louisiana History course in college–a course for which I had to memorize the names and locations of all 64 parishes in the state (oh, how I cursed that professor the night before THAT test…).  Imagine my surprise when I walked into class one Monday morning, and instead of being met with another lecture on Huey P. Long or Earl K. Long or one of the other many Longs involved in Louisiana politics, I was treated to century-old photos featuring scantily clad ladies.  Was I dreaming?  Had I overslept through my alarm again?  Nope.  My lovely professor (I wasn’t cursing his name that day!) had prepared a lesson on Storyville, New Orleans’s own red light district, and the first in the United States.  See–I knew my hometown had more to be proud of than our music, parties, and food!

I remember being so impressed with those photos back then.  I didn’t even realize that there was a book of Bellocq’s portraits until later.  I’d see the images here and there, on local-access TV shows or in advertisements for bars in the French Quarter.  And I more or less forgot about them.

Portrait of Storyville Prostitute with Stockings by E. J. Bellocq

Enter the internet.

One day a couple years ago, I randomly thought about those pictures when I saw a pair of stockings with thick stripes.  I bought the stockings immediately, even though they weren’t nearly as cool as the ones this girl is wearing in the photo.  When I got home, I fired up the laptop and used the research skills I learned in graduate school to find that photo online (I am quite the Google ninja.).  And when I found it, and I finally had Bellocq’s name, I hopped on over to Amazon to look for the book and…realized that it was out of print, and the only copies listed were going for well over $200.  Wow.  Not an expense I could justify, seeing as I was a graduate student studying the arts, and student life (especially grad student life) isn’t exactly conducive to a life of luxury.

Alas!  A couple weeks ago, I randomly thought of checking up on the price of Bellocq’s book again.  I found it for a pretty good starting price on Ebay, and set the alarm on my phone to alert me when the auction was closing.  Those last few minutes were brutal–I was fighting it out with someone who, like me, really, really, REALLY wanted those pictures depicting legalized prostitution in New Orleans circa 1912, hahah.  But in the end, I got the book for an amazing price.  I still can’t get over it!

In the days of anticipation between the auction’s end and the book’s arrival, I read a lot of what others had to say about it.  More often than not, I found their assessments patronizing.  There’s one in particular that I’d like to share from a reviewer on Amazon, who “continue(s) to be intrigued by the sad faces, and what those expressions said about the tragic life that the ‘soiled doves’ lived in those days.” Continue reading “E. J. Bellocq’s Storyville Portraits – Prostitutes in 1912 New Orleans”