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My brothel's keeper.

As a kid in small-town Canada, Tracy Quan wanted to be three things when she grew up: a librarian, a writer, and a hooker. The librarian gig never panned out, but Quan has managed to combine a talent for high-class hooking with a gift for turning out irreverent, witty novels on the sex trade. Quan's characters are not victims but entrepreneurs and like herself challenge Western cultural stereotypes of sex work.

After 15 years as a prostitute in London and Manhattan, Quan put the trade aside to focus exclusively on writing. Her first book, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, is being adapted for the screen by Sex and the City creator Darren Star; a sequel, Diary of a Married Call Girl, was published in October. Quan-probably the only chick lit writer to discuss indentured labor, sex worker rights, and the proper purse in which to carry a dildo--has written on sex and gender issues for Lingua Franca, Salon, and Congressional Quarterly.

Assistant Editor Kerry Howley spoke to Quan in November. A longer version of this interview is online at links11070s.shtml.

Q: Do you support complete legalization of the sex trade?

A: If legalization means that you're going to be regulated in a way that is unfamiliar to the currently working prostitutes, there is going to be a lot of resistance from prostitutes themselves.

Q: What regulations in particular concern you?

A: Zoning. Zoning can be helpful, but it can also be abusive. We've seen how corporations have colluded with government in New York City. Have you looked at Times Square lately? It's a gigantic scare on the population. Times Square is much more vulgar and offensive-looking than it was before. Architecturally it's a disaster. It's completely wrong and unnatural. What person would want their children to be exposed to this sort of thing?

I'd be in favor of some kind of zoning if I thought it was informed by something rational and realistic. The problem is that zoning in this country, given the fearful religious climate, might be misused to try to put prostitutes in dangerous places where they can't be accessed. Zoning is sometimes used not to support a concept but to try to make it go away. And that's a sort of violence against the market.

Q: What do you make of claims that sex workers are motivated by deep-seated psychological problems?

A: All human beings have deep-seated psychological problems. That's what makes us interesting. I would hope a prostitute has deep-seated psychological problems. I think those claims come from people who have been brainwashed by the medicalization of therapy; they want everyone to be flat and have no problems. But that's never been the goal of serious psychotherapeutic thinkers.
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Title Annotation:Tracy Quan
Author:Howley, Kerry
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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