Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Belle de Jour's First Book
British call girl/award-winning blogger Belle de Jour published her first book (she now has a second, with more on the way) back in 2005. (The book has already inspired a mini-series.) Vice Squad finally got around to reading it, uh, well, I finished today -- maybe we are not as cutting edge as I like to think. Vice Squad is a long-time admirer of Belle's blog, but at first I was not as fond of the book, which is a memoir largely drawn from her blog. The new material includes a short vignette at the beginning, purporting to tell how Belle got into the call girl business. I found the early pages to lack the ring of truth that I have come to associate with Belle, and thought that more lurid material was sort of purposely front-loaded, as if the publisher had suggested that the book would sell better if it could engage those with short attention spans (I do not exempt myself from that characterisation.) But I thought that the book improved, and I ended up enjoying it.
When you compare Belle's book with something similar from across the pond, say, Callgirl: Confessions of an Ivy League Lady of Pleasure, the one thing that jumps out at you is how much easier life is for Belle than for her American cousin. Belle was not engaged in illegal activity in Britain -- prostitution per se is legal. American call girls have to worry about the police and various stings, even if the probability that they will have trouble from that direction is pretty small. The illegality seems to place a significant weight on the mind, a weight that Belle's prose does not betray.
In her blog, Belle would occasionally comment on prostitution control, or provide some interesting (and policy-relevant) details about her profession. These posts are not reproduced in her (first) memoir.