Back to Lady Sally. She's a lady to the fingertips, and the best whore you'll run across, with the proverbial heart of gold. Since she's the creation of sf writer Spider Robinson, she also happens to be a time traveller with pretty unlimited resources in our time, which gives her some advantages when setting up a whorehouse, the kind of whorehouse that I'd like to visit. Heck, one I might even be willing to work in. You can read about her adventures in Spider's books -- the first is Callahan's Lady (Mike Callahan is Sally's husband), and the second is The Lady Sings the Blues, if I remember correctly.
I'm going to note here that Lady Sally makes a very clear distinction early in the book -- the people who work in her House are Artists, not whores. From now on, I'll refer to them that way, and the House is just a House. You can bring your own connotations to the party.
So what do you find in a classy House? Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the book with me, so I'm going off of memory. What I remember first of all is the Parlor. The parlor has a fireplace. It has a piano. When we're first introduced to it, it does have some lovely ladies in evening gowns, but it also has some lovely gentlemen too. And some not so lovely. And there's no obvious correlation between loveliness/unloveliness and artist/client. Some of the artists are people you wouldn't look twice at on the street, which makes you wonder what skills they might have that would earn them a position at Sally's. And some of the clients are so gorgeous that I might assume that they'd never need/want to go to a artist. Yet there they are, turning assumptions on their heads.
In the Parlor, people relax. They tell bad jokes (usually puns). The play the piano, or listen to it. They have arguments, but friendly ones. They might make a connection and go upstairs with a artist, or they may simply hang out all night and enjoy the party. The Parlor is low stress, comfortable. The kind of place you could take your wife, or husband. If you don't mind 'em hearing some bawdy jokes, you could even take your little kids there. The Parlor is civilized.
Then there's another room, whose name I sadly forget, but let's call it the Orgy Room. What it really is is a place with padded floors and cushions, with dim lights and lots of cheerful laughter. Where you can indulge your interest in exhibitionism or voyeurism, take on one or ten or none. You and your partner could come and spend the entire evening playing only with each other. Or you could go through every artist in the house. A fun place to visit, if a little rich for a steady diet. Sally notes that most people do visit, but few are regulars there.
Then there are the artists' individual studios (which are separate from the artists' actual apartments, up on the third floor). The studios are generally bedrooms, perhaps with some extra equipment. General purpose, nicely appointed. Each with a spy camera and audio pickup, so that down in the monitoring room, someone can keep an eye on the artists and make sure they're not being taken advantage of. So that even if the artist is all tied up, a little hand signal will bring the bouncers running. Wouldn't that be a nice bit of security? Wouldn't that make you feel safer?
There are also the specialty studios (the cheerleader's bedroom, the doctor's office, the dungeon). There are the privacy rooms, for those public leaders or others who need to not be observed (though they all have to get by Lady Sally first). There's Doctor Kate, who either collects a blood sample from you and certifies you clean, or hands you some rubber which you are darn well going to use. (That applies to artists as well as clients, of course). And best of all, there's Lady Sally, who gives Master Classes in the Art.
That last one is the most important, I think. Much of the rest is basically glitz and glitter -- emblematic of the basic philosophy, but not really necessary. It's what you can afford if you're a time traveller with lots of great sf gadgets. But at the core of it all is the philosophy.
The philosophy is simple. Sex can be an art form. Great sex can be great art. And if you want an artist to produce great art, one approach is to give them comfortable surroundings. You keep them from worrying about money, about their safety. You let them learn and teach and share. You appreciate what they do. You respect their work.
That's the heart of Lady Sally's House. Isn't that a place where you might want to visit? Maybe watch a Master Class or two, or participate? A place to learn and share and grow...a place to experiment and play. In a House like hers, paying for it isn't something to be embarrassed about -- of course you'd pay for great art. And great art that could be experienced so deeply, so immediately, so viscerally -- perhaps you'd pay a lot. And be proud of it. Like hanging a Renoir on your wall, you could casually mention to a friend that you had the privilege of attending a class of Sally's. And they would be appropriately impressed. Perhaps you might even be so inspired that you would take up the study yourself, and wouldn't that be exciting? Wouldn't that be a thrill?
Isn't that something to strive for -- that all whorehouses could turn into Houses like Sally's -- that all whores could someday learn to be artists? And that the clients could learn to be artists too? It's something I'd like to see.
I've never heard of a House like Sally's, but in my next column, I'm going to tell you about FantasyMakers, a BDSM House modelled in part on Lady Sally's House.
If you have ideas for future columns -- issues you want addressed, questions you think I might be able to answer, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mary Anne
September 10, 1997