Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman who has been dubbed “the D.C. Madam,” has been indicted on charges of running a prostitution ring. She has decided to “name names,” disclosing her client list, in the hopes that it will help her defense. Apparently her assets were frozen, so she was unable to mount a proper defense, and saw this as her only option. She initially refused to answer any questions, but will be interviewed on ABC’s “20/20” on Friday night.
She has already outed Randall L. Tobias, a deputy secretary of State and the “AIDS czar” of the Bush administration. He resigned last week after acknowledging that he used her services, “but only to have gals come over to the condo to give me a massage.” According to Tobias, “no sex” was involved.
Where do I begin?
First off, Palfrey is playing the victim, which is just ridiculous. She has set up a website for her legal defense fund, and complains about having to suffer “the full weight of the United States government bearing down upon her.” Palfrey, who in the past served 18 months for attempted pimping in San Diego, apparently feels she has done nothing wrong.
If only people would understand. The 130 “subcontractors” that she hired — women between the ages of 23 and 55 — simply went to clients’ homes and performed “legal high-end erotic fantasy” services for up to $300 an hour. Palfrey said in a statement that “you can pay a legal escort to come to your home, get naked and get a massage and you haven’t broken any laws, assuming you stay on your stomach.” In the thirteen years that she ran her business from Vallejo, California, she made over $2 million, though she did split some with her employees.
To begin, I don’t feel bad for anybody who makes $2 million doing anything. If she wants to come pay my rent sometime, maybe I’ll feel for her more. Secondly, I will state the obvious: there is no way that no sex ever went on. I cannot imagine that “thousands and thousands” of clients shelled out that much cash to get a massage.
A third point: Let’s say that I recently legitimately purchased several electronics items and want to sell them at a profit. I am not going to sell them out of the back of my car. What do you expect to happen when you run a suspicious service, even if everything your employees do is “legal”? You gambled and you got caught. Boo hoo.
Also, while I have never personally had a problem with them (knock on wood), I highly doubt that she is experiencing “the full weight of the United States government.” Freezing assets isn’t what comes to mind when I try and comprehend what the “full weight” would be.
And now to the other “victims.” Sure, it’s bad business practice to make public the names of your clients. Palfrey is “genuinely sorry” about divulging that Tobias, a married father of four, was a client. My first instinct is to feel sorry for the exposed Tobias. But once common sense returns, it makes me want to scream, “Oh PLEASE!”
I feel sorry for Tobias’ family, and the families of the clients. I would hate to be the one with the dad/husband/son that hired a call girl (there, I said it). They did nothing wrong. They weren’t the idiots that decided to spend some of the kids’ tuition money on “massages.” They aren’t the ones that were just begging to get caught doing something stupid (and very probably illegal). I guess when you spend your whole life being smart (climbing the career ladder, etc), you just have to be dumb once in a while.
People today are so rarely held accountable for their actions, that nobody really knows what to do when it actually happens. While all of the craziness over the comments made by Isaiah Washington, Don Imus, et al. seemed a little overboard to me, what did they expect to happen when they said them? The idea of free speech is still quite blurry to a lot of people, especially when individuals take advantage of it. Despite the many freedoms we experience in this country, overall the United States is quite conservative. And when it comes to sex, we (the people, the media, the government) either overreact or underreact.
To the clients and to Palfrey: my mother always says, “Don’t put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.” To paraphrase that, as the Washington Post writers Faye Fiore and Adam Schreck wrote in their article on the matter, “Don’t do anything you don’t want to see in tomorrow’s headlines.”