What Happens in Vegas ... Goes in Madam's Memoir
Jami Rodman is a storyteller and an educator. She’s also a former Las Vegas call girl who once ran her own escort agency. After leaving the business, Rodman realized that she not only had a salacious story to tell, but one that, if told properly, had the potential to educate people–from call girls to customers to angry spouses—on what the world’s oldest profession is actually like. According to our reviewer Scott Neuffer, Rodman’s 5-Star Clarion book, The Las Vegas Madam: The Escorts, The Clients, The Truth, succeeds magnificently. “She shares explicit tales that have the flavor of great erotica, but also weaves in remarkable, telling portraits of people on both sides of an age-old transaction,” Neuffer writes. FTW was intrigued, so we asked her to elaborate on what she hoped to accomplish with her memoir. See Rodman’s candid interview below the news.
First, the News
Parenting Hacks: Into the chaos of parenting and managing family relationships, allow us to inject a little (literary) sanity. These titles, from our Winter 2016 issue, hold invaluable keys to making your life, and the lives of your family members, a little easier.
Secrecy, Conspiracy, and Crime: Grab your calabash pipes and deerstalkers, and prepare to give Sherlock Holmes a run for his money with this international collection of mysteries, thrillers, and chillers. It’s elementary, my dear Watson, elementary. Here are the best from our Winter 2016 edition.
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We’re guessing that the goal of your book was both titillation and education. The first is obvious. What about the second? Who are you educating and why?
Thanks for appreciating that part of the book. I spent a lot of time reading, exploring, and delving into the psychology and sociology of the sex world, from clients, escorts, therapists, bloggers, dominatrices, upset wives, frustrated husbands, rescued sex slaves, from just about every angle, so each chapter would tell a story that others (not just prostitutes) could relate to. I wanted readers, anyone curious or affected by escorting, to have an honest story to pull from for whatever reason they found their way to my book.
Some readers are driven by simple curiosity. Others are wives who have caught their husbands cheating, women who fantasize about trying it out, family members or boyfriends, and other escorts. A hundred different people would have a hundred different reasons for reading a story about prostitution and Las Vegas, and I wanted to provide everyone with an authentic representation, albeit interesting and engaging, to read.
I’ve had sex therapists, psychiatrists, counselors, wives, husbands, Christians, escorts, porn stars, dominatrices, and others reach out for advice, questions, and thoughts. I am honored for every single person who has listened and read my story, and for those who ask more. I didn’t write it to redeem myself or alienate anyone. I wanted to give a straightforward rendition of what it’s like to go down the path of prostitution. I looked for a book like this when I started escorting and there wasn’t one. Now there is.
Play amateur psychologist for us. Do you find that a great many women who choose sex as a profession come from conservative religious families as you did? If so, why do you think that is?
Before I delved into writing, and analyzing, and studying, and researching, during the three years it took me to complete the book, I would have said “no way do we fit into a stereotype like that.” However, with the research I’ve completed, both formally and informally, I’ve found that many of us—me, my friends, and my fellow escorts—do come from more traditional (and stereotypical) backgrounds.
There are likely a few reasons and my point of view is just one of many. The gender roles in conservative religious families are pronounced, and internally I didn’t feel inferior to a male. I went to public school where I learned that women in America have equal opportunities, to continue their education, to choose if and when to start a family, to build a career. I didn’t want to stay at home grooming myself to become a traditional wife and mother. The world was bigger to me.
There is also the issue of sexuality and in a religious home, sexuality is often shunned. I was a curious child. I masturbated incessantly and consumed romance novels voraciously. Both were my escape from religious expectations. When I started escorting, and my body wasn’t shameful to clients as it had been in my Christian home, it felt liberating. Once I did it, I did it again. In our society, men are idolized for having casual sexual relations. I felt empowered by doing the same thing.
Foreword Reviews focuses on small presses and independently published books. Why did you decide to publish on your own?
A friend and I published books around the same time: hers was traditionally published, and mine was self published. There are a few similarities, but for the most part our experiences have been wildly different. To be honest, I hunted a traditional publisher for a long time. I found an agent and worked on the proposal for months. No one was interested. I had to shift focus so that I could actually write the book.
It was a challenge to navigate the big wide world of publishing. I had a hundred questions. It was daunting but I have learned so much. I also got lucky (after doing a little homework) and found a fantastic group of mentors and publicists to work with who made me feel like I finally had a “team” that was on my side. Having a good team made all the difference in the world.
I’m happy it worked out the way it did. There are many authors who publish traditionally that have fantastic experiences. I, too, had an amazing publishing experience, and I appreciate the flexibility I had in sharing my story the way I wanted to.
Many good memoirs are those that feature a kind of “double life” being lead by the writer and how they struggled with it. Does writing this memoir put that struggle behind you?
Writing my story took many turns as I’m sure most do. I think I probably wrote 15 different versions before this final one. I worked with a couple editors and each prompted different thoughts and feelings. One day my writing would be funny and sarcastic, the next it would feel bitter and sad. There were times I never thought I would get through another chapter but each morning I got up and I wrote. Each time I got a little more down on paper.
Much of my life was kept a secret for a long time and I didn’t realize just how much of a double life I was living until I had to dig it up and write about it. That is when I discovered more about myself, about what, and who, I hid for so long. When writing this story, I had to revisit every piece of my life, all the good memories and the dark ones. Now I realize all those different pieces make up who I am today. The double life feels more like it has evolved into who I am, rather than a separate one put behind me.
Memoirs can be embarrassing to write, especially if you don’t exactly come out looking like a hero. Are there things in the book that you cringed about as you wrote it?
When I was writing this memoir I read books on how to write. One of them, I think by Stephen King, said something to the effect that when you sit down to a blank page to write, you sure as hell better be ready to go to battle. Otherwise just put away your pencils and go home for the day. I’ve always remembered that! I also read that true writing feels like you’re bleeding. Why bother only putting it half way out there? So I went for it.
Still, parts of the story were tough to put out for the whole wide world to see. I don’t think anyone feels comfortable airing their dirty laundry, but I will confess, some of the most “colorful” parts didn’t make my final cut. I am sure there are still parts that are equally as hard to read, but I think I found a good balance.
Do you have a favorite book or author that depicts sex, or sex work, in a realistic way?
To be frank, I stopped reading about sex when I got into the sex industry! I had so much of it ‘at work’ that I didn’t want to come home to more of it on my free time. Since then I’ve slowly gotten back into reading articles, blogs, and twitter, and I find the ones I laugh with or relate to the most are the ones that are blunt and honest. One of my reviewers said it best, it is much more satisfying to read truth over fiction, and I agree. Some of this stuff you just can’t make up!