She was 34 when she signed up to be an escort for Miss "Julia," a.k.a. Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the alleged "D.C. Madam." The escort had a B.A., was making close to $60,000 a year as a financial consultant and belonged to the Rotary Club. She'd arrive at men's hotel rooms in her office clothes. "I'd look like one of their own," she told NEWSWEEK, requesting anonymity, "but I'd keep the sheepskin handcuffs and the little whips in my bag."
Palfrey says she hired college-educated women to provide fantasy sex to clients, and denies running a prostitution ring. "It's not a way of putting women down," she told NEWSWEEK. "It's almost empowerment." Web sites like ifeminists.com reported the madam's travails, and feminist blogs have reveled in the outing of clients like Randall Tobias, who led the State Department's antiprostitution efforts while using the madam's services (only for massage, he says). "Why isn't anyone prosecuting him?" asks feminist writer Wendy Kaminer. The escort says she never told Palfrey—"a great boss"—that she slept with clients several times a week. She says she misses the work—and the business and investing advice clients offered. "It was all about role-playing and packaging yourself," she says. "It's exactly what they teach you in sales and marketing."