02.25.10

Hands Off My Call Girl!

Tiger’s latest alleged mistress says she quit her job as a porn star because it drove him mad with jealousy. Tracy Quan on why some men can’t bear to share their sex workers.

Was Tiger Woods as jealous of his alleged mistress as her lawyer Gloria Allred claims? It wouldn’t be the first time a guy fell for a porn star and tried to change her.

At a press conference last Friday, Allred, a feminist lawyer with a flair for drama, claimed that Veronica Siwik-Daniels—a.k.a. adult-film star Joslyn James ( Big Breasted Nurses, Porn Star Brides)—had a three-year affair with the golf star. Sympathetically clutching her client’s hand, she also said Veronica gave up her only source of income “because Tiger was very jealous and he could not stand the thought of her being with another man.”

Allred and her distraught client articulated some home truths familiar to women who work in the sex industry, whether behind closed doors or in front of a camera.

If we fall for a man’s jealousy, we are falling not just for the man himself, but for our own hyped-up image of ourselves as sex stars.

— You can’t help whom you love.

— Being in love is rarely good for your career, and women in X-rated jobs, like other working women, are often tempted to forsake an independent livelihood because of something to do with a man.

— We pay a high price for love and rarely understand what we’re getting into when we become sex workers, but even less do we understand what we’re giving up when we quit the business to please a man (and we do this more often than we should.)

— We often blame the man who inspired a decision we now regret. (Get used to it, guys—this is not unique to women in the sex industry.)

— And yet, if we never fell in love, we’d be machines.

T. Byram Karasu: Every Man Is a Sex Addict Whatever you may think about Veronica’s motives or her lawyer’s tactics, the assertion that “Tiger could not stand the thought of her being with another man” has the ring of truth. It sounds selfish, irrational, and unfair under the circumstances: sexual jealousy in a nutshell. But this scenario is one every hot-blooded sex worker with a busy romantic schedule and a successful career has either experienced or worked hard to avoid.

When a jealous, demanding lover resents your clients or your work, the tension can be thrilling and irritating in equal measures, and the deliciously toxic dynamic oh so hard to resist. If we fall for a man’s jealousy, we are falling not just for the man himself, but for our own hyped-up image of ourselves as sex stars.

Flattering on the most primal level, it also makes up for the pain associated with outsider status. It says, "I may not be respectable, but I can make you jealous. My power is larger and more ancient than all those rules about whom you should marry.” It’s no coincidence that some of the most jealous lovers of sex workers are guys who wear suits. The challenge is mutual.

Male jealousy is also intimidating because it feels like an energy force with a life of its own, equal to our erotic currency as professionals. Against our better judgment, we’re impressed when a man is jealous of our work. In a perfect world, we would filter out his work-related jealousy because it threatens our financial independence. We would find some way to enjoy a lighter, more mainstream kind of jealousy. But there is no such thing for us—no perfect world, no filter that makes jealousy easy to manage. And yet it’s the glue holding too many of our relationships together.

The ability to inspire jealousy is also a sure path to having your heart broken—if you confuse the J-word with the L-word. Sex workers do that all too often. Yes, people who love are often jealous, but jealousy is not love. Where the two coexist in one man, we may find an excess of jealousy and a shortage of love.

But lots of men do fall in love with sex workers.

Men who become involved with us outside of work are made to feel godlike (in some cases), or just kind of special. And indeed, they are special. We privately see ourselves as queenly beings who get to decide which of our subjects to anoint with a knighthood.

The men we love are also flattered, and quite turned on by the challenge, using sex (our stock in trade, our ammunition) to put us in our place. It’s a vicious or delicious cycle, depending on the people involved and where you happen to be in your romance.

Is it any wonder, then, that men far less famous than Tiger make similar demands—and succeed in creating havoc in the lives of their sex-worker girlfriends?

A few high-minded sex workers are convinced they can hack the jealousy system by declaring themselves openly polyamorous. But Veronica and Tiger were not poster kids for polyamory—their alleged affair relied on good old-fashioned lying. Apparently the old games (Allred says her client thought she was the only “other woman” in Tiger’s life) still hold their appeal—even for a sex worker.

Allred went out of her way to remind us that “this porn star is also a human being.” But her performance on Friday also humanized Tiger. Something about “he was very jealous” made the multimillionaire athlete seem ordinary and helpless, a dissembling cad who is also the tiniest bit needy. How, you wonder, can a man be telling more than one woman she’s the only “other” lady in his life and be “very jealous?”

Actually, he was probably lying to those women because he was jealous. Many people do not realize how intensely possessive and demanding a married cheater can be. Marriage empowers a straying adult to behave like a randy teenager and a petulant toddler at the same time. Combine this with a sex worker’s romantic ego, and anything may happen—like those over-the-top texts Tiger is alleged to have sent Veronica in the spring of 2009.

In the battle between relationship success and professional achievement, X-rated women are on the front line. The real world outside our industry is chaotic, prudish, and somewhat dehumanizing; too often, the person who makes us see that most clearly is the man we’re involved with. Many deserve a medal for weathering these conflicts and never giving up on romantic love. Do I believe everything Veronica Siwik-Daniels has said about her three-year relationship with Tiger? I don’t know. (She was accused of lying by her own stepmother.) But putting aside what we may suspect about stepmoms and X-rated stepdaughters, how can you accuse someone of lying about her own romantic delusions?

Tracy Quan's latest novel is Diary of a Jetsetting Call Girl, set in Provence and praised in The Nation as a "deft account of occupational rigors and anxieties before the crash." Tracy's debut, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, and the sequel, Diary of a Married Call Girl, are international bestsellers. A regular columnist for The Guardian, she has written for many publications including Cosmopolitan, The Financial Times, and The New York Times.