Saturday, September 4, 1999

Larry McShane
Associated Press Writer

Online writer gets to heart of call-girl life

Fictional diary by former prostitute offers look into her previous line of work

NEW YORK (AP) — Tracy Quan is still a working girl. She just has a new position.

Quan, a one-time Manhattan prostitute, is penning a twice-weekly column for the on-line magazine — a fictional diary about a Manhattan call girl of Asian ancestry named Nancy Chan.

Sounds a lot like Quan's past life — so much so that a competitor griped that the column, "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl," was not clearly identified as fiction. (The name Chan often appears in larger print than Quan.)

So is it fact? Fiction? Roman a clef?

"It's absolutely fiction," says the self-proclaimed, self-employed former hooker. "It's done in the way that Tom Clancy and others have used what they know about an industry to tell a story."

The column debuted in July. Among the racier entries were segments titled "Thighs Wide Shut" and "Lesbian Blind Date." Quan says she has already received dozens of e-mails from men, women, johns and hookers.

The columns generally mix pop psychology and soft-core porn, offering a peek into the title character's personal and professional lives. The stereotypical hooker with a heart of gold doesn't turn up here; a woman trying to quit the business through a 12-step program does.

"Prostitutes have huge problems balancing their love lives, their families and their friends with work," Quan says. "The life is complicated. It's a psychologically challenging situation."

In one column, Nancy is trying to balance a blossoming romance with her work. "A boyfriend is a professional liability, eating into precious time and energy that might have been expended profitably," Quan writes.

Dinner and a movie, apparently, are out.

There are other do's and don'ts for the working girl: "I never discuss girl business with a john." In the summer, all business is done between Tuesday and Thursday to accommodate johns taking long weekends.

Quan is vague about her personal life: She was a teen-age runaway who eventually went into prostitution, spending 10 years in the business. Now in her 30s, she has been writing for the last two years, and hopes the diary may eventually become a book.

Among her inspirations in taking up the pen: "Happy Hooker" Xaviera Hollander, the madam turned author and Penthouse columnist.

"Xaviera Hollander is a friend, someone I admired, someone who inspired me as a kid," Quan says. "I was inspired by her real-life experiences."

Quan says she intends to concentrate on her writing now, putting her other career on hold — perhaps permanently. But her experiences on the job will always inform her work.

"I don't think of myself as a reformed ex-hooker," Quan says. "I still see the world through the eyes of a working girl."

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Created: November 28, 2000
Last modified: November 30, 2000
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