Liveblogging Ashley on 20/20: or, Diane Sawyer Is So Pimp

Irreverence, yes, but with how much gravity can we approach yet another tv news feature on prostitution? I did kid when I said we were all in our La Perla. Okay, I am, but also combat boots. And a cocktail.

9:29 PM Lubricating with “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” The hooker memoir nerd in me is remembering way too many scenes in like every Michelle Tea book about incalls blasting trash tv while waiting for clients to show up.

9:41 PM Chatting with Peridot Ash about managing all these different identities we have: workers, bloggers, activists, all that. (Tonight she’s twittering this, too.)

9:56 PM Gina de Vries just arrived. 4 minutes to showtime. Too many laptops. Good times.

10:00 PM “Girl at the Crossroads?” At least they got her a better makeup artist than Deborah Jean. Oh, the montage: she had a cat! Popular girls with Persians can become sex workers, too!

10:02 PM “A new page in the scrapbook of women who make these choices and why…” — so folksy, you betcha!

10:03 PM Class wars! “Girls who have so many options” and still choose sex work!

10:05 PM As promised, Diane makes her first “serious” face. “You had no idea who [Spitzer] was?” Ashley: “I was 22 years old. I was so caught up in my life.”

10:07 PM Cue the Silda footage. “I don’t feel bad. If it weren’t me, it would have been someone else.”

10:08 PM It’s soft-focus time now: Ashley talks about her daddy. Who leaked her private conversation with her, where she came out as a sex worker, with the press.

10:10 PM Still with the litany of “what did the men in your family think about you” being a sex worker.

10:11 PM “Her mother remarried! Her seventeen year old brother ran away! And was arrested! For selling drugs!” Shouldn’t there be, I don’t know, way more prostitutes out there, if second marriages are to blame?

10:12 PM “I was 23 years old. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life.” Or, as Diane put it, she got into “trouble,” on the “brink of self-destruction.”

10:13 PM Who knew MySpace would forever be known as “a place for Diane Sawyer to learn about your childhood sexual abuse.”

10:15 PM Diane: “But you were an Honors Student!” Me: “Can all the honors student sex workers in the room please raise their hands?” We scored 100% (four out of four).

10:16 PM Ashley: “So-and-so gave me a card…” for his escort agency. That’s Jason Itzler.

10:17 PM Please someone clip this:

Diane: “But you haven’t said the words. Prostitution.”
Asley: “Escort.
Diane: “Prostituton.
Ashley: “Escort.”

Dance mix!

10:20 PM Commercial break. Doesn’t Ashley’s tone when she says, “Well, everybody’s different. Everyone makes different choices.” remind you of another fierce brunette in “the persuasion business”?

10:22 PM Drugs, drugs, drugs. How many stock brokers need drugs to get through their day, too? it’s call Provigil, Diane.

10:24 PM Diane shocked that Ashley could negotiate for safe sex.

10:25 PM (plus or minus some tivo, we’re giving this the attention of a close reading in graduate women’s studies, so bear with us) Diane asking for advice on how to get dolled up for hooker dates — music to wear, clothes to put on “to disconnect yourself from it emotionally” — and Ashley finally breaks a real smile and asks for a break. Which they then play as omg I was so distressed, but really, looks more like Jesus, fuck, Diane, what a dumb question. Again, Diane: “You didn’t have to put music on? Or –” and what was that hand gesture in your lap, Diane? Masturbation? Jesus, Diane, if you want to talk dirty…

10:27 PM Hells yes, you can have a boyfriend after having done sex work. And during. Put a ring on that, Sawyer.

10:29 PM “And a load of credit card debt…” cut to CVS bill and how you gonna explain that, miss?

10:31 PM “I don’t feel that I brought him down.” YES YES YES

10:33 PM “I want someone who thinks that all my imperfections make me perfect… I don’t think I should be embarrassed. That person was a piece of me. That was part of my life.”

10:35 PM “Do you look back and say, oh, there was another way?” Stay in school, kids. Everyone knows sex workers don’t go to college.

42 Responses

  1. OMG ‘Girl at the Cross Roads’

    The Fox News style has really permeated news programs everywhere…

  2. Oh how sweet, they’re ‘scrap-booking’ all the famous hooker stories! Just like mom used to do.

  3. “A new page in the scrapbook of wome who make these choices and why”

    20/20 is a scrapbook now?

  4. Oh my god, hookers can rhyme!

  5. Ouch. She winced when she was asked about ‘Kristen’

    Sawyer is so anxious to hear her say that prostitution ruined her life, being thrust into the public in a hostile way couldn’t have helped much.

  6. What was that one moment that turned you into a whore?

  7. Was it the neighborhood…?

    Was there a drug problem…?

    Oh your father left, right…?

  8. Is that why, is that how you ‘got into trouble?’

    Or was it working as a cocktail waitress at a strip club?

    Let’s list all the possibilities so that Mr. and Mrs. America can rest assured that their daughter won’t end up like you.

  9. “It wasn’t about money, I just needed to emotionally disconnect…”

    Oh honey, but you’re an honor student!

  10. Diane: “Why, you’re an honor student!”

    Melissa: “Will all the sex workers in the room who were honor students please raise their hands?”

    Everyone raises their hands.

  11. People at home are thinking “I’d never make that choice”

    Good, and they shouldn’t. It’s not for everybody.

  12. “Prostitution is only about sex.”

    Escorting is always about sex, with some talk added in.

    Compassion comes in both forms. Don’t kid yourself….

  13. “How do you feel about bringing a governor down?”

    WTF??? That’s the opposite of what happened. Diane Sawyer is disgusting. I can’t believe she went there.

  14. I can’t tell if Dupree’s vulnerability is an act, or real. She just seems really green in this way that does actually make me sad for her. But then I feel kinda manipulated, being sad.

  15. Why is Diane Sawyer so shocked that escorts can insist on safety and that we don’t feel like we’re in physical danger?

    Does she really believe that men’s sexuality is so exclusively violent?

  16. It must be difficult for her to take Diane Sawyer seriously.

  17. I always rub my kitty before I have a session.

  18. She’s all doe-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights, “Daddy, I’m so sorry, I’ve done something terrible.”

    Even when she’s talking about her ability to advocate for her safety as an escort, she says “I’m a very bright girl.” She doesn’t even refer to herself as a woman.

    Ohh! But then I see something different! When Diane asks her if she had to “wear different clothes” or “play music” to get ready for clients, she starts to actually laugh.

  19. She totally saw him more than once!

  20. “I don’t feel that I brought him down… it was a decision that he made.”

    Fuck yes.

  21. “I should be embarrassed… But that was a piece of me back then.”

  22. @queershoulder Don’t fall for it! It’s a show. Read Susan’s comments in the post below. She’s working Diane Sawyer.

  23. Dupree, re: her mom: “They heard the news that I’d delivered to her.” She can’t even say the word sex work, or prostitution, on camera?

  24. “Daddy, I’m in trouble.” Lots of talk about how she hurt her family and esp. her father by doing sex work. Uh, I’m sorry, how the fuck does sex work hurt her father? Or have anything to do with hi at all? Why are there all of these questions about her family? What does this matter???

    “Do you think it could be anybody’s daughter?” AAARGH!

  25. “By not having my father or brother around, I missed something!”

    Wow, is she actually saying this? Lack of male influence = HOOKER!

  26. “Started out in a neighborhood probably like many of ours” —
    Uh, who is the “ours” here? Whose neighborhoods?

  27. If all the supportive parents of sex workers got together to form something like the equivalent of PFLAG for parents and friends of whores, what would it be called?

  28. Diane: “What were your drugs of choice?”
    Dupree: “Cocaine, ecstacy, pot, and vodka…”
    Diane: “Every day?”
    Me, shouting at the television: “YES, ALL of those, at the same time!”

  29. “We read on MySpace that you said you were abused…”

    I can’t help but snicker at this…

  30. More Hooker Programming! Moonlight Bunny Ranch on Nightline Tonight!

    Wow, they just LOVE to talk about us…

  31. Sawyer is a lightweight. We need someone with some idea of WTF they’re talking about to interview sex workers! Jeez.

  32. Yes, Karly, Ashley was working, and Diane was her client. Diane requested a special dress for her to wear, looking prim and proper. She wore it. And you can tell by the expressions on Diane’s face that she was REALLY enjoying her time with Ashley. It’s probably been a while since Diane role-played out her rescue-fetish, and Ashley did her very best. And you’ll notice that she would only go so far in doing this, that is, no “tearful breakdown/prostitution ruined me” thing. She’s a professional, and has boundaries.

    I rather admire Ashley for this, in a way. But it doesn’t do anything for sex worker activism or sex worker rights.

  33. karly,

    A group of us were discussing this the other night. SWAPP — Sex Worker A(something, can’t remember) Parents and Partners.

    That way it sounds like SWOP but is a bit different. I think there would be a lot of interest for a group like this.

    XX

  34. I thought Ashley Dupre came across as very calm, well spoken, and intelligent. She also asserted herself to Diane Sawyer by refusing to answer some of the questions. In terms of Ashley’s My Space comments about being abused, what Diane didn’t mention (or at least it wasn’t shown) was that Ashley also says on her My Space page that she loves herself that that “what destroys her makes her stronger.” Sex workers as strong people who love themselves doesn’t seem to be the image Diane goes for, so I wouldn’t expect her to bring this up.

  35. CNN had an interesting clip this morning evaluating why Diane Sawyer and the media is so hungry for ‘hooker stories.’ There were demeaning comments like, ‘it was a good year for hookers to get their moment in the news,” throughout the discussion but there was one moment of real journalism. One of the reporters brought up the question as to why the media isn’t evaluating why the Johns are let off while the ‘hookers’ and ‘madams’ are thrown in jail. No one had an answer. Although, the male reporter shared that it isn’t interesting to report about the inequalities…it won’t create enough buzz.

  36. What I learned in prop k is that reporters are notoriously lazy. And prostitution does sell news but the underlining corruption stories are just too complicated for them and American public. They have no idea how to write about it. Even when horrific stories are in their face like green river murders, the public policies that promote these killings are never discussed in the first place let alone become the impetus for the American public take the necessary step and take responsibility for creating the exploitation in the second place and then allow us to be at the center of our own agency.

    I learned in prop k that the news media literally need to be lead around by the nose. And rights for us will hinge entirely on how well we are able to create effective, specifically targeted issues based media campaigns that we fund ourselves.

    Relying on reporters to get our message out is a complete waist of time in my opinion. Even if they’re good reporters, they aren’t interested in challenging the status quo after all, their part in the system of repressing us is working for them. Without the criminalization of our labor, they’d have nothing to report on for sweeps week ratings.

  37. Anonymous, though I realize that there is a gender double standard, I don’t see that as the only issue. Even if clients were being arrested at the same rate or reported on at the same rate as sex workers, that wouldn’t make it ok to arrest sex workers. It seems like all some people notice is the gender double standard in arrests, without noting other harms associated with the criminalization of prostitution.

  38. […] followed along with the live blogging Bound Not Gagged did the other night when Ashlee Dupre was on with Diane Sawyer. I recommend that […]

  39. More news coverage last night http://www.dirtymoney.cnbc.com

    It only covered the tip of the iceberg.

  40. […] with Silda Spitzer (cringe.) You can see clips here, read Melissa Gira's liveblog responses here, and we should have our own write-up coming […]

  41. […] Bound, not Gagged live blogged the show. A comment on the post sums up my feelings: “Yes, Karly, Ashley was working, and Diane was her client. Diane requested a special dress for her to wear, looking prim and proper. She wore it. And you can tell by the expressions on Diane’s face that she was REALLY enjoying her time with Ashley. It’s probably been a while since Diane role-played out her rescue-fetish, and Ashley did her very best. And you’ll notice that she would only go so far in doing this, that is, no “tearful breakdown/prostitution ruined me” thing. She’s a professional, and has boundaries. […]

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