In Defense of Skanks

I like train wrecks as much as the next person.

But, unlike my colleagues on Woman Up, I don’t think Tiger Woods qualifies.

Millionaire sports hero cheats on wife. With numerous skanks. All from central casting. Sounds like a dog-bites-man story to me and not worthy of my precious schadenfreude time.

While utterly worthless at first glance, imploding celebrities do serve a purpose. I know of a hospitalized 93-year-old man who hung on a few days longer when the Bernie Madoff scandal was breaking.

Everyone has their own list of secret obsessions. I won’t divulge mine, but I will say that I corrupted a pre-teen I’d been hired to drive around one summer. I told her about a new TV show called “Survivor.” She’d never heard of it.

“Oh, you’ve got to watch!” I said. “People have to eat bugs.”

This was the year 2000, during the show’s first season. Because “Survivor” became a monster hit, subsequent seasons were ruined by product placement and other forms of corporate influence.

Same goes for all reality shows, which is why one-season wonders like “Married by America” and “Mr. Personality” are your best bet for raw suffering. Their budgets are too small to gussy things up, and their corporate sponsors too few to bother with removing all controversy.

I suppose it’s my inner anarchist speaking: Let a thousand awkward moments bloom! So when I hear about celebrities and their personal disasters, I can’t whip up the requisite disapproval.

Especially when it comes to so-called skanks.

Ever since I saw the warm Belle Watling in the same cinema frame as the serene Melanie, I knew I’d go all the way. No half-measure like pinched, snippy Scarlett. No, from now on, it’s all saint or all whore.

I was only 12 years old at the time, and you could argue I was not old enough to make such an important life decision. But I never had much of a choice anyway, since, without the street cred of Catholics, saint was out of my league.

But then, so was whore, for other reasons. As I got older, saints lost their luster, and whores grew more intriguing. The invention of HBO only added to their mystique.

Richard Farrell‘s 1995 documentary “High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell” followed 18 months in the lives of three crack addicts in Lowell, Mass. One was a former aspiring actress named Brenda.

Yes, I work, she told the cameraman. Doing what? he asked. “You’ll see,” she said with a smile. Then off she went for an evening of trolling for customers.

Brenda made me laugh, with her “to do” list that included breaking up with her boyfriend next to laundry and other household errands.

She was pregnant. She considered an abortion, but then she got an ultrasound and changed her mind. Oh how can you, she said, once you’ve seen him? You gotta have a heart.

Ultimately she gave her baby up for adoption.

The film’s epilogue revealed that, shortly after filming ended, Brenda died of an overdose. Funny how shocking her death was, now that the word “crack-whore” had been fleshed out into a person.

The HBO series “G-String Divas” featured strippers in a “gentleman’s club” in Bristol, Pa. Plenty of skin in that show, but I was more interested in the strippers’ back-stories. One woman got a college degree, and then found out she lacked a “corporate personality.”

A stripper from South America was an artist, and a good one at that. One of her paintings featured a woman with black splotches on her forehead. When asked what they were, she replied they represented “thoughts . . . dark thoughts.”

These women seemed like fragile creatures, for all their bravado on stage.

I found “Cathouse,” a series on the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada, both fascinating and creepy. The scariest thing about that place was not the girls or their “dates.” It was the matronly woman who processed the credit cards and monitored the timers.

One hooker no longer worked at the Ranch because she could, with her elite clientele, make more money on her own. Why did she choose to become a prostitute? “I love sex,” she said. “I could spend all day in bed.” She wasn’t joking. Or boasting.

Amazing how candid, easygoing and cheerful these “lowlifes” were.

As for faux skanks, like women who drape themselves all over rich and famous men, well, Nevada is not for everyone.

[originally published by Politics Daily in 2009]

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About Quixotic Chick

I write. I take pictures. I survived cancer.
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