Often, we Mercury writers are accused of acting like celebrities. And while we may be known to occasionally flash our vaginas while exiting cars in miniskirts, if there's one thing that will check our egos at the office, it's the total eclipse of our minor notorieties by that of Cindy "The Erotic Pleaser."
For many readers, no further introduction is necessary. For the few uninitiated among you, turn for a moment to pg. 50, right column, uppermost ad. And why yes, that's an actual photo.
We knew things had reached a tipping point when the Mercury's Editor-in-Chief Wm. Steven Humphrey made a recent public appearance. While the crowd received him graciously enough, when Cindy's name was mentioned, the room erupted in cheers. "That's it," he thought. "People want to know about Cindy. Give the people what they want."
With that I found myself venturing out on assignment, to a motel on the edge of town where Cindy lives and sometimes works, to find out more about this enigmatic figure—who, as it turns out, not only holds three degrees (in psychology, medicine, and physiology), but is a jazz musician and composer who's fluent on the keyboard, trumpet, and flügelhorn. And that's just the start of the incredible things I learned from Cindy "The Erotic Pleaser."
"EVERY GIRL KNOWS HER STRONG POINTS"
"Mine are my left one and my right one," Cindy says, referring to her formidable breasts, the cleavage of which is peeping amiably through the slit of her velveteen gown as she attempts to describe her journey across the country and through various careers. We are chatting casually on the bed in her plain, tidy rented room, where Cindy recounts a life that began in New Jersey, with stints in Chicago, New England, and Los Angeles as a student, musician, salesperson, the owner of a small remodeling company, and eventually, an adult escort.
After fleeing Los Angeles for Oregon, Cindy found herself at a spiritual crossroads. She no longer felt satisfied in the remodeling business, so she meditated and prayed for divine guidance.
It came in surprising form: "Just days later I was approached by four different people with the same question: 'Have you ever considered becoming an escort?' I realize there are a lot of people out there who would see any aspect of the adult industry and a divine calling as mutually exclusive opposites—but I could see a divine purpose: I could reach and affect people's lives in this way, who could not otherwise be reached....
"I have no idea why people approached me to be an escort. [It may be] partially, how I carry myself. There's a certain confidence there. I wear things that are a little intriguing. [My breasts] tend to be shown a lot. The only other possible answer is that this was the answer to my prayers."
"WHATEVER WE DO FOR A LIVING, WE SHOULD DO BECAUSE WE LOVE IT"
It's fairly common for people who work in an adult industry to point out the healthy and arguably therapeutic aspects of what they provide. A client may be painfully shy, inexperienced, or afraid of rejection, and Cindy is one resource they can go to for nonjudgmental, affectionate companionship.
"I provide warmth, caring, emotional connection, and intimacy, because my focus is on giving, on healing, sometimes even on expanding a partner's horizons. The emotional gratification I receive from putting a smile on a client's face is a major motivation for me."
In addition to working with her clients, who are, as she says, "my life," Cindy has used her background in psychology to provide counseling to other women in the industry, particularly those who had "drug, video poker, or bad-boyfriend addictions." She stresses the importance of being able to find satisfaction in your work life. "If a girl feels like the only reason to be in it is the money, I've always counseled them on finding a way out—because anything you do not put your heart into eats your soul... something this personal does it much faster."
Our conversation was interrupted once by a potential client's call, which Cindy took, mentioning that hearing her end of it might be an edifying addition to my article:
"Hi, this is Cindy... I'm my normal, happy, horny, healthy self. How are you?... Okay, if you come to me [starts to give directions]... If you need me to go to you, I can arrange that. You'll find me warm and affectionate. I enjoy lots of hugging, kissing, cuddling, and caressing. I'm very open-minded, and enjoy all types of fun. I'm available all around the clock with a bit of notice... Where are you?... I'm sorry, I'm having trouble understanding what you're saying... The name of the town?... It's better for you to come to me?... Sorry, Grovetown?..."
Cindy sighs, and turns back to me, saying, "If there was one thing I could do to increase my income, it would be to learn good, conversational Spanish. I have tried to set an appointment using my limited Spanish, but invariably there has been a problem with subtle differences of meaning; between 'yes,' 'I can't promise that, but it sounds like fun,' or 'that sounds interesting, I can do that once in a while.' Somewhere in that scale is where my answer has to be, for obvious legal reasons. We get into the lack of ability to comprehend that. There were these French guys last week... they weren't going to set an appointment unless I explicitly promised certain acts. Which I'd be very blonde if I was dumb enough to do."
"YOU HAVE TO HAVE A CERTAIN VALUE OF YOURSELF"
When you're working independently like Cindy, you have be an advocate for yourself, and that entails sticking to your guns when it comes to payment. Cindy is pretty reasonable if you're particularly hard up, and even more generous in her personal life; she told me about multiple friends she's supported when she can and there's a need.
On the other hand, years of experience (Cindy's been in the industry for about 10 years, she thinks. "After you've been in this business for a while, you lose total track of time. How long is a day? Twenty-four hours? Fifty-eight? I don't know!") have taught her to spot clients on the phone who are balking at the cost of her time for all the wrong reasons.
"Their evaluation of the dollar is higher than their evaluation of the person. These are the people who will expect the most when you get together. And if somebody says to me, 'What kind of special do you have today?' I say, 'This is not Kmart, and I do not have a blue light flashing over my ad.' If you want to drive a Rolls-Royce, you don't go into the lot and ask if you can get it for the price of a used Yugo."
"FEAR AMOUNTS TO SURRENDER"
If a significant part of your job involves meeting up with strangers, it goes without saying that your instincts have to be sharp. Tall and thick, Cindy has a physical advantage, and a set of long acrylics and high heels are the only weapons she carries. Couple that with the conviction that the way to lose a fight is to be the one who blinks first, and it's no wonder there's been only one instance with a client out of which Cindy emerged with physical injury.
"A guy came to visit me at my place in Gresham, who was young, 6' 7", and built like a tight end. When he first got there, he asked for a drink of water. I go to the refrigerator to get the distilled water, and as I bend over I find that I have a 9mm pointed to my head, with the instructions, 'Tell me where your money is kept.' He certainly did not expect my reaction, which was to stand up, step toward him, and tell him to fuck himself, which provoked him to squeeze one off right next to my ear, leaving a hole in my kitchen. He was totally frustrated. He started pistol-whipping me. I couldn't really do anything much to him, so I decided to scare him away. I started screaming my lungs out. I knew that nobody could hear me, but he didn't know that. It had him running out the door."
"THERE IS NOTHING THAT CANDY WOULD DO THAT CINDY WOULDN'T"
In the early days, Cindy ran ads that used the pseudonym "Candy" instead of Cindy, her legal name. Then she realized that there was no point; she was not pretending to be someone else, to herself or to the world.
She describes herself as a "true" bisexual who enjoys men and women, pointing out that kissing between a man and a woman "can be very hotly passionate," and between two women "is more often warm, mellow, and sensuous." She occasionally sees women and couples, but the majority of Cindy's clients are male, and she describes them as "friendly, cool, fun, and generally enjoyable." She also drops the juicy hint that she's been with a major movie star, as well as a presidential cabinet member—but one thing Cindy won't do is betray her clients' privacy.
"A CRISIS A DAY KEEPS THE BOREDOM AWAY"
That's been Cindy's smiling-through-the-pain motto, during the stint she spent running her own agency, something she talks about with no amount of fond recollection ("Nobody in their right mind would run an agency for any length of time."), an era of sleepless nights and phone bills exceeding $13,000. But even now, as an independent, life is not always smooth sailing.
In addition to the pistol-whipping incident, she has found herself behind a door secured with no less than four deadbolts with a drunken man she describes as "an Asian gang member," who told her, "You are neither getting paid nor leaving." (She eluded him with a ruse using her cell phone.) She has encountered knives under pillows, guns in nightstands, six guys when there was supposed to be one ("Turned out, that was a lot of fun!"). She's had to grab her clothes and run naked into the street.
And sometimes, as a prank, or the product of indecision and fear, she gets no-shows or wrong addresses—of particular irritation when she has had to shell out for a cab across town only to find herself knocking on the door of a little old lady's house at 2 am. All so someone—she refers to these people as "feces brains"—can have a laugh.
"YOU DON'T NEED TO BE 20 YEARS OLD TO SUCCEED IN THIS FIELD"
Cindy fascinates people because she's unashamed and upfront about who she is, which is someone who doesn't fit the mold of what people expect from an escort. Because she wasn't 19 and 110 pounds, she had to fight to become part of the agency at which she began her career. But clearly, considering her longevity, she's tapped a market.
"When guys see me, it's not necessarily because of my bust line or my legs or anything else. Very often it's because they can feel comfortable with me, and I can reach their actual needs for mental and emotional intimacy. As long as somebody still calls me, I will continue, because I love doing what I do."