Finally Flint appeared. For nearly four years, I'd wondered what the brothel industry's gatekeeper looked like. A flashy, gum-smacking, middle-aged street hustler with a cockeyed hairpiece and several heavy gold necklaces buried in dark chest hair is what I had expected. Instead, I saw a man in his early sixties, of ample proportions and intense civility. He wore tinted eyeglasses, and several expensive--but not gaudy--rings flashed from thick fingers. He wobbled a little as he walked, because of a serious leg injury. He looked safer, friendlier, and more polished than I'd imagined. I couldn't help but see in my mind's eye a smiling Midwestern televangelist wooing an admiring and loving audience.
As he led me down to his basement office, he peppered me with unexpected questions about my family. Did I know my ancestry, he asked? Did I have any interest in genealogy? I admitted I hadn't given it much thought -- certainly not as much as he had. He told me about each of the family portraits hanging on the basement walls. His father had been a professional photographer and Flint confessed that he had inherited his passion for photography from his dad. In fact, George -- he insisted I call him George rather than Mr. Flint or Reverend Flint -- admitted to many passions, from travel and antiques to Napoleon and the embalming practices of morticians. I found myself nodding pleasantly and in half-disbelief as his stories rolled over me, delivered in the soothing cadences of a professional preacher.
Suddenly, George changed the subject. "Why is it that women who were sexually aggressive before marriage, never want to give a guy oral sex after they're married?" Did he expect me to answer that? George didn't need an answer. The problem, he explained, lay in our society's inability to communicate about sex. Men fundamentally wanted to be monogamous, he contended, but resorted to having affairs or going to brothels when they felt uncomfortable discussing their sexual fantasies with their wives. Then, warming to his other job as brothel lobbyist, he began to tick off a litany of reasons for legalizing prostitution.
Excerpted from Brothel by Alexa Albert Copyright 2001 by Alexa Albert. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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