So a perfect storm of feelings and circumstances drew me out of hiding. And do you know what? It feels so much better on this side. Not to have to tell lies, hide things from the people I care about. To be able to defend what my experience of sex work is like to all the sceptics and doubters.
Anonymity had a purpose then – it will always have a reason to exist, for writers whose work is too damaging or too controversial to put their names on. But for me, it became important to acknowledge that aspect of my life and my personality to the world at large.
I am a woman. I lived in London. I was a call girl.
Belle de Jour: “Now I’m not anonymous…”
She’s real, all right, and I’m sitting on the bed next to her. Her name is Dr Brooke Magnanti. Her specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She is part of a team researching the effects of exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos on foetuses and infants.
From 2003 to late 2004, Brooke worked as a prostitute via a London escort agency; she started blogging as Belle de Jour — after the Buñuel film starring Catherine Deneuve as a well-to-do housewife who has sex for money because she’s bored — shortly into her career as a call girl, after an incident she thought funny enough to write down.
She charged £300 an hour for her services, of which she got £200. The average appointment lasted two hours; she saw clients two or three times a week, “sometimes less, sometimes a great deal more”. How many men has she slept with for money? “A lot.” Dozens? Hundreds? “I can’t honestly remember,” she says, laughing. “Somewhere between dozens and hundreds.”
Times Online, India Knight: “I’m Belle de Jour”.