Sutherland: NC-17 Rated Urban Myths of the Heartland

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.11.05 PMEvery culture has its myths and legends…

These establish societal norms that are passed on from one generation to the next, reflecting the values which govern that particular community.

In Kansas City, one of the most enduring popular folk tales is that of the prostitutes who “aren’t really prostitutes.”

What do I mean?

Thirty-five years ago I was having lunch with another lawyer downtown in a restaurant known as The Haberdashery. (It was on Baltimore, in the space formerly occupied by Harry Truman and Eddie Jacobson when they had a men’s store there.)

An older gentleman struck up a conversation with us. He said the place reminded him of another lunch place in the 30’s and 40’s downtown. Our narrator/ relator said the latter was known for the respectable married women who frequented it on certain days for lunch. These ladies were there to be picked up for lunch hour trysts by any man who was interested.

Our raconteur stressed the eminent respectability of these ladies who lunched, who were supposedly all from ‘good’ families, all lived in good neighborhoods (i.e. south of the Plaza), and were all married to businessmen and professionals. They weren’t whores, he stressed repeatedly.  Even at the time, my buddy and I knew we were dealing with some kind of pathetic male fantasy, but we listened politely. 

I’d forgotten all about the incident until recently.

As you may know, massage therapists have replaced hair dressers as the clearing house for all manner of local upper-bracket gossip. (It is amazing what people will confide to people who perform personal services, never suspecting apparently that those to whom they impart the latest juicy dish will do the same about them!)

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.09.38 PMOne such masseur- “He is so much more than that!” my source insisted – told the following contemporary version of what I’d heard circa 1980. He claimed that many of his best customers (“very chic, very refined, very European”), are women professionals, moonlighting as call girls on their lunch hours. (Like Warren Beatty in Shampoo, he ministers to their psyches, as well as their appearances.)

I’m sure we all know lots of harried young women lawyers, architects, physicians and accountants (!) who like to turn tricks on their lunch hours with strangers in Plaza area hotels. (It’s the Catherine Deneuve shtick in “Belle de Jour”, the repressed bourgeoisie matron takes a walk on the wild side.)

My source assured me that the patrons pay “many thousands” for each session but what they’re really seeking is intelligent, witty, conversation. Many of the ladies have graduate degrees, he insisted.

I realized that we were back in The Haberdashery 30 years ago.

It’s the titillation of sex but with the tawdriness removed, because these prostitutes are anything but! There’s also a large dollop of cheap irony. (You may think they’re hookers, but they’re really Phd’s. You may think it’s about furtive sex, but it’s really earnest pillow talk about Thomas Piketty and “Leaning In.”)

On its face, this myth is preposterous. I won’t even bother to argue whether it’s true.

What is much more interesting is the elaborate level of self-deception and wish-fulfilment it reflects. What’s scary is that purveyors of such clichéd old chestnuts, have the ear of so many of the town’s movers and shakers and are able to pass this off as informed social commentary on the local scene.
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7 Responses to Sutherland: NC-17 Rated Urban Myths of the Heartland

  1. the dude says:

    It is good to know urban legends for the hoighty toighties are as silly as the hoi polloi.

    • miket says:

      ha, good one dude. but… the rich ARE different you know. for them, trysts! for us, cheap sex. i’m good with that….

  2. Phaedrus says:

    Intelligent, witty conversation with an accountant? that masseuse is definitely full of sh!t. Trust me…I’m an accountant.

  3. hahhararley says:

    I fainted when I saw who wrote this!

  4. CFPCowboy says:

    There are one offs everywhere, and every family has its sheep, both black and white. In Montana, among ranchers, it’s done with house keys at a gathering, and it’s not “Farmers Only.Com”. On an individual basis, it’s called an affair. Those that know Kansas City history know many of the salicious meetings which resulted in divorce splits and sour marriages, and when it happens to a civic leader, it is even more fun, as gossip. Bank ownership, a legal career, or surgical knowledge does not make a marriage immune from trouble. Fortunately for those involved, that is where it ends, unless you are a Hastert or Spitzer, and you have violated something other than marriage vows. In those terms, reality may be better than the erotic dreams of someone wanting stirring conversations. These are the stories that become locked away in closets, the familial bad things in life that we tend to hide from our children.

  5. Hot Carl says:

    Tawdriness removed? Earnest pillow talk? Furtive sex? No wonder Glaze “dates” strippers. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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