True Short Story

I was an Internet Escort in the Gay Nineties
By David Dewberry

I learned about Internet escorting in 1994, from gay porn stars I stage managed at The Connection, a gay bar in Louisville, Kentucky. I was stage manager for the famous drag show, La Boy/Le Femme for a year from July of 1994 till July of 1995. This was a hot bed of Gay Nineties community in Louisville. Louisville was a wonderful place to be openly gay in the 1990s! And the possibility of money from sex work was wide open in the Midwest, especially for male escorts open to men and women clients.

I learned about street hookers from a much older ex boyfriend, who had done that in Cincinnati, as a female impersonator in the early 1980s. Most of those folks worked to buy alcohol and other drugs.

I knew about escort agency workers because my mom had done that in the mid 1960s. Those women worked until they found office jobs.

I learned as much as I could from the porn stars, books on the subject of prostitution, and by checking the kinds of advertisements for escorts in print publications locally, regionally and nationally.

I was entertainment editor of a gay monthly newspaper called The letter, and I did that from 1990 till 2005. I also delivered the paper in Kentucky, Indiana and once or twice in Ohio. So, I was familiar with the larger cities and college towns in those states.

After my current boyfriend moved back to Puerto Rico,  I formulated a business plan to finish out my year at The Connection, add daytime cleaning jobs, and to leave the evenings and weekends open for becoming  "The Midwestern Beach Boy", Jeremy Jasper Dawson.

 My undergraduate work was in the Indiana University system in English.  My graduate work with through the Webster University system in marketing. I was now going to market myself for the next six years.

My escorting personna was highly choreographed as a tanned, polished, educated, kind, classy, boy next door.  I named myself after Jeremy, a stripper I liked, and Dawson from Dawsons' Creek. Jasper was a name I liked.  I was 34, but always played a 26 year old; a typical male stripper age.

First, I bought a  weekly escort add in LEO, The Louisville Eccentric Observer; arranged for adds in my own entertainment section of The Letter;  and,  bought regional ads in The SARGE Guide, and national adds in The Advocate Classifieds.

I set up my own website with sexy, funny, fotos and verbiage about how  "what I am selling is my time, only. Whatever we choose to do with my time is between us as consenting adults and equals".

I also listed on dozens of escort sites. I supplied the fotos and verbal spin, and a link to my site, and a phone number. Most of the escort sites had paid subscribers. That was prescreening.

 You see, internet escorts did not approach potential clients.  Potential clients would contact me by leaving a phone message after seeing my website. More precise screening included me requiring clients to not use their cellphones to call me, only a land line at tge hotel and I would only contact a client through their hotel swirtchboard, using the name they registered under.
I never met new clients in public, I required that he or she be alone, and inside the hotel room  when I knocked. I never discussed sex with clients, ever.

I got a fancy  answering machine that gave general information, directed customers to my website, and it would dial my cell phone when a message was left. It could also block pranksters and trolls. I also got an attorney, plus engaged a well off friend that admired me, to support my legal needs should any ever arise. None ever did.

I became an Internet based male escort to men and women, working in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. I worked from 1995 through 2001. I charged a flat rate of $600. for an hour. Outside of the Louisville area,  travel was a minimum of two hours. I planned to work till I was 40. and, I did that exactly. The only negative was that escorting was a part time dalliance, with full time customer service skills.

I mostly drove to Lexington, and Louisville, Kentucky, Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio.  A few times I flew to New York City, Chicago, South Carolina, Los Angeles,  and also San Francisco,  to see clients that I had previously escorted in the Midwest. I charged $2500. for those special events with good existing  clients.

One sleepy morning in Pittsburgh, on my first escort trip by plane, in the Summer of 1996, I was dragging into the hotel at 6am, after partying with other escorts, when I bumped into celebrity, Chris Rock. He was going to his limmo, all bright eyed and awake, on the way to cover the Republican Convention for a cable channel. I must have looked like shit, cause Rock said to me " man, why are you so down?"  I laughed and told him the truth.  I was there on an escort job. He laughed, and flashed that smile and vanished into his limmo.

I  accepted escorting invitations from middle aged and retired people because they were successful business people with discretionary income, good taste and were kind. I was not interested in folks my age or younger. I screened heavily, required no alcohol nor drug use. Condoms were required.

A favorite long term client was Ollie, in Cincinnati. He was a Republican worth 30 million. He enjoyed lavishing me with gifts. He paid to repair two of my cars. He also asked if we could have threesomes with me and a friend of mine. Ollie was a character. I saw him once a month for a couple years, till I retired. 

 Ollie and I were eating at a fine restaurant when he was approached by a friend of his son, a local elected official, who ignored me and had a long conversation, standing by the table, as we ate. He wanted Ollie to donate to his election campaign.   Ollie was a closeted pillar of the community, and well known and liked in his community. He didn't break a sweat, or bat an eye. He also did not introduce me.

My favorite trip was when I flew to  Chicago for my 40th birthday on May 6, 2001, to see a professor I had escorted in Louisville and Indianapolis. We went to the wonderful Art Institute of Chicago, saw a readers theatre production of South Pacific at The Proscenium Theatre, and ate wonderful food from Tappas to Italian. 

 He lived in a wonderful downtown high rise, with concierge parking, and beautiful views of the river and had the best excitement of Chicago all in one 12 block area.

I had just been diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. For a skinny guy, at 5 foot 9, who never weighed more than 135, that was a shock!  I peed a lot on that trip, as our food indulgences did not match the abilities of my diabetes pills and required diet. After my retirement, I got my diabetes under control. It still is at 56, as I approach 60 years young.

Three months later, I retired in September 2001, after the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania were attacked by terrorists.

While I always planned to retire  from escorting at 40, this was an immediate retirement because business people stopped travelling to the Midwest, due to improvements in tele and video conferencing, and fear of flying after the terror attacks. 

High priced male internet escorts were being supplanted by the internet capability to hook up with strangers, for free.

I enjoyed my time as an escort. It was definately a moment in time, where just enough Internet was there for hiring an escort, a time that won't come around again. 

In 2004, another early, elderly, repeat client called and invited me to Columbia, South Carolina. This was fun. For years, in the 1990s, he and I met up in Cincinnati. During his remission from cancer in the 2,000s, we had tried to meet up in Florida, Texas, Las Vegas......and more. He was a cattle rancher with a serious leather fetishist.

On our last visit, he gave me a full length black leather coat, three years after my retirement.

In 2007 I was a movie projectionist, and a good client from my escorting days called to thank me for our good times in the Gay Nineties, as he called that period. 

After several years of escorting this music educator, he called me direct, during the day to see if I could come on down to the Galt House Hotel, a Louisville institution till this day, to escort. As luck would have it, my car had just had a flat at Central Park in Louisville. Well, he drove down got me and all was well with the world. He and I joked that I had been picked up in Central Park for an Escorting job.

Sadly, he was on his deathbed, and he honored me with that thoughtful call.

David Dewberry is retired and lives in Indiana 
He reviews  entertainment for 

Murder by Drag Droppings
by D C Dewberry

a short story memoir
c 2015 by D C Dewberry
M.A Candidate in Marketing
Specialty Packer of Crane Parts at Neovia

Dedicated to my friends Ducky Lynch, and Bill Eastridge, J.D.

    Hi, my name is David Dewberry. In November of 2006, I was a singer, arts reviewer, employee of Viacom MTV-2, a gay son, an animal lover, and I had been cleaning house for Dr. Emery Lane once a week for  most of a decade. This is the story of when I found the body of Dr. Emery Lane, and the idyl the preceded that odyssey.

    The last time that I saw Dr. Lane alive, he was in his mid seventies and happy to be back in Louisville for the past several months after purchasing his new Louisville house, after an brief sojourn in Florida since the end of 2002. Most retired people get bored with Florida after a few years, especially elderly retired people. He had lived at The Palms of Mannasota, a GLBT retirement community. He ultimately hated it there.

    This was the sixth Lane property that I had been involved with since July of 1995! This particular abode was just off Zorn Avenue, near the Ohio River and highway 42, aka Brownsboro Road, in the near East End of my adopted home of the Louisville, Kentucky metro area. Lanes' fun and sociable cat, Mrs. Slocome, was in his lap, as always, while he reclined in the big leather Lay Z Boy in his media/living room with the huge electronic organ console under the stairs. I would subsequently inherit Mrs. Slocume. And she was with me for the next seven years.

    Even though a decade has gone by since that fateful last meeting, I remember that we discussed the 2006/2007 season of my reviewing Actors Theatre, and The Broadway Series. I had been reviewing the many professional arts groups in Louisville for The Letter since 1990, and The Family Paper . Com since 2004. Dr. Lane enjoyed live arts groups and therefore we had a lot in common, artistically. We were also mostly gay bottoms, so the chance of us ever hooking up was zero. I liked pleasant and polite gay guys, and Dr. Lane preferred rough trade.  We never spoke about house cleaning; only arts groups and his obsession with Gene Miller, the idiot  sociopath in his irties that would soon murder him with blunt force trauma with a metal statue, in just one week from my final cleaning.

    Over the years that I knew Lane,he would often play his home electronic organ; Widor, Bach, and all the big pieces for me. Emery never played in public, although he was quite accomplished. he had retired twice in his professional life as Chief of Staff at Louisville General Hospital, and in retirement he had been reading chest x rays  for insurance companies and coal miners alike. He read them as he saw them, without prejudice or agenda. He was the most sincerely honest, no bullshit kind of gentleman there ever was. He was fascinating and charming at the same time.

    The early gay 1990s had me in graduate school for marketing, writing and editing the Arts and Entertainment section of The Letter, a gay news monthly; performing as a vocal soloist with my accompanist, Phillip Peters and also with my singing partner, Ms. Robin Smith. After graduate school, I started a cleaning company with my mother called Custom Commercial Services, and started building sets for The 1994 Entertainer of The Year Pageant at The Connection. I got to know the cast and bar crowd well and in short order, The Connections own Ms. Robbie Lynn wanted me to be stage manager of the drag show, La Boy Le Femme. George Stinson, and Eddie Lewis were business partners and decided to use me! I have to say that year was my favorite job I have ever done. This is a world famous drag show. this is the bug time in the drag world, and my name was associated with it eight times a week over 52 weekends. It was great and also extremely taxing. This was a lot of work.

    George and Eddie and I have kept in touch over the last 20 years, and I got to see the 20th anniversary of my show, and the 25th anniversary of the Connection on New Years Eve of 2014. Wow. Such memories. We all worked together as a professional family. I loved my time as Stage Manager and Back Stage Hand, as Hurricane Summers called me.  I announced, built sets, pulled curtain, operated fog machines, babysat porn stars and basically took care of seven drag performers and their guests and handlers for one great year. I worked with Hurricanem Eddie Dee, Robbie Lynn, Jacklyn State, Terry Vanessa Coleman, Reva Devereaux, and many, many more.

    I enjoyed my year at The  Connection, but the late hours were wearing on me. In those days folks still smoked in bars, and my chest hurt while at work. I knew that to expand my cleaning business I needed to be able to work in the morning, and going to bed at 6am was not making that possible. So, in July of 1995 a mutual friend of mine and Emerys' suggested that I contact him.  He was agreeable, having just lost his housekeeper. She simply stopped coming to work.

    When I first met Emery he greeted me as a friend and not a potential servant. The home at 6th and Myrtle  was the first of six Lane properties that I cleaned for him and eventually for Gene Miller. This house was a mid Victorian with around ten or 12 thousand square feet in a former duplex that he had converted to an exciting and memorable showplace. Just prior to his demise, he  asked me which of his homes I liked the best. Of course, it was the sheer size of 6th and Myrtle with its grand foyer, Steinway piano, the manual Rodgers electronic organ console, three stair cases, and the original Erte print, the colorful visitors, the important people of all walks of life that came through that home from 1995 thru 2001; yes defanintly the 6th and Myrtle house. 

    During my tenure Emery began corresponding by mail with Gene Miller, still in prison for a gun crime in his teens. A couple decades were passing and  incarceration for Miller made it seem, as a penpal, that he could be whom Emery would like to be involved with while on parole. 

    Upon parole Miller and Emery went on a get to know each other trip to Hawaii. This ended before it began. Gene came back a week early while Emery drowned his sorrows in anger and depression in Hawaii. Emery was very angry that Gene had played him. Shortly afterwards, Miller was involved with various women, drank, did drugs and summarily went back to prison to finish his sentance.

    Miller was 5 foot 5, muscular, had a short fuse, ugly white supremacist tattoo's and from photos I have seen, a large penis. He also had Hep C.

    While Miller was away, Emery and I usually had lunch together before I cleaned. Then he would practice Widor  and Bach and then drive his fancy sports car or ride his bike. This was a pleasant period in my cleaning business. As happens, friends of his lined up to use my service, and the mid 90s were good to me.

    Miller got out of prison as Emery had set up a painting company to use him. Emery owned it, and took a bath with it as Miller never showed up to work, ever... You don't know the half of it. Ahem, here goes. Emery paid for Genes' marriage  and purchased  a condo for the not so happy couple.
Subsequently, I cleaned it. Ugh! After a time they were evicted for drug use, and that Emery was not residing there! It follows that a house was then purchased for them. I began to sense none of this would end well for anyone. I told Emery I would clean the house once, and Miller could hire me or not, and I hoped not. Emery was paying, of course.   

   Sadly, when I showed up,  the door was broken, glass was everywhere, and the blood you would expect from a domestic violence assault was on the front porch. I got out of there and never went back. Gene was routinely arrested on terroristic threatening,  disorderly conduct, and was having relations with many other women. Once, while Emery was on a photo trip out west, I arrived at 6th and Myrtle to find Miller and several women in the house while I worked. Much to my dismay, a drunken Miller pulled his pants down and suggested what I was defiantly not going to do willingly. The women wanted similar unwanted activity from me, and, somehow I managed to get out of there with all of my teeth and no STDs. I have never again put myself in a situation where I was not in control of my environment.

    I never spoke of this to anyone as  I felt that Miller had given Emery enough shit. Miller was once so angry that he drove Emery sports car and crashed it. Emery in turn was so angry that he backed into my car. He made it right of course.

    By the Summer of 2001, Emery made plans to escape  Miller in 2002. He moved to the 800 building, sold the 6th and Myrtle home, and gave me and my boyfriend free reign  in this 25th floor unit for the whole year while he was gone building the Florida place. Emery then moved to Florida after the death of his Mother. 

    By his return from Florida by 2005 through 2006, he was bored with Florida, he purchased the Zorn Avenue place where after six months Miller would kill him. Emery had made educational arrangements for all of Miller's various children. Miller was always around. In the weeks before his death Emery told me that he wanted to get rid of Miller.Now Emery was in his mid seventies, in moderately good health and he wanted to be free of the constant badgering for money.

    In our time spent together, Emery told of how he went from Republican to Democrat, was an atheist that was opposed to Benny Hin, the faith healer, had been a chaplain in the military; to be able to get off base and meet people.  He had also been the Doctor on  call for Holiday on Ice and was once Chief of Staff at Louisville General Hospital. He was also president of our local AIDS charity. His life had been full and impressive, and he always spent time with paupers and the rich and famous. He had even been in a relationship with a cousin of The Coal Miners Daughter. On the sad side, a boyfriend had hanged himself in Emerys' home which subsequently burned and was also hit by the 1974 Louisville tornado.

   A very interesting life indeed.

    After I found his body, called the police and fingered Gene Miller the detective  brought me back to the crime scene to collect Mrs. Slocome, who passed away this past Winter after seven years with me. She was a great cat.

    The memorial and ensuing weeks were a media  circus. I spoke at the memorial about a party that Emery and I put together for the AIDS charity while the house was being renovated in the kitchen. Workers did not turn off the HVAC and great clouds of billowing brick dust covered the entirety of the home, two hours before party time! I invited Emery to break his stoic reserve and yell out  a primal scream over this ridiculous situation.

He did make that primal scream!

Hey, I had run a drag show. I knew my dramatic moment was right.
That is how I prefer to remember my friend Emery. Letting it out  and moving forward. That is the reason why I wrote this piece, to let it out after a decade  and move on.


DC Dewberry
May 2015