Bunny:
Life of an Ex-Madam


                    One morning, walking off my hunger, I looked over dark green velvet
                curtains and a brass rail into the dining room of Seattle's Gowman Hotel.
                I saw this red-headed girl with a silver fox "chubby jacket," which was
                just the greatest thing in the world to have at that time. She was eating
                steak and eggs and coffee and milk. Steak in the morning for breakfast!
                It stayed in my mind. Later, when I was skiing in the mountains during an
                affair with the captain of the vice squad, it turned out that his buddy
                owned that hotel, and knew the girl. She was a call girl.

                    I couldn't stay in the mountains one minute longer. I pressured the
                captain to take me to Seattle. Once we got back, he introduced me to the
                Gowman's owner. I had one thing on my mind. "Who is this girl? I want to
                see what she does. I want to know all about this." It amused the captain
                and his friend. They could see what was going to happen. They took me
                to her room and pulled open drawers full of beautiful lingerie, silk
                stockings I couldn't get, and closets full of clothes. I wanted it and I
                wanted her out of the hotel. And I did take that suite. The captain of the
                vice squad taught me the law side of the game, the racketeers and pimps
                to avoid. I was seventeen years old.

                    With World War II going on and three aircraft carriers in Seattle, I
                couldn't turn all the tricks myself, so I called some girls I'd met in jail. And
                then I couldn't work myself, because somebody had to keep the books.
                Who was going where, who was next? I was a madam before I knew the
                word.

                    All the girls, myself included, had a lifetime of yearning along with the
                shame. There was a lot of shame we didn't talk about. If we happened to
                be in a frame of mind not receptive to what we were doing, even the
                nicest of men was someone we resented-if for nothing more than for
                having to fake pleasure and successfully play with his emotions. We were
                satisfying someone else's needs when our own needs went unfulfilled.
                Our bodies wrote bills that our minds and souls had to pay. I wondered,
                who was I, what was I, how did I get into this? Where was I going to be
                tomorrow?

                        I didn't become involved in these things overnight.

                    The first memory I have is of learning to walk, sitting as a little baby
                on the edge of the braided rug, in the shadow, and my father sitting on
                the other side telling me to walk to him, walk into the sunshine.

                    Then there were years of being a hurt, lonely kid, not understanding,
                but resenting everything; being kidnapped from my mother by my father;
                after a year, being left with a great-aunt who gave no affection and a
                great-uncle who gave the wrong kind. After a series of foster homes and
                reform school, there was a rape and a baby at sixteen. Adoption was
                painful, but the right thing to do, so I consoled myself with hopes for
                another chance when things were right.

                          For affection, for some boy just to put his arms around me and
                pretend for just that moment he cared, sex was a small price to pay.
                Then I began to resent the fact that after a boy had sex with me he left.
                What did I have? It seemed so distorted and wrong. A G.I. offered me
                money and there was an instant respect for him. He wasn't asking to use
                me or abuse me in any way, he was making a business deal and I liked
                that. It seemed honest to me.

                    I remember turning a trick with a sailor and I had his money and he
                stopped and said, "Don't you feel terrible to be so young and be a
                prostitute?"

                    I told him, "I am not a prostitute," and slapped him.

                    I don't know what I thought I was.
 

                    A woman running a house of prostitution will put in an eighteen or
                twenty hour day promoting business, buying house supplies, cleaning if
                the maid doesn't show up, opening at nine in the morning, closing at four
                the next morning.

                    I operated in eleven different states in almost every way it can be
                done, except in the streets. I had a fabulous mansion in Los Angeles. I
                also operated on a hilltop with a series of cabs loaded with G.I.s and
                each cab became a trick room. A man that owned a brewery gave us his
                brewery to use at night. We set up trick rooms between the huge vats of
                beer. Talk about a smart alec, I was one of the world's worst. A punk kid
                at nineteen standing in front of a judge who's got my money in his
                pocket. I've got the prosecuting attorney paid off, my own lawyer's
                charged me high, and I know what's going to happen. I snap my fingers
                at the judge and tell him, "C'mon, c'mon, let's get this show on the road.
                I've got to get out of here and get some money made!" In a courtroom!

                    In the midst of all this, I met a chief in the navy. We got married, it
                was like playing house. I'd bake all our own bread and keep the house.
                About the third month I got pregnant. I was happy. I could keep this
                baby in place of the one it hurt so much to give up. Then she died during
                birth. I came out of post-partum shock six weeks later with scars all over
                my wrists. I was not aware of slashing them in my depression.

                    I left my husband and set up a house of prostitution, and worked in
                several other houses. I fell in love with a con man, one of the best in the
                country, and then found out he was head of a narcotics ring. It was a lot
                of hilarity and glamour and excitement and at the same time I was all too
                aware that he was using me. When I tried to escape, he had me beaten
                up by three punks, left me hanging over a stair rail on the street. It was
                dirty. Seems like everything I was ever involved in I always had to pay for
                with hurt.

                    I've been arrested 141 times and I've never gotten used to being
                pushed into a paddy wagon, that wooden board hung around my neck
                with the numbers on it, being fingerprinted, having the doors slam behind
                me, seeing the smug matrons. There's hardly a girl that gets arrested
                that doesn't say, "I'm never going to do this again." In her heart she
                says this, but she knows there's a pimp out there that will see to it she
                does. There are kids out there she has to support.

                    I got into lots of trouble pretending that I knew what everything was
                all about when I didn't. To survive in the kind of man's world, racket
                world, that I lived in, I had to be tough, coarse, rough. I had to learn to
                be sharp and shrewd and clever; a very cold-hearted lady. I covered up
                the hurt and I covered up the fear. Even when my heart was breaking, I
                would laugh.

                    I put up such a front that the girls working for me felt I was the most
                secure thing they knew. I could deal with anything. "Bunny is a
                survivalistic pro." Inside I could be as weak as water. I wasn't happy. It
                was a front for the world.

                       The Only Radical Change in My Whole Life Was Jesus

                    So I got used to feeling hopeless. And then came the end of world,
                when the high-dollar prostitution ring I was running out of a Chicago
                Lakeshore Drive apartment was exposed. I faced prison, but even more
                immediately, was in the process of being evicted.

                    Through a Roger Simon newspaper interview, we heard about Bunny,
                her latest arrest and pending eviction from her posh gold coast address.
                Simon's column quoted her as regretting her life yet feeling it was too
                late to change. We had a small moving company and decided to offer to
                help move Bunny's belongings. Glenn and Dick arrived at her door and
                were welcomed. They told her we loved her and were praying for her.
                She accepted our offer to help her move, then asked if there was
                anything she could do for us in return.

                    "Yes. Come to church with us on Sunday."

                    She surprised herself by saying yes.

                    Glenn preached, Bunny cried, and when he gave the invitation, she
                stood up and came forward.

                    I said, "I do not believe, God, that you lie. I believe you gave your
                Son for me, that Jesus said, 'I will never leave you, nor forsake you.' "
                Within a day, all the guilt I felt over the horrible deeds that I'd committed
                was taken from me.

                    So many dreams forsook me. Things that were so dear and so
                precious, died, or were lost or stolen, spoiled, made dirty. But Jesus will
                never forsake me, He'll never leave me, I'll never be alone. I feel like I'm
                walking with his cloak of love and forgiveness around me. At first I was
                frightened by what the future would hold. How was I going to live from
                day to day, how was I really going to stop being in business? I didn't
                have the strength by myself. I had tried all my life to go out of the
                prostitution business and I'd always go back. All the stories about the
                lilies of the field not worrying about where their clothes are coming from
                are true. Food is going to be there. I can see that here with the Jesus
                People. Yes, I moved in with them.

                    Glenn and Dick opened the door for me and let me come home. This
                is my home, this is my room. Even if it were a little closet, I'm free. It's not
                the the little room I had in prison with bars on it. It's not the great big
                gorgeous rooms with my own bars on it. It has no bars.

                    When you tell me I'm a baby Christian, I'm very happy because I'm
                having a babyhood I never knew. I don't want to be grown yet in God. At
                twenty I knew it all, at thirty-five you sure couldn't tell me anything, and
                now I'm fifty-three and realizing I don't know a thing. Things I believed
                for years and years are falling away from me and they were things that I
                didn't believe were bad, either.

                    When I apply God's understanding, then right away I see flaws
                where my thinking was so in error. The only radical change in my whole
                life is when I accepted Jesus. People that know me well would not
                believe it's possible for me to stop swearing. I stopped instantly.

                    In God's eyes, prostitution is no harder to forgive than pride. In fact,
                it may be the other way around.

                             Did You Hear What Happened to Bunny?

                    There's thirteen floors at 11th and State [Police Station] that are
                buzzing about, "Did you hear what happened to Bunny? She found the
                Lord." The people in court have seen me very, very often since 1965.
                Most everybody understandably has a "wait and see" attitude.

                    I know that in a length of time I'll be ready for the challenges, facing
                the world and doing whatever work that He wants me to do. But He
                won't ask this of me until I'm ready to do it. I have to learn my basics
                first. I'm learning the miracle of His Word, saying, "Jesus, I'm sorry, take
                this from me," and it's gone. I'm enjoying the peacefulness of this.
                Though life still has its crises, I'm not as affected inside, where it hurts
                and harms and depresses, where it causes confusion, trouble, and
                dissension within. I'm God's child. I give it to Jesus and He shows me
                what to do about it. I'm learning these things. I don't know them as well
                as I will a year from now.

                    I was praying for the Holy Spirit, afraid Jesus would not give it to me,
                that I was unworthy. I felt Him saying to me, "Come to Me, come into the
                sunshine." I have.

                   This article was reprinted from Cornerstone, Volume 6, Issue 37, and was
                reprinted in Cornerstone Vol. 29, Issue 118, after Eileen passed away in January
                of 2000.


 

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