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The Hooker Behind “Secret Diary Of A Call Girl” Comes Clean!

For years, only six people knew the true identity of Belle, an anonymous call girl who wrote about her adventures in sex work at the blog Diary of a London Call Girl. While her blog became an international hit, she published several books, and Showtime picked up a TV series based on the book called “Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” only half a dozen people in the world knew the real Belle! Many assumed the nom de plume concealed a raunchy male identity; one popular theory was that Toby Young, the former Vanity Fair journalist and author of How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, penned the blog and books.

But this weekend, Belle finally outed herself—yes, herself. “There is … an ex-boyfriend with a big mouth lurking in the background,” the Times of London reported and “outing herself while she still has a measure of control over how it happens seems the sensible option.”

Drumroll, please …Belle du Jour is Dr. Brooke Magnanti, a 34-year-old specialist in neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She’s blond, British, attended high school in Florida because of her parents’ work, and has two tattoos (a scorpion on her leg and a bee on her arm). She lives with her boyfriend, “T,” who knows her true identity and presently she is employed as a medical researcher studying the effects of pesticide on infants.

Until the Times article, Dr. Magnanti’s mom and dad had no idea their daughter was a sex worker; one month ago, she told her all-women team at he Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health and her co-workers proved to be “amazingly kind and supportive.”

In a candid interview with India Knight at the London Times, Dr. Magnanti detailed how she turned to prostitution in London when working on her Ph.D. thesis proved more expensive than she’d thought. From 2003 until late 2004, she slept with “somewhere between dozens and hundreds” of men under the employment of a London escort agency. She charged roughly $500 for her services and kept a little over $300 of it, owing the rest to her agency. For part of the time that Dr. Magnanti was sleeping with men at night, she also worked during the daytime as a computer programmer.

Dr. Maganti revealed herself to Knight, specifically, because Knight had written about her before. It was an “uncharitable review I wrote of her Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl [the British title of Secret Diary of a London Call Girl, the book] when it was published”—uncharitable, in part, because Knight “was convinced she was a man.” Knight fully believed Belle du Jour herself did not exist, but was instead an elaborate fabrication by “some sad-loser perv, writing titillation for other sad-loser pervs, in the guise of that great male fantasy, the prostitute who enjoys her work.”

Well. Not so.

Sure, Knight acknowledges “the whole thing could be an elaborate setup—some form of retribution, punishment” for that bad book review a few years ago. But Knight believes Dr. Magnanti adequately confirmed she is Belle du Jour because she posted a specific message on the Diary of a London Call Girl blog. She also put Knight in touch with the man who handles Belle’s “cunningly concealed money trail.” (And Dr. Magnanti insists yes, she did pay taxes on her sex work earnings.)

If the disbelief about Magnanti’s identity (and the somewhat sexism-tinged assumption that her blog was written by some male writer who was trying to get his jollies) is frustrating to her, she doesn’t let it show. In true Belle fashion, Magnanti is able to keep a sense of humor about it:

“When my publisher first met me, I asked her if she was disappointed—I thought maybe for £300 an hour she’d expect some 6ft, gorgeous Amazon. But she said, ‘I’m just glad you’re not Toby Young’.”

[Times of London UK]

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