Prostitution Is A Family Affair For “Secret Diary Of A Call Girl” Blogger

Last weekend, the once-anonymous writer behind the Secret Diary Of A Call Girl books revealed her real identity. Now everyone in the world knows 34-year-old neurotoxicologist Dr. Brooke Magnanti penned the insanely popular blog, Diary Of A London Call Girl, under the nom de plume “Belle du Jour.” (Which, of course, turned into a Showtime TV show starring Billie Piper.) As is to be expected, newspapers tracked down Magnanti’s dad, Paul, and he professed shock at the news that his daughter slept with people for cash while earning her Ph.D.

But then Brooke Magnanti’s dad dropped a somewhat awkward bomb in the middle of this call girl tale: He and his daughter have been estranged for years because she was upset that he’d slept with over 150 prostitutes, some of whom were drug addicted. On the obviously highly fictionalized TV show version of “Secret Diary Of A Call Girl,” Belle has a nice, normal suburban dad. In real life, “Belle du Jour”‘s dad admitted a heaping tablespoon of personal problems. Over the course of his life, Magnanti said he’d been with 150 prostitutes, mostly “streetwalkers,” who, unlike his daughter, solicited random clients instead of working for an agency. But drug use with these women, actually, is what caused their relationship to shatter:

Of those, four or five were deep emotional relationships, and Brooke met those women. She saw that prostitutes were human. They were women. Brooke did not approve of me seeing the prostitutes, not because they were selling their bodies for sex but because of their drug use. We had a very big falling out … My involvement with prostitutes meant that I was introduced to a world of drugs, mostly crack cocaine. I’ve been clean for a year, and just wish Brooke could see me now … In my experience prostitution is wrong and corrupts people. I know that from my own experience.

At least Magnanti’s dad said he doesn’t judge his daughter’s past as Belle du Jour. But it’s still strange and somewhat paternalistic to me that Paul Magnanti alludes to seeing himself as somehow responsible for Brooke Magnanti’s choice. There’s this stereotype, which you’ve surely heard about, which assumes that women turn to stripping or prostitution because they have “daddy issues” or they’ve been molested or raped. To be clear, Magnanti herself has not said anything to indicate “daddy issues” led her to become a call girl. But her dad’s public comments don’t do anything to dispel that stereotype.

As a big fan of the book and the TV show, I very much wanted Brooke Magnanti’s story to be one where a strong, independent woman chose to be a sex worker for XYZ reasons, completely unrelated to father issues at all. We hope Magnanti will take to her Diary of a London Call Girl blog to address what her father has said.