top of page
  • elle

Dear Aileen,

I often find myself wondering what kind of advice you would give me for various obsticals I come across. It's becoming kind of like a What Would Aileen Do? thing; and it's served me really well!

I got your memoir the other week and have been reading it like gospel. Your words are powerful, A! More people need to read them - you have such important things to say.

I'm really sorry, by the way. For the way you were treated. You didn't deserve any of that.

I keep thinking about how you asked Dawn for photographs of your mother's house and how you wanted to see the flowers and trees that she raised. I really hope you got those pictures.

But what I really cannot stop thinking about is how important you are - like in general, as a human. Your story is one I feel a reverence to, as if it is something to be worshipped. There are messages, or more like sound secrets of wisdom, embedded in how you lived your life that when I hear them, bring me a sense of peace that I only understand as holy and sacred. Your life has brought me further in alignment with God - and I will cry in gratitude for the rest of my life for the lighting of a path I've been traveling down in the dark for so, so long. Thank you for lighting it up.

Your life was something special. I want to do good by you like I have never wanted to do good by someone I've never met.

I hope the view from my shoulder is alright - as it seems I find you sitting there often, whispering (sometimes screaming) words of sage guidance towards authentic liberation and what it really means. Funny how the living make friends with the dead, isn't it? You've bucked me up more than I can count - giving me the extra shove to take the next step. You've been with me for a few years and I wouldn't be here with you.

I love writing letters - and I know you loved writing letters, too. I would have written you letters had we been on different timelines in this life - alas, they don't have post offices in heaven. So I am limited to prayer (and my blog).

Monsters live in us all - but I don't actually believe you were much of a monster. I believe you to be one the most noble feminist voices that was never heard. And I would very much like it if more people knew about you and took your story seriously. You don't owe us anything - and I feel guilty to admit this - but you have helped me recover in ways that I never really knew was possible until it happened. And I want to share a little bit of that with other people who might also be struggling.

I don't want to pick apart your life and pathologize your behavior. I don't want to turn you into something that you didn't ask for. I'm not trying to do what other people have done with your story and tear you apart to make you make sense. You already make sense to me! I just want to share how important you've been to me and my personal adventures towards a holy life as a whore. So I'm writing you letters and I'm going to share them.

Next to Mary Magdalene (who I know might not have been a whore at all, but I still like to think she might have been), you are the queen of the crop of sacred sexuality to me. You represent so many of us who have experienced violence, poverty, and traumatic motherhood. I see so much of myself within you and I respect the absolute loving sht out of you for preservering and never doubting your truth. Gah - bless you and everything you loved.

You never deserved to be spotlighted in the way you were in the 90s. I think you are owed a different kind of spotlight. One that holds you in monstrous reverence as a lifelong survivor of patriarchal and institutional violence. One that embraces you for what you are: someone who never gave up until she was forced to by death.

I will do everything in my power to eradicate the systemic culture that lead to your death. I do a lot of work around whorephobia and helping folks get in better relationship with the rights and dignity of people who are engaged in the sx trades.

There is something about how the relationship a society has with erotic labor is impacted by the way the society relates with sexuality. I cannot ignore this as a pleasure witch; I am far too curious. These relational concepts are intricately connected and I am convinced without a doubt that whorephobia is what built the smear campaign against you.

And I'm really sorry about this next part - but... you happen to be kind of one of the most famous whores in American history. Again, super sorry that this happened to you - I wish it never happened the way it did.

But it did happen. You were a whore. And you were treated like shit for it. And are now famous for something that was meticulously built against you to harm you. Whorephobia had a lot to do with that. My mission is to get people to think differently - take just a few extra minutes to consider that it's possible someone like you might have been telling the truth; that there are different truths to be realized, to be heard, to be recognized that can change a story entirely. (I know Mary Magadelne has something to teach us about this, too).

And maybe, JUST MAYBE, we could turn this ship around so no one ever again has to experience even a smidgeon of what you experienced.

I believe your story to be one that proves there are veils to be lifted. There is more here that needs to be seen - and when we see it, big shifts happen. Those big shifts, as cliche as it is, are small pebbles making huge rings in a calm pond. Except, the pond never goes back to the way it was - it's been forever changed.

We need hope like that. Need to know there is something different to be had. We need stories that reveal veils. Even more, stories that encourage us to find the might to move around veils because if we don't, more people are going to suffer - are going to die. And I don't want to live in a world where it's more comfortable to stand behind veils than it is to walk in what we otherwise know as truth. I don't want to die in that world either.

You've given me that might - thanks for passing that along. I'll do good by it. For you and for Mary...and every whore ever (we're all whores, right?).

OK - I think I've taken enough of your time. I appreciate you.

Take care and until next time!



Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page