Tag Archives: update

a business doing pleasure

So, lots of big developments lately…

I visited Dolores Arnold’s grave in Tacoma, Washington this week. She’s buried next to her mother, who died when she was six, and her sister, who died last fall. Here are pictures:
Jennie&DoloresDoloresGraveI felt sad and humbled when I got there and saw how small the grave marker is. It’s about the size of a book or iPad, understated for a woman who was the most famous and beloved madam in Wallace’s history. The grounds at the Calvary Cemetary were very well-kept. Standing there on the damp ground I could smell cut grass, wet dirt, and fallen leaves. Planes flew into and out of McChord Air Force Base just to the Southeast. Birds chirped. It tried to rain but eventually gave up.

Some of you might not have heard yet: this summer, I resigned from my job as a professor to move back to Wallace and focus most of my time on the book. It was a big decision and definitely the right one for me. Needless to say, access to primary sources was pretty tough when I lived 2,400 miles away in Virginia. It was also difficult to build face-to-face relationships with research participants from across the country. It’s been great to live back in the valley again. I just picked up a job that will allow me to work on the project a lot more and this week I’ve been working on a book proposal for publishers. Wish me luck!

You might have noticed some small changes with my site. My new web address is “ABusinessDoingPleasure.com” although findheatherlee.com still forwards to it for at least another year. I changed my domain name because I think I finally settled on a book title. I also formed my own company, so now I’m officially the manager at findheatherlee media, llc. That’s kind of exciting. Next comes a Facebook site for the project (stay tuned for the chance to win a prize for liking the page)…

I’ve also begun to advise the writing club at the jr./sr. high school. As a result (thanks to Val), I found out about this writing tracker-motivator app called Writeometer that is pretty cool. I love how you can set your deadline and then see how many words per day you need to write to get there. Or you can enter in the words per day and then hit the calculator button to see how many days it will take to complete the project.

And finally, after much written correspondence and a phone conversation with the folks at the FBI, I am happy to announce that they will be sending 950 pages worth of information about the 1991 raid. Most of that is a report for the prosecutors written by one of the special agents who was investigating the case. It was looking like I was going to have to pay a huge amount of money for the files (and Dean Cooper at the 1313 offered some really helpful support—thank you so much!) but after talking with a researcher at the FBI over the phone, I decided to reduce the request to 950 pages in order to speed the processing and limit the amount of information that would be heavily redacted. When I originally put in the FOIA request, I’d hoped to see the evidence they’d gathered for the trial, but the researcher said it had been “dispositioned,” which means that it was either destroyed or returned. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to checking out the agent’s report and will post an update as soon as it arrives.

Well, that’s about it for today. In the future, though, I’ve got a special post coming up. I’m trying out something a little different for this one. This summer, I met up with Seattle-based escort Maggie McNeill for a conversation about sex work. She writes a popular blog called The Honest Courtesan, and we met up a couple weeks before Amnesty International came out in support of decriminalizing sex work, a decision with which she agrees. The profession has received a lot of negative publicity in the meantime (people often conflate sex work with trafficking) and I think Maggie’s perspective balances things out a bit. I recorded our conversation and am trying to get it into podcast shape, but it was a long talk, so that may take me a bit longer. In the meantime, go check out her site and look forward to more here soon.

“death reveals masquerade” (update, search terms, and random bonus archival item)

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I’ve hustling on the professor side of my life (lots of student papers at the end of last semester, class planning for the beginnings of this semester, some academic writing deadlines, etc.), but one of my personal commitments for the year is to write here more regularly. I’m going to aim for one post around 700-1000 words a week and go from there. I have a draft of a morality and sex work part II post, but I’m a little tentative about sharing it just now, so I thought I’d go ahead and write a brief update on what’s going on with the project instead. I’m going to present my research to my local Lexington Rotary Club tomorrow night. Here’s the Prezi I’ll be presenting. I hope to add a voice over to this presentation so that people can click through it as though I were actually there in person, but for now it’s just pictures and writing: 100YrsofBrothelsCoverPic(http://bit.ly/100yrsofBrothelsPrezi) I’m also working to revise my already-published podcast and video (yes, there’s a video, but I haven’t published it anywhere yet) to include sound clips from the oral history interviews that I conducted. There is a second podcast on the way as well. And finally, I’ve been working on a publication package (agent query letter, proposal, sample chapter, annotated toc) so I can publish this project as a trade book. As with most things, time is the issue. Even though you supposedly have all this time to write as a professor, my job seems to insist on getting in the way of my writing time. In the meantime, I have been fascinated by checking in on my blog analytics to see how people find my little corner of the web, and plan to experiment with a small site makeover in the not-too-distant future (happy to hear your feedback on this front as well). For now, I wanted to share a screen shot of recent search terms that led people to find this webspace, because I bet others will enjoy it as much as I have been (I fuzzed out the judge’s name out of respect for privacy): Search Terms And a random treat: while I was working on an article for publication in a scholarly venue over Christmas, I rediscovered this little archival item that I don’t think has a home but thought people might be interested in it, so I’m reproducing it in part below. I found this in the summer of 2010 in the Wallace District Mining Museum archival collection. It was a newspaper obituary that was in the “Historic” file, in a folder labeled “Residents of Shoshone County from 1880s to Present”:

“Death Reveals Masquerade” [no date] Haugan [Montana] — The strange case of the death of the man who lived as a woman came to light this week with the death of Herbert C. Upton also known as Gayle Starr. The man had been living on the Guy Ghilheri [sic] ranch near Haugan for the past year…. Mineral County Sheriff-Coroner Francis Tamietti was summoned and the body was taken to a mortuary. There the unusual nature of the deceased was discovered. Unusual, because as far as any local people knew, the man represented himself as a woman. He wore woman’s clothing, used heavy make-up and used the feminine name Gayle Starr. Last year he worked as a waitress in a West End cafe. Fingerprints were sent to the FBI files for identification, but newspaper clippings indicated a connection with the name Herbert C. Upton. He was about 50 years of age.

Now that we have more awareness and acceptance about transgender people, we would probably write a different narrative for Gayle Starr’s obituary [Update: one of my former colleagues actually followed up on this story and attempted to do something along these lines. Check it out here: http://lifebeyondbivalence.blogspot.com/2015/03/meditations-on-life-of-gayle-starr.html]. Thought some people I know might be interested in this little piece of Inland Northwest trans history. Lots of exciting stuff happening with this project–I’ll be coming back to Wallace again this summer and am hoping to share my work with WHS alumni who come back for the All-Class/Slippery Gulch (just got my invite in the mail), and I am looking forward to hearing more stories from people. My big goal is to finish a full draft of the project by late August. Stay tuned for more soon!