Dear TQ: Letters to Tracy Quan from here, there and
Re: Your Thanksgiving
I suppose you do what you need to do, but your sad little
description of your holiday plans makes me think that you're
either really damaged by a real or imaginary past or you're
just too precious. The "special" yogurt makes me think it's
Dunno what's up with those wankers who
commented on your column
about the Statue of Liberty.
I think it's fab and I'm right with you on
keeping the SoL as a monument to be
admired from the outside. The very idea
of being stuck in an enclosed stairwell
creeps me out...and I *so* don't get the
idea that keeping it closed to tourists
is a "victory for Al (sic) Quaeda".
It's like saying you have the right to
touch the Mona Lisa just because it's there.
Boys in Babeland
In response to your Fifth Estate comment:
"Women outside the sex trade are being
sold a bill of goods about how 'empowering'
or fun sex work is."
What does power mean anyway? I like your post-
feminist stance. It is very fierce, but then
again men are the new women in the 21st
century lol. As male and female sex workers
"they cannot take away our self respect
unless we give it to them."
She Who Controls the Past?
I recently read both of your books and
I loved them...but I have one nagging
question. I was really excited to start
the second book because I was dying to
know what happened between Allie and
Jason, but their relationship wasn't
mentioned at all. Would you give me a
hint to what might have happened between
them? I don't consider myself to be a very
imaginative person (I'm a history professor,
if that explains anything). But if you
would give me a hint, maybe it could start
my imagination going.
I'm a professor of African-American history,
but I also teach other classes in U.S.
history, especially dealing with
multi-racial issues. Therefore, I really
appreciate your inclusion of multi-racial
Trinidadian identity. I spent a month in
Trinidad in college studying the carnival
mas (hard work, I know)...
Dear L.A. in Berkeley,
I'm really glad you picked up on
this situation. Allie was flattered
by Jason's attention and touched by
his friendship. His curiosity was
genuine. But...yeah, what's up with
that? In the second book, Allie tries
to go there again with Jason, Nancy
won't let her, and Allie backs off.
Now that Jason is faced with the
demands of being a new father,
he puts a lot of things on the
back burner. He no longer has time
to daydream about activist hookers.
Reality has taken over. His novel
sits in a drawer somewhere. It's
kind of cruel, but I want to show
how easy it is for Jason to walk
away from his tentative ideals,
his liberationist flirtation,
when he becomes a parent. And how
Nancy's his enabler!
Hearts have been broken by guys like
Jason, but I am not, by nature, a
sourpuss, and neither is Allie. So
now she has her hands full with Lucho.
However, Lucho brings complications of
As a history prof, you must be fed up with
about the victors writing
history. My pathological desire to control
the past is all about turning that cliché
on its head. Those who learn to write
history (control the past) become the
Nature vs. Nurture
I just read your article about nature worship
in Alternet and I
wanted to point out something questionable. You say: Had our sex lives
never been "medicalized," we would not have gained the freedom to
express our sexual desires.
This is only true if what you mean by expression of sexual desire is
having sex with many partners. There are countless ways to express
sexual desire without endangering your health by promiscuity (which is
inherently dangerous because sex is never a risk-free activity and the
more partners you have the more at-risk you are.) Taking antibiotics
after catching STDs is not an entirely harmless freedom of
medicalization, especially for people who repeatedly do so. And the
waterways are contaminated with unmetabolized drug runoff.
Antibiotics should not replace condoms (but they do save lives which
might be lost to gonorrhea and other ailments.) Even though I don't need
a prescription for a condom, I consider the use of modern condoms to be
part of medicalization. The quality of today's latex device surpasses
the technology of the earliest condoms. The faithful partner -- quite
often a woman -- can be taking risks that she doesn't know about, if she
has sex without a condom. Responsible, informed promiscuity is medically
sound. Misinformed monogamy is not.
Nature vs. God
There is a paradoxical play between concepts
of what is and is not nature. The opponents of C-sections
(at least some of them) seem to be simultaneously saying that this
procedure is not natural and not what God wants. However, when God is
introduced, a "supernatural" principle appears, which is above and
beyond nature. Nature in its broadest sense is everything that is not
supernatural. Therefore, it could be argued that medical technology is
supremely natural because it is exclusively concerned with the
biological or "natural" world. And *therefore* it can be argued that a
C-section is perfectly natural while the opposing view departs from
nature with an appeal to the supernatural.
Nature vs. GMO
Are medical professionals advocating
c-sections more than they used to? Is it purely a health issue? Are
there insidious insurance considerations? What do we make of the case of
the Utah woman charged with murder for refusing a c-section?
I certainly agree that nature worship in this country often supplants
reasoned argument and intelligent debate. The backlash against GMO comes
to mind. It might be good, it might be bad, but I often wonder if some
of the drivers of cars with anti-GMO bumper stickers have a real grasp
of the issues involved.
I agree. If you do a Google on GMO, the first thing you notice is the
polarization, which looks a lot like the argument about natural
About Utah: I think this "law and order" approach to pregnancy is very
wrong. There's an excellent piece by Lynne Paltrow
involuntary c-sections and other perils of being pregnant in America. I
don't think anybody should be forced to have a c-section. There are
medical reasons to avoid a c-section, just as there are very sound
reasons to have one.
Inscrutable and Lovely
Today, for the second time in about twenty
years, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of a woman whose
poised, pointed sexiness and provocative, though impeccable, dress made
me pretty sure she was a call girl, and who was so alluring to me that I
wanted to interrupt her solitary march and ask her whether she was a
working girl. Is a call girl on the job apt to welcome that kind of
query from an interested stranger, provided he's presentable and not
leering? Or is it considered tacky and just not done? I wanted to ask
that woman whether she could give me her card or something. I didn't.
In lieu of advice, I offer these passages from "Spain in Fifty-Ninth
Street" by E. B. White:
"That was the whole extent of their meeting;
That was the long and
short of their greeting...
And I saw, in the Spanish sunlight
The modest smile in the backward glancing,
Quick as the
passing of summer rain,
Bright as the streets of a town in
Sunday Chronicle Reader
Good article in the San Francisco
Chronicle about prostitutes and the people who care about them. As a
former 'ho' I well know the isolation of sexwork and the way we and
those closest to us are marginalized.
Another Chronicle Reader
Women who work in the sex industry are heroes
to me and deserve respect. I had not been touched by a woman for 10
years when I went to a strip club and spent 6 minutes with Sharon. She
made me cry. Her tenderness was amazing to me. She gave me hope. I am
interested in helping the cause.
Salon Reader Yikes!
No disrespect on your writing or your chosen
profession, but the term 'oriental' is about as descriptive as the word
'nigger' or 'honky'. Sad to see you live in such a white-washed world
and your own ethnic identity is little more than a fetish for a bunch of
overpaid and undersexed pigs. Have some self-respect!
Just finished reading "Diary of a Manhattan
Call Girl" .... My only question when I finished reading was: What ever
happened between Nancy and Jason? For that matter, between Allie and
Jason? Ah, but I guess that's left up to our imaginations.
Just bought your book at the Houston airport
and enjoyed it greatly. You would enjoy Roxana by Daniel Defoe (of
Robinson Crusoe fame). A little-known book with a heroine similar to
yours who is however slightly more versed in financial investments (in
amazingly modern fashion).
Location, Location, Lo...
Do you think I should move to New York? It's
something I've been contemplating lately. I've lived in California, and
now I live in Atlanta and I know for sure I like city life much more
than suburbia. I have a few friends who live there and I love visiting.
But I was wondering as you're a NYC resident and seem to have
your wits about you, if you had the choice to live somewhere else would
you still choose Manhattan?
Unthinkable!! I can't live anywhere else. Maybe when I'm 800 I'll want
to live somewhere warmer but... I doubt it. Where else could I exist?
Still, it's a demanding city, and it's not for everyone.
The R Word
I am a working girl also an aspiring
writer. I also have a boyfriend right now. I can relate to many aspects
of your stories especially the double standard that I extend to my
boyfriend of a month. I also read your article about marriage. I could
completely relate to that as well. Working is certainly a lesson in
psychology, my own and that of others. It's almost 3 in the morning
my boyfriend just called. Thank you for sharing your story. It
made my Friday evening.
A Girl Who Can
I couldn't help but wonder if Diary is about
you, because it sure as hell sounds like me. Although not a hooker and
not living in NY, from the complications of a woman's sexual life, I am
the epitome of Nancy. Also, when is the film coming out?
Neat, Flash... and Pink
In the American vernacular I guess your new
site would be described as "neat" and in the Aussie "flash as a rat with
a gold tooth" i.e. very, very impressive. I particularly like the
pink typewriter ... nice.
Showing Her Roots
I noticed that Nancy Chan has Trinidian roots.
I am curious as to what inspired your decision regarding her background.
Although living in Toronto, I am Trinidadian as well and found that to
be quite interesting. Let's just say that it gave me (personally) more
grounds on which to identify with the character!
"Although" living in Toronto? As we all know, Toronto has become a
colony of Trinidad so of course anyone writing from TO is 80% likely to
be some sort of Trinny. I explored my Caribbean connections here
But to say that this or that inspires a creative
decision here, I have to be very stubborn and insist that we're
never quite sure where the monsters of imagination are born. Really!
From the East
About your reader who said that Oriental was a racist term: I know at
some point people in the United States decided that it would be a racist
term, but this hasn't filtered to Asia yet. I know many Asians who are
actually from Asia (Thailand and Vietnam) and they use the term to
describe themselves. This includes my wife. As far as I can tell,
Oriental simply means "from the east," and I'm not sure how it came to
be considered a racial epithet in the US.
Of course, the whole
concept of Western political correctness doesn't seem to have filtered
East either. (I tend to find that refreshing.)
Send your letters to dearTQ@Tracyquan.net