'Belle de Jour' Unmasked

The Internet's most famous escort reveals her identity to the world

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Media across the pond are abuzz over the personal outing of the anonymous writer of one of the most seductive blogs of the twenty-first century: Belle de Jour, Diary of a London Call Girl. After six years of feverish speculation, the elusive high-end escort/blogger, who became a media powerhouse when her blog led to book deals and a popular Showtime spinoff, revealed herself to be Dr. Brooke Magnanti of the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. Magnanti, who said she turned to escorting due to lack of funds while completing her PhD between 2003 and 2004, said she had gotten to a point where she could "no longer keep secrets and not be open with people." Naturally, her story is attracting debate from all sides:

  • Prostitution Isn't Glamorous Tracy Corrigan of the Telegraph finds Dr. Magnanti's fairy tale too perfect, making it dangerously possible for women to see prostitution as a "cool career option." "Even the Julia Roberts heroine [in "Pretty Woman"] seemed to have had a tough background and was not an entirely happy hooker," she said. 
  • You Do What You Have to Do Gawker's Foster Kamer rushed to Dr. Magnanti's defense Sunday, quickly pointing out the hypocrisy of society at large. "Where there's an entrepreneur, there's someone damning their cash flow: moral majority, emerge!" the gossip outlet said. At the same time, Gawker also believes Belle/Brooke should be shameless and "take the writing gigs where [she] can get them. Besides which, there are way more prolific whores in the world of writing when it comes to selling themselves off."
  • You Got Caught, Admit It For TechCrunch's Paul Carr, Dr. Magnanti's biggest deception is not the glamorization of prostitution, but rather the story of being able to be a successful anonymous blogger. It's just not true, he says, "the only way to truly remain a successful blogger is not to have any success whatsover. Because the moment people start to pay attention to you, it's inevitable you're going to get screwed."
  • Prostitution Stateside Brad Trechak of TvSquad thinks Belle caught a lucky break from her employer, which has said her past was not relevant to her current job. However, he wonders "if an American university would be as supportive of such a decision, given the taboo of sex work and sex in general in the U.S."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.