Money changes everything, by Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases

Martha Thomases brought more comics to the attention of more people than anyone else in the industry. Her work promoting The Death of Superman made an entire nation share in the tragedy of one of our most iconic American heroes. As a freelance journalist, she has been published in the Village Voice, High Times, Spy, the National Lampoon, Metropolitan Home, and more. For Marvel comics she created the series Dakota North. Martha worked as a researcher and assistant for the author Norman Mailer on several of his books, including the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Executioner's Song, On Women and Their Elegance, Ancient Evenings, and Harlot's Ghost.

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25 Responses

  1. Rick Taylor says:

    I think Lex puts his hookers on payroll and they drive his limos.

    • John Tebbel says:

      I think Lex has a bunch of houses on 54th street filled with babes with advanced degrees who polish his philanthropic efforts, too.

  2. Elayne Riggs says:

    Love the title! Although it sounds a little familiar, and THAT's how you can link it to comics! :)I don't think it's just capitalism and patriarchy that makes sex different from hunger. I think a lot of it is also socialization about intimacy and passion borne from basic human instinct. Food can certainly be intimate and passionate, but usually in the context of it being associated with the promise of subsequent sex.

    • Mike Gold says:

      Not necessarily. Our frequent commentator, Rick Oliver, has an interesting argument on behalf of Entemann's apple strudel.

    • Joe in Philly says:

      Yeah, well the title reminds me of Cyndi Lauper. ;-)

  3. Rick Oliver says:

    To paraphrase the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers: Food will get you through times of no sex better than sex will get you through times of no food. A recent study from the Duh Institute found that junk food can be a very effective anti-anxiety medication — and eventually you'll be so fat that sex won't really a viable option any longer.As for Entemann's apple strudel, I suspect it's not as good as I remember it, and I wouldn't pay $4K for any amount of it.

  4. pennie says:

    (Waving arms frantically) Hey Idiot, er Elliot…I only charge $3,500! Try ME! I'm also 5'5" (albeit a redhead), and wear two sizes! Better yet, I always combine food and sex! That way, I get to eat out a lot. Oh, damn, you're the wrong gender. Well, the price of pocket pool just escalated. And, you can leave your hat on.

  5. Ron Evry says:

    Well, Spitzer grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth and was simply used to paying for everything and tossing money around as if it meant nothing. As the title song from "O Lucky Man!" put it:Around the world in circles turningEarning what we canWhile others dance awayA chance to light your day(Alan Price)But perhaps Spitzer might have been been well advised to have read Gilbert Shelton's "Fat Freddy Gets the Clap" comic from many years ago, where the Doctor tells Freddy "You'd better watch where you put that thing."-=-Ron-=-

  6. Marilee J. Layman says:

    The ads on the lower right ar for Chinese women. They give age, weight, height, and location. I think prostitution should be legal.

    • Rick Oliver says:

      I think prostitution should be legal. I think if you're married and commit adultery, your spouse should be able to take you to the cleaners in divorce court — and adultery includes sex with prostitutes. Marriage is a contract. You break the contract, you suffer the consequences. And I think none of this has anything to do with one's qualifications for public office, except in cases of conflict of interest. FDR had a mistress. Eisenhower had a mistress. JFK had multiple mistresses. Republicans may revile FDR, but it ain't because of his sex life.

  7. Russ Rogers says:

    I don't think you need to be puritan or religious to find the concept of sex for money repugnant, distasteful and yes, immoral. The fact is Eliot Spitzer prosecuted many people for the same crimes that he committed. It was the height of stupidity and hypocrisy for Spitzer to engage in prostitution.Obviously, Spitzer doesn't agree with you idea, that prostitution is a victimless and archaic crime. He was the Governor of the State of New York! He could have worked to legalize prostitution, if he thought there was nothing wrong with it. No. He knew it was illegal and taboo. He knew prostitution is WRONG. That may have been an aspect of it that drew him in, attracted by the danger. This wasn't a public affair, this wasn't just a bit of nooky on the side. This didn't even have the taint of sexual harassment like hitting on an office intern. No, this was patently illegal activity that Spitzer did his best to hide with fake names, money laundering and transporting prostitutes across state lines. Hell, there are LEGAL brothels in the United States and in other countries. Spitzer didn't go to ANY of those. No, he chose to break the law. He KNEW he was breaking the law. He tried to hide his illegal and immoral behavior. Trying to claim that our prostitution laws are the result of unconstitutional religious legislation is silly. Making the case that Spitzer has been unjustly vilified on the basis of archaic laws is even sillier.Even if you feel that prostitution should be legal, this wouldn't be the "test case" on which I would build a platform for debate.

    • Mike Gold says:

      "I don't think you need to be puritan or religious to find the concept of sex for money repugnant, distasteful and yes, immoral."I don't think it's immoral. Some people say sex without procreation is immoral. Some say sex without love is immoral. Some say lust is immoral. Some say same-sex sex is immoral. Some say sexual performance within marriage is a spouse's duty. I say, "Mind your own damn business and get the hell out of my pants."People have sex for all kinds of reasons, and barter, even within the confines of marriage, certainly is one of them. Mind your own business; the only body you own is your own.

      • Russ Rogers says:

        Mike, surely you aren't advocating incest or child molestation. There are plenty of sexual activities that remain repugnant, immoral and illegal. Personally, I think prostitution should remain one of these. And just because SOME people say that same-sex sex is immoral, that doesn't mean that was what I was saying. You seem to have expanded my argument and put words in my mouth. Personally, I object more to the hypocrisy of Governor Spitzer's acts than the immorality of them. He is guilty of many of the same crimes that he prosecuted others for. Like I said, there are plenty of legal prostitutes in this world. Governor Spitzer didn't avail himself of those.And although you can say, "Mind your own damn business…", there are plenty of areas where your body is legislated to maintain public health. There are safety belt laws, for example. Why can't I see an unlicensed dentist, if I want to? Personally, I think prostitution poses a health risk. STDs aren't just an inconvenience anymore, they are once again deadly and incurable.And you can talk all you want about casual bartering for sex within or without the confines of marriage. I still think that legalizing prostitution and putting a dollar value on sex DEVALUES the profound spiritual and personal nature of sex. I find the concept … icky.

        • Mike Gold says:

          "Mike, surely you aren't advocating incest or child molestation."Never said I was. Didn't even imply that."And just because SOME people say that same-sex sex is immoral, that doesn't mean that was what I was saying."Didn't say you were. Didn't even imply that."There are safety belt laws, for example."There sure are. I'm against them. I think a person is a damn fool if he or she drives without 'em, but it's not the government's lookout. And it smacks of government for the insurance companies, by the insurance companies. Brushing and flossing your teeth is a good idea. Should there be laws compelling us to do so?"Why can't I see an unlicensed dentist, if I want to?"Fine by me, if yours is an informed decision. But if you do, I don't think YOU'RE the one who's going to get arrested."Personally, I think prostitution poses a health risk."Sure it does. That's the risk you take, and a reason why I wouldn't do it. Well, that and the fact that I'm too cheap."I still think that legalizing prostitution and putting a dollar value on sex DEVALUES the profound spiritual and personal nature of sex."You're entitled, and I might even agree with you here. But people of other opinions are entitled as well.

          • Marilee J. Layman says:

            (had to sign in)Oh, it's not just insurance companies that are pushing for safety belt laws, it's the government who would have to pay for people who handicap themselves without seat belts and without insurance.

        • Marilee J. Layman says:

          There's already a price on sex in many marriages. The advantage of legalizing prostitution is that they could be licensed, with frequent health checks, sick leave, and pensions. If your spouse uses a prostitute, you should probably consider why you can't satisfy your spouse and if those changes are worth it to you to continue in the marriage or to allow them to have sex outside the marriage.

  8. Russ Rogers says:

    I didn't even imply that you weren't entitled to another opinion. I am saying that there are reasons, beyond the immorality of prostitution for keeping it illegal. And there are moral reasons, outside of puritanical or religious belief, for arguing that prostitution is immoral. Morality isn't a monopoly held by Fundamentalist Conservative Christians, even if some Fundamentalists seem to claim it is. I don't think "morality" is a dirty word. And yes, I DO think our government's laws should be a reflection of public morality and, in general, promote moral behavior. And I think that opposing something on moral grounds and basing your morality on religion is NOT the same as imposing your religious beliefs. But, I do think that you should be able to debate your moral beliefs on a basis beyond just, "My God is against that!" Of course the question arises, who gets to decide what is moral and immoral? Well, that is one reason why we have elections and public debate (like this one)! Seat belt laws aren't there (only) to reduce insurance companies' liability. Seat belts not only keep the passengers in a car safer, but a driver that wears a safety belt is more likely to remain behind the wheel and in control of their car after an event that might toss them from their seat. So, a seat belted driver is not only safer for themselves, they are safer for all the other cars and pedestrians that share the road with them. The same goes for the passengers in a car. It is easier to maintain control of your vehicle if there aren't bodies flying about like missiles inside it. In this way, seat belt laws aren't just a question of personal liability, they come into the realm of PUBLIC health risk. In my mind, that makes seat belt laws fair game for legislation.People used to make the libertarian argument against laws that prohibited drinking and driving. The argument was, "It's MY body that is ingesting the alcohol. It's MY body that I put at risk while driving." But, of course, it's NOT just your body that you put at risk when you drive drunk.The same goes for the public health risk that is posed by prostitution. Your argument is, "That is the risk you take." And you rely on in informed public to make the right health risk assessment when in come to visiting a prostitute. But where is the informed decision for all the sex partners that a prostitute's customer has? Do you think Governor Spitzer shared with his wife the information that he was visiting prostitutes? By his own admission, he didn't. So, if you think that prostitutes pose a personal health risk, they also pose a PUBLIC health risk. And in my mind, that makes the activity fair game for public legislation.Look, Dentistry is a dangerous business. That is why it is licensed and publicly controlled. You can't expect unlicensed dentists to inform their patients of the health risks involved. They won't do it. Just like you can't expect Johns to tell their wives and other sex partners that they are visiting whores. So, how does the government protect us against the health risks of unlicensed dentists and unlicensed prostitutes? They make the activity illegal, and I'm all for that.I'm glad that the government tries to limit lead paint in children's toys. I don't expect children (or even the general public) to make an informed health risk assessment about the dangers of lead. Labeling toys that use lead paint isn't good enough. For some libertarians, this is TOO much legislation and the government should mind it's own damn business. But, our government is intended to be by the people and FOR the people. In some cases the government has to make parental judgments to protect the safety of "the people."IF prostitution is legalized (and I think there is little hope for that in most states), it should be publicly licensed and controlled. Prostitutes should be required to receive specialized training and regular health exams in order maintain their license and limit the public health risk. This is a moral argument for promoting legalized prostitution. If you legalized it and licensed it and took prostitution out of the shadows and back alleys, you would limit some of the risks involved.In Nevada, in the counties where prostitution is legal, the use of condoms by prostitutes for oral sex or other sexual intercourse is required by law. Talk about "seat belt" legislation! Or is that helmet legislation?

    • Mike Gold says:

      I'll simplify my point of view: I think people should be held fully responsible for the consequences of their decisions. For example: if you drink and drive and get into an accident, you should go to jail and be subject to all appropriate civil litigation. If you go to an unlicensed dentist, you don't get to bitch about the treatment you receive. If you go to a hooker and get an STD, tough titties. If you don't brush between meals and your breath stinks to high heaven and your teeth fall out, you have to perform in Charles Dickens plays gratis. Simple.

      • Russ Rogers says:

        Mike, you've simplified your view all right. It's overly simplistic.Drinking and driving should be legal for anyone that doesn't get into an accident? Did you just say that? And if you drink and drive and KILL someone…? If you get an incurable and deadly STD and pass it along to an unwitting, innocent third party…? Is it just "tough titties" for those innocent third parties too? Civil litigation is costly and pretty moot if the injured party is dead.What if the unlicensed dentist has hung out a fake shingle and claims that he has a license? You've been duped, you've been conned, you've been injured. But the government shouldn't try to stop this guy UNTIL he injures someone? Should the government's response be, "Tough titties, you've should have read his Diploma more carefully. It said he graduated from Whatsamatta U!"Should the Consumer Products Safety Commission, OSHA and the FDA just close up shop? We can wait for injured parties to find redress in the Civil Courts. Should there be no laws, no controls and no penalties for anything until someone actually gets hurt and those damages can be proved in a court of law?I know this discussion has strayed from it's initial topic of prostitution. But, just because sex and hunger are two basic human urges. That doesn't mean SEX equals HUNGER. It's not capitalism or the patriarchy that makes sex different from hunger, it's common sense. You won't be prosecuted in the same way for forcing someone to make you a pastrami sandwich or EAT a sandwich, not like you would if you raped them. And it's not a crime to pay someone to MAKE you a pastrami sandwich.But, I would not be flattered if someone approached my daughter and offered her money for sex. I would not be flattered even if someone approached ME (although this is FAR less likely) and offered me money for sex. I would be insulted, mad as hell and yeah, I would call the cops. Soliciting prostitution is NOT the same thing as making a pass.I don't think that it's a WILD notion to claim that prostitution is not a victimless crime, both the prostitute and the John are degraded. Prostitution teaches men that women's bodies are commodities, it objectifies women and reduces them to dollar figures. Women are taught that the value of a Man comes from his wallet. Both parties are encouraged to see their sex partners as something to be used and discarded.I don't see our laws that prohibit prostitution as archaic or puritanical. And I don't see laws that prohibit prostitution as being overly intrusive. You've said, "Mind your own damn business and get the hell out of my pants." Well, in the case of prostitution, it's not the penis in the pants that I find makes the truly objectionable act; it's the wallet. It's true, money changes everything.

        • Mike Gold says:

          "Drinking and driving should be legal for anyone that doesn't get into an accident? Did you just say that? "I sure did. Our DUI laws have proven totally and completely ineffective; let's start throwing people in jail for the harm they actually cause. Unlike merely taking their license away for a few months (of course, they drive anyway — have to get to work, you know) at least we'll get them off the streets for a while. And maybe some will think twice about taking such a risk again. One can hope.I'm afraid we'll just have to respectfully agree to disagree about this sort of philosophy. I appreciate the conversation, though.

        • Marilee J. Layman says:

          (had to sign in)And do male prostitutes believe that their bodies are commodities? That their value comes from a wallet? When I worked, did I believe my value came from a wallet? (Yes, the feds. A job is a job. Different people are suited for different jobs.)

  9. Ryan McKern says:

    Just a peanut gallery correction: Kirsten or Kristen or whatever he name was, was a middle-of-the-road girl in the stable of Emperors Club VIP. As such, she was $1000/hour. The 7 diamond girls were the $4,000/hour girls. I can only imagine that at that rate they also cleaned your house, made the bed, walked your dog, and detailed your car.

  10. Martha Thomases says:

    Sex doesn't have to degrade either party. The biggest problem with prostitution (aside from the legal questions) is the role of the pimp. If adults want to have sex for money, that's their business. Just as I don't think that being a chef or a waiter is demeaning, I don't think there is necessarily anything demeaning about commercial sex.Of course, capitalism and sexism tend to disagree.

  11. Russ Rogers says:

    I hate to beat a dead horse. But, I feel like I've fallen down a rabbit hole and ended up in upside-down land. Driving while intoxicated is illegal for a reason. You can complain about how lax the punishments for drunk diving are, but police shouldn't have to wait for a drunk to get in an accident (and potentially kill someone) before they stop them or prosecute them for driving drunk. If a person goes into a shopping mall waving a pistol over their head, the police don't have to wait for them to actually rob or kill someone before stopping them. The potential for harm is too great to be ignored.Heroin is illegal not because everyone who takes it becomes an addict or dies. Legislators (our representatives) have decided that the POTENTIAL risks with heroin far outweigh the benefits to both the individual and society. The same is true for prostitution, it's illegal because the costs and RISKS to the individual and society outweigh the benefits.And prostitution is NOT waiting tables. How demeaning does an act have to be before it should be illegal? There are people who sexually get off by degrading others: shitting on them, torturing, worse. These are acts that are designed to make one person feel powerful and superior by degrading another person, stripping them of their dignity. This isn't carnival dunk tank, pie-in-the-face comic stuff I'm talking about. I'm talking about deep, creepy, sick stuff. No, not all prostitution is THAT sick and creepy. But how sick and creepy does something have to get before you can say, "That is TOO much!"I think we can agree that sex with minors or animals or people in comas is sick. There can be no position of equity between the partners or informed consent. The same is true with prostitution: there is no position of equity or fair trade. One person has the money, the other person needs it. Hey, that's the basis of capitalism and fair trade! Right? The question with prostitution: is it a FAIR trade?How much is human dignity worth? And are we willing, as a society, to make dignity a commodity? Sex is an act that is deeply tied into our sense of self worth. In this way, selling sex can easily become selling your dignity and self worth. The potential risks are VERY high.Should a rich person be able to BUY a kidney, liver or heart for organ transplant from a "willing" organ donor? There are a lot of people in this world who are desperate for money, so desperate that they might be willing to sell their own lives to see their families get out of debt. Should this be legal? NO! Even if both parties agree, society as a whole has to stand up and say, "There are some things too sacred and valuable to be bought and sold!"Organs is one, in my book.Children are another.Slaves. I hope we are beyond the argument in favor of slavery.And, in my humble opinion, sex has to be on our short list of items too precious and personal to be made a commodity. Sex is SO personal and such a part of our sense of self, that selling sex becomes like selling your dignity, like selling a piece of your soul. And who ends up the worse when bargaining for souls, the person who sells their soul or the person who buys it? In the end, both parties are degraded.