Madeleine Blair

Memoirist & Muse

Read the work of two Madeleine Blairs, living and writing a century apart.

“The library made me a Whore,” I like to say when describing my discovery of the anonymously-published Madeleine: An Autobiography.

Published in 1919, “This life story of a prostitute,” reads the inner cover, “was the subject of a famous law case involving issues of obscenity, freedom of speech, and ‘white slavery.’ Self-educated and successful, Madeleine offers an eloquent, vivid account of brothel life in the 1890s.”

Reading Madeleine in 2013 introduced me to discourse about the adult industry and its history in colonized North America. Stories I didn’t even know existed, could exist.

Then, five years later, when the end of Backpage and beginning of SESTA/FOSTA changed the online landscape for escorts similar to how bills like the 1910 Mann Act shuttered red light districts across the U.S., we witnessed history repeat its moronic self, just as it has time and again.

(Spoiler alert! We’ve got the answer. We’ve had it for years. The answer is to decriminalize sex work.)

You can read Madeleine: An Autobiography adapted (annotations to come!) for the 21st century reader here, or in its original 1919 form here.

Madeleine Blair, 2021

1986 edition, Persea Books

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The Everleigh Club in Chicago, Illinois. 1900s.

Sex workers everywhere stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors of labor trafficking and exploitation. If you or someone you know is being forced to work against their will, you can contact the SWOP’s Community Support Line at 877-776-2004 -or- the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 for support.

Madeleine Blair is an editor, memoirist, sex workers’ rights activist & professional companion based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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