Norma Jean 1986 during her campaign
Norma Jean in 2006
Norma Jean Almodovar (nee Wright) was
born May 27, 1951, to Mr. and Mrs. Harold M.
Wright of Binghamton, New York. She was the
fourth child and first daughter in a family of 8
boys and 6 girls. Through their mother, Helen
Ruth Doolittle Wright, daughter of Mark Arthur
Doolittle and Clara Chauncey, the family are
direct descendants of John Howland, Pilgrim of
the Mayflower, and of the Reverend Charles
Chauncey, President of Harvard University 1654-
1672. The Chauncey family tree traces directly
back to Charlemagne and the royal houses of
France and England including the Plantagenets
and William the Conqueror. Her maternal
grandfather is a descendant of the once powerful
Lyon Family of France, then of Scotland.
Norma Jean's mother was a school teacher who retired when the family started growing. Her father served in the US Army during WWII, after which he was a factory worker- and always a dreamer. Despite his best efforts to provide for his family, there were simply too many children to feed on too small a salary. Their illustrious genealogical heritage notwithstanding, Norma Jean and her siblings grew up poor and the family was often dependent upon charity to survive.
Not long after the birth of one of Norma Jean's younger sisters, her mother became a "born again" Christian and thereafter Norma Jean and her siblings were raised as fundamental Baptists whose lives revolved around the church and Christianity. Throughout her childhood, Norma Jean believed she was chosen by God to become a missionary to Puerto Rico, and so at age 18, Norma Jean was enrolled in Philadelphia College of the Bible.
However, before she could go to college, she had to get a job. Her parents could not afford to send any of their children to college and so it was up to each child to find their own way if they wanted to further their education. After Norma Jean graduated from high school in June, 1969, she and a fellow classmate moved to New York City where they lived with her friend's Russian grandparents in the Bronx. Norma Jean got a job working as a clerk in the Empire State Building while her friend attended the local Kings College.
In January of 1970, Norma Jean decided to take a short vacation and visit her Aunt Rusty in California. She didn't know it at the time, but her plans to become a missionary were about to be derailed.
visiting with her aunt for a week, she went to
visit her Puerto Rican friends from New York who
had relocated to Los Angeles and had become deeply
involved in a fundamentalist religious cult. Her
friends pressured her to join them and become part
of the "local church." Within a week she succumbed
to peer pressure and found herself as involved in
the church as were her friends, even though Norma
Jean had already begun to have doubts about her
faith in God. During the summer of 1970, she met a
cousin of one of her New York Puerto Rican
friends, a man who had just been discharged from
the Air Force. By November, she was sure she was
in love with him and so on November 19, 1970, she
became the wife of Mr. Radames Almodovar. The
marriage ended three years later, with no
children. By the time her marriage was over, Norma
Jean had disassociated herself from the church and
no longer considered herself a Christian.
She joined the Los Angeles Police Department as a civilian traffic officer in 1972. At the time, police women had to be 5'8" tall and were only assigned to indoor duties. Norma Jean was 5'4" and did not meet the height requirement to be a police woman, and she did not want an indoor job, either.
|| As a traffic
officer, she was assigned to the nightwatch for most
of her ten year career, working from 6 P.M. until 2
A.M. out of the Rampart and Hollywood Divisions.
During this time she witnessed many acts of
corruption and serious criminal activity committed
by other members of the LAPD.
|Norma Jean was nicknamed the "Bionic Arm"
by her peers because she spent all her work hours
doing what she had been hired to do, and on many
occasions she wrote in excess of 300 tickets a day.
Her other duties included directing traffic at the
scene of an accident, fire or homicide, and
recovering stolen vehicles.
For all the work she did during her on duty hours, off duty Norma Jean liked to play just as hard as she worked. She found the handsome cops she worked with difficult to resist and dated many of them. From them she learned just about every 'deviant' sex act that can be done with another human being, even though many of these acts were still felonies at the time and every cop she dated was a felon under the law. After a short while, the novelty of dating cops wore off when she discovered that very, very few of them seemed interested in reciprocating pleasure, legal or otherwise.
In 1975, Norma Jean met Victor, the man who is now her husband. He did for her what all the cops she dated had failed to do (or even try to do)- he gave her pleasure and told her it was her right as a woman to experience multiple orgasms. We'll return to their relationship later.
In 1974 Norma Jean suffered the first of three work-related traffic accidents. She hurt her back when the three wheeled Harley Davidson motorcycle, to which she had been assigned at the time, hit the car in front of her. The driver, seeing the police vehicle behind him, decided not to go through the red light and stopped suddenly, backing up his car into Norma Jean's motorcycle. Norma Jean was on disability for over a year and a half as a result of this accident, and was hospitalized on two occasions. It was during this time she met Victor.
In her second on duty accident, she was attacked by a Hollywood businessman. He attempted to run over her with his vehicle- but only managed to knock her down. He was arrested for assault, of course, but the City of Los Angeles did not want to prosecute a member of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. As city property, Norma Jean was not allowed to sue him for the physical and emotional damage he caused her.
The third and final accident occurred on April 18, 1982, at 11:10 P.M. The police car she was driving on Hollywood Blvd. was rear-ended by a very intoxicated man in a stolen car, who, as it turned out, was an illegal alien and had just committed an armed robbery. He fled the scene of the accident involving Norma Jean, but was apprehended moments later after a brief pursuit around the block with a couple of several undercover cop cars which happened to be right around the corner when the accident occurred. The suspect was released shortly after being booked into the Hollywood jail, while Norma Jean was still in the emergency room having x-rays taken of her reinjured back and neck. That was the last day she ever worked for the Los Angeles Police........
Norma Jean was already very disillusioned with the LAPD and she was angry with her co-workers for their corrupt activities (the burglary and drug ring, murder-for-hire- ring, sex with 10 year old girls, etc.). This accident was the final straw. She knew that the man who hit her would never be prosecuted- and just like the situation with the Hollywood businessman who had tried to run her over, she knew that she could not count on the City of Los Angeles to be concerned for her well being. After completing the accident report, she went home and in a symbolic gesture of cutting her ties with the LAPD, she tore up her uniform and cut up her shoes. To replace them would be very expensive and she didn't want to be tempted to go back on her decision. She had vowed that she would never again return to work for the LAPD.
| When the City
stopped paying her disability benefits, she decided
to take up a new career. She chose to become a
high-priced Beverly Hills Call Girl. She is often
asked why she chose this profession when she could
do so many other things, including her crafts
(doll-making)... her answer is that she wanted to
make a social statement about the moral hypocrisy of
our society- a society which seemed completely
untroubled by the police corruption that permeated
the LAPD, and yet demanded that law enforcement
spend a significant portion of its scarce and
valuable resources to set-up and arrest women whose
sole "crime" was to accept money from men for acts
of sex in which they could otherwise legally engage,
even with thousands of men- provided the sex was
free. The arrest and subsequent incarceration would
brand them forever as a prostitute and destroy their
lives - all in the name of protecting them from
was simple- "I would rather be a whore- an outcast
from society- than to work for the Los Angeles
Police Department. It is much more honest and I can
live with myself." In addition to her new found
profession, she continued her doll business, which,
while it didn't generate much income, but helped to
reduce the stress and anger she still felt toward
the LAPD. As well, she continued working on the book
she began writing while working the night shift on
the LAPD, during the many hours she spent waiting
for the tow company to arrive to tow away the stolen
and illegally parked cars she found during her tour
of duty. The book now included her experiences as a
prostitute and she titled the book, "Cop to Call
On September 17th, 1983, seven cops with their guns drawn knocked at her door to arrest her on one count of pandering. Her unfinished manuscript was confiscated by the police as "evidence" of her crime and she was taken, in handcuffs, to the downtown LA police headquarters where she once worked. The pandering charge stemmed from her attempt to fulfill the alleged sexual fantasy of a former friend who was still a traffic officer. The "friend," Penny Isgro, had come to Norma Jean's home wearing a wire, and later admitted during Norma Jean's trial that she had helped set up Norma Jean to prevent her from writing an expose of the Los Angeles Police. Through the perhaps deliberate incompetence of her attorney (whom she later successfully sued) Norma Jean was given no defense whatsoever during her brief trial, and as a result, was convicted of that one count of pandering- which was a felony.
making a phone call on behalf of her very
unattractive fifty- year old, six foot two, two
hundred fifty pound "friend", Norma Jean was
facing a mandatory three to six year incarceration
in the California State Penitentiary. The judge
postponed sentencing until after a 90 day
psychiatric evaluation could be done to determine
whether or not Norma Jean poses a "threat to
society" for her crime of trying to fulfill her
friend's sexual fantasy. The judge allowed her two
weeks to put her affairs in order, before she was
to return, the day before Thanksgiving 1984, to be
remanded into custody.
brief period of confinement, she would not be an
inmate so she would have no prisoner rights such as
visits from friends. The only visitor she would be
allowed to have during the 90 days of her evaluation
(which included all the holidays from Thanksgiving
through the New Year 1985) would be a husband- if
she were married. The problem was that she and the
love of her life weren't married and weren't
planning to do so.
She met Victor in 1975. An actor, writer and architect, he was everything she had ever wanted in a life partner. His stage name Victor Savant.... means "victory in knowledge." Although it took her six months to realize it, Victor was her "grand passion." They dated each other many years and were deeply in love but they had no plans to marry. Neither one of them believed that the State has a right to license personal relationships, and as atheists, they certainly did not believe in being married for religious reasons.
Norma Jean and Victor were shattered by her arrest and conviction, and now that she was going to be incarcerated for three months, she needed Victor's support more than ever. The thought of being away from each other for 90 days was more than either could bear, so they were married on November 19, 1984, just a little over a day before she went to prison.
Unbeknownst to her, Victor or the judge, Norma Jean would be held in solitary confinement during her stay as a guest of the State of California. She was told that it was "for her own good..... to protect her from other inmates because of her police background." It was also, no doubt, for her own good that she was handcuffed to herself and to two guards as she was escorted from her tiny cell to the offices of the psychiatrists who were to examine her. The psychiatric evaluation itself took only a little over three hours, but she was kept in solitary confinement for over two months before being shipped back to county jail and then to see the judge.
When she was released from solitary confinement on January 9th, 1985, the judge, who noted that the report said Norma Jean wasn't a danger to anyone, felt that the mandatory three to six year sentence was "cruel and unusual punishment" as applied to her. Norma Jean had no prior criminal record, so instead of sending her to prison for the mandatory minimum sentence, he put her on three years probation. At the time, the District Attorney's office made a public statement that they had no plans to appeal the judge's sentence.
Having been denied the opportunity to speak out during her trial about what had been done to her, Norma Jean decided that going back to the public to state her case was the only thing she could do. She continued her outspoken media campaign against the corruption within the Los Angeles Police Department. [Her prosecutor, Richard Weber, in a later interview with American Justice, stated that Norma Jean had a "vivid imagination" when it came to the corruption on the LAPD, a statement which was completely invalidated with the revelations of the Rodney King beating and the subsequent Rampart Division scandal, among other police scandals.....] Her constant appearances on television further enraged the powerful LAPD officials and District Attorney who had hoped to silence her with the "taste of prison" imposed on her by the judge. She also lobbied to have her manuscript and research material returned to her, volumes of research and typed pages taken as evidence of her "pandering efforts" even though none of it was ever used in court- and it was never returned to her either.
high profile public appearances were rewarded when
on December 6th, 1985- eleven months after she was
sentenced to probation, the Los Angeles District
Attorney's office filed an appeal to overturn her
probation sentence on the grounds that the law
mandated a three year minimum prison term on the
first offense. According to the District Attorney
Ira Reiner, Norma Jean's crime was "worse than
rape or robbery" or even a violent assault on
someone, and further, that she had compounded her
"crime" by writing a book which would cause
"disrespect for law and order." In the appellate
brief filed in the State Supreme Court of
California, the District Attorney made over 57
references to the "harm to society" that would be
caused by Norma Jean's book if it were published.
The District Attorney's decision to appeal Norma Jean's probation sentence was a first in the history of Los Angeles where never before had a sentence imposed by a judge been challenged by the DA's office. However, the appeal did not surprise Norma Jean, who had expected retaliation by the police because she had been so vocal and public ever since she had been released from prison on probation. She was just a bit surprised at the blatant references to her manuscript in the DA's appeal, which did not hide the fact that Norma Jean's continued efforts to publish her book was the main reason for wanting to overturn her probation sentence and send her to prison.
Upon learning of the appeal, Norma Jean decided that perhaps she hadn't been vocal enough. Her brother Neil had recently moved back to California and introduced her to J.R. - a Libertarian activist who suggested the Norma Jean run for office. He offered to be her campaign manager if she won the endorsement of the LP at the State Convention in February of 1986. Norma Jean had registered as a Libertarian in 1978, after Victor introduced her to the libertarian philosophy through the writings of Ayn Rand. Although Norma Jean immediately embraced the philosophy and fighting for freedom became the driving force of her life, she was not active in the Party until her 1986 campaign.
She did receive the endorsement of the Libertarian Party of California for her bid at elective office. And she was not a one issue Libertarian as some in the LP thought she would be. While she did not win, she made an impressive showing with over 100,000 votes cast for an admitted felon hooker. Most importantly, she was able to take her message to an even broader audience because of the District Attorney's ludicrous claims in his appeal of her sentence. Unfortunately, her public profile did not keep her from going to prison.
the election, on December 15th, 1986, the
California Appellate Court heard oral arguments
on the appeal/ On March 25th, 1987, with a 2 to
1 majority, the court overturned her probation
sentence and ordered her to be returned to court
for imposition of the mandatory three to six
year prison term. Her new attorney, Larry
Teeter, appealed the decision but was
unsuccessful. On July 31, 1987, after serving 2
years and 7 months on probation with no
violations whatsoever, Norma Jean was
resentenced to three years in state prison.
Not everyone thought Norma Jean was a menace to society. In the years following her conviction and incarceration, she was nominated to appear in "Who's Who in American Women" and by "Outstanding Young Women in America" in recognition of her political activities on behalf of women. The Lt. Governors of America invited her to attend their annual conference in 1986 even though she lost the election. She did send them some of autographed posters from her campaign....
Years passed after her release from prison and still no publisher was willing to go out on a limb by publishing her controversial book. Some publishers claimed that no one wanted to hear about the rampant corruption within the Los Angeles Police Department. Other editors in New York were reluctant to tackle someone as formidable as LA Police Chief Daryl Gates. It seemed that no publisher wanted to risk incurring the wrath of the LAPD until an incident happened one fateful night in LA. On March 3, 1991, an ordinary citizen, Mr. George Holliday, made an amateur videotape of four Los Angeles police officers severely beating a black man stopped for a traffic violation. The aftermath of the Rodney King beating and subsequent acquittal of the police officers involved led to days of rioting, looting and burning on the streets of Los Angeles and the resignation of the powerful Chief Gates.
In 1993, Norma Jean's new literary agent sent the manuscript to an editor at Simon and Schuster along with a copy of a Time Magazine article about the riots and the LAPD. With it's corruption exposed, the LAPD should no longer pose a threat to anyone willing to publish Norma Jean's book. The editor agreed, a deal was negotiated and her book was finally published in 1994.
Ironically or perhaps the hand of destiny, the first radio media to contact Norma Jean for an interview to discuss her book was the producer for the radio show of her former boss, LAPD chief Daryl Gates. After retiring from the LAPD, Mr. Gates was offered a radio show of his own on which to spout his rhetoric. Norma Jean agreed to be a guest on his show provided that the "Entertainment Tonight" crew could videotape her interview for their own broadcast. With a film crew on hand to capture their sometimes fiery and always intense dialogue, Norma Jean minced no words expressing her opinion of the reign of Daryl Gates.
Although Norma Jean's book debut appeared not to have any impact on the LAPD at the time, the recent scandals which have rocked the LAPD are no surprise to those who read "Cop to Call Girl." There are daily revelations of more corruption within the LAPD, which Norma Jean tried to expose years ago. How many tainted cases could have been avoided if public officials- including the District Attorney- had spent more time and effort investigating the claims made by Norma Jean, rather than trying to silence her? One wonders if the prosecutor at her trial, Richard Weber, still believes that the LAPD corruption she witnessed is all in Norma Jean's mind, or if he will at last admit that it is and has been an ongoing situation which needed exposing a long, long time ago......
||Norma Jean's involvement in
the sex worker right's movement began as soon as she
became a prostitute. It wasn't until after her
arrest that she met Margo St. James, founder of
C.O.Y.O.T.E., the first and most well known
prostitutes' rights organizations in the US. Her
lawyer at the time was a friend of Margo's and
introduced the two over the telephone. After
attending a conference at Margo's house, where Norma
Jean met other enthusiastic activists, Norma Jean
returned to LA and revived the dormant LA chapter of
C.O.Y.O.T.E. She has been the executive director of
the LA and Southern California chapter since that
In 1995, she represented C.O.Y.O.T.E and the US as an official NGO delegate to the UN Fourth World Women's Conference in Beijing, China. It was at the UN conference that Norma Jean achieved what she considers an accomplishment of a lifetime. She and four of her peers (representing Thailand, Australia, Malaysia and England) verbally battled the well-funded "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women" and other international anti-porn, anti-prostitution groups during the workshops and seminars held prior to the ratification of the Platform for Action. [Every ten or so years, this document-- which sets the course for legislation adopted in UN member countries- must be thoroughly discussed, every word in the document debated and finally accepted for the member nations' delegates to ratify.]
The workshops and seminars presented the only real opportunity for lobbying the UN delegates before the ratification process began. Changing a single word in this document is a major challenge for any group, much more so for four unfunded sex workers who, until they arrived at the conference, did not know each other, were staying in different locations during the conference, and had no means of communicating with each other [unlike the opposition group who was staying at the five star hotel in Beijing, and had cell phones to communicate with one another].
Despite all the obstacles, the five successfully got a single word of text inserted in the paragraph which specifically dealt with the subject of prostitution and pornography. The original text read, "...all prostitution and pornography are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and must be eliminated." The final text in the same paragraph which was ratified by the UN delegates now read, "...all FORCED prostitution and pornography......" The new meaning is clearly different from the original text and makes a world of difference for prostitutes around the world who have chosen their work and refuse to be bullied into believing they are "victims" because they engage in sex work- as dictated by the Coalition Against Trafficking and their crowd who are opposed to validating any sex work whatsoever.
The "antis" as we called them- sure didn't want to hear what we had to say about their theories of sex work.
Jean returned from China, she and the other
C.O.Y.O.T.E. LA members were approached by two
professors from California State University,
Northridge, about the possibility of cohosting and
co-organizer an international conference on
prostitution. The joint effort would be held in
March, 1997, at the Airtel Plaza Hotel in Van Nuys,
and Norma Jean was asked to be the co-chair of the
organizing committee. She agreed to do so because
one of the professors, Vern Bullough, along with his
wife Bonnie, had such a good reputation as a
champion of sex workers, and had coauthored a number
of books on the subject.
The relationship between the professors and the sex workers quickly soured when Norma Jean realized that the sex workers were being lied to and that the professors who wanted other academics to come and meet the sex workers from around the world, couldn't themselves be bothered to listen to or treat the sex workers from Los Angeles with respect. The conference, there after referred to as ICOP, had mixed results.
Aside from the problems with the University and the academics, the sex worker portion of the conference was well worthwhile. A few of the plenary sessions which were planned and sponsored by sex workers (and not the academics) turned out to be the most popular and certainly the most interesting of the conference.
Former US Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the keynote speaker of the conference- invited by C.O.Y.O.T.E. LA and the other sex workers- and was by far the most well attended function of the conference. However, when she was first invited to speak- by Norma Jean- the two professors from CSUN twice cancelled her attendance. The first faux pas was when one of the professors mistakenly believed that Dr. Elders had been the former Secretary of Education and didn't believe that her presence at the conference had any relevance. He was patiently informed that as the former US Surgeon General, Dr. Elders had a great deal to contribute to a conference which would address the health issues of sex workers.
A new invitation was issued to Dr. Elders, but because of the blunder made by the CSUN professors, her speakers' bureau now demanded a 50% deposit for her speaker's fee. The sex workers assured the professors that they did not expect the University or the professors to raise the money for the speakers' fee for Dr. Elders and would raise the money for the deposit. However, before they were given the opportunity to do so, the other professor cancelled Dr. Elder's scheduled appearance, stating that the university would not pay the $10,000 speaker's fee requested by Dr. Elder's agency.
The sex workers did raise all the money for her fee and Dr. Elders was the keynote speaker for the conference. Ironically, the professors and other CSUN academics made certain they took pictures with her after her speech. But because the sex workers- and not the academics- had raised all the money for her speaker's fees, Norma Jean felt that it should be the sex workers from developing countries who spent time with her after the luncheon, so Norma Jean whisked her away from the fawning academics and made it clear that the academics who had contributed nothing, were not welcome to spend any time with her.
Xaviera Hollander and Norma Jean at ICOP
conference ended Norma Jean was ready to give up
activism altogether. She was exhausted from 18
months of intensive work organizing the conference,
angry at the way she and the other sex workers had
been treated by the professors from CSUN, and
frustrated by the attitude and behavior of some of
the local sex workers during the conference. In
other words, she was at the point of complete
activism burn-out, a condition that strikes many
activists no matter what the cause.
Throughout April and May of 1997, she felt certain that she never wanted anything to do with "causes" again. She had plenty of other projects that could occupy her time, including resuming her many book projects and her artwork. There was no shortage of possibilities and the temptation was strong to put her many years of involvement in the sex worker rights' movement behind her and get on with her own life.
Still, once in your blood, activism is a difficult passion to stifle. Ever since the conference, a male sex worker from San Francisco had been crashing on Norma Jean's couch. Together they discussed the possible ways in which to remain activists but have more impact and see more results from their work than their efforts within C.O.Y.O.T.E.'s political boundaries. The lessons learned from their unpleasant interface with the CSUN academics during ICOP must be incorporated into any new project they started.
By June, 1997, Norma Jean and Steve G. prepared a proposal for a new, international organization-- one that would be able to raise money through tax- deductible donations AND allow health professionals, law enforcement officials and others to associate with them. The blatant political nature of C.O.Y.O.T.E. precluded such associations in the past, and since C.O.Y.O.T.E. was not a registered organization, raising money had been an almost impossible task. As a non-profit 501 (c) 3 , the new organization would not have to be funded solely from the pockets of the few dedicated LA area activists.
|| Finally, in
August, 1997, she and Steve G. were ready to
announce the formation of ISWFACE (pronounced
'ice-face'), the International Sex Worker Foundation
for Art, Culture and Education. Among the
Foundation's goals are the sharing of the many
artistic sides of sex workers from around the world,
past and present, and to create an international
database of information about prostitution and other
sex work which could be accessed by the many health
care, law enforcement, academic, legislator, student
and other professionals who interact with sex
workers or their issues on a regular basis.
While preparing for its first art exhibit being planned for the fall of 1998, ISWFACE was approached by a man who owned a national historic landmark former brothel in Butte, Montana, about the possible purchase of the building for use as a museum and cultural center. At the time, neither Steve or Norma Jean knew where Butte, Montana was- geographically- and had no plans to relocate the ISWFACE headquarters based on Los Angeles.
Norma Jean visited the Dumas Brothel in Butte, it
became clear to her and her co-founder that this
building offered a tremendous opportunity to the
fledgling organization. The building represented not
only the history of the American West, but also a
significant portion of sex worker history and
culture. The Dumas, built in 1890 as a brothel and
operated as such until 1982, had a nearly one
hundred year track record as a house of
prostitution. It had offered sexual services to the
community from the Old West mining camps through the
first and second World Wars, and had scores of
stories to tell. Its acquisition would be a major
coup for ISWFACE.
At first, all the people of Butte seemed to be extremely friendly and open to the sex worker organization. In late August of 1998, the State Historic Society and other local government officials presided over the dedication of a park to the women of the red light district. A plaque in their honor was placed at the park/ parking lot entrance which now occupied land upon which a former luxury brothel once stood. Metal silhouettes of working women and their customers - artwork created by the local high school students- lined the park on all sides. How could ISWFACE resist a place that actually recognized the contributions to the community made by the women of the red light district? And so an agreement was reached with the owner and the first steps were made to purchasing the Dumas.
During the fall and winter months of 1998 through 1999, ISWFACE poured thousands of dollars into the project. They paid off all the outstanding bills owed by the man from whom they were buying the Dumas. The intention was to move ISWFACE's office to Butte, and with it came the president of ISWFACE- Norma Jean- with her husband Victor and Steve G. the ISWFACE vice president.
1998, Steve and Norma Jean had written a proposal
for the projected summer "International Cultural
Exchange" program (also known as "Whore Camp") which
they distributed to various individuals and local
businesses in Butte during the Christmas visit. The
plans were straightforward; ISWFACE would invite sex
workers from around the world to Butte for a summer
long sex worker festival. Those attending would also
be required to participate in the restoration of the
Dumas and in the many cultural events sponsored by
One of the fund-raising activities that ISWFACE planned was a biker rally (The Dumas Brothel Biker Run 1999) which was timed to correspond with the annual Sturgis, South Dakota biker activities. Initially the biker event was being planned by two members of a local Los Angeles Biker Club, who asked Norma Jean to design a flyer for them which would be given to biker groups in Southern California and mailed to other biker organizations nationwide. Some of the activities mentioned on the flyer included a contest for the "hairiest butt and biggest boobs," which was supposed to be a joke.
Early in January, 1999, Norma Jean called the Butte Chamber of Commerce to get some information for the brochures she and Steve were preparing. She was informed by one of the Chamber staff that there was a bit of misunderstanding up there and several townspeople wanted to know what, exactly, was ISWFACE planning to do in Butte?
Apparently some ill-educated individuals misread the organization's proposal and thought that ISWFACE was planning a summer-long sex festival rather than the sex worker festival that was being organized. Perhaps it was wishful thinking on their part that some of the "town fathers" got things mixed up, but before you know it, Norma Jean was back in the middle of a raging controversy. A town meeting (dubbed a debate) was organized by some local law offices, and Norma Jean and Steve went up to Butte in the middle of an icy cold January to answer questions and counter charges being leveled against them.
In the end, the "Concerned Citizens" were not able to stop the summer project and biker rally, although there were enough editorials both for and against ISWFACE printed in the Montana Standard to fill up the infamous Berkeley Pit (a toxic waste dump in Butte). The group of "concerned" people consisted mainly of moldy old windbags- men who had once run the town government WHILE the brothels were still operating- now upset that an outsider was coming in to their town to preserve a piece of history they thought was best forgotten. Other members of this elite group include a self-styled writer wanna-be whose Christian "values" allowed her to dress more like a whore than the real whore herself, Norma Jean.
said in response to charges made by "Concerned Citizens" that ISWFACE planned to bring wild sex orgies to Butte, Montana.... a much different event than the Sex WORKER Festival that was the intended summer program. Probably wishful thinking on the elderly gentlemen's part....
the Dumas Project and certainly after it, Norma Jean
and ISWFACE continued to be involved in other areas
of sex worker rights and health issues. In 1998,
Norma Jean was invited to speak on a panel with
other sex workers and advocates at the World AIDS
Conference in Geneva. In May, 1999, an article she
wrote on the need for decriminalizing prostitution
was published in the Hasting's Women's Law Journal.
In June, 2000, she was the only sex worker to be
invited to and participate in the US Surgeon
General's (David Satcher) workshop and conference on
Promoting Responsible Sexual Behavior. And she
continues lecture at colleges and universities
nationwide on the decriminalization issue.
Aside from her activism, Norma Jean occasionally had the opportunity to work on her own projects. Not surprisingly, her personal projects also reflect the sex worker issues and are the subject of the many book projects she is working on. One of her long term book projects is "Cops, Hos, Preachers and Politicos- Commercial $ex $candals in America" which is a look at the inevitable scandalous consequences of enforcing victimless crime laws against consenting adults.
|ABOVE: THE OJ TRIAL OF THE CENTURY CHESS SET- CREATED IN 1995. CLICK ON IMAGE TO SEE LARGER VERSION||Due to her various physical limitations these days, she is no longer able to do her artwork or create jewelry. You can still see her creations on her website www.normajeansgifts.com, although she no longer sells them or creates them. A project she did a number of years ago was an oversized chess set of the OJ Simpson trial characters- based on the "Trial of the Century." She is currently creating a series of sculptures entitled, "Commercial Sex- the Way We Work." The series consists of numerous Barbie-doll sized figures in various surroundings, which examine the many facets of sex work around the world. The series will feature a number of celebrity sex workers and their clients- Nina Hartley, Annie Sprinkle, Scarlot Harlot, Xaviera Hollander, Sydney Biddle Barrows, Heidi Fleiss, Divine Brown and Hugh grant, Jimmy Swaggart ("I have sinned against you!!!"), Eddie Murphy and the transgender prostitute he offered a ride to, as well as many more sex workers and clients.|
Norma Jean is still happily married to Victor, her lover, best friend and companion since 1975. They live in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, California, with their cats, Silky, Sunny and Miss Kitty. By choice, they have no children.
Victor became disabled in 2007 and Norma Jean is his caregiver.