A big revelation hit the wire yesterday. Belle de Jour -- a writer named after the film by Luis Buñuel -- came out of the literary closet. She's the British woman who anonymously blogged about her time as a London call girl, wrote books about her experiences, and saw them morphed into television form with the Billie Piper series Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Her name is Dr. Brooke Magnanti, and as the Times describes: "Her specialist areas are developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology. She has a PhD in informatics, epidemiology and forensic science and is now working at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. She is part of a team researching the effects of exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos on foetuses and infants." Not quite what you were expecting, eh? Over the years, many have sworn that she couldn't be real. She must be a figment of some man's imagination, writing to make sex work look glamorous and ease the mind of lonely types who buy their sexual gratification. But here she is, 100% woman, 100% real, adept not only at the written word, but also medical pursuits.

On the one hand, I worry that this will inspire Hollywood towards a new torrent of prostitution-laced fare, adding to a business that's already over-saturated as if every Jane, Sue, and Mary have a side gig giving sex for cash. The biz already has more than enough of it, and they really don't need extra encouragement. On the other hand, I find myself enamored with her guts and how perfectly she challenges assumptions on sexuality, intelligence, and artistic flair. Naturally, this made me think about the women of film who defy convention.
categories Columns, Cinematical