I was hoping the headline to this blog would be splashy enough to draw in readers, but then I remembered that very few people who casually scan the Main Page at Barstool Sports know who Maya Angelou is, so I will temper my expectations.
I am sure someone read the title and said, "Who cares?... I never even liked her in Saturday Night Live."
But for those of you who either read or watch Oprah! it may come as a small surprise that Maya Angelou… American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist… Also sold her ass for money.
Perhaps what's even more surprising is that she was also a pimp for a short time… Whoring out two lesbians' asses for 20 bucks a pop.
Now, sometimes when you look like me and write a blog like this, you have to be extremely careful to include words like "allegedly" or "was rumored to be"… But not this time.
You see, Maya Angelou chronicled her experiences as both a prostitute and a madam in her 1974 memoir, Gather Together in My Name. She did it because she realized that history is not perfect, so symbols… and books… and stories from times that were less than perfect still hold some value, particularly in teaching future generations what NOT to do.
Here’s a quote from Maya: “I wrote about my experiences because I thought too many people tell young folks, ‘I never did anything wrong. I have no skeletons in my closet. In fact, I have no closet.’ They lie like that and then young people find themselves in situations and they think, ‘Damn I must be a pretty bad guy. My mom or dad never did anything wrong.’ They can’t forgive themselves and go on with their lives. So I wrote the book Gather Together in My Name.”
She went on to do many great things but wanted people to know that she wasn't always so perfect… And apparently, she didn't give a fuck what people thought about her past indiscretions.
I'll give you some details of the whoring…
- In her late teens, soon after leaving her mother’s home to make it on her own, Angelou convinced two lesbians she had met when she first arrived in San Diego to let her pimp them out… Not to women, but to men.
- Madame Maya priced them out for $20 a trick, and they split it up to $7.50 for either of the girls, $7.50 for her, and then $5 for the taxi driver who brought the John in… Most of their clientele were sailors on leave.
- According to her book, Angelou was eventually scared out of the industry but years later, in Stockton, California, she met a sweet-talking but dishonest man named Lou, who lured her into sex work… This time as a sex worker herself.
(This would've been a hard pass for me, but I won't judge if a young Maya was your cup of tea.)
What was Maya's specialty?… I wish I knew, but the book does not get granular into what services she provided, and she did not return my calls for more details. Primarily because she died in 2014 at the age of 86.
But the point of this blog is to give you another little nugget of knowledge to have at the ready before you start struggling for conversational topics at Christmas dinner… Maya Angelou: Poet Laureate, Pulitzer nominee, Tony and Emmy Award winner, best selling author, poetess, winner of more than 50 honorary degrees, mother, sister, daughter, wife, National Medal of Arts winner, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, consummate and powerful woman, artist… Was also a sex worker.
And I love knowing shit like that.
Take a report.