Katrina Davidson of Nashville knows prostitution, and it is far from the glitzy Internet photos and diamond-rated prostitutes who doomed N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer this week, reports The Tennessean. “It’s like being homeless, like living in darkness,” said Davidson, a former prostitute. “I tried to stay high, and the only way left to support that high was to sell my body.” Davidson, 40, has been drug-free for more than two years after completing a program at Magdalene House, a residential recovery community for prostitutes, but her former profession is still a major enforcement issue for local police.
Unlike the high-resolution photos of faceless women in lingerie like those on the Web site of Spitzer’s preferred service, the online mug shots of Nashville prostitutes are of faces worn down, aged by drugs and a life unimagined by most. Investigators have focused on Craigslist.org, an online classifieds site that features personal ads with labels such as “casual encounters.” “Most of the time we find they’re just in it for the money,” said police Sgt. Jason Duncan. “Some of them do have pimps, much like street-level prostitutes, but a lot are individuals working for themselves.” Local online prostitutes can charge as much as $500 per hour, 10 times as much as a streetwalker. Police say street prostitutes have declined dramatically. On one street notorious for open prostitution deals, in 1998, police documented 185 known prostitutes; now, there are about a half-dozen.