Ex-Madam Uses Her Sex Skills to Run 'Brothel' for Disabled
Disabled Filmmaker Says to Have Sex Is 'to Be Human'
For 20 years, Becky Adams was one of Britain's top madams, running an illegal escort agency and catering to the sexual needs of thousands of men.
"Madam Becky," as she was called, was arrested several times but never charged.
"But I got to the stage where I was so successful that, in the end, I was looking at going to prison," said Adams, 44. "I had to hide away from the police in France until it all died down."
In 2009, she sold her business to one of the call girls, and in 2010 returned to her home in Buckinghamshire to write a memoir about her exploits that won the Brit Writers Award in 2012.
So now, Adams, now the mother of two daughters, 23 and 17, and a grandmother, has turned a life of profit into one of persuasion.
Today, she is a sexual activist -- still a madam, of sorts -- who uses her experience running a brothel to help the disabled satisfy their sexual desires.
Adams has never had any moral qualms about her work, which has now become a calling.
"You cannot stop a disabled person from having a normal life of having the same opportunities of an able-bodied person -- it's discrimination," Adams, 44, told ABCNews.com. "So I am a facilitator working on behalf of the person to find a sex worker -- and it's completely legal. To refuse to do it is a breach of human rights. I act as their voice and limbs."
In Britain, exchanging money for sex is legal between two people, according to Adams. Only when a third party like a madam or a pimp is involved does it break the law.
"I think the sex industry is like any other business," said Adams. "You have to do what you are good at."
Adams, herself, claims she has never had sex with any of her clients.
"I'm not good with physical contact," she said. "I am better at customer service and the front-of-the house sort of thing."
So she is investing an estimated $100,000 in a fully staffed nonprofit facility for the disabled that will open in 2014. She envisions her unique "brothel" would serve those with both physical and intellectual disabilities, both men and women, gay or straight.
"There are people who have literally spent their whole lives in institutions who have never had physical contact with anyone other than a nurse or doctor," she said. "They have never been held at night by another naked person. And a person who cannot use his arms can't relieve themselves. Literally, they have no way of sexual release, but they have all these sexual feelings."
She envisions a sexual health center that would be handicapped-equipped with ramps and hoists. Transportation to and from would be provided, as well as amenities to help clients with their individual proclivities.
"Remember, disabled people are the same as anyone else," said Adams. "If someone likes to cross-dress and they'd like to come along and put on a wig and dress and be a lady and sit in their wheelchair, they can do that. We'll have makeup and fingernails to put on to be a transvestite."
But for now, she runs Para Doxies -- an old English word for prostitutes -- as a nonprofit, telephone-based service where volunteers help those with disabilities or their caregivers to find trusted sex workers. Adams gets about 12 requests a week and also provides advice from a legal team.
She facilitates sex hook-ups for the disabled for free, and educating sex workers is part of her mission.
But Adams has her critics, especially women's rights groups.
''This is soft focus street walking, it is like she's recruiting for an accountancy firm," said reporter Angela Epstein in a recent interview in ITV. "This is about young people selling their bodies for sex ... We are talking about sex with strangers and I find it depressing and bleak."
Adams argues that she screens her sex workers and her disabled clients.
"I find a lady and make sure to visit and interview her," she said. "It's my duty to disabled people to find out if she is happy to deal with a person with their issues."
Many of those workers provide services on a volunteer basis or for free.
Sex is next to impossible for those who are severely disabled, and they often live with their parents or caregivers.
"How are they going to be private?" Adams asked. "They can't go out without a carer."
When a disabled person is able to make contact with an escort, the experience may turn out to be humiliating.
"She looks at him and is disgusted, and walks away or steals his money and runs off," said Adams.
"And think about all those really amazing people who can't communicate," said Adams. "Our escort agency phones ring all day and night every 30 seconds. If someone calls up and cannot talk, you put the phone down when you hear heavy breathing and think it's a nuisance caller."
Sex Is 'Complicated' for Disabled
The disabled often require an "enabler" -- a third person to help them with their physical needs.
"It gets really complicated," she said.
Services can include a "fluffer," a helper who sets the scene and assists with sexual logistics. One of her clients is a disabled woman with an able-bodied husband.
"She likes us to get her in her lingerie and make her beautiful and set the scene so her husband doesn't have to take care of her tubes and lift her," said Adams. "We are kind of part of their sexual experience by holding things out of the way so he only has to be responsible for himself."
Just recently, Adams heard from a wheelchair-bound soldier back from Afghanistan who is paralyzed below his neck and lives at home with his parents.
Although he has no genital sensation, he wants a "lady who can kiss him all over and he can kiss all over," she said. "Think about the logistics of that. He is a big man, an ex-Marine, and he wants a petite lady. That means someone has to go with her to get the gentleman out of his chair into bed and position him. That's not her job. She is fulfilling a fantasy for him."
It's not always "all about sex," according to Adams. A mothers' group for boys with autism has even requested her services.
"The lads never interact normally with girls of their age and they wanted to pay for someone to spend time with their boys to kiss and cuddle them," said Adams. "That's not necessarily what you would imagine in a brothel. People think of chaps having a load of sex with a busty blond girl -- but it's far more than that. You are educating someone who has never had sex before."
Such was the case with Alexander Freeman, a 25-year-old American filmmaker who was born with cerebral palsy and craves intimacy but has never had sexual intercourse.
"It's not just the act, but to touch another person who feels you are attractive," Freeman said. "If we are denied our right to sensuality, we are denied being human."
He, too, has become an advocate.
Freeman explores the unmet sexual needs of the disabled in a documentary he wrote, directed and produced, "The Last Taboo," which is now being submitted to film festivals. It tells the story of six people with various physical disabilities and an able-bodied partner who was in a relationship with one of them. These individuals share their perspectives on intimacy, relationships and what their experiences have taught them about themselves.
Freeman, who lives in Brookline, Mass., said he'd had a relationship with a close friend in college that ended with no closure.
"She saw that I had those desires and she made me feel good about myself," he said. "But afterwards, I had so many questions."
So in 2011, his company, Outcast Productions, and a team of 30 made a documentary that asked viewers to rethink misconceptions about disability, identity, gender and sexuality.
"I decided to make the film because disability is very much a taboo in this country and I think other countries as well," said Freeman.
He credits editor Ryan Egan, as well as producers Anne Scotina, Andrew Christenson and Gabriella Iarrobino, for lending their skills to make the film a reality.
"I think what she's doing is fantastic," he said of Adams' work. "Because face it, when you have a disability, there are certain things you can't do."
Bethany Stevens, a disabled sexologist who teaches at the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, applauded Adams' work
"Sexuality is central to who we are even though, in our culture, it's everywhere," said Stevens. "We have a saturation of sexual content, but we don't have healthy conversations about what sex is. Then, you add on disabilities, which people don't want to talk about, anyway."
Stevens was born with brittle bone disease and uses a wheelchair.
"We trigger lot of discomfort and fear," she said. "When you bring the two together [sex and disability], see how stifling the conversation gets."
Married to an able-bodied person, she has found that when they express affection in public, they are "socially erased." "Waiters pass us by and they think of us as siblings or one as a caregiver," she said.
The discrimination is based in fear, the "slippery-ness" of being able-bodied, and how quickly a person's physical condition can change through birth, accidents or illness, she said.
Research around the world shows that the disabled are often viewed as "not full people -- sort of suspended in childhood," said Stevens. "The majority of our culture sees us as non-sexual or desexualized, simply because we are not perceived as human."
Adams had not given much thought to the disabled until the nonprofit Outsiders recognized her book. The group runs a sex and disability hotline and other health services to support the handicapped.
"Oh, my God," she said. "I was ashamed and quite humbled. In all I had seen in my 20 years of work in the sex industry, I didn't realize how difficult it is for people with disabilities to have their sex needs met."
She began learning more and joined the speaker circuit. As her passion to help the disabled grew, so did the controversy over her mission.
"Since then, I am always in the tabloids, getting into trouble for something," said Adams, including a comment that she would have "no problem" with her teenage daughter going in to prostitution.
"It's better than banking," she told the press.
For now, Adams said, it's mostly the feminists and not the police who are her worst enemies. But a bordello of sorts for the disabled could change all that.
"I am expecting a legal battle, but I am prepared to fight," she said. "I genuinely don't mind going to prison for this."