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EYE WITNESS

Former call girl talks about her secret life

By Victoria Cherrie
Eye Magazine

This story is from the debut issue of Eye magazine, which will publish Nov. 20. Eye is a free magazine for people who live, work and play in uptown and the central city. It will be available next week at more than 200 locations in Uptown and its surrounding neighbors.

Long before going to work as a call girl for Sallie Saxon, Charlotte's most notorious madam in recent history, Wendy Kohn needed money to pay her bills. Kohn turned to stripping before building an Internet porn site where she talked dirty by phone and had sex on camera.

A divorce forced Kohn to sell most of what she owned and to find a better-paying job. The former model and mother of three reached out to Sallie Saxon, who turned sexual encounters with the city's elite into a multimillion-dollar business before getting caught in November 2007.

HushHush.com promoted beautiful, college-educated escorts for Uptown's business crowd. Saxon charged clients thousands to join and hundreds an hour for encounters. Saxon dubbed her “Leigh Anne,” describing her on the site, Kohn says, as a sweet, innocent Southern girl, who met clients in SouthPark hotels during lunch.

Here's what Kohn, who turns 35 in December, says about her experiences:

At the time I justified my choices by saying it was just business. I needed to pay the bills. Sallie had this way of making you feel so beautiful. But really I had lost myself. For so long I felt no sense of self-worth. I didn't know who I was.

The clients, they all wanted to feel like there was some kind of connection. Most of my encounters with them had nothing to do with sex. It was lust and perversion at its most extreme. Some of them – they were just completely lonely and living in unhappy marriages.

Sallie was very succinct. She spoke to her girls only by phone and called them all “honey.” She also did her research. She knew the address where I had lived when I was in the eighth grade. She knew everything about me. She did the same with the clients.

Sallie's call girls doubled as businesswomen. I wore a business suit with blouses that never showed cleavage. I always had my hair pulled back and carried a briefcase. When I'd check into the hotels I'd say I was with Microsoft or Wachovia in town for a convention. She told us not to talk about the money, only to refer to it as a donation for my time. Clients weren't allowed to wear jeans. If there was a side door, they'd use that.

I refused to do any nights so I could spend time with my children. Some afternoons I had multiple appointments during one-hour time slots. I usually made between $500 and $700 an hour. I'd walk from the Doubletree Inn to SouthPark mall and spend it at Macy's. On rare occasions we would escort someone somewhere else outside of Charlotte. A former NFL player wrote me a check for $2,500 to attend a party at his house near Boone.

My clients were all different ages. Some of them wanted the “girlfriend experience” and swore they were in love with me. I'd sit there and listen to them telling me stories. One regular client, a doctor in SouthPark in his 30s, would tell me about his marriage – how he couldn't get a divorce because of his kids.

This was my gutter. I always wanted to do what I had to do in about 10 minutes. One guy wanted me to suck his toes. … I was already on such a low level I completely did not care anymore. I had become an actress. I'd mentally go somewhere else.

It's usually the most beautiful women who have the worst self-esteem. No matter who you are getting paid to be with, you aren't doing this if you don't have some kind of major issue within yourself causing you to need that kind of attention.

Sallie's operation was sealed so tight it could never fail. She was on top of things so I never worried about getting arrested. She went out of her way to make sure the clients were not police. Once she made a client strip down while she was on the phone with him to prove he was who he claimed to be. It was impossible for her to get caught. When I heard it on the news, I couldn't believe it.

Epilogue: Kohn is no longer a prostitute. After working for Saxon and then as a self-employed call girl, she realized she needed help. Relatives and a supportive church family helped Kohn back to a better life. She is raising her children and taking courses in aesthetics. Saxon is serving a two-year sentence.

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