Glamour held a book party for columnist and famous widow Mariane Pearl, whose Wall Street Journal-reporter husband was abducted and beheaded by terrorists who taped the whole thing in 2002, last night. No photographers were allowed, so instead of fumbling around frantically writing down the names of people Nikola was shooting I was free to talk amongst the approximately 47 media clusterfuck types present and get drunk. This was nice, because my "soul" has gotten a little weary from constantly mocking Glamour and also, because I wrote a post once about how Mariane Pearl is an unfortunately bad writer I had flattered myself into maybe thinking she had read it. But before I could find my designated media cluster, I noticed three women in flowing garments that did not appear to have been purchased at H&M and/or Saks. I assumed that they were friends of Mariane, who has made it her business since her husband's gruesome murder to try and publicize women in other countries with even more tragic life stories they have overcome to nevertheless Make A Difference, etc. "Where are you from?" I asked one. "Cambodia," she replied.
"Really? Did you grow up there?" I asked. "My friend used to live there and he said he had to leave because it was too depressing, even the NGO workers were fucking 12-year-olds."
"Oh, now it's most popular to have sex with 7- and 8-year-olds," she said. "They like them younger because they think they won't have AIDS."
"Anyway, my family left in 1981, after Pol Pot, and moved to Australia, but I came back in 1992," she replied calmly.
"Was anyone in your family killed?" I asked.
"Yes, they came and got my father, and killed him."
At which point my phone began to ring, for the seventeenth time. It was another media clusterfuck person who could not find the location of the party. "Excuse me," I said. She smiled and slipped me her card. My phone does not work very well, so the conversation took longer than it should have, and by the time it was finished the NGO worker, who rescues young girls from sex slavery, had slipped off. I sat beside a media person.
"Are you covering this?" I asked.
"Probably not," the person said. "I mean, Mariane Pearl is not exactly a boldface name."
"But Angelina Jolie played her in the movie!"
"Yeah, but nobody saw that movie."
It was true. In a town in which being a boldface name requires spending a lot of time getting party pictures taken of you to reinforce your boldface namedom, Mariane Pearl, who had logged, according to an introduction by Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Lieve, 100,000 miles of air travel in her year reporting from hellholes (Uganda! Liberia! Hong Kong!) for the magazine, did not really rank anymore. The space was small, and the book, while produced by the esteemed publisher of the memoir of a graffiti artist friend of mine, seemed like more of a vanity project than an actual literary endeavor. To her credit, Mariane looked really hot, in red lipstick and a pair of wedges. Thandie Newton would have made much more sense playing her in the movie. I had a third glass of wine and then some other stuff happened and then I went to the bathroom.
I saw another lady I recognized as one of the Cambodians; Somaly Mam. (Her name was confusing, because Mariane Pearl had maybe also gone to Somalia, but most people figured it out fast.) Somaly had started an NGO to rescue young people from sex slavery after somehow figuring out how to escape from sex slavery herself. I said something like, "Tell me about how your parents sold you into prostitution."
"It's hard, to talk about your life," she said.
"How old are you?" I pressed.
"I don't know," she said.
"When did you get out of prostitution?"
"I don't know, really" she said.
"How did you meet Mariane?"
"Well it was crazy, because right when we met was when my daughter had been abducted and kidnapped, so all I remember was trying to get her back."
At that moment someone came out of the bathroom and Somaly stood up to use it. I figured out from Mariane's book what she was talking about later: Somaly doesn't know where she was born or who her parents were because she was basically born a slave. (Cambodia killed a third of its population in the seventies and they tended to go after anyone who could read so that might have something to do with it.) Like I said, Mariane is not that evocative a writer — she could actually use help from whoever wrote Jenna Bush's book — and the details are fuzzy, which is a shame, because once you slog through it you're like, Holy Shit, what a Horrific Yet Unbelievably Compelling Story DETAILS PLEASE!
But anyway, the basics:
Somaly was sold into prostitution that she eventually escaped "with the help of an aid worker" and married a French citizen and started an organization to help women get out of prostitution at some point in time that is not clear from the story. In the midst of divorcing the French guy for unspecified reasons, one of three children, a 14-year-old daughter named Ning, was kidnapped by a family friend and taken to Battambang, a province near Thailand, where whores can make more money, and raped by three guys. The police, however, tracked her down, and Mariane was there the whole time.
Also in Cambodia one of the ways they apparently prepare youngsters for whoredom is they put hot chiles up little girl's vaginas.