Updated: Nov 2, 2020
I just had my first "official" tour! Huzzah! Finally the planning stage went into the execution stage. Fighting my imposter syndrome, I met five intrepid friends at the very noisy corner of 14th and Penn to listen to fascinating stories of prostitutes.
What was I thinking during these nerve-wracking first minutes? Mostly about how humid it was, but also wondering if I would recall all of the facts I had desperately tried to memorize over the course of the week prior. I had a script but had to resist gluing my eyes to it. I had a set of fancy laminated historic images as visual aids that I also consistently forgot to use. My voice had to strain over the muffling effect of my mask. I tried to paint a vivid picture of the Wild West-esque atmosphere of that neighborhood during the Civil War era. I saw it clearly in my mind, I hope they did too.
We stopped at Hill Country for our half-way point, and the confusion on behalf of the wait staff was comical. I had called ahead and talked to a manager about a small group of six coming by and getting drinks to go. I had not mentioned the costume in the conversation. She did accept my business card before we left and agreed to let me bring the tour through there again. Hey, everyone's desperate for business these days, right? Mask up!
As we continued our way through the route the drinks loosened everyone up, and there were more questions and comments. The libertarian in the group applauded the idea that women should be able to do what they wanted for a living, including sex work. I agreed, and pointed out that the main way to make sex work safe as a means of employment is to legalize and regulate it, and give them health insurance. Which sort of dampened his enthusiasm. But hey, it made for a fun little debate at the end of the tour!
After I said farewell and thank you to my guests, I slowly strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue in the dark and mused over the evening. It has been a year-long journey to get this effort off the ground. It's finally happening. I can say that I've seen this through, whatever the outcome may be. It is only the beginning after all, the first step into something new and different. How sweet it is, to make that step and think about where the next few thousand steps may lead.
Future tours to be launched are the Ladies of the Georgetown Set, which provides a glimpse of some incredible women who made their way in a man's world; The Harlem Renaissance in DC, which guides you through the U Street neighborhood and introduces you to some amazing people who contributed to the jazz scene and the New Negro Movement,, and finally the Historic Alleyways tour, taking you into the hidden enclaves that served as a safe space for escaped slaves and DC's laborers. Check them all out at www.otmdc.com!