She was called The Mayflower Madam because her ancestors had come over on The Mayflower. The Biddles in Philadelphia are an old Mainline family, the type that only have their names in the paper 3 times, when they are born, when they get married and when they die.
After moving to the city to work as a buyer for Abraham & Straus, a department store in Brooklyn (which sadly no longer exists), poor Sydney realized that its hard to live on only $18,000 a year (and this was back in the 1970's). What's a girl to do, particularly when she comes from a wealthy background? Why take a part-time job working for an escort service.
Now Sydney never sullied her hands with actually working as an escort. Oh no, she was one of the women who answered the phone and made the bookings. Pretty soon, she thought 'Hey I can do better than this!' and opened her own escort agency called Cache. Quick FYI - escort agencies technically are not illegal. Anyone who has read the back of New York magazine or Time Out sees ads for them all the time. What is illegal is if the girls are having sex with the men they go out with, because then it becomes prostitution.
Most escort agencies turn a blind eye if the girls are making a little extra money for some schtupping, others add it to the bill. Sydney had no qualms about her girls having sex with the men they were paid to escort. She even helped them out, taught them how to dress better, how to talk to wealthy men, along with a few sex tricks. According to Wikipedia: "Unlike other escort agencies, Cachet offered an unparalleled service at the time, catering to the wealthy and powerful who either visited or lived in New York City. Some of its clients included industrialists, high-powered business executives and lawyers, foreign diplomats and Arabian oil sheiks. Barrows was well-known for treating her "girls" with respect and dignity while also maintaining strict codes of conduct to preserve high standards and a reputation for outstanding service with elegance."
She was finally busted in 1984, and when her background was revealed, quickly became a celebrity. After all, it was like finding out that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had run an escort agency. She was beautiful, blonde and aristrocratic. There are just certain things that women of that class just don't do. It was shocking to people why a girl of her background and education would willing set foot in the sex industry. After pleading guilty, she wrote her memoir, Mayflower Madam, which was made into a TV movie starring another icy-blonde, Candice Bergen. She wrote 2 more books and finally married in 1994.
Now she's back in the news, giving her comments on the Eliott Spitzer debacle. "These people have nothing better to do?" Ms. Barrows asked. "We have terrorists out there. We have murderers, we have rapists, child molesters. And they're worried about somebody getting [sex]?"
According to her random sex is less hurtful than say having a long-term extra-marital affair with someone.
"Who are we to pass judgment on other people?" she said. "For instance, if he'd gone and had a girlfriend, now that's a relationship. That is something that is truly a threat to a marriage. A relationship would be the worst thing for him to do morally, but he would be in less trouble for that."
Oh and she says that Empire Club's contention that they sometimes charged $5,300 for high-flyers is exaggerated. Apparently back in 1984, her top charge was $200. Let's just forget the fact that 24 years ago. There's a little thing called inflation, and I'm sure some of those diplomats in DC probably don't have a problem paying that kind of money, not to mention rich billionaires. After all, some people feel the more you pay, the better value you get. Isn't that why some people pay $650 for a pair of shoes rather than going to Target or Payless?
Who next? Heidi Fleiss's comments? Can I just say that Ms. Fleiss always looked like 5 miles of bad road.