Veteran Madam Brandy Baldwin Pays for Her Sins—in a Convent
A Mormon from Boise, Idaho, Baldwin was a computer programmer before she decided to try a more ancient profession in the 1960s. As a madam, she closed four establishments after police raids—and was almost killed when she fell from a third-floor window during a 1973 arrest. Soon after, she lost custody of her daughter, now 13, from a marriage that had ended in divorce. She claims the injuries from the accident robbed her of any ability to feel sex; in any case, her health was a crucial factor in the judge's decision to remand her to the care of the nuns.
In the convent Brandy's life has been transformed—at least for now. She rises every morning at 6:30, does household chores, then leaves at 9 for a small office she rents in nearby Marin County, where she's writing a book. "The nuns call me periodically during the day to see if I'm there," she smiles. Curfew at the center is early evening, except on Friday and Saturday, when it's 10 p.m. for everyone except newcomers like Brandy. "I tried to watch Dallas last Friday," she laments, "but Sister Bernardine came in and said, 'It's after 10; you'll have to turn it off.' " Still, both the madam and the sisters say the experiment is working. "I'm their first felon," Brandy notes. "I've wrecked my life, but now I'm climbing out of the snake pit." Sister Columba seems pleased with her guest's progress. "She's been very helpful and agreeable," says the nun. "I wouldn't mind having a whole houseful of Marlenes."