Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

.A Mistress Is

of a sex scandal, the Bush-era Monica (Goodling) was a White House liaison with the Justice Department who kept her clothes on as she became intertwined in the U.S. attorney dismissal scandal.

It’s in a period of greater sexual discretion, such as the one Washington is going through these days, that mistresses come into their own. The revelations of a local madam earlier this year underscored the dangers of going that route for extramarital sex (Sen. David Vitter and former State Department official Randall Tobias can attest to that). The danger of discovery, coupled with the even greater danger of HIV/AIDS has also made monogamy more attractive.

Studies of infidelity regularly indicate that one or both partners in 25 percent of all marriages in the United States have had extramarital sex. The Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, which carries out periodic surveys, recently found that between 50 and 60 percent of married men engage in such affairs. There are no available numbers for the Washington area, but practically everyone in the District has a story about at least one politician, official, K-street maven or diplomat with what he hopes is a secret life – but very often isn’t. A politico with a religious bent observed waggishly that “keeping women had become more prevalent in Washington than keeping a pet,” perhaps in part because the latter is not allowed in many apartment buildings. A D.C. private detective says the number of assignments he has had from suspicious wives has doubled in the past five years.

In reality, present day mistresses are less likely to be “kept women” in the old fashioned sense. In the past, a wealthy man set up his paramour in her own apartment or house. The modern Washington mistress is more likely to be a professional – or, at any rate, to have a job – but the additional support enables her to live beyond her means. In the 18th century, writes Eleanor Herman, author of a delightful study of the role of royal mistresses, Sex with Kings, a king’s mistress often received a pension from the state for “services rendered.” The practice remains alive in the nation’s capital, where mistresses have been known to receive remuneration from the


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