"Funny, touching and ripe with comic surprises."-- Hamilton Spectator

(Seated) Maria Dinn, Mary Ashton, (Standing) Christy Bruce and Patricia Vanstone in the Lighthouse Festival production of Jenny's House Of Joy. 2006


  Jenny's House Of Joy is set in a whorehouse in the town of Baxter Springs, Kansas in the year 1871. In the opening scene, Frances and Anita, two employees of Jenny's, discuss the coming day.
Frances: Cowboys. That's all you can see for miles in this Godforsaken town. Stupid, dusty, ill-mannered, sex-starved, drunken, tabbacca-chawin', bow-legged, unshaven, sweaty, greasy-haired, smellin' of horseshit cowboys.
Anita: Frances, have you got the monthlies?
Frances: No, Anita, I don't have the monthlies. I'm just sick to death of cowboy stink.
Anita: Well, you should do what I do.
Frances: What's that?
Anita: When I get them up to my room, I spray them with perfume when they're not looking.
Frances: You what?
Anita: I spray them with perfume.
Frances: Wouldn't that be like doin' it with a deep-voiced, fat-bellied woman?
Anita: Yeah, but at least she smells good.
Frances: Well, I just hope it's a slow day today. Ya' ever have those days where ya' just don't feel like givin' it?
Anita: Sure I do.
Frances: Well, I'm havin' one of those days. I just don't wanna be touched ya' know?
Anita: Well, think of something else then.
Frances: Hmm?
Anita: When you're lying there, just think of something else.
Frances: Is that what you do?
Anita: Sometimes. Or sometimes I read.
Frances: You read?
Anita: Yeah.
Frances: While the man's up there doin' his business, you read?
Anita: Well, it depends on the man of course. Some men don't care what you're doing so long as they're getting what they paid for. Or you get some who do the whole thing with their eyes closed and they don't know what's going on underneath them anyway.
Frances: Yeah, I've had a few of those. I had a man last week who prayed through the whole thing.
Anita: He prayed?
Frances: It was like he was sinnin' and bein' saved all at once. He was callin' on the father, the son, the holy ghost, the virgin Mary. I didn't know whether to drop my drawers or bow my head.
Anita: Anyway, if you want to take your mind off of it, you should try reading.
Frances: What book are you readin' now?
Anita: It's called Dead Souls. It was written by some Russian.
Frances: Dead Souls, huh? Did you get it from Roland Keets?
Anita: Uh-huh.
Frances: Figured. Does Roland's wife know that he comes around to see you?
Anita: I don't know whether she does or not. Besides he doesn't come around to lie with me. He just brings me books. He says he wants to give me his tutelage.
Frances: Well, I've heard it called a lot of things but never a tutelage.
Anita: I'm serious, Frances. Roland says I show promise intellectually and he wants to give me his guidance. He says books can teach me about the world outside of Baxter Springs.
Frances: Anita honey, there ain't no world outside of Baxter Springs. Not for women like us anyway. Jenny's House Of Joy is the only world we're ever gonna know.
Anita: Not for me it isn't. No, I'm savin' my money so I can travel. So I can move myself up in society.
Frances: Society? You're a whore. Society ain't gonna let you move nowhere but onto the next whorehouse.
Anita: No, that's not true. I'm not gonna be doin' this forever you know. I'm gonna raise myself up. I'm gonna be like respectable folks and go to fancy parties and meet well turned-out men and drink tea with refined women.
Frances: Good God, Anita, do you think that refined women are gonna wanna sit down across a fancy tablecloth and drink their orange pekoe tea with the likes of you? Why they'd spot you as whore as soon as you opened your mouth.
Anita: No, they won't. Roland's teaching me all about that too.
Frances: About what?
Anita: About talkin' properů.ly.
Frances: And how's he doin' that?
Anita: It's simple really. It's just a matter of not dropping your g's.
Frances: Not droppin' what?
Anita: Your g's. Instead of saying doin' like you do, I say doing. Or instead of saying readin', I say reading.
Frances: I see. Well, instead of sayin', 'That's very enlightenin', I say bullshit.
Anita: It's true, Frances.
Frances: Anita, you can dream all you want but there ain't no way you're ever gonna pose as respectable.
Anita: I will too.
Frances: No. You can read every book there is and let Roland Keets give you his tutelage until it's worn to a nub but it ain't gonna change nothin'.
Anita: I'm just tryin' to improve myself. I don't see what's wrong with that.
Frances: You're gonna wind up makin' a fool of yourself, that's what's wrong.
Anita: Maybe I won't. Maybe I'll surprise you. Why I might be sitting in some exclusive Philadelphia restaurant one day sipping a cup of tea with my sophisticated lady friends and you'll walk by and look in the window and see me sitting there. Sitting right there as big as you please. And then what'll you say?
Frances: I'll say, "Look, there's a whore drinkin' tea."
Anita: Bitch.
Frances: That's right, Darlin', and I ain't tryin' to pass myself as anything but.
copyright 2006 Norm Foster