Thursday, March 22, 2012
In 1984, a relatively unknown beautiful socialite became world famous when her upscale escort service was exposed to the world. Her name is Sydney Biddle Barrows and became known as The Mayflower Madam. Her service catered to the rich and famous and the police were amazed at how well and professional the business was run. She went on to become a best selling author and is now in high demand for her expertise on customer experience. I spoke with Sydney recently about her life today...
MICK: It's been 28 years since your escort service was shut down and the world found out about you. How did your family react to that?
SYDNEY: I come from a very waspy family and there are many things that we don't discuss and they don't exist. That was the way my family's attitude was about this. My mother never once said to me "What were you thinking? How could you!". Nothing at all. We never discussed it like it never happened! That was my mother. The people who are most strongly affected in a negative way by it are your parents and your grandparents, especially your mother and your grandmother. People look at them and say "What did she do wrong?". That's the really tough thing because they had nothing to do with it. This happened about a month before Thanksgiving so for relatives that were more distant, you know they were sitting around the Thanksgiving table delighting in all the gossip! For them it was fun! I'm sure they were breathing a sigh of relief thinking "Thank God that wasn't my daughter!"!
MICK: Candice Bergen played you in the movie "The Mayflower Madam". Are you friends with her?
SYDNEY: I'm not friends with her. She played me in the movie but I haven't really heard from her since. She was very gracious.
MICK: I read that police confiscated your client list or your black book. Was it ever returned to you?
SYDNEY: Never. It would have been nice to have it back. Technically, they should have returned it to me because it was evidence in a case that was never bought. I'm not sure of the technicalities. I'm sure it's sitting in an evidence room somewhere!
MICK: When you were running your escort service, did organized crime ever want a piece of it?
SYDNEY: Not that I knew of. I could tell that they sent some girls in for interviews. Just the kinds of questions they were asking were suspicious. I made the business sound really small. I told them "I don't think this would be the right job for you. The girls only work a couple times a week and they only see one client a night." I said "This is for people who need just a little extra money. We're not really big". I made it sound small so they would not be interested.
MICK: Were you ever tempted to go back into the business?
SYDNEY: Never. First time is foolish, second time would be stupid.
MICK: Do you ever run into former clients?
SYDNEY: A couple of times.
MICK: Was it awkward?
SYDNEY: Not for me!
MICK: Are you still involved in the fashion industry?
SYDNEY: Yes I am! I work backstage during Fashion Week as a backstage supervisor. I've been doing that since 1987. It's a lot of fun and I really enjoy it. That's twice a year, in February and in September. I work for people like Vera Wang, Donna Karan, Oscar de La Renta, Bill Blass when he was alive, Michael Corrs, and a lot of the little people that you never heard of.
MICK: Please tell me about your career today.
SYDNEY: Today I am a business consultant. My area of expertise is customer/ client or patient experience depending on the kind of business that you have. I go on site to businesses and I do what is called a fresh eyes analysis. I look at the business from a point of view of their customer and make suggestions as to how they can make their experience more relevant and more meaningful. Make it the kind of experience that will actually influence
people to give them money!
MICK: I noticed that you have two websites?
SYDNEY: Yes I do! Sydneybarrows.com was unfortunately hacked by Russians so it is temporarily down. My other website is roadblockremoval.com. You've heard of the expression that so and so can't get out of their own way? Those are internal road blocks. Those are things that keep you from doing the things you would like to do. They keep you from being who you would really like to be!
MICK: If someone contacts you for the roadblock removal, is it a one on one process?
SYDNEY: Yes it is. It is completely customized to each individual.
MICK: Do you do groups also?
SYDNEY: Roadblock removal does not lend itself out to groups. It is totally a one on one thing.
MICK: How is business going?
SYDNEY: The business is tremendous! The results that my clients get are so phenomenal. It's great for weight loss, it's great for people who have a hard time focusing, incredible for procrastination and motivation. It's great for people trying to complete something. A lot of people start something but can't finish or simply have a hard time starting. Bad habits and phobias are things roadblock removal can help. I mainly do it for business. The majority of my clients have issues about money that have to do with feeling that they deserve it. Feeling that they have a right to it and the ability to make it. People have receiving issues. They can attract it but they can't receive it. Or once they get it, they lose it. They somehow sabotage themselves out of it. Roadblock removes the stuff that makes you sabotage yourself. We all do it and I get rid of it!
MICK: After work, what do you do in your leisure time?
SYDNEY: I love to walk! I live in New York City. I am equidistant from Central Park and Riverside Park. I put information on my Kindle and find a wonderful bench by the lake that has a beautiful bridge. I go to the gym, I see my friends. I love to read. I could spend 4-5 hours a day just reading!
MICK: Are you close with your family?
SYDNEY: Not particularly. I never was. It has nothing to do with all of the stuff that's happened to me.
MICK: Who do you admire?
SYDNEY: I've never been a fan of anyone and never had favorites. However, I did hear Joan Rivers speak last year. I've never been a big fan of hers because she's little crude and crass for me. But after hearing her speak, I was blown away and impressed by her life story and how she overcame it. So many of us only see her doing something funny on television. This woman has had some life. I thought I had been knocked down a million times. This woman has survived more body blows than everyone we know put together! She has come out on top every single time! I wouldn't want to be like her but I admire her for what she has overcome.
MICK: What are your future plans?
SYDNEY: I hope the business keeps getting better. I'd love to meet Mr. Right! That would be terrific!