Now that she is out of prison, Norma Jean Almodovar does not sound as though she means to sit in her Vermont Avenue-area apartment and shut up.
It's just that under the terms of her parole, she can't practice her chosen profession again--something she regrets because "it was a wonderful job for me. I loved it."
Almodovar is the former civilian Los Angeles Police Department traffic control officer who turned prostitute and let everybody know she was writing a book, "From Cop to Callgirl," that told a lot of things about her police colleagues.
It wasn't long before she was arrested on a pandering charge. The police said she offered to arrange a paid date for another woman traffic control officer. Almodovar insisted that she was set up. In September of 1984, a jury convicted her.
Under California law, that meant a mandatory three-year prison term. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aurelio Munoz, however, considered it unduly harsh punishment and granted her three years' probation--a bit of generosity that the district attorney's office successfully appealed to the state Court of Appeal.
So early last year, Munoz reluctantly dispatched Almodovar to the California Institution for Women at Frontera, where she stayed until August, when she was transferred to a downtown Los Angeles halfway house and allowed to work as a filing clerk at the gas company.
Now back in the apartment where she lives with unemployed actor-architect Victor Savant, whom she married the night before she went to prison, Almodovar remains determined to find a publisher for her book. She says the police seized the manuscript as evidence when they busted her and she never got it back, but she has rewritten it.
She also wants to write a book about "what really goes on in prison" and to run for national office on the Libertarian Party ticket in order to circulate the message that the government harasses people who speak out. (You may recall that she lost her Libertarian bid for lieutenant governor in 1986.)
She also writes a little poetry ("Poems by a Whore," for instance), which she recites with scarcely any prompting.
She says she will try to make a living turning out ceramic dolls, just one of her several skills--the one they allowed her to teach to other inmates in prison.
And, she says, she would also like to lecture and give as many interviews as her parole officer will allow. "I just hope it will keep me in the public eye," she said. "I hope it will keep people remembering who I am until I get my book published."
In the meantime, Almodovar stays pretty close to her apartment. The judge made it clear to her that her call girl nights are over. On the walls are several of her oil paintings, as well as several by Savant. There are also a couple of bumper stickers pasted up. One of them urges you to SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL HOOKER. On the coffee table are several art books--including "Walt Disney Art" and "Great Bordellos of the World."
She pushes her long hair (colored "cherry cola," she says) back from her black jersey pullover and says unhappily: "I believe in obeying the laws that violate other people's rights. But when it comes to my own body, I believe I have the right to do with it what I want. Apparently I was wrong about that."