Editor’s Note: This is the third of three stories that links the Royal Order of Jesters to prostitution. The first one, published here, reported how 19 members of the Royal Order of Jesters were called as defense witnesses in a federal lawsuit to testify about their first hand knowledge of illegal drugs and minor prostitution while on a fishing trip in Brazil. The second one, published by the Buffalo News three days later, reported that three Jesters, a former New York Supreme Court Judge, a former Erie County prosecutor and a retired police captain, were caught in a FBI prostitution/sex trafficking sting. Two of the three Jesters caught have pleaded guilty to one felony count each of violating the Mann Act after admitting they drove illegal alien prostitutes across state lines to Jester parties. The Jester wife will be referred to as JW. The Jester husband will be referred to as John.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Imagine that you are a wife whose husband joined a social club and was happy with all the networking and activities it offered like golf, poker and recreational weekends. But, after a while, he begins acting way different as he starts travelling more and more. It’s as if you’re just left home while he lives it up because prior to him joining this club, you did everything together. Then, when he’s at one of his club’s weekends, you get a call from a girl on your home phone who is asking about who is going to drive her from the train station to the hotel.
Then the confrontation.
Then the discovery that yes, indeed, your husband is the guy who lines up the girls for the parties.
Gets the prostitutes to the hotels where the club members are staying.
The club is the Royal Order of Jesters.
Here is an interview with this wife.
Sandy: You are married to a member of the Royal of Jesters?
Sandy: How long?
JW: Married 35 years.
Sandy: Was there a pattern of behavior changes as your husband got more and more involved with the Jesters?
JW: When he first got involved with the Jesters, I thought it was the best thing for him. He met many, many men who became close friends. They have a saying, “There are no strangers in the Realm, just friends you haven't met.” He also started to collect Jester and Billiken memorabilia, some dating back to the early 1900's. He now has a very extensive collection of which he is very proud.
He didn't “travel” much at first. That is going to 3-4 day weekend “Books” in other cities.
Note: The Royal Order of Jesters’ parties are called “Books” that involve the members performing the “Book of the Play.” It can be read here. Apparently, the “Book of the Play” revolves around the murder of William Shakespeare. This, according to the Jesters’ website, is how they obtained IRS status as a “charity”:
“The Royal Order of Jester's museum is 5,000 square feet. Founded in July 2003, the museum's purpose is to do research and education relating to the history of the Royal Order of Jesters and Jesterdom focusing on humor, laughter, and mirth, with particular emphasis on the works of William Shakespeare.”
Now, back to the interview.
JW: He maybe attended two a year for the first two years, but by his seventh year, he had 14 trips planned. Finally, I said “enough, where do I fit in anymore?” In all of our married years, John never stopped at a bar after work with the guys. He took, maybe, one golf trip a year without me. We were a team and did everything together.
Everything he did now or anywhere we went was associated with the Jesters.
He was completely obsessed, though he couldn't see it. I noticed how he bragged about being a member. Jesters are not supposed to advertise themselves as being Jesters, as it is kind of a secret organization. But John would wear purple, carry purple emblemmed golf bags, license plates, and boast about it being a strictly stag, luxury organization for no purpose other than to spread mirth. The more I heard that, the more disgusted I became. I also noticed that he was not taking cell phone calls in front of me, or he would go outside to talk. He used to let me answer his phone.
Wives are allowed at only two events a year. One is the Christmas Party run by each local court and the other is the National Meeting. That is where I got to meet some of the friends. I would even meet the local Jesters after a day of recreation and sit at the bar with them. A lot of them knew me very well. I could tell that John was rising in the local ranks.
Sandy: Did you discover this information after lingering suspicions or after one specific incident?
JW: I had no lingering suspicions. I had heard about the girls by accident, about the second year that John was in. He certainly played it down, and told me he had nothing to do with them, they were kept separate, no contact at all. I believed him. I didn't ask any more questions. The Jesters oath is “What you hear here, what you see here, stays here when you leave here.” Every new member must take that oath. He was a bit open with me about some of the things that went on, I guess telling me just enough not to arouse any suspicions. So I definitely discovered our problem after a specific incident.
Sandy: Would you please describe that incident? In other words, what prompted you to search for information?
JW: It happened at the same time I realized how many trips he was taking. As a matter of fact he was at his court’s book, when I received a phone message:
“Hi John, this is Jane from St. Louis. I'm at the Union Station in downtown Chicago and wonder if you're sending a Jester to pick me up of if I should get the shuttle.”
I called him on his cell phone and told him he should train his Jester girls better so they don't call the wife. He of course didn't know what to say. This was on a Thursday. I thought he would come home right away, as the hotel was just 1/2 hour away. He didn't come home until Saturday night, although he did call me later to try to explain.
Sandy: Did you confront your husband?
Sandy: What happened after you confronted him?
JW: When I confronted him, he explained to me how it works. The Jesters have a “pool” of girls. Certain men have their favorites and make requests to have them at the books. It is up to each court's Director to assign the job of inviting the girls, a number based of the number of attendees. (1) In this case, eight girls were invited for between 180-200 men. He says that only about 20% of the men use the girls, but a friend said it's more like 70%. I really don't know. They get $100 an hour. In my calculations, to make it worthwhile, it would have to be more than 20%!
He was asked to do the job because he travelled so much and knew who the girls were and who the favorites were. I believe with all of my heart that he never had sexual relations with any of them. He emailed them, called them or asked them in person to come to this book. He also confessed that he had helped with the scheduling the previous year. They also have a doctor who checks the girls “papers.” John’s Jester court does not pay for plane or rooms. Some courts do pay for rooms. I didn't know all of this went into it. I just thought the guys who used the girls called them and they came on their own.
Sandy: Did he or anyone else threaten you?
JW: I have never been threatened and don't expect to be.
Sandy: Did you report this to law enforcement?
JW: I saw no need to report this, as it was, as I considered, a personal problem. Off duty cops act as guards for the secure floors, so they already know about it. I did however lose all respect for any of the Jesters I have met in the past.
Sandy: What was the most startling thing you found? What was the most startling thing you realized?
JW: What I found and realized is that the Jesters have something that I can't put my finger on. I'm almost thinking in our case that it was because it is a “luxury” organization. It's like at Halloween when you dress up and are something you would never be any other day. That is the closest I can analyze how he felt with the Jesters. They drink only top shelf, money is no object, stay at the best places, dress in tuxedos and get away with whatever.
My husband was a fun loving good husband before this. He didn't need the Jesters to create “mirth” in his life, yet it happened when he was 60 years old. It was like something was always missing from his life. I am not looking to myself, as I gave and did everything to him possible.
Sandy: What impact has this had on you personally?
JW: I did have three appointments with a psychologist. After blood tests, doctor's appointments, and some sleeping medication, he released me and said I am a strong woman. He wanted to prescribe anti depressants, but I refused. After these appointments, the doctor said that he thought that I could make the right decisions. I was so close to divorcing. If we had any money, I would have walked out. I am glad now that it did not get to that.
Sandy: What would you like to tell other Jester wives?
JW: I don't want to talk to other Jester wives. I talked to one, and she was as appalled as I was and also confronted her husband who has been a Jester for 25 years, telling her there are no women at any events. I want to put all of this behind me and move on from here. John and I are doing just that.
Sandy: From what you found, please describe what goes on at these Jester functions?
JW: Other than girls, there is a lot of high stakes poker, low stakes gin, and 24 hour hospitality rooms. The initiation involves “stunts” which I know include nudity, but I don't know much about it. John says they don't involve the girls...anymore!!! They also provide sightseeing, golf, etc. There is a lot of good stuff going on. They end with a black tie Royal Feast on Saturday night.
Sandy: From what you found, is this widespread? In other words, are there others who facilitate prostitution for other Jester functions?
JW: Every court lines up the girls to come to their books once a year. I never knew about any other functions that include them. There is not any other function that John’s court has. They have a monthly business meeting and a yearly book. That is it.
Sandy: Did your husband tell the Jesters that you had found this proof?
JW: Here is the crowning blow. John promised me that he would turn his “files” on the girls over to someone else. I found the girls’ business cards. After four months, I found that he still had it. I was furious. Now there is an edict from Jester HQ that no girls may be at any of the books. The guys were sweating it out not, that not only the wives would find out, but also the authorities.
Sandy: What would you like to see happen? Why?
JW: I am not sure what I want to happen. I think these men need to know that they are not special, even though they think they are. This group is not alone in doing things like this.
Sandy: Why do you want to go public with this information? In other words, why should the public know about what you found?
JW: I just thought before anymore relationships are ruined, it needs to stop. I did my part in stopping the girls coming to books...don't know how long that will last. I also did my part in getting my husband out of the grips of the organization. He harbors no ill feelings for anything I did and never felt embarrassed in front of the fellow Jesters because of it. We have worked together to get our relationship mended.
Sandy: Do you know how the money worked?
JW: I know nothing about the finances or handling of the money. I have told you now everything I know.
The Royal Order of Jesters is a secret sub group made up of invited Shriner leaders. There are about 24,000 Jesters who are organized into about 200 “courts” that are, in turn, organized in relation to Shrine temples. This sameness is spelled out in their bylaws, that can be read here. The Jesters applied to the IRS and were granted two non profit classifications, one fraternal and the other charitable. The charity was formed so the National Jester Court could build a new million dollar museum/headquarters, from which to oversee the fraternity.
The Shriners are classified the same, as the Shriners fraternal raises money for the charity, that is their network of 22 hospitals that provide free medical care to burned and crippled children. The current leaders of the Shriners fraternity and charity are also Jesters.
To be a Shriner, one must first be a Master Mason.
(1) According to court documents, the U.S. Attorney's office describes the Royal Order of Jesters as:
"This organization maintained chapters throughout the United States, including in Western New York, and it was the custom of these chapters to host periodic meetings, usually on weekends, for their members. At most of these meetings, some members of the organization would be tasked to arrange for the presence of women at the meetings, for the specific purpose of utilizing the women to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity with the organization's members in exchange for money."
All copies of material reprinted or duplicated from “by Sandy Frost” must include the following credit line: From http://sandyfrost.newsvine.com/ Copyright © 2008 by Sandy Frost. Used by permission.