For 20 years, California writer Fay Ruth Romesburg has been churning out feminist erotica fiction, she says — and the titles alone are titillating.
Take, for example, “The Kinky Feminist,” in which 59-year-old Romesburg “examines female sexual power through the unusual perspective of the sexual anarchy of kink.” Published in 2013, the book is available in paperback for $24.50 on its Amazon page.
Then there’s 1998’s “Extreme Space: The Domination and Submission Handbook” and its 2013 sequel, “Extreme Space II: Kink Secrets: Black & White Edition,” which contain a “dazzling selection of hidden information” that promises to “radically change our sexual futures.”
But it’s Romesburg’s alleged side job that caught the attention of police in northern California: Romesburg and her son, 38-year-old David Scott Romesburg III, ran a 150-woman prostitution ring together just north of San Francisco for about 10 years, police told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The women involved in the ring ranged in age from 18 to 50, police said.
Investigators were tipped off by a property manager in Rohnert Park, Calif., who suspected one of their units was being used for prostitution after a neighbor “complained about men constantly coming and going from the apartment,” police said.
The younger Romesburg had been renting that apartment, police said. And it turned out that police in Santa Rosa had also received complaints about possible prostitution at the home where the mother and son lived together.
Police then found ads online offering nude massages at the Rohnert Park apartment. The postings advertised “upgrades” that were available with the massages, police said.
So on Jan. 26, an undercover officer set up an appointment for a massage. When he arrived, a 19-year-old woman offered him a sex act in exchange for money, police said.
Then investigators searched the apartment, the Romesburgs’ home and a third location — a business called Black Cat Industries, which the Romesburgs were preparing to open “as a gaming and karaoke studio,” police said.
Women who police spoke to during the operation said the Romesburgs had “recruited them for the prostitution business.” The son would post ads online, they told police, and then instruct the women on which clients they would be meeting. The Romesburgs would also take a cut of the money that was made, the women told police.
One woman told police the son wouldn’t let her leave until she settled a debt she owed him, while another woman said he wouldn’t give the women money for basic needs until they had sex with him or performed prostitution acts he demanded, police said.
Police arrested David and Fay Romesburg on charges of pimping and pandering in late January. The son was also arrested on suspicion of human trafficking. Each is being held at the Sonoma County Jail — the son on $250,000 bail, and the mother on $245,000 bail.
But the mother, at least, is pushing back on the accusations against her and denying wrongdoing, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports.
“I’m a writer, that’s my business,” Fay Romesburg told the Press Democrat in an interview at the Sonoma County Jail this week. On her Amazon author profile, Romesburg (who writes under the pen name F.R.R. Mallory) says her works have appeared in “the erotic vampire anthology Bites of Passion, in the science fiction anthology Return to Luna” and beyond. She says she’s written more than 2,000 works.
Though Romesburg denies the charges, she did tell the newspaper that she thinks that laws barring prostitution are part of a “continued assault on women’s rights.”
“I’m deeply concerned about female empowerment and female sexual empowerment,” Romesburg told the newspaper. “We need to stop treating these women as victims. They are highly intelligent and educated.”
The younger Romesburg pleaded no contest to 2003 charges that he had unlawful sex with a minor, according to court records. He also was convicted in 2001 of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, CBS San Francisco reports.
The women police spoke to, as well as the records they uncovered, suggested that the Romesburgs planned to use the karaoke and gaming space they were opening in a shopping center as another place to host prostitution clients, CBS reports.
Fay Romesburg told the Press Democrat there was no prostitution at her home, but added that she did rent rooms to women who were self-employed and would have had difficulty renting elsewhere.
“I may go to prison,” Romesburg told the newspaper. “But I’ve only helped women by giving them a safe place to live.”