The Capital Call Girls

Jim Bunch got mixed up with Austin escorts—first for sex, then for money. When the police closed in, the career state bureaucrat felt he had nothing left to live for.

In the emotion-parched arena of prostitution, Jim Bunch was a fool for love. He signed the many letters he wrote to hookers “Love, Jim,” and he fell hard for the women who sold him their affection by the hour. Bunch had no more business running an escort service than he did igniting a state government scandal. But he did both, for love and money, and paid with his life.

Jim Bunch was but a humbled gray figure in a year that has been shaded garishly by Tonya Harding, the Bobbitts, and O.J. Simpson. When, upon Bunch’s arrest, it came time to tell his story—the story of a state employee, who, from his cubicle at the Texas Department of Human Services, ran a high-volume escort service that was said to involve not only Austin’s most fetching prostitutes but also a blue-ribbon client list of state politicians and the local jet set—he did not perform up to the standards of Heidi Fleiss, Hollywood’s self-promoting glamour madam. Instead, he shrank from the camera lights like the nocturnal creature he was, and ultimately blew his scandalous life away.

Today Bunch’s brother says flatly, “The media exposure is what killed Jim.” But James Almer Bunch’s hidden life was wobbling recklessly long before its exposure and violent culmination. The underworld of prostitution tempted Bunch, his girls, and his clients with just enough hedonistic adventure to ensnare them all. That Bunch was right in the center of the action, where he had always wanted to be, only meant that he could not fully recognize the precariousness of his double life until its inevitable collapse.

HERE IS HOW THE STAGE WAS SET IN 1991: Jim worked for the state, Natalie worked for Aimes (pronounced “Amy’s”) Escorts. Jim evaluated regional Medicaid facilities. Natalie turned tricks. Jim was twice divorced. Natalie was strung out on heroin. Jim loved Natalie. Perhaps the feeling was mutual.

Jim Bunch was 43 and new to Austin, having just transferred from the Department of Human Services ( DHS) office in San Antonio, where he had spent all of his


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