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In the Crossfire

Heidi Fleiss tells all in 'Pandering'

Heidi Fleiss, author of "Pandering," says she is far removed from her former lifestyle as the "Hollywood Madam."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Dubbed the "Hollywood Madam" in the 1990s, Heidi Fleiss has returned to the scandal spotlight with a memoir of her experiences called "Pandering."

Fleiss was released from federal prison in 1999 after serving more than three years for tax evasion, money laundering and attempted pandering associated with a high-priced prostitution ring she ran in Hollywood.

She stepped into the "Crossfire" on Tuesday with hosts James Carville and Tucker Carlson to talk about her book and former life.

CARLSON: Heidi, I want to put a quote from the book up on the screen and let our viewers judge the wisdom of it.

FLEISS: OK, give it to me.

CARLSON: Here it goes. "When a girl has sex and gets paid for it, most people call it prostitution and think of it as ugly. It's really an act of caring and consideration. It shows that the man cares about getting her bills paid and cares that she has nice things like cars and clothes, things to make the life easier."

I guess my first reaction reading this -- I thought, well, you know, after being a madam and going to prison, you think you would have learned more about men. Do you really think men go to prostitutes to express caring and consideration?

FLEISS: Well, you have to take every situation into context. And my business, the way I ran it, you have to remember, I dealt with 1 percent of the richest men in the entire world. And basically, what I'm trying to say there is prostitution is an ugly word and it does sound degrading and humiliating. And, say if a girl does have sex with a guy and a guy does happen to give her $300, I mean he is helping her out. Even if he gives her $3 million or $3, whatever, you're helping someone out. ...

I've been out of the business 10 years, but back in my day -- you know I'm not going to do the math right now -- you don't go, say, this one's $500. This is $10,000 [or] this is $5,000. I had a standard rate, but I knew people would tip $100,000, sometimes $1 million.

CARVILLE: What was the most you ever got for one night's employment?

FLEISS: On my best day, I think it was $94,000 in cash. And that's me, just 40 percent. ...

CARLSON: In the book, you reproduce an invitation to the Clinton inaugural in 1992.

FLEISS: Oh, now you would love that. I knew it.

CARLSON: Well, I was sort of interested. Did you go and were you invited?

FLEISS: I was invited. I don't even remember who sent me the invitation, but I didn't go because I was rather depressed then. I was just arrested, but it was cool because from my house you would hear Barbra Streisand rehearsing all day.

CARLSON: You've got in the book that one of the people you met in prison was a domestic terrorist member of a Puerto Rican separatist group, who it turned out was pardoned by President Clinton while you were in prison. Did you feel sort of like maybe you should get a pardon, too? Did you expect one?

FLEISS: No. I didn't expect anything like that. ... Look, I ran an illegal business. I got in trouble. I accept responsibility.

I went and I did my time. It was very hard. It was a women's federal institution.

It was not some club fed. And a lot of cases I thought I might end up there 20 years because it seems like you have to fight for your life in there. And I feel I paid my dues to society. ...

CARVILLE: Ms. Fleiss, your book is fascinating the way that you did it. And one of the things you added is a note on the cover that Princess Di wrote to you. And I want to read to you what she said to you.

"Thanks, Heidi, what a babe. He rocked my world." Did you ...

FLEISS: Now listen. That is in the book.

CARVILLE: Did you procure the services for somebody, for a gigolo or something here? What's going on?

FLEISS: No, no. You know I didn't deal in the business of men for hire. But when people would say to me, "Heidi, I have this really good-looking guy; he wants to work for you," even though I didn't deal in that, I would say, "Well, bring him over, maybe I do," just so I could see what they looked like. But as far as Princess Diana ...

CARVILLE: Did you fix her up on a date?

FLEISS: Of course not. ...

CARVILLE: What was she talking about? Let me read it to you again. "Thanks, Heidi. What a babe. He rocked my world."

FLEISS: Baby, let me explain it to you. How many times have you signed autographs? I sign them all of the time, "My No. 1 client," "My best girl."

CARVILLE: Right. Best wishes. All the best.

FLEISS: Yes. OK, you just get, "All of the best." It's a side of the princess. ...

CARVILLE: No, no, no. "What a babe. He rocked my world." Who is "he" in this? We just want to know who is the mystery pronoun?

FLEISS: It's a sense of humor. It makes -- that's why she was the most popular princess ever because she was human.

CARVILLE: I like you, but your answer is as unconvincing as some of Tucker's political philosophies.

FLEISS: I know what you want the answer to be.

CARLSON: We have a question from our audience -- yes.

CHRIS: Hi. I'm Chris from Beverly. My parents sent me to college to find a career. And, Ms. Fleiss, I just think it would be a shame to miss this opportunity. Could you briefly outline the pros and cons of being a Hollywood madam?

FLEISS: Well, I think that I came about it in a unique time period. And that time period is over. I mean now it's like modems, not madams.

And the world has changed. ... The way money is spent is different [and] the people are different. I'm so far removed from that lifestyle that I really can't give you an answer, except don't do it.

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