On Wednesday, the CIA announced that Deputy Director Michael Morell would be replaced by White House lawyer Avril Haines. It didn’t take long for media outlets to poke around and find some intriguing elements from Haines’ past. Perhaps the most odd tidbit is the notion that she once read sexy novels aloud at a bookstore she co-owned years ago. These readings would take place on designated “erotica nights.”
Since leaving behind her literary career, Haines has built up quite a fascinating and impressive resume. Before being nominated to the CIA’s number two role, she worked in the White House Counsel’s office, the Daily Beast notes, where she approved covert actions and served as a liaison between Obama and the CIA.
And a biography presented on the FORA.tv website in 2011 read as follows:
Avril Haines is the Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. She was formerly the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Majority on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations during the 110th Congress and prior to that, Avril served as an attorney adviser and a deputy assistant legal adviser at the U.S. Department of State, where she worked on treaty affairs and the law of war (serving in Iraq for a short period).
Avril was a legal officer at the Hague Conference on Private International Law and has published in the area of private international law and international humanitarian law. Over the course of her career, she has represented the United States on delegations to the Hague Conference, the United Nations, and elsewhere. Avril clerked for Chief Judge Danny Boggs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
These impressive details aside, her activities nearly two decades ago are certainly worth noting. The Beast provides some details:
…20 years ago, Haines opened and co-owned Adrian’s Book Café in the Baltimore waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point. She opened Adrian’s after dropping out of a graduate program in physics at Johns Hopkins University. The store featured regular “Erotica Nights.” including dinner and a series of readings by guests of published work or their own prose, according to a 1995 report in the Baltimore Sun; couples could attend for $30, while singles paid $17. [...]
But her bookstore was hardly defined by erotica (which was shelved between self-help and parenting), stocking titles from a variety of smaller publishing houses and local authors, and offering a café. Haines was also well respected in the close-knit waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point, according to former neighbors.
One of them, long-time neighborhood fixture Steve Bunker, who has since retired to Maine, raved about Haines to The Daily Beast, saying “She’s brilliant, has a genius IQ, is easy to work with, and reliable.” He recalled going to New Year’s Eve parties with her at the $22 million dollar townhouses then owned by her father, Dr. Thomas Haines, a liberal activist and noted chemist, on the Upper West Side of New York.
In a 1995 interview about Adrian’s Book Café with the Baltimore Sun, Haines was candid about the popularity of the sex-themed book readings. At first, she apparently wasn’t sold on the idea of hosting erotica readings, as she viewed the theme as pornographic in nature, but after reading some stories, her views changed.
“Erotica has become more prevalent because people are trying to have sex without having sex,” she told the Sun at the time. “Others are trying to find new fantasies to make their monogamous relationships more satisfying. … What the erotic offers is spontaneity, twists and turns. And it affects everyone.”
She continued, noting that she got some push-back in the 1990s from friends who teased about the store.
“We were terrified who might show up. We thought it would be a bunch of dirty old men,” Haines also said at the time. “And a lot of our friends gave us a hard time. They said, ‘You just want a mass orgy in your bookstore.’”
Years after this intriguing career choice, it seems Haines, who is clearly well-liked by who have worked with her, will be leading one of America’s most covert agencies.
(H/T: Daily Beast)