Early life and career
Originally from Manila, with Filipino, German and Spanish ancestry, Adams said she arrived in San Francisco at the age of 17 in 1951. She had married twice by the early 1970s and by then had been divorced and widowed once. By her own account, after periods as a florist and owner of an antiques shop, she switched to becoming a madam around 1971 after buying a book from a visiting English madam for $5,000, although half of the individuals listed turned out to be deceased.
Adams operated a prostitution ring in Beverly Hills for more than 20 years. Under the name Alex Fleming, one of her pseudonyms, she sent young women to hotels in the district and on cruises charging $300 for two hours and up to $2,000 for a whole day, including for periods accompanying men to Europe and on cruises in the Caribbean. By the late 1970s, about 80 percent of Adams clients were reported to be from the middle east, specially from Saudi Arabia. She conducted most of her business from her bed using the telephone for discussions with her clients and deciding on their ideal female partner for the evening. According to Vanity Fair, Madam Alex had about 150 women working for her at the peak and was earning $100,000 a month taking a 40 percent cut. Adams assisted Sydney Biddle Barrows, the so-called ‘Mayflower madam’ of Manhattan, informing Barrows of suitable clients to add to her list.