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Joanie Stubbs (Kim Dickens) is Cy Tolliver's former madam at the Bella Union. Joanie, unlike Trixie, acts only as the hostess, and not as a prostitute herself. Although she is a lesbian, Stubbs has a long relationship with Cy and is one of the few people Cy cares for, though his increasingly unpredictable and violent behaviour sours their friendship. Often depressed and self-loathing, she was apparently bought by Cy from her own father, who had abused and pimped her younger sisters as prostitutes. Joanie also reveals that her father used her to coerce her sisters to sleep with him—to "see to his needs since mama was gone." As a result, the emotionally scarred Joanie is weighed down by guilt.
Cy encourages Joanie to spread her wings and form her own brothel, though he may not be very committed to the idea. She leaves the Bella Union to open the Chez Amis, importing high-class and experienced prostitutes from the East with her friend Maddie. Unfortunately, Maddie has funded the operation with funds from Francis Wolcott who is violent toward women and has killed prostitutes before. When Tolliver discovers this and tries to blackmail Wolcott, Wolcott kills several of the women including Maddie. Joanie arranges for the surviving prostitutes to be spirited to safety by Charlie Utter, but remains sitting alone in her shuttered place of business with her dreams of independence destroyed. Her spirits are restored by smashing a bourbon bottle on Wolcott's head when he returns to the scene. She also finds comfort in her burgeoning romantic attachment to Calamity Jane. She attempts to rebuild her life by making the Chez Amis into a school house. It is also the refuge of Mose, who recovers there after being shot in the Bella Union.