I'm NOT a Pimp

As usual, no work for me on Tuesday and Wednesday night. I went camping, which was nice in that the mosquitoes provided me with an excuse to carry on like someone with Tourette's (what with all the random bursts of profanity, often arranged in non-sensical ways). Also, as I told my friends on the way there, "I'm most excited about going camping because I know that there won't be any prostitutes at Buck Lake."

I've had like ten times as many interactions with prostitutes since I started this job than I did in the entirety of my life before then. Most of these interactions consist of a woman waving at me, me pulling up, her asking me if I "want to do a date" or if she can make some money, and me saying "no" and driving off. Occasionally, they're with a john or have money, and I drive them someplace.

On Monday night, I got a call to pick up at a weird complex in Northeast that has like two strip clubs, a taqueria, and a porn shop in the same strip mall, with a weird checkered flag and pink neon exterior design scheme. I was happy that a woman came out, as the dancers at this place have always given me good tips, often very good tips (strictly monetary ones).

This one's going to 13th & Belmont, a nice fare. I ask her how her night went, and she says not very good. She'd had a mix-up with another club where she dances, a really classy place out in Beaverton where she'd tried to call in sick but hadn't heard back from then, so she'd gone out there, but then they told her that they thought she wasn't coming so had called someone else, etc... Anyway, she went to the place I picked her up at so she could make some money. But the past two nights she hasn't been able to make money, the other girls had been doing disgusting shit and under-cutting her. And they were fat, and had nasty pussies to boot.

I ask her how that works, and she explains to me that it's because the two places in Northeast "in my opinion aren't strip clubs, they're brothels." I'd heard rumors before, but never from someone who'd actually been in there, certainly not someone who worked there. She breaks it down for me - they don't serve alcohol, so they aren't regulated by the OLCC. There's a pole and a stage, but the real business is "shows." Men pay $150, and they go in a room with the girls with a couch, a towel, and speakers playing the country music from the main room. And they have sex with the girls. The girl gets $100, the club gets $50.

I ask her why she dances at such a scuzzy place when she's got gigs at two much nicer places, and she tells me that she makes better money there. "Yeah, so I'm a prostitute" she says, matter of factly, which surprises me as she's been talking condescendingly about "the other girls." It's also somewhat disconcerting for me to be talking to a prostitute who isn't patently insane, yelling, or trying to get my business. "I'm a prostitute with morals" she explains - she doesn't try to make more money by cutting guys price breaks to get more business, that's just gross.

I ask her how she got into it, and she tells me how she used to dance at a place downtown when she was 18, and one night one of the customers was constantly complaining about how the girls at the place in Northeast let him touch them, let him do this and that... So she started to wonder what this place out in Northeast was, and she went to check it out once and saw that the girls were making lots of money and seemed to be having a good time. So she started working there, though she didn't start doing anything illegal until she'd been working there about six months.

She's barely 21 now, and she's gorgeous even without make-up on, in her sweatshirt and pony-tail. She sounds so frustrated by her position, so trapped. As I pull up in front of her place, I want to turn around and tell her that she has so many other options, that she's young and pretty and a lot more reasonable and perceptive than half the people I deal with, than a good 95% of the strippers, that she absolutely, positively, does not have to be doing this.

Instead, I tell her that it's $17. She only gives me a dollar for a tip. As she gets out, I tell her to take care of herself. I am not a social worker, and I sense that she already knows all of this, and knows that I know it too. The vibe I've gotten from her is very much that she just wanted to tell someone how unhappy she was, not that she wanted a lecture. And I don't have any experience in helping women transition out of prostitution, etc., etc.

I still don't know if I did the right thing.

Anyway, the way she explained the business to me, I really want to use its name here, because I was just totally disgusted by it. But as a cab driver, if a fare asks me to take them to a brothel, and I do, I can be arrested for pimping. I assume that would transfer to passing along the location of a brothel on the internet, even if it was done in scorn. I guess I could call the pigs, but the cops here are so insane and so unpleasant, and they already (from the woman's account) know about the place, and none of the girls wants to be responsible for the place getting closed. I'd certainly hate it if the whole cab company went under because some drivers let shady shit go down in their cabs, so I can understand that.

And no, it wasn't until a good three hours later that I realized how close to Travis Bickle land I'd come for a few minutes. As my reasonable, female, future schoolteacher friend told me while camping, it's not my responsibility to save other people from the consequences of decisions they made themselves. Especially if they don't ask for my help.


Blogger MJ06 said...

That law I must say doesnt seem to make a whole lot of sence How exactly are you pimping some one out?
They call up the cab companie which distpatches you and you take them where they need/want to go it is not your fault that they want to go to a brothel. The only money you get is off the meter.
So how exactly are you pimping?

June 30, 2006 6:53 PM  
Blogger Crabbie said...

My guess is that the idea behind the law is that by telling someone where to find a prostitute, and especially by taking them directly to a prostitute, you're helping prostitutes to do business and to encourage the use of prostitutes in general. Which is basically true. Just like it would be illegal for me to take someone to a crack house if they got in and said "take me to a crack house." Aiding and abetting, basically. Now if someone gets in and just asks me to take them to an address that ends up being a brothel (or a crack house), I'm fine legally, as they haven't told me what they're going to do there, or asked me to assist them in doing something illegal.

Personally I take the attitude that if someone wants a prostitute, or crack, or weed, or whatever that they'll probably figure out a way of getting to one if they want to badly enough. So I think the law's silly. But I also don't have a problem abiding by it, as prostitution and hard drug addiction can have horrible consequences for people and communities that I'm forced to deal with all to often.

And if somebody wants a ho or a rock of crack badly enough, they'll be able to eventually find one without my help.

July 02, 2006 6:09 AM  
Blogger MJ06 said...

I know I would not want to take any one to a whore house or crack house either.

July 03, 2006 1:58 PM  

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