This article in the New Yorker really resonated with me. I’ve never heard of strippers or escorts being forced to comply with authorities in the way drug offenders are pressured to lead cops to bigger fish, but if any readers refer me to stories along those lines, I’d appreciate it.
The Throwaways cites multiple examples of small time drug offenders, all very young, giving cops way more help than called for at risk of their lives. One such offender was caught selling a whopping eight methadone pills after forming a painkiller addiction that got him in trouble. Eight stupid opiate pills and he lost his life for snitching.
The general public tends to side with police and I think that’s because we blindly trust them to deal with all the ills out there and alleviate the burden from us, the taxpayers. But the volatile relationship between exploited minor drug offenders and cops draws many parallels to sex workers.
The title The Throwaways says it all; once you make the choice to get involved in drugs, either as an addict or dealer, or sell sex in some way, you become a throwaway in the eyes of mainstream society. I appreciated that the article used a white, middle class college graduate as a key example, because, let’s face it, the more similar to ourselves (the judgmental middle class), the more we’ll take it to heart.
In other news, I recently saw For a Good Time Call…. and enjoyed it. Yes, they make the work look like easier, quicker cash than it likely is, montage style. But other than that annoyance, I was glad it didn’t pander to too many chic flick cliches, or involve overdramatized lessons learned. Overall, I thought it was a positive example of women being free with their sexuality in a productive, profitable way, and phone sex was a good route to take, since mainstream culture takes more kindly to it than (God forbid) sex work involving human contact.
I also saw Midnight Cowboy on Netflix without knowing the plot ahead of time. It was awesome! John Voight’s sexy-as-fuck character moves to New York and tries in vain to hustle rich women. His exploits reminded me very much of my early stripping days, when I was a piss-poor hustler, as well as my shitty attempts to use Sugar Daddy dating websites. It’s not overly depressing, but when Voight’s character, Joe, gets desparate and fed up with being jerked around by poseur Johns (and female Johns whatever those are called), the way he unleashes it makes you cringe. Joe gets stiffed too many times to count and toward the end, finally confesses to his partner in crime, Dustin Hoffman’s “Ratso” (Rizzo), “I’m no kinda hustler.” The film demonstrates how difficult it was to “talk business” for escorts before the internet era, as well as how tough it is to collect pay for play when you have no legal recourse (that’s still the case, but although escorts can’t run to law enforcement about an unpaid tab, they can blacklist you among themselves.)
For all the discussion about sex work, I don’t think many people talk about how depressing it is to cross that taboo line and realize you’re no good at it; to throw in the towel before you even pay off a credit card or make that month’s rent. I have felt that way and had my desperate moments. That’s why I gave up on sugar daddy dating sites and made a point to work at strip clubs where the customers were more likely to appreciate me (i.e. the Italian types in Staten Island compared with the 22 year old black guys in Queens who think I look old.)
(John Voight’s Joe gets stiffed by a guy he picked up on 42nd St. who lied about having money. He tries to take his worthless watch and is even talked down from that cause the guy says “my mom will die if I come home without it!”)