PRETTY FOR FREE

February 06, 2018:. “PRETTY FOR FREE”
In the beginning of this century there was a part of urban Honolulu that was a virtual open air 24 hour sex market. In “Town” sex workers were women and men dressed like women (colloquially known as “mahus”) who were addicted to crack, crystal methamphetamine (ice), heroin (boy), alcohol, gambling, or some combination of all of these diversions. I never saw young kids on the run from abusive homes contrary to what I had read about areas with high rates of prostitution. I saw people old enough to make their own decisions looking for the quickest way to get the next fix. Money was never saved but entirely consumed by the addiction(S). Once they were zero balanced they’d go back to the “track” or “stroll” to wait for a car to pull over. According to my wristwatch I waited about a minute before a car pulled over driven by someone who had money for me. Not much money. High dollar girls worked in Waikiki and turned the entire $200/date over to mypimps, who seemed to be mostly black for some reason I could not fathom. People with addictions are terrible providers. Our pimps weren’t people. Our addictions were the pimps to whom we turned all of our $20-$100/date. But I digress.
The money was so quick and easy the 30 or so providers who walked the street back then did not compete with each other. Each of us made between $300-$500 a day, every day. We just had to be out there. As far as I knew men had no system for sharing information about the quality of providers in the days before ubiquitous internet access and participation. Many girls stole and word did not seem you travel because they continued to work. I did not steal but I did not try very hard during the car date. I’d “go away inside of my head” once we pulled over to a concealed spot within a 30 second drive. A brief 15 minutes later I was freshening my lipstick and race walking to spend my money. When my purchase was consumed in the domicile of the man du jour who shared my interests and shared my product. My welcome wore out when the stuff ran out. If I wanted a temporary roof over my head I had to get enough money to have something to offer someone else and maintain my altered state. Back to the stroll to make money again, my days, years, life, an endless cycle: zero balancing myself, hustling the money with various antics and adventures, spending all my money with nothing tangible to show for my efforts. For some reason I mostly enjoyed “The Life.”
One night I was in my favorite spot sitting on a low brick wall near a facility that hosted anger management classes for men with domestic violence convictions. I liked my perch because I had had a book in my hand since I was age 3. I felt more like my true self when I was enjoying classic American literature while I waited for a “date.” I read by the glow of the streetlight while watching the traffic in both directions. A two lane street of slow moving traffic doing about 30 mph. The through way was lined by apartments on one end, terminating with a mid sized Safeway supermarket and a Longs (CVS) drugstore on the other. Traffic didn’t move so fast that drivers missed seeing providers and it was easy for a driver to pull over to give a girl a ride. If the traffic was too slow every driver’s actions might’ve been embarrassingly obvious to some who would not want others to know their hobbies.
The street light illuminated my face, out of which my sparkle-lined sunken, sleep deprived eyes sought to lock on the eyes of male drivers. My practice was to make eye contact, then gesture with a clear but not exaggerated tilt of the head to signal for the driver to pull over. If the driver was agreeable he would slow significantly and pull over to give me a chance to saunter up to the passenger side door. If the window was down I greeted the guy and asked for a ride.
One night I saw an older man making a beeline on foot to an older provider. Confident that he would prefer me to a woman about 55 years old, I put myself in his path. Sometimes when guys approached on foot they lived within walking distance. Better than a car date. More comfortable, guaranteed privacy so no cop could roll up. I would take advantage of the shower, I had thought, already making plans for the resources I expected to access.
“Uncle,” I called, using the local standard respectful form of address when speaking to an older person, “Uncle, don’t you want me?” The man had his doubts.
“You? What do you know?”
I knew how to make a perfectly obvious point, that’s what I knew. “But don’t you think I’m pretty?” I was smug because I knew the answer. Or so I thought. I was about to be schooled in another even more obvious point.
“What do I have to pay you to be pretty for? You pretty right now. Pretty for free. I want her because she knows what she’s doing!” He did not permit any further discussion and I watched them leave together, envious that she was closer to her next high than I was.
Thus, I was introduced to the idea that service mattered, maybe even more than looks. This notion was a comfort to the very pretty woman who was not quite as beautiful as she once was, but she was vastly more successful. Clients did not just enter with a smile. They also left with a smile. More on sensual skill, later…I promise.
Of course, I wanted to make people happy as a way to get what I wanted. I did not think that it was important to make someone happy for the joy of.creating joy. Every interaction was seen through the lense of my desires and anyone who did not help me get what I wanted did not exist in my world. The true risk, for me, in the sex work was the endangerment of my soul. I feared that I might lose the capacity to connect with anyone on a heart to heart level rather than using people as tools to be put down when their job was done. I was even more afraid that the day would come when connectedness no longer concerned me whatsoever.

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