• Tue, Sep 4 2012

Harlotry: I Worked The Phones For A Brothel

When I was a prostitute, I never posted my phone number on my advertisements. While it may have cut down on my business, I also (correctly) figured that it would cut down on a great deal of prank calls and general cruelty. As a telephone madam, I was immediately available to anyone who wanted to verbally harass a sex worker. At least once every two or three days, women would call me–often in groups huddled around a speakerphone–to call me a slut, a whore, a dirty bitch, and a slew of other names.

The first time it happened, I was shocked and confused. My introductory “Hey, baby” was met with a chorus of feminine giggles. It struck me as strange, since women rarely patronize sex workers, and stranger still because a group of ladies giggling like sixth graders at a slumber party seemed especially unlikely to rent the services of a prostitute. I persisted, softly cooing my next question, “What are you ladies up to tonight?” but was thunderstruck at the response.

“Are you really a whore?” giggled one of the callers.

For a second, I didn’t know what to say. There was no way this could be a sting and, besides, I was familiar enough with the law to know the police couldn’t just arrest someone for simply claiming to be a prostitute… but who calls an escort to ask if she’s a whore? When my words returned to me, all hope of maintaining an even tone–let alone my sexy baby doll–voice were lost.

“You’re not allowed to use that word,” I snapped.

The giggling stopped. “What?”

“That word, ‘whore.’ You’re not allowed to use it. You’re not a sex worker.”

“Bitch!” screeched the woman on the other end, there was some scattered giggling in the background, but it was more nervous than gleeful now.

“Seriously,” I said, “It isn’t okay to go around calling sex workers whores. Besides, I just answer the phone. Even if I didn’t though, even if I was a prostitute there’s nothing wrong with it. The girls I represent probably make more money than you do. And besides—“

But as I was launching into my “sex work is real work / fucking as a job is just a fucking job” lecture, the girls hung up.

For the first two weeks, I tried to use these calls as a teachable moment but every single time they just hung up, sometimes even before I could say anything but “Hey, baby.” Eventually I started hanging up as soon as I heard a giggle

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  • Goldie

    No comments on this one? huh. Well I’m very curious how the women you leveled with responded. Some hung up, sure. But did you ever feel like you got through to any of them? Were any of the women with cheating husbands comforted by what you said?

  • Grant

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and good job on the series. This (writing this blog) might not be the best paying gig you’ve had but hopefully the best. We might sometimes wish and hope the wrong thing turns out right based on our internal motivation and best of intentions or necessity etc, but for better or worse, the wrong thing rarely turns out right for ourselves or anyone else. Smile now, cry later. Or sounds like from your articles, cringe now, write later. Its all good. There is a reason whats wrong feels like ugh. Maybe its all leading up to the novel you’re writing. Seems like you’ve got the material and the talent. Whatever may be, I respect your intentions to resist convention and I hope all is well with you. Best wishes and God bless!