Frank Parlato interviewed 3 prostitutes.
Here’s one of them.
You’re not the police right?
She hopped into the car, and I told her I would like to interview her and pay her for her time. Instead of what she normally does with a man, she would be paid for just talking.
As we drove, she said, normally, I just don’t get into a vehicle. I make a man pull it out or make him touch me to make sure they aren’t the police.
I could tell she was nervous. She was pretty. And soft spoken. A gentle, lean brunette. She would be striking, if not for the signs of wear on her features. A tired, drawn, defeated look. She was 30, she said.
Admittedly, I asked blunt questions. Maybe they were too simple. I wanted to capture her views, to draw her out and at the same time not scare her.
Why are you on the street tonight?
Addiction, she said, in a soft, halting voice.
I started on heroin when I was 23. After two years of being clean, I was having a craving to start getting high again. I started smoking crack cocaine over a year ago.
How often do you smoke?
Usually, several times… a dozen times a day. It depends on how much I want to chase.
How much does it cost?
About $300 a day.
How do you pay for that?
Prostitution, she said, in a whisper. Sometimes, I have guys that know where I live. They come by. I like to have a phone, but right now I don’t, so I have no choice but go on the street.
She explained with a sad note in her voice that she gave her three children up for adoption. She hasn’t seen them in years.
They deserve somewhere safe, she said, and almost cried.
How much do you expect to make tonight?
Just a couple hundred. I am not really in the mood to do too much. You get tired chasing.
When is the last time you used?
Half an hour ago.
How much does crack cost?
Nowadays you’re not getting anything nice, unless you at least have $10 and $20 is barely satisfying. $20 is one small blast.
When do you start craving again?
It last for about 5, 10 minutes then you come down and you’re chasing again.
Are you craving crack now?
A little bit, but I’m a little more nervous too. This is different.
When you are out on the streets, aren’t you nervous too?
I get scared all the time.
Then you do not like your work?
Absolutely not! There is a couple gentlemen, of course. You meet some decent people out here. Sometimes I am sad that I couldn’t have met some of these guys before I was using. If I am not comfortable with someone, if it is a cleanliness thing, I won’t do it. I used to carry a bag with me, with sanitizers and baby wipes and everything. I can’t afford it. The habit took over so much.
I’ve been robbed. I’ve been raped. You deal with the dates. You deal with the hustlers. You deal with the men that try to take over. There is always somebody trying to take control over what you do. They see me get into a vehicle. As soon as I come home they try to get me to spend with them or whoever they have with them. I know about 40 crack dealers, just on the east side.
How many men do you see in a night?
It ranges from a couple to, wow … maybe a couple dozen. When I do that, I instantly want to get high, just to take away the way I feel. Most times, I come out because I’m hungry Or something I need or want and after I perform I don’t like the way I’m feeling, so I get high so it just keeps repeating itself over and over. I want to get out, but I guess not bad enough. I’m at the bottom, not as low as I ever have been. I was homeless for two years living in condemned houses. I have a home now.
She told me she had been out three hours that night and had two customers. One she charged $30, the other $20. With him she had unprotected sex, she said.
Did you ever get a disease from this work?
I believe maybe I have, but I didn’t go get checked. Normally I don’t have sex. It is just oral.
Where do you get crack?
I normally go to a phone and have them deliver.
Could you get a regular job?
That habit would not allow me. It consumes you. It consumes your mind, your body, everything. It’s all that matters at that moment.
How do you make money in the daytime?
Most of the time I have my door cracked and most of my guys know that if I have my door cracked, I am available.
She asked me to drop her off at her apartment. I paid her $30 for the interview. She said I was welcome to talk to her again, but the people inside her apartment tonight would be scared that I was a police detective. If I came back, she would come outside.
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