Saturday, July 18, 2015
MY FIRST TRICK
So here I am between a rock and a hard place. I can't stay with Greg anymore. I figured out what his scam was. He gets just enough of a check each month to pay his rent. Then he goes around to all of his “fiances” at the coffee shops and diners in town for his three meals a day who don't know he's engaged to like 30 other women too. I've never seen anything like it. The man is whoring for food. I was silly enough to think the guy was serious so if I wind up staying in his apartment I'm going to be sharing it with him and a stripper. So I tell him I'm going to pack up and leave.
His reaction didn't go well. Not well at all. As we're talking an orange tabby is walking across his outdoor balcony. In anger and frustration I guess he reaches out for the cat. I can't believe what I'm seeing as he throws the cat over the top of the balcony and into the street. Contrary to popular thought – cats don't always land on their feet. I rushed downstairs to check on the cat and she's injured. Injured bad. Her eyes are rolling around like she's on drugs.
So I rush the cat to the nearest vet. They tell me there's swelling on the brain from the injury and she probably won't make it. I had been reading these books on faith healing so I figured here's a perfect opportunity to give it a try. Going back into the kennels where she's being kept, I laid hands on her and prayed. I felt responsible. Like somehow it was my fault he did this to that poor cat that was really more of a kitten.
Then I sit down in the waiting area to think what am I going to do. The office manager comes out and tells me the tab is going to be $800 for the cat and it may get even higher. They want $1200 from me just in case they do have to do emergency work. I don't want to move back home with my mother setting fire to the house and the constant mind games. I leave the vet's office and I see a sign advertising a studio apartment for a $99 “move-in” special. If I even move my things back home to my mom I have to hire a truck. Anywhere I'm looking I'm seeing I've got to get some money. Only I've now worked at every restaurant, bar, club, diner, within driving distance in this town. Not really sure I pull out a yellow pages phone book. Yep – I've now been mysteriously fired from every place in town. So where am I going to get a lot of money, and get it quickly?
I called Rock and explained the situation I was in. I asked if he could help me. That's how the game was rigged anyway wasn't it? Make your mark think they're doing you a favor. No one forced me to call them – yeah right. Years later I learned all of it was rigged. I learned they were finding out where I was working and then threatening the owners with burning their place down if I wasn't fired. They knew Greg and sent him after me like a bounty hunter looking for a criminal. They even knew the stripper and moved her in there because they figured I'd want out. They had me figured out and figured out well because here I am now asking these very same people who put me here to now “help me out”.
Rock sighed like he had really hoped I wouldn't make that call. He told me to “come to the club tonight” with a list of the things I needed help with and we'd get everything sorted out. I showed up and he grabs his coat.
“Where are we going?”
“We're going up to the house. I need you to meet your new mentor.” Rock explains.
I thought he meant the house south of the Boulevard where Weldon, Larry and Nick lived. Instead I'm taken to a house a few blocks from the club. What is it with high fences and long driveways with these people? I'm pulling into a gated house with this really long drive and ivy is climbing up the walls. I can't see a thing but the house at the end of another circular driveway. I'm brought into this house with a sunken living room. A big U-shaped couch takes up the whole living room. Big screen TV, black panther statutes, black lacquer furniture, patio doors leading out into a pool and jacuzzi in the back. I feel like I'm entering a womb because everything is dark but warm.
Rock takes me back into the master bedroom. There's a huge four-poster bed that takes up almost the whole bedroom. A big armoire, another big screen TV, and I see what looks like electrical outlets hanging off one of the posts on the bed. I later learn it's to plug in adult “marital aids”. Out from behind this monster bedset comes this tiny little woman with the body of a young child. She's literally only 4'11”, no tits or ass, just this straight tiny body, and her face would break a mirror. I'm not kidding. Her nose turned down like the wicked witch of the west. I can't help but think “this is the biggest hooker of all time?” like everyone's been telling me how much money this woman makes in prostitution.
I'm walking into this bedroom like a lamb being led to slaughter. She can see I'm completely over-whelmed and freaked out. I have no idea what is going to happen to me. Seeing my anxiety – she pats the bed and says “sit down and let's talk”. She then tells me that the world they live in isn't like I see on TV. No one walks the streets, no one is a junkie, no one is doing anything they don't want to do, and most of all no one is going to go to jail. She tells me they have a foolproof “system” that's been working for generations and I have nothing to fear.
Tina tells me she's going to be my new mentor. That all women new to the “family” are given a mentor – like a mother to train them. She even explains it's like in the animal world where the mothers train their young and to think of her as my new mother lion. I blush and tell her “I don't think I'm pretty enough to be doing something like this”. That makes her laugh and she tells me she's one of the top earners in the family making $10,000 a week and she's no beauty queen. I have to admit she's right. I point out however I'm overweight though and she's not. I weighed 150 then. That really made her laugh. She explains to me that I have to get these Hollywood ideas out of my head. That what they're doing is about “game” and not looks. She tells me “honey once you know the game – you'll be set for life. We've got one girl around here who weighs 400 pounds and she makes more than our skinny girls - so it's all a matter of game sweetie" she tells me.
I'm still not getting her drift. She explains to me prostitution is not about sex. Sex can be had for free really. A guy can walk into any bar and get laid. Most of these men have girlfriends or are married. That what we're doing is about offering “attention” and also the “game”. I'm still not understanding. Tina explains to me that “men are hunters for one thing” and that they “love the chase”. She also explains that nothing is more important to some people than to feel like they matter, that they're important, and they mean something. She tells me “your paying attention to someone is what makes you beautiful to them – you'll see. Also, it's about the chase for some men. To see if they can get us to love them - the ones who supposedly don't love anyone."
I'm really confused now. Am I or am I not coming there to learn how to sell sex for money? Tina explains to me that it only appears that way. She likens it to the food and beverage industry. “Anyone can go out and buy a bottle of wine and take it home to drink it. But some people pay a small fortune to be able to go out, have that wine served to them, and they do it not for the wine, but for the experience.” is the analogy she uses to try and help me understand.
Finally Tina says “we need to let Jody answer the phones for a while until she can see how things operate around here” because she can tell I'm just not mentally registering any of this. But I need a lot of money fast. Money I'm not going to make if I'm answering a phone. She tells me “don't worry – tell Rock how much you need and you'll work it off answering the phones”. I'm told that I'll repay the advance by getting 25 % off each appointment, or “call”, that I help book by answering this phone they show me is in the office. A phone that is ringing off the hook. The minute it's hung up – it rings again. It is just non-stop ringing. Tina jokes “you'll never run out of tricks honey”.
They sit me down at this desk and start teaching me the screening process. Mind you this is before the internet. They have been running ads in mens' magazines, the yellow pages, even some of these sex papers around town like the Hollywood Xpress, Screw, Swing, etc. The cover story is a “topless maid service”. We're supposed to charge $150 for a woman to show up, take off her top, and clean their clock so to speak. I'm supposed to explain that the money is for showing up, cleaning only, and anything else they want they have to arrange with the woman.
I could see why Tina was laughing when I met these other woman working for the “family”. Not a one of them is a looker. Tina explains “that's the whole point”. That when these women show up, they aren't beauty queens. But the guy agreed to pay $150 just for them to show up. There's one woman there who is so ugly that she literally makes her income by showing up, being rejected, he pays the $150 for her to leave quietly. THEN he's ready to pay double to get a decent looking woman showing up that he does want to screw. They also do that to screen out the cops she tells me.
I turn to Tina and say “are you kidding me? This one here makes her living by showing up and being rejected?” She tells me out of the $150 the woman gets $75 and they get $75. That if she does four appointments and rejections a day – she's just made $300 a day and so have they plus they've also screened out the cops and jerks. What's wrong with that? No one is breaking the law and the customer is getting just what he was promised – a woman showing up willing to take off her top and clean his house. She even carries a bucket of cleaning supplies with her to the door. I'm amazed because I just can't imagine making my living being rejected all day.
Tina then explains to me “if she really wanted to have sex with these guys – she could”. I'm wondering how that's possible. Tina explains that all she'd have to do would be take her shirt off, go over and rub on his leg, and nature will make him respond. She then jokes “you can make a guy perform if you wanted to you know”. All I can say is that I'm learning about a whole new world that I'd never hear about in my psychology classes in school. I really want to be a psychologist as my long term goal and I start thinking that maybe this is where I'm going to get way more research and training in the workings of the human mind than in that classroom in fact.
They give me hours to answer the phone – or a “shift”. We didn't have call forwarding back then either so I had to show up at the house to answer the phones. They gave me enough cash that night to take care of everything. I was able to rent that apartment, hire a moving truck, and I got myself into a really cute little one bedroom. The vet said the swelling was going down on the kitten's brain and she was going to survive. So I went to pick up the cat. Everything seemed fine except she was blind. I took her home and tried another “healing session” on her. I had this book called “Healing Hands” I figured I'd try on the cat. I don't know if it was the reason – but the cat was able to see again the next day. So now I have my own apartment, I'm on my own, I have a cat even. I'm on my own now I think and doing great.
I figured this would be a perfect way for me to finish school. I could go in the morning to school and answer these phones at night. I thought it was a perfect set-up for me. What more could I ask for? I'd report to work, turn on the TV, and answer a phone. I had my screening questions in front of me, and the script of what I was to say was printed up for me to read, and I got paid cash at the end of every shift. I just thought I was finally getting my break in life. I kept thinking how I couldn't do what those women do who show up on the calls. I also didn't know that answering the phones was a felony charge if I got arrested. They left out that detail in my training.
But I learned that line between what you say “I'd never do” and then “been there done that” moves all the time depending on the situation. After a few weeks of answering the phones, getting to make friends with everyone in the operation, and settling myself back into a routine where I was back concentrating on my degree – I get a call from Tawny about midnight. She starts yelling at me “where are you?” I'm like “what are you talking about?” Where else would I be but answering the phones? Tawny tells me she's there with a “good regular” and Sheri hasn't shown up and she needs a second woman. Then she tells me if she doesn't get this guy's money Larry will beat the living daylights out of her. I ask her “what do you want me to do about it?”
She starts begging me to come. I'm not going out on a “call”. I tell her “Tina hasn't even started my training in that area – I'm still on the phones”. Tawny explains that I don't have to do anything but show up. She swears that I won't have to take off any clothes, or touch anyone, but if a second girl doesn't get there she's going to not get paid and Larry will definitely harm her if she comes home without any money. Tawny even says “if you say no you know what Larry will do to me”. She's right I do. I've already heard the stories about what happens when one of these women with pimps don't come home with their money “proper”.
I push back “isn't there anyone else to call?” She tells me that she has no idea where anyone is, she's called everyone and I'm her only hope of salvaging this call. I tell her I'll come but I'm not taking off any clothes, and I'm not touching anyone. But I don't have the proper clothing. All of the women had these “uniforms” they'd wear. It consisted of garters and hose, along with a corset and heels. Tina explained this was a way to make a man think you're naked but you're still dressed. Over the lingerie everyone wore a wrap dress. That way you could pull it on and off very quickly a couple of times a night. Taking it off was a lot sexier that way also than trying to unzip something or pull it over your head. I didn't have any of that.
Tawny just keeps screaming at me “just get over here” and not to worry about what I'm wearing. I look down and I'm wearing blue jeans, boots, and a t-shirt. Not my idea of what a high class escort would wear but what am I going to do? I tried calling everyone and I'm not getting answers either. We didn't have cell phones or even beepers back then. This was January of 1979. I remember because it was right after Christmas and I could even see some of the left-over Christmas decorations still hanging out on the streets.
I thought I'd go to some mansion. Instead I'm showing up at this tiny rat hole apartment over on Sherman Way and Laurel Canyon. I knock and a man answers the door with dark hair. He looks Persian or like a Saudi Arabian. I can't tell but he's got black hair and dark eyes. He does not look happy to see me at all. But he shows me into the apartment anyway. Tawny steps up and says “let me show you around the apartment”. She then starts to take me into the bedroom area but the man who answered the door says “let me take you” like he wants to lead the tour. I look over and see there's a second man sitting on the couch with a bunch of beer cans all over the coffee table.
As we head into the bedroom, I see the man who answered the door, guy number one I'll call him, reach over to the bathroom counter. He clearly palms something into his back pocket in a way so as he thinks I don't see him do it. When we went to look at the bathroom he starts telling me “oh the toilet is broken you don't want to look in there”. I'm not getting a good vibe at all here. The guy just palmed something into his back pocket, he doesn't want me going into the bathroom, and he clearly doesn't look like he's horny.
As we start to head back into the living room – the bathroom door opens. A third man is coming out of the bathroom and trying to cut us off from retreating. The first man is trying to head to the front door to cut off that access and the second man on the couch goes to block the patio door exit. These men are trying to block us inside the apartment. Then man number one pulls out a flashlight from his back pocket (that's what he'd palmed) and then tells Tawny and I that we're going to “fuck all three of them for free”. So this is a pussy robbery. Now I know why they wanted at least two girls. That way two of them can be screwing while the third man stands patrol.
Tawny pulls a .22 gun out of her coat pocket. For some reason, she hands me the gun. I don't know what to do with it but we have to get out of there. I realize she handed me the gun because she's going to get the front door open so we can leave. The men just stand there staring at the gun's nozzle while we leave the apartment. Her and I run for our cars and head back to the house. Oh my God what a horrible sickening wonderful rush. I feel this high like someone's injected me with a drug. But I also feel like I'm going to puke. I later learn the puking feeling is common with a strong surge of adrenalin.
When we get back to the house Tawny hugs me. She tells me she “knew something was wrong” and also knew these guy's weren't going to let her leave. Evidently she'd called me to give her enough of a back-up to be able to leave there herself. I reminded her she had the gun. “They would have just over powered me and taken the gun if I'd tried that by myself” she tells me. She insists that I had to come to help her get out of there.
But now I'm stumped. I said “if you called me because you were scared and you knew these guys were going to try and hurt you – why would you call me? Why didn't you call Larry to come get you?” being that Larry was her pimp. Isn't that what pimps do? Aren't they getting paid to be the “protector”? Tawny explains “there you go with your movie ideas again – pimps don't get paid to get me dates and they don't get paid to kick someone's ass for me”.
“Well then what are you paying him all your money for?” I'm asking. I'm answering the phone calls. The ads are bringing in the business. The women are going on the calls and now it appears they have to protect themselves out there. What on earth are they paying them for then?
Tawny explains that the only reason we're “allowed” to work in this field is because they have a “man”. That “rogues” and “outlaws” are just not tolerated. I asked her to help me clarify – that this whole operation only works because all the money is going to these pimps? That if we removed them and did this whole company without them that someone would come along and harm us or bump us off or shut us down?
“Now you're understanding – rogues, outlaws, independents, are not tolerated”. Tawny explains as to the role of the pimp. She tells me that without those men behind us all kinds of things would come out way. “Like what?” I ask.
“Well bandits for one thing. There's teams of men who know that hookers can't call the cops. So they make a target of the prostitute, or the madam, or the massage parlor, brothel, etc. They come in and rob the place or person because they know they can't call the cops. There's “gorilla pimps” who will come in and take over – forcing you to work for them whether you like it or not. There's corrupt cops who will come in and do regular shake-downs. Taking all your money, jewelry, furs, etc. to give to their wives and girlfriends or pay for their boats because what we are we going to do – complain?” Tawny explains as she tries to tell me how the devil you know is better than the one you don't.
I then realize this really is a dangerous field and if not for being able to pull that gun – we'd all have been toast. I ask Tawny if she can take me down to get me a gun too. She grabs her coat and tells me we're heading to the gun store now. There's a range there and I can also be taught how to shoot. I tell her I already know how – my dad taught me when I was younger.
When we get to the gun store I show the clerk the .22 that Tawny had and said I wanted “one like that”. He starts to examine it and then lets out a long sigh. “What's the matter?” I'm asking him.
“Good thing you haven't tried to fire this” he tells me.
“Because this clip is jammed. If you'd tried to shoot this gun it would have blown off your hand.”.
I realize I must have a guardian angel on my shoulder and explain I had to use it to back someone off just that night. He tells me “this is the problem with these small automatics – you carry them in your purse and then they jam and they can take your hand off when you do fire.” He suggests this is why I need a gun they call the “Midnight Special”. It's a revolver that's also small enough to load into your purse or even pant's pocket.
“Sold” and I get myself my first “Midnight Special”. I tell Tawny to get rid of her .22 and to get one for her also. She laughs and tells me “it wasn't loaded” like that's supposed to make me feel better. Turns out she uses it just as we used it – just to wave around and get someone to back off. I don't agree with that. My dad told me if you pull out a gun you'd better be prepared to use it. We're still arguing about whether or not a gun should be used for show or real when we get back to the house.
Tina hears us arguing and decides to settle it. She tells us to put our guns in our purses or coats where we'd normally put them. Then she grabs one of the men to help her prove her point. She has the man grab us from behind and restrain us. Tina then says “now – get your gun”. Well we can't.
“Here's what's going to happen if you carry a gun. You're going to think you're safe and not be alert. You'll think I'll just pull it out if I need it. Only when you need it – you won't be able to reach it, take the safety off, aim it and shoot. It all goes down too quick. When you go to grab the gun – he grabs you and then it's over. You can't use a knife because you can stab a guy 100 times and when his adrenalin is pumping he's not going to feel a thing and won't go down. You'll be stabbing him and you can even degut him and he'll still be coming at you. I've been doing this since I was eight years old and I've never had to carry a gun or a knife or a tazer because I use my brain and my mouth. I talk my way out of trouble and it works every time. Besides, you get pulled over with a gun or a big knife and you're the one going to jail and he can take it away from you and use it against you” she explains as to why we shouldn't even carry guns.
She then tells us that she's willing to bet that the problem could have been averted at the phone. She asks Tawny “who screened that call and sent you there?” Tawny explains that she met the guy at the gas station and he'd invited her to come over. “You mean you didn't have him go through the screening process at all?” Tina asks.
“Well that's why this happening. No one is going to tell us his real name, where he works, where he lives, and then leave two dead hookers in his apartment” she goes on to show how this incident could have been avoided if the call had been screened before we even got there. Tina thanks me for coming to Tawny's rescue and then says “Okay I'm going to have to train you two one-on-one. From now on, I'm taking you on calls with me and you're going to learn how to avoid any problems and how to use your brain and your mouth so you don't make the mistake of relying upon a gun again. Also, you just learned why we never go on calls that haven't been screened. What you did Tawny was you picked up a street date because you didn't want to pay the commission to the house. Now you know why you pay the commission and you learned your lesson. Don't do it again.”
“Tina, no offense, but I'm out. I mean I almost just got myself raped and my head bashed in. I don't see any reason to go back for seconds on this. I thank you all for everything and I think it's time I go and get myself another regular job.” I say thinking it's time for me to back out of this whole thing.
“You think you're safe if you do something else? People can get shot sitting in a McDonald's. Women get kidnapped and murdered every day. People get harmed on their jobs every day. Some guy falls into a vat or a cement mixer and he's dead. Anywhere you go, life is a risk. Don't you think maybe it's worth learning how to prevent and deal with that risk like I'm offering to teach you?” Tina says clearly to stop me from bailing.
I can't say she's wrong. I had heard about some poor people sitting at a McDonald's who all got shot because some maniac came in firing away. She's now offering to show me how to be as safe as possible for the rest of my life. It is a skill I can use once I do move on from this as danger does exist everywhere in this world. I'm watching David Carradine in “Kung Fu” on TV and can't help but feel she's offering to teach me like I'm the “grasshopper”. Again, this is not stuff I'm seeing them teach in the psychology classes at my college.
“Okay – I'm in.”
“Good because I got your first date in the bedroom” Tina says as she cracks a smile and escorts me back into her office with the four poster bed.
(copyright 2015 J. Williams all rights reserved)