5 Myths About Prostitutes I Believed (Until I Was One)

#2. It's a Mundane Work Environment

Erik Snyder/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Remember on The Office when Michael Scott handed out pointless awards to all his employees? That exists in the world of whoring. There's an official group who picks a "Best Legal Courtesan" every year. There's also a "Best Brothel of the Year" award that looks like this:

Sheri's Ranch
Subtle.

You know how Borat brags about his sister being the second-best prostitute in Kazakhstan? As you can imagine, there wasn't a lot of jockeying for the "best hooker" award. There are message boards for the men who use our brothels, and the guys on there would say they didn't want to "date" a winner because that must mean "she's having too much sex." It's the fucking Mobius strip of double-standards.

NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
"How dare she be good at her job!"

We had meetings every week -- they called them "tea parties," but it was us sitting down with management and talking about numbers. They'd set sales goals for us, tell us how we should be marketing ourselves -- we were even required to spend (unpaid) time online in our brothel's forums, talking to the kind of people who visit a brothel's forums.

Here's a photo of one such tea party. This is exactly what it looked like, not a marketing shot at all (I saw this picture and had flashbacks). I'm not in the photo -- but some of my former co-workers are. The reason those girls are in funny hats is because they do a raffle at every tea party. What, the word "raffle" isn't the first thing you think of when you hear "brothel"?

Slate.com
"Braffle" sounds too much like a Victoria's Secret sale.

There's plenty of good old-fashioned office in-fighting, too. There's a fancy parlor area in the front, and the rooms get progressively shittier as you move further from the "showroom." Girls who were money-makers got nice rooms near the front with private bathrooms. But if you weren't booking enough clients, you got shifted to a punishment room with just a sink.

#1. It's Legal, but It's Still Unfair

Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty

Dennis Hof is the owner of the brothel I worked at, and the public face of legal prostitution in Nevada. He makes a big point of saying that this is different from illegal prostitution because the girls can choose to say no. We aren't supposed to have pimps forcing clients on us. A third party having control over who you fuck and how long you spend with them is inherently abusive, because of course it is. The entire rest of the world works that way; legal prostitution is no different.

Unless the client shows up with a comp card.

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
Stock Photo Lady does a good job of capturing my feelings on the matter.

I don't remember hearing about these on Cathouse, but our boss will occasionally issue people cards redeemable for time with the girls. I knew that when I started, but I didn't know exactly how it worked until our brothel's maintenance man earned one and tried to redeem it on me. He handed it over, so I went down to the cashier and asked what to do. "Oh, Dennis must have given him that. It's good for $300, but the house still gets half. So you make $150."

That was OK. Three hundred bucks won't buy you much, but some guys spend that little. Then she tells me, "You have to let him take as much time as he wants." It was made clear that saying no would be the end of my career. I had a choice, but that "choice" was to let some guy have his way with me for a price someone else decided ... or quit.

Melissa Golden / Stringer / Getty
Would you let this man pick your sexual partners?

The brothels have other ways of screwing us over. We're independent contractors, even though by definition that means we can't be required to do things like keep a strict schedule or live where we work. But the fact that we're independent means the brothels don't need to worry about health care, or any sort of benefits. I don't want to demonize the brothels. This is a service people will provide and receive no matter what, and there needs to be a clean and safe place to do it. But if we're going to claim these brothels aren't like pimps, they should stop acting like pimps.

In the end, I walked out of my time as a prostitute with one great gift: I can negotiate like a goddamn terror. No car salesman or loan officer has gotten the better of me since. Anyone who thinks legal prostitution is a clear case of men exploiting women hasn't watched a 60-year-old investment banker offer $40,000 for a weekend of back-rubs and cuddling. And anyone who thinks what I just described is easy hasn't ever faked a romantic weekend with someone they barely know. Exploitation is a two-way street.

Robert Evans is Cracked's head of dick joke journalism. If you'd like to share your story with him, click here.

Related Reading: Want an inside look at hacking next? Click this link. For a look at life inside prison, let this link guide your way. Shipping a package this holiday season? Let former UPS loader Sara Ohlms give you the head's up.

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