But before she can even test out this seemingly misguided hypothesis, Steffie abruptly switches vocational gears after she meets Favor, the handsome pimp hanging out at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Favor, who's described as "beautiful" and looking like he "stepped out of a fashion magazine," wastes no time in giving the impressionable Steffie the Pretty Woman treatment. Bubble baths in his luxurious penthouse apartment, dining at upscale restaurants, expensive jewelry, and of course, being decked out in the coolest clothes imaginable are just a taste of what The Life has to offer.
The Horrible Message:
For a cautionary tale about running away from home and ending up a hooker, the book spends an awful lot of time talking about the awesome fashions you get to wear while street walking, and not much about the gross sex you have to have with random strangers. In fact, they never even use the word "sex," or describe it in any recognizable way. When Steffie, a virgin, turns her first trick, the full description of her introduction to sexual intercourse / having sex for money reads, "It was like being underwater, where you don't hear anything, you don't feel anything." Because evidently, sex is like playing Marco Polo in a backyard pool.
It's cheating if you open your eyes.
That's it. Boning is never mentioned again. Soon, 14-year-old Steffie is making money hand over fist doing that underwater thing -- which I'm now thinking of as "dong snorkeling." She's got a NYC apartment, great clothes, and wads of cash. She's living the life. But sadly for Steffie, the fairy tale only lasts a couple of months. Steffie's heart is broken when Favor decides to cut her loose because her young age is becoming a hassle with the cops. Kicked to the curb with just her ugly original clothes (gross), a dejected Steffie finds herself on a bus heading back home to her previous boring existence.
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How's an impressionable teen supposed to make money in a place like this?
Thanks to an elementary school policy of letting advanced readers check out books from the middle school, nine-year-old me read Steffie Can't Come out to Play back in the fourth grade. As I imagine most of the other young girls who read the book did, I daydreamed of running away to the Big City to become a prostitute. It sounded like a pretty cool adventure.