There are several “tracks” in LA where the whores congregate. Your best bet is Sunset Blvd between Vermont and Western, or you could go farther west, between La Brea and Highland, where the quality spikes a bit. (Or you could go downtown to West 7th between Alvarado and Fig, but this is more the crack ho/junky brigade.) Shopping for whores is like surfing for porn in that you always feel as though you’re settling; but once you choose, it’s an all-in experience. Hookers don’t employ much of a marketing strategy. There may be some suggestiveness in the way they dress, but it’s fairly obvious who the working girls are. They use their eyes.
She begins clocking you as you approach. Then as you drive past there’s a momentary glare incisive enough to penetrate your soul. She knows this thing about you. Then she rubbernecks to see if you’ve hit your directional. Each track is clearly selected for its grid-like layout and short blocks: many side streets accessing the main drag. Cruising past the same hooker repeatedly gets embarrassing, though, because the eyes morph from seductive orbs into beams of judgment. Whores hate a dithering john.
Once she’s in the car, how wisely you’ve chosen is not only more apparent, it’s a nonissue. The decision has been made, and unless negotiations break down, you’ll see the date through. She’ll be visibly flawed up close, but if you’re mentally suited for this to begin with, you won’t chafe at her facial crags or gnarly teeth or weathered hands. She’s a streetwalker, after all, and since you’ve no need to impress anyone, you’ll lower your bar considerably. (Indeed, being in the company of prostitutes was, for me, a valuable experience in that I learned how flexible I could be. When it’s just you and another person whom you’re essentially renting and will never see again, a whole host of ambiguities gain clarity—most notably, the role that reputation plays in everyday life.)
Now the negotiations begin. She’ll ask what you want. You’ll say oral, anal, straight sex—whatever your peccadillo, and if you’re wise you’ll make an offer (forty for head?) Even if she haggles, she’s in no position to be firm and she knows it. If you’re relatively young and nonthreatening-looking, she’ll be so stoked to have been chosen that she’ll agree to nearly anything.
Sex with a whore is fairly mechanical. She sucks your cock with mindless ease, the way a ballerina pirouettes, the way a pizza dude spins dough. It’s just muscle memory, but fun to watch. The bobbing of the head, the stroking of the shaft, the cupping of the balls—all designed for maximum efficiency. Her aim is to get you off insofar as you’ll be done, she can get back out there, and perhaps you’ll use her again.
So, why would you hire a prostitute if you don’t need to? There’s the rock star cliché: you’re not paying for the sex, you’re paying for her to leave, and though there’s truth to that, I felt differently. I wanted to know about her. I’d offer drinks and lines of coke (I never met a whore whose eyes didn’t bug at the sight of powder cocaine) and I’d ask questions. What happened to you? How’d you end up on the street?
They were never tight-lipped, and there was always a striking level of detachment and candor to the storytelling. Invariably there was neglect, abuse, addiction, delusion. I recall one who had an unusually short haircut—a boy’s regular with a side part—so I inquired about it. Her former pimp had shaved her head, she said, to punish her. That was after he raped her. Now she had a new pimp whom she’d met on the track. (Pimps are forever luring girls away from one another, a practice known as “knocking.”) I asked her what she liked about the new pimp.
“He loves me,” she said.
“How do you know?”
“He tells me all the time.”