This is What A Sex Worker Looks Like
I left Show World on a high note. I left before I was totally burned out. My soul intact. Sure I had my rough days at the peepshows: an attempted assault here or there or people trying to coerce me in various ways. But I had (and still have) a strong sense of self-worth, an unflinching ability to not betray my own moral standards, an utter reliance on my natural instincts, and a mean violent streak when pushed to defend myself. Being as young as I was and having no family or friends who really had the capacity to care for me- I am surprised I did as well as I did in the sex industry.
I remember taking the taxi home to Harlem, from 42nd Street, in the middle of the night. I had a regular driver. He was passed to me by Pinky, another peepshow girl who had quit. His name was Mikie and he was a big Puerto Rican guy. He would always pull up out front, double park, come in and find me. When I was ready, he would walk me out and drive me home. He’d sit and wait until I was safely inside my building before he would pull away.
I know that being my driver was a highlight of his shift. He’d get his nightly eyeful of ladies in underwear and a little wad of extra cash on top. Pinky had taught me to tip high to ensure his happiness. He was the best, she said. So whatever the fair was (usually about $12) I’d just double it. He was worth it.
Mikie ensured my safety. I knew he would get me from the peepshow palace to my door in one piece. He may have been an ogler and would often ask for my best story of the evening, but he was so respectful of me. He was careful with me.
I needed him. Because frankly, I was alone in the world. I knew darn well that if I were murdered in an alley, no one would notice I was gone for perhaps weeks or months. I don’t know that there is a feeling lonelier than that one.
Less than a year after I quit Show World I found myself sitting on a park bench on the skirts of Central Park. There was a newspaper someone had left behind. On the front page a story about a murder at Show World. A woman, a mother, a peepshow girl. She had been killed in my old dressing room and her body was not found for eight full hours, an entire shift. She laid there beaten and bleeding to death. At the foot of my locker. Her name was Yvonne Hausley.
I sat on the park bench reading the story and feeling sick. I did not know her. But her story reminded me that no matter how tough I may think I am, a predator finds their way. And they so often target the invisible people in our population… the poor, the foster children, the disabled, the aging, the immigrants, sex workers… The best way to fight them is to shine a light on the issues and for the vulnerable to shine a light on ourselves.
I am a former sex worker. This is what a sex worker looks like. At any given moment there are an estimated one million sex workers of every gender working in the world. When you include those of us who have left the industry, our numbers are bountiful. We are everywhere. We are your children, your sisters, your brothers, your mothers… we are everywhere.
Today is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. I would like to dedicate this post to Yvonne Hausley and her children. Your mother is not forgotten and may your lives be blessed.