Monday, July 26, 2010

Sweetie, Really, I'm Not a John

Posted By on July 26, 2010, 10:30 PM

By now, everybody has enjoyed Trib police reporter Erin Alberty's beautifully written feature about the State Street prostitution trade.---

It's one of the best articles I've read recently in the local dailies. Alberty's bracketing narrative about "Shopper No. 10" -- a would-be john who was just a bit too scarily persistent -- is simply brilliant. I remained riveted throughout the story, concerned for Alberty's safety, wondering what it was like to be a woman sent on assignment to Salt Lake City's notorious red-light district (which, according to the story, is that depressing, blighted area along State from 13th to 21st South. If you didn't know before where to pick up hookers, you do now!).

Apparently, the pros in SLC tend to dress down compared to those in other cities -- think jeans and T-shirts rather than miniskirts and fishnets. And, this absence of an immediately recognizable uniform leads to confusion. Alberty interviewed one area resident (the "Dude, really, I'm not a prostitute" woman) who gets harassed not only by horny straight guys, but also vice cops -- all of whom assume that any woman walking in the area is employed in the oldest profession.

It's a cause for concern, but fortunately these gentlemen seem to be more annoying than dangerous. Alberty reports a police lieutenant as saying that, in hundreds of vice sting operations, no john has ever attacked a decoy officer.

I myself once or twice have had occasion to walk in that zone. Unlike the women in the story, however, I attracted little or no attention, more's the pity. (In my case, an offer of money for sex would come as something of an ego boost -- but, alas, a burly bear such as I does not hold much interest for the denizens of that particular district.)

On the other hand, I have been approached by hookers who were unobservant enough to regard me as a potential client. Now, I'm no innocent little lamb wandering lost in the woods, but it always comes as something of a shock -- particularly when I'm so obviously not part of their target market.

The first time this happened to me was in San Francisco one evening as I was walking from my hotel down Mason Street toward Market. My intention was to take public transportion to the SoMa district which, in those days, was home to Shakytown's most authentic leather bars. I was so appropriately dressed for the occasion that when a woman approached me, asking if I wanted sex and/or hard drugs, I could only (in my best Laurie Anderson impersonation) say, "Look at me!" -- gesturing at my leather vest, harness, chaps and steel-toed biker boots (and, I'm telling you, it is not easy hauling 50 pounds of black leather accouterments on and off an airplane). What could she have been thinking?

It was then that I noticed the sketchy guy standing in the shadowy alley behind this unfortunate woman. I was pretty sure he was her manager, and required her to accost every passer-by.

There was no way I could see to help her, so I merely offered her the Lady Marmalade salute: "Hey, sister, soul sister!" And I continued on my way.

I've always wondered whatever became of her.

Brandon's Big Gay Blog



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