Friday, July 20, 2007

To Prostitute or Not to Prostitute


This isn't my original blog topic, but I didn't want a whining complaining blog to sit up here all weekend so you get this one!

I was reading an article in the paper last night. It was a rather long article about the Mustang Ranch in Nevada. For those who don't know, it was built in 1957 and was a brothel. The original owner was sought for tax evasion and fled the country. The government closed it down and confiscated the building and recently sold it. Anyway the new owner picked the building up and moved it to a location across from his Wild Horse Club (another brothel). In the Wild Horse club the clients mingle with the prostitutes like at a bar and then they go off. They say the new Mustang ranch will be run just like the old one where the client comes in and the "girls" are lined up and he walks down the line and picks the one he likes.

Where am I going with this? Well, I write westerns and most of my books have a prostitute or brothel in them because at that time women had fewer options. If they didn't know how to read or write it was hard to make a living in a "man's world". For many of the prostitutes it was a meal and a roof over their heads.

But in today's world- why would a woman want to be a prostitute? I don't get it. With all the diseases and having to have sex with any man who picks you... I find that repulsive. But what of your heroines. Which, if any, of your heroines would become a prostitute in say a place like the Mustang ranch and why? What would be their motivation? Money? Sex? Shock Factor?

9 comments:

Karen Duvall said...

I'm with you, Paty. What an icky profession. I can't think of any heroine in any of my books who would turn to prostitution as a way of life.

I think there are women who prefer having a pimp take care of them because they don't know how to take care of themselves. As we all know, it never works out that way and they're usually sorry for getting themselves into that situation after their "first day of work." But by then it's too late. Their pimps own them and they can't get out even if they want to. I've seen plenty of documentaries about this and it's very sad. An endless cycle of sex, abuse, and usually drugs. The pimp hooks 'em, making them dependant, and then he profits from their tricks.

Then there's the escort or call girl, the high class, high price hooker who makes big bucks sleeping with rich men. Many modern brothels take good care of their "girls," providing them full medical benefits, a 401K retirement plan, the works. Like a regular job. Not one that I'd want, but I guess some women consider it an easy life and don't find it degrading at all. Again, they're taken care of. And if they work for themselves, they're high-powered business women who pick their partners and live the "good" life.

I think all these women have a pretty low opinion of themselves and don't realize they deserve more than that. They haven't learned self-respect.

Piper Lee said...

I agree whole-heartedly with Karen, that life would totally suck, but...

If it were a heroine in a fictional story, and she thought she had good reason, or no option but to do this, then I can see where she'd make the decision to do it; however, the hero would obviously be there to rescue her before anything bad happens, or anything too disgusting to live through.

Does that make sense?

I guess what you're asking is, what would drive the heroine to do this; and the answer is, I have no idea.

In this day and age women have too many other options and I can't imagine any woman turning to prostitution unless she had zero care for herself and her life. To me, there is no rational decision to make this way of life your own. So, the heroine would have to be out of her ever-loving mind to choose it.

As for reality, like I said, the women obviously have no care for themselves or morality or integrity, virtue, nothing; they couldn't, and still be able to sleep at night, or whenever it is they actually use a bed for sleeping. :) I just don't see anyone being able to live with themselves, hence the reason so many of them are on drugs; therefore, they are out of their minds. Literally.

In a fictional scenario, of course you could make this happen, but in real life I don't believe that a hero is going to be there to rescue the heroine. No way. Because what would an actual hero be doing in that sort of place anyway?

Hmm... there's something to think about. :)

wavybrains said...

Um. No. No prostitutes in my books. And I'm not a huge fan of "hooker with heart of gold" books either--even by my favorite authors. I have hard time believing in the HEA even when the prostitute had given up the life. I recently read Robin Schone's The Lover which had a former male prostitute as the hero. She gave him clear motivation and redeemable traits, but I still didn't bond with him despite her admirable writing. Her tolerance for squick is way higher than mine.

I don't write historical, so prostitutes won't be cropping up in my books. My heroines are rather sheltered. They wouldn't know any prostitutes and wouldn't consider doing that. But, now that I think about it, perhaps I should have one meet a prostitute and push her comfort zone . . . .

Paty Jager said...

Wavy, whats "squick" mean??

I can see an undercover operation (no pun intended) where a female officer or a heroine who is trying to get the goods on someone could try to work that profession and I could see some funny and scary scenes.

In fact when I get around to writing my female Pinkerton series I've been toying with the operative pretending to be a prostitute to get information and having the Hero (U.S. Marshal)save her bacon when the man realizes she isn't what he thought she was.

But I don't think having a prostitute as the heroine works unless they were thrown into that life against their will. Like a child or foreigner who would have no hope of changing things. In fact that would make an awesome book... Hmmm

Thanks for your answers ladies!

Piper Lee said...

Yeah Wavy, what the heck is SQUICK?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Karen Duvall said...

Remember that old Brooke Shields movie "Pretty Baby"? She was a 12-year old hooker literally born into the life because her mom got pregnant hooking. Baby knew no other way of life and it seemed like no big deal to her, as I recall. That was a freaky movie. That whole pedophile thing came up and, eww.

Then of course there was "Taxi" with Robert Danero (sp?). Who can forget that flick. Remember? John Hinkley went bonkers for Jodie Foster and tried to assassinate President Reagan. There again you have that yucky pedophile thing.

Every prostitute movie I've seen has ended tragically. You'd really have to do something unique and wonderful to make it work in a romance novel. So it would be worth contemplating for something new and totally out-of-the box kind of story.

Danita Cahill said...

I've known two strippers -- and in my mind, strippers and prostitution is really the same thing, women entertaining men with their bodies for money -- one was a drug user who turned into a junkie and had to go through a treatment center. The other was sexually abused as a young girl by her grandfather. From the reading I've done, those two reasons seem to be the main reasons women turn to stripping and/or prostituting. Sad, but true.

Alice Sharpe said...

I think Danita is right. That's what I've gathered from my reading, drugs and abuse.

But I saw a show on TV about a woman who produces porn flicks and was interviewing a young actress who couldn't wait to get into the business. There you have money, sex with virtual strangers in front of a crew and then recorded and sold to even more strangers. There seemed to be a degree of exhibitionism involved but it makes you wonder if there wasn't also some kind of abuse in her past. Still, I wondered if she just thought of sex differently than I do. That plus reading a few pages of an "erotica" book at nationals where the language and situations struck me as being the kind males have traditionally fantasized about and not women (i.e, some romance, please) makes me wonder if women are changing.

So I don't know, but no heroine of mine would find herself in that position unless she was wired for sound and carrying a gun in her cute little handbag. I heard a female cop talk about doing undercover prostitution. It was in Eugene and they were trying to nab the Johns. So she got all decked out in her "slut clothes" and paraded around the sidewalks while her partner stood guard in a van. No one stopped. She began to worry. "What's wrong with me?" she found herself thinking and then laughed, which was the point of this story, that she could feel bad about her feminine wiles because some sleaze ball didn't proposition her on the sidewalk. The story ends "happily" when a truck pulls up to the curb, some good old boy jumps out and says something like, "Hot dog, honey, how much!"

So there you go,
Alice

Barbara said...

Check out http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12069637 for an interview with author Karen Abbott about her latest book "Sin in the Second City" on an elegant brothel in Chicago at the end of the 19th century. These ladies had class and there was a waiting list of women who wanted to work for them. I can't imagine a contemporary romance involving a heroine who is/was a prostitute, though.