“VOICE OVER ACTRESSES WANTED $$$”
Only someone impossibly young would answer an ad that has “$$$” in it.
Especially when it’s in the Village Voice, not even Backstage magazine. But I had been back in New York a half hour and was impatient for Stardom.
I called, set up the audition, and off I went to a…
Townhouse in the East 50’s?
A very posh one, tucked in between Sutton Place and Lenox Hill.
The location was odd – a townhouse? in the east 50’s – but did I mention I was young? And probably hung over?
First sign something was amiss – not too many auditions take place in townhouses.
Well, they do.
I just walked out of those. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be blogging, that’s for sure.
I announced myself to the disembodied voice on the intercom, waited patiently for a surveillance camera to scrutinize me, and entered a posh hallway.
I suddenly became hyper aware that this was a MOST unusual setting for an audition.
I climbed a flight of thickly carpeted steps anyway, and was met at the door by a tall brunette who introduced herself as “Katherine” and led me inside.
It was a luxurious apartment. Decorated in that cliched 90’s mauve/grey color scheme. Plush carpeting, tasteful artwork. Two long couches adjacent to one another, and atop, lounged 5 women.
“Lounging” is the only word I can use to describe the way they were artfully arranged on those couches.
And they were dressed in outfits that were a little too sexy for the standard audition. Not completely sluttish – maybe a few degrees south of slut.
My instincts told me something was not right there.
My curiosity got the better of me.
Katherine led me down a hallway into a beautiful, albeit sparsely furnished bedroom. Platform bed, nightstand, fishtank. A vaguely impressionist painting on the wall.
I started to ask questions, but she cut me off gently.
“Make yourself completely comfortable.” And with those words, she left the room.
I sat back on the bed. Kicked off my shoes. Listened to the fish tank gurgle.
Moments later, Katherine came back in. Her eyes swept over me.
“You need to be completely comfortable before we can talk.”
“I am. I’m as comfy as can be.” I gestured towards the fish.
“Nice fish tank.”
“No, I meant COMPLETELY comfortable.”
And now, she used sweeping hand motions to gesture completely down the length of her body.
SHE. MEANT. NAKED.
What the hell?
I hightailed it out of there.
On my way out, a beautiful blonde with pouty red lips – A Debby Harry look alike – made eye contact with me.
She gave me a sultry look of half come-hither, half disdain, and half challenging.
(Yes, I know that doesn’t add up, but when a hot blonde gives you a look like that, you forget fractions).
“Another one bites the dust.”
“Run along, little girl. Phone girls make a lot more money than office temps, but you just keep walking.”
“What’s a phone girl?”
Then it dawned on me exactly what a phone girl was. I hadn’t been reading the Village Voice all those months for naught.
“Is this a whore house?”
She and the other 4 women looked at me.
“Well, we prefer in-house escort service, but sure. We say ‘tomato’ you say ‘whorehouse’.”
They burst into peals of laughter.
I ended up taking the job.
Getting naked is a prerequisite to ensure you’re not a police officer. Apparently, if you take all of your clothes off, you cannot be accused of entrapment.
This is not really a correct interpretation of the law, as I later found out.
Katherine loved my youth, my innocence, and especially my inexperience. No bad habits to untrain.
The gentleman callers appreciated seeing a young innocent girl when they entered the establishment.
She valued that my college education allowed me to sound articulate and artful on the telephone.
Best of all, I was adept at handling large quantities of money, balancing out cash and credit card receipts at the end of each shift and was never off – not even by a penny.
I took the job for 2 reasons.
First – the money was extraordinary.
I was paid $10 an hour, and worked a 12 hour shift – noon to midnight.
In addition, I was paid $5 for every “session” booked. On a good day, I walked out of there with $300 in my pocket. In the 90’s, this was a FORTUNE.
Of course, the girls made 3 times as much, but that was to be expected.
These women were very skillful with certain things–manual sex, for example. They know how to finish up a client in well under the hour.
Or, how to “extend” because his hour is almost up and he’s having such a good time (read: she hasn’t let him actually fuck her yet) he wants to stay for another hour. She’d show up at the front desk wrapped in a towel, looking like a triumphant hot mess, his credit card in hand.
And I’d write in a big fat tip for her, because, well, by this time he’s just crazy about her.
The girls got to keep half of what the house charged for hour ($100 was her split).
They also hustituted the bejeezus out of these men. Even though it was technically against the rules, there were a thousand extras the girls could charge for. You want anal? An extra $300. You want to cuddle? It’ll cost you. Kissing?
Not likely, but some girls might. The other girls hated the “kissers.” They were considered “scabs.” They broke an unwritten rule.
The truth is, as much as the customers wanted to think the girls were really enjoying themselves – sometimes it was good for the girl, sometimes it was bad – but in reality, it was work. Work is work.
I’m sorry. Every man I ever told this to looked like a kid who just found out there was no Santa Claus.
Even though they made bank, I was never tempted to “jump the counter.” Not ever.
This is not, in any way, a reflection of my feelings towards sex workers, but more a reflection of how clearly I understand myself. How much I revere sex, and its role in human relationships.
Besides, I was fantastic on the phone. Phone girls had this robotic spiel we were instructed to deliver – what was included in the hour (French, straight, 69, etc).
I improvised. The girls loved it. I lured in a lot of business this way.
It was the house policy to call the women “girls,” even though most of them were older than me. Nikki, the “Queen Bee” and highest earner, was well into her 40’s.
As much as it was discouraged, I eventually became friends with some of the girls. After all, they had twelve-hour shifts, and often there was down time.
There’s only so much sitting, smoking, ordering food and watching TV you can do.
If you recall, I said I had two reasons for taking the job.
The other reason was Debby, the blonde who mocked me when I first showed up at East 51st street.
She was close to 30, and was the epitome of NY punk. She toned down this look for the job, but I could tell by her tousled blonde locks, smokey lined eyes, and screaming red lips that she had a rock and roll edge.
She had a little girl face and an incredibly sexy body, The combo was deadly.
Half the customers were in love with her.
Eventually, so was I.
Katherine saw me getting that starry-eyed look whenever Debby was around. She was not happy about it.
“Can I give you a piece of advice? You need to learn not to be taken in by these girls. They’re smart. They’ll chew you up and spit you out. Trust me. I’ve been in this game a long time and I know what I’m talking about.”
Her advice fell on deaf ears.
By the time she got around to saying this to me, I was already smitten with the first woman I would ever fall in love with.
And as it turned out, Debby would be the least of my problems…
Tune in for Part 2 of New York Stories: Phone Girl In A Whorehouse
What was your strangest job?
Have you ever known anyone who worked in a brothel?
Anybody feel like (ahem) sharing their brothel experiences?
Talk to me. I’m listening.