Prostitution has always held a certain lurid fascination for me. From the nuts-and-bolts (Do they use lubricant? What kind of birth control? Does it
cost more or less for doggy-style?) to the theoretical (What do you tell
your mom? How do you have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend afterwards?
Do you ever have an orgasm?), the subject of sex for money has always drawn me strangely. Over the years I'd spent a good amount of
time musing over these issues with just about anyone who would listen.
Maybe that's why a friend told me to call up a mutual acquaintance of ours named Matt. "Something just happened to him that supports a theory of yours on this subject -- and I'm sure he'll be happy to talk to you about it!"
Intrigued, I spent the better part of the next three days trying to get hold of him. When I finally reached him, however, he was a little nervous. Despite what our mutual friend had said, he clearly had some reservations about talking to me.
Matt told me that he had been running along the Marina Green in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge when he had passed a guy he recognized, Larry. Larry had been on the cross-country team with Matt in
high school some 15 years ago. Matt hadn't liked him very much: Larry had been one of those wise-ass kids -- wheeling and dealing, goofing off but never getting caught by the coach. Ducking his head, Matt pretended not to see him.
The day was windy and cold; he was glad he hadn't stopped. But on the loop back, there was Larry again, running in the opposite direction. This time
there was no way to avoid him, so Matt slowed to a jog as he approached.
"Hey dude," said Larry, obviously surprised, grinning at him in that
same oily way that Matt remembered. "How's it goin'?"
"So, we just bullshitted as we ran, joked back and forth," Matt went on. I didn't know Matt and he didn't know me, but he seemed afraid that I might be judging him. He worked at
the same firm as a lawyer friend of mine, and I wondered if this was going
to be some tiresome sexual harassment story. I'd had just about enough of
"Yes, go on," I said to him politely, feeling as if I were coaxing my cat
out from under the couch.
"Well, at one point, he asked if I was married," he continued shyly. "'No, no,' I said, 'not anywhere near that.' He said he was surprised."
"Uh-huh," I commented. So far this was all so mundane it had to be good.
They were bantering about track and field as they rounded the red brick
corner of Fort Point when Larry suddenly said, as if it had just occurred to
him, "Hey, you should call my sister, man. She lives in San Jose, just
moved here, doesn't know anybody. She's really cute."
"I didn't remember that he had a sister," Matt said to me. "But, whatever. I just kind of mumbled something noncommittal. When we got back to the parking lot, he whipped a pen out of his windbreaker and jotted her number
down on a grocery store receipt. 'Call Katie, dude,' he said. 'You'll really
Two weeks went by, and late one night -- "I guess I was feeling, I don't
know, lonely or daring or something" -- he fished the receipt out of a pile
of papers on his dresser and found himself dialing Katie's number. She
picked up the phone right away and seemed delighted that he'd called. No,
Larry hadn't mentioned anything to her. No, she didn't remember Matt
either, but then again she was a lot younger than Matt or Larry.
"But I'm so glad you called!" she said enthusiastically. She'd just moved to Silicon Valley from Southern California to go back to school. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do yet, she told Matt, but when he mentioned he was a lawyer, she cooed and bubbled. "That's what I want to be!" she exclaimed.
"She was very friendly," Matt said. "Very interested in what I did and was just sort of excitable in general, which I thought was a little strange,
considering she was talking to a complete stranger, after all. Everything
was 'Really? Oooohhh!' That sort of thing."
After 10 minutes of chitchat, Matt said to Katie, "Well, maybe we should get together sometime."
"OK," Katie responded quickly. "I can come over tonight and we can fuck, or I can come over tomorrow afternoon and we can fuck."
There was a silence. Matt thought he hadn't heard correctly. "Huh?"
"It's $200 for an hour," she said, all business. "I prefer cash.
I'll come to your house."
"Oh," Matt said, dumbfounded. "Well, I -- I think Larry may have had the wrong idea when he gave me your number," he stuttered. "I mean, I just wanted to talk to you or maybe ask you out."
"Oh," Katie said. There was a pause from her end. Then she said irritably, "So you're just calling me to ask me for a date?" The pitch of her voice had dropped considerably. "Well, I have a boyfriend. So I'm not really
"She became very matter-of-fact after that," Matt told me. "We talked
a little bit more -- but she definitely dropped the sales pitch mode and
went into now-I-have-to-make-polite-conversation mode. She said she was
putting herself through school and that she'd had a big IRS problem."
"That's why?" I asked. "Hmmm."
"Well, as she put it, 'I really like sex. And I can do it part-time.'"
Now I understood why I was told to call Matt.
"I have a theory," I began. "I speculate that just about every woman in the world considers doing this, for exactly those reasons, at some point in her life. But then she shelves the idea, because logistically she can't figure it
out, or maybe because of some moral hangup. Though I think that it's probably the former. But hey, if you have your brother pimping for you --"
"Well, that's the part I can't figure out," said Matt. He seemed truly
puzzled, and I suddenly realized that his shyness had more to do with looking foolish than looking prurient.
"It seems pretty clear that he's
getting a cut," I said.
"I always thought the guy was slippery," Matt said.
How do you end a failed cold call with a hooker? "Well, earlier she'd
mentioned that she had a boyfriend and that he didn't know that she was
doing this," Matt said. "And that he would freak if he knew. And that
they'd been having some problems lately.
"So, I just said lamely, 'Well, I hope you work things out with your
boyfriend.' She said thank you." I think I said finally, 'Tell Larry I said hi,' and she said she would. She wasn't embarrassed in the slightest -- I got the
feeling she'd been doing this for a while." He laughed. "Really, she just
seemed irritated, like I'd wasted her time. Which I guess I did."
I considered for a moment. "Weren't you curious? I mean, I would be, if I were a guy --" or even a girl, I thought, "-- and if I had $200 to blow. So
"I don't have $200," said Matt -- disingenuously, I thought. Come on, the guy was a lawyer. "But yeah, I have to say, yeah I guess I was ... I mean, I
am ... curious. I mean, now I've had a conversation with her. It wouldn't
be like -- you know ..."
"A real prostitute experience."
"Exactly! It's funny, I always did think Larry was a slippery kind of
guy." Matt paused again. "Hey," he said at last, his voice suddenly springing to life. "What kind of cut do you think he gets?"