Why I Chose to Have a Pimp
Downstairs, in the back office, is a man. He’s around 50 years old; we’ll call him “Bryan.” Bryan is counting out stacks of twenties and dividing them between plastic wallets. Some of the money is going to the bank to pay the rent on the building or to pay the wages of the reception staff. Lots of it is going to him or his business partner. I don’t know much about his business partner. I know it’s another middle-aged man. I don’t really need to know much more.
I’m not sure how much Bryan earns. I don’t know how much the rent or bills are in this place, only that a few years ago, the cops seized nearly $60,000 in a raid, which seems like a lot of money to have lying around. Considering that the receptionists earn minimum wage and we have to pay a flat fee just to get on the schedule (never mind the cut we pay them from each client), I have to assume it’s a lot, though Bryan frequently complains about the cost of bills and tries to ration things like showers.
I don’t see Bryan often. I tend to work only 12 days a month, and he’s not here every day. When he does come in, however, he pokes his head around the door of the girls’ room and watches us all for a few moments, each of us in various states of undress, curled up in our single beds, standing at the counter doing our makeup, or sitting at the little table eating a meal. He doesn’t say much, perhaps a quick hello, just lets his eyes drift over us one by one. He’s checking on us; not checking in to see how we’re doing, no, but checking on us in the detached way a business owner might glance over a factory floor or a stockroom — making sure everything looks in order.
Bryan’s peep into the chaos of the girls’ room isn’t predatory, though it startled me at first. When he took over the business, he came in one night while I was the only girl working and made me hot chocolate and asked me about the future. We talked about my history degree. If you catch him on the way in, before he has his business head on, he will stop for a chat. He likes to dole out advice, all of it terrible but well intended. I’m not sure why he’s running a brothel, really, but then he isn’t particularly involved unless he’s firing someone.