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My last interview was with Alan, over near the United Nations Building. Once again, I called, as instructed, from a nearby street corner to get the specific address. After that, though, everything went differently. First of all, it was my first time being interviewed by a man. Also, unlike Jackie and Kelly, he had given me a preliminary interview on the phone before setting up an actual in-person interview—and he hadn’t wasted any time getting to the point.
“This is about sex. You know that, right?”
I muttered something affirmative, too taken aback by the way the phone call was going to say anything lucid. All I had really been prepared to do was jot down the address of a convenient payphone and schedule a meeting time, and here he was, direct and in my face.
“Everything that advertises in the adult section is about sex.”
“Right. I know that,” I replied, still caught totally off guard. All I’d expected was the usual cursory, two-second phone conversation. I also knew for a fact that this wasn’t exactly true. I’d done plenty of work that hadn’t involved sex, so I wasn’t sure what Alan was trying to imply, or why he was being so damn direct, but I wasn’t going to argue. I was too interested in where our conversation was going.
“So I’ll tell you about our operation,” he said smoothly. “We’ve got a condo near the U.N. We do in-house calls and out-calls. Since you’re new, we’d start you on the in-house calls. You’ll make less money, but it’s definitely safer.”
“Okay,” I replied.
I appreciated his emphasis on safety, and I appreciated his candor, but it seemed completely out of place compared to what I was quickly assuming to be the standard in this business. I tried to pretend this conversation was going exactly as I’d expected and thought about those aforementioned safety issues. Wherever Alan was going with our phone interview, I knew that I didn’t care how much money I’d be making if it entailed sodomy or rape. Anything over $70 an hour was good money for me, and if safety was guaranteed, that would be even better. Maybe Alan was onto something with the in-call system.
“We deal only with regulars. The woman who runs the place doesn’t advertise. She’s been doing this for over fifteen years, and she doesn’t need to.”
Another agency that specialized in regulars. I didn’t know who the woman running the place was, and Alan never mentioned her by name. I wondered if she was some glamorous old lady who lorded over the in-house Manhattan escort scene. Would she be so glamorous, in fact, that she never came into work, just sitting at home with her little black book while Alan did the dirty work?
“How often would you want me to work?” I asked.
“We’d want you to work three nights a week, from five to twelve.”
“Would two nights be okay?” I couldn’t handle too many nights, and I really didn’t need that much money. It was more important that I be able to balance this job with my other full-time one than to be so flush with cash.
“We could start off with that and see how it works out,” he replied, sounding flexible and eager to please.
I felt optimistic. “I work until five, five-thirty at my regular job. Would it be a problem if I didn’t start my shift there until six?”
“That’s fine.” The rules seemed easily bendable, and Alan appeared anxious to accommodate. “You’d have to do a trial day, anyway. We’d start you off with one day just to see how you work out.”
“Okay.” A trial day sounded fine since I was pretty curious to see how they’d work out, too.
“So what do you do other than this?”
Alan started asking me about my job at the museum. Ironically enough, it turned out that he was a member of the museum I worked for, or at least that was what he told me, and he wanted to discuss various aspects of our exhibitions. That was the last thing I wanted to discuss, but I didn’t have much of a choice, so I indulged him for a few minutes. I didn’t tell the people I met through the porn work about my real job, and I didn’t tell the people at my real job about my porn work. I told Alan what he wanted to hear, as begrudgingly and tersely as possible.
“So when can you come in for an interview?” After a couple minutes, Alan finally cut to the chase.
“Whoa. You’re on the ball!” He sounded completely astonished. “I like that. What time is good for you?”
“Seven thirty?” That would fit in right after my earlier interview with Jackie.
“That’s perfect. Do you have a cell phone?”
“Good. I hate them.” Alan laughed. “We don’t like to have them here. There’s a pay phone on the corner of 48th and 3rd Avenue. Call this number from there, and we’ll give you the address.”
Finally, the conversation had taken a familiar turn.
So there I was, on 48th and 3rd Avenue, feeling like I had passed my preliminary phone interview with flying colors. I called the number Alan had given me and got the exact location. It was a very fancy brownstone with a gold plaque for the address number. When I got there, the front gate was unlocked. I went through, pushed open a thick wooden door, and pressed a red buzzer next to a second door, this one made out of glass.
I was let in by a cute girl with short blonde hair. She was wearing a turtleneck and slim pants and definitely didn’t seem glamorous enough to be doing escort work. Maybe she was just a phone or door girl? She took me up the stairs to a room that looked like a wealthy family’s living room, complete with two couches, a television, and an enormous Christmas tree with carefully coordinated presents scattered around the base. There were no ornaments on the tree. The room was dimly lit, and there was classical music playing quietly in the background. It seemed like a movie set.
Alan was there, waiting for me. He had curly brown hair and incredibly huge eyebrows that stuck out over the edges of his wire-rim glasses. He was also wearing a tight cotton turtleneck that accentuated his stocky build. Why was everyone here wearing a turtleneck?
After shaking my hand, he sat down heavily on one of the couches, motioning me to sit across from him. He repeated most of the information that I’d already heard over the phone, telling me about the agency and about my potential job there, before asking about my stripping experience.
“I used to dance in Connecticut, before I moved to New York.”
“Just a small bar. Valentino’s.”
He shook his head. “Haven’t heard of it.”
“That’s okay.” I knew there was no way he would have heard about a tiny dive bar in central Connecticut, but I tried to make it sound as if, had he really been in the know, he would have heard about it. “I was only there for a few months. Then I came to New York.”
“I’ve dated a lot of dancers,” Alan said confidentially, leaning back on the couch. “I know it’s hard work. People don’t appreciate how hard it is.”
I couldn’t imagine anyone pretty enough to be a dancer dating someone that looked like him.
“Do you think stripping is harder than doing this?” I asked, curious for a comparison.
He thought about that for a second. “I think it might be. All we do here is sucking and fucking.” He was totally serious. I had to use the utmost self-control not to laugh in his face. “I’ve had girls tell me that they don’t care about the fucking, but they can’t stand listening to the things the men say. That’s what gets really hard. The sucking and fucking is easy. That’s standard stuff.”
I nodded again, his lecturing tone making me feel like I was in school.
“We get a lot of stockbrokers here. They want someone to listen to them, to laugh at their jokes. They want to feel interesting. Some of the things they say are so incredibly boring, you’re going to want to die.” Alan laughed. “The girls that do the best here are the actresses.”
“So you get mainly stockbrokers?” That fact caught my interest. What was it about that type of person that would make them such regular clients at all these agencies? Was it just the excess of money in that profession, or did the long hours make it hard to meet someone the usual way?
“Stockbrokers, business men, lots of Jewish men in their thirties.”
I digested that for a moment. This was the first in-house place I’d looked at, and I was curious how different they were, if at all, from an ordinary brothel. “So what’s the procedure here?”
“Well, you wait in the lounge. You can read, watch TV, nap, whatever. The men come in and pick you. Or they reserve you by phone beforehand. Then you go into a bedroom for an hour and do your thing. Sucking and fucking.” He laughed for a couple seconds before continuing. “This is a condo. We’ve got several bedrooms.”
I don’t know why he felt the need to point that out, but I nodded. Obviously they weren’t all using the same bedroom, although it would be amusing if they were. I could just imagine the rapid turnover and changing-of-the-sheets. I kept my grin to myself.
“There’s no competition between the girls, like in some places. You won’t be fighting over clients!” Alan leaned towards me, getting ready to hit his next point home. I tried not to stare at his eyebrows. “One girl told me she worked in a place where the other girls locked her in the bathroom because she’d had too many sessions. It’s not like that here. All our girls get along.”
“What kind of clothes do the girls wear? Just lingerie type stuff?” I asked.
“No. Anything too revealing makes the men uncomfortable. You’d come here in your street clothes and then change. You can leave your clothes here or bring them with you. You’d put on something sort of ‘clubby.’” I must have looked confused because he struggled to elaborate. “You know, um…” he thought for a second, “like what you’d wear to a nightclub. Sexy but not too revealing. You want to show some skin, obviously, but not too much. Oh, and you supply your own condoms.”
I could handle that. As long as the men agreed to use condoms, I didn’t mind supplying them. At least that way I’d know they weren’t using the super-cheap kind that ripped easily.
“How much do the girls make?”
“About $125/$150 a session, plus tips, of course. It’s not that much money, but it’s totally safe. And the money doesn’t matter if you’re not safe!”
I guessed that was true. Safety was one of my biggest concerns. I’d seen too many movies and read American Psycho. I’d willingly take a price cut if it meant increased safety. No money was worth getting raped or sodomized—or worse.
“How many sessions would I work a night?” If I worked enough sessions, the money would balance out in the long run.
“It varies. You get some slow nights, some busy nights.” He thought for a second, contemplating my face and my body, his eyes roving my legs, breasts, arms, and thighs. “You’d probably average around four to five a night. But the holidays are slow.”
How strange. That directly contradicted what Jackie had told me. Maybe for this agency, the holidays slowed things down, whereas for Jackie’s clients, the holidays were a better time? Maybe Alan’s clients were more family-men with more family-related holiday obligations?
“And the men don’t get into anything too weird?” I hoped, once again, that I might get a straight answer from him. I didn’t want any unwelcome surprises, and Alan didn’t seem to have any problem being direct. He was being so direct, and so different from Jackie and Kelly, that it actually made me nervous and confused. What was he up to? Why was he so different? Was there an agenda at play?
“No, no, no.” He was adamant. “Very straight sex. As I said, just sucking and fucking.” Alan laughed. “Very straight sex.”
He asked some more about the museum. Then he asked me to take off my clothes. Everything. He said, “You can’t be too careful. I’ve got to make sure you don’t have any bruises or sores. You’d be surprised what some girls have. Large bruises on their chest, their thighs. ‘I just walked into a door,’ they say. Yeah, right.”
I took off my clothes, spun around a few times in front of him. Satisfied that I wasn’t hiding some large swollen bruises, Alan gestured that I’d passed the test and could get dressed again. He asked if there was anything else I wanted to know.
I told him I had no more questions, and he nodded. “I think we’ve covered everything.” He leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes, running down some list in his head, before sitting up again suddenly, eyes wide open.
“Oh yeah, some girls ask about their periods. Obviously, you can’t work while you’re on your cycle. If you need a week off, then that’s what you’ve got to take. If you only need a few days, then only take a few days. It’s really up to you.”
Right. I hadn’t even thought about that.
Before I left, we made a tentative appointment for me to come in next week on a Monday or Tuesday for my trial session. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him or this place. I liked the security of working for an in-house operation, but I didn’t like the idea of sitting around waiting for men to show up. That would be just like the dungeon. If I was waiting for a call, I wanted at least to be able to do what I wanted, not just sit around with other bored girls.
Also, the interview had been so different from the other two that I wondered if something was up. I doubted that it was a police sting operation, but it was definitely weird that Alan was so explicit about the kind of work I’d be doing, whereas the other two places had adamantly denied anything of the sort. He must have said “sucking and fucking” every two minutes. It left me with a bad feeling. My gut told me something was off. The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t think I would come back. It just wasn’t worth the risk.