The Haphazard Hooker

It’s 10:30 p.m. Do you know where your husband is?

Let me say up front, to spare my long-suffering parents and the good sisters at Holy Souls Academy any embarrassment, that I was not raised to pursue the oldest profession in the world. It all started innocently enough the night I wandered down to Cedar Springs, dressed in jeans, a UT t-shirt and sneakers with a hole in one toe, to see for myself what was going on.

“How much?” I am asked immediately. I whirl around to face a total stranger. Surely this gentleman is not directing his question at me? I give him an icy stare and walk away. “Looking for a little fun, honey?” A paunchy, balding man of 35 waits expectantly. I am utterly baffled. A car honks for my attention. “Hey baby, want to go for a ride?”

These men think I am a hooker, I realize, self-consciously eyeing my reflection in a store window. I am shocked, flattered, bewildered and curious, all at the same time. What have I done to provoke such behavior? A gray-haired, distinguished-looking man in a new Cadillac waves a handful of bills at me, motioning me to get into his car. A nervous fellow with thick glasses displays his hotel key and suggests I accompany him there for $50. I watch in fascinated horror as a fancy sports car cuts across two lanes of traffic, pulling up beside me triumphantly. “Hop in, little lady,” he instructs confidently.

At this point 1 decide to play along. It these men are nen-bent on launching my career, so be it. Besides, what better way to learn the ins and outs of the prostitution scene than to join it? For the next month I will become the “Happy Hooker” on street corners, in hotel bars, in massage parlors and at modeling studios. Although I drew the line at playing the game to its nitty-gritty finish, I did succeed in making deals with eager customers, making friends with outspoken prostitutes and making my steady boyfriend very nervous.

I made no effort to entice, attract or encourage customers; I never told a man I was a hooker; and I refused to make the first move. Yet more than 100 men made the assumption that I was for sale. I turned down more money in those four weeks than I will make in all of 1976.

I was offered cold cash by a Lubbock schoolteacher, a real estate salesman, a lawyer, a dermatologist, a DISD vice-principal, the deputy sheriff of an East Texas town, an executive with an oil company, a clothing store owner, a plumber, innumerable salesmen . . . need I go on?

Housewives of America, I hate to be the one to shatter the great illusion of the faithful husband, but you are married to the men I rejected.

Lest you envision a femme fatale, let me point out that I have freckles instead of good bone structure, a sense of humor instead of curves in the right places and a sex appeal rating of 5. I am a master of the “girl next door” look, the type mothers hope their sons will marry. I did not wear short-shorts, skimpy halters or cut-away jumpsuits. I did not offer him a deal he could not refuse. I am guilty only of being female.



With butterflies in my stomach, my career begins as I stake out a strategically located corner, and await my first prospect. In bright sunlight, the area is rather innocuous: a grocery, a paint store, a number of laundries and several restaurants line the street. But nighttime transforms the block into a drag strip. Neon signs advertise a topless go-go club, two liquor stores, an adult movie house and a nude modeling studio.

Yes, it’s a jungle out there, I decide. Standing under a street-light for protection, I wonder if anyone will come to my aid should the worst occur. I am certain to encounter exhibitionists, rapists, muggers, breathers, feelers, flashers and degenerates.

I discover I am in the best patrolled area of town, never out of the watchful eye of a police car. Three motorcycle officers position themselves in the parking lot of a convenience food store and stoically keep watch. One can only guess how many undercover officers would come to my aid if any altercation arose. I breathe a sigh of relief.

A man appears out of nowhere. “How much for two?” I shake my head firmly, eyeing his friend. “I’m not interested in taking on both of you.”

Two men walk by. “Having a hard night, honey?” one asks, elbowing his friend. They burst into laughter.

Carloads of drunken men drive by, shouting obscenities as they pass. Curious sightseers create traffic jams. A man and a woman in a Volkswagen slow down as they approach my corner. The wife points directly at me. “There’s one,” I see her tell her husband. It is hard to keep a straight face.

I walk down to the Steak and Egg restaurant and stand against a telephone pole. My feet hurt. A man walks up and offers to buy me a drink. I tell him no.

“You don’t think I’m one of THEM, do you?” he asks incredulously.

“I don’t know who you are or what you are,” I tell him.

“Hey, I’m no cop. I hate cops.”

He pulls out his identification. He’s a vice-principal for one of Dallas’ middle schools. I can’t resist and ask him if he is in charge of sex education. He laughs and indicates he isn’t.

“You don’t have to be out here you know,’he says in a fatherly sort of way. “You’re a pretty girl,” he tells me. “You could get another job if you wanted. You don’t seem like the rest of the girls out here. You’re too clean, you don’t have on enough make-up, and your teeth are too straight.”

Nevertheless, despite my shortcomings, he offers me money to have sex with him.

It does not take some of the “regulars” long to figure out there is something fishy about my act. They see me reject one customer after another, and notice that I never agree to leave my corner. I am a disgrace to their profession. No self-respecting hooker would turn down the money and the men that I have.

One night, I am befriended by a hooker who takes it upon herself to give me some tips on how not to get busted. While she is warning me about what to look for, a man comes up and asks if either of us is interested in going to bed with him.

My advisor tells him to get lost. “Look out for that,” she says knowingly. “Most customers will be nervous . . . they’ll look over their shoulders . . . most won’t just walk up and blurt it out. Also watch out for fancy cars, lots of times they’re cops. Don’t ever talk to a car with HHZ plates – those are ’unmarked’ police cars.”

I ask my new friend if she’s ever been busted. “Once,” she tosses back at me, “but I didn’t have to spend the night in jail because my old man paid the $202.50 bond and got me out.”

“You mean your pimp?” I venture. Suddenly the conversation turns icy.

“He’s my boyfriend. It’s not an employer/employee relationship. I do what I do because I love him. He takes care of the financial end.”

I came to understand why prostitutes are so protective of their “man,” even if they are one of a stable of girls. If a girl gets busted, it usually results in a fine. For a pimp, it’s the penitentiary.



City Attorney Lee Holt faced the problem of writing a city ordinance in compliance with state law regulating the behavior or prostitutes on city streets. The controversial new ordinance is cleverly disguised as Section 31-27, entitled “Manifesting the purpose of engaging in prostitution.” The code prohibits loitering in a public place for the “purpose of inducing, enticing, soliciting or procuring another to commit the act of prostitution.” A “known prostitute” can be arrested if she stops or engages a passerby in conversation or if she repeatedly “attempts to stop motor vehicles by hailing, waving or other bodily gestures.”

Section 31-27, patterned after a Seattle law, joins Texas Penal Code Section 43.02, which prohibits a person from “offering to engage in sex in return for a fee, payable to the actor,” in the continuous fight to stamp out the oldest profession in the world.

Under the right circumstances, a “known prostitute” could legally be arrested if an officer feels she intends to commit prostitution – regardless of whether or not she waves, explains the city attorney’s office.

Police, however, say they are “bending over backwards to give the girls the benefit of the doubt.” No one will be arrested under the new ordinance unless they resort to waving, beckoning or otherwise attempting to solicit customers.

Shortly after the ordinance went into effect, police got down to the business of enforcing it. Armed with “score-cards,” vice officers staked out the Cedar Springs area. Each selected a girl and awarded her points every time she waved or beckoned. Three was the magic number to win a trip downtown to the station.

It works like this: One wave equals one point. However, if a cluster of hookers is standing on the same street corner, and one girl waves, all five hookers receive one point. If a second girl makes any kind of motion, the entire group earns two points. One false move and the bunch can be escorted to jail.

“Vice Director Burgess came down and talked to us,” one hooker tells me. “He told us we had better score on the first two waves ’cause he would arrest us on the third.”



Street prices vary depending on the customer’s bankroll and the girl’s appearance. A man can usually succeed in moving a hooker from her street corner for $20-$40. Some ask more and some take less, but $40 is considered “good money” by a streetwalker for 30-45 minutes of her time.

It occurs to me that I have no idea where the girls go after they ride off with a customer. I approach several hookers, say I am new in town and ask where the closest motels are. Most Cedar Springs hookers name motels that offer “economy,” i.e. hourly, rates.

A proposed city ordinance currently under consideration by the city council would make it illegal for an establishment to “knowingly” allow prostitution on the premises.

I talked with the manager of one hourly hotel about the brevity of his guests’ stay. I want to know what percent age of his business depends on prostitution activities.

“Honest, I don’t know,” he insists. “Okay, I’d say 90 percent of the people who come here ’shack up’ together for a couple of hours, but I don’t know whether the man is paying for sex or not. Sex is free, too, you know. What am I supposed to do, ask the guy if he’s with a prostitute or his girlfriend?”

If the customer is from out-of-town, the girl often accompanies him to his already-rented hotel room.

“I have an apartment around the corner,” one hooker tells me. “Lots of girls live around here. Some won’t use their own places though.”

“Some girls will ’date’ in the car,” a pretty, brown-haired hooker says disdainfully. “No way I’d do that.”

In the nights that follow, it is difficult to harden myself to bartering over the value of my alleged sexual charms. The first man who offers me $10 for “the works” barely escapes retaliation. I settle for a “drop dead, creep,” and write him off. It is disconcerting to be sold short.

An intense-looking man, about 25 years old, marches up and explicitly ticks off several sex acts. “I’ve got $30 – whatever that will buy me is okay with me.”

I tell him I don’t know him and I’m just ’dating’ regulars.

“Hey, what does it take around here,” he retorts angrily. “I’ve been down this whole street and everybody says ’I don’t know you.’ Listen, I’m not a cop. You want to see my identification? All I am is a horny guy. You can have $30 for five minutes of your time. That’s all it will take.”

I shake my head no, he mutters an oath under his breath, and stalks off.

One customer identifies himself as a truck driver from Phoenix. “I’m only human. I’ve been away from home for four months. I love my wife, you know, but it’s too much. I can’t take it.

“I’m looking for talk and companionship, not just sex. I don’t want to take anything home with me either, if you know what I mean.”

Actually, most prostitutes claim they never have had VD. “I get a check-up every two weeks,” one told me, “and usually a customer uses a condom to protect himself because he’s scared of me.”

I walk down the street, ignoring the “Hey babys” and “Come here honeys” tossed in my direction. I am bored with the streetwalker scene. I see some of the same men night after night.



The manager of a local massage parlor smiles up at me from the leather table where his overfed body lies fully exposed to my averted eyes. “Remember, the more you please the customer, the better he’ll tip you.”

This tidbit of information is tossed in my direction during a “training session” designed to prepare me for genuine customers. I have just been hired as a masseuse after answering the first of many classified advertisements seeking “Ex-models, waitresses, hostesses, secretaries wanted to train 25 masseuses. Top pay, fun work.” My method of operation is simple. I present myself to various parlors, and merely ask the same questions any prospective employee would ask – like how much money I can expect to make, what my hours are, if I can have sex with customers . . . you know, the run-of-the-mill concerns.

At this particular establishment, The Boss has generously volunteered to donate his body in the interest of massage research.

I squeeze a mixture of alcohol and oil out of a container resembling a fast-food catsup bottle and attack his jello-like body. My prospective boss casually reminds me again that I should make every effort to please my customers to ensure a repeat visit. At present it is obvious he is not as concerned over my future customers as he is over the current customer. His concern is growing more apparent – in a manner of speaking.

He rolls his eyes as his knees are massaged for the twentieth time and the folds of his beer-belly receive additional kneading beneath my uncertain fingers. The area in-between remains unmassaged and, much to my dismay, unrelaxed.

He sighs, turns over on his belly at last and makes conversation while I attack the muscles of his back.

“My girls don’t perform oral sex on customers,” he volunteers. “If I ever come in and catch you in the act, I’ll have to fire you then and there.” He flashes a lecherous grin before making his firing policy crystal clear. “Of course, I don’t ever come in during the massage, so I guess you can do whatever you want.”

Of the five parlors I visited, my instructions varied only slightly. The consensus was, “Whatever you do behind those doors is your business – just don’t get caught.”

The city of Dallas passed an ordinance in October of 1972, prohibiting massage parlors from operating within city limits. Although now located in less convenient areas, the parlors are alive and well.

Prostitution unquestionably goes on in many of the parlors, but services are not cheap. The customer must first pay for the massage in order to get behind closed doors with the masseuse. He may then proposition her for “extras,” but there is no guarantee he will receive anything above and beyond the massage unless he is a regular customer or can prove his identity to the girl’s satisfaction. Most girls can be convinced if the price is right. All extras are tacked on to the price of the massage, even if the customer chooses to skip this time-consuming item and get on to serious business.

Essentially, the parlor serves as a pimp, supplying the girls with a steady stream of customers. Because of this, the masseuse only receives 30 to 40 percent of the massage price. She does not have to split any money made during the customer’s stay, however.

Master Charge and BankAmericard are accepted at most parlors. Businessmen reportedly take lunch breaks at local parlors and modeling studios instead of the fast food chains down the street. A new phenomenon is the All-State charge. This allows the customer to charge a girl’s services on any legitimate charge plate, from J.C. Penney to Diners Club. Most parlors and studios use a fabricated name on receipts to encourage customers to “charge it.”



Dressed in a pink halter top and low-slung jeans, I park my car down the street from an isolated trailer and self-consciously walk in.

I am ushered into a cluttered kitchen to talk with Diane, an attractive girl with tousled brown hair and a skimpy see-through shirt. She points to a chair, yawns and apologizes. “Sorry, I didn’t get to bed until 7 a.m. We had a busy night.”

I convince her I have been employed at several Austin parlors and am anxious to get back to work. She buys my story and calls The Boss. “Teddy, I got a real cute girl here who wants to go to work. I checked her out real good and she’s cool.” I decide it is not very difficult to get a job as a masseuse.

She hangs up and tells me I can start the next day. “Teddy will like you,” she assures me. “You’re cute and you don’t cuss. You’re a lady.”

I ask if I’ll have any restrictions put on me.

“Yeah, come to work on time,” she says sternly.

I laugh and tell her that’s not what I mean.

“Well, that’s the only restriction. What you do with the customers is your business. Just be cool. Nobody wants to get busted. Let the guy ask for any extras and don’t quote prices. Just be careful. If you do get caught, Teddy will have to say he doesn’t know anything about it, but the parlor will pay your legal expenses – we’ve got a lawyer.”

A girl in a shiny pink dress pokes her head in the door. “She’s charging $15 for ’the works’,” Diane says incredulously, after the girl leaves. “She’s really cutting our prices. I guess she needs the money, but I think Teddy is going to fire her tomorrow.”

I ask what I can expect to get for extra services on the Dallas market.

“If a guy wants ’the works,’ I don’t think I’d take less than $100,” she advises.

She hands me the “menu” to acquaint me with the various massages. For $25, the customer gets a 25-minute massage from a fully dressed masseuse (“Nobody buys that one “), and for $30 a topless masseuse will massage for 30 minutes. The remaining massages are given in the nude: $35 for 30 minutes, $45 for an hour and $65 for the “Polynesian Special.”

Massages are given with exotic lotions and powders, the menu promises. In reality they are given with Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion and Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder.

I’m led down the hall to a room with a huge bathtub. This is where the Polynesian Special takes place. “Just put some Mr. Bubble in the tub and turn on the water full blast. Usually it doesn’t bubble much, but the guys don’t care,” Diane says. “All you do is get in the tub with the guy and rub his back.” I try to imagine getting out of that slippery tub with an overeager customer in hot pursuit.

“We get mostly businessmen, plus some of the farmers from around here. They don’t spend as much money, but they come back twice as often.”

Number One rule given to a masseuse or model is “Don’t, under any circumstances, offer a customer anything extra.” The tried and true theory behind this seemingly unbusinesslike attitude is that 99 percent of all customers will not only request extras, but gladly pay for the privilege. A veteran masseuse contends, “If the guy doesn’t ask he’s either gay, stupid or a cop.”

An officer attempting to make a case on a masseuse selects his massage from the menu, disrobes with a blush, lies tentatively on the cold leather table and waits for the masseuse to proposition his middle-aged body. He is not allowed to offer money for extras. If he does, he is guilty of entrapment.

At a newly renamed parlor in the Hawn Freeway area, one masseuse conspiratorially whispers they are working straight. “We used to give extras to everybody, but it’s gotten too hot. We still do with regular customers of course, but if we don’t know a guy, he doesn’t get anything extra. It’s not good for business, but we gotta stay open until the publicity dies down. They busted one girl for just lying down on the table with a guy who turned out to be a cop,” she claims indignantly. “You can’t do any-thing anymore.”



I have embarked upon a career as a model. Although my cheekbones have not yet made their debut and I am five inches shy of the required 5’7″, I have been offered jobs at four Dallas modeling studios. I have been assured I will make at least $250 a week.

There is only one catch. I have not been hired to model high fashion. In fact, I’m not allowed to model clothes at all.



There are a number of nude modeling studios in the Dallas area. Unlike massage parlors, the modeling studios have not been banned from city limits, although a recently passed ordinance prohibits the operation of a nude modeling or wrestling studio within 1,000 feet of a church, school, residential area or public park adjacent to a residential area.

My modeling career gets under way at a studio located adjacent to Central Expressway traffic. The manager is not in, but Tara, a friendly model who looks about 19, offers to answer any questions I might have. I play dumb and she fills me in on the business.

“We get the lunch crowd from all the office buildings around here. That’s our busiest time. It’s funny, though, some guys will park way down the street and knock on the back door. They’re scared somebody will see them come in here, I guess.”

Most customers will request “something extra,” she reports, but settle for sexual stimulation instead of the standard sex act. “If they want extras, that’s up to you. Charge whatever you can get. I won’t take less than $50 for ’the works’,” she insists. “If you get an older guy, it doesn’t take any time at all. Fifty dollars for 15 minutes’ work isn’t too bad, huh?” she giggles. “I charge younger guys more, though.

“Your cut is 40 percent of the modeling session, but anything you make in the room is yours. Just make sure you get your money before you do anything,” she warns. “One girl went all the way with a guy and he gave her a $6 ’tip’ when he left. He figured it was included in the modeling fee. Jesus! She cussed him out good, but that didn’t get her any money.”

Tara says this studio hasn’t been bothered much by vice.

“Our boss knows most of the cops and she tells us when they come in to check us out.”

She gives me a tour of the house. Three bedrooms are set up for modeling sessions. A small foam mattress covered with a white sheet lies in the corner of each room, with mirrored tiles covering one wall. Photographs of Victorian ladies in various nude poses decorate the walls.

I ask about the modeling sessions themselves and she hands me the menu. “You might look over this, but usually we just take off our clothes and go from there. I’ve never done most of those sessions.”

A strip poker session costs $20 for 15 minutes (“Wear lots of jewelry”) or $30 for a half hour. “Try your luck,” the menu teases. “But you’ll never keep your mind on the game.”

A nude photo session is available for a dollar a minute. “Pop your shutter as our naked nymphets do their thing.”

An erotic reading session is offered, along with an Auto-Eroticism session – $25 for 15 minutes and $35 for 30 minutes. (“Just use the vibrator on yourself, but don’t put it inside you or they can bust you for penetration.”)

The most popular session, she says, is the nude encounter. “You’ll enjoy this special meeting of the minds and other things!” the menu suggestively explains. For $30, the customer buys 30 minutes of encountering.

For $50, customers are treated to the House Special, a combination of all of the above, “Are you man enough to handle it?” asks the price list.

Essentially, the customer buys the time allotment he feels will be needed to accomplish what he has in mind. Once in the room, however, he starts from scratch. He has paid only for the modeling session, the girl reminds him, nothing more. For an additional $25, the model tells him he can remove his clothing and “we’ll play games.” Twenty-five dollars later, the man is told she might be interested in sex – for another $25 or $50. Add it up, it’s an expensive habit.

At another studio I was hired despite my “bad attitude.” I earned this by innocently asking if customers request models to pose in “kinky” positions.

“I train my girls to think of $25 as a lot of money,” the manager tells me harshly. “We don’t make judgements here. If a customer pays his money, you pose any way he wants you to. We don’t consider anything kinky.”

For $15, models pose in “Playboy” positions (legs together); for an additional $3, the girl poses in spreads. (Use your imagination.) For $25, the model strikes unrestricted poses while an XXX-rated movie is flashed on a screen behind her. A session lasts 30 minutes.

One model at a Harry Hines establishment says the boss “makes us do extras or we get fired. Hell, nobody would come back otherwise.”

Lt. Richard Horn explains there is only one effective way to make a case on a modeling studio and that is for the officer to pose as a customer. The officer pays a $25 fee for the session. Even if a case is successfully made, the officer will not recover this fee.

“Sometimes if it doesn’t look like I can make a case, I put my clothes back on and leave my $25 and go. So they’ve made $25 and I don’t have a case. That’s $25 of the city’s money that’s spent.”

“Wait a minute,” I gasp. “Did you say put your clothes back on?”

“An officer can take off his clothes inside a studio to keep from blowing his cover,” Horn informs me. “I’ve gotten naked,” he admits. “I’ve kissed a prostitute and touched her breast to convince her I wasn’t a cop. And if she asks me, I can lie point blank and tell her, ’I’m no policeman!’ As soon as she names a price, I badge her. It’s not considered entrapment at all.”



What does his wife think of this, I ask, feeling certain most police wives would not be thrilled at the thought of their husbands sitting naked in a modeling studio kissing and touching a prostitute.



“I don’t tell her much about my work,” Horn says sheepishly.



An ad in the classified section promises it is “fun and exciting work with a dynamite salary.” It suggests that only “uninhibited girls” apply.

A weary-sounding girl tells me the job is for a nude model, but refuses to give out more information over the phone. “Mr. Wyatt is doing all the interviews. You’ll have to talk to him.” She gives me a Garland address, a 1 p.m. appointment and the sound of a dial tone.

I locate the office in an industrial warehouse district, decidedly off the beaten path. I have come this far, there’s no sense turning back, I tell myself bravely. I walk down a narrow corridor and enter the only office with a light on. A tall, sleazy-looking man with oily hair and acne sits drinking a Dr Pepper and flipping through Penthouse. I introduce myself and sit in the only available chair.

Mr. Wyatt, whose previous employment as a bouncer in Los Angeles’ “Institute of Oral Love” apparently qualifies him to handle these interviews, details the job.

If hired, I will be an out-service nude model. Advertisements of the service will be placed in motel guides in major Dallas hotels. He claims to have a mailing list of more than 5,000 names that will receive “invitations” to call the service on their next Dallas visit. Customers pay $30 for a half-hour or $50 for an hour.

“Once you get there, you do whatever you want,” he says with a wink. “You’ll only get 30 percent of the initial fee, but we won’t take a cut out of what you make on your own.

“We’re calling it a nude modeling service, since massages are against the law in Dallas,” he explains. “When you get there, you can work it out with the guy. Do what you want, charge what you want, but be cool about it.”

He stops and asks if I understand how the business works.

I nod. Sure, a guy orders a girl the same way he would order a pizza and pays to have it delivered.

Wyatt says things are pretty hot in Dallas because of all the publicity. “Cops are sending in lady officers to check out the parlors and studios,” he says bitterly. “They infiltrate the places and then report back on what is going on. I hate those double-crossing bitches.” His face contorts in anger.

He stands up (I’m taken aback by his sudden politeness), but inexplicably sits down on top of the desk, positioning himself directly in front of my chair. He runs his hand through his greasy hair and smiles, revealing a mouthful of yellowed, crooked teeth. (During the interview, he has revealed that he is a male model for an out-service catering to women. I shudder at the thought of greeting him at my door.)

“Just a minute. Before you go, I need to ask you to do one more thing.”

“What’s that?” I ask brightly, afraid to know exactly what he has in mind.

“Prove you’re not a cop.”

I laugh at the absurdity of such a thing. (It is little comfort to have guessed correctly.) As I stall for time, my brain races through my options. There isn’t anyone within earshot and we both know it. I rule out screaming for help or making a run for it.

“What do you want me to do?” I ask weakly. I rule out hitting him over the head with the empty Dr Pepper bottle.

He unzips his pants and shows me exactly what he would like me to do to prove I’m a respectable whore. I try to rationalize how a female just hired as a prostitute can refuse to perform on cue. I rule out moral hang-ups.

“Hey, I don’t give freebies,” I tell him disgustedly. “Especially to employers. Let’s get that straight now.” I congratulate myself on this retort and pray it works.

He apologizes, but stresses that he can’t be too careful – he has to make sure. “If somebody infiltrates into the operation, it’s curtains for all of us. I’m sure you’d want me to check out the other girls.”

I tell him before he sends me out on my first assignment he can give me his test “if you still think I’m a cop.”

“But this isn’t going to be a regular thing, understand?” I try to sound like a mean bitch.

He agrees reluctantly and I flee the warehouse, leaving the man and his unzipped fly behind me.





I have come through the ranks from streetwalker to hotel bar hooker. In order to make the grade, I opt for the “classy look.” I slip into my slinkiest jumpsuit, put on my dangle earrings and paint my fingernails with polish called “Rendezvous Red.”

I smile into the mirror with my sexiest smile. The reflection grins ridiculously back at me. I shrug my shoulders and set out to break a few hearts anyway.

I head for the hotel bar that vice officers tell me is the hottest place in town. They are right.

Secretly I’m worried. I think how embarrassing it will be if nobody propositions me. What if I can’t cut it in this league?

I’m in luck. The Apparel Mart clothing market is under way nearby and hundreds of displaced husbands are reliving their youth. The bar is packed, with men outnumbering women three to one. It will not be a lonely night.

I head for an obscure corner to observe the players before joining in the game. I try to pick out the hookers. Intuition tells me the 19-year-old blonde is probably not married to the balding 50-year-old man holding her hand at a dimly lit corner table. And more likely than not, the classy looking lady in the long, sexy dress is not dancing with the short, stocky man because she loves him.

While I am pondering the situation, a well-dressed businessman joins me in my hiding place.

“Hi, what are you doing, honey?”

I shrug my shoulders. “Not much, how about you?”

“Want to go do something?” he asks.

I ask him what he has in mind.

“Well, you want to go to bed with me?”

During my entire stint as a pseudo-hooker, no one has ever asked me what I do for a living. I’m female. I’m alone. Therefore, I am a hooker. What else?

I squeeze myself over to the bar and an older, gray-haired gentleman politely offers me his barstool. He buys me a drink and asks where I live. I tell him Dallas and return the question.

“I’m from Blue, Oklahoma. Ever hear of it?”

I assure him I haven’t.

“It’s just a little country town, but I’m not one of those country boys you hear about.” He gives me a once-over with his eyes. “You sure are prettier than the girls we got back in Blue.

“You know, sugar, I sure do like you.” He breaks into a wide grin. “Yes, sir, and you know what? I’ve decided I’m going to spend my money on you.” He makes it sound as if I have just won first prize in his contest. (I suppose I have.)

I ask him just how much money he has to spend.

“Well, darlin’, in Blue, Oklahoma, $20 is a fortune.”

I tell him in Dallas, Texas, $100 is a fortune.

His eyes widen, he lets out a low whistle and shakes his head unbelievingly. “Honey, it looks like we’re $80 apart.”

He looks me over again, deliberates on his dilemma and offers me $40 with a pained smile. I tell him no and try not to be offended. After all, if $20 is a fortune, $40 must be the jackpot.

He smiles good-naturedly, mumbles something about big city women and ambles on to other territory.

A man with a slow Texas drawl asks me to dance. I turn around and face a guy who barely measures 5’3″. Taking out a $20 bill, he slips it into my hand. “Consider this your moving fee,” he says. “I got four more to add to it if you’ll come with me.”

I give him a hard time, accuse him of being a cop and leave him open-mouthed on the dance floor. He spends the rest of the evening showing me identification to prove his “innocence” – emptying his pockets, he shows me his rent car key, his out-of-town driver’s license, a bent business card, his motel room key and finally, the ultimate proof, a family picture revealing the man, his wife and three smiling kids.

A short-haired blond interrupts and asks me to dance. He says he has just turned 30. He tells me he is looking for a “social relationship,” but if he can’t get it for free, he’s willing to pay.

“I’ll give you $100 for all night, but that includes ’all the trimmings’,” he stipulates. “I’ll buy you breakfast, too.”

I tell him I’ll think about it. Later that same night, the man will escort a black hooker to his room and offer her $30. She refuses and he angrily threatens to turn her over to a vice officer if she doesn’t cooperate. In her struggle to escape, she breaks two motel lamps and the television set. The man bodily carries her to the lobby.

Meanwhile, back at the bar, a steady stream of businessmen in expensively-tailored suits continue to proposition me. It is getting late and most are ready to retire – preferably not alone.

“Hi, my name’s Woody and I’m from Fort Worth,” bellows a large man about 35.

Woody falls for me hard. He asks me to dance during one of those interminable, romantic numbers. A 6’4″ hunk of a man with broad shoulders and powerful arms, Woody unfortunately likes to hug a lot. The dance is possibly the longest I’ve experienced. Woody is singing flatly in my ear: “Feelings, wo-wo-wo, Feelings.” The band finally fades away and I tell him I’m ready to sit one out.

“I sure do like you,” he tells me tenderly. “You are just the prettiest thing I’ve seen in a long time.” (This is a popular line.)

He asks if I will leave with him. I stall. Like I said, he’s big and I don’t want to annoy him.

He takes out a thick wad of bills. “Will ten do it?”

I look at him incredulously. “Ten dollars? You’re crazy, Buster.” (I forget I don’t want to make him mad.)

He looks honestly shocked. “No sugar pie, I’m talking about hundred dollar bills. I’ll give you ten, but I want you to stay all night.”

I gulp. Visions of sugar plums dance in my head.

I think about my mother and all those years of parochial school; my boyfriend’s disapproving face flashes through my mind; I marvel at all the wonderful things $1,000 would buy. I wonder if I would survive a session with this huge man who enjoys bear hugs. Woody is waiting expectantly. I cannot think of a single reason to turn him down. I tell him I have to let a friend know where I will be. “What’s your room number? I’ll meet you there,” I lie.

Woody strides out of the bar with a big grin on his face. I hide in the bathroom until the coast is clear, then sneak out the back door of the motel and race to my car – afraid Woody will see his “$1,000 baby” deserting him. And afraid I will come to my senses and take him up on his offer.

In another busy hotel, a chubby man with curly hair sits beside me at the bar and buys me a drink. We talk for a few minutes and he matter-of-factly declares, in a voice I think is a trifle loud, “You’re a hooker, right?” I tell him I have been accused of that before, and he accepts this as confirmation.

Pulling out a hundred dollar bill, which he carefully straightens and lays on the bar between us, he offers me “a deal you can’t refuse.”

He is a salesman and has seven clients scheduled for the following day. “I want to show them a good time, if you know what I mean,” he says. I know what he means and smile. He is flying a girl down from Atlanta, but she will need help, he explains. “I’ll guarantee you $50 a head and 10 percent of anything I sell. The minimum sale I can make is $7,500. But then I might not sell anything. It’s a risk for me and a risk for you.” He stops for a moment and lets this reasoning sink in.

“These guys have a lot of money. If they like you, there could be some extra money in it for you. Think about it. If just one guy goes for my deal, the least you can make is $800. If all seven go for it, honey, you are in for a fortune.”

He stands up to leave and slips me the $100. “Here, you keep this. Maybe it will convince you I can be trusted.” I reluctantly return the money and tell him I want to think it over. I promise to get in touch. He gives my shoulder a squeeze, says he knows I won’t let him down and leaves the bar. I force myself to throw his number away.



Vice officers have to work hard to make cases on bar hookers. Prostitutes in this bracket will generally turn only two or three tricks a night and can afford to check out their prospective clients carefully. They will usually require the customer to buy them drinks, dance several numbers and make considerable conversation. “They know we don’t want to spend all night making one case,” Lt. Horn explains. “She figures if she can get a man to spend money on drinks and waste time dancing and talking, he isn’t vice.”

She is very often wrong.

“We know how they operate so we have to play according to their rules. I can dance and talk as long as it takes to convince her. Sometimes when I’m working undercover at a hotel bar, a girl will come up to me and ask if I’m looking for a date. Just to throw her off I’ll tell her ’not now.’ That way I don’t appear overeager; she’s less likely to suspect I’m a cop. I danced with one girl once, but didn’t discuss sex. After the bar closed, she came running up to me. She hadn’t turned a trick all night and she needed the money. She laid the whole deal out for me. When she was through, I pulled my badge out and arrested her. She was real good about it,” he recalls. “She said I was a gentleman.”

A careful bar hooker will never mention money until she has established that her client is registered at the hotel and is a legitimate out-of-towner. The vice officer will present his fabricated identification – the false driver’s license declaring he is from Sulphur Springs, Galveston or Midland; a fake business card; a pass to an in-town convention; something to “prove” he is not an officer of the law.

“Be prepared,” is the officer’s motto. He will have already rented a room, unpacked a suitcase, hung clothes in the closet, placed a wet toothbrush by the sink and rumpled up the bed, one officer reveals.

The officer’s gun and badge are carefully hidden under the mattress or in a shoe. “The first thing the girl will do is search the room,” Lt. Horn reports. “I’ve come up with some pretty strange hiding places.”

When the hooker determines everything is in order, she will get down to the economic angle. As soon as the price is set, the officer recovers his badge and escorts the surprised prostitute downtown.

Occasionally this strategy backfires, Lt. Ray Hawkins says sheepishly. An officer will buy a woman at the bar a drink, engage in the necessary small talk, dance the “Hustle,” and finally ask her to accompany him to his ready-and-waiting hotel room. She agrees.

“The officer gets in the room with the woman and finds out she’s not planning to charge,” he reports with a smile. “There are some women just looking for a good time too, you know.” Now the officer must diplomatically cancel the rendezvous. “It gets real sticky, believe me,” Hawkins admits.



Bad busts are a favorite topic of conversation on the street. Every streetwalker can relate a first-hand experience or tell of a friend who has gotten a “bum deal.”

Police insist they play by the rules. “My people are professionals. If we can’t make a case and make it right, we’11 let it ride and get them next time. I’m not going to permit an officer to jeopardize his career and livelihood for one misdemeanor arrest of prostitution,” Vice Director Burgess emphatically declares.

There are 21 “Thou Shalt Nots” decreed by Burgess, he admits. “If I find out one of my men has violated any of those, he can kiss his ass goodbye, because he’s gone from this goddam division.”

A number of prostitutes explain their dilemma. “When you get to court and the cop doesn’t tell it like it really happened, what are we supposed to do?” one pretty 22-year-old asks. “Who do you suppose the judge is gonna believe, a police officer or a hooker?”

One hooker claims she was busted by officers “A” and “B,” but says officers “C” and “D” went to court and testified they were the arresting officers. “I told them my side of it, but they denied it and the judge voted with the officers,” she says bitterly.

Another hooker, outfitted in striped shorts and a navy-blue halter, says she was busted a week ago. “A guy came up to me and asked me if I was ’free.’ I told him ’Hell, no’ and then he pulled out a badge and took me downtown.”

“A friend of mine got busted at the Marriott,” one prostitute says angrily. “This guy showed her all kinds of out-of-town identification, took his clothes off, got into bed with her, even kissed her. Then he asked her to perform a sex act on him. She told him she’d have to have money first. He took out some money, laid it on the dresser and showed her a badge. Now that’s a dirty bust.”

Most prostitutes rely heavily on i.d. cards to check out customers, and vice officers are happy and prepared to cooperate. Most undercover officers carry false out-of-town driver’s licenses, obtained from the Department of Public Safety. In addition, many have employee cards, obtained from friends, indicating they work for a local department store or a well-known company. Some have fake business cards printed up to convince hookers that they are not cops.

This is probably the primary reason officers succeed in making arrests. Few prostitutes realize a Galveston or Midland driver’s license could be in the possession of a vice officer. They naively accept motel keys and out-of-town licenses as proof positive the customer is a legitimate out-of-towner.

Entrapment is a sticky, controversial issue. According to the Texas Penal Code, it is lawful for an officer to “provide the opportunity” for a person to commit a crime, but unlawful to “entice or induce a person into a crime they normally would not commit.”

An individual with a prostitution record could not successfully defend against such a code, guilty or not.



D.L. Burgess, 46, heads up the vice control division at police headquarters. It’s not an easy job, but then, Burgess is not an easy guy.

The interview gets off to a rocky start.

Me: “What’s your manpower situation?”

Burgess: “I’m not going to tell you.”

Me: “You can’t give me a rough idea of how many men work on prostitution enforcement?”

Burgess: “I can, but I’m not going to. I don’t want them to know how many men I have out there.”

Me: “What restrictions do you put on your men to avoid entrapment charges? What can they say and what can’t they say?”

Burgess: “Sorry, I’m not going to tell you tactics.”

Me: “What does the girl have to say in order to get busted? Does she have to quote you a specific price or does she have to indicate she is for sale?”

Burgess: “No comment.”

The conversation goes back and forth this way for 15 minutes. I stick with my questions and Burgess, predictably, sticks with his “no comments.” Finally, he shuffles through a bookcase adjacent to his desk and fishes out a dog-eared copy of the Texas Penal Code. “A person commits an offense if he knowingly offers to engage in sexual conduct in return for a fee, payable to the actor,” he reads in a steady monotone.

“We operate off the law,” he says firmly. “How we do it is something I’m not going to discuss. It’s all a word game.”

I accept defeat and we move on. I finally come up with a question he will tackle.

“How many prostitutes,” I ask, “are presently working in Dallas?”

He leans back in his squeaky chair and thinks a minute. “I’d say there are from 500 to 5,000 prostitutes in Dallas, give or take 4,000 on either side,” he tells me with a grin, revealing a wide gap between his front teeth.

“Hell, there’s no way to even guess. We arrested 532 in the first six months of 1976.I don’t have any idea how many are out there.”

Does he honestly expect to wipe out prostitution ? “Naw, no way,” he says slowly. He doesn’t like to admit this, but after 19 years of police work, he is a practical, realistic man. The typical shift contains only eight men, and Dallas harbors several thousand prostitutes. His department is badly outnumbered. The entire department contains only 59 men. Of these, 41 are investigators. Prostitution is one of five areas regulated by vice control. “We make it harder on them, that’s for sure. We nail their hides to the wall pretty regularly as it is, but we aren’t going to get rid of them.”

Burgess estimates 60 percent of prostitution arrests are streetwalkers (or “fender lizards,” as he calls them), 35 percent are bar hookers and 5 percent are call girls.

Vice control spends $46,500 a year on “miscellaneous special services.” These services include buying alcoholic drinks for undercover officers and suspected prostitutes, renting motel rooms to make cases, renting cars to avoid detection, paying admission fees to pornographic movies, modeling studios and topless clubs, paying informants, etc. Burgess estimates more than 50 percent of this allotment is spent on prostitution enforcement.

It has to be discouraging to bust a hooker and have her back on the streets before departmental paper work has been finished. “We book them, they post a $202.50 bond and hurry back to work,” he admits, shaking his head helplessly.

“Police are just one facet of an entire system,” he argues. “Hell, I can arrest 300 prostitutes, but without a meaningful fine, it’s just an exercise. [The average fine is $75.] It’s not a deterrent. When the girl is eligible for a class B misdemeanor she could have a $1,000 fine and six months in jail slapped on her. I think this would be meaningful,” he says with a sly grin.

The courts are overloaded, he reports matter-of-factly. More than 175 cases are disposed of each week.

“Okay, let’s say I arrest more hookers, but to do that, I’ll need more men. Then, we’ll need more courts and judges to handle the cases, more prosecutors, too. If you raise fines and assess jail terms, you’re going to fill up the county jail with prostitutes pretty quick. You’ll need bigger facilities and more jailers.” He pauses and sums up his argument. “The point is, who’s going to pay for all of this? It’s a great theory on paper, but are the citizens of Dallas willing to raise taxes to fight prostitution?

“Do we really want to do something about it?” he asks rhetorically.

“Those who are prostitutes are going to be prostitutes somewhere. If not on the streets, then in bars or hotels or out of their apartments. We can’t stop it. We can just make it less visible. I guess we could round them all up and shoot ’em,” he says sardonically. “But somebody would probably raise hell about that, too.”



What can I say? It was crazy and fun and something I had never done. It also was boring and depressing. Every man began to look and sound the same. It’s as if a roomful of faceless men, all after my body, were closing in on me. It’s a little weird.

To be honest, it was something of an ego-trip at first. Suddenly I was in demand – these men were attracted to me and willing to spend lots of money to have me.

Over and over again I was told that I was the prettiest thing they’d ever seen. I began to think “maybe I’m not as plain as I thought” but wondered if they meant”pretty… for a whore.”

I wish I had a nickel for all the times a potential customer, dumbfounded because I refused to leave with him, told me “Honey, you sure are making a big mistake.”

I wish I had a nickel for all the business cards given to me with instructions to “call me at the office. That’ll prove I’m not a cop and we’ll set something up.” (Fellows, you can buy back your cards for a small fee and I’ll keep my mouth shut.)

Hell, who am I kidding? I wish I had just half of the money I turned down on moral and ethical grounds. AndWoody’s telephone number, just in case. I think it might bechallenging to retire at the ripe old age of 22.

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