There are many reasons a women may enter the sex industry. Some, like myself, chose it because we like it, because of opportunities, it provides something we were not getting elsewhere, and we either evolve through it, or we get out. We operate like independent contractors, we post our own ads, screen clients, make our own appointments. Sometimes we hire an assistant who did some of that for us. Other escorts choose to work with booking agents or agencies who do some of these activities for them. Pimps do much of the same, but they are often more hands-on, and they generally take a higher percentage, or all, of the earnings in exchange for their services. Most trafficked women who are stolen and sold are managed by pimps.
Coercion – the segway between free will and trafficked
There is a high likelihood when an independent escort will face a pimp, and it happens smoothly without us even realizing the full extent of what is going on. Unless a courtesan meets with a small handful of regulars, screens exceptionally well, and gets very lucky, she will run across someone tying to recruit her. We don’t always start out knowing a pimp is a trafficker. There are signs: he’s often with a group of guys late a night in the strip club, he has working girls around him all the time, he’s flashy with cars, homes, jewelry, clothes, shoes, he never pays for anything himself, he brags about the money his girls are making, he has an assistant or two who drives them around. Or, he may act more like a business manager or booker. Some try to make a woman fall in love with them and play on emotions. Often, it’s not until she’s in deep with him that she finds out he operates with much differently, with many rules, takes a lot more of her money, and it can be very hard to break away.
This is a real story of one way a trafficker pimp recruits
On her birthday, one of my best friends called, crying, “He left me alone at the restaurant, I don’t think he’s coming back. I bought my own plane ticket and the perfect dress dress to come out here, we went to a really nice restaurant and his friend showed up. I thought for my birthday he was going to introduce me as his girlfriend but he asked me to go home with his friend. It hurt my feelings and I told him no. He embarrassed me in front of everyone, then he left and won’t answer my calls.”
This guy is known as a finesse pimp. He recruits from social media or in nightclubs and says things like “you’re special, you’re not like the others, you deserve someone like me to take care of you,I’m doing things with you I don’t do with any of my other girls, I need a girl by my side who’s loyal and smart and that’s you.” This type of pimp is self-assured and boastful, he may be flashy, and he’ll often go after girls who wouldn’t normally be drawn to the pimp lifestyle. He prides himself on convincing woman to be with him, working within a group of other pimps and call girls who buy him gifts, pay for his condos and cars, they will go through a wooing phase and then a domination phase.
Another pimp who play on emotions like this is a romeo pimp, or loverboy pimp. He may tell her “we belong together, you’re the one, you deserve the world and I can give it to you,” or “I can’t believe no one has snagged you yet, you’re a dream”. They target young women seeking acceptance. He pretends to fall for her, complimenting, and conditioning her to become emotionally attached, then hands her over to a larger organization.
This is another real story of a pimp recruiting an escort.
A year into escorting I met him at Starbucks. He was a normal white guy from my home state and was always, no matter if it was 2 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning, when I text him, he’d respond. We would meet casually and chat like old friends. Pimps know the importance of building trust and camaraderie, and they understand the life. Although I was in my mid 20’s and graduated from college, already been through the strip club scene and out, I had earned my street cred, wasn’t naïve and I was not a newbie, it was still months before I realized he was a pimp and he was trying to recruit me. He didn’t act like any of the other pimps I knew; he didn’t pull me the strip club, he didn’t harass me, my radar didn’t go up. When I needed someone to talk to, he was there.
“I have several women who work with me,” he said, “I manage their ads and their screening, then I send them appointments. They choose to live with me because it’s just easier. I manage and invest their money and when they want out, they can have it all back.” He said.
This kind of pimp operates like a booker and may be known as a mack pimp or a ceo pimp. He meets women through word of mouth, at a nightclub or strip club. Sometimes he puts up an ad for models wanted, ‘no experience necessary’ and targets colleges, coffee shops, shopping malls. He might say “I’m an agent, you could be a model, I believe in you, I’m going to put up money to take your photos, you can get rich.” He prefers stable and established women who do not require much guidance and have fewer emotional needs. He operates like a business man, analyzing profits and loss, each woman is an expense and an asset. He may have male assistants working for him, sometimes all living in the same house. If someone doesn’t pull he weight or acts out, drinks heavily, steals, etc, he gets rid of her. Sometimes he may have relationships with the women, and may even have children with them.
And one more.
“Haley, you were right. I came to Miami to meet that dude you warned me about, and it’s not at all like he said it would be. He took everything, even my shoes and cell phone. He’ll be back tonight. I have to be on the street until I make enough money.” This was a phone conversation I had one night from a 20-something year old escort who left town with her girlfriend to work for an ‘agent’ who turned out to be a trafficker.
There are distinct characteristics, signs to watch out for, things to pay attention to when he says he’s an agent but he’s really a pimp.
A booker at this stage may make no attempt to hide the fact he’s a pimp. He’ll say he has clients, knows where the money is, and with him she can make a lot of money in a short time and then get out and move on. Call girls may be drawn to him because he provides such bookie-type services and it eliminates some of her having to do that , or she may be new and he provides what she needs to get started in the industry – marketing, maybe transportation, even clothes, hair, makeup, or photos. However, he isn’t going to do it for free and he often requires her to hand over a certain amount of money every day, or all of it, saying he is investing it.
However, a pimp at this level will want her to ‘get a fresh start’. He’ll replace her cell phone, delete all contacts to family, friends, her former identity is removed. This causes physiological and psychological dependence on him. He provides everything, food, a place to stay, different clothes, there is little or no opportunity to socialize beyond his circle of other pimps and prostitutes and it will become very difficult to leave.
This guy might be a jonas Pimp, or a gorilla pimp. He might even be a popcorn pimp recruiting for a larger organization. He’ll target women usually through someone he knows, at parties, or chats with them on social media. Even if she meets him willingly, she’s can be drunk or high when she ends up with him and he often continues to provide drugs and alcohol. A woman in this position usually doesn’t have access to a phone or know anyone’s number. She doesn’t have anyone to call and as time continues it becomes very difficult for her to get out.
If this happens to someone you know, and she can get out, she should cut her losses and move on. He won’t give the money back. If she can’t leave easily, the best thing you can do is buy her a plane ticket or a bus ticket and tell her to leave at all costs. Even if she doesn’t have shoes or an ID, get away when she can because it will only get worse.
For a short list of 10 movies about human trafficking visit https://www.humanrightscareers.com/issues/10-movies-about-human-trafficking/