Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No sleeping on the job, ladies

In front of a Cape Town dockside nightclub, a prostitute stands alone at the entrance steps, bored. But it's freezing outside. So after we trade greetings, I ask, "Why aren't you upstairs in the club? No sailors tonight?"

She frowns, "The bouncer kicked me out an hour ago. I fell asleep in the booths because there were no guys inside. Now I have to sit out here until I can get a hundred rands to pay my way back in." Then she looks me in the eyes, slightly hopeful. "Can you borrow me a hundred bucks?"

The problem: she's transgressed an unwritten rule of club etiquette. Dockside prostitutes are free to solicit at the seamen's clubs so long as they get the guys to buy alcohol. AND—of course—so long as they stay awake! That's part of the bargain. But on nights when there aren't many guys to entertain, the ladies get restless. Some can't resist the temptation to nod off. It's a familiar sight.

As punishment, the bouncer will escort her outside. If she pays a R100 fine, she can go back in. If not, she must wait till the next night when she'll be able to solicit inside freely.

I offer an empathetic smile, but I don't bail her out. And she doesn't expect me to. In her 12 years of hooking, this has happened many times before.

After a few hours inside, I come down and find her busy massaging the feet of the hefty manageress. I laugh and ask: "Didn't get your hundred bucks to go back in?"

She winks and whispers, "I'm hoping this foot massage will do the trick."

The manageress—deeply relaxed by the pedi-pampering—pipes up: "Harder!"

But after another 15 minutes of bunion-rubbing, the manageress lets her slip back inside.

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Sugar Girls and Seamen · Suikermeisies en Seamen · Izifebe namaTilosi · 売春婦及び船員 · 매춘부와 선원
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