The Perils of Prostitution: The Grim Reality

The grim statistics against prostitution is harshly revealing.  While 73% of prostitutes reported having experienced physical assault, over 92% stated that they wanted to escape the abhorrent life immediately.[1]  This number has not changed in a hundred years.  Yet prostitution is a growing profession.  More depressing, is that prostitutes are raped several times per month.  They are the most raped group of women.  About 80% of women in prostitution have been the victim of a rape.  On average of they are raped sixteen times a year by pimps, and thirty three times a year by their johns.[2]  Caught up in a world of physical abuse, sexual transmitted diseases, drug addiction, psychiatric issues, inclement weather, and poor living conditions, the impact on the life expectancy of prostitutes is sobering.  Ghastly as it may be, the average life span of a prostitute is a paltry thirty-four years.[3]   By comparison the life expectancy for women in the US and Canada is over eighty-one years in 2019.[4]

Involuntary Servitude

While the pimp may wallow in the milieu of sexual excrement, the prostitute drinks deeply of its contents.  This is not to imply he is better than she; rather it is she who gets the raw deal.  She risks her social, family and personal life.  In return she is rewarded with copious blows, a soothing balm of trinkets and glib promises of a rich life.  The intimidation, humiliation and subjugation tactics employed by a pimp to dehumanize his whores are a fraction of his wide arsenal of tricks.  While some are scandalously primitive others are more sophisticated by design.  For a whore with a pimp, life is nothing but relentless pressure, terror and fear of death.[5]  It is a woefully wretched life. Pimps are selfishly manipulative. The whore needs a pimp for protection.  He advises her, keeps her out of jail and puts up the security deposit for her bail.[6]  In return she surrenders her earnings and her freedom. In effect he enslaves her: she becomes a humanoid mess.  The pimp maintains a stranglehold of control through a variety of insidious means.  The harem has to second guess his motives.  Unbeknownst to them, he plays of one against another simulating competition and maximizing profits. The losing side is brutally battered for underperforming. The majority are inducted into the world of drugs to ensure compliance.  For a drug-addicted whore, withdrawal of drug favors is used as a tool of punishment and control; food deprivation is another.  Death threats are not uncommon.  But the pimp is resourceful. In his calculating mind lies an inexhaustible repository of effective compliance tools.  One creative ruse involves smearing blood over the sleeping body of an unsuspecting whore. Horrified at the sight of the gory mess, she is led to believe that in her drug-induced stupor she had murdered her last trick. The use of barbiturates, such as Valium, adds credence to the narrative.  Valium is a central nervous system depressant and induces a wide spectrum of effects, ranging from mild sedation to complete amnesia.[7]  It is therefore unlikely that a user will remember the events of the night before.  Since she is under the illusion that she is a silent murderess and is reluctant to report pimp excesses to authorities. Hence, the crafty pimp exploits her fears ad nauseam. Blackmail is another. He may produce covert pornographic pictures of her engaged in torrid sexual activity with man or beast.  Threatening to release the evidence to her friends or families is enough to ensure compliance.[8]  Unabashed flattery is often a motivating instrument of compliance.  She is cajoled into believing she will be the supernova in his constellation; that she will grow blissfully rich, but must hump her ass into euphoric oblivion.  She maybe pummeled, kicked and flagellated or any persuasive combination.  The gratuitous drubbing often causes broken jaws, concussions and even death.  Such whacking can be earned if she were to secrete part of the earnings; inquire of the pimp’s whereabouts; drink with a trick; or rest because of illness or menstrual onset.  These forms of punishment are the cultural trademarks of the profession.  The fear instilled by physical abuse serves as a deterrent against errant behavior. But erratic conduct as defined by the conniving pimp who is a sociopathic predator. He is inexorably lured to the trade by the façade of an easy life, impressive cars and flashy dress. An eye-catching wardrobe, bedecked with jaw-dropping diamonds and gold jewelry are symbols of the craft.[9]  The unsolicited pampering a pimp receives from his stable of whores is incomprehensible. They ask permission to kiss his balls. To trim and paint his toenails is a privilege.  They take turns feeding him and doing his shoes which he shines on their unclad behinds when they overstep his blurred boundaries.  The pets of a pimp wear gem- stone studded collars.[10] Despite its obvious attractants and easy life, few pimps survive to old age: drugs, booze, shootings, stabbings, and the dehumanizing debauchery of the lifestyle preordain them to an untimely destiny with death.  Most do not live past middle age.  Others become raving lunatics in mental institutions or gospel preachers.[11]

Robert Beck: aka Iceberg Slim

In prosaic detail, this pimp described his savage attack one of his sex-slaves; she merely embraced him and lovingly enquired his whereabouts; that she missed him. In lurid detail he narrated: As my his fist connected with her face, she landed on the bed bouncing like a trampoline.  Dazed from the blow, she crashed into the unforgiving steel frame.  With blood gushing from a gaping eye-wound, I flipped her over by the hair, her eyes now welded shut.  To ignore the bleeding bitch was dangerously callous, Ie dashed pitcher full of cold water in her face and retired to bed.[12],[13]

Rober Beck: aka Iceberg Slim

Meet Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, born August 4, 1918, in Chicago. Incredibly, his IQ was assessed at 175, the ranking of a genius. Despite his superior intelligence, he started pimping at age 18 and embraced that life style for another 24 years. During his dissolute career he mobilized the services of over 400 women who ended up humping sparks out of their asses for the honor of serving him. Weighing less than 200 pounds, more than six feet tall and known to be icy calm, he earned the alias Iceberg Slim.  As a writer, Robert Beck was enormously successful.  Reportedly, he sold over six million books making him one of the best-selling African-American writers after Alex Haley.[14],[15]  As a pimp, he earned thousands weekly and strutted around in full-length minks, tailored suits, solid gold cuff links, platinum watches, diamond rings and alligator loafers.[16] If the story of Iceberg Slim epitomizes a pimp’s life, it is an abhorrent life – one to be shunned.  Indiscriminate drug use and other lifestyle abuses abnormally accelerate the aging process. At 28-years, Slim conceded his youthful attractiveness was degraded and replaced by tragically hardened features such that he appeared more like a 40-year old.  Deep black lines encircled his once lustrous eyes, he claimed.[17] Because pimps are feared and nauseatingly loathsome characters, he felt a ripple of revulsion for the life he led.  In a letter to his father, he rued living as a morally depraved outcast.  He was always on tenterhooks walking a tight rope balancing his personal survival needs against jail and death – death at the hands of other pimps or members of his harem of reprobate women.[18] His depraved career earned him several stretches in the dungeon. Prison was unkind to him.  His jail cell was a dreary steel cage, overrun by colonies of bed bugs.  The food was infested with vermin and buckets served as toilets which had to be emptied daily.  The foul buckets of gooey filth reeked offensively.  Cleaning them was dehumanizing.  In the dank isolation of the prison cell some inmates were driven to insanity.  One reportedly, finger painted with the contents of his commode.  In his memoirs, Slim indicated he too became sick and mentally deranged by prison life.  Seven exasperatingly long years wasting away in dismal jail-cell conditions did impact his physical and mental health.  After his final release from prison in 1960, he appeared so ghastly that he was unrecognizable by his stable of women.

Slim and his Willing Whores

He, as well as his colleagues in the flesh trade, was a heavy user of barbiturates, heroin, cocaine and marijuana.  Daily snorting of cocaine and heroin injections were routine. Speed ball use – an intravenous dose of cocaine mixed with heroin – was common.  It provided the neural jolt to elevate the mood from an otherwise dreary existence.  In addition to being highly addictive, speedballs can be fatal. John Belushi died as a result.[19] The combination of both drugs masked the effects of anxiety and sedation. However, due to the acute physiological effects of cocaine and heroin, the risk of fatal respiratory distress increases sharply – one of the reasons pimps were collapsing on the streets.  Slim was addicted to heroin.  Its use was common among his pimping peers.

A Moment of Epiphany

In 1960, Slim was jailed and placed in solitary confinement for ten months. In the oppression of solitude, he had a transcendental experience. He vowed to alter his self-destructive trajectory.  In that moment of epiphany, it dawned upon him that pimping was a thoughtless expenditure of youthful energy and intellectual promise.  As a profession, it invited nothing but pain and grief. Awakening into this higher realm of consciousness, he decided to extricate himself from the stench of the underworld and earn social respectability by channeling his innate skills to a nobler cause.  He must use his energy as a creative force, not a destructive one, he concluded.  Slim initiated the journey of humanizing himself by breaking free from the steeled fetters of drug addiction.  The battle to abolish the habit without support required superhuman effort.  Doing so after prolonged drug use attests to his indomitable will.[20]

The Price of an Easy Life

So deeply submerged was he under an avalanche of immoral excrement that returning to a life of normalcy represented a triumph of the human will.  Iceberg Slim was exceptional.  Systematically, he disengaged himself as he clawed and crawled up out of the stinking sewer of the underworld and lived to tell his story in the seven remarkable novels.  After an amazing unsupported recovery, he married and fathered three children.  To many, this ex-pimp became a role model, to others, a wise counsel.  Moreover, he realized that the pimp’s life was a frenetic descent down a well-lubricated chute into the nadir of a social gutter from which there is no escape – a trip all associates in the business handsomely facilitated.  The empty aimlessness of the life no doubt added to the unfathomable bleakness of the gutter.  Despite the steep climb up the slippery slope of recovery, he was reluctant to reintegrate into mainstream society.  However, in a cruel twist of fate he was cheated out of the royalties of his published books. Although this loss of royalties can be dismissed as a vagary of social reality, one needs to ponder other universal principles.  Is this the end-product of a higher law of retributive justice exacting a price for the thousands he so inhumanly expropriated from his stable of prostitutes over the years? Karmic justice, if you will. Whatever the unseen reasons, and despite his personal efforts to rehabilitate himself, Slim’s ending was grisly.  As summed up by his daughter: My father died not knowing how popular he still was………….[He thought] that no one was buying his books anymore.  My dad died a pauper.  You should’ve seen how he lived.  He lived in the heart of gang territory in a one-room apartment with barely running water and leaky pipes.  It was horrible.[21]  He ended up where he began – in the gutter.

Excerpted from The Eloquence of Effort. https://www.amazon.com/Eloquence-Effort-Beware-Least-Resistance/dp/0995344000

Graphics were extracted from online sources.

[1]. Melissa Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, Ufuk Sezgin, 1998. Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.  Feminism & Psychology: 8 (4): 405-426.

[2] Susan Kay Hunter and K.C. Reed. 1990. Prostitution Facts

http://www.rapeis.org/activism/prostitution. Retrieved June 21 2010.

[3] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kitty-stryker/some-people-enjoy-being-prostitutes_b_1405004.html Retrieved July 11, 2013

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy Retrieved Dec. 20, 2019

[5]Beck Robert. 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim.  Holloway  Press. Los Angeles. Pp. 67.

[6]Beck Robert. 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim.  Holloway House Publishing Co. LA.  Pp. 58

[7]Requa-Clark Barbara. 2000. Applied Pharmacology for Dental Hygienist. Fourth Edition.  Mosby. Toronto. Pp. 523.

[8]Iceberg Slim. 1967. Pimp: the story of my life. 1967. Holloway Press. Los Angeles. 130 -131

[9]Beck Robert. 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim. Holloway Press. Los Angeles. Pp. 24

[10]Iceberg Slim. 1967. Pimp: the story of my life. 1967. Holloway  Press. Los Angeles. Pp. 185

[11] Beck Robert . 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim. Holloway Press. Los Angeles.  Pp. 69

[12]Iceberg Slim. 1967. Pimp: the story of my life. 1967. Holloway Press. Los Angeles. 89-91

[13]Iceberg Slim. 1967. Pimp: the story of my life. 1967. Holloway Press. Los Angeles. 84-85

[14]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceberg_Slim. Retrieved Jan 6 2020

[15]Iceberg Slim. 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim. Holloway Press. Los Angeles. Pp. 44

[16]http://panachereport.com/channels/hip%20hop%20gallery/HipHopShortStories/icebergslim.htm Retrieved July 11, 2013

[17] Beck Robert. 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim. Holloway Press. Los Angeles.  Pp. 195-198

[18]Beck Robert. 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim.  Holloway Press. Los Angeles.  Pp. 60.

[19]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Belushi Retrieved 20 2016

[20]Beck Robert. 1971. The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim.  Holloway Press Los Angeles.  Pp18.

[21]The Hustle-The Story of Robert Beck aka Iceberg Slim

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