The Story of a Sex Worker

December 14, 2004

The Price of Admission

I showed up on Andrew's doorstep right after work, having done three scenes in a distracted and fearful way. I rushed to his house as if to move too quickly to worry. I had a deep feeling that most other people would not understand my life and my work, even someone who seemed so much to like me.

I rang the buzzer and he let me in smiling.

"Hey, Shirl, you didn't call."

"I figured you were home. You usually are."

"It's fine. I'm glad to see you."

I sat on the couch. The computer on his desk lit the room with a dim, artificial light.

"Are you busy?" I said.

"Not really. I can do it another time. Just copying notes."

"I've got something to tell you," I said.

"What is it?"

"I've got some news. It may come as bad news."

His calm face turned to concern.

"Keep in mind this doesn't have to be bad news. It's something that makes me happy and something I enjoy. We both know it's good if I'm happy. I'd like you to be happy too."

"What is it?" he said again, now heavily concerned.

I started. "For the last year I have been in the sex industry. I've made a few videos. That has been my job."

I stopped. He was expressionless. I couldn't figure out what else to say. Maybe that was enough. The information didn't sound as bad as I thought it would. I was just stating a calm fact about my life. I knew that porn was a decent way of life, maybe he would too. I knew he leaned more towards the dirt in life. His bookshelves were filled with stories about criminals and convicts, even prostitutes. He had never been on the streets but he was interested. I became more confident.

"The job is not as dirty as you might think," I went on. "It's a job like any other. There are a lot of nice, supportive people working in the industry. It has actually been very good to me. I needed to tell you because I like you and was making myself sick not being able tell the truth."

Andrew was silent, staring at the floor. He abruptly switched his eyes to mine. "So you're a prostitute?" he said.

"No. Not at all. I make videos."


"Yeah, I've actually been fairly successful with-"

"If you're fucking for money, why aren't you a prostitute?"

"Because it doesn't work that way. It's more of a community of people."

"Do you fuck different men in these videos?"

"Yes, but it doesn't mean anything."

"How many different guys have you fucked?"

"That doesn't matter. I-"

"Sure it matters. You said you wanted to tell me the truth, so tell me. How many different guys have you fucked?"

"I don't know. I don't remember."

He stood up and pushed the chair so it fell and hit the floor. The sound was like a building collapsing.

"You said you've been working a year. So what, you fuck a different guy everyday? Oh, and I'm sure you fuck women too."

"How can I explain it to you. It's a job."

"Some fucking job. Who the hell does that? Vile and immoral people do that. Not you."

"I do. And you know I'm a decent person so that should show you that the industry's not all bad."

He let out a breath and I thought maybe he was going to ease up and accept the news. But then he walked hard towards me and I instinctively put my hands in front of my face, a father-daughter reaction.

"You're not a decent person, you're a slut. You're a whore."

I felt tears coming but I held them back. I tried not to cry very often.

"Jesus Christ," he said. "You've been lying to me for months. How does that make you a decent person. What the fuck do I know about you? Is Shirley Gilchrist even your name?"

"Yes. I've been up front about everything else."

"What's your name in your videos?" He said the word videos like it was a disease.

"Shirley...Shave," I said meekly.

That seemed to make him snap because he raised a fist and hit me hard in the side of the head. "A thousand different men. You uncaring bitch," he yelled. I stood up and began walking to the door. As I did, he hit me in the shoulder blade so it stung. "Where are you going?" he said. He followed me breathing deeply, stepping hard to the floor. I finally made it to the door and into the hallway. He slammed the door behind me.

"Fucker," he screamed. Then he hit the door.

I walked shakily down the stairs and to the street. The open air hit me like bricks. I was as high as after sex. Cynthia, the S&M queen, was right. Violence was as powerful a force as love. I thought about her and laughed for no reason. Just so I could think about something else.

I went to a coffee shop and ordered coffee. I added lots of sugar and cream and just watched the other customers. Sad men at the counter. Sad women serving them. Not a pedestrian on the sidewalk, just cars in heavy traffic. I tried not to think about anything. Sort of the same process of shutting down during a fuck scene. I drank my coffee silently and watched the rush hour coming home from work.

December 07, 2004


Far Out was sitting in Bernard's living room when I arrived. I hadn't seen her since she moved out. When I walked up to her, I saw horror. There were gray circles around her eyes, as heavy as make-up. They weren't bruises from hitting, they seemed like the bruises from her violently trying to keep her eyes open. Her face was worn and pale, usually one that radiated a cheerleader glow, Chastity the cheerleader slut. All she radiated now was the hard glow of fear.

"Are you sick, Cindy?" I asked.

"No, why, do I look sick?" she said.

"Actually, you look like shit."

She slowly turned her neck and looked at me hatefully.

"You could say I was sick," she said.

I looked down at her arms. There were track marks at the crooks of her elbows.

"Did you get into smack?" I said.

Her hand went to her arm. She smiled weakly and said, "Yeah."

"It hasn't been more than a month since I saw you last."

"A month? I thought it was longer."


She shut her eyes. "Have you ever tried smack, Shirl?" she said, eyes still closed.

"A couple of times."

"It's a good thing, isn't it? Your life might suck like it always has and you can do smack and it won't suck anymore. Can you think of anything better than that?"

I couldn't answer.

"It's like fucking but a thousand times more powerful and it lasts longer."

I sat down on the coffee table and leaned towards her like I had when she was at my apartment crying over her boyfriend.

"How'd you get into this?" I said.

"Kirk showed me about it," she said. She scratched and massaged her head for too long. "He got back into it while I was gone. He had done it before, he'd been really into it, you know, but he hadn't done any since I met him. He got back into it when I was gone."

"Where is he now?"

"Kirk? I don't know. He kicked me out."

"He did?"

"Yeah. He said I was taking all his junk. I mean, shit, it was mine. I paid for it. I whored with a couple of his friends and then he wouldn't let me have it. He called me a vacuum and kicked me out."

"Jesus. So where are you living?"

"In my car."

"In your car?" I shrieked. A stranger's face peeked his head around the corner and went back again.

"It's right outside," Far Out said. "I can go anywhere in it. I came here to get some work but Bernard said he wouldn't give me any looking like I do. I thought I looked fine. Nobody cared when I was whoring. I can't believe it's only been a month. It feels like longer. I don't think Bernard's going to give me a job ever again. He said he didn't hire junkies."

I didn't say anything because I didn't know what to say. I wouldn't have hired her either.

She reached down to her feet and picked up a plastic handbag covered with pink flowers. She unzipped it and pulled out a needle and a small green-plastic bag.

"I'm not as good at this as Kirk," she said.

"Dammit," I said and grabbed for the bag. She pulled away quickly before I could get it. It was the fastest I'd seen her move since I sat down.

"What the hell are you doing?" she said.

"You don't need this."

"What do you know? You don't know what I need. I'll do it somewhere else."

She got up and headed for the door.

"Come on, Far Out," I said.

I ran to her and pulled her by the shoulder.

She turned and looked at me like the Exorcist girl. "Fuck off. Go fuck yourself," she said.

She opened the front door and ran to her car, a small brown and white two-door, rusted at the tires. She got in, started the car, and drove off before I could stop her. She hit the curb of a mansion's driveway and a trash can before making it all the way down the street.

I tried reaching Far Out later but couldn't. I called Kirk over and over again but he never answered. Finally he did and he said he didn't know where "that cunt" was. Bernard didn't know either. And I didn't know how to go about tracking down a person who lived in her car.

I thought Far Out was an omen. It wasn't that I feared I'd turn out like Far Out. I didn't say to myself, she tried the best of both worlds and ended up with the worst of all. What I thought was, I've got to be on the level because being beneath it is ugly and wrong. Seeing Far Out's sallow eyes and bitterness carved out of a swan's character, I realized I couldn't lie to Andrew anymore. Lying was wrong and I didn't want to witness any more wrong. Lying was something Al Harvey would do, what Far Out was doing to herself.

December 02, 2004


Andrew and I went out that night. Dinner and a movie, a real straight-laced evening. No strange S&M games like John Johnson and his wife Cynthia. No conversations only about fucking. No belligerence like from Al Harvey. That night after the movie, walking through the cement parking lot which echoed screeching cars and children's voices, he said, "I'm glad I met you. You're a hard shell to crack. I was glad I was able to," which summed up everything.

I set the alarm for 10:00 the next morning to make it to my imaginary job at eleven. The radio threw me awake. It woke him up too.

I walked naked to the window in his bedroom.

"Damn, Shirl," Andrew said from the bed. "Seeing you there in that light, it's divine. I'd say it's worth the price of admission for being alive."

"Thank you," I said, which felt like a wrong answer.

"Can't you stay in today?" he asked.

"I have to go to work."

"Can't you call in sick?"

"It's not that kind of work."

"It's just a temp job," he said.

"I need the money."

"You do? You seem to have plenty of money."

He sat up in bed and looked at me skeptically.

I was suddenly nervous. "Maybe it seems like I have plenty of money because I always go to my job," I said.

"Wouldn't it be so nice to sleep in and wake up together like we do on weekends?"

"I can't do it. I can't call in sick."

I really couldn't call in sick because the industry so frowned on sickness. People sometimes overreacted about the common cold.

"Today is an important day," I said. "The boss of the whole company is coming into the office and I have to be there."

"All right," Andrew said and lay back, disappointed.

I felt terrible lying to him, especially such a stupid, unimaginative lie. Telling him the truth might screw everything up but lying wasn't feeling very good either.

I dressed quickly and left for my temp job at Bernard's house. That day I was back to being a supporting actress in another Jenny Highsmith movie, where I would lie again when I faked an orgasm.

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