The Hooker Monologues Originally written March 2016- discovered in drafts

When I started stripping back in 1986 at the ripe old age of 18, there was a pretty clear line drawn in the sand of sex work. We were table dancers, strippers, entertainers. But we weren’t hoes. Oh no. We got indignant when customers asked if we ‘did more than dance’ and declared emphatically “I don’t do that kind of shit. I have too much self respect.”
There was even a hierarchy of ‘good girls’ at the club. The tramps were the ones who, when they did their table dances, were all over their customers, rubbing on them, leaning back on them. What the fuck? We’re not supposed to TOUCH! How the fuck am I supposed to make money when Corinne and Roxanne are ALL OVER EVERYONE?


So Corinne and Roxanne made shitloads of money but dammit, we had our self respect. Except for when we didn’t. Like that time I deliberately made out with an ex boyfriend of mine in the VIP room not long after lap dancing was ushered in and had as close to sex with him as I could get without actually doing it.

Or the time in Niagara Falls I danced for a particularly hot guy and just thought “What if- instead of faking being turned on- I just let myself get turned on?” And then did it. And revelled in the sexual luxury of it. How many women get that kind of opportunity?


In the early days the lines were drawn and hookers did their thing in their place and we did our thing in ours. We could not compete at the same venue with women who were doing more than us and they were not welcomed by most dancers in the clubs. Those women were talked about in the dressing room and they were not talked about nicely.  


Even as I became a sex-positive feminist, an Annie-Sprinkle-reading, newsletter-writing feminist, I still had hard wired ideas about prostitutes in my head. Even though by that time, I had already hoed myself out twice.


I remember one morning before working at the club when I was first looking at spiritual books other than Wiccan ones. I had read the New Testament for the first time and what was the line I came across that day? “Love your enemy.” Yes, I could get down with that one. I liked that one.  Love your enemy.  Crazy radical.  


I painted the short verse on the back of my bedroom door along with so many other sayings that meant something to me, stepped back to admire how enlightened I was and then went on to work at the GTR strip club that night.


It was January, the slowest month of all. So slow you could ride the second hand on the clock. There were only about 6 or 7 dancers and as many customers. Nadine was working that night. Tiny, skinny Nadine with her blonde hair and her silicone boobs. Nadine was a ho and everybody knew it.  I hated it when Nadine worked.


After coming off stage, a random guy asked me for a lap dance and I led him into the VIP room. Nadine was already in there with another guy.


I sat my guy down on the love seat a few rows away and chatted while we waited for the next song to begin. When it did, I stood and began to sway to the music, leaning forward, teasing.


“Wow, you’re so fuckin’ hot. Do you do more than dance?”


I roll my eyes in the dark.


“No, I don’t do more than dance.” I say loudly. “But SHE does!” and my chin points to the target with the blonde hair.

“I heard that!” she said.

“I MEANT for you to!”

“Fucking bitch!”

“Fucking whore!”

But we return our attention to our respective customers because business must be taken care of first. Especially in January.
When I’m finished with my customer, Nadine continues on with hers and I head over to the DJ booth, my favourite place, the safe hub with a friendly face.
It’s Danny tonight and we hang out in the tiny booth, shooting the shit for a while. Then I see Nadine storming over towards us.
Danny is in between us. I’m trapped at the back of the booth up against the stereo.
She squeezes into the booth, eyes flashing “You fucking bitch! That was a good customer! Next time keep your mouth shut!”
“Next time keep your legs shut!”
With that she rushed at me and Danny actually backed up to allow access. She swung at me and one of her nails barely touched my face. She tried again but I held her at length- I was bigger than her and had a longer reach. She was furious though and kept trying to hit me until finally she knocked my chin, hard.

That was it. Lizard brain took over. Enlightenment went out the window.

I hauled back and hit her right in the cheek. And as SOON as my fist connected with her face, my back seized up. I felt it instantly and knew what had happened.

Danny finally separated us. We had become the side show.

Nadine went off to the dressing room, changed, and slammed the door as she left and I followed suit as quickly as my pierced body would let me. It felt like a hot wire was strung through my upper back and came out my chest. I couldn’t breathe properly. I was in agony.
I took a cab home, collapsed on my bed and called Brian my boyfriend, crying, and told him what happened.

“Please come over. I feel like I’m dying. I can’t move!”

I spent the night on the floor in my bedroom waiting for 9:00 am to arrive so I could make an emergency chiropractor’s appointment, the clock even slower than it had been at the club. Writhing in this awesome pain, I rolled over onto my side and looked at the back of my door and the truth hit me like I’d hit Nadine’s face.

Love your enemy? Wow. Didn’t do a very good job of that, did I? As soon as I hit her, my body said “Oh yeah?  Take that hypocrite!”

I started to sob at the realization of how quickly I had betrayed this value. The one that counts more than any of them.  How absolutely UNenlightened I was when the rubber hit the road.  The pain in my heart sang with the pain in my back. A duet of failure.

“This is why we keep blowing each other up asshole.” I thought.

Over the next few weeks of lying on my back, I had lots of time to think about what I’d said and done. I had dehumanized Nadine the same way so many others dehumanized me. Instead of a woman, she was a slut. She was a ho. Just like me. Just like all women. That label is there just waiting for us. Sometimes we don’t even have to do anything to get it. But it’s the tool the world uses. It’s the word we hear in anger, in rage. “Whore!” Where does it come from? That rage?

I never saw Nadine again. I always wanted to apologize to her – a sister in the trenches who deserved better than what I gave her. So I’m asking her now. Nadine from GTR in the winter of 1999, and all the Nadines, I’m sorry I ignored your heart and your mind. I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry I whored you.

Why do I recount this story now? I went to the Hooker Monologues last week in Vancouver. I listened to 10 women tell their stories of their time in the sex industry. It was beautiful. Funny. Painful. Poignant. One woman told a story of a man throwing a roll of pennies out his car window as he drove by. It thumped her in the chest, and a hundred pennies cascaded to the ground, his slur “WHORE!” loud enough to hear over the tinkling of the coins on the pavement. It reminded me of the man who wadded up a $20 bill he owed me and threw it across the room. “Go get it, whore!” and he stormed off. We’re all potential whores.  And they know it.

When I was in Christianland I had to denounce all of this. All of the sex industry. And I was rewarded for doing so. I was a spy on the other side. I could give secrets about how bad it was. It was BAD. I had been BAD.

“Of course”, the Christianland people said, “Sex is good! When in holy matrimony. Sealed by the father, and the son and the holy spirit. And those women, those bad women, they can be redeemed by Christ!”
Redeemed. That word always makes me think of a coupon at the supermarket. “Can I redeem this whore please?”

God, how quickly I chucked it all away as a church girl. What was the matter with me? What happened? Was I afraid? Was I afraid of going back and never recovering? Did I really believe all that stuff? Did I really feel that way? I feel so ashamed of having turned so thoroughly, so quickly. “I want to help them get out! Have a better life!”
Why did I stop thinking about the women who wanted that life? Why did their wants no longer count?  Because I knew better?  Because I WAS better?  Because I wasn’t a whore anymore?

If I’m honest with myself, I wonder about a world in which women can be sexual beings without strings attached to their lives, without being beaten, ridiculed, financially punished.  Killed.  Is the negative all attached to patriarchal values?  How much of it is common sense and how much is jealousy?  How much is fear and how much is love?

I know I got perspective on the other side and I am grateful for that.

Still, I KNEW- I KNEW when I got home tonight, I would not be able to share the night with Lloyd the way I would like to.
He scoffed at it. Jokingly.

‘Paula admires the hookers.’ he said in a singsong voice.  Ever so slightly condescending.  Making  fun of them. Of us.  All of us potential whores.

It infuriated me.  It broke my heart because I AM THEM. Whether you like it or not.

I’m going to tell everything.  Everything.  And It’s not a redemption book. I am not being redeemed. It’s non fucking fiction. I’m telling it ALL. I did things.  Things that whores and non whores do.  Sometimes I just wanted to climb right on a dick in the VIP room and fuck myself.   I wonder…what would have been the harm in that?  Do we DARE let our women loose like that?  I guess that’s why they call us loose eh?  Cause that’s exactly what we are.

Is this gap just too wide to bridge?  And how will we build that bridge?  Is he even interested in meeting me in the middle anymore?  It’ll be interesting to see if he still loves me at the end.

Whore!

Where does the rage come from?

I have a lot to think about.

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4 comments on “The Hooker Monologues Originally written March 2016- discovered in drafts”

  1. Sheila Reply

    Thank you for posting this, Paula. I was a sobbing mess during the Hooker Monologues and probably not the best listener afterwards either. It was an awesome show, and I’m so glad I got to hear this from you now. I’m with you on the TELL ALL. I think this is the year for both of us. xo

    • Paula Howley Reply

      Sheila, you have been such a valuable friend for me because you have been there during my transformation and cared about me through it all. I have such a great deal of respect for you, your goals for world-changing and love and life-enhancement. We should do a double book tour. Not that I know when that damned book is gonna be finished. lol

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