the down side

“Tara!” Angel hissed, grabbing my arm and pulling me towards the bathroom. Her brows knotted together and she nodded her head at the door dramatically. I put my head to the door and could barely hear raised voices through the steady thuds of the heavy metal playing in the club. I pushed the door open a couple inches and looked in.

A tall, muscular black girl was holding a tiny pretty Asian girl by the hair and bashing her head off the bathroom stalls.

“Get the bouncer,” I whispered to Angel.

I used to just jump right into these situations, fists flying. I’m a lot more laid back now. A lot less willing to deal with the lost income that comes from a black eye.

“Hey!” I yelled, stepping into the bathroom. It’s a trick I learned working in a biker bar with no bouncers. If you yell “hey” just in the way you would to break up a dog fight everyone will freeze. And they did.

“Get to work,” the big girl told the tiny one, pushing her towards me.

The bouncer came running up behind me. “What the fuck is going on here?!”

“Nothings going on. Passion, tell the man everythings fine.”

Passion, the tiny one, looked up at us with tears running down her face. “It’s fine,” she sobbed.

The bouncer, a sweet kid who’s really never seen anything like this before, looked at me nervously. I looked at the two new girls. Maybe the bigger one was Passion’s pimp?

“I was told there was a fight in here,” he said.

“We gotta get ready to work.” The bigger girl pushed past us, tiny one in tow.

“I’ll get the manager.” She was hard to find. When I finally found her and filled her in on the latest dressing room drama she ran back to the dressing room.

The bigger girl was getting in our bouncer’s face, yelling that nothing was going on, when I dashed back into the dressing room behind the manager. “What the hell is going on here?!” she yelled.

“Tell the lady everything’s fine, Passion.”

The bouncer fidgeted. “I was told they were fighting in the bathroom.”

The big girl stepped up even closer to him. “I told you everything’s fine, fuck face. What the hell is your problem?”

I could see Misty, a rather street smart girl who’s roommates with the bouncer kicking her stripper shoes off.

“All right, just pack up your shit and get out, we don’t need this drama,” the manager announced.

“Oh we don’t mean no disrespect, ma’am, we just lovin your club and we ain’t disrespecting you at all. Passion, tell the lady everythings fine.”

“Everything ain’t fine and I can’t have you talking to my security like that. Now pack up your shit and get out.”

“You can’t make that girl leave with that girl that was beating her up,” I told the manager.

“I don’t need the drama, Tara.”

I glared at her. The girls were almost dressed.

“Look,” the manager announced “you can stay, but we need to get you out of here. Here, my bouncer’s going to walk you out.”

“Passion ain’t staying without me.”

“She’ll make up her own mind, you can wait out front for her.”

The big girl pulled out her phone and started dialing as she walked out of the dressing room with the bouncer.

The manager took a deep breath. “Look, if you wanna stay get your shit outta the car and we’ll lock it up back here, but that’s only if you’re ready to get away from that shit. Now I got a club to run.”

The tiny one looked up at me and asked to use my phone. Sure. She called her pimp. He told her to leave with the big mean girl. She cried and she whined. “Ronny, she’s gonna fuck me up, she was fucking me up in the bathroom.”

Ronny was clicking back and forth between hoes, so I talked to her while she was waiting for him.

She was from Minneapolis, and she wasn’t spilling any of her secrets. I told her I’d hook her up with a place to stay and there were plenty of people here who would help keep her safe. I pulled out my best routine from when I used to volunteer at the womens shelter. It wasn’t working, she was only focused on how to get back to her pimp without riding with the other girl.

The other girl was still out front, on the phone with the pimp.

Finally the manager came back and told her to dump the pimp or leave. She left.

The club was mostly in shock. We don’t have that kind of thing up here. A girl from Florida explained the pimping dynamics to us: Passion must be the new hoe, and the older hoe was the enforcer for the pimp, who wouldn’t do anything uncharming for a few months yet.

I wonder what makes some people so unable to save their own lives. I’ve been there, a little. But I’ve always left. I’ve never been afraid to set off cross country with my dogs and what I could fit in a barely running car to get away from a bad situation. I think that there’s a point, everyone’s gotta have a point, where they’ll get up and do whatever they need to do to save themselves. For me it’s pretty close to the surface, but for some people it’s so buried that they won’t find it until they are half dead, and I only hope they have the strength to save themselves then.

I still have the pimps number in my phone.

10/28/15 – When I wrote this story eight years ago I used words that I now understand are offensive. I’ve removed them and I sincerely apologize for my previous ignorance.


  1. I can learn how to change my car’s water pump AND how to get a stripping gig all on the same blog! That’s just awesome.

    Seriously, your blog’s a great read, I’m fascinated.

  2. Ain’t it great? I mean, it’s not like she’s writing about real people and real situations or anything. This is just empty bullshit, just like Seinfeld! There was no woman having her head bashed in by her pimp’s enforcer. There are no people who really don’t know how to control their own lives. No, of course not; that’s only in cop shows on television.

    Oh, and in this blog. Car parts and made-up stories. Yeah, that’s right. Back to your…whatever. Nothing to see here.

  3. I doubt you would see a scene like that in Thailand. Unless it was the girls fighting because one of them had stolen another ones girlfriend, like hookers the world over they tend to have long-term relationships with other women and they can be very jealous. Pimps generally don’t exist, at least not in the areas where the hookers meet foreigners, I suspect that the local only brothels may be different, but generally the girls seem to come and go as they like and manage their own business affairs. The girls who have been working the longest all seem to have chronic problems with drink or drugs and most frequently gambling, but everyone knows it is a bad idea to get on the wrong side of a Thai money-lender!

  4. It is quite shocking!! 😯 I do agree with Sam from Seattle. It is very sad. I would like to really know whatever happened to the sacred whore image! Some of these women end up dead! I don’t know about the stripping biz but there has been talk about trying to protect the prostitutes in their biz. Well, atleast there is talk about it up here in Canada.

    What are your views on this?


  5. I tend to think of it as more of a social issue that’s reflected in laws than as a legal issue. Any legal attempt to “protect” sex workers usually just further marginalizes and fucks with us more – like the Nevada prostitution laws that basically make prostitutes a prisoner in the whorehouse for the period that they work, or the Canada laws preventing any of us from dancing in Canada because we could be sex trafficked. I won’t pretend to know first hand, but it seems like Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Australia have great sex industries. I’ve seen posters, I think from Amsterdam, that were part of a campaign to help women being abused by pimps. The posters were aimed at clients and listed signs of abuse and gave information on how to help her. I thought that was great.

    But as long as culture equates sex with violence and violence with sex we’ll have this kind of thing. Which is part of why I’m a stripper, it gives me the opportunity to interact with people sexually on a personal level and reinforce un-fucked up versions of sexuality.

  6. The bottom line is that the industry should be ran by sex workers. That is why I and the organization pressing for decriminalization for consenting adult sex work; in fact, we are currently launching a constitutional challenge with the courts to do just that in Canada.

    We advocate for the same models that New South Wales Australia and that New Zealand have. It has been proven time and time again that this way drastically lowers violence committed against sex workers.

    To find out more, feel free visit

    We don’t need pimps, whether they are government, asshole boyfriends, or asshats who want to be thugs. We can take care of our own business, and many of us welcome third party assistance, sans the beats, control and the ugly polyester suits.

  7. Pingback: vans shoes
  8. The bottom line is that the industry should be ran by sex workers.

    If you want that to happen, then it needs to be legalized, period. The current system of pimps, cops, the prison industry, and the drug dealers is all a predictable result of trying to legislate private behavior.

  9. That was a heroic effort on your part, in trying to rescue Passion. But one thing: please refrain from calling Asian women “china dolls.” As a Korean-American female, I can say that we already have to deal with racialized exoticism and are often woefully typecast as subservient, delicate, and effete. The usage of “china doll” only diminishes us further. In fact, I have masqueraded around the streets of Seattle with a DIY sign attached to my messenger bag that read: NOT YOUR CHINA DOLL–ASIAN FETISHISTS, FUCK OFF. Just a reminder–otherwise, this is a well written and compassionate piece.

  10. Vicki Harbath / Thank you for sharing your joreuny. I have been on a similar joreuny. You are courageous; I really get it about not getting the reality of it. There is no preparation for something like that. In fact I don’t think I got the reality until it was over. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. Your friend. v

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *