Prostitution and addiction. Whores and drugs. Not all prostitutes are addicts, and only some prostitutes become streetwalkers. But all streetwalkers are hooked.
It is easy to condemn and demonize these girls, whereas it requires effort to try to understand and humanize them. Once you hear their tragic life stories, you can no longer regard them as criminals or monsters or demons. The demons may or may not lurk in the drugs they use. But demons surely reside in our fears of the drugs we do not use and therefore do not know.
As a chronic addict, upon hitting the streets she usually comes with a four- or five-year expiration date stamped on her forehead. Knowing or hoping her days are numbered, she recites her life story as though dictating her last testament. And when she willingly poses for photos, it is as though for her high school yearbook, so we her classmates might commemorate her. At ease in a front passenger seat, her familiar workplace, she stares out boldly and frankly. With few years left to live, she has little left to hide. Makeup poorly conceals blemishes and abscesses, when flash illuminates flesh. Hair and sleeves barely cover pockmarks and track marks, when photography memorializes tragedy.
Patrolling the streets of the three small cities of Connecticut’s casino country, they gamble with their lives. Theirs are stories of professional addicts, not of professional prostitutes. As IV drug users, many of them now are dead from hepatitis or OD or AIDS. As sex workers, three were murdered, two of them unsolved, their cold cases unclosed. The funeral procession seems endless, so this chronicle too eludes closure. Most books have conclusions, but some just close. Most lives have endings, but these girls’ lives just end.
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NOTES on the CAPTIONS
NAMES, especially first names, could very well be aliases, pseudonyms, nicknames, or street names. Yet in most cases, their first names have been either confirmed with or corrected to those by which the State of Connecticut identifies them in its Dept of Public Safety crime logs and its Dept of Corrections inmate listings.
ADDICTION is unfortunately the single attribute that most clearly defines their lives. Yet this is largely because their addictions are to drugs against which their country has fought a long losing war. If their drugs were decriminalized and therefore affordable, their lives would be peaceful. Though unstated, most are addicted also to caffeine and all but two to tobacco. Indeed, cigarette smoking is a visible indicator of more addictions, just hidden.
AGE, or rather aging, is severely accelerated by life on the streets, of which drug use and sex work are two elements. Most women, not just these women, lie about their ages. But most ages as stated here have been confirmed in crime logs and inmate listings.
CHILDREN almost all are in foster care or permanently adopted out. For the few women who have borne no children, that is listed. But if the number is unknown, then nothing is stated. While their number of children may not concern us, it is important to the mothers. Want to make these women cry? Ask them about their children.
LOCATION sometimes is identified in the embedded texts, but is omitted from the captions. With four exceptions, all these portraits were shot on the streets of the three small cities clustered around Connecticut’s casino country. A former whaling port, New London hosts the Coast Guard Academy and across the river a Navy Submarine Base. Inland ten miles north of New London is Norwich, and ten miles northwest of Norwich is Willimantic, dubbed “Heroin Town” by The Hartford Courant. Norwich and New London serve as nearby transportation hubs for Connecticut’s two Indian casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.
YEAR photo’d and age are the only biographical texts both embedded in the photos and repeated in the captions. Otherwise the captions below the photos supplement rather than repeat the texts within the photos.
All texts are the women’s own words, recorded on audiotape. I transcribed the tapes, then edited their stories. I never added any text, but I did do much shuffling and much deleting. “Like, umm, you know what I’m saying?” I also am writing a literary book, of which more than 100 pages are fully completed, consisting of half my introductions in my words and half their stories in their words. But that’s another story.
A Streetwalker's Guide to the City
Sex has been bought and sold, bartered and cajoled, throughout history around the world and in a multitude of marketplaces. In the 21st century, sex shops have expanded exponentially after the invention of online listings for escorts.
The casino hotels in the vicinity of New London and Norwich are hedonist hotbeds for Internet call girls whose specialties are quick outcalls from one hotel room to another. To patronize them, johns must bed down in the casino hotel rooms, for which management has no rates for short stays. For couch potato home boys, luxury Barbie doll call girls based in New Haven and Hartford and Providence are on call round the clock, for which their consortia of escort services tack on hefty travel surcharges. To tickle their fancies, the locavores among the johns strike deals closer to home, for which they depend upon a rainbow coalition of streetwalkers.
When testosterone saturates brain cells and sperm spills onto city streets, the honor of dispensing condoms is delegated to the streetwalkers. No exploitive pimps, only a preponderance of prostitutes. No sex slaves trafficked from Albania or Cambodia or Nigeria, merely girls next-door enslaved to crack or coke or dope. As street vendors, the janes are independent entrepreneurs. Rather than as cutthroat competitors, they share camaraderie as street sisters. Danger on the streets never lurks in their sisters, but in their customers and the cops.
Carnal commerce is initiated anywhere that a female pedestrian can cast a luring gaze at a passing male motorist. The janes conceive of themselves as the hunters and their johns as the hunted. No bag limit, no closed season, no closed territory. Favored downtown hunting grounds, however, do exist.
U.S. Route 1 meanders through the hearts of many Eastern seaboard cities, and sometimes through their groins too. On its southern terminus in Miami, US 1 is a major streetwalker street fair. To the Yankee north, the historic route occasionally serves as hunting grounds in New London too. The janes, some Black and most White, some by day and most by night, often work two circuits, usually clockwise, of intersecting streets, both residential and commercial, that they call collectively their strolls. Their strolls are routes to bankroll their heroin or coke or crack, as well as their legal but lethal nicotine and alcohol.
Crying all the way to the bank, streetwalkers do not walk the streets for the money. At twenty or thirty bucks for a blowjob and at fifty or sixty for a lay, that is not much money. Rather, they work for a rock of crack or for a bag of heroin. Advised Tracey, “The point is not to make money, the point is to get high.” High finance. Inevitably, janes end up in jail. Otherwise, if the streets do not kill them, the street drugs do.
While the Internet has siphoned many johns and janes off the streets, the city street still remains a popular meeting place, an open-air meat market whose doors never close, not even on Christmas. Exposed to constant vigil, however, streetwalkers become walking targets of the public’s ire.
When the streets host a surge of janes, and especially if their solicitations turn flagrant, irate residents and distraught city officials clamor for a cleanup. But street crime is fluid, like water in a balloon. Apply pressure here, and it bulges there. When New London cops push on Broad Street, janes pivot 90 degrees and march a few blocks to Truman Street. When Norwich cops apply heat to Boswell Avenue, janes head to Central Ave. Put the heat on all of downtown of New London, and the girls bum rides from johns, traveling 14 miles to Norwich. And vice-versa. And wherever janes go, johns soon follow.
When cops clamp down, they hope to arrest both girls and guys. But johns outnumber janes 100 to one, if not 500 to one. So pursuing just the janes yields longer lasting results and more busts for the buck. One plainclothes officer in an unmarked car and two uniformed officers in a squad car are sufficient to snag janes, whereas reeling in johns requires dangling a policewoman as bait and positioning many policemen to cast a wide net around her. So cops lasso the janes one at a time, one day at a time, whereas they wait to mount massive sting operations to ensnare the johns.
Poke your nose into or point your browser to The Day, New London’s newspaper which covers also Norwich. Turn to Page B2, the crime log, which could be appropriately titled The Night. Those pages show ample evidence that janes get hauled into court on prostitution charges at least once or twice a month, while johns are corralled for patronizing prostitutes barely once or twice a year.
In some precincts, police are tacitly encouraged to meet arrest quotas, which provides an incentive for busting janes more often than johns. Plus there is the issue of personal safety for public safety officers. As females, janes pose far less physical threat to cops than do male johns. Or johns could be carrying contraband such as drugs in their cars, or their cars could be stolen, or they may lack valid driver licenses or car registrations, so already behind the wheel they are more prone to flee the crime scene. As most cops and all johns are male while all janes are female, feminist theorists might posit gender bias as an underlying if unacknowledged motive for ignoring the johns while targeting the janes.
If janes suffer from persecution complexes, it is because they really are persecuted. And then prosecuted. In Connecticut, prostitution is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail. During stings, offenders usually are detained in precinct holding cells until after the sting concludes, which just happens to be long enough to render the heroin addicts dopesick. They then are released without bail on their promises to later appear in court. In court, their cases usually end with plea bargains in exchange for suspended sentences. Expressed in the vernacular, the streetwalkers walk.
Repeat offenders, or those without valid ID’s, or those arrested also for possession of drug paraphernalia or drugs, usually post a small bond, and then are released from custody on their promises to appear in court. So then, too, the streetwalkers walk.
But those with pending offenses from which they already have walked may need to post more substantial bonds. Such previous offenses usually are for drug possession or hustles to fund drugs, typically passing bad checks, using stolen credit cards, shoplifting, and, rarely, burglary. Another frequently pending offense stems from not having shown up for a previous court date, which is called a Failure to Appear. These occur with such frequency that they are abbreviated FTA. In such cases, the money that the defendants posted is forfeited to the court. Because such forfeiture adds revenue to the judicial system, bond can be posted even for charges of FTA’s, as though to encourage further failure. And then, too, the streetwalkers walk.
When the seriousness of one major crime overshadows any lesser crimes for which a defendant also is being prosecuted, that one crime is called the “controlling crime.” Drug possession, prostitution, impersonation, forgery and larceny are rarely controlling crimes. Nor is Failure to Appear. The jane’s underlying crime actually is addiction, for which her controlling crime really is Failure to Disappear.
Once cases at long last are adjudicated, janes eventually get sent to the pen. Admission to prison is a rite of passage common to every Connecticut jane. Connecticut’s sole prison for its female inmates, York Correctional Institution for Women, is conveniently located merely 8 miles from New London’s police stations and courthouses. While in York, janes at least are off drugs and off the streets. And temporarily disappeared.
During late spring and all summer, the natives are restless. With rising temperatures, apartment dwellers stream onto the sidewalks and streets to catch some breeze. With lengthening days, urban residents stay out later into the night. More janes go streetwalking and more johns go cruising, so more local residents start complaining, so maybe, just maybe, more cops go patrolling.
The season was early summer, long awaited by both students and teachers. The day was Friday, eagerly anticipated by both workers and bosses. In New London, large scale stings have a long and rich tradition of being staged mostly during summer days and always on Fridays. In Norwich, on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
Meet Trish, Connecticut Inmate Number 222-571. Trish was the first jane who knew a sting was descending upon New London.
Trish had dropped out of school and left home at age 16. At 22, still unschooled and homeless, Trish was holed up at a friend’s apartment. Forget rent, Trish could not keep up payments even on a cellphone with measly measured minutes. All her money went to crack. All else she begged, borrowed, boosted, or bought forestalled on installment plans. Buy now, pay never.
Despite a life immersed in petty drug crimes, Trish had retained her apple-shaped cheeks on her baby face with, along with her baby fat on her pear-shaped body. Unlike her crackhead street sisters, all who were scary skinny, Trish was pleasantly plump, but mainly because when she started smoking crack she was unattractively obese. Crack would be part of her weight loss plan, if she had one, as her usual planning spanned only from one day to next. Or by a long stretch, from Thursday evening to Saturday morning.
On her friend’s phone, Trish got a call, whose caller’s identity she would not divulge. Meaning, he was a cop. According to janes, who do tend to embellish their stories, some less respectable cops when off-duty will patronize some less reprehensible janes. This New London cop phoned early Thursday evening to warn Trish not to go tricking the next day, Friday. In fact he told her not to leave the house, which advice Trish intended to heed all the way to Saturday morning.
Trish already had been arrested in two previous stings, each on a Friday.
One fine Friday nine months earlier, Trish was among three janes and 22 johns arrested on prostitution charges, along with five men busted for drugs. Cops first busted the janes to clear the playing field, then planted their own decoy to snare the johns. The newspaper headline read: Police Arrest 30 in City Prostitution, Drug Stings. The brief news story ended with: “Police gave no details as to the location or the timing of the operation.”
Another fine Friday one year earlier, Trish was among three janes and 25 johns arrested, along with 13 druggies busted. The newspaper headline heralded: 40 Arrested in Sting for Prostitution and Drugs. This time the authorities did provide the news media with the gory details.
The operation required 22 policemen, most working undercover, and one undercover policewoman. It required the coordinated efforts of police of New London and its two contiguous communities Waterford and Groton, as well as Connecticut state police of the Eastern District Statewide Narcotics Task Force. The bust was heralded as a great success, and the lengthy news story ended with: “Just the paperwork will keep police busy for a week and a half.” Busy and off the streets.
Two weeks after that sting, when jane and johns all appeared on the same court docket, Trish knew half of the johns and she could sniff out the other half. But the johns pretended not to recognize Trish and tried not to acknowledge one another, even though they all obliquely faced each other huddled on the hard wooden benches lined along the walls of the cramped lobby of the G.A.10 Courthouse.
Felonious crimes are adjudicated two long blocks away in the Superior Courthouse, the oldest in Connecticut and one of oldest continuously serving county courthouses in the entire nation. Its original Colonial shingled building, completed in 1784, now is a small wing appended to the larger 20th century structure. Over the latter’s white brick modern main entrance is emblazoned the logo State of Connecticut Superior Courthouse.
Misdemeanors and civil cases, however, are relegated to the G.A.10 Courthouse, over which entrance is tacked on the single syllable word, Court. Law abiding nearby residents who never enter do not know it as G.A.10, nor do summoned visitors know what G.A. abbreviates or what 10 enumerates. Some local folks refer to it sarcastically as the Inferior Courthouse.
Built in 1891, the inferior courthouse’s Romanesque Revival building originally was an old school that even during the 19th century looked more like a prison or an armory than a schoolhouse or a courthouse. An old school of the old school, its weathered brick-red brick facade is historic and impressive, but its cramped interior is merely old and dilapidated. A physical manifestation of the city’s and state’s perpetual budget shortfalls and inevitable fiscal potholes, the edifice’s neglect is a shining example of what administrators euphemistically refer to as “deferred maintenance.”
The waiting area in the lobby is frigid in the winter and torrid in the summer because the unsheltered main entrance opens directly into the lobby. Plus the waiting area is inhospitable year round because it serves as a passageway to the stairs and elevator. Use of cellphones is prohibited. The constant foot traffic is hardly conducive to reading. And so the accused sit there in discomfort and wait. And wait.
The waiting is punishment meted out to both guilty and innocent alike. When even the guilty are acquitted, as they often are, they joyfully dupe themselves into thinking they got off scot-free, when in reality their taking a day off from work and losing a day’s pay and driving to New London and waiting nearly all day in that gloomy lobby is often the one penalty the judiciaries ever exact.
Janes, too, have workdays, and especially work nights, from which the hook of addiction forbids any holidays or medical leave or personal days off. After receiving that call on Thursday, Trish planned to stay out late to turn enough tricks to buy enough crack to last her until Saturday. As though there were such thing as enough crack. Trish knew that when a sting is in progress the cops nab all the janes they see even if at the time they are not working the streets.
Big busts make newspaper headlines sometimes with mug shots. When little else newsworthy is happening in the world they even are reported on TV news. Such media coverage advances the illusion that the War on Drug Addicts is being won. Busts that net small catches, however, are generally assigned to the crime log on left side page B2. In order to keep herself off page B2, Trish indeed stayed home on Friday.
Donna did not stay home that Friday, and so became the first New London jane to be targeted by Operation Clean Sweep.
Donna was a 31-year-old frizzy blonde-haired friendly-faced woman with whom any guy would enjoy a roll in the hay, but not necessarily if he had to pay. Of course, pay is what some guys did. Five months later, Donna OD’d and died. Ironically, had she been busted during this sting and appeared in court weeks later and then gone to jail for six months on a prostitution charge, she might not have OD’d. But on this fine Friday a little before noon in June, Donna eluded capture.
Donna was perched on the bench on State Street across from the Mohican Hotel, a once venerable old landmark one block from City Hall and four blocks from the once venerable old inferior courthouse. Same as the courthouse, the hotel had lost its former grandeur, declining into Section 8 publically subsidized housing for the elderly and disabled.
Renamed Mohican Senior Apartments, its one enduring feature is its height. At eleven stories, upon its completion in 1896 it became the tallest building in all of Connecticut, but currently remains tallest only in New London. Its top floor terraces abutting the penthouse ballroom peer over the city, which being formerly a bustling whaling port and now a sedate shipping port. The city’s mostly squat edifices are built on level terrain. Thus the terraces provide sweeping views of most of the city and of the Long Island Sound.
The unique view immediately below, however, is what most holds the interests of many New Londoners. From there, one can look down upon the johns in their cars driving around and around as though circling a racetrack. Its perimeter includes Jay and Truman and Huntington and Broad and Hempstead and Washington Streets, with an occasional detour onto the straight path of State Street.
Seated upon that State Street bench as though a bleacher around that racetrack, Donna was minding her own business, which happened to be soliciting customers by way of a very cautious glance to lone male motorists. You can seldom recognize a jane by how she looks. You can always recognize her by how she looks at you. At night, her mere presence on that bench might signal her intent. By day, those johns who recognized her from her nocturnal vigils would know what she was up to. For all the others, her furtive glance sufficed.
Until the diurnal arrival of a rival.
Twelve years ago, I started doing heroin. Oh god, I got so addicted. I used to do a bundle a day, which is ten bags, just to get out of bed, just to be normal. I’ve never been arrested for possession, never. All my arrests are due to crimes due to drugs. Everything from breach of peace to robbery, shoplifting, checks. I’ll take your check and write it out to me, and go to the bank and cash it. I’ve been streetwalking now for eight years. A long time. Do I like it? No!
I’ve been busted for prostitution twice. I was totally stupid, I’d been smoking crack. It was two officers in a car, I got in, I was in the back seat. In court, they threw the case out, it was so flimsy. The second time, I pled guilty and got probation for a year, and I made it through probation.
This time, they had a sting. They tried and tried to bust me. I was on the bench outside the Mohican Hotel. This guy picked me up. So obvious, you get in the car and the first thing they want to know is, well, how much for a blowjob? They’re too obvious, I tell them this. Then a guy walked by me, I looked at him, and he looked at me, and he stood there. I just sensed it, I let him go.
You just learn, I can sense it, undercover, I just know. Then the undercover streetwalker came and sat next to me on the bench, and said, “How’s business?” I said, “Excuse me?”
You ain’t out there prostituting with a pocketbook, but she is. I said, “Lady, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’ve never seen her before.
The undercover streetwalker, the mike is in the pocketbook, or in the hat. And a lollipop, because that’s their signal. See, she can’t get in the car with you. So when she tells you, “Go over there to my house,” and you drive away, and she starts sucking on that lollipop, that let’s them know that you have propositioned her, and they go and get you. The lollipop is her cue, you see her sucking on that lollipop, you better get out of there.
So I got up, I started to walk down the street, and I noticed the guy still standing there, so I walked by him, and I said, “You know what, you are so stupid. You think I’m stupid?” And he’s just looking at me. Well, a friend of mine drove up. So now, I’m in the middle of the street, and I’m screaming, “I’m going with him. You want to follow me?”
They focus on petty shit. People are getting killed, you got major drug dealers down here, and they’re worried about me, sitting here on a bench, or getting into that car. Come on, guys, is it that important to get me?
Donna escaped being swept away that day, but the third jane who became intimately acquainted with Operation Clean Sweep indeed ended in its dustbin.
Meet Tammy, 28 years old, also a blonde like Donna, but unlike Donna Tammy’s life on the streets had made her look aged and haggard, crusty and mean. She not only looked mean, she was mean. She was a professed lesbian with an archetypal butch look, including a crew cut except for bangs over her forehead. Were it not for her pear-shaped body, she could be mistaken for being a stocky male, for which she may have hated herself, as she was a man-hater who freely verbalized her loathing. In her world, all women were janes and all men were johns. And In her world view, all janes were angels suffering from dyspareunia and all johns were devils suffering from priapism. Vagina as halo, penis as pitchfork.
She was seated upon a retaining wall alongside a park, with her hands in her pockets, with her belly bulging between the top of her pants and the bottom of her blouse, with her body bent forward in a defensive pose. She scowled at men in passing cars. Who the heck would stop for her? She was a woman with whom most guys would decline any intimacy, even if she were smiling. Yet someone must have been paying, because like a black widow spider that weaves its web only where insects are lurking, she was out there waiting. One john who did stop for her dispensed some free business advice: “Try to smile, even if it hurts.”
Tammy stopped smiling at age 7, when she suffered her step-uncle’s sexual abuse, which cauterized her emotions. By age 19, she trod a predictable path to alcoholism. At 21, to crack addiction. During the preceding seven years, she failed at 13 drug rehabs and floundered during three stints in jail. She lived in Norwich, but used New London as her “running ground.” On that fine and fateful Friday, she happened to be in running mode, which events she recounted one week later.
It was around 12 noon. He looked like a regular guy, clean cut, short hair, clean shaven, but with two days growth. He drove a silver Thunderbird, a sporty car. He pulled up ahead of me, in the direction I was walking, so I got right into the car. Usually I am more cautious.
I got picked up on Broad Street, we rode toward Hodges Square. He said he had 20. I said, No, I need 30. He didn’t say for what, and neither did I.
I got a weird feeling, and looked in the passenger side mirror, and there were two cars behind us, undercover cars. I said, Pull over, let me out right now. He pulled over, but it wasn’t to let me out. Then the other cars pulled behind us. They came out, they were in plainclothes. They told me to come out of the vehicle. So I got arrested for prostitution, and they had a paddy wagon nearby, drove to the police station.
They booked me for prostitution and possession of drug paraphernalia, kept me there till the whole sting was over, eight hours later they let me out at 9 o’clock at night. They released me, without bail, on a promise to appear in court two weeks later. I want to plead in my defense, to say I’m an addict, that I need help rather than prison.
Since the arrest, I try to stay clean. I go a couple of days, then I mess up again. Like right now.
Next meet Mindy. Just off Broad Street, in broad daylight, she sat along Hempstead Street upon a retaining wall of a small park. The park was an old cemetery whose gravestones were removed and whose coffins were disinterred, except those whose occupants had perished from smallpox or yellow fever. Their smoldering remains remain. Bodies no longer were buried there, but their souls might still be burrowed there. The retaining wall became a hot spot where only a jane would want to seen precisely because only janes were known to sit there.
Mindy’s was a new face on the block. Mindy was 31 or 32 or at most 33, stood 5’5’’ or at most 5’6”. Her straight dark shoulder-length hair looked shampoo clean and conditioner shiny. Her blue denim dungarees lacked fashionable holes at the knees, lacked visible wear, lacked stains or soil marks, appeared straight off the clothing store rack. Her V-necked, short-sleeved, neat and clean, baby blue blouse was the type of hospital scrubs worn by the sleepy orderly who rolls her comatose patient into the vestibule of the operating room.
In small cities, streetwalkers do not dress the part as do their big city sisters. No stiletto high heel shoes, no skintight leather black pants, no neon red vests, no tigress eyelashes, no lioness eyebrows, no fluorescent pink wigs. Small city janes warn, “If she dresses like a streetwalker, she’s a cop.” Whatever the occasion, a jane rarely dress for the season or the weather. If it is raining, she wears a fluffy sweatshirt. If it is freezing, she is bareheaded, lacks gloves, scarf, sometimes even a coat. If it is snowing, she has holes in her knees and splits in her shoes. She rarely dons clothes that are clean, and if new they are newly shoplifted.
Mindy’s eyebrows were tweezed but she otherwise lacked makeup, nor might she have benefitted by any. Her complexion was clear. She was a plain jane, not a knockout, but desirable nonetheless. And she flashed a pretty smile. A smile! Meaning no misery. Something else she lacked was a cig. Instead, intermittently waving it in the air like a magic wand, she licked a lollipop. The Lollipop Cop!
Meet Officer Mindy R. Sparkman, a five-year veteran of the New London Police Department. Out of uniform and without her officer’s hat, however, few would recognize her. Few johns, anyway.
And not Mr Friendly Man. Around 2pm, along he drove, minding his own business, which was interviewing street janes with his audio recorder and photographing them with his pocket camera. He was driving a silver-green sporty Nissan 240SX. Nissan named it 240 as a subliminal switcheroo of 420, the counterculture code for cannabis. And SX as subliminal shorthand for SeX. Good ol’ sex and drugs.
Drugs and sex are irresistible marketing tools to entice macho male drivers. But more of an aged hippie, Mr Friendly Man bought the two-door hatchback 240SX because its wide doors and low seats were ideal for loading his folded wheelchair over his lap and onto the passenger seat or for stashing his crutches behind him into the cargo area.
Years earlier, he had dived off a footbridge but did not land right, which fractured a vertebrae, which injured his spinal cord, which paralyzed him below the waist. While he remained incurably heterosexual above the waist, but was irreversibly neutered below. He had no need to get his rocks off because he had no rocks. Thus deaf to the songs of the Sirens like Odysseus’ crew members with beeswax in their ears, Mr Man’s wheelchair and crutches were shield and swords, protection and weapon against allegations of sexual misconduct. He had been provided a perfect alibi for consorting with prostitutes.
Mr Man was driving north, Mindy was facing south. She casually turned her gaze toward him. He slowed down, passed her, then casually pulled over. She casually turned around, and casually walked toward his car. He casually rolled down the passenger-side window, casually leaned to his right, casually peered out that window. She casually stood there, silently.
At this critical juncture, a john might ask, “Want a ride?” And a jane would reply with few or no words and with one action. She would hop in. Together they would flee the crime scene, and while fleeing negotiate a plan and a price. The Lollipop Cop, however, veered from the script. She stepped forward, bent down to peer through the passenger-side window, but rather than enter the car she stood her ground.
Mindy (removing the lollipop from her mouth): “Are you stopping for me?”
Man: “Yes. Are you stopping for me?”
Mindy (with her right hand holding the lollipop in front of her): “That depends on what you have in mind.”
Man: “I want to talk with you.”
Mindy (poking the lollipop through the opened car window): “That’s all?”
Man: “Yes. But not here, this is a bad place to talk. Would you get in, so we can drive somewhere else?”
Mindy (with disinterest): “No. We can go to my place. I live right over here.”
Standing on Hempstead Street, Mindy points with her left hand to Borodell Place, named after Ann Borodell, whose husband built a house on Hempstead Street into which the newlyweds settled in 1651. Ann’s Borodell? Or Mindy’s bordello?
Man: “I’d rather just talk. I’ll pay you, the same as for what you otherwise might be doing.”
Mindy (perking up): “40 dollars?”
Man: “Maybe that much. Only this is a legal transaction.”
Mindy (raising her voice): ”Illegal transaction?!?”
Man: “No. A legal transaction. Paying you just to talk is legal. The same if I were to pay you to shovel the snow off my walk.”
Mindy (disappointed): “I don’t shovel snow.”
Man (disappointed): “Look, it’s your choice. I just want to hear your story. Simply don’t tell me anything you don’t want me to know. I just want to talk.”
Mindy (frustrated): “No. I don’t want to talk.”
Man (frustrated): “Okay. Bye.”
What a blow to Mr Friendly Man’s ego! Rejected by a street jane! He drove away feeling like a kicked dog slinking away with its tail tucked between its legs. He thought, she was being either overly cautious or exceedingly modest. But caution and modesty are not traits characteristically exhibited by more seasoned janes. Perhaps, she was a shy newcomer to the trade. Then a light bulb flashed inside his head and Friendly Man realized the snow job she had pulled on him. What the …! She was a cop!
A glimmer of understanding had shined upon him. The Law had made manifest a human face. Until then, Man’s fertile imagination had conjured undercover cops posing as janes looking like an Amazonian Dominatrix whip in hand, or maybe some sultry temptress lusting to cavort upon a waterbed. Instead, she was a middle aged Shirley Temple on the Good Ship Lollipop.
She looked neither like a jane nor a cop, the latter possibly because no female ever looks like a cop. But other signs betrayed her true identity. First, she was not smoking a signature cigarette, the sure outer sign of an addict. Second, she lacked that wasted grunge look of a street addict. Third, she chatted too long and too casually, when she should have hopped right away into the getaway car. The dead giveaway was that she never entered the car at all, because a decoy jane never does, else she might be held hostage during the bust.
When real janes enter real johns’ cars, the friendly first thing they sometimes ask is, “Are you a cop?” Janes believe if a cop lies about not being a cop, that is entrapment, which would be grounds for the judge to dismiss the case in court. Not true. Or janes sometimes propose, “You touch my breast and I’ll touch your cock, and then we’ll both know neither of us is a cop.” Not true, too.
Experienced janes ask few questions and offer few proposals, but do make one overreaching assumption. To a jane, all males look like johns, so even cops can look like johns. No male looks too tall and handsome to be a john. No male looks too clean cut and well dressed to be a john. Or looks too clean shaven or too long bearded. Or too filthy rich or too dirt poor. Or too old and decrepit, or too young and innocent. Or too married or too clerical or even too gay. Janes instead learn to silently sniff out an undercover cop, for which a cop leaves many scents along his trail.
Right off, rather than risk delay during which a jane might be picked up by a real john, a cop upon spotting a jane will boldly maneuver his car into position alongside her even if he must make a U-turn, whereas a genuine john would turn at the next intersection to circle around the block. A cop does not care about attracting attention or about being seen picking her up, whereas a genuine john might turn onto a side street where he might more discreetly await her approach.
Scent Two, once she sits down in his car and the two of them haul ass and drive away, a cop may appear calm and even relieved that his mission is nearly completed, whereas a genuine john is jittery, is nervous about being seen by cops, may even be suspicious that the stranger in his car is a cop. Actually, he has reason to be even more apprehensive of her if she is not a cop. If you admitted into your car a stranger who you rightfully can assume is a convicted felon and drug addict and who is likely carrying drug works and maybe carrying infectious diseases, you too would be worried.
Number Three, a cop may take his time driving away from the pickup scene, whereas a genuine john immediately will take the quickest route out of there. A cop may meander in the general area if his colleagues are waiting nearby for them, or if he does head in a straight line it is to his choice of destination, not to hers, because there too his buddies are waiting for them. Just before he pulled into the police staging area, one cop mockingly told his snared jane, “I have some friends of mine I’d like you to meet.”
Fourth Scent is the chain necklace the cop might be wearing, because hanging from it but tucked inside his shirt might lurk his police badge or a medallion of St. Michael, the heavenly protector of police officers. To hide his necklace, a cop might button up his shirt, regardless how hot the weather and steamy the car.
Fifth Key is the key in the ignition switch, which should be on a keychain with a host of house keys or office keys, rather than with only one trunk key or with a nametag, as might be issued at the police station to the undercover cop the way an auto rental company issues the one or two keys and a key tag to a customer.
The Sixth Scent is the car’s interior, which should show physical signs of real life, maybe empty soda cans or food wrappers on the floor, or the stale odor of cigarette smoke, or the lingering scent of a wife’s perfume, anything contrary to the orderly sterility of a company car, as his company might be the police force. (A deeply suspicious jane could press the radio memory buttons to verify that the music matches the driver, but if she were that deeply suspicious she would be better off pressing the eject button on her James Bond car seat.)
Scent Number Seven is the money shot. Sex between two consenting adults is legal, as is their private conversation by which they arrange their assignation. Sex in exchange for money, however, is unlawful, so to effect a bust money must be negotiated. A cop can talk sex but not money, or money but not sex. The mere mention of dollars for sex is grounds for arrest, as long as the jane puts the two together first. If he cannot dupe the jane into stating a price, a cop may flash money in her face in hopes of getting her to state how much more was needed.
One time a suspicious jane told the undercover cop she was not in the business of selling sex. (Actually she had closed up shop for the night and was on her way home.) He asked her, What about your friends? How much do they charge? She answered that she thought they charged 20 or 30 for lip service and 50 or 60 for full service. Boom! Under arrest!
Same as a jane sometimes asks the john, the john sometimes asks the jane, “Are you a cop?” Yet his question is superfluous, because her mere act of sitting down in his passenger seat provides ample evidence that she is not.
Though Mr Friendly Man never in like manner would have queried the Lollipop Cop, when he drove away he was gnawed by many other unanswered questions. What school of hard knocks had she attended to learn how to impersonate a jane? Under whose mentoring did she study? Did she have an understudy? How many other police officers did the State of Connecticut’s Eastern District Major Crime Unit train and deploy to investigate 514-A Prostitution & Human Trafficking offenses? How many other cities had Officer Lollipop toured in the line of duty? How many hearts had she broken in one day? And for how many days? When she went home to her family at night, did she feel the fulfillment of a job well done? What was the good done? Conversely, what was the evil deed she obstructed or prevented? The familiar scenario of boy meets girl, then boy gets girl, then boy dumps girl?
A girl perches on a park’s retaining wall or strolls along its sidewalk. A man drives by. The girl’s and man’s eyes meet. The man stops his car. The girl hops in his car. The car drives off. Any onlooker offended or outraged by this scenario must have a wildly imaginative dirty mind. Much carnal commerce is consummated in the privacy of bedrooms and hotel rooms, while whatever takes place in the not-so-privacy of cars happens so hastily that most bystanders would hardly suspect any criminal activity had transpired.
Sure, a lone man cruising around and around the same city streets again and again does pollute the air (cough! cough!) and does look suspicious (wink! wink!) and might alarm some residents (help! help!). If society were to aid his search rather than hamper it, the neighborhood might appear safer. And its air might become cleaner, especially if the Lollipop Cop additionally ticketed drivers of cars and trucks that clearly exceeded emission standards with their malodorous plumes of toxic exhaust.
The sooner roaming Romeo found his jane Juliet, the sooner he would stop cruising and return home and park his car in his garage and plop his body in his bed and his head on his pillow and slip into sleep. Good night and sweet dreams!
Mr Friendly Man, however, did not rest so easily. He regretted fleeing the scene, so intended to drive back to shoot her. But first he hurried home to fetch his SLR camera and long telephoto lens, the better to see you with, my dear. Her photo would be a trophy which Man would have to shoot from afar, as not to be accused of interfering with police. No permission need be sought from the subject, because photography is fully legal of anyone in a public place, and no place is more public than the street.
Less than an hour later with long lens SLR at ready on the passenger seat of his car, Man returned to the park, but the Lollipop Cop was gone. She and her entourage had moved her sentry post closer to the center of downtown, where they continued their venture until dinner hour concluded of their workday.
Sunday’s headline read: Operation ‘Clean Sweep’ Produces 29 Arrests by New London Police. An unlucky 13 were johns, Tammy was the sole jane, and the remaining 15 were arrested on drug charges. Of the johns, seven were local New Londoners while six hailed from out-of-town, the farthest town being Guilford, an affluent shoreline community halfway between New London and New Haven, known for its quintessential New England town green lined by historic Colonial homes and a cutesy white clapboard church.
On Monday, a follow-up headline posted to the world a profile of the john from Guilford: Former State Senator Arrested in Sting. Mr Former Senator, age 66, had served two terms in the elite 36 member Connecticut State Senate. He may have cultivated his sexual proclivities during his senatorial years in Hartford, where the State Capital and adjacent Legislative Office Building are just three blocks from the fringes of a streetwalker stroll. Locally in Guilford, he also had served on the Board of Selectmen (the city council) and the Board of Police Commissioners, for which: “Members should have a background and/or interest in the law and/or police department.” At the time of his arrest, among the current members of the Board of Selectmen was his dearly beloved wife.
In Colonial times, Mr Senator would have been pilloried in the center of the town’s green. Surely his reputation among Guilford’s gentry was tarnished. His wife probably exiled him to sleep on the living room couch, and may have filed for divorce. The temptress Lollipop Cop may not altogether have ruined his life, but surely she disrupted it.
By Tuesday in New London, however, for those for whom plying and prowling for sex on the streets was normal, life had returned to normal.
Photographer: mark braunstein
Exhibit Title: Good Girls on Bad Drugs
Location: Connecticut (New London, Norwich, Willimantic), United States
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