“It’s not always sex”


Grand Theft Auto V

From Granta:

When Poppy talked about prostitution, she stopped slouching, and her eyes ignited. She got, well, pretty. ‘It’s not always sex,’ she said. She had an Adult Baby client who outfitted his apartment with an adult-sized crib and high chair. Poppy played babysitter, snapping gum and twirling pigtails while the Adult Baby toddled around in a giant diaper. ‘I refuse to change that diaper, though,’ she said. The Adult Baby was a lawyer. ‘Lawyers are my best clients,’ Poppy said, and waited for me to write that down for my memo to the legal team.

Poppy also had a client she knew only as ‘Shower Curtain Guy’ (‘I don’t remember names or faces – just anatomy,’ she said). Shower Curtain Guy liked to sit on a chair in the middle of the room with a shower curtain draped over his naked body. ‘All he wants me to do is lick his chest through the shower curtain. I always make him buy a new one.’


‘Because it’s unsanitary.’

‘No, I mean, why does he want that?’

She shrugged. ‘It’s usually something to do with their parents.’

Poppy hired ‘girls’, and took a cut from their earnings. She had a stable of prostitutes by the time the football team started contacting her. ‘The recruiter found us through the phone book – we had lines routed all over the place, and classified ads in the PennySaver. He did all the referrals. He wanted black girls or blondes for the recruits – one or the other, always.’

‘High school boys wanted to sleep with older women? Prostitutes?’

Poppy winced a little at the word. ‘Most of the time, the kid gave the money to the girls. But in some cases the recruiter would say, ‘Don’t let the kid know this is a working deal.’ He wanted the kid to think that this kind of thing would happen to him all the time if he came here to play football.

‘One kid said he was a virgin. Some of them were scared, and I felt like they didn’t ask for it, that they were pressured into doing it. I didn’t like to do those jobs because I’m not into mommy fantasies,’ she said firmly, palms pushing something away. ‘But the recruiter gave us so many referrals that I’d see him on the side. Then he’d call me, sometimes twelve times a day. It was weird. I mean, look at me – I’m a large girl, older; I’m not a babe. There really aren’t babes in this business.’

‘So you dated the recruiter?’ I asked.

‘If dating means having sex without money exchanging hands, then yes, we dated.’ Poppy poked an appetizer with one tine of her fork, her flawless manicure gleaming. ‘Sometimes I feel bad about . . . the work.’ She was strangely squeamish about her job title. ‘Whenever a girl called and asked for a job, if she had never done this work before, I’d tell her to think it over. I’d say, “This isn’t an escort service where you go to dinner and a movie. This is adult entertainment. And the money is more addictive than any drug.” You know what I mean,’ she said.

“Comfort Woman”, Erika Krouse, Granta