Of Hustlers and Whores

Disclaimer: I’m well aware that it’s no longer considered okay by the better aspects of society to refer to sex workers as “hookers” and “whores,” a belief I wholly endorse. I use this word because it’s used by others in this story. I tend to adopt the language of others I’m around so we both know what is being referred to, and also, it makes for better alliteration in this headline. Ya’ll know I can’t resist good alliteration. However, please consider using the more accurate terms, “sex work” and “sex worker” in your casual conversation when speaking about this topic, as the terms “hookers” and “whores” convey negative connotations and hurtful, inaccurate stereotypes about the profession. There’s nothing negative about sex work and sex workers. It’s honest work, hard work, and honestly, it’s an industry that isn’t ruining the planet like so many industries are nowadays.

Another Disclaimer: I did not change names to protect the guilty, as I usually do. The people mentioned here definitely earned all the notoriety this tale may give them.

And now, to the story:


I should have taken it as a sign when Tanya answered her front door, took one look at me and said, “They’re gonna think we’re hookers and kick us out.”

“What?” I exclaimed, aghast. “Why would they think we’re hookers? We’re dressed just like every other Austinite female!”

That statement did not exactly make my case for me. There’s really no discernable difference between the typical Austinite female and the typical Austinite sex worker on a night out on the town, and I make no apologies for any of us. It’s hot here, ya’ll. You’re either slutty or sweaty. 

“It happened to me, once.”

“What?” I exclaimed, again.

She proceeded to tell me a story about working at a hotel and getting friendly with some of the guests there. She was asked by the manager to leave, as he assumed she was soliciting them. It was outrageous. Tanya clearly didn’t have the look of a sex worker.

But in my low-cut, bodycon minidress, perhaps I did. Tanya even accused me of wearing stripper heels, even though I swore up and down I had bought them for church. Hmm. Perhaps it’s time to rethink my fashion choices a bit, which tends to be whatever I can find at the find at the thrift store for five bucks.

It was the Wednesday before New Year’s, and Austin was strangely quiet, most locals laid up in bed with Omicron, which is the coolest-sounding infectious disease I have ever heard of, like something straight out of a dystopian, sci-fi movie. (My condolences to everyone suffering from Omicron right now. It’s probably no consolation to know that at least you’re not suffering from an illness with a stupid name.)

Despite licking every light pole in downtown Austin, Tanya and I cannot manage to contract COVID. We are former strippers. We have immune systems made of steel. Tonight, we were bored and in need of entertainment.

The night before we had spent hours dreaming up a business we’d like to launch together. We decided to head out downtown to conduct a little “market research,” which would primarily consist of hitting up dudes to ask their opinion on certain things. Yes, I’m being a little cagey about the nature of said business, but I don’t want you stealing our idea.

We hit up three hotel bars – all closed – before we found Group Therapy, the bar on the seventh floor of Hotel Zaza. Tanya immediately made a beeline for the nearest guy and began chatting him up. He was tight-lipped, giving her only the briefest of answers to her questions.

“Look,” he said, several minutes into the conversation, “First of all, I don’t care what you do for a living. You’re a human being, first and foremost, and that’s what matters –“

“Oh my god, Tanya!” I interrupted. “He thinks we’re hookers!” Damn. Tanya had not been wrong about this.

“Oh, my god,” Tanya exclaimed, laughing. “Do you really think we’re hookers?”

“Well, it’s just – those shoes,” he said, looking pointedly at my feet.

“I bought these for church!”

“Look,” said the dude, visibly relaxing and opening up a bit at the sight of our amusement in the face of his assumptions, “I am just the target of traffickers a lot.”

We thought that was terrible and told him so. We assured him we were not traffickers. He obviously believed us, cracking open a bottle of Fat Bastard cab sav and pouring us both a glass.

I sat there and double-fisted the wine and my espresso martini while Tanya wooed the gentleman. He offered to take her on a foodie tour of Seattle. Meanwhile, the bartender flirted with me, bought me another martini, gave me his number, told me he was also a deejay (isn’t everyone in Austin?) and asked if I liked hiking.

I wasn’t sure if I was interested, but damn, I’m a slut for a good hike. He showed me pictures of his dog, who was ridiculously adorable. Double damn.

Finally, it was time to call it. I couldn’t drink anymore. Tanya and I stumbled out of Group Therapy completely lit. She suggested we duck into Oil Can Harry’s for a bit of dancing.

Some super cute girl immediately hit on both of us. “You’re so pretty,” she cooed. “So are you,” I cooed back. Tanya was not interested.

“Girls give better head,” I informed her and watched with surprise as this statement did not render her immediately gay right there on the spot. I get it, though. I’m not nearly as gay as I wanna be either.

“This is not the best place to conduct market research,” Tanya observed, yelling into my ear. I could barely hear her and agreed. We needed a quieter spot.

We did not find a quieter spot. Instead, we found Speakeasy, which was popping off. Like, literally. There were balloons everywhere.

Off to the side, in the middle of the dancing, yelling party people, a young man sat slouched on a couch, an expression of abject boredom darkening his handsome face.

Tanya and I took his ennui as a personal affront – and a personal challenge. We were gonna make sure that guy had a good time. We headed over. I prayed he was prepared for the onslaught.

We bookended him, she on one side and I on the other. The dude, who introduced himself as Abel, did not alter his expression in the slightest.

Tanya gave up shortly and headed off to dance with some actually fun people. I stayed behind, amusing myself by popping balloons with my stripper heels. Eventually, Abel and I struck up a conversation. He was half Russian, which explained a lot. Not all Russians are entirely humorless, but a lot of them are, which I know from dating precisely one Russian dude named Ruslan fifteen years ago, making me an expert on Russian men.

Abel explained that his Mom was Russian and his dad was Afghani. While I tried to process what sort of fucked up situation would create that sort of pairing, he told me that his Mom died when he was nine. I immediately decided this guy was gonna smile before the end of the night. This decision made me feel like the biggest manic pixie dream girl ever, but hey, I can step into that role when the mood strikes if I want to. 

It didn’t take long. I’m charming when it benefits me. He had dimples. It was adorable.

“I wanna introduce you to my boss,” Abel told me, waving someone over. Two seconds later, we were joined on the couch by a striking man with shoulder length, bleached blond hair, black wireframe glasses and a jacket dripping with sequins every color of the rainbow.

“I would kill for this man!” Abel exclaimed, clapping the older gentleman on the shoulder with obvious pride. I was shocked to realize I recognized him. 

One super random night several years ago, my friend Scott had invited me out to party with his band on Dirty 6. I hate Dirty 6 with the passion of a thousand suns, but I had absolutely nothing better to do, so I went. (I hate being bored even more than I hate Dirty 6, apparently.) To my surprise, Scott’s girlfriend was there too. I was worried it would be awkward, but that woman was so nice to me. I suspected later I was being unicorn hunted that night. I’m not opposed to being a unicorn, but I had just met these people.

Anyway, Scott got a call that his band was being signed to a record label that night and was being summoned to sign a contract. He and the girlfriend invited me to join them, and since I’m always down for an adventure, I agreed. We headed to a condo building right off Rainey, and that’s where I met Sonny Lane Wilson, arguably one of the most colorful characters in the entire Austin area.

In a small condo stuffed with too much stuff, Sonny regaled us with stories about being interviewed for a podcast regarding a book he had written called “People’s Anonymous: Twelve Steps to Heal Your Life,” about recovering from alcoholism. The man was hilarious, his booming laughter and strong presence commanding the attention of everyone in the room.

And now, here he was again, at Speakeasy, inviting Tanya and I to afterparty at his condo with him, Abel and Sonny’s extremely friendly girlfriend, Tatiana.

“Do you wanna go?” Tanya asked me, her expression doubtful. “Trust me,” I assured her. “This man is fascinating. It’s not going to be boring.”

A short drive later found us in the same small, overstuffed condo I recognized from my journey here two years ago. Sonny had added some new art. A neon sign blinking “Live Nudes,” was prominently displayed on one wall behind a stripper pole, next to another sign that read, “Please Do Not Feed the Whores Drugs.”

Sonny and Tatiana handed us glasses of chardonnay. Abel was nowhere in sight. Tanya texted him. “Where are you?”

“I was tired,” he responded. “I just went home.” 

Tanya and I looked at each other, puzzled. At the bar, Abel had seemed so enthusiastic to afterparty with us. He had made certain, several times, that I knew exactly how to get to Sonny’s condo.

On a balcony on the 20th floor, crammed with, yet again, too much stuff, Sonny told us how he had met Abel. “He worked the front desk downstairs for a year, and I just watched him,” Sonny reminisced. “He was smart and polite and grounded, and after a year, I hired him to manage several of my businesses.” Sonny informed us that he ran eight businesses, dipping his fingers into film and music, construction and roofing. Prior to that, he had worked as an escort and a stripper for Le Bare in Dallas.

He showed us photos of his younger self with striking blue eyes, extremely puffy, long blond hair, skimpy clothing and oiled muscles. Tanya and I made all the appropriate noises necessary to convey our approval and admiration, which was genuine.

After awhile, Sonny grew restless. “Alright,” he said, “I’m gonna head back to the bedroom with Tatiana now. If you ladies would like to join us, you’d be more than welcome.”

I will be real honest here: I had expected a good story to come out of this visit. What I had not expected was an invitation to a foursome.

Welcome to Austin, ya’ll. I receive these sorts of invitations with hilarious regularity. Austin may have a horrendously bad dating scene, but it’s horny as hell.

I glanced over at Tanya. Her mouth hung open a little bit, and it was clear from her expression that she had not expected this either.

Sonny went on to explain that he was polyamorous and that we were beautiful ladies, and therefore, there was no reason we shouldn’t all have a good time together.

We told Sonny and Tatiana that we’d consider it. “In the meantime, we’ll sit here and not steal anything,” I assured her. Tanya and I sat stiffly on the couch until they disappeared into the bedroom. As soon as the door shut behind them, we collapsed, heads in our laps, shoulders shaking in silent laughter.

And that’s when it simultaneously dawned on both us that Abel had completely hustled us to fuck his boss.

Tatiana unexpectedly re-entered the living room to put on a Spotify playlist for us, and Tanya and I immediately straightened and replaced our laughter with poker faces and gracious smiles. The minute she left, we dissolved into laughter again. 

We laughed all the way out of Sonny’s condo. We passed the girl at the front desk, still in hysterics. She threw us a concerned glance. We laughed in the car all the way back to Tanya’s house. I laughed all the way home from there.

I apparently DO need to rethink my fashion choices.

Am I gonna do that, though?

Nah, probably not. The stories are just too good. Henceforth, I shall call this dress my Lucky Story Dress. It always wrings some kind of interesting response from my viewers.

The next morning, Tanya texted Abel, demanding answers. Abel vehemently denied hustling us to fuck his boss. Tanya did not believe him.

Finally, Abel wrote, “I’m gonna leave you with this. You were not played. That man is quite capable of getting what he wants. I was just tired last night. Ya’ll can join us for a New Year’s Eve party in an art house. There’s gonna be hundreds of people, and this is an actual party, not an orgy. Plus, I’ll be there to entertain you guys. Have a good day.”

“Hey, I’m just fucking with you, man,” Tanya responded. “You should laugh a little, because I definitely am >laugh face emoji, laugh face emoji<.”

“I’m still a virgin,” Abel wrote back, leaving us both puzzled by this comment and doubtful of its truthiness, since he followed it up with a purple devil emoji.

“We gotta work on this honesty thing,” Tanya responded dryly.

I texted Sonny. “We had to dip out last night because Tanya had to work this morning,” I told him, “but we appreciated your hospitality. You’re quite the character, and I’d love to hear your whole story sometime.”

I sincerely hope he responds, because I am a total story whore, and I suspect Mr. Sonny Lane Wilson has an excellent one in store, should he care to share.

Sonny Lane, hit me up!

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