Types of Female Prostitution
Female prostitutes can solicit their services either in the street, bars, hotels, brothels, massage parlors, as call girls or courtesans, or out of an escort agency (Perkins & Bennett, 1985). These types of prostitutes differ with respect to the work setting, prices charged, and safety from violence and arrest. Streetwalkers make up about 20% of all prostitutes; bar girls, 15%; massage-parlor prostitutes, 25%; hotel prostitutes, 10%; brothel prostitutes, 15%; and call girls, 15% (C. P. Simon & Witt, 1982).
Streetwalkers Also called street prostitutes, streetwalkers are the most common type of prostitute. To attract customers, they dress in tight clothes and high heels and may work on street corners or transportation stops (Riccio, 1992). This type of prostitution is considered the most dangerous type because streetwalkers are often victims of violence, rape, and robbery (Dalla, 2002; Romero-Daza et al., 2003). For this reason, they usually have a pimp for protection (we will discuss pimps in greater detail shortly).
Streetwalkers generally approach customers and ask them questions such as, “Looking for some action?” or “Do you need a date?” If the client is interested, the prostitute will suggest a price, and they will go to a place where the service can be provided (an alley, car, or cheap hotel room). Typically, streetwalkers are looking to make as much money as possible, and they will try to “hustle” to make more (by suggesting more expensive types of sexual activity).
Bar Prostitutes Also called bar girls, bar prostitutes work in bars and hustle patrons for drinks and sexual activity. Because they usually work for the bar owner, they try to build up a client’s bar bill. Unlike streetwalkers, bar girls have more protection from violence and police arrests. Bar prostitutes typically hand over 40% to 50% of their nightly earnings to the bar manager.
Hotel Prostitutes Prostitutes may be referred to hotel patrons by a bellboy or hotel manager. They keep 40% to 50% of the money they charge clients, and the hotel manager keeps the rest.
Brothel Prostitutes Brothel prostitutes work out of a home or apartment that is shared by a group of prostitutes. A madam or pimp generally runs the house. Brothels offer more protection for prostitutes than the street.
In the United States, Nevada is the only state with counties in which brothels are legal. Prostitutes carry identification cards and are routinely examined for STIs. When a customer walks into a brothel in Nevada, he may be given a “menu” of choices. From this menu he picks an appetizer (such as a hot bath or a pornographic video) and a main course (such as the specific sexual position). Then he can choose a woman from a lineup, and the couple go into a private room.
The typical rate is $2 per minute, with more exotic services being more expensive. Usually conventional sexual intercourse costs $30 to $40, and oral sex may cost $50 or more. Prostitutes inspect the client’s genitals for signs of sexually transmitted infections and collect payment. The brothel prostitute keeps between 50% and 60% of her earnings, and the rest goes to the brothel owner.
Massage Parlor Prostitutes Some prostitutes are masseuses who also provide sexual services. The owners of the massage parlor act as though they are unaware of this sexual activity. The most common service offered in massage parlors is fellatio or fellatio accompanied by sexual intercourse (Perkins & Bennett, 1985). Prices in massage parlors are typically higher than those charged by streetwalkers, and security guards provide additional protection. However, the trade-off is that a parlor keeps more of the profit earned for working in their establishment.
Escorts Escort services, agencies that provide prostitutes who serve as escorts, operate in ways similar to massage parlors, except that escort services do not have to take the responsibility for sexual activity because it does not occur on their premises. Prices for an escort vary widely and are dependent on location and hours worked.
Call Girls and Courtesans Higher-class prostitution involves both call girls and courtesans (Dalla, 2002). In 1993, Heidi Fleiss, the “Hollywood Madam,” was arrested for prostitution activities with Hollywood actors and executives. Today call girls are often contacted by telephone, and they may work by the hour or the evening. Some call girls charge $1,000 or more a night (Perkins & Bennett, 1985). Courtesans are also elite prostitutes, and many would argue that they are not prostitutes at all, even though they exchange sex for very expensive gifts.
Other Types of Prostitutes Other, less common types of prostitutes include bondage and discipline (B&D) prostitutes who engage in sadomasochistic services, using such things as leather, whips, and/or chains. Women who specialize in B&D will advertise with pseudonyms like Madam Pain or Mistress Domination (Perkins & Bennett, 1985). B&D prostitutes may have dungeons, complete with whips, racks, and leg irons, and wear black leather, studded belts, and masks. Many do not have sexual intercourse with their clients at all but simply inflict pain or humiliation, which the client finds pleasurable. B&D prostitutes can make good money because few prostitutes choose to specialize in this area.
Lesbian prostitutes also exist, but we know little about them. Lesbian prostitutes tend to be older, and many take a younger woman on as a paid sexual partner (Perkins & Bennett, 1985). Lesbian prostitutes often have only one client at any given time.
Male prostitutes who service women are referred to as gigolos (JIG-uh-lows). Traditionally, gigolos are young men who are hired by older women to have an ongoing sexual relationship. Male prostitutes who service other men are referred to as hustlers or “boys.” Some male prostitutes service both men and women. In the accompanying Personal Voices, “Male Prostitution,” one man discusses his work.
Male prostitutes who have sex with men may be otherwise heterosexual. For example, some bodybuilders hustle gay men for extra money (A. M. Klein, 1989). Ironically, many of these heterosexual, masculine bodybuilders are homophobic, which causes many conflicts between their attitudes and behaviors. Approximately 50% of male prostitutes are homosexual, and 25% each are bisexual or heterosexual (Pleak & Meyer-Bahlburg, 1990). Like women, men tend to enter into the life of prostitution early, usually by the age of 16 (with a range from 12 to 19; Cates & Markley, 1992). The majority of male prostitutes are between the ages of 16 and 29 and white (D. J. West, 1993). Like the pimp for female prostitutes, many male prostitutes also have mentors, or “sugardaddies.”
When male prostitutes are asked what types of sexual behavior they engage in with their clients, 99% say that they perform fellatio, either alone or in combination with other activities; 80% say that they engage in anal sex, and 63% participate in rimming (Morse et al., 1992). In addition, many reported other activities including water sports and/or sadomasochistic behavior.
Like females, males become prostitutes mainly for the money. However, many factors predispose a man to become a prostitute. Early childhood sexual experience (such as coerced sexual behavior), combined with a homosexual orientation, increases the chances of choosing prostitution (Earls & David, 1989). Male prostitutes often experience their first sexual experience at a young age (approximately 12 years old) and have