I know the title of today’s insanity might strike y’all as an oxymoron. And it may or may not be. But debating the title’s veracity isn’t my mission. I use the expression for another reason.
Yesterday’s snail mail included a “love” letter from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. They want proof of my itemized deductions for 2016. This isn’t really a huge deal for as we all know, the huge deal already went down. Plus, those deductions are real. So while it’s a pain in the ass to dig out all the proof, I’m not losing any sleep over the inconvenience.
Well anyway…it was time to hit the slush pile next to all my vinyl albums to find some relevant paperwork. That ream of paper (about a foot thick) contains all manner of material most of which is comprised of printed out letters, articles and queries from back in the day when such material was routinely faxed (rather than emailed) to the recipient.
As I thumbed through old taxi articles, letters to editors, and several “activity reports” generated for my bosses at Action Magazine 20 years ago, I found a piece titled “New York’s Top Ten Hookers” I’d written for Screw Magazine. I skipped the introduction and went to the ten girls to see if I still know – or even remembered any of them.
It turns out that I remember all of them. Not necessarily their names – but the girls themselves when I read their descriptions. Once I’d digested the anecdotes attached to the names, I then recalled the woman loud and clear(ly).
While I waxed nostalgic behind some, only one made me laugh out loud. I quote from the text: “She’s not the world’s timeliest payer, but Stella (fake name) does have a quirky code of ethics. The last time she dodged me for payment, she promised ‘Billy. I’ll have the money tomorrow. Hooker’s honor.’ And she did!”
Now 20 years later, I ponder that same oxymoron. Do hookers really have any honor? And the answer is actually in the affirmative. If nothing else, I got them to pay on time back when I was in business.
The first paper I ever worked for (a taxi publication) was run by a munificent albeit addled owner whose elite list of grease pit and ball joint replacement shops had a penchant for not paying their bills and sneaking into the paper. To the tune of like 30%! As the house jew whose job it was to write, sell and do paste-up, it was also contingent on me to keep an eye on the bottom line. And of course, my first mandate to the boss was “Nobody gets in the paper until they pay! Period.”
Michael (the owner) had his favorites he’d let slide but mostly, the mandate went into effect. With a few notable exceptions (like garage owners who would eventually pay him off in free shifts), nobody “sneaked” in the paper.
When I became an employee of Action, it was the same thing all over again. Joe had an incredibly long lead time with that fucking rag. Like we’d ship the paper to the printer every 4th Friday. But by the time the finished product came back and was ready to go in the trucks, it was 12 days later. Predictably, dishonorable hookers sneaked in the paper routinely. Then they’d drop the next month and come back the following applying the old statute of limitations to their old bill.
Joe had a certain reverence for me because I was a real New Yorker and a sometimes writer for his idol, Al Goldstein. So when I told him that the turnaround time was unacceptable, he convinced that stupid fucking printer out in Maspeth (the guys who almost got my knees broken by an enforcer) to hit the gas. After that, the percentage of reprobates getting free ads dropped precipitously.
By the time I became my own boss and agency, it was over for the deadbeats. No pay…no play! Girls who didn’t have their money on time just didn’t get their ads. At the end, it got so good that customers would call a couple of days early to say “You can coming over. We ready!”
But really, now that the Internet has made hookers accountable (TER and such), hooker honor has come to the fore more than every before. Give a trick a bad time and the whole fucking world finds out! Dudes will “yelp” you to death (so to speak). And that ain’t good for business regardless of what business you’re in.
Whatever…that line about “hooker’s honor” struck me funny 20 years ago. And it strikes me as funny now. That’s really all’s I’m sayin’. Now back to the slush pile.