There are just a few television shows I watch religiously. And as you might guess, THE DEUCE is one of them. It’s not that I think it’s so well done or entertaining. I just like reliving New York in the ’70’s while sitting in judgement on the depiction of an industry I came to know all too well.
One scene last night brought back memories of a girl who called herself Hana. Like with many of the Korean clients I ran ads for, my relationship with Hana lasted over a decade. And often, I’d watch girls like Hana grow from simple floor girls to madams who no longer worked in the room. Unknown to most customers, Korean girls seemed to have an entrepreneurial spirit lacking in women of other nationalities. One day they’d be in the room. And the next, they’d borrow money, rent a place, and own the joint. What I found most curious was the reality that some girls who “retired” to ownership did so without the help or need of a man in their lives. Hana, was apparently one of them.
When I first met Hana, she struck me as one of the few Korean girls I actually thought was sexy. Watching her make up in the “girls only” area mirror with a cigarette dangling from her lips a la Bogie, I found Hana unique among her colleagues. Mostly, Korean escorts had a cookie cutter thing going. But Hana was different. It seemed like there was somebody behind the facade.
Fast forward over ten years and Hana became an owner of a place on 46th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues (can’t remember the name now). As she paid me for the week’s ads, I asked how the business was doing and whether she had completely stopped working…to which she answered that everything was fine and she no longer entertained guys in the room.
Without all the smoke and whistles – and over ten years later – Hana hardly looked like the vixen of old. Now she was simply a normal-looking Korean business woman. Reacting to her retirement from the room, I asked if she had a man in her life. (I know this sounds intrusive. But you should realize that most of my Korean customers viewed me as a big brother – and I saw them as my baby sisters. They sought my advice on matters. And when the going got tough, they would almost always call to ask my opinion on how to handle the situation.)
Hana answered matter-of-factly that she had no man in her life. “Really?” I mused wondering what it might be like to go from at least a thousand a year to none. Then I gave her a cross-eyed look and responded “I guess you’ve seen enough men for ten lifetimes.” Hana’s English wasn’t very good – but she got the message – and smiled in recognition. Her business was her boyfriend. And the better it did – the more successful the union.
Back in April of 2016, Hana was one of the bosses who got caught up in the big bust. Like with everybody in that initiative, none was ever heard from again. I believe all were deported – and a couple served time. But I’m not entirely sure. I barely stayed in contact with the Korean community after shutting down the advertising on this blog.
So now back to The Deuce and today’s theme. Last night there was a scene in which a female peep show manager (and lesbian) is seducing a hooker she just brought home from rehab. The ex-junkie receives the gay girl’s advances saying “At least you don’t have a dick. I’d be fine if I never see another dick in my life.”
And that is when art imitated life and I thought of Hana and the discussion I’d had with her a few years ago. Imagine having sex with 5 women a day for a living…at least half of which you find physically unappealing. That could get old really fast! Better them than me. In my 20 years in the adult ad business, I dealt with some people I really didn’t like (especially when I was with Action mag and had to sell ads to shitheads to make my draw). But at least I didn’t have to fuck them. That would have been horrible!