A noodle shop in Little Vietnam.
“So first of all it wasn’t actually technically called ‘the Nut Hut,’” she said. “In fact I’m not sure what its official name was as a licensed business, because it was a licensed business.”
Crispy mi xao and tripe-laden pho ordered and on the way.
“It would have been two-thousand… eight? Obama inaugurated two-thousand… yeah. June 2008. Probably.”
V-pop crooner playing overhead. Chattering, happy Vietnamese families laughing over giant bowls of soup. A little boy, maybe 3 years old, running around, back and forth heading nowhere. He laughed at weird moments, his whimsy struck by things we’re too large and old to see.
“Only a couple months. Once the cops started knocking on the door and stuff like that, I was like ‘hmmm, I don’t want to get arrested.’”
I slurped creamy, sugary coffee served boiling hot in a glass and pushed my recorder a little closer.
We’ve been friends for years, this woman and I. There are relevant stories there, mood and atmosphere, but we agreed this interview would contain no identifying information, nothing that could be used to point at this woman and call her names for what she did and didn’t do. There will be no description, no “long, blonde hair” or “short-cropped afro.” No fat, no thin, no puckish, no coy.
To me, she’s a friend. To you, she will be nothing. Just a voice telling a story over noodle soup.
“I don’t know if it was Vice or who it was, but they kind of had it in for the owner, like the DuPage cops,” she said. “A lot of times what happens is – at least this is what I learned from some of the more experienced girls on staff – every now and then they feel they have to throw them a bone so that the cops look like they’re doing something, so they let one of the girls, the least performing one in terms of like how much money she’s bringing in, get nailed for prostitution. On like trumped-up charges. So that happens and then I realized that I might be the least performing, so I decided, ‘You knowwwww, this is a good time to leave.’”
She was living with her parents at the time. We decided for the story to leave the location as somewhere in Kane County.
“There were a couple different locations. The one I worked at most of the time was in West Chicago in like a commercial warehouse district almost, so why men were fooled by this for so long, I don’t know.
“What it is is you would essentially go there and hang out for your eight-hour shift or whatever it would be – sometimes 12, like there were creepy hours – and you spend part of your day posting ads on like Craigslist and Backpage back when Craigslist was like you could find like whatever services you so desired on Craigslist.
“The phone calls would start rolling in because you would post your phone number, like the phone number of the place. Answer the phone in your saucy bedroom voice and try to convince these guys to haul their cookies from wherever in the Chicagoland suburbs they were out to where you are.
“They’d show up. And it was always super-misleading. It would be like ‘$40 special’ or something like that which, first of all, what kind of ho-bag are you trying to get for $40? Ew.
“But it would be $40 at the door and once they posted that and gave up their drivers license – so guys would come, give us $40 and their drivers license through a window – and we’d let them in, like photocopy the drivers license and let them in.
“You would take them to a back room, which is like the back of the warehouse but they put down some carpet temporarily and some thick cubicle walls and like a curtain and a bed, like a really cute futon, and you would get all up in their business, right?
“You would be on their laps or as close to as possible and essentially what you – the line was on the lines of, um, ‘Well, the more…’ – because they’d ask like the services – some guys would assume that they were getting ‘the full girlfriend experience,’ if you will, for 40 bucks.
“But once you explained to them that that wasn’t the case then it was, ‘Well, the more you have…’ or ‘The more you’re willing to pay, the more fun we can have.’ So you’re still not committing to anything at this point.
“You’d try to suck as much out of them as humanly possible. And you’d take them to the ATM if they didn’t have any cash on them, because we had an ATM on site, make them pull out all of their money, give it to me, give it to the bouncer who was hiding in the back room with like the baton and shit and a video camera like on you like ready to walk in if there are any problems. And then go back in the room.
“Oh, and the whole time – like the first thing you do before you bring, before they come in, or before you start talking money, is get them naked.”
This story will continue next Monday. Come back in two days for a different tale of Chicago.