“So they’re in a bath towel, right? Like their luxury spa bath towel from Walmart. But you’re way more vulnerable and starting to get a little bit more excited and thus more willing to part with your money at that point,” she said as I poked at a menacing-looking bit of my Vietnamese noodle soup.
“Kind of like in a doctor’s office,” she continued. “You’re naked and he’s in a coat and whatever he says goes because, you know, he’s the guy in the coat and you’re naked.”
She took a big, slurping bite of mi xao.
I was in a noodle shop in Little Vietnam, poking halfheartedly at a wad of tripe that stirred to the top of my pho and listening to an old friend talk about being a professional tease in a prostitution con.
She worked in what she would later call “The Nut Hut,” although that wasn’t its name. She would post ads on Craigslist and a site called Backpage, wait for men throughout the suburbs to call, thinking she was a prostitute.
She would then, as she put it in last week’s story, “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.”
Where she was was a warehouse in West Chicago, where she would lure them in, get them to strip naked and take them to an on-site ATM.
“So once you go back in the room, you start dancing,” she said as my noodle soup steamed around her.
“Depending on how much money you have, you start dancing around and doing like a little bit of a striptease. And how much money they paid determines how much you take off and then at some point you make it blatantly aware that there will be no contact whatsoever.
“Usually by tossing them a Kleenex. They kind of got the hint at that point.
“They would either get really pissed — usually they would get really pissed and then be like,” she slumped in her chair, her face dropping. I laughed.
“‘All right. It’s one of these operations,’ and they would, uh, ahem, I don’t know how to put this delicately at a public place…
A CD of a V-pop crooner warbled overhead. Families laughed and gabbed in Vietnamese. Children ran around and dishes clanked over the sound of called orders.
“But they would start jerking off,” she said. “Once they got done, they would usually leave in the quickest, most embarrassed, hurried manner — like forgetting a shoe — ever.”
“Forgetting a shoe?” I asked. “Did that happen?”
She cocked her head as she remembered.
“Socks more than anything,” she said. “But they would hightail on out of there. At that point they were both ashamed and out several hundred dollars.”
We shared a laugh.
“What’s the most you ever got out of someone?”
“A thousand,” she said.
In last week’s story she said she was one of the lowest-performing girls there. That’s why she left. The lowest-performing girl was always tossed to the cops on fake prostitution charges.
“A thousand? Wow. Did that person assume that there was going to be…”
“Coming in, they pretty much all assume there’s going to be, um, that they’re getting,” she considered her words. “A full-on prostitute.”
I circled back for some details. The V-pop singer overhead mercifully faded away, replaced seconds later by identical moody Vietnamese crooning.
“What did the ads say? What did you put in the postings?”
“Hm,” she said, considering. “Generally as much as you could say without fully implicating or promising anything illegal. ‘All your dreams come true,’ ‘Everything you want,’ that sort of thing, so implying that they’re going to get ‘whatever they want.’ And then usually some made-up prices, including the $40 or whatever we were charging at the door that day. Or sometimes we would just give them ‘$300 an hour’ or something like that.
“There would be a picture, either of one of us, but in such a way you that could not determine our identities, thank God. And our name and phone number. Like really basic.”
“Real name?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “Don’t be silly.”
I asked the name she used. She told me. You don’t get that part.
“Of course, those ads would go up and our shifts would change or whatever and we would post whatever we had generated earlier in the day. So I pretended to be a Persian girl, I pretended to be Latina, all these things on the phone.”
“How did those people react when they got there and you weren’t Persian or Latina?”
“Well, I’d answer the door. I’d be the only person on at that time because during the day, in a smaller location you only really need one person. So I would be like, ‘Oh, oh. She’s in the other room, but she’ll be ready.’ You get them in the room, you get them naked, you get them sitting there for a while. And they’re starting to get nervous. And horny. But mostly nervous.
“After a while, you’ll come back in after making them sit there naked with some porn for a while. There would always be some nasty old gross porno magazine laying around. It was kind of crusty from years of never being replaced. One of them I remember was like a Christmas magazine, it was all candy cane and Santa Claus themed, but it was July so that thing had clearly seen a lot of use.
“So you leave them sitting there the whole time and then you just come back in and be like, ‘Oh, baby, she’s busy. She can’t. But how about me?’”
Come back next Monday for stories of the clients, including the reaction of the man who paid $1,000. Come back Wednesday for other tales of Chicago.