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Some years back, when I was doing location rewrites on a movie, I was cornered on the set by an anguished limo driver. We were in a Spanish-speaking nation, and my command of that loving tongue is poor, but I was able to glean a rough idea of what was troubling the driver so much: he’d done some pimp-work for one of the film-makers, and felt he hadn’t been fully compensated. Though I hadn’t personally availed myself of his services, he’d driven me around with the film-maker, and—feeling I was a simpatico guy–was begging me to intercede on his behalf. And I did my best, though whore-negotiation doesn’t really fall under a screenwriter’s job-description. “You mean he didn’t pay the girls?” I managed to ask; and his answer was that yes, the film-maker had paid for the girls, per se, but not for the video-camera and all the videotapes. He thrust a receipt at me to prove he’d fronted the cash for the orgy-taping equipment out of pocket.
I can’t remember if the driver-pimp was ever “made whole,” as they say, but of course I was reminded of that Hispanic paid-sex brouhaha this week, when America was forced to stand before the world naked and ashamed in the wake of a Secret Service agent’s refusal to pay the $42 he owed to a Colombian prostitute for services rendered. (It’s hard to find the right word for this refusal—saying that the agent “stiffed” her carries an unintended double entendre, but saying that he “shorted” her might carry an unfair insult. And, given my own Christian name, I’ve always hated the term “John” to begin with.)
While the media seethes with artificial outrage over the supposed immorality of Obama’s protectors using whores, the real crime here is—well, let’s go with it—the stiffing of the woman in question. Not only does it reek of Ugly American-ism at its tragicomic worst, it’s also a serious break in precedent. America has a long and glorious history of using whores in South America—and paying them liberally. Just in Colombia itself, our government has shelled out untold billions to make prostitutes of the army and police—admittedly, not for sex-work, but rather to murder union leaders, peasants, “leftist” priests, and anyone else who might challenge our inborn right to control the flow of Colombian oil.
To stick with the parlance of the sex-trade, we “turned out” the Colombian army and cops—but, damn it, we never shorted them!
We stuck to the bargain with other Latin American whores, like Roberto D’Aubisson in El Salvador, where Amnesty International estimates that our lavish spending bought us at least 70,000 murders at the hands of death-squads.
Over many decades, by dint of hard work, we carefully built up a street rep—not just in South America, but all over the world—as a country that pays in full for its pleasures. And now one rotten Secret Service agent queers the deal—and I use the term advisedly—by shorting a $42 whore?
Step up, America! It’s a matter of national honor! For God’s sake…we must pay our whores!
John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org