Movies / TV
DVD Review: Hookers at the Point
By O. R. Polk, Jr.
Jan 14, 2003, 15:29
”My biggest worry is when I get into that car, am I gonna come out alive?”
Directed and produced by Brent Owens
Released by Delta Entertainment and MTI Home Video
Hollywood, much like everything else they touch, has severely skewed the general public’s perception of the run-of-the mill, workaday prostitute, prostitution and what we can generally expect a hooker to look like. Not being from a big city originally, I myself got a sobering wake-up call my very first few months away from home. My first experience came in Camp Lejeune, NC. After a typically hard week of M.C.T. (Marine Combat Training), myself and the other thousand some odd students washed a week’s worth of field filth from our aching bodies and headed into town for some much-deserved weekend liberty. Most of us usually decided to not stay on-base during such weekends (we saw quite enough of that place all week long, youknowwhatimean?) so it wasn’t uncommon for a hotel’s occupancy to be nearly 85% leathernecks on any given weekend. The local pimps were obviously aware of this fact, as well.
If I was a pimp and knew full-well about all of these guys who were young, dumb and fresh out of boot camp (three long months without so much as seeing a woman) and who had at least four months worth of disposable income, nothing to really spend it on and sex on the brain, I’d probably get together a few of my girls and set them up in whatever hotel these guys were staying at, just sit back and watch my pockets get fat like Anna Nicole. In fact, that’s exactly what they did. I can only imagine how much money they’d make each weekend seeing as how, honestly, I didn’t see many guys turning down those $20 blowjobs and $40 lays.
Since then, I’ve seen quite a few tracks; everywhere from Las Vegas to Hawaii (and believe me, those stories are INSANE compared to what I’ve said here, but I’ll save that for another day). Long story short, most whores don’t look anything like Julia Roberts did in Pretty Woman or even Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas, for that matter. For those of you not (un)fortunate enough to have dealt with these redlight district bottom-feeders personally, Brent Owens ("Pimps Up, Ho’s Down") shows you what you’ve been missing in his HBO America Undercover documentary, HOOKERS AT THE POINT.
Owens begins his tale by humbly telling how he first came to discover Hunt’s Point in the Bronx, the “point” in question that the hookers are “at.” Owens was a college student driving a gypsy cab on weekends to make ends meet. One night a female fare asked to be taken to “Ho Ave.” After pulling up to a street actually named “Hoe Avenue” his passenger informed him, “No, the ho stroll at Hunt’s Point. Just follow the traffic.” I assume from hearing that comment that the point must’ve been jumping back in those days all the way up until the early 90’s (which is when this documentary was filmed), but as anyone at World Sex Guide can tell you, Hunt’s Point is pretty dead nowadays thanks to their good Mayor Gulliani.
If you’re expecting the prostitutes that Owens talks to one-on-one to glamorize or sensationalize their job like the hustlers in American Pimp did, you are watching the wrong movie. The hookers that are interviewed are anything but glamorous and their stories anything but sensational. Like a peeping tom, Brent’s camera follows the girls into darkened and rat-infested alleyways allowing us to see silohuettes and shadowy figures engaged in all sorts of illicit acts or in parked cars just a’rocking. The girls are also wired for sound so we hear every back-seat transaction (good and bad), every sick request, every grunt and groan (Cindy’s an especially dirty talker). This isn’t meant to titilate (trust me, it doesn’t). Rather it is intended to illustrate just how…scuzzy and disgusting the nitty gritty of these women’s nightly “work” really is. We, as observers, only have to suffer through their degradation once and at a distance…these women do it up close and personal as many as twenty times a night.
Angel, nicknamed “schoolteacher” because well, she looks like a schoolteacher with her fresh face and big black spectacles tells an interesting anecdote about how she was introduced to streetwalking. One of her girlfriends, a prostitute herself, suggested she try it. Angel, of course, couldn’t see herself soliciting at first but clearly she eventually warmed up to the idea. The first client asked Angel her rate for “around the world.” Because she had no idea what that was, Angel only charged him $10. Pretty soon, her girlfriend noticed johns lined up for blocks waiting for a piece of Angel. “How much are you charging these guys,” she asked. “$10.” “What are you, crazy?” Stories like these are fairly common, believe it or not, at least as far as tricks taking advantage of fresh meat. It’s almost as if they can literally smell the new and naïve working girls.
Lisa explains her reasons for living this life very simply: “I’m not addicted to no dick, I’m not addicted to no pussy. All I’m addicted to is them dead presidents on a green dollar bill.” Hookers like Lisa actually make me sad. As a rule, I try not to pity individuals in the sex trade because it’s not as if they didn’t have a choice in the matter. I tend to take a “you made your bed now lie in it” stance. But it makes me feel really bad; really makes me wonder about the quality of a person’s upbringing (if any) when they make statements like this: “I feel everybody was born to do something; I feel like I was born to be a ho.” I just shook my head at those words. Lisa loved it once she started. To her it was an exciting adventure and once she realized that at 15-years-old she could make hundreds of dollars every night, she was addicted.
Lisa has been hooking for ten years by the time she’s interviewed. She lived with her father growing up and the minute I heard this I instinctively braced myself for the lurid details of incest and molestation, which I figured were sure to follow. It was actually quite the opposite. Lisa’s father was a strict disciplinarian who didn’t want his daughter to grow up and become a no-good dirty “slut” like her absentee mother who had ten children by three different men. It was his way or the highway and Lisa chose the highway. Out of his reach, she was drinking by age 11, smoking marijuana by 13 and had moved on to crack and selling her body by the time she was 15. Her dad? Well, I guess she showed him.
For every hooker that loves it, there is one who gets into prostitution strictly by “accident” and they will tell you, once you’re in the flesh trade it’s nearly impossible to get out. Take Cindy, who just started hooking on the weekends to support a newly-formed crack habit. But you know how those darned drug addictions go: her performance at work suffered, she started showing up either high or not at all, so pretty soon she didn’t have a job at all. This caused her to start hooking full-time. One of Cindy’s more interesting stories is about the time a pimp poured salt on her and beat her with a pimp stick, a stick made from a number of wire hangers twisted together to form a rod.
Watching Hookers at the Point gave me a new respect, if you can even call it that, for these brave women. Well, either brave or insane depending on your point of view. Because you have to be one, the other or both to do what they do on a consistent basis.
It’s literally life or death for these women every single night, several times a night, most times not for much more than $50 each time. They get treated like garbage, they see their girlfriends beaten, raped, stabbed or worse (you should hear the horror stories) and yet they persist. They go right back out there be it rain, sleet or freezing snow. The majority of the women that Owen’s interviews don’t even have pimps for protection (which was news to me since I always thought it was damned-near mandatory for a woman to have a pimp and that it was against the “rules” for a woman to be in business for herself. I always figured that other pimps would either run her off after repeatedly threatening her, harass her endlessly to join their stable or beat and rob her every night until she either ran off or joined their stable). A hooker lives a pretty solitary lifestyle. They don’t have many friends, if any because honestly, who wants to associate with a known prostitute? They can’t trust the other women they work with because they’re all in competition with one another.
When this and the accompanying piece, Hookers at the Point: Five Years Later were over, I didn’t know whether to sympathize or want to knock some sense into these women. The girls look roughly 20 years older rather than just five and Angel has lost her entire top row of teeth to drug use. At least her customers are still pleased with her oral skills. It is amazing to see the depths some will sink to make a quick buck. A modern-day prostitute goes through immeasurable physical and mental abuse and long hours to take home a few hundred bucks a night. I don’t see how anyone, including them, can possibly think it’s worth it.
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