Friday, November 7, 2014

The kind you don't take home to mother

Dell trying to Pretty Woman the gay prostitute in American Horror Story: Freak Show this week reminded me that I wanted to write an entry about Pretty Woman. Not so much the movie with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, but the way that I've verbed the noun to mean any attempt to take a sex worker and "relationship" them.

As part of The German and I's new routine, we've been Google chatting and watching The Wire on Sunday afternoons. He's seen the entire series probably the same amount of times I've watched Queer as Folk (see: several). This is my first time through The Wire, and we've gotten to about the halfway point of season 2.

No spoilers, but there's a character in season 1 who works at a strip club and winds up being an informant for the police squad. By season 2, she's officially in a relationship with one of the detectives and wearing appropriate turtlenecks in his lavishly outfitted domicile.

There's a particular characteristic to this characterization that drives me crazy. It's the idea that there's only two types of sex workers in the world: the "good" ones who are just trying to make money until they can find something better, and the "freak" ones who actually enjoy the sex aspect of sex work. It's as though the latter have absolutely no idea what a sensible turtleneck even looks like, and don't have any interests beyond inspiring men with erections to sling dollars up on the stage.

It's completely impossible to be a "wild" woman and also be in a relationship. I'm pretty sure Shardene from The Wire had to tame shit down in the bedroom even though that's not the type of sex she's into, just because "good" girls don't actually enjoy freaky sex. In Pretty Woman, Vivian (Julia Roberts), gets to dress up fancy, attend polo matches, and eat escargot while her friend Kit...I don't know. Does a lot of coke and gets to drop in to the fancy hotel for her cut of the rent money? Which is not to say Vivian doesn't get to have good sex. If you haven't seen Pretty Woman I recommend it just purely for the piano scene.

I disagree more with the idea that once Vivian and Edward (Richard Gere) are officially "in a relationship," that type of on-top-of-a-piano sexiness can only exist as an exclusive event between them, and Vivian showing even covert outward sexiness to anybody besides Edward past this point of relationship exclusivity will be verboten. (Forgive me, The German. It's applicable.)

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