Albert, in medical school while she was doing her ethnographic research with licensed prostitutes in Nevada, presents a good balance of nonfictiony background, history and data and the more interesting stuff--the women’s work and how they came to it.
So the whole licensing thing--reading about it almost made me want to get one, just because I can--except that they’re really just a fund raising racket.
This will shock you: even in legal brothels there are illegal pimps and unfair labor conditions. Prostitution is contract work so no taxes are taken from their pay, of which 50% goes to the house before all of the required tipping. In order to prevent them from doing outside jobs, the prostitutes are not allowed to leave the brothel unescorted. If they need to go to town to run errands, they have to wait for a runner to drive them--and pay him per stop.
Cats: there may have been a referral to a brothel as a “cat house,” and certainly lots of repetitions of the word “pussy,” but otherwise, no.
Instead of lacking family values, as moralists contended, most of the women I came to know there possessed a profound sense of personal responsibility and an unwavering commitment to their families that ultimately drove them to do this “immoral” work.
After a little more inquiry, though, I found that sexual arousal occurred more frequently than not. In fact, over three-quarters of the women confessed to me in private that they had experienced sexual excitement with clients, and a full 70 percent admitted to having had an orgasm with a customer. Ten percent of the women confided that they orgasmed more often with clients than they did with lovers, and 8 percent said they did just as frequently.
Male owners were supposed to stay behind the scenes, leaving day-to-day operations to the female staff. Today, men are permitted to work more visibly--as cooks, bartenders, cashiers, and maintenance people--but wome still hold all the managerial and floor maid positions.