Janet Capron’s Blue Money is a mostly-memoir about working as a prostitute in New York City by Janet Capron. be out on Unnamed Press June 20. Read our interview with author Janet Capron here and buy the book here.


“Wear jeans. That’s all we ever wear here,” one of the two madams, Felicity, told me on the phone.

Finally, I was going to see how the hip side of my generation ran things. I had been trying to build my own business. The problem was that I became extremely bored sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, so Corinne referred me.

“This whorehouse should be part of every girl’s unsentimental education,” she said.

The cab dropped me at a town house in Murray Hill that had a wrought-iron staircase leading up to the parlor floor. It was one of those sultry October days when the air is heavy with dawdling summer. A wisteria vine had twisted itself around the iron fence and hung off the landing. The blossoms had blown away months ago, but the brown stems were still covered with wispy green leaves. I felt as if I were marching up the steps of a real bordello.

A sullen-looking young thing in short shorts, thongs, and a halter top answered the bell. “Upstairs,” she said, pointing to the back of the house.

We were in a big front room with high windows, empty except for a couple of couches. I started climbing the stairs.

“All the way to the top,” the sentry yelled after me.

I passed a landing with doors on either side of it, then another one. I could hear Barry White on the turntable and, above his bass voice, women laughing. I followed the noise into a small room under the eaves, where three women sat on a built-in banquette around a large table. A stockpile of gleaming white cocaine had been heaped into a dish and set down smack in the middle like a centerpiece. I watched one of the women scoop what was at least a tablespoon of it onto a mirror. She started making lines with the precision of a jewel cutter.

“Time to wake up,” the woman said, handing the whole thing to me.

I was so struck by her instant generosity, I beamed with pleasure.

“Is this for everyone?” I asked, horrified that I might otherwise expose my greedy nature right off the bat.

“See that pile? That is for everyone. What you got there is for you. You’re way behind us. We’ve been doing this shit since … since when, Ginger?”

“Try last week,” Ginger said.

“Did I just die and go to heaven?” I asked, snorting up everything with the short straw someone had passed to me.

They laughed.

“You’re cute. My name is Ginger, and Mary Poppins over there is my partner.”

“Hi, I’m Felicity, and this is Joey, our token jailbait,” Felicity said.

“Who was that downstairs?” I asked.

“Oh, Marcy.”

“No wonder she looked so miserable,” I said.

“Yeah, we take turns manning the door. OK, I guess you can see how we run things here. Loose. You and Joey and Marcy are working today, and sometimes me, if I feel like it. Ginger here is getting married so doesn’t get to turn tricks anymore. She keeps the guys amused if everyone is busy,” Felicity said.

Ginger screwed up her face in disgust.

“Meanwhile, there’s going to be work for you. Straight is fifty, half-and-half is seventy-five. If the john just wants a blow job, hit him up for fifty. Tell him you do deep-throat, it’s your specialty,” Felicity said.

“Know how to do deep-throat?” Ginger asked.

“I’ve never tried,” I said.

“It’s easy as hell, a gimmick, that’s all. You let it in slowly and open your throat. Then, when you get used to it, just open and close your throat around his dick. He’ll come so fast, you won’t have a chance to gag,” Ginger said.

“OK, the split is standard: sixty/forty. Sometimes I get a call from a hotel. I charge two hundred for that,” Felicity said.

“Yeah, and lots of those calls are from famous rock ’n’ rollers, like Ridley Stokes, when he’s in town, or last week, we heard from Trip Oldman. We have fun with these guys. They like to get down. Plenty of good blow,” Ginger said.

“Trip Oldman?” I asked.

“What’s the matter, you sound bummed,” Felicity said, laughing.

“Well, I mean, his politics. He’s so passionately to the left. And then those plaintive, innocent love songs …”

“Oh, girl, you got a lot to learn,” Ginger said.

“You Jewish?” Felicity asked me.

“Yep,” I said, jumping at the chance to tell her, because it was obvious that she was Jewish, the first one I’d come across.

Felicity had long streaked-blond hair and slightly protruding large blue eyes; she wore diamonds in her ears. She looked like every elegant princess you ever saw on the Upper East Side.

“I could tell you were Jewish from your rap. You got a good rap. That might come in handy,” Felicity said.

Ginger got up and stretched. She swiveled her hips and dry-humped the table. The oldest one there, in her thirties, she looked like she’d been around the block a few times. I couldn’t tell what she was—Irish, Jewish, Italian—because she had that generic ethnic face, skin faintly scarred from teenage acne, dark wavy hair cut short. But she had flash. I wondered about the decent man who was planning to marry her.

“I’m bored,” Ginger said.

“You’re going to do great out there on the North Shore. Some housewife you’re going to make,” Felicity said.

“Don’t let’s talk about it. I still got a few months left. See my ring?” Ginger asked me, wriggling her fingers in my face.

The ring was a big diamond-shaped diamond.

“Who’s the guy?”

“Oh, someone I met while I was filming Prostitution and Drugs: The Intimate Connection. His name’s Kenyon Edwards. He’s got a last first name and a first last name. Lots of class. He’s a few years older than I am, but don’t worry, he’s rich.”

“And he adores Ginger,” Felicity said.

“So you’re the one who got the Emmy,” I said, almost starstruck. I’d heard her story.

“Yeah, I put the show together for PBS. Then I went to work for the mayor, helping him organize a task force to get rid of the pimps. I’m still on his payroll,” Ginger said.

“Doesn’t the mayor mind that you’re here?” I asked. If I sounded naive, I was past caring.

“Listen, honey, didn’t anyone ever tell you? Once in the Life, always in the Life,” she said.

“But Ginger’s much slicker than she’s letting on. She’s leaving for good, moving to a big house on the Long Island Sound,” Felicity said.

“Dammit. I told you, don’t remind me. I don’t want to hear it,” Ginger said, banging the table. The cocaine jumped in its dish.

“Watch it,” Joey said.

“Oh, Joey, you really got my nose open, you know that? You are the sweetest little flower bud. Come here, baby, come to Mama,” Ginger said. She went over to where Joey was sitting, leaned over the young woman’s back and put her hands on her breasts. “Only seventeen, oh, honey, how’d you get so wise?”

“Quit it,” Joey said, shaking off Ginger.

“Sassy, isn’t she? But you should see her slit. It’s perfect,” Ginger said.

“Stop trying to shock Janet. You don’t shock that easy, do you?” Felicity said.

“Well, for starters, I’m a whore, aren’t I?” I said.

“Yeah, right, we’re all hos,” Felicity said.

There were men’s voices on the stairs.

“Quick, hide the dope. We don’t want these clowns dipping into our stash,” Ginger said.

Felicity took the dish into a little kitchen across the way.

But the two men had brought their own mountain. They dumped a spoon of it onto a magazine. One of them started cutting lines.

The usual johns, a little younger and spiffier than my ambulance chasers and real estate salesmen, these were Wall Streeters, but basically the same. They threw off their jackets and loosened their ties like they were in danger of choking any minute.

“Joey baby, I came here just for you,” one of them said. He sat down and pulled her onto his lap. “I dream of you. Did you know that?”

“No, I didn’t know that,” Joey said, her long brown hair falling over one eye. She sounded completely blasé, unflappable.

The john started bouncing her up and down as if she were a little kid. “Do you dream of me?” he asked her.

“Yeah, Henry, every night,” Joey said.

“Who’s the new girl?” the other one said.

“Want her?” Felicity asked.

“She’ll do. Like sex?” he asked me.

“It’s my life’s work,” I said.

“Come on, then, snort some of this,” he said, handing me a little silver spoon.

After they had some scotch over ice that Felicity brought back from the kitchen, the two of them grabbed Joey and me like a couple of dashing pirates and pulled us downstairs.

Inside the bedroom, my john peeled off four twenties. He flopped onto the bed, still in his clothes, waving the bills in the air.

I snatched the money from his hand and stuck it on the mantelpiece. Then he closed his eyes and let his body go limp, like a puppy on its back waiting to have its belly stroked.

“An extra five for you, just between us. So do me good,” he said.


Janet Capron’s Blue Money is a mostly-memoir about working as a prostitute in New York City by Janet Capron. be out on Unnamed Press June 20. Read our interview with author Janet Capron here and buy the book here.