Monday, March 28, 2011

Episode 20 : My Fee

Men pay for sex with a prostitute as if paying for a commodity. But my ideal situation would be if they paid for the service the same way one pays for a work of art. Not necessarily a Dali or Wanyu Brush but an obscure artist whose abstract painting pierces the soul of the buyer. If that was the case I would have the same basis as great artists to charge high prices; not for the aesthetics of the art but for the inexplicable effect a work has on the soul. But the ideal is only a fantasy I dream of, as I live through a very different reality.

Pricing of commodities is a function of many factors but the key is the cost of production. Someone argued in one of the comments here that in my kind of work the commodity is naturally occurring and I should not price it. That however is a little simplistic. To start with it ignores the equivalent of the cost of mining; compensation for the psychological leap that is practicing prostitution. Then there are the obvious maintenance and packaging costs; buying clothes, making the hair, gynecologist charges and the likes, not forgetting the cost of transporting the commodity from the factory to the consumer. Perhaps I should state, hoping not to sound like Coca-Cola, I don't sell my body, but happiness.

When I moved from the SJ to the street I set myself the standard fee to charge; Ksh.1,500 per session. Though a somehow arbitrarily amount I calculated it was enough to cover my costs and a fair price for what I was giving in return. However I soon did away with it. It was limiting. There were men who wanted to pay slightly less and I was shutting them out. And the others who wanted to pay more but were caged by my price.

Still naive, I then started charging on the basis of the car a man drove. But as I pointed out earlier the car a man drives is a very poor indicator of what he may pay a girl. Some of those who seem to have bought sleek cars through a formal career or clever business, are a little full of themselves, like they are running the world. They feel they have nothing to prove, and are actually doing me a favor. They pay what is a complimentary amount for the bother. But there are those with the expensive cars who seem to have made money the easy way; perhaps through deals, corruption or some other backdoor manner. These are generous with their cash and pay much more than what I ask for.

Those driving the lower Toyota , Nissan, Volkswagen and second hand BMWs ( The latter are indeed very interesting) are quite unpredictable. Some are on low budgets and cant pay a lot as much as they would like to. Others have this constant fear that they are being persecuted or exploited by the government and everyone else, so they are just tough with their cash. The second hand BMW types seem in doubt of their wealth, or more appropriately whether people recognize them as wealthy. They will pay relatively more and with some flamboyance, just to prove they are loaded.

Nowadays I gauge each customer differently. This is the best strategy. I use some simple indicators to know what to charge. For instance men who ask what my price is immediately I enter their car are not ready to pay much, so I quote a figure a little bit low. Those who talk much will definitely negotiate, so I quote a higher price to create room for negotiations. A customer asking when I would like my payment ; before or after the session is a hint to charge more. Why a man is sleeping with me is an important consideration too. Those who sleep with me for the spirituality will have no problem paying more, as  compared to those in it for the physical satisfaction. At one time I thought men appreciate girls who charge more because things classy come at a premium price, but then I realized many men want a prostitute for who they think she is; a lowly girl without social or moral inhibitions.

The much I have been paid per session is $150 ( plus other benefits), not so long ago by a man who flew all the way from Kampala to come spend the night with me at a $ 200 hotel in Nairobi. An exact opposite of Sylvester. I will mention it in my next post this week.

( Thanks for the best of blog votes. No worries about the competition. Winning just comes with recognition and some validation, values anyone building a brand will appreciate. And now that I seem to have figured the direction my brand will take, I appreciate them much more. Mmm this post could be a hint at the direction. )

Monday, March 7, 2011

Episode 18: Sylvester

Every profession has an eleventh commandment. The one thing not in the rule book but which should be adhered to. The eleventh commandment though is not sacrilegious; it can be broken, but with heavy consequences. In our trade on the streets the eleventh commandment is never to fall in love with a client. When one falls in love with a customer so many things can be compromised, affecting the main reason for being in prostitution; making money. You can not for example steal from a man you love. Not that we are out to steal, no, but sometimes, like when dealing with a mean man, it maybe necessary. You can't also negotiate steadfastly with a man you love. You are most likely to take the lowest offer or, as impossible as it may seem, give yourself up for free; after all that's what people in love do.

People break the eleventh commandment in a moment of foolishness. But for us we might break the commandment not in a moment of folly but simply because we are human beings responding to a biological urge to be loved. When a man picks me from a group of girls, it means he appreciates me. Crudely you may call it lust, but the lust is generated by an appreciation of something I have. But it ends there. Only a rare man will love a prostitute. We are seen like public institutions; open to all, to be (mis) used until we run down. We know this and so we never go out with a man expecting him to love us.

However we may fall in love with a man. After seeing the best, worst and real of so many men, many of us believe we are experts in male psychology. Thus before a girl falls in love, much analysis has taken place in her head. Nevertheless like anyone else we make mistakes.

Sometime ago I met a man called Sylvester. It says a lot if I knew his name, for many men are hesitant to give prostitutes their name, and if they do, they pick a common place name like John or Peter. Anyway Sylvester picked me one night around 11pm. He looked in his early thirties. The first thing he asked when I got inside his Subaru was whether I was feeling cold so that he could heat the car. Then he asked whether I felt hungry. Simple obvious questions but they meant a lot. As we drove towards Westlands, where he lived in an apartment, he volunteered more information about himself. He worked as an engineer with a local mobile phone company, he had broken up with his girlfriend and he eventually planned to relocate from the country. Again obvious things, but how many men volunteer such information to us?

When we got to his house rather than hurry me to the bed with his hands all over me, he let me sit on the couch, brought some whisky, put some music and cracked jokes, about himself, his work and us. And when we made love it was sensual. Him concerned about how I felt.

And so Sylvester picked me several times and treated me the same way. Naturally I became very fond of me, like falling in love. We never negotiated the fee he was to pay me; he paid what he wanted which was always slightly above the market rates. Perhaps even if he had decided not to pay me, I would have been okay. I actually thought he was falling for me too. Occasionally he called me during the day or night just to know how I was doing.

One morning, two months or so after meeting him, we were in his house and he couldn't locate his wallet so as to pay me. He searched for it everywhere, but still couldn't get it. Then he grabbed me abruptly, his face with an expression I had never seen before. “You prostitute! Give me my wallet or I kill you." I was surprised. I didn't have the wallet. He then slapped and insulted me. He searched my small handbag, made me undress; put his fingers inside me but still no wallet. Eventually he kicked me out. I cried. Not because he had hit me or refused to pay, but because I was in love with him. I had thought him different only to discover he was like all the rest.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Episode 17: The Man In The Jalopy

There are those contradictory sayings about first impressions and judging people. For instance there is the saying first impressions are lasting impressions, and don't judge a book by its cover. Perhaps its the realization that there cant be a universal way to judge a person that we have all these sayings. The environment and particular circumstances are key in determining whether to judge a person by the cover or not. How will a prostitute on the streets for example know whether a man is loaded or not?

At the heart of it, it doesn't matter. As long as a man can pay my fee it matters not to me whether he is spending on me what he makes in an hour or a whole month. Sometimes its obvious a man is spending the last of his shilling on me, but well that's his choice. As some other people would say generosity is not a function of how much one has, but the enormity of the heart;or stupidity.

Wordily logic, however, has it that the more one has; the more one is likely to give. From an economic view point, I tend to think everyone spends a similar proportion of their income on leisure; something like 20%. Certainly a fifth of a hundred thousand is more than a fifth of ten thousand. So a girl will wish to go with a man with more money;hoping the man will pay him extra. Of course it doesn't always happen that way.

In the streets the way to judge how loaded a man is by what he drives. I  can't  tell apart many models of cars but I can know an expensive car. Well there are girls who are experts. A seemingly expensive car will drive past and a girl will say " That's Japan not showroom." Japan is cheaper. How they tell is beyond reason. But the car a man drives is not an absolute gauge of his well being. The car may not be his. This is somehow easy to know by the way the car is driven and the confidence of the driver.

High worth individuals, driving the fuel guzzlers, are able to make decision fast. They wont dilly dally picking a girl. Its as if their minds are already set. Such a man will stop a car, and as we crowd it, he moves his eyes from end to end then settles on a girl. A decisiveness which perhaps explains their wealth. Or perhaps they don't want to be seen on the streets talking to prostitutes.

Those in the average cars will take hours to pick the girl. They have some misplaced excitement or perhaps are confused. They will stop a car, let the girls gather around, and like a king, Swazi king,  take their time to make their choice . Some will be lost in laughter as the girls sell themselves. They are problematic men.

Some months ago a rickety old car, which no one could tell what make it was, drove slowly along the street. When it stopped the girls thought it was due to a mechanical problem and no one seemed bothered, until the man removed his hand and waved, beckoning  a girl. I went.The man just opened the door. I got in and we drove to some hotel along Ngong road. To be on the safe side he was the kind of man I had to insist he pays me upfront. He gave me a $50 note for a one hour session and paid for my taxi back to town. I have neither seen the rickety car  again, nor its owner; a man not to be judged by the cover.