I do. I remember hookers in Cleveland. I think there a lot of people who reminisce about old Cleveland and as someone who grew up as a child in the 70’s and 80’s there are a lot of fond memories, but I do remember the sex trade in Cleveland. I did not partake mind you, I just remember the strangeness of it. I was still a kid mostly. I think the conclusion of a lot of that came with the building of Jacob’s Field in the 90’s. The city shoed them away because Prospect Avenue was the hotbed of the sex trade back in the day. You can’t have whores littering the streets when you are building a championship team.
We would drive to the Agora in high school to see concerts. This was pre-I490. You would have to get off at 9th and as the sun went down the whores came out. Now with 490 you can just get off at East 55th and head north. Back then if you went to 55th you made a really wrong turn. I grew up in Bay Village. I was sheltered but I was not dumb or naive. In the eyes of that city I was a daredevil though. People would talk of “crossing the Cuyahoga River” as something that only the brave would do. It was as if as soon as you hit the river you were in the badlands. A place where criminals, drug dealers and those fabulous whores ran the streets. You’d get shanked or shot if you looked at someone the wrong way. None of this proved to be true. We tested those waters all the time.
I think after the Jake was built they moved over to the West 25th area. Outside of the Westside Market there really wasn’t much going on over there at night. Back then the Westside Market wasn’t the tourist spot it was today either. It was just kind of a bargain-basement place to stock up on produce and meats. You went, you shopped, you got the fuck out. When the food service industry started moving in the hookers got shoed away further west to Ohio City. A friend of mine says they are still there, but I don’t see them anymore. I am either whore-blind or he is full of shit.
When Craigslist decided to stop allowing the sex trafficking ads a few months back I thought they would be back on the streets. They call them escorts now. We are PC now. We don’t want to call them whores. They work in the sex industry. They are victims. We can believe that. I can accept that some of the time. They are exploited. It’s woebegone, depressing. The prostitutes, the Johns it’s all heebie-jeebies to me.
When I saw Pretty Woman back in 1990 I was confused though. Vivian. Julia Roberts, Richard Gere. I thought wow, California really stepped up their game in whoring. I never saw Julia Roberts on the streets of Cleveland. What I recall were mostly African American woman, the size of Cleveland Browns linebackers, in a wig and lipstick wearing next to nothing.
After a bachelor party for a friend of mine, early 90’s, I remember more or less stealing my brothers car as everyone was passed out drunk at the Renaissance hotel room floor. It was some sort of muscle car, ugly, gold in color. I grabbed the keys and grabbed my buddy Tom and we went for a drive. I can’t tell you what we were looking for, maybe pot, maybe more booze but I mainly think it was to troll hookers. It was 2 in the morning, they were abundant. After cruising Prospect in search of whatever vice it was a couple twenty-something idiots were after in the wee hours of the morning I actually pulled up to a couple of them, more like a flock, or is it a gaggle?
You need to understand this is like a trip to a zoo for a child. There is wonderment of the unknown. We had heard of these whores as mythical figures. We had seen them from a distance. We have never made first contact though. It was groundbreaking. As soon as we rolled down the windows of this 1980’s sex machine of a car the hookers approached like a ravenous animal to an injured prey. A hand was on my crotch. It was not gentle. It was not a Julia Roberts grip. It was rough, and that shit hurt. I am not sure if that was meant to entice me into the joys of what I could expect from what looked to be Greg Pruitt in a wig or to say I know what you are up to you debasing little suburban fuck. Words were said, mother fucks were giving by all parties and we drove back to suburbia.
The sex trade, sex trafficking is a horrible demoralizing industry. I don’t want to make light of it. I know I did. The entire narrative above is how we are able to desensitize ourselves from what is beneath us. At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade 54% of trafficking victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation. I am not trying to be the patron saint of hookers, only trying to tell a story. I want the fairytale.