by Jeffrey Stockbridge
Sam: Everybody knows me as Sam. That’s my real name. I started this fifteen years ago. Obviously drugs. Heroin. That’s always been my thing. I used to smoke coke back fifteen years ago when it first came out. That’s what turned a lot of the girls out here. And um, it used to be real wild. Like the cops were wild, you know what I mean, they worked with the girls. You could be out here at three o’clock in the morning and the dates would line up in the streets. And you were just making money over fist but you were spending it on drugs. I remember the cops driving around with Kegs in the back of the van, and they would help us out- the girls that were doing the right thing. You know a lot of us just wanted to make our money so we could keep our habit and mind our business, but fifteen years ago a lot of the girls were robbing the guys. And that’s when things started to get bad. And then there were a lot of young girls. Now from here, basically we go around for a minute. If you go up the other way they have pimps, you know it’s a bad scene. I’ve never needed anybody to tell me what to do with my money. But um you know, it’s a rough life. And a lot of the girls they don’t think. They just wanna make that money and they don’t think about what’s gonna happen. You know but you learn as you get older and you start doing this. Now, I left for a while went to Florida and took the habit with me and ended up in prison. Three years, Three years possession, yeah it was crazy. And um came back out and decided I was gonna come back here. Now it’s been all together about 10 years. Now, its calmed down a lot. But the girls look really sick. That Cocaine, it’ll just take you under. It’ll just not make you think about what your doing. Cause you just want the next hit. You’re constantly on the go. With the Heroin it’s not like that, you get your fix and you go in. And your good till the next one. So it’s a lot calmer and you can think better you know what I mean. You really can, believe it or not it makes a difference. So I got off the coke. I’m working on getting off the dope. I’m going up um, as a matter of fact tomorrow at five in the morning I gotta leave and go to Parkside. I don’t know if you heard of it, it’s a methadone program. That’s up on, by across from Fairmount Park on Parkside Avenue. Its just time to stop. You know, and what’s made it really hard is that I’ve met some nice people, who I like; we meet up at the bookstore. And that’s a great place you pay 20 dollars you go in, they have booths, movies, you pay 20 dollars you have a half-hour. Legally you’re allowed to go in there to watch a movie and you can go in with somebody. As long as the bookstore’s not profiting from the women. As long as I’m not giving them money for letting me bring somebody in, the guy has to go in he’s got to pay for the booth and he can bring whoever he wants in, they’ve got nothing to do with that. What happens in the booth between the guy and the girl, that’s between them. And then, they just leave, so they’re really even though they’re aware they’re not aware but they know without us they’re not gonna make no money. Because it’s a lot easier to go in their and do something and pay the 20 dollars than to be in your car getting a blowjob, or trying to get in the back seat, especially in the winter cause I got like layers and layers of clothes on cause its so cold you know.
Most of the men I date are married. They’re over 35, probably over 45. They’re married their wife doesn’t give head or they don’t have a lot of sex and they’re just trying to do their thing and go about their business. They’re not real into the touchy feely wanna kiss. Some guys are, some guys wanna kiss and all that. I don’t really care for that. It’s kinda personal. I don’t like the oral sex on me either. That to me is like, you know cause I don’t have no feeling for you, I can do you with no emotion and its like somebody else. Cause my dates like my body, it’s not me. I don’t let it touch me, it’s an act. You know what I’m saying. But if I have to lay back and you’re all over me, that makes it really uncomfortable you know. You start with the oral sex. You flip over, you hit it from behind and put their condom on, come, you throw everything away, wipe up, by see you in a couple days or whatever and it’s a done dollar. Nobody gets hurt.
Me: How many dates do you average in a day? What’s a good day?
Sam: A good day would be three, cause I charge fifty dollars a date when I go in there. You do have to have money when you go in there cause its twenty for the booth. Most of the men don’t mind paying it if you treat them right. And that’s all they want. They want to feel special, for about fifteen, twenty minutes they want to feel like they’re all that matters. Like what they want is important to you. And you’re gonna make it happen for them with out them feeling like they’re gonna be surrounded or the cops are gonna come or you’re bring them to a secluded place and somebody’s gonna jump out and rob them. They don’t want all that drama. They don’t want have to take you to buy drugs first, take you to a hotel and then you geek out and you don’t want to perform the act, you know they don’t want to go through that. So if they can get a girl that says, come on, lets do this, you know what I mean, what do you need, I got you. And I’m real sweet you know, I’m like real nice cause as long as you pay me I don’t have a problem with what you need. Just pay me, don’t disrespect me. You know I don’t want to be talked to like a nut, you’re not gonna spank me and slap me, and pinch me and all I’m not in to all that, but, but at the same time, they’re feeling nothing but pleasure through the whole thing. They’re feeling wow this girl is paying all attention to me; just by the way she’s doing me. You know what I mean, there is a way to give oral sex and its just, you don’t want it to stop. Then there’s all right, lets get to the sex part cause this aint working. There’s a way to have sex and moan and groan without being hysterical, without hollering like a banshee, you know what I mean. But, where he feels like he’s making you feel good, cause guys get off on that. They’re visual and they hear. So if they can look at your face and you’re kinda licking your lips and mmm, you know, they’re liking that. They’re feeling like they’re doing all that. And at the same time they get off. Business is handled. And the next thing you know they want to see you again.
You know I have a fire chief, and accountant, that I see and a mechanic that I see every week. They call me, they pick me up right near my house, I don’t have to come down to the avenue. And we’ll come up to the bookstore. And I mean they’re excited to see me. You know what I mean; they thought they’re the only on dating me you know what I mean. One likes to do everything. And he just thinks I’m like the sexiest thing you know what I mean. Its almost every day at like 5 o’clock, he’s at the bookstore.
Where else can you go and walk, blend in, its- Kensington’s been known, its on the Internet, its known, it’s the avenue. You can’t really downtown, that’s really a gay scene. Okay, that’s the boys club. You know if you’re going to spruce and locust, it used to be Locust Street but that’s all gay now. Then you got Broad Street but that’s mostly black. So if you want a white girl your gonna come down to the avenue and because everybody knows the avenue, everybody just comes here. And I’ll tell you what, its addictive. I mean I left Florida where it’s beautiful and all to come back to the avenue because this is where I can be me. I can be me, you don’t have to like it but you’re all right with it and you’re gonna be you. You’re gonna ride down and your gonna see girls out here and its not gonna phase you, its part of the norm down here. Cab drivers, dope dealers, hookers and johns. A bar and church on every corner. This is what you’re used to seeing. The avenue will always be.
Now we used to sit on these steps. The bikers would come out. We’d be out her four o’clock in the morning, everybody smoking crack, shooting dope, getting ready to turn tricks. It’s hot out. It’s the middle of July. Where else you gonna be able to just run the street. The cops get to know you and as long as you’re not doing anything they don’t mess with you, the people that mess with you out here is vice.
Me: Is this one of the corners here?
Sam: That’s the bookstore. The famous bookstore. I’ve known them for 15 years. And when they see me they go, Hey Sam where you been? Like cause they didn’t get to see me for a few years cause I went to prison and all and I’m back, they have made money every day cause I have brought somebody in there every day. Sometimes I’ll go in there like when I want to be left alone and I’ll give them 5 dollars and I’ll go up and watch a movie. And just chill for a minute you know what I mean cause I have a headache or whatever. You know what I mean, we’ll sit there we’ll have some drinks, they make drinks in there you know, it they, they know you. There’s a lot of use who’ve been around here a long time. So certain guys that work in there, they might bring a bottle to work with them. So we’ll go in they’ll be like you need a drink, yeah, we’ll have a drink smoke a cigarette, all right see what I can do and go out. They don’t take nothing from us, we don’t owe them anything they don’t ask, they won’t play that game. They don’t even want to hear it. And we that have been around for a while know this. You know the deal when you come through the door. You come in, he comes in, he pays they give the booth your escorted to the booth and handle your business, we don’t wanna know. They don’t say well what did you get twenty, did you get thirty, did you get forty. You know. They don’t say anything like that.
I’ll tell you the saddest part. I would do this without the habit. Which that’s my plan cause its extra money in my pocket. I’m sick of having the habit. You don’t know what its like to go buy a bag of dope, do it, and not get high cause your tolerance is high, just to feel normal. You know what I mean, you’re spending money just to feel normal, you’re not even get- the thrill is gone. I’m forty, You know, I’ve been shooting dope since I was fourteen. The thrill is so gone. But I can’t take being sick, but now I’m thinking you know I’ll get on a program and I’ll make some money on the side and I can use it for other things cause I think I’m just hooked on the whole game of it. You know, it’s the place that I belong. It’s not for everybody but some people look forward to seeing me and I look forward to seeing them. It’s just where I’m known. And when I’m not with them I can be home in my own and just chill. Its like putting on a mask you know I can go out here and be whatever I want to be and then I can go home and just be with me and I’m okay with it. You know I’m just not okay with having the habit anymore. Ain’t that something?