Call-girls and Wu Wei

I spend a lot of time criticising the boys who work on Wall Street, but if you’re not after anything too cerebral they can be quite good fun to hang out with. Fraser and Kathleen started spending a lot of time together in a weird sexless mini-clique. There had been rumours flying round that her job wasn’t as secure as it might be, and I think she was keen to get close to anyone who could help her career.

As a girl, you get used to bawdy comments from guy-friends. One of the things that really shocked me about the city guys was the number of them who had been with call-girls. Usually on foreign trips where nobody knew them, but sometimes at home in New York. “Their work builds up a lot of testosterone,” Lina would say, “they have to let off steam somehow.”

“Does your brother go with call-girls?” I asked her,

“No, but a lot of his friends at the bank do,” she said. I think she was telling the truth.

“I don’t really understand the appeal,” I said, “I mean, if they earn a lot of money, they could get a real girlfriend easily.”

“Yes, but a real girlfriend makes demands. A hooker can just be sent away when you’ve finished with her.”

“Maybe that’s the root of it. They don’t want a human, just a body,” I said.

Lina worked for a PR company, mainly promoting avant-garde fashion brands which no one had ever heard of. She knew everybody and was shocked by nothing. “You know all our models end up sleeping with the photographers,” she said, “they think it will help them get booked.”

Those girls, turning up in New York, from tiny towns with nothing but a diner and a dustbowl. It all makes me feel sick, just thinking about it. Being looked at by strangers. Judged. Every ounce of fat on your body scrutinised.

“The top girls are ok,” said Lina, “the ones who are really stunning, and confident. But there are a lot of B-list models in New York, I wouldn’t wish that life on anybody.”

Lina’s leather Filofax was on the table. “Do you still use that thing?” I asked, half laughing. It was stuffed full of notes and business cards. “Yeah,” she said, “it’s the only way I can keep on top of things.”

I found it hilarious that a girl who was paid $35,000 a year just to be cooler than normal people was dependent on a stone age filing system. Lina is so fashion that she could walk out of the house in a giant paper bag and convince the world that it’s actually the next big thing, and that they are a loser for not sporting a giant paper bag themselves. She is so fashion that she can barely walk down the street, even in New York, without other women harassing her to ask her where she got her stuff from. Yet she can’t get to grips with her email address book.

“I’m going to see Kathleen in the hospital tomorrow,” she said,

“Oh,” I was surprised, had something happened, it was jarring to think of Kathleen, steely, invulnerable and perfect lying in a hospital bed.

“I’m not really sure what’s wrong with her,” continued Lina, “she just said it was a minor op. Nothing serious.”

I guessed from this that it was something intimate, or embarrassing. “It’s not the A-word,” said Lina, “I already asked her about that. But don’t quiz her. She’s a bit tetchy.” Kathleen had recently started dating a banker called Byron Qwike, pronounced “quick”. He was deeply obnoxious, and thought himself better than everyone else. Granted, he was handsome, and he came from an “old family”. But he was a profoundly boring man, who only talked about work, and polo.

I kissed Lina goodbye and walked back to my flat. Passing a phone-box full of calling cards for escort-girls. Heavily made up, and heavily photoshopped. Not so different from the avatars people play online. I wonder at some point will our electronic selves and our real selves merge. Will our plastic surgeon take the dimensions for our new nose job from our SecondLife character.

I’d seen a paper from Unicef estimating that there were over 100,000 female sex slaves working in developed countries. Trafficked women locked in brothels in towns like New York. Human punchbags absorbing the extra adrenalin of Wall Street traders, TV producers, Hip Hop stars, and manual workers.

I went into the tiny pottery store on the corner of Water Street, and bought some wu wei pots, made of clay. I liked them because I could see the thumbprint of the person who made them in the base of the dish.

Image: from the wu wei collection by Connie


5 thoughts on “Call-girls and Wu Wei

    • I think capitalist culture can be very misogynist. A lot of work in the financial sector revolves around aggression, so it really does attract some unpleasant characters. There is also the problem that pretty girls are used so much in advertising, that they have become dehumanised, and just another way of selling product.

  1. I do not want to offend you Cara – you run a very interesting blog, but I understand anybody who relates to the statement, that the most honest man/female relationship on earth is between men and prostitutes.

    I guess I start with outing myself as straight middle class man. Many men have paid for a hooker,not because you cant get any, but to save the hassle of dinner & relationship talk, and indeed the fringe benefit able to leave afterwards. As a man one will always pay for sex in some way, shape or form. Whether we’re married, single or you go for ‘professional help’, there is always an exchange and always a trade off, form Roman times to our capitalist cultures, if you want to call the financial sector culture. Men want sex, (some) women want security, all want money and the devil is in the details. But there is more on that, there is just the difference in the world between paying and being paid, client and service provider.It is possible that the percentage of honest and competent whores is higher than that of plumbers and may be even higher than that of lawyers. And enormously higher than (I would add on) as the wall street boys. I personally used professional service myself, between marriages or in transition. In the early nineties I worked in Bangkok, and I still remember I conversation with a girl in a reasonable bar (actually a student who was moonlighting): SHE: “What are doing for living”. ME: “I am a consultant”. SHE; “I have heard that often recently, what does it mean exactly?” ME: ” I am in the same business as you are – I am using my personality and and skills”. That started a very interesting evening.

    My favorite quote on this: Bertrand Russell The total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.

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