A great philosopher once said, “Ain’t no money like hoe money.” His sentiments would be correct. Second to only synthetic drugs, prostitution is one of the most lucrative trades in the international black market, raking in $186 billion annually. The United States has the world’s fifth largest prostitution market, generating about $14.6 billion. The advent of the internet has certainly played a role in the expansion of the prostitution game. Sites like Backpage and Craigslist make it easier for johns to find ladies offering “companionship” in different time intervals. Pimp C’s words, “Pimpin’ ain’t dead, it just moved to the website,” ring true today. While some of the profiles posted on these sites are run by independent ladies, there is still likely to be a man behind the scenes handling everything. That’s what “Zeke” did for four months last year. He “managed” five women through Backpage and general networking.
Zeke never had any plans to start “managing” prostitutes. The opportunity kind of fell into his lap one night at an acquaintance’s house in his native Chicago. “It was actually by accident, There was this old dude and I used to go over his crib. He had the weed, so I partied with him,” explained Zeke. “One day he had this group of bitches over there dancing and motherfuckers were tipping them. They fucking. Like everything.”
Zeke took it upon himself to introduce himself to them. “They were really kind of hollering’ at me, because I was the only nigga in there not paying for shit. I’m not down to pay for that shit,” he declared.
He went on to exchange numbers with the ladies and they all became friends. He hung out with them and gained their confidence. After a while, Zeke started giving them suggestions on where to go get paid. “It’s really playing your position. If you’re coming to the females like, look, I got places to go and get bread, they be like, ‘Get bread! We can all get bread!’”
He then started hooking the squad up with johns looking for a good time, even the “old dude” that introduced them. “Now, when the old dudes want them to come back later, now they have to holler at me and shit.”
Next, Zeke and his squad made the decision to move their operation to Backpage. This would involve setting a up at a hotel, then handle the way johns parked up and entered the room. “You rent two rooms. One for everybody. One room for working and shit,” explained Zeke.
This way, the operation appealed to mostly White males willing to pay anywhere from $150 to $1000 per hour for all types of services. Zeke elaborated, “It was this dude who didn’t want to fuck. he just wanted to tie her up and rough her up a little bit, not too bad, but on some crazy-ass-nigga shit. But he would pay $500-$1000. $150-$200 is the normal price. You gotta take the whole hour.”
Out of that, Zeke got his cut, which amounted to an average of about $1500 per week. “I was being a manager, I wasn’t no pimp. So, I’m taking 15 to 20%. I’m cool. I ain’t force em to do nothing. I ain’t beating them up. I’m just taking my little percentage and keeping shit smooth.”
He didn’t anticipate the venture paying off like it did. “I ain’t know niggas paid for pussy that much. Dudes were hitting us from 50 miles away, like, ‘I’ll drive 50 miles.’”
Zeke explained the role of being a “manager,” beyond being a whore-courier. “First off, you manage the money, then you manage their time. You manage their security and all that shit. You gotta watch out for police. All that shit.”
Zeke learned from friends who were dabbling in the sex trade. “My boy got caught up and he got arrested because he got with an underaged bitch and didn’t know she was underaged. The only reason he didn’t go down on some sex trafficking is because the bitch looked grown and told police they didn’t know how old she was. She told them she was older.”
Another precaution Zeke learned to take was to beware anything too good to be true, because it was probably the police. “This is what you do. We’d make two ads, right? We’d take one of the girls, put it on there and make the price crazy, like $400 an hour. Then we’d take the other one and make that one the regular price, like $150-200. See, the police, they’re so thirsty, they’re not even paying attention, so they don’t give a fuck how much the price is. They want it. When we see people that’s biting on these crazy ass prices, we know they’re working with police. If you pay for pussy, nigga, you want a price. For regular shit, that’s not the price. It was a little too easy. Sounds like some police shit to me.”
Though the money was coming in, Zeke just didn’t feel like the game was for him. “It was too much. At a certain point, it became, like, now you’ve got to take care of these hoes and shit. Like, they’re you’re personal problem, so I was like, nah,” expressed Zeke. “I just didn’t have any passion for that shit. It just kind of came to me. I had just got some money off it. It wasn’t anything I really believed in, so I’d just end up doing something else. That shit really becomes like a job. Do I really want to be carrying around these hoes every day?”
He hasn’t had much contact with his team, either. “I’ve only seen one of em ever since, and we didn’t even talk. We just kinda kept it moving. There wasn’t much to say. She’s either fucking with a new nigga, or she’s trying to stay away from niggas like me.”
In the end, Zeke doesn’t look back on his experience as a Backpage manager fondly. “That shit’s a little sad. That’s another part of this game. You see motherfuckers at their worst, at the bottom and shit.”
Author Ryan Smith is a writer for Don Diva Magazine/dondivamag.com and has contributed to publications such as The Philadelphia Weekly, Complex Magazine, Ebony, among others. Follow him on twitter @mewefree