The Oldest Profession

It may surprise some who read this blog on a regular basis, but I am no expert on prostitution. Sex work. But, over the years of traveling in Europe and living in Spain, I have learned a few things. Some from afar. Others, more up close.

Children of the Corn

My first European encounter with this taboo subject was traveling to Milan for work. Most luxury brands have their shoes made in factories outside of Milan. Master cobblers hand make the shoes and they apprentice younger folks to learn the trade. Its a dying art form. There is a reason they cost so much. Brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Louboutin. Amongst many others. The villages and towns outside Milan host small factories that pump (a shoe joke – excuse the pun) out pairs of €2-3,000 shoes by the truckload.

I was in Milan at the invitation of French fashion house, Christian Louboutin. They collected me from my apartment in Milan and drove me out to where their factory was located. A town of local cafés with not one but two Michelin stars. The decor was nothing special but the food would make you weep.

After 9 cups of espresso and countless meetings, including with the chief cobbler, we adjourned to enjoy a sumptuous lunch. Then, the car drove me back to Milan for other meetings. On the way through miles of fields, I noticed women sitting on lawn chairs, holding umbrellas to protect from the hot sun. First one. Then there was another. And another. Until they were commonplace. Odd.

‘Are these women trying to keep crows from eating the corn?’ I asked the Louboutin executive.

‘No.’ She laughed ‘They are not scarecrows. They are prostitutes.’

I frowned. ‘With a lawn chair in a cornfield?! Isn’t that uncomfortable?’ The words were out of my mouth before I thought it through. Never mind.

The French woman gave me a decidedly Gallic shrug. ‘I have never contemplated this before. Perhaps they use his car.’

Of course.

In the US, prostitution is illegal. Police vice departments arrest those who ply their trade. In Europe, and Spain in particular, prostitution is tolerated. But pimping or sex trafficking is not. Basically, sex workers are workers like the rest of us. Ok. Maybe not exactly like the rest of us. But, lets face it, its work.

The Word Hobby Has a Whole New Meaning

Right before the pandemic hit, Jeff and I were coming out of a hobby shop in the old historic centre of Valencia. A woman approached us to offer her services to both of us for €20. A twofer. Jeff was shocked, after I politely declined.

‘€20!’ He exclaimed.

‘I know, right? A discount hooker. I would have felt better if she said €100. Do we look down on our luck?’

Jeff didn’t know what to say. He had never been propositioned like that before.

‘Isn’t she afraid we might be cops?’

I looked down at his bag filled with modeling parts and paint, then shook my head.

‘Plain clothes cops coming out of a hobby shop on a Saturday morning? A decidedly low risk in the cop department.’

Rear View Mirror

During la pandemia, our local Ford car factory in Valencia was shuttered. First for the lockdown. Then because Covid decimated the work force. And what did the newspaper report on? The impact on the sex workers at the gentleman’s club next door. These were specialist prostitutes with a focus on the factory lunch hour. You could do your work, then be home in time to pick up your kid from school. Make dinner. Which goes to show you that Covid hit every industry very hard. Even prostitution. And in typical Spanish government fashion, they were allowed on Covid unemployment. And, why not?

All of that was behind us. Or so we thought after we moved to rural Galicia. Until recently. Trips to Lugo for one thing or another has had us walking in an area inside the wall that we had not traversed before. New tires for the car in anticipation of winter weather. New brake pads. Our NIE card renewals. And more. This last time, we walked down a now familiar street.

‘I’ve seen that woman before.’ Jeff remarked. ‘Wasn’t she here the last time we walked by?’

This surprised me. Jeff notices nothing about everything. Its why he thinks every British actress, young or old, is Judi Dench. It drives me crazy! But this time he was correct.

‘The one in the red American letterman’s jacket? Yeah, she was here.’

‘That’s weird.’

‘Not really.’ I told him. ‘All these women standing around here. You see them, right? They’re prostitutes.’

Jeff’s jaw dropped. ‘It’s ten am. And it’s raining.’

I laughed. ‘I don’t think they care about the time of day, or the weather. Besides, its almost coffee break. Last time we were here one of them took a guy inside that house back there. So I don’t think they are planning on the umbrella for full privacy coverage.’

He just shook his head. ‘I feel like we should give them some money or something.’

‘Yeah. That’s what we need to be seen doing. Handing out money to sex workers near the police station that will issue our NIE cards. We are already seen as weird here. Let’s not push it.’

We all need to make a living. Some are blessed with educational opportunities and family support. Others are not. And, lets face it, the cost of living is rising. Making ends meet is the priority. So, I’m pretty sure, post-pandemic, there are no more €20 hookers in Valencia, anymore.

5 thoughts on “The Oldest Profession

  • During my first trip to Spain in 1987, we were out every night closing down the bars in Viveiro. It started to get a little old so I said let’s go to one of the ‘clubs’ I see everywhere. Little did I know that they are all whorehouses!! I couldn’t believe it. I sure gave his family a good laugh. And they’re all still here….the same ones!! You must see them too, they’re everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. Your body, your choice. I, personally, wouldn’t choose to utilize this service but was reading something that said 60-70% of men in Spain had utilized a professional for sex. Interesting statistics. I would have never thought that. Wonder what the stats in the US are.


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