Sex for Sale in San Francisco

- Introduction by Brently and Matt

- Stories by Brently Pusser

Being cab drivers in San Francisco we have a lot of interactions with all sorts of working women. Whether it’s taking them to and from work, down to the Hot Tubs, or just around the block to avoid the cops in the Tenderloin. There are several sections of town where prostitutes work the street openly: The Tenderloin (usually around the 500 block of Jones - most of the girls working on Larkin Street are actually trans-gender of one type or another), Octavia between Page and Oak, and the infamous 17th and Capp.

It should be noted that although streetwalkers are the most visible prostitutes in San Francisco, they comprise only a small percentage of the women selling sex in the city. The most common type of prostitute is the call girl, including escorts, outcall massage girls and women scamming through the classifieds. It’s also pretty well known that you can negotiate a handjob or oral sex at the Asian Massage Parlors. Then there are the dancers working at strip clubs, some of whom will cross the line for more money.


Here in San Francisco, the rules are different for bars that serve alcohol than the ones that don’t. At a bar where alcohol is served, like the Gold Club on Howard Street, the ladies must wear a G string or bottom of some sort and yield six feet of space between themselves and customers. In clubs that serve only soft drinks, they may dance freely without any clothing at all, touching and allowing touch. During the slower months of winter, sex acts in the private rooms are not uncommon in these types of clubs. However, the dancers who perform sex acts for money in these clubs are chided and looked down upon by their peers.

Massage Parlors in San Francisco are most often staffed by first generation Asian immigrants. Vice squad raids of massage parlors are rare, reputedly because of Asian Mafia ties with the police. The ladies working in these parlors generally only go home with about a third of the money they take in in a night. Tracing where the other 2/3 of the money goes may explain the lack of police interference.

For some reason massage parlor girls and dancers are some of the best tippers we drive around, while street walkers are definitely the worst. Maybe there’s something about running from the law that makes you forget that the people driving you around are working for a living too. Or maybe it’s just that dancers and massage girls feel a sense of camaraderie with their fellow working stiffs.

The Stories:

While most prostitutes working the street are bing worked by pimps, there are some independents out there. I’ve picked up “ladies without pimps” several times. They apparently travel in a groups of 3-5, and work a circuit that includes Phoenix, Vegas, San Francisco and Seattle. (There are probable wider circuits unknown to me but these cities were mentioned every time and Los Angeles was omitted every time.) They stay in the cheaper hotels of tourist districts for as short as a week and as long as the going is good. Their income is significantly greater that those with pimps because pimps take everything their girls make, pretty much. I picked up a radio call once at the Hot Tubs on Fell St. at around 9pm. When I pulled up to the building, a young girl about 19 came out to the cab. She had a tiny build but looked a bit paunchy in the tummy and I wondered if she might be pregnant. After she gave me the destination (Lombard Hotel), I asked her how her day was going. She went into a rant against her pimp, having forced her to work a job in her state. She not only was pregnant but was on her way to the hospital to deliver that very evening. She said her contractions had started that morning. She was ashamed to go to the hospital dressed like a hooker so I took her to her hotel to change and then to the hospital. She told me about the evil impregnations scandal and how tough it would be to leave. She had tried once, made it to San Jose, and was found by her pimp and beat up badly. “Next time”, I suggested, “go to the East Coast or as far as you can and don’t tell anyone!” She agreed and assured me she already had a private money stash. I haven’t seen her since and I hope she’s ok.

The “john” is a ride I now refuse. Once I picked up at the Elite on Fillmore one night and the guy wanted to cruise for hookers. I was new to cabbing and he was surprised I hadn’t done this before. I went along and he gave up after gawking around in Hayes Valley for about a half hour. One thing I noticed about him is that any girl on the street was a prostitute to him. Even people who obviously were not “working”, he’d ask me to slow down and he would talk to them through the window, “Hey, honey wanna have a drink with me?” and shit like that. He ended up going home alone to Twin Peaks. Recently I picked up the same guy on a radio call out of an Asian massage parlor. Again he wanted to cruise. I hadn’t let anyone use my cab to cruise since him, so I went for it, curious to see if he would go home alone again and knowing where he lived. For Christ’s sake, he said he’d just been laid by a lovely Vietnamese girl. But this guy was lonely/horny and we picked up a girl at Geary and Polk. He asked her to go to his house. She said she’d rather go to the hot tubs. He said no way, to his house only. She asked how much he had to spend. He said $40. She said “let me out at the next corner, cabbie”, which I did. She told this jerk that her minimum was $100 and house calls started at $200 before she got out. He asked if I would cruise Hayes Valley and I told him I was not into it, that one drive through it was all he would get. He took the first girl he saw, an emaciated, 40ish, African American lady with short hair and a tight dress. They didn’t discuss money, he just asked if she’d like to come over to his house and she said she’d just come out. When he asked what the hell she meant by that, she said “I mean you’re my first tonight, I just showered and I’m all clean for you”. I sighed a sigh of great relief and took the lovers to Twin Peaks.

One of the weirdest and certainly most surreal rides I’ve ever had involved three hookers. Now one of my rules is: “never pick up more than one streetwalker, if you’re going to pick up any at all”. They are the worst tippers and picking up more than one is almost always trouble.

I made an exception this one night as I was Eastbound on Post just before Stockton. Three young, attractive and very well-dressed girls flagged me there and when they got in, I asked, “back to the track, ladies?”. One of them said to just drive straight and they’d tell me when to turn. Curious, I went for it and cruised down to Mission and turned right, moving slowly. Apparently, the gal in the middle of my back seat owed the other two $300 each and they wanted it now. The debtor, Taneesha, needed some time to produce the money as she had packed $1,000 in her butt. The other two tried to help her out, by getting her onto all fours in the back seat and digging around in her, looking for their cash. All the while, there were loud ebonics flowing from the back seat, every word or two interspersed with the word “bitch”. I found the situation amusing and a bit disturbing so when the rougher of the two wanting money asked me to pull into an alley, I did. Then I called up Matt discretely on the cell phone. When Matt answered, I said “check this out” and set the phone on the seat beside me. The girls were still going off on each other and yelling a lot. Taneesha asked, “Sir is it OK if I go boo boo in your back seat?” I replied “NO, you have to get out of the cab to take a shit, please. NO BOO BOO IN THE CAB”. Matt, not being able to decipher what was being said, just hearing a lot of yelling and “bitch this and fuck you that”, thought I was being held up and called the cab dispatch to alert them. I had my dispatch radio turned off and was absorbed in the action. After about 10 minutes of Taneesha convincing the others that the money was “in there” but not producing it, I realized that I could pick up the phone and they wouldn’t even notice (like I cared at this point anyway). I did, and Ed Ivey, Matt’s roommate was on the line asking if I was OK and where I was. I told him I was in Ivy Alley which Matt, in turn relayed to my dispatcher on a separate phone line. I turned on my radio as the dispatcher was asking other drivers to look for me at Ivy and Polk, that I was in trouble.

I started the car and Taneesha got back in. She had been squatting just outside the door attempting to “boo boo”. I drove up Van Ness to Bush and turned right and headed for Grant, turned right there and stopped across the street from the Triton. Here things started getting violent and I wanted out of it. I had about $15 on the meter by this point and I wanted to be paid. By now I’d called off the dispatcher’s All Points Bulletin and was concentrating on how to rid myself of these freaks and get paid for the time I was wasting with them. They ignored my requests for payment, until I physically put myself in between them on the sidewalk. They had all exited the cab by now and were on the sidewalk. Taneesha was still trying to get the money out. I told them I was calling the cops unless they paid me.

At that point Taneesha produced out of her steel-grip clenched fist, a blood and cum and who-knows-what-else soaked century note. It was wadded up and wet, about the size of a little wrapped candy and she offered it to me, crying. I refused it and said I would like to be paid with money I could actually use. One of the other two had had enough and started slapping and kicking Taneesha.

The cops pulled up about 2 minutes later, one squad car from each direction on Grant. The girls were so absorbed in their conflict, they didn’t even notice the cops until one grabbed the main abuser by the arm. He shook her down and came up with $8 from her left, white go-go boot, gave it to me, and I went on my way. I have not knowingly picked up a street whore since that night. I am certain that Taneesha did not have more money in her butt or her pussy. I told the story to my girlfriend and the very next night we saw the white gogo boots at O’Farrell and Leavenworth. I decided to let the other $10 she owed me slide. I had to let it go, man.