skip to content
Kiosk Magazine - UCIrvine Read the magazine

Chanelle's Hustle


Shadi Jafari

LAST SUMMER inside of a Motel 6 on Disney Way, 22-year- old Chanelle sat on the queen size bed in a small room she had been renting for two days now. She had an open suitcase against the wall with all the contents she would need for the next week and a half in Anaheim: three Victoria Secret bras, a hairbrush, a toothbrush, couple pairs of underwear, and some articles of clothing. On top of her nightstand were four old Nokia flip phones she used specifically for business, and a digital clock that read 9:30 p.m. On her lap was a brand new iPhone 5, which she used for calling or texting family and friends, and occasionally posting a picture or two on her Instagram.
As she waited for her next customer, a young man who called after reading her ad online that stated “Fun, playful girl looking to have a great time near Disney,” accompanied with a few shots of her in provocative poses in her undergarments and telephone number written below, she began to take out her medicinal marijuana from its sealed plastic container that read, “Planetary OG 3.53 Grams”. She then proceeded to take out her lime green pipe from her Coach bag and started packing the weed into her pipe. As she brought the pipe to her round, pink lips, she lit the top of her with her lighter. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Letting the smoke move down her throat, she then slowly opened her mouth and let the smoke surround her. Within minutes, her brown eyes could barely stay open and were penetrated by blood vessels that made her eyes look glossy and painfully red. She was relaxed and ready.  
The Motel 6 just off Harbor Boulevard is one mile away from Disneyland, which is synonymous with magic, laugher, and traditional, American family values. Yet, many fail to recognize that the same street that houses Disneyland and the Disney Resort is also famous for its cheap and readily available sex.

Harbor Boulevard runs from Costa Mesa through Sana Ana, Garden Grove, Anaheim, and La Habra all the way past the Los Angeles County line. Over the past decade, the police have waged a silent war against prostitutes on the infamous street known for having sex workers walk its busy street at all hours of the night. The 3600 block of Harbor Boulevard is full of little family owned restaurants, cheap motels, and numerous car dealerships. The street looks no different than any other street in Orange County, yet, according to the OC Register, “county prosecutors have filed nearly 5,000 prostitute related cases sent over by Sana Ana police since 2003.” Despite claims from the Police Department that the numbers of prostitutes have gone down in Santa Ana, one can still easily find one wondering the streets as soon as the sun goes down. “In a city like Irvine, if you had a prostitute walking the streets you could get about five patrol units there immediately. Just because the crime rate is so low in Irvine and cops will respond to anything. But out here, that’s not our main priority. We have other things to worry about out here,” stated police officer Wright of Santa Ana. The sad reality is they do not have the time or the resources to stop sex work on Harbor Boulevard. There is too much money to be gained from prostitution on this street and police officers must be heavily engaged in order to break the cycle of prostitutes like Chanelle from returning to the streets once they are arrested for solicitation and loitering with the intent of prostitution.
Around 9:42 p.m., Chanelle heard a knock on her door. She remembers quickly getting up from her bed and putting the marijuana and pipe under the piles of clothes in her suitcase, and walking towards the door. Before opening it, she looked through the peephole and saw a white male around the age of 20. She opened the door and welcomed her guest into her room with a smile. The man was around 5’10 and skinny — but better looking than most of her clients. He nervously sat down on the bed and asked Chanelle how her day was. Using this opportunity to turn on her charm, Chanelle engaged in quick conversation and acted very pleased to have this stranger in her space. She goal was to get the cash and get this over with as soon as possible.
“Are you ready to have a good time?” asked Chanelle while sitting next to him on the bed with her hand on his shoulder. The man quickly looked over at her and nodded his head. Oh he’s a shy one, this shouldn’t be that bad. Chanelle got up and stood before him. She began to slowly move her fingers and unbutton her blouse. Seeing this, the man got up and was about to take off his shirt when Chanelle told him to stop.
“Before we do anything I need to see the money babe. I charge $200 for a fuck, cash,” said Chanelle while purposely showing a little of her bare chest from the buttons she had just undone. The man took out his wallet, removed two crisp Benjamins, and handed them over to Chanelle. She took the money and placed it on top of her nightstand next to her business phones. Without any foreplay or seductive movements, Chanelle began to take off her blouse and jeans. Noticing him just standing next to the bed and starting back at her she asked, “Well, why aren’t you getting naked?”
The man lowered his gaze. “I’m a virgin,” he stated.  Are you fucking serious, Chanelle recalled thinking to herself.

She walked over to him in her bra and thong. Now that she got the money she didn’t have to be nice or charming, the real Chanelle would take over.
“Look, this is not an amazing moment that you are going to cherish for the rest of your life. I’m not your first love, this isn’t some amazing lose- your- virginity moment. We are not going to cuddle and cling our bodies together, no, none of that. I’m going to turn around and you’re going to put this condom on. Try to make it last as long as possible because you only get to bust one nut,” demanded Chanelle.

She then took off her underwear and got on the bed. Facing away from her client, she lay on her side and waited for him to get undressed. She stared at the money lying on top of her dresser as she heard him putting on the condom. He then got onto the bed and inserted his penis inside of her. No moans or sound at all came from Chanelle as she waited for him to finish. The old dirty motel sheets beneath her moved up and down as yet another stranger thrust inside of her. The ordeal only lasted about a minute and a half. Luckily, virgins don’t know how to make shit last, thought Chanelle to herself as she heard him groan and leave her body.


Born in south side Sacramento and coming from a middle- class family, one could never have guessed what Chanelle did for a living just by looking at her. The marriage of her Italian mother and Mexican father graced her with thick, wavy brown hair, stunning large brown eyes, and an olive skin tone that make most people mistakenly assume she is Mediterranean. Her parents divorced when she was just a child—around the age of 5—and her mother quickly remarried. As Chanelle got closer to her stepfather, her relationship with her father began to deteriorate. It wasn’t long before her father gave up his parental rights in order to stop paying child support and stopped making regular contact with Chanelle. When Chanelle was 8, her mother and stepfather welcomed a new baby boy to the family. To show how much he loved her like his very own, Chanelle’s stepfather legally adopted her weeks after her brother was born.
Growing up, Chanelle’s parents and stepfather instilled an unbreakable work ethic i n their daughter. Although her mother was a parole agent for the city and her stepfather worked at a car dealership, Chanelle’s parents never gave her money. They taught her that if she wanted anything extra in life she would have to learn to work for it, and that’s exactly what she did. While in high school, she learned to balance a social life, her grades, and two jobs—one at Chili’s and one at Denny’s-- working the graveyard shift in order to pay for her cell phone bill, to have the newest and hottest outfits, and enough cash saved up to buy her own first car. She would soon find out, though, that the money she was used to spending on extras such as manicures and clothes, would soon be needed to sustain her family’s lifestyle.

Chanelle’s mother and stepfather divorced when she turned 18.  The divorce was a painful time for Chanelle and her brother.  The divorce ripped the family apart and drained Chanelle’s mother of most of her savings. The burden to help out the family was now placed on Chanelle because her mother’s salary and depleted savings alone were not enough to sustain the mortgage, her brother’s private- school fees, and other bills.

After graduating high school, although Chanelle wanted to pursue her education and attend college, she decided she would continue to work at Denny’s and Chili’s as a waitress until her family could get back on their feet and until she had enough money saved up. Two years quickly passed and the class clown with the average grade point average of 3.0 still had zero dollars to her name.


One night after her long shift at Denny’s, still in her khaki polo shirt and black apron, Chanelle began the short drive back to her house. A black 745 BMW LI with Ashanti rims pulled up next to her at the stoplight. After a couple of seconds, the driver lowered his passenger window and asked Chanelle how she was doing. Baffled, she smiled and looked away. The driver of the car complimented her and asked for her number before the light changed. After looking over and taking a closer look, she realized the man behind the wheel was extremely good looking. Eh, why not? Chanelle thought to herself and gave him her number before they parted ways. Chanelle felt a slight adrenaline rush, she had never given out her number to someone who seemed so wealthy before, and she was excited to see if he would contact her.

The next day the mysterious man in the BMW began texting her. After a couple hours of texts, they learned a little bit more about each other. When Chanelle told him she was a waitress holding two jobs, he became surprised. Why do you work there? How many hours do you work? How much are they paying you? he demanded. When Chanelle told him how much she worked and for just minimum wage, he told her she was too cute to be behind a uniform and should get in business with him. That was when he told her he was a pimp. Shocked and slightly scared, Chanelle stopped replying to his text messages. Oh my God, I didn’t even know actual pimps still existed. I thought that was in the ‘80s and ‘90s, not our generation, she thought. It all made sense, the fancy car, the nice clothes, and the charm… all from a man who made his money from the illegal sex business.

After two weeks of countless phone calls and texts, Chanelle began to reevaluate her relationship with him. His promises of money and power where too tempting for her to resist. He assured her that “ whor ing” wasn’t like the things she had seen on television. There would be no walking the streets or sleeping around with old creepy men. That reassured the 20-year-old-- who had lost her virginity at the age of 17 to her first crush, first kiss, first everything—that maybe the sex industry wasn’t that bad. Her first sexual encounter wasn’t the greatest, she was drunk and hadn’t seen the guy in over 10 years. They were very close family friends but he moved away and when he came back to Sacramento to visit his father, the two were like “lost lovers that behaved like animals.” A couple of days la ter he left for Modesto, California but they still remain friends to this day.

She had only slept with three men in her entire life, and couldn’t believe she was actually contemplating this. But I need money or I’m never going to get out of this shit hole, she thought sadly. Chanelle wanted to leave the run-down section of the city and venture out; she began to feel suffocated living at home with her mother without any real future prospects. He promised her the majority of the work would be safely advertised using websites similar to Redbook, Backpage, and Craigslist.

“Most of the time” he continued, “you go out on dinner dates with these men, and you get paid in hundreds without even sleeping with them.” Lured in by the prospects of having her bills paid and enough money left over to actually save for her future, Chanelle agreed to quit her jobs and begin working in the sex industry.  According to the Daily Beast, t he Internet has made it fairly easier for prostitutes and their clients to make sexual “transactions fast, simple, and more discreet.” This in turn, has decreased the amount of women walking the streets—and has made the market for sex workers skyrocket because it is practically effortless for individuals to buy and sell sex. “The second I started talking to him after he told me he was a pimp, he knew he had me,” Chanelle would later say. “That was the biggest mistake of my life.”


Those who get into the prostitution business are falsely led to believe that they need pimps. According to Chanelle, pimps promise women protection, teach them the rules of the game, and guarantee that they can double or triple a woman’s income. It’s all a lie, as Chanelle learned the hard way.

Although the pimp promised Chanelle she would be doing “classy dinner dates” and be paid for her time with these rich men, she quickly realized it was a large fabrication of the situations she would be thrown into. He immediately taught her the rules of the street: If you see a nice car driving by with rims, don’t look at it. Even if you notice it in your peripheral, keep your head down and run away from the car. You’re not supposed to look because it’s called “being out of pocket,” which means you don’t know your place and look desperate and would do anything for sex. He also taught her to stay away from b lack men, doesn’t matter if “he is President Obama, Forest Whitaker, or Ice Cube, look away.” Even if the man is offering her a thousand dollars, she has to say no.

 “That’s just the rule of the streets,” Chanelle now believes. “Black men are all pimps. What are the odds that a black man will pay for sex and then smoothly walk away from that transaction? None. No offense, I’m not racist. I don’t have problems with black people. I have a problem with nigg**s. There’s a difference, ” she says.

After being acquainted with the rules of prostitution on the streets, Chanelle’s pimp made her walk Stockton Boulevard, a famous street in Sacramento known for its hooker walk and late night sessions in the back of people’s car. The first couple of times she made money she didn’t even have to have sex with the random men that picked her up. That night she gave two hand jobs for $90 each, and was about to have sex with another guy, but he was so high that he just gave her a $100 and left. This isn’t actually that bad, I didn’t have to do anything too crazy, Chanelle remembers thinking to herself proudly after the first night of walking the streets. The next night, a busy Friday night around 10 p.m., she wasn’t so lucky.

A man around the age of 60 slowly pulled up to the curb where Chanelle was walking and honked his horn twice to get her attention.

“Are you looking for a good time old man?” asked Chanelle while leaning towards the passenger window. The old man instructed her to get inside the car. Let’s hope he’s another one that wants a hand job or a quick suck, Chanelle thought. The old man drove her to a remote parking lot down the street.

“How much do you charge?” he asked while unbuttoning his pants. In the streets, Chanelle had been taught you’re supposed to aim high and if the customer wants something lower, you negotiate until you’re both satisfied. If he doesn’t offer you something acceptable, you immediately leave.

“Two hundred and fifty dollars for sex and $100 for a suck, $85 for a hand job” stated Chanelle. The old man took out his wallet and handed her $250.
They got in the backseat of his truck. That was when she had an out of body experience. She mechanically began undressing and got on top of the man. Then “bam, bam,” as she later described it, and they were done.

She was officially broken into the streets. The next night her fears and anxieties began to vanish and she made $800 in the pouring rain doing everything from having sex to sucking a stranger’s penis in the front seat of a car.


Within the span of a month, Chanelle made around $4,000 just working a couple days out of the week. The game sucked her in and wouldn’t let her go. She quickly became addicted to the money and lifestyle that came along with it. She no longer had to cry every month wondering how she was going to pay a certain bill, or why she couldn’t buy any new clothes for months on end. It was a refreshing and amazing feeling to finally be what she called “financially secure.”

Being a prostitute also allowed her to leave her city of Sacramento and explore. The first time she ever left her hometown was when her pimp arranged for her to stay at a motel in Santa Ana, California. Women from all of the country came to Harbor Boulevard because the sex business was booming. On weekdays, Chanelle can earn anywhere from $800 to $1,000 walking the streets. On the weekends, prostitutes on Harbor Boulevard make around $1,100 to $1,500 on an average night. Chanelle began going all over the state, exploring the landscape during the day and working at night.

“I’ve been on every single strip—hooker walk from northern California to Southern California from Fresno, Modesto, all the way to San Diego. Places that tumbleweed blows across the strip, anywhere and everywhere a girl has ever sold her pussy, [my pimp] took me there.”    

Two and a half months into her new career, Chanelle was happy with the amount of money that was coming in—almost eight thousand dollars. She had never been exposed to so much cash at once like this before, and it seemed like the more she did it, the less she would have to do. She was getting better at the game—learning ways to get out of difficult situations and getting around having sex with a people she thought were absolutely repulsive. It was all going great until she found out she was pregnant by one of her Johns.

As she went into a local pharmacy one day to buy condoms for her clients who may have forgotten theirs, she remembered she hadn’t gotten her period in a while. On a whim, she decided to get a pregnancy test and within the next hour she was in the bathroom of a random hotel in Ontario crying because the pregnancy test showed a strip of pink, signifying that she was indeed pregnant. How could this happen? What am I going to do? Chanelle kept thinking to herself over and over again. Well there’s one thing for sure, I sure as hell don’t want to have a baby by someone who I don’t even know, she thought immediately. The next morning she got the number of an abortion clinic back home in Sacramento. The only time they had an opening for surgery was in two weeks. Chanelle was terrified and had no one to talk to or ask for help. If she did, they would ask too many questions and she didn’t want any of her family or friends finding out she was a prostitute.

The only person she did confide in was her pimp who was less than concerned with her recent discovery. “It’s alright baby, it happens all the time on the job. The glove probably just came off or something during one of your sessions, we can fix it, don’t worry,” he said nonchalantly. Worry and depression flooded Chanelle again, but this time it had nothing to do with her financial situation. I use condoms all of the time, it must have ripped or something! I can’t believe this. Her pimp wanted her to continue to work, but she was not in the right mind and just wanted to be left alone until she went back home. He didn’t understand why she was making a big deal out of the situation and made her go to work the next day in Ontario.

“For most people, they would have just bounced. I don’t know why I stayed in that foreign city and pretended like everything was okay. I don’t know why I didn’t leave him and just go home,” Chanelle said.

The next few days flew by in a blur. She didn’t remember how many men she had sex with and she didn’t care. The only thing she kept thinking about was the two-month-old fetus growing inside of her and how the operation would go. The pimp saw her vulnerability and tried to use it to his advantage. After giving him the money she earned one evening he stated, “So Chanelle, I’m going to be using this money we’ve made to get Honey a boob job. View it as an investment, she really needs it and when she does it she’ll get more customers and money to add to our pool.” Chanelle was stunned.

“Excuse me? You want to use my hard earned money on one of your ho’ s to get a boob job? Uh, no, that’s not fucking happening! Y ou must be crazy,” she screamed. She couldn’t believe his audacity, as if he had slept with these men and endured embarrassing acts to make a decent living. But she realized there wasn’t anything she could do. As her pimp, she had given most of the money she had earned to him in order to arrange flights and hotels, and invest in other business ventures such as drug dealing in order to ensure that their pool of money would grow. But this was the final straw. She was tired of his broken promises, numerous lies, and his condescending attitude towards her.

“You know what, fine. If you want to spend the money on her boobs then do it. But I’m out. I’m going back home. I’m out of the game.”

That was the last thing she ever said to him. She packed up her small luggage and took the next available flight back home to Sacramento.

“I made him around $12,000 to $14,000 in the span of about three months,” said Chanelle. She left him all the money, as most prostitutes do when they leave their pimp—those are just the rules of the game.

“It’s really a trap, that’s why most girls never leave their pimps. I couldn’t do it anymore, my body just couldn’t take it. And I came out of it with barely anything. I went back home pregnant, broke, and unemployed.” 


In the early summer of 2011, a couple of weeks had passed since Chanelle returned home to her family and tried to lead a normal life. After the abortion, she decided that she wouldn’t get back into prostitution. It just took too much out of her. The nonstop traveling, and living out of a suitcase was nothing she wanted to be involved with anymore. She soon found a full- time job working at a call center for Bank of America. She got paid minimum wage and absolutely hated the fact that she had to wait for a paycheck — a paycheck that would be close to nothing with all the taxes and extra fees taken out. Although she stayed at that job for two months and worked a normal 9 to 5 schedule , she couldn’t live from paycheck to paycheck. She quit her job and the next day she was back on the hooker strip and hustling to make real money. The only difference this time was she didn’t have a pimp, and would never get one again.

Although an estimated 90% of all prostitutes have a pimp , Chanelle felt she no longer needed one. She knew all that she needed to know in order to flourish in this business. She knew all the popular strips to walk in the country, and in addition, began posting ads on websites on her own. She would set her own rate and keep the money all to herself. The only downside, Chanelle quickly realized, was no longer having the protection that her pimp offered her whenever she was with a client. But that was a risk she was willing to take.

“They say a lot of girls in this industry have daddy issues and shit like that, but it’s not about that. Sure, I have daddy problems, but it has nothing to do with what I do. I could give a fuck about any of that, I legitimately want the money. You won’t get the kind of money I get off the streets by working behind a desk from 9-5, I can tell you that,” said Chanelle.


Today, after two years of prostitution, Chanelle has accumulated over $80,000, but has only saved around $6,000. She has been arrested five times, twice in California and New York, and once in Illinois for solicitation with the intent of prostitution and loitering with the intent of prostitution. She has three known warrants out for her arrest in California and New York. She has also gained around fifty pounds after returning to the streets for the second time because of the stress and toll it took on her body. She wasn’t eating properly, and at one point she was on a McDonald’s diet, eating only chicken nuggets. On top of that, she was barely excising and didn’t care much about her health. 

“I’ve seen it all and been to the bottom. I can’t even remember who I was before prostituting, and it’s all my fault. I was needy and an ungrateful piece of shit when I made the decision to do this. I wasn’t thankful for what I had in my life and I have hurt a lot of people in the process,” said Chanelle while looking down and fiddling with her nails.  

Still, she can’t bring herself to get out of the game just yet.

Her mother and stepfather found out she was selling sex on the street after Chanelle confided in her best friend of ten years and told her the truth about what she was doing to make a living. The next night, Chanelle was at home smoking weed when her friend called her cell phone. She picked it up and was expecting to hear the voice of her friend on the other line.

“What’s up girl?” asked Chanelle.

“Chanelle, it’s me. Amber told me everything.” It was Chanelle’s stepfather. “Why are you doing this? We aren’t that bad off, your mom will do fine. W hat are you thinking? Please tell me, is someone making you do this?”

“Amber told you? No D ad, I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to find out, I’m okay and no one is making me do this,” Chanelle said as calmly as she could. How could that bitch rat me out like this?

“Chanelle please. Tell me who’s making you do this. I’ll help you. There’s no way you would be doing this willingly. Do you understand what can happen to you, do you even care?” her stepfather screamed.

Chanelle hung up. She couldn’t face him, his questions, or his accusations. I’m doing what I have to do to make money, this is no one’s business she thought to herself. He continued to call her cell phone but she didn’t pick up. I can’t handle this right now, she thought as she began getting ready for another night on the hooker walk in Sacramento.

The next morning, Chanelle was getting ready to board a flight to New Orleans for work when her mother called. Hesitant at first to answer the call, but she knew she had to.


“Is it true? Chanelle, tell me it’s not true. All the new clothes, helping your brother out with new shoes, tell me its not coming from doing that,” said Chanelle’s mother with a cracking voice. She couldn’t lie to her.

“I’m sorry,” said Chanelle before hanging up the phone and boarding the plane.  


Chanelle’s relationship with her stepfather has completely deteriorated because of what she does.

“What do you expect, he raised me. He doesn’t want me doing this shit, it’s hard for him so we don’t really talk anymore,” Chanelle said while shrugging her shoulders.

Her mother is still in contact with her because she wants to know where Chanelle is at all times and whether or not she is safe. To ease her fears, most of the time Chanelle just lies to her and tells her she isn’t working or is just at home hanging out with friends when she’s really out on calls.

Everyone in Chanelle’s life now knows she is a sex worker. It began circulating on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram when her enemies in high school came across her Escort ad online. They began posting it on their Facebook, tagging her friends, and calling her things like, “whore,” “trash,” and “stupid slut.”

“My whole shit has been blasted. People see me doing good in Sacramento and they hate it because they want to hear a sob story. They want to see a prostitute kicking rocks on the side of the street. They don’t want to see a prostitute that’s rich, fly, and walking around with Coach shoes, Coach purse, i P hone 5, and a place of their own. They can’t handle it.”


Although Chanelle glamorizes her lifestyle to friends, family, and others she meets because she can now afford to provide for her family and herself, while still having money left over, she has become so desensitized and void.  It’s as if s he doesn’t even know who she is anymore. She has been raped, beaten up, had multiple knives to her throat, and has sta red into a barrel of a gun while her life flashed before her eyes. The money and the power don’t come cheap. Every day, every client, is a gamble for prostitutes like Chanelle on the streets.

One of Chanelle’s friends, Denise, got shot in the head at point blank range in an upscale hotel, the Intercontinental, in Chicago a couple of months ago while on the job. Usually crimes of that nature do not occur in upscale hotels, which is why in the back of her head Chanelle always ponders when her luck will run out.

“If it can happen to her, it can happen to me. I go to that hotel all the time, it’s just crazy. I don’t know where she slipped up, I don’t know what she did, I don’t know how she fucked up on her game, but she did. She must not have been on her toes like you’re supposed to and check everything,” said Chanelle.        

Chanelle has slipped up too many times in the game—and now she knows to always follow her instinct. The first time she went to Virginia, she didn’t realize that a large African American population resided there. Most of her clients along the hooker walk were black males, so she decided to go back to her hotel and post an ad on a popular ad site in their escort section. Her ad read, “Fun playful girl, looking to have a great time,” with a winky face. She included a picture of herself and her business phone number. After an hour or so, a man—sounding very white on the phone—called and asked for her rate and where she was located. After discussing the logistics, he stated he would be over at her motel in about twenty minutes.

When she heard a knock at the door and went to open it, she noticed that the man standing before her was black. He had disguised his voice over the phone, something she believes many black men do in order to still see the prostitute, and was now inside of her hotel room. Fuck, what am I going to do? This don’t feel right, this nigg* is either going to rob me or kill me,” Chanelle thought. She soon realized there wasn’t anything she could do. She couldn’t kick him out of her hotel because he might have gotten mad and caused a scene. Chanelle had no choice but to have sex with him and hope nothing bad would happen to her. Before taking off their clothes, Chanelle asked him to leave his “donation” on the table. After seeing the $100 in cash, she left it on the hotel desk and they began having sex from behind. Chanelle has most of her sex from behind because she does not like men kissing her, touching her breasts, or sucking on them. That gets too personal for her and she can’t handle it.

After about thirty minutes, the client was finally done. As Chanelle got up to put her clothes back on, she noticed him take something out of the back pocket of his jeans. In about ten seconds he had pulled out his nine-millimeter gun and had it pointed directly at Chanelle’s forehead. Oh fuck, the jig’s up. Chanelle didn’t know what to do but in a split second she made a decision to make a run for the door. He caught her arm and said, “Bitch if you try to run or scream, I’ll kill you” and shoved her against the wall. He pulled out a roll of duct tape from his bag, all the while pointing the gun at Chanelle. This is it, I’m done. This nigg* is gonna kill me in this fucking hotel room, Chanelle helplessly thought.  

He duct- taped Chanelle’s mouth and pushed her on the bed. He went over to the desk and picked up his “donation” and put it back in his jean pocket. “Where’s the rest of your money, ho?” he demanded. Chanelle kept a wad of cash from her week’s earnings in one of her tennis shoes for protection. She pointed at the shoe and he took $500 cash out of the shoe and pushed it inside his pocket. He then scanned the room and took her iPod and wallet—which held her debit card and ID. Within minutes he had taken everything and left her unharmed, crying in the hotel room by herself. From that day forward Chanelle promised herself she would follow what she believes are the rules of the street. Next time a man calls pretending to be white, but is actually black, she is going to slam the door on their face.


“You know, the only good thing about this job is you can’t go anywhere but up after this,” said Chanelle on a recent night while picking at the remains of her bleu cheese salad at McCormick & Schmick in Anaheim. “Prostituting is one of the worst things you could ever do next to murdering someone. But it’s not like drugs where you can kick the habit and just be done with it. The money sucks you in and it’s always in the back of your head. I’ve been in Compton at 3 a.m. and seen prostitutes pregnant selling their ass in miniskirts. I’ve seen too much shit. You can’t just unsee it.”

Chanelle has high hopes of leaving this lifestyle. She has a new man in her life and he is not a pimp. Chanelle met her boyfriend through Facebook about a year ago. He began messaging her because they had many friends in common -- then she realized he used to work at her high school. Ten years her senior, her boyfriend was once the school’s basketball coach but now grows his own quality weed from home. The two began speaking as friends, then their relationship blossomed into a romance. He is very supportive of her: h e knows she is a prostitute and still loves her. He respects the hustle and grind mentality she has, and always checks up on her to make sure she is okay while with a John. Yet, he refuses to have sex with her. “He’s self conscious…he thinks just because I’ve fucked a few hundred men that I’m going to judge him…but it’s not even like that,” says Chanelle.

Chanelle has given herself a timeline until the end of summer 2013 to quit the business. She wants to go to school and lead a normal life. The life of a traveling prostitute is stressful and lonely, and she wants to be able to enjoy her life before it’s too late. She hopes to major in music at her local community college while expanding her illegal marijuana business with her boyfriend. “I’m not your typical whore.  I have dreams and will get out of this… as soon as I have money saved up,” declared Chanelle.         

Toward the end of dinner one of her business phones rang. “Yes, I’m in Anaheim right now. The Marriott Hotel? Okay, I can meet you there in about thirty minutes. Uh huh, all right. See you soon,” she said while nibbling on her last bites of salad. “So, we still have time for dessert. What are we getting?” she asked with a sly grin. k letter