Addicted, Broke, and touring Paradise

On the streets of downtown Honolulu, women do not have a variety of reasons for being sex workers. They do it first of all, to get money for dope. If there’s anything left over they fund their lifestyles. Expenses for this population might include a new dress from Ross’ Dress For Less (if they did not shoplift), or paying a guy with an apartment to let her stay the night. A difficult life, to be sure.

Everything but the sex

Many of the street sex workers enjoy aspects of their work despite the subsistence level. Is that subsistence or “subexistence”? Barely keeping enough money to survive. Notice I say keeping money not making money. Women easily made $2-300/day but almost all of it went to drugs and drug related expenses like securing a safe place to use. What was there to enjoy in this life? For one thing, men from all over the island cane into town and going back to a guy’s place for the date was standard stuff. In Hawaii, gun violence is rare. Domestic violence is an indicator of closeness and men are far less likely to hit women they don’t know than intimate partners. Girlfriends can be in more danger than prostitutes. Women in a high risk lifestyle did not have as much to worry about as their mainland United States counterparts, who get picked up by truckers and killed along interstates with regularity. Locally, women felt safe getting in cars and going all over the island. Rarely did I hear about problems with tricks street slang for clients.). Street prostitution became a way for extraordinarily poor women to see the whole island. Ordinary people save their whole lives to do what these women were doing all the time. Except for having sex with strangers when they’d rather not. Other than that, it was like a dream vacation. Sightseeing in one of the world’s most beautiful places from the passenger seat of scores of vehicles.

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