The Lady is a Pimp: A Penthouse Forum Story Based on Zoe

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A Penthouse Forum cover story based on an interview with Zoe. Her name was changed to Dyana for legal reasons because she was still in the sex industry when she granted the interview.

What’s a nice girl like Dyana doing as the head of a New York City brothel? Exactly what she wants to.

Dyana puts out another cigarette She’s several smokes into our interview and well past her initial apologies for the habit.

Despite the general clatter and confined racket of people eating dinner in the West Village restaurant in which we sit, she manages to speak intimately.

'A lot of guys really get into going down on prostitutes, They think, I can make you come like no other guy I know you’re only in this for the money‚ – I’m not naive like the others‚ – but I can break through that shell and make you come too, she says with only a hint of pity in her English accent. 'Making a hooker come is second in male fantasies only to making a lesbian convert.'

As proprietress of a Manhattan brothel called Sterling Ladies, Dyana has become quite adept at sniffing out‚ – and catering to‚ - men’s sexual fantasies She says the most unusual clients she’s encountered thus far was a group of five businessmen who were married, it seemed, and shared four Sterling Ladies girls at once, fucking them all in front of each other.

'Anything you can imagine can be discussed. Anal and tit-fucking are standard. A blowjob without a condom can happen. It’s nothing we en courage but you can control only so much,' she states coolly, adding that all fantasy fulfillment at Bewitchment has one thing in common: $190 for a half hour, $240 for an hour and $400 for a 'two-girl special.' Got bigger kinks? Bring bigger tips.

Strangely, having Dyana smash a few of my fantasies makes me feel more intimate with her. I wasn’t being manipulated. The more real she is, the more aroused I become. Chalk part of that up to her undeniable sex appeal. Dyana has exotic features: long blond/brown hair, full lips and dark eyes that reveal her mother’s Mexican heritage. When she rises from our table she exposes a hint of midriff be tween her studded black leather belt, leather pants and crisp white shirt. The restaurant’s delicious scents frustrate my attempts to catch her perfume.

At thirty-four years old, Dyana is younger than I’d imagined for a New York madam, a role that suits her better than some she’s had previously. She’s too poised and pleasant to have stayed the junkie street hooker she was in her rebellious teens, which she says involved hustling Arabs more than putting out. Hard drugs and depression stayed with her through at tempts to detox until she was twenty-nine and into her failed marriage. 'Anyone sticking needles in their arm has emotional problems,' she notes. When she began her new life after having kicked coke and heroin, she took the name Dyana, the Roman goddess of birth.

Knowing Dyana’s history makes it even harder to imagine her solicitous and empathetic eyes hardened to break a boot-licking slave, but she in deed worked as a dominatrix for a time, after opening a leather fetish store called Jezebella on seventh Street. And she freely admits that she wouldn’t be the ideal candidate to work as a high-priced call girl in her own brothel. that description would read: 'Blond, twenty-four years old, big fake tits.'

Even in midtown in the new millennium. Barbie reigns supreme.

That’s not to say that Dyana’s offerings aren’t diverse. At any given time, you’ll find nearly twenty women providing the services at Sterling. Among them are a young Asian with porcelain skin and a surprisingly gen erous 36C bosom; a twiggy, golden-skinned Brazilian blond whose accent will melt you before her lips even touch you; an indulgently curvy African/Ameritan-lndian bombshell who pours out of her lingerie; a Latina with a dancer’s body; and a Caribbean beauty with a firm caramel ass. And yes, there are plenty of busty blonds to go around.

Sterling Ladies stakes its reputation on the enticing looks, good attitudes and reliability of its women. Stretch marks, needle tracks, uncleanliness and 'weird tattoos' are immediate dis-qualifiers, Dyana emphasizes, adding that she rarely encounters such problems. Prospective prostitutes tend to be students, artists and actresses who don’t have much time to devote to desk jobs. She invites a comparison with Korean massage parlors, where girls live dormitory-style in cubicles and push drugs for extra cash, or cut-rate fast-houses where twenty dollars gets you 'fifteen minutes on a mat with a huge Spanish woman.'

Once a girl is in, there are a few strategies that can set her apart – as well as one that’s truly golden – be cause looks aren’t the only key to success as a highly paid prostitute. 'The girls come into a room to meet the clients. If a girl kisses a guy, if she’s affectionate and acts like a girlfriend, then she’s got what it takes,' Dyana says. 'The ditsy act does really well too. Men love the bubbly ones.'

That may sound simple, but a cute and fresh appearance is hard to main tain, Dyana cautions. Hooking is a tough business. 'A naive, nice, sweet girl with a lovely voice and a gentle manner can get worn out and stressed by this. After a while you might see another side that turns out not to be the nice, sweet person you thought,' she says. 'Fucking hour after hour is physically exhausting work and a very intense acting job. You just have to think about the money. It’s all about the money. You’re thinking about pretty much everything but what you’re actually doing at the moment. In my eleven years in this business I’ve only known one girl who was actually in it for the sex.'

Eventually, 'it can almost become a lifestyle,' Dyana says. After making cash by manipulating men in such in timate ways day in and day out, some working girls 'get into this warped sensibility and become very dismis sive of men.' It’s a crucible that forms many dominatrices, but even some of Dyana’s working girls embrace the selling of sex as an identity. 'Some girls have given up their life to it. They say, I’m a hooker and fuck everyone else. They talk strippers down as fakes because strippers don’t go through with anything,' Dyana explains. 'You need self-esteem or you can feel bitter, nasty and bad about yourself.' Some women get caught up so deeply in the business that 'when they reach forty they realize they have nothing else. No kids, no career. And what can they tell other employers they’ve been doing for a living all these years?' Dyana asks. What follows is a sad treadmill of plastic surgery to whore for another few years.

Still, that danger doesn’t stop Dyana from taking fresh girls under her wing. She says she wouldn’t turn a girl away because she might not survive emo tionally intact 'I can’t be mommy—I’ve got to do what’s good for business,' she asserts, 'If a nice little girl shows up, I need that.'

While gallows camaraderie of a certain sort is part of life in a whore house, few real friendships form be tween workers or with their madam, Dyana says 'I don’t trust the girls at all, even those of them I like.' To ensure discipline, she fines girls fifty dol lars for showing up late Stealing clients is common, and once she and her girls were bound with duct tape, pistol-whipped and robbed by what she suspects were associates of one of her former workers.

There’s no room to trust her clients either 'We have a tough screening process It’s almost like adopting a child,' Dyana says, pausing to let the truly odd analogy sink in Clients can’t just stroll up to Sterling Ladies from the street. They must make appointments, provide their office telephone num bers and meet a representative of the brothel elsewhere in town before being invited back.

The reason is that the clients them selves can be abusive, both physically and psychologically. Some of the Johns she caters to feel that because they’ve laid money down they’re not only entitled to a sexual service but also ownership of the girls They get a kick out of pointing out the girls’ flaws or taunting them about their fitness to be suitable mothers One angry, limb less Iranian seemed more interested in insulting the girls than having sex with them, she recalls. But more often than not troublesome clients are just aver age Joes who drink a bit or overcompensate for their nervousness with bravado The clients that Dyana seems to feel the best about are the social misfits and the physically disabled men to whom Sterling toffers a little sensual solace.

Dyana lives in a contradiction She adamantly defends prostitution as a reasonable option for adults on both sides of the transaction, but also con cedes that Its very illegality is what keeps prices high enough for her small business to thrive 'The police call us everyday,' Dyana sighs, but the brothels in her neighborhood tip each other off to bust possibilities The Mafia, by contrast. Ignores her enterprise as too small an operation to be worth shaking down, grossing as it does only about $300,000 a year before rent, print advertising and taxes (yes, the IRS collects Its due from her 'entertainment agency').

But It’s running her own business that seems to satisfy her more than thrills or being an erotic savior for lonely hearts Despite the current economic downturn that has cut her Sterling Ladies client base in half, she plans to open a massage parlor in the near future, called Oasis New York. That business will cater to a lunchtime crowd with rubdown and hand releases‚ – no penetration‚ – for cheaper rates It’s a business model that she thinks might be more sustain able because it’s also easier on the girls. 'It makes me feel good that I’ve created something,' she reflects, admitting that the illegality of it adds a small spark to things.

We’ve spent an hour talking and I’ve lost interest in any woman who might work for Dyana. But Dyana never works the floor and I’m in enemy territory Her boyfriend owns the club we’re at. As she leads me out to the bar, leaving the intimate red lounge behind us, I allow myself a long, satisfying look at the skimpy panty lines that show through the tight leather across her small ass I try to push out my head the words that finally pricked the balloon of my fantasy, 'Men want the madam because they crave what they can’t have,' she says with a laugh."

© 2017 Zoe L. Hansen. All rights reserved.