To have any street cred about prostitution, I have to have had some personal experiences with those long-legged females up ahead.
I had that chance, as an unmarried man, during my college days. So, I’m not telling anything out of school here.
In the mid-60s I formed a romance with those beautiful black-eyed Mexican women embedded by Hollywood in so many Western films, and one in particular, the beautiful, busty Lieutenant Chiquita, Mexican Juarista extraordinaire. A true soldier for her Cause. From the “The Professionals”, 1966
Burt Lancaster: Hey Chiquita! How’s your love life!
Chiquita: Terrific! You want some?
Burt Lancaster: Don’t you ever say no?
Burt Lancaster: Anybody?
I had it all figured out. I worked a $2.10/hr job at a bookstore off-campus. I had a $30/month room w/i walking distance to both. And I could eat on about $4/day. So, I began saving at the beginning of the Fall semester, and should have at least $200 to take to Mexico by Spring break.
My plan was that while kids were flocking to Daytona and Ft Lauderdale to find Yvette Mimieux and Connie Francis on the beach, and spend gazillions of bucks just to lure some drunk beach-bunny up to the motel room (that slept 4), I’d avoid all the “get lost”s and signals on the motel room door to indicate that it was “occupied.” Too complicated.
Besides, I didn’t have any friends with cars going down there anyway.
In short, my plan was to hitchhike from Kentucky to El Paso, Texas and back again, get my bell rope yanked a few times, then thumb my way back to Kentucky, all within 10 days.
I know, people don’t do that anymore. In fact, people don’t dare do that anymore. But our world is a much sadder place because we can’t. I went through four-years of college without a car. If I had to go home at Christmas or summer vacation, a trip of 150 miles, I had to hitchhike. So I didn’t go there very often, especially since the last 75 miles was a lonely, winding two-lane road. And college girls didn’t like to see a guy pedal over to pick them up for a movie date, so I watched lots of movies.
But I figured the longest wait to catch a ride, whether going back to the mountains or another 2000 miles onto Texas, would be that wait on Richmond Road, out in front of Henry Clay’s house in Lexington. I would walk there, and it would usually take an hour just to get that first 9 miles out to the I-75 interchange, then another half hour to catch a ride, which took only 1-2 pickups to get to Knoxville, 150 miles away. At Knoxville I had a straight shot to Amarillo or Albuquerque on I-40. It only took three semis to get to Amarillo, where there was a two-lane back door to El Paso, which I traveled later, across the Mescalero Indian Reservation and White Sands. Fortunately, the driver I was with was going across the Staked Plains onto Albequerque, a longer route, but a clean connection to I-25 heading due south to the border. A trucker dropped me off at Las Cruces, early Monday morning.
It took another 2 hours to get on down to El Paso, where I got off at the sign that pointed to “Ciudad Juarez” to the right. It was about a mile walk to the walking bridge across the famous Rio Grande, which at that spot was little more than concrete culverts carrying a creek you could spit across.
This was where all my super-sophisticated planned scheme began to come off the rails. I’d done my homework. No passport required in those days. Just picture ID. I surveyed and picked out a cheap (looking) motel, went over and paid $15 (Must have been a weekday rate), dropped off my canvas gym bag, sponged off, (no shower, only a tub) and pulled five twenties out of my shoe, put one in my left pocket and the other four in my right pocket.
Now to go find the Fair Chiquita.
People who had been there (I knew one law student, actually a class mate of Mitch McConnell) told me about the bar strip across the walking bridge. There were bars after bars, just like Newport, Kentucky, interlaced with leather-shops that sold saddles and fine leather boots, and a couple of duty-free shops for really fine Mexican brands such as Oso Negro (Black Bear). Mexicans were unparalleled in their white whiskies.
I walked into a place called the Kentucky Bar, and was the third or fourth person in the joint. It was then I realized my planning was not too good.
Who goes whoring at ten in the morning? On a Monday?
So I finished my beer and walked back across the bridge to ‘Merica, and decided to take a nap. Things should pick up after 5, I figured.
In 1990 I was doing a job for a man in Elizabeth, NJ, and had two days to kill, so drove down the Garden State Parkway to Atlantic City to try my luck. (It was the time I saw Trump on the Boardwalk in front of his Taj Mahal.) It was in a hotel casino there I learned an ancient law; although the dice roll just as fair on Monday morning as they do on Saturday night, there is something electric about the enthusiasm of a thousand people in a single room and fifty people mobbed around a crap table, reaching over one another trying to lay down a chip, and whooping it up.
Midweek in Atlantic City the gaming floor was filled with old retirees who bussed down from Yonkers, with more “Shut up, Gertrude’s” than “Come to Papa’s”. Not a lot of excitement.
I wasn’t just looking for the Fair Chiquita, but the music and excitement…only she was likely still asleep. Stars always work the prime-time shifts. And this was Monday, fergodssakes! Who hoorahs on Monday? What was I thinking? All the soldiers at Ft Bliss would be on-duty. And the local Texas boys wouldn’t be here until after 7. Don’t the even have spring vacation in Texas?
I went back into the Kentucky Bar to find something that looked like a Happy Hour crowd. Things were looking up. A few were out-of-staters like me, commingled with some Texas boys. Not sure if they were students or not, but Odessa’s a long drive just for a beer. And they mostly wanted to fight. “Whatcho looking at?”, confirming my suspicion that Texas was just like the Ohio State campus in Columbus; more horses’ asses than there are horses.
I had to find a cab to “Boy’s Town” my friend had told me. So I practiced and practiced, “Donde esta la casa de puta? El Mejor.” And at a corner I found a cabbie, and said those very words. He looked at me said, “Where you wanna go, Mac?” Sumbitch was from Jersey. And since I didn’t have a specific address, Jersey Mike took me to one of his client-houses.
Inside was a small waiting room, with a counter, and a cop, a fat cop, a fat Mexican cop, half asleep, next to the counter. Otherwise, it could have been a doctor’s office. A pretty, almost shy, girl comes out, motions me to come, and I follow her down a dim-lit hall to a room with a small sink, a mattress on the floor, and a shelf to place clothes. I think I saw just the same sort of room when I did a retreat at the Trappist Monastery in Kentucky. Only no candle. I laid the money on the table, she inspected me (required) and with no exchange of pleasantries, we attended to our business. No “Oh, Senor, you are so handsome…or tall, or strong..not even “beeg”, which I thought was a rule.
They never told me, but I only had an hour. No one came and tapped her knuckle on the door and said “Time”, but I used up only 35-minutes anyway.
In the cab ride back to the Kentucky Bar I began doing the math. I left on Saturday, it was now late Monday, so I had 3 more days here, and, counting the money in my sock, still enough money to stay the week. Maybe I could get tanked up and go back to Boys Town later in the evening. But instead of the bar filling up, it began to slowly peter out, an apt pun for my waning enthusiasm for the search for the dusky, black-eyed Chiquita.
So by eleven, a little let down, I walked back across the bridge to my room and, like a whipped dog, by mid-morning Tuesday, was standing at the on-ramp at I-10 trying to hitch a ride north to Albuquerque.
I would make that trip a dozen times more, (I loved the drive) but I would never cross the bridge again, until my last crossing in 2004, when I took my wife, only to note the Kentucky Bar gone…in fact, all the bars gone, likewise the leather-goods shops and tequila outlets. And no gringos! In fact, from the sour look on the faces of the locals, I’d say the entire era was gone.
If anyone was having a spree in Mexico, it wasn’t in this part of Mexico,
In 1972 I would move to Japan and take up my romance with prostituion, only from there on in, as a keen observer.