Blue, whose real name is Robert Kramer, tells me this story to explain the concept of "choosing money"; it's basically a dowry that whores give to a pimp when they want to join his "stable" of girls, he says.
"It was very lucrative to be a prostitute," Blue explains in his grainy voice as we chat it up next to his green El Dorado outside a downtown Fort Lauderdale bar. Beneath a swath of graying brown hair, the man has penetrating blue eyes set deep in the hard edges of his city-boy face. He's wearing blue alligator shoes; a short-sleeved, black, buttoned-down shirt; a gold chain with a clover charm dangling around his neck; and a phat-ass diamond ring on his hand.
Me, I'm thinking it was more lucrative to be Charleston Blue than the renegade hooker.
First thing I've got to know from a pimp is: Why in crab-infested tarnation would a woman give you her money?
Kramer explains: "My women were always taken care of. They had the finest clothes. I bought a couple of them their own cars. You're probably saying, 'Well, it's their money.' I always joke. I say, 'I take care of the bills. I provide the clothing, the food, the jewelry. All they've got to do is provide the money.' You know what I'm saying?"
Beyond footing the bill for the White Pimp's Bacardi and Cokes, Night Court's not really on that program. Getting into this life philosophy is a stretch for me. I'm having a heart-to-heart with a man most women would regard as the devil: a male who admits that he's "turned out" straight girls (convinced them to become prostitutes), beaten women, and lived off the fruits of women's loins for more than three decades in Atlantic City, New York City, and Philly. He's a man who speaks the word whore the way other people say sister. It's not a derogatory term to him; it's a fact.
Why would I drink with this prima facie foe of womankind?
Well, besides the fact that he's incredibly entertaining in person, I recently read his book, which is aptly titled Memoirs of a White Pimp (self-published in 2003). The 140 pages describe the jizz-squirting, violence, rejection, and off-the-beaten-path glamour that brought Kramer from boyhood as a neglected foster child to the twilight years of his pimphood.
Though the book could use a quick edit, its subject matter is more engaging than much of the rubbish popular fiction houses are turning out about graduate students falling in love while researching the letters of dead poets. I mean, how can that tripe compare with chapter titles like "One Bona Fide Whore Is Worth Ten Fucking Bitches"?
Gender norms get all mix-matched in his descriptions of this violent, patriarchal world, which his book indicates was run by frightening men who dressed like dandies in their furs, jewels, and brightly colored boots. Throw some mouth blood from a sucker punch into a kaleidoscope with purple fur and you'll get a hint of the world Kramer describes.
His memoirs begin with a pimp raping a 13-year-old girl on train tracks in Philadelphia. This was, of course, Kramer's conception. He was born nine months later, on Friday the 13th, he claims in the book. Ominous indeed.
Kramer has an exalted view of the role pussy providers played in late-20th-century urban America. He sees himself as being a predestined missing piece in the puzzle of pimphood. His father was a pimp, he was addicted to sex, and women found him inexplicably magnetic. So, eureka! After enduring a rough-and-tumble phase with poverty, he was drawn to his profession as if fulfilling his destiny. Pimping, he claims, had a glamorous cultural status in the Northeastern cities of Atlantic City, Philadelphia, and New York in the 1970s and 1980s. "We were the movie stars," he says. In his book, he claims that he had "five whorehouses running full steam 24/7" when he was in New York between 1977 and 1982.
Though he's resided in South Florida for only a year and a half, he often stayed here during snowbird season. Back in the day, he sent his ladies of the evening out to pick up tricks, and he even ransacked hotel rooms to nab other pimps' spoils.
Why is the fact that he's a white pimp significant?
"I've never met another white pimp in my life who lives off the means of a prostitute, and it's really hard, because most black pimps perceive a white man as a trick. You're a rest haven for hos. White men don't have the charisma to shake it like a black man does. But I've proven myself. I've had black men's women come to me and stay with me for a long time."
How can you tell a whore when you see one?
"I can tell a whore because everyone's a whore to me. I can turn anyone out. I believe you can change any woman's conception of what she is. You tell them all, 'In the end, we're going to build an empire. We're going to have a business together. But in front of the other girls, you've got to keep up the façade that you're out there.' The reality is, we prey on weak women, weak minds, emotionally challenged women who haven't achieved a sense of themselves. You put your perception of life onto them."
This gives new meaning to John Mayer's singing, "Fathers, be good to your daughters/Daughters will love like you do." Girls on their own can become prey to pimps. Is it any surprise that a girl, bored shitless by the average straight man with a disaffected pose, perpetuating the illusion of stoicism that supposedly gives him that masculine edge, could get turned out by a guy like Kramer? Picture him in his youth with, as he puts it in the book, his "spanking new pimp mobile (the cherry red El Dorado), tight fitting and brightly colored jumpsuits, and six-inch high platform glitter shoes."
I look Kramer straight in the eyes and put him up to the Night Court challenge, "Do you think you could turn me out?"
"Back in the day, I could have turned you out," he answers.
Interesting. How would you have approached me?
"Well, I'm a chameleon. I'd try to approach you intellectually first. If that didn't work, sexually. But you can't even put your hands on a woman today."
Aargh, the goddamned limitations of modern life. Things really have slowed down in the pimp world, according to Kramer, who says drugs and the Internet have ushered in the "new age of the renegade whore. Girls turn to drugs instead of pimps for comfort. With the new coke craze that started in the mid-'80s and heroin, they work to keep that habit up."
Why did you write your memoirs?
"To leave something behind. I want the show of an accomplishment in life, that I was the best that I could be at pimping. I got a letter from the New York City public library saying they're carrying my book."
An NYC librarian informed me that she received a copy of Memoirs of a White Pimp, but it's not in the stacks. What Kramer received, she said, was probably a form letter informing him that print-on-demand books must have reviews from select publications to be carried in their system. But then, Cincinnati's library system currently does have one copy of Kramer's memoirs.
As for Kramer today, it's difficult for him to let go of what he describes as his surreal and glamorous past.
"We were the people who ruled the world for a certain time, from the '70s to the '90s."
I ask him if he thinks he could relate to a straight woman, and he answers: "No. I wouldn't know how to date a woman today. People put pimps in a lower place than a prostitute. I go out in pimp mode, though. When people are rude, I'm, like, give me that takeout." Kramer makes a face at an imaginary restaurant cashier. "'You're just mad that you can't be what I was. '" The average low-level restaurant employee couldn't possibly understand the status that Kramer once enjoyed in his young pimp life.
And with prostitutes?
"I could never pay a woman for anything if I wanted to. I was looking forward to the later years when I could just pay somebody, you know, and have it my way and enjoy myself without any attachment. But, you know, knowing the way the whores would speak badly about the tricks -- it was just like a running joke every night -- I can't do it. Just because of this damn business."
Sic transit gloria.