As a baby hooker back in the day, I listened to Lou Reed every night while I had sex with my clients.
It was my first summer as a sex worker, and a fellow private school girl who was saving up for an expensive piece of sports equipment came to stay with me in Wellington. I had been working as a sex worker for a short period of time to raise money for my creative endeavours, and told her of the fortune that she could expect to earn. We found ourselves in a situation where we were renting a two bedroom house off Tinakori Road in Thorndon, Wellington. Funnily enough, we were living right next door to a famous female CEO, whom we knew well enough to say hello to over the fence. We liked to think we were cracking our own glass ceilings.
We had a private arrangement where every evening we would entertain various foreign gentlemen in our little house, and they would stay the night and we would call a taxi for them the next morning. It was challenging in the sense that only one of us spoke a very basic bit of their particular language. So it ended up being us pouring drinks for them, sitting on their knees sometimes and lighting their cigarettes while they talked among themselves. We would play our favourite records from our extensive collection (which you can have when you earn lots of money) on our humble little record player. When our clients expressed a desire to turn in for the night, we would take them to their rooms where we had basic furnishings and a supply of condoms.
As the walls were like tissue paper, we would put the same record on our record player every night to allow each other some privacy. It was Lou Reed’s Transformer. The side we played I think began with Satellite of Love, but it definitely ended with the song which began Goodnight Ladies. Our clients could not understand the lyrics, but we could, and we knew that when Goodnight Ladies began, it was time to finish hoodooing the voodoo* and get some sleep, otherwise it would be an awkward moment when we heard each other’s sex noises. I can’t remember whether or not we snuck in a quickie in the mornings before farewelling our gentleman friends.
*To hoodoo the voodoo means to have sex. I just googled it and it is not on urban dictionary or anywhere else, so maybe it was a term uniquely used by sex workers in Wellington, New Zealand.
We were paid well for these overnighters, although we did not charge as much as people charge nowadays. By the end of summer, my school friend had purchased her thing, and I was still keeping the wolf from the door and doing my best to develop my creative talent.
Lou Reed died today, and I think back fondly to his musical contribution to my sex work career. I like to think he would have approved.