The sex industry may either be a highly structured organization that is run by a sophisticated hierarchy of individuals and groups with several key players or a decentralized entity with less organized small groups of individuals that lack a central leader. The financial security of a pimp determines how large or small this hierarchy becomes. One study indicates that most trafficking organizations are small with one to five individuals involved. A few organizations are defined as large, consisting of six to 15, while very large organizations consist of 50 to 100 individuals. The structure of all hierarchies remains relatively similar to one another, despite the various sizes. Bradley Myles, Executive Director and CEO of Polaris Project, states that the business model for pimping is similar all across the United States.
The first model consists of a primary trafficker or kingpin, primary traffickers, secondary traffickers, spotters, the grassroots chain of intelligence gatherers, a network of established links with other exploiters such as pimps, and other stakeholders. The latter incorporates financers who subsidize transactions at different levels; goons or gonads who provide security at various levels; hoteliers who provide accommodations during transit; transporters who provide or arrange transportation; paramedical individuals who attend to the illnesses of the trafficked victims, typically during transit; officials who provide several services including security in lieu of sexual services or bribes; and final exploiters and abusers, such as individuals who may also be part of the network. All such individuals dictate the terms regarding the supply and demand of the trafficking process.
Another way to examine a trafficking hierarchy is the family hierarchy where the pimp is on top, thereby embracing status and power. They manipulate the “Game” and control the actions of others as it [the “Game”] is all about getting money. Having a certain amount of charisma and smooth-talking conversations towards women is what it means to have “Game” for pimps. Well-respected pimps, known as “Macks”, are at the top of the “Game” and employ several successful prostitutes. A Mack is the epitome of pimping as they are the top pimp who has it all. Another category of pimp is known as “players.” Such a pimp dominates the pimping scene and has an average stable of individuals while being respected in his or her subculture because [s]he makes a good living. At the bottom of the hierarchy are the “Tennis Shoe” pimps who only have one or two prostitutes on the street. Tennis shoe pimps are viewed as the least successful, are possibly on drugs, and allow their prostitutes to use narcotics.
“Bottom Girls” are second in command and are the equivalent of office managers of a legitimate business. This title refers to the prostitute who has worked the longest for a pimp while consistently bringing in the most money. Bottom girls are at the top of a pimp‘s organization as she is a trusted and experienced individual in a pimp‘s stable. Holding this title gives this prostitute status and power over the other individuals working for her pimp. This particular female individual monitors the prostitutes while teaching them everything there is to know in the industry. In addition to her other duties, a bottom girl looks after a pimp‘s affairs if her pimp is out of town, incarcerated, or otherwise unavailable. Bottom girls receive privileges that none of the other prostitutes receive, such as sleeping in the same bed as her pimp while all of the other prostitutes sleep on the floor. Another example is that the bottom girl is able to ride in the front seat of the pimp‘s car—meaning she gets to sit next to the pimp—while all the other prostitutes are made to sit in the back of the car or walk.
Thirdly, there is a “wife-in-law”, a prostitute with supervisory duties similar to those of a bottom girl. This individual, along with the bottom girl, will work the track in the place of her pimp as well as run interference’s for and collect money from prostitutes.
A pimp‘s enterprise may consist of subordinates who are responsible for transporting prostitutes to work, obtaining drugs for the prostitutes, maintain the household and/or vehicles, and securing prostitutes. Pimps may use family members and friends to act as [the] legitimate holder of vehicle titles, real estate leases, cash, and other property that the pimp has paid for with the proceeds he makes from his prostitute[s].
Prostitutes are underneath this layer of the pyramid as they are the bottom of the hierarchy.
Author’s Note: (c) Anna Rutherford Engel. Please site if quoting any of my writing. If you would like to know which studies or individuals I am citing in my work, please contact me and I will send you those sources. Additionally, contact me if you would like my research as a whole.