Overview of Business Models That Pimps Utilize

Business models vary between pimps and types of sex business, making it difficult to identify pimps and traffickers as they arise or evaluate a uniform prescription to the problem of commercialized prostitution and sexual exploitation.  It is difficult to gather accurate data, such as statistics, regarding this particular industry due to the secrecy and shame surrounding the sexual abuse that occurs.  As a result, information regarding a pimp’s business model is not necessarily available making it difficult to draw accurate conclusions on this subject.

Yet, there are a few different models that have been identified by law enforcement and non-profit organizations.  One study indicates that many commercially exploited victims move between one type of activity to another, such as moving between working the streets and in an escort service.  Pimps adhere largely to a specific business model of their choosing but will incorporate elements of other business models as [s]he deems necessary to the monetary advancement of his or her enterprise.  Often times there is no real ‘business model’ that pimps go by.  They will come up with their own model for how they feel they can best profit from.   “The bottom line is, in order to keep their businesses running pimps need to control, and control can come in the form of physical, emotional, psychological, and financial to the girls [or males] who are dependent on them.” Although business models exist they are not equivalent to a legitimate business model, such as fast food chains, because pimps often times do not have a formal education.

It is important to realize that “pimps understand the meaning of business over personal ventures, that is marketing a product and investing in your product first so your product can return profits.”  Pimps also understand the concept of capitalism, meaning that it is a pimp’s prerogative to entice any prostitute away from another pimp because it is viewed as a component of free enterprise.  Philosophically speaking, “pimps believe all capitalistic pursuits are parallel to pimping.”

Therefore, other pimps are free to seduce a prostitute away from his or her current pimp into his stable for his financial gain without fear of retaliation from the current pimp due to street rules that prevent pimps from chasing their prostitutes.  A pimp will teach his prostitute[s] not to make eye contact with any other pimps in order to protect his assets from being stolen by another pimp.  What keeps individuals in prostitution is the fact that they are living by the rules of the street.  A prostitute is forced into working for another pimp if [s]he makes eye contact with another pimp, ultimately resulting in a new ownership as [s]he goes to work for that new pimp.  A prostitute may be “out of pockets” if [s]he makes eye contact with another pimp, meaning [s]he has put a pimp’s money at risk.  Conversely, the advancing pimp may choose to take the prostitute’s money, putting that prostitute’s pimp at a financial loss.

The pimp business plan ultimately represents a larger pimp mentality, according to Alameda County DA Sharmin Bock, as pimps look to extend their trafficking business both locally and nationally.  Pimps must build up his name ID in order to acquire [more] prostitutes, money, respect, and power.  A pimp has become a successful pimp and businessman if [s]he is respected by the pimping community.  This particular philosophy is similar to the legitimate corporate world: a business[wo]man must build up a good reputation in order to become legitimized and respected.

Similarly, a pimp must build up his or her reputation and reliability in order to become [well] known, bring in a significant financial quota every night, own a good-sized stable, and have prominence among clientele.  “Ultimately you do want to be doing the big ticket sales of children all over the country.  And sadly today there is no bigger bang for your buck, no better investment on your money, no better return, than selling a child [or any individual] for sex.”  In other words, the number one rule of the ‘Game’ is that the pimp must get paid.

There are two categories of activity within the commercial sexual exploitation industry: indoor versus outdoor.  Inside, or ‘low frequency’, activity includes: escort services, private or exotic dancing, live internet, photos or film, massage parlors or health spas, brothels, gang-related, [a prostitute’s] own residence, someone else’s residence, phone sex, peep shows, bars or clubs, live sex shows, parties and events, or an institutional setting.  Outside activities encompasses the opposite spectrum of a pimp’s business and incorporates street prostitution, drug homes, truck stops, and hotels.

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.

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Pimp-Prostitute Relationship

The pimp-prostitute relationship holds two primary parts.  Initially, a pimp fosters dependence on behalf of the victim through his actions, validating himself as someone significant in the victim’s life.  The pimp or trafficker exploits the victim’s vulnerability by appearing to be a love figure; a victim’s exploitation begins when they believe they can trust someone.  A primary way of engaging individuals, particularly females and juveniles, in prostitution is through this process of feigned friendship and love.both of which are found in a pimp. A pimp manipulates his prostitute[s] into economically providing for him by arguing that prostitution is ”a job like any other job, that she is not selling herself, that she is just selling a service”.

The second step is to understand that pimps make it their business to comprehend the psychology of their victim[s] while practicing and honing [their] tactics of manipulation. The pimpes goal is to exploit and create vulnerabilities and remove the credibility the minor holds in the eyes of their families, the public and law enforcement. The traffickeres ultimate goal is profit. Included in this model is physical and verbal abuse, isolation, and severing ties to the victimes community. The victim enters into the sex industry where [s]he experiences constant violence and severe trauma. Victims undergo a process of being recruited, groomed, abused, controlled, and being turned out by violent pimps. The result of this step is a ”trauma bond” between victim and pimp or trafficker that can be equated to Stockholm Syndrome. “Pimps crush runaways [girls] with a mix of violence and affection, degradation and then require absolute obedience to a rigid code: the prostitute cannot look the pimp in the eye, call him by name or keep any cash.” In this way a pimp dehumanizes his prostitute[s] by turning him or her into a commodity. An element of the strategy for control over prostitutes employed by pimps and other individuals involved in commercial sexual exploitation is to keep the prostitute economically dependent upon the system of prostitution itself. “Any profit is often spent as rapidly as it is obtained, reinforcing the efforts that go into prostitution.” Spokane Regional Health Needle Exchange reports that additional methods of control utilized by pimps include physical abuse, threats to family members, and withholding basic need.

It is important to note that while some individuals do make the conscious decision to enter prostitution because they either know someone who turn tricks or [they] need a fast and easy way to make money, the majority of individuals are seduced into prostitution and various other “careers” within the commercial sex industry by pimps. Doctors Janice G. Raymond and Donna Hugehst, along with Carol J. Gomez, found that 64 percent of American women reported that the individuals who recruited them were connected to the United States sex industry [Raymond, Janice G., Ph.D., Donna Hughest, Ph.D., and Project Coordinator Carol J. Gomez, B.A.]. Minors in prostitution nearly always have a pimp [Smith, Linda A., Samantha Healy Vardaman, and Melissa S. Smith]. The dominance of pimps over victims typically takes form of physical abuse but may also include coercion and psychological manipulation. One study examined how prostitutes viewed the men in their lives: many prostitutes do not believe these men are pimps even though the latter economically benefits from their work in the sex industry. In fact, many individuals who are arrested for promoting prostitution are not viewed as pimps by their prostitutes. This does not mean that pimps do not exist. “The perception among prostitutes of who is and who is not a pimp does not necessarily correspond to the legal definition of promoting prostitution” [Helfgott, Jacqueline B.].

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.

Hierarchy Within Human Trafficking

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.