Wednesday, July 9, 1997

Pete McMartin

Quick, intelligent, and attractive: that's why she stung a lot of johns

Abbotsford is a city of 110,000 souls -- some of them, apparently, still unsaved -- and we learned recently that the most traffic the local hooker trade probably ever attracted was one week-long stretch last month, because one of the girls -- unlike the usual selection of haggard pros -- actually proved to be attractive. Unfortunately for her would-be clients, she was also an undercover cop. This may say many things about the 43 alleged johns who where charged in the sting, but it also says Abbotsford needs a better class of prostitute, if only as a matter of civic pride. They now have a model from which to work.

Eyewitness accounts of the officer (who is in Calgary participating in police games and was unavailable for an interview) are titillating: a vivacious young woman with long brown-blonde hair, who sported tight blue jeans, black leather jacket, tub top and high heels on her stroll. Her would-be clients, according to reports, responded with uncharacteristic eagerness.

"She just looked like a natural at it," Abbotsford police Constable Elly Sawchuk was quoted as saying in The Abbotsford News. "She's quick on her feet, she intelligent and she's a very attractive female." (Only another woman would recognize those attributes as a recipe for successful hooking.)

This was the kind of admiration the Abbotsford officer garnered for registering the numbers she did -- the same kind of deference baseball aficionados reserve for .400 hitters. They know what it takes to score.

One Vancouver officer, who earlier in her career worked the Davie Street and Hastings Streets strolls undercover for six months, was agog at the Abbotsford count:

"When I saw the numbers," she told me, "I thought 'Holy s---! She's got to be cute as hell!"

The Vancouver officer, who wished to remain anonymous, recalled her own career working undercover.

"I did it when I was younger and thinner, and when we were out on the street, on a busy night we might have four or five johns approach us. When I first started doing it, I was really self-conscious and unsure of myself and I thought, oh, what if no one stops and talks to me?"

She was not, she admitted, above allowing her vanity to instrude upon her sense of duty. She may have been a cop, but she was also a woman, dammit!

"I'd go to court -- you'd have to give testimony -- and the judge always asked the john the same question, 'Why did you approach this particular young woman?' And I always wanted them to say, 'Because she was incredibly sexy!'

"And they'd always say, 'She was incredibly clean.' Or 'She looked like my sister.' Well, of course I was clean, for chrissakes!" Men.

It was, she said, a role she found surprisingly easy to slip into. It afforded her a certain otherliness. She had a costume: short skirt, high heels, fishnet stockings, makeup applied with a trowel. She had an attitude: langurously shifting her weight from hip to hip, and smoking, always smoking. ("My mother always told me, 'A true lady never smokes standing up.'")

Most of all, she had an appreciative, if tawdry audience. There were the johns who wanted a free feel because they knew, rightly, that an undercover cop would never allow a john to touch her. There were the boys riding two, three or four at a time in a car wanting to know what "the group rate" was. There was the foot fetishist who first wanted to see her bare foot, and who insisted on fondling her shoes. And there was the guy in the pickup truck who carried a switch under his seat and promised to raise welts all over her body. He didn't get the chance.

Negotiations are always delicate. To be charged, johns had to voluntarily state what act they wanted performed and what price they were willing to pay. Sometimes, she said, it would take what seemed like hours. It was hard work, she said, but, sometimes, oddly enjoyable.

"There were times when it was really entertaining.

"But there were times when it was a sad experience, and it was cheap and demoralizing. It was easy to enjoy when you don't have to go through with the act. But then you'd be out on the corner and a real hooker was there. And I used to look at them and think, 'You poor thing. How can I stand here and judge you when I don't have to do what you do to survive?'"

Pete McMartin can be reach at 732-2905 or, on e-mail, at

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Created: July 9, 1997
Last modified: March 21, 1998

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