Commercial sex in Florida then and now

From “Life as a carrier-based pilot in World War II” (2017 post about a British pilot’s memoir):

After a quiet drinking session one night at the Battle House Hotel in Mobile, we decided at midnight that it was time we started to wend our way back to the station, using the method by which we had come—hitch-hiking. The four of us stood on the pavement of the main street, in the direction of Pensacola, and waved our thumbs. A big open Oldsmobile cruised to a standstill. ‘Pensacola, boys? OK, climb aboard!’ The driver, a man of about 45 years of age, was cheerful—nay, downright jovial. This was not surprising considering the amount of alcohol he seemed to have put away. His joviality was somewhat blurred and his driving slightly erratic. He crawled along for a minute or two, then stopped again. ‘Hey! Any o’ you fellers want a piece of ass before we get going? On me, boys—my treat. How’s about it?’ What on earth was a ‘piece of ass’? We looked dumb—he thought so, too. ‘You Limeys don’t know what a piece of ass is? You don’t want a jump? Hell! You know! A woman! A good whore! How’s about it?’ To a man we declined. His opinion of Limeys had hit an all-time low. What sort of fellers were these? ‘Well, I’m having me a blow-through before I leave town. Only keep you waiting ten minutes, boys. Hey! Officer!’ (This to a policeman, patrolling the street.) ‘Hey! Officer! Where’s the nearest whorehouse?’ The policeman wasn’t at all put out by the request, the inflammable breath or the bleary bloodshot eyes. ‘Second left, third house on the left. Good house, too. OK?’ We drove down. He pulled up the car with a screech of brakes outside the brothel; a good-looking three-storey house in a nice enough district. ‘Sure you won’t join me in a piece of ass, boys? Round your evening off nicely.’ He leered. Then he stood up in the car. ‘Hey! Mother! Bring out your whores! Bring out your whores!’ He was bawling at the top of his voice. ‘Goddammit! Woman! Bring out them whores, for Chrissake!!’ I wondered how much longer he would create a disturbance before someone did something about it. Then suddenly a first-floor window opened. A middle-aged woman, hair in curlers, stuck out her head. Her voice was equally refined. ‘Now you just git the hell out o’ this. My girls have had a long, hard day and they’re all tuckered out! Git the hell out of it!’ ‘Ah! The hell! You just git them whores o’ yours down again and open this goddam door! I’ve bin pinin’ for a piece of ass for the last two hours and I just ain’t goin’ home!’ ‘Mister, you can just fuck off. All my gals are in bed and you ain’t gonna see one of ’em!’

Florida was already home to, um, gentlemen’s clubs:

Pettigrew and I were at the Villa Venice, one of the better night-clubs on the Beach, with a very good, well-dressed floor show. We had sat through two shows but Jim, whose whole world revolved round girlies, insisted on seeing the third and last performance. … The last show gave him his chance, for the girls appeared clad only in wonderful head-dresses, gauntlets, high-heeled shoes and G-strings. Jim shook me back to life. ‘They’re on.’ So they were. And Jim was right—she was a honey. Blonde, about 19; and everything came out and went back again in exactly the right places. She smiled at him and made his day. We were cold and shivering outside, despite our greatcoats. … Eventually she emerged, looking lovely enough to eat. Her hair under the lamplight was beautiful. She wore a mink coat which she must have earned the hard way. Her legs beneath it were the pride of Florida. As Jim moved towards her, she declaimed—from 20 yards, in a rasping voice which can’t have done a thing for Jim’s ego: ‘It’ll cost you 30 bucks!’ It must have been a hard life for a high-kicker in Miami. ‘Thirty bucks?’ said Jim, incredulously. ‘Thirty bucks? Jesus! I only want to borrow it, not buy it!’ She swept past us with a look of contempt. Her perfume and the swish of her mink wafted over me. Strange things, girls, I thought. And how bloody awful to be so hard at 19! Already she must be sick to death of men. She isn’t young any more. Boys, young men, have been left far behind, and the wallets of the well-to-do—men of any age, shape or colour—are her only interest.

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