I love women; I support gender-neutral restrooms and I never laugh when they run for President. Still, there must be something universal about a woman’s desire to be saved (and lavished with expensive pearls) that eclipses her need to be in charge. If the previous sentence upsets you and you’re a woman, perhaps you just haven’t met your Prince Charming yet. (If you had met him, you wouldn’t be reading; you’d be shopping!)
At least that’s the message one takes away from Pretty Woman, Gary Marshall’s masterpiece (compared with his suicide-inducing Mork & Mindy) in which two damaged people (Richard Gere is a business man who buys ailing corporations and dismantles them for profit; Julia Roberts is a whore) navigate through a minefield of emotional baggage (and shopping sprees!) to find happiness.
There are dangerous forces at play here. If you were to pull your closest female friend aside and tell her about a guy who fell in love with his hooker, you’d be met with reproachful looks and whispered denouncements; if, however, you revealed that you were actually talking about everyone’s favorite feel-good prostitute film Pretty Woman, the whispers would be magically transformed into squeals of delight followed by group hugs and break-dancing.
This dichotomy has led to bafflement among men and God. That’s why, to help clarify the issue, I’ve chosen Pretty Women for this week’s edition of Fiction vs. Reality. Just how would this scenario play out in real life?
[Note: I’ve asked Ernie, my cousin who lives in Hollywood, to procure a prostitute and to follow the plot lines from the movie. He hired Jazmin (see below).]
Scenario # 1
What Happens: Lost while driving, businessman Edward (Gere) pays a prostitute (Roberts) $20 for turn-by-turn directions to his hotel.
Hollywood Version: The two immediately connect and discuss personal revelations as they drive through Hollywood.
Reality (According to Cousin Ernie): “Jazmin actually did reveal a lot about her private life but it turns out it was just to distract me while she stabbed my inner thigh and stole my wallet.”
Scenario # 2
What Happens: Edward offers to pay the prostitute to stay for an entire night.
Hollywood Version: For an additional 11 hours, the hooker charges just $300, even though her hourly rate is $100. Edward agrees and smiles adoringly as she eats fruit and gets drunk.
Reality: “This is a failed negotiation,” says Satchell Marchem, author of I’m All In: Mastering Negotiations. “One of the basic principles is to inflate your value – it provides latitude for later discussions. By initially charging $100 per hour and then charging only $300 for the entire night, she is essentially revealing her low value. In these situations, the scammed individual is likely to break contact and, in some cases, react violently. Almost never have they responded by offering champagne and strawberries.”
Reality (According to Cousin Ernie): “When I made a similar proposal, Jazmin told me it would be $5000. After telling her I didn’t have the money, she called her driver and he beat me until I blacked out. When I awoke, he had taken all of my cash and cards. I used the ice from the champagne bucket to soothe my broken ribcage.”
Scenario # 3
What Happens: Before their tryst, Edward catches the hooker concealing what he believes to be drugs.
Hollywood Version: Turns out, it’s not drugs; it’s dental floss! Everyone knows that prostitutes (who don’t kiss their clients) take pride in their teeth; however, because of their natural humility, it’s also a source of embarrassment that requires secrecy. For shame, Edward.
Reality (According to Cousin Ernie): “After getting your wire transfer, I got her back in the room. Then, a similar thing happened. It wasn’t dental floss, though. She was concealing a razor blade. When I confronted her, she tried to slice my throat. To be fair, she might have carried floss if she still had teeth.”
Scenario # 4
What Happens: After settling business, Edward and the hooker...
Hollywood Version: … watch old episodes of I Love Lucy and laugh hysterically at Lucille Ball’s antics. Meanwhile, I attempt to strangle myself with dental floss.
Reality: According to Sgt. Marshall Brick of the San Fernando Valley police department: “I’ve been working the beat for 22 years and it’s been my experience that when a man pays for a hooker and brings her to his hotel room, they almost never watch sitcoms.”
Scenario # 5
What Happens: The prostitute walks into a high-end clothing boutique.
Hollywood Version: The salesclerks politely and subtly inform her that the price of the store’s clothing falls just outside the reach of a prostitute’s salary. Dejected and frustrated, the prostitute leaves. Why does everyone treat her like a prostitute just because she dresses like and, in fact, is one?!
Reality: “We have a standard policy,” asserts Clive Dauchund, executive personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue. “If a whore walks into our store, we will immediately ask her to leave. If there is any hesitation, we will call the police. Personally, I think the salesclerks in this instance handled the potentially disastrous situation with much grace and aplomb. I would promote them immediately.”
Scenario # 6
What Happens: After a difficult business dinner (during which the hooker eats garnish and catapults food across the room), Edward wanders through the hotel in search of purpose (and perhaps another prostitute).
Hollywood Version: At 3AM, Edward unwinds by playing (and engaging in sex acts on) the piano in the hotel lounge while workers applaud his virtuosity.
Reality: “We have up to 10 events per day, per week,” says Gus Trainer, maintenance manager of the W hotel in Beverly Hills. “Each event requires coordinated efforts from caterers, janitors, electricians, and event organizers. And we must follow union rules. Our strict budget would preclude our paying overtime for our workers to watch a rich man’s piano concert. Additionally, he would have to pay for the piano to be dismantled and sterilized.”
Reality (According to Cousin Ernie): None.
[Note: Jazmin and Cousin Ernie were arrested for possession of crack. They are unavailable for comment at this time.]
Scenario # 7
What Happens: In a power play, Edward persuades a senator to bury a government contract that was awarded to his competitor.
Hollywood Version: The senator is happy (and proud) to use his connections to crush a fledgling company for the sole purpose of currying favor with a rich businessman.
Reality: Same. Hollywood gets it right.
Scenario # 8
What Happens: Edward and the prostitute seemingly part ways.
Hollywood Version: He says, “I’ve never treated you like a prostitute.” She responds, “You just did!”
Reality: According to Webster’s Dictionary, prostitute is defined as: “A woman who engages in promiscuous sexual activity, especially for money.” Perhaps, the hooker should use part of her $3000 payday to purchase one – a dictionary, not another prostitute.
Scenario # 9
What Happens: After spending the duration of the film (and over a year off-screen) working to lock down a business deal, Edward blows off his responsibilities to frolic with the prostitute.
Hollywood Version: His lawyer, the man who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, is portrayed as jaded and selfish. After Edward sinks the deal (and the lawyer’s billion-dollar payday), he punches his only friend in the face as a punishment for labeling his new lady a… ahem, prostitute. Also, I begin to wonder if perhaps Edward should invest in a dictionary as well.
Reality: The competitor, an old man, brokers a deal with the lawyer. Later, the old man fires Edward and laughs at his weakness for whores. Edward returns to his hotel room only to discover that the prostitute is sleeping with the hotel manager, his lawyer, and the bellhop. It was all part of a genius plan devised by his brilliant competitor, the old man.
Scenario # 10
What Happens: Edward, suffering delirium from his newly acquired syphilis, arrives at the hooker’s apartment via limo (replete with flowers and opera music) in a grand romantic gesture that would embarrass any normal woman.
Hollywood Version: Edward hops out of the limo and up the fire escape to reunite with his lover, flowers in hand. Similarly, I drive to Gary Marshall’s house. In lieu of flowers, I carry C4 explosives.
Reality: Every woman in the audience cries and subconsciously decides that no human male can ever compete with this fantasy.
Reality (According to Cousin Ernie): None.
[Note: Cousin Ernie is dead. Jazmin is arrested for 1st degree murder. Her comment to reporters and police: “Big mistake!”]
Final Thought: The reality is that prostitution is often a last resort for women who have been damaged emotionally and physically – it shouldn’t be a vehicle for a romantic comedy; it’s a topic that merits deep consideration. Also, if you decide to bring one back to your hotel, don’t watch sitcoms with her.