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A pimp, also called a fleshmonger or pander, manages people in prostitution (in brothels and on the streets) in order to profit from their earnings. Typically, a pimp will not force prostitutes to work, although some have been known to be abusive in order to keep their prostitutes submissive or to maximize profits. A pimp may also offer to protect his prostitutes from rival pimps and prostitutes, or from abusive clients. They can also enable a prostitute to work in a particular area under his control. Pimping is illegal in most countries.

Most people who work managing prostitutes are men, but some women work in this capacity as well, though rarely in street prostitution. Women are rarely called pimps, as the word implies male dominance - a woman who manages prostitutes is generally called a mamasan or a madam, often running her business from a brothel. (This should not be confused with the title of respect given to adult women in most English-speaking countries.)

Often low level pimps will initially present themselves as lovers or father-figures to prostitutes (who may be run-aways or otherwise lack a family network ) before introducing them to prostitution and perhaps drug addiction. This practice is called "turning out." The pimp-prostitute relationship can be abusive, with the pimp using psychological intimidation, manipulation and physical force to control the members in the "stable".

In the US

In 2004 two pimps (Izzy and Shanon) and their assistant (Marc) were convicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and of violations of other criminal statutes. Both of the defendants appealed their convictions. The 11th Circuit rejected all of the pimps' appeals, but because the court needed to support the RICO claim, detailed descriptions of pimp business, including jargon and tactics, came to light in the case.

Some pimps operate a multi-tiered business, with some producing videos prescribing business practices.

At the top there is the pimp who runs the business. Below the pimp is his bottom girl. She acts in a way like an office manager, keeping tabs on the neighborhood when the pimp is away, keeping the pimp apprised of the law enforcement activity, and collecting money from the prostitutes. The bottom girl can be especially important if the pimp is incarcerated.The pimps recognize a hierarchy among themselves. The least respected, or newer pimps, are the "popcorn pimps" and "wannabes". A pimp who uses violence and intimidation to control his prostitutes is called a "jonas pimp," while those pimps that use psychological trickery to deceive the younger prostitutes into becoming hooked into the system are called "finesse pimps." Lastly, the successful and established pimps are called "players."

An important part of the business of pimping is obtaining, and maintaining, a selection of prostitutes. To choose, the prostitute is first supposed to make her intentions known to the new pimp. This intentions period is most likely to allow prospective pimps to reject the prostitute's intentions. If the prospective pimp wants the new prostitute to work for him he will then accept money from the new prostitute. This money exchange is referred to as "breaking bread." The new pimp is then supposed to inform the old pimp of the change, and possibly some of the money from the moving prostitute is exchanged. Losing one's prostitute to another pimp is known as getting "peeled". Informing a pimp that one of his prostitutes has switched pimps is a professional courtesy, and any attempt to respond to this courtesy with violence will quickly get the violent pimp labeled a "Gorilla" or "Godzilla". Prostitutes that move between pimps often are labeled as a "choosey Susie." In addition, a prostitute may "bounce" from pimp to pimp without paying the "pimp moving" tax.

The pimp business has an internal structure for dealing with rule breakers built around violence. For example, pimps have been known to employ a "pimp stick," which is two coat hangers wrapped together, in order to subdue unruly prostitutes. A variation is a "pimp cane", a cane used for similar purposes. Another punishment for unruly prostitutes is to "trunk" them, where the pimp locks the prostitute in the trunk of a car. Although prostitutes are supposedly free to move between pimps, this movement sometimes leads to violence. For example, a prostitute could be punished for merely looking at another pimp; this is considered "reckless eyeballing."

Use of Tattoos

There is also a widespread practice among many pimps of tattooing prostitutes as a mark of "ownership." The tattoo will often be the pimp's street or even his likeness. The mark might be as discreet as ankle tattoo, or blatant as a neck tattoo, or large scale font across the prostitute's lower back, thigh, chest, or buttocks. The tattoos act doubly as a mark of ownership to other men and as a means to humiliate and dehumanize their prostitutes. If a prostitute comes under the domain of another pimp, the previous pimp's tattoo might either be removed or simply crossed out and replaced with her new pimp's name.

Pimping and the Internet

As of 2009, prostitution on the internet has been flourishing as many sex workers have moved to internet sites such as Craigslist and myRedbook to solicit sexual encounters. In turn, pimps have used these sites to broker their women. Some tech-savvy pimps use social networking sites such as MySpace or Twitter to recruit young, troubled, and often underage girls. According to Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC, the internet has given pimps the ability to recruit young girls not just from poor, broken homes, but from a broad spectrum of society.

Etymology

The word pimp first appeared in English in 1607 in a Thomas Middleton book entitled Your Five Gallants. It is believed to have stemmed from the French infinitive pimper meaning to dress up elegantly and from the present participle pimpant meaning alluring in dress seductive. Pimp used as a verb, meaning to act as a pimp, first appeared in 1636 in Massinger's book, The Bashful Lover. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term was commonly used to refer to informers. A pimp can also mean "a despicable person". The term can also be applied to a person who is considered a ladies' man.

The stereotype of the inner-city pimp was popularized in the 1970s, making terms such as pimpmobile or pimp walk (a kind of swagger which was mainly popular among African-American men) widely known. Many blaxploitation films of that era glamorize a pimp lifestyle.

The verb "pimping" came up in the early 17th century.In the first years of the 21st century, a new meaning of the word has emerged in the form of a transitive verb which means "to decorate" or "to gussy." This new definition was made popular by Pimp My Ride, an MTV television show. Although this new definition paid homage to hip-hop culture and its connection to street culture, it has now entered common, even mainstream commercial, use. In medical context, the verb also means "To ask (a student) a question for the purpose of testing his knowledge."

Notable pimps/madams



See also

  • American Pimp, a 1999 documentary by the Hughes Brothers consisting of first person interviews with people involved in the pimping lifestyle in the U.S.


References

  1. Ronald C. Warren, Daughters need fathers who nurture and guide them, Chicago Sun-Times, 2004-05-29. From realmencook.com
  2. U.S. v. Pipkins, 378 F.3d 1281, (11th Cir. 2004).
  3. Really Really Pimpin' in Da South, Rotten Tomatoes
  4. Western Michigan University, The Pimping Game, http://www.wmich.edu/destinys-end/pimping%20game.htm
  5. The Pimp's Slaves, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/opinion/16kristof.html
  6. No Way Out, Teen Girl Sell Bodies in Seattle, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/368594_prostitution27.html
  7. Wired, http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/02/pimping.html
  8. Smithsonian Source
  9. "Webster's College Dictionary", Random House, 2001
  10. Jesse Sheidlower: A History of Pimping. What the word meant and what it means now. Slate.com, February 11, 2008
  11. http://www.neonatology.org/pearls/pimping.html | The Art of Pimping || JAMA 262(1):89, July 7, 1989
  12. The Brief Glorious Days Of Al Capone


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