We were talking about Cardi B in the office the other day. And though I cannot name a single piece of Cardi B’s work — I believe she’s a singer of some sort — I am now aware that, while she was operating as a sex worker, she sometimes would drug her customers and steal their money.

Apparently it’s some kind of controversy: She has been compared to Bill Cosby, defended by scholars and influencers, her motives scrutinized, her morality called into question.

And because I am old, I have no idea why this is such a flashpoint in our culture right now.

Upon hearing the news about Cardi B, I said something along the lines of: “Um, yeah. Sometimes your sex worker will drug you out and steal your wallet. You have to be careful out there.”

This was met with… umbrage… from my staff, all of whom are considerably younger than I.

Undaunted, I went on.

“It’s sort of a self-regulating thing, though,” I said. “You’re not going to get a lot of regulars if you keep drugging everybody and stealing their wallets. And regulars are the name of the game in that line of work.”

When I finished they were all just looking at me, like none of them had ever known a sex worker in their lives. So I asked them. And except for Rob, it was true.

I have a very different background than most of my co-workers — again, except for Rob — so I don’t expect them to draw from the same well of knowledge as I. In my twenties I was tending bar in New Orleans, and I knew dozens of sex workers, male and female and everything in between, working jobs as mundane as stripping on Bourbon Street to outcalls to straight-up dinner dates. I still keep in touch with some of them on Facebook.

They talked about a lot of the weird stuff they did to earn their livings — or, often, side hustles for occasional bursts of extra cash — but mostly it was a straightforward business proposition; rarely was there a need or desire to further intoxicate their clients, or steal something that was given freely.

“It’s the guys that try to talk them down that get drugged,” I said to my staff. “Or the ones who get weird or violent. Tourists mostly, think they can get away with anything.”

As for passing judgment on Cardi B, that is certainly not my place. And from what I understand, she’s quite talented. She could make something of herself yet.

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