Pimp: The Story of My Life is an intimate writing by Iceberg Slim who was a notorious American procurer in the 60s. What got my attention was a stirring story brought up by the comedian Dave Chappelle in his recent stand-up special. He used this story to explain his unexpected departure from the show business, though I think the analogy can go well beyond his personal experience.
Two terms are important to define for the purpose of this narrative. First, the bottom bitch, who is the prostitute of the highest rank, the most profitable one. She also has the crucial role of enforcing discipline within the other women of the pimp, her being the most experienced. Second, mileage of a ho, which refers to the maximum number of jobs prostitute can deliver before she loses her sanity. According to Iceberg Slim, a good pimp can gauge the mileage of ho from the first sight.
The story goes as follows. The bottom bitch was at the end of mileage but Iceberg Slim was not ready to replace her. He asked for help from his mentor who gave him the cruelest piece of advice, to beat her mercilessness, however, to take her right after. His hard-to-digest theory claimed that she would be thankful that he fixed her instead of remembering that he destroyed her. This is some cold shit as Chappelle noted.
Iceberg Slim called his bottom bitch as asked her for one last job. She would go have sex with a man, throw something in his drink and take his suitcase, then they would part ways. Easy enough for her, thus she agreed. Nevertheless, things didn’t roll as planned. She was late and when she returned -late- she was heavily shocked. The man was apparently dead. Iceberg Slim asked her what happened and this dialog happened:
– We killed him!
– “We” didn’t kill anyone. “You” killed him and I am gonna help you clean up the shit.
Iceberg Slim called a doctor friend of his to verify that the man was actually dead and that was indeed the case. He then called another set of friends to discretely remove the body and that is what they did. He then turned to his bottom bitch has gravely told her that she needs to stay him and lay low until this situation fades away. The woman, barely holding it together, agreed without any hesitation.
That was the end of the trick. The man pretended to be dead. The doctor was not, of course, a real doctor. The guys who moved the body were also coordinated. The money in the suitcase was Iceberg Slim’s money he earned by exploiting all these women. It was all a great sham which successfully doubled the mileage of his bottom bitch. This is some cold shit as Chappelle noted again.
In the world of pimps and prostitution, one may unbeknownst to themselves slide to one or the other side fulfilling Hobbes’ wishes of homo homini lupus. And yet I firmly believe that being neither Iceberg Slims nor bottom bitches is somehow still possible. Camus was of the same idea.