It’s safer to find a prostitute today than it was 25 years ago, according to a prostitution survey.
The face of one of London’s oldest and most storied streetwalking prostitutes, Gertrude Hamilton, is now history.
When Hamilton appeared on the cover of ZoZo magazine on Dec. 19, 1990 as the city grappled with the seemingly never-ending rise of crack cocaine, it was a symbol of mounting despair over the epidemic’s toll and a new front in an escalating war.
In September 1990, a former porn star known as Gertrude Hamilton in her heyday dressed to impress to fight back against London’s escalating crack epidemic. The routine is over for Hamilton, who in some ways has become even more unkempt now.
For the first time in the past 100 years, heroin addicts shot themselves on the city’s street corners, a tactic aimed at minimizing the carnage of the drug’s effects on society.
Back then, Sean Inkastone was making his first commercial sex work debut in Kensington, a prostitute named Monica met an overdose in a famous London hotel and Jacob Duvalle was accused of hitting up a pair of London City women for ‘romance and sex’ in his Lamborghini.
The traditional bikini-wearing, sunny-side-up-tanned eyes of 1960s sexuality were replaced with gray or brown faces.
Last night’s announcement that Hamilton had closed down her prostitution operation marked a major victory over the drug epidemic. In October, 22% of London’s prostitutes were now known to take anti-overdose medication at some point in their lives, the highest number in nearly a year, according to a survey by a group calling itself Take Back London.
Hamilton made headlines when she died from a heroin overdose in 1999. She started when she was 11 in an Met investigation of child prostitution.
And though she was alleged to be a gangster porn star, she wasn’t the only member of the female sex industry that, in the 80s and 90s, was rather derided for its association with the drug trade.
For the first time in the past 100 years, heroin addicts shot themselves on the city’s street corners, a tactic aimed at minimizing the carnage of the drug’s effects on society. The sex industry that is now infamous for drugs is less prominent today. Law enforcement has long had an interest in taking the cash that had flooded in from men looking for the street corners to have their way. The traditional bikini-wearing, sunny-side-up-tanned eyes of 1960s sexuality were replaced with gray or brown faces
As it became legalised in California, under Proposition 19, numerous female sex workers there introduced their own dry stripping courses, billed as ‘hot’ and ‘clean’ alternatives to the ‘dark’ and ‘dirty’ life of sex trafficking.
Most involved drinking water and avoiding fried food or carb loading before stripping on stage, competing for the honours of being chosen to strip for the next week.
In many ways, Hamilton’s case is an interesting (and scandalous) example of the role sex played in society during a particular point in time.
The street dancer was high on the dance floor dancing her best performance when she dropped the needle. She lost consciousness, fell to the floor and hit her head.
She was found dead in her dressing room on the same day that Louis Peterson, the former head of the vice and head of a review into London’s corruption scandal, testified before a parliamentary subcommittee that ‘mistrust, money and drugs are the main lubricants in the sexual racketeering operation’ the protection racket.
In every sense of the term, the era of female sexuality has changed substantially in the past 25 years.
Dancers become just another profession and prostitutes are now aware of the danger of taking heroin, a possible strategy for dealing with their newfound sober lives.