Bob Shell: Prostitution?

A street prostitute walks towards customers car at night
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2022




I’ve just read that a number of major American cities have instructed their police departments to stop arresting people for prostitution and concentrate on important crimes. I say it’s about damn time — with one major reservation. 

As you may know, the reason legal brothels exist in parts of Nevada is simply that there is no federal law against prostitution. All such laws are state or local, and those Nevada counties have no such laws. 

I believe in maximum personal freedom, meaning I should have the right to do anything I want, so long as it doesn’t interfere with another person’s similar right. That’s true freedom, but as long as we have laws against ‘victimless’ crimes, none of us is truly free. 

So if someone — female or male — wants to practice prostitution, so long as they are mentally sound and take precautions to prevent spreading disease or undesired pregnancy, they should be left alone. 

My reservation concerns forced prostitution. As in most European countries, prostitution ought to be legal in the USA, licensed, and regulated. But pimping — pandering — ought to be illegal and prosecuted severely. No one should be forced into involuntary prostitution, and all money a person earns, except taxes, should be theirs. A pimp is the lowest form of slime, in my opinion. 

I know more than most about the workings of prostitution, because for a while back in those glorious 1960’s, I lived with a high class callgirl in Washington, DC. She was completely independent and a good businesswoman. 

Her clients included high placed government men, members of Congress, and similar. She charged high fees, only went with one client a night, only worked a few nights a week, and was answerable to no one but herself. 

Often, she was ‘arm candy’ taken to dinners in upscale restaurants, fancy parties, or other social events, on the arms of clients. She was, blonde, tall, slender, gorgeous, and dressed beautifully for her ‘dates,’ although when we met she was in tight jeans and a T-shirt.

We met at the lunch counter of Peoples drugstore on Dupont Circle when I was sort of down and out between jobs, temporarily with no place to live, staying with friends who would put up with me for a few nights. She took me home with her and I stayed with her until I found a job. I was sick with a cold when we met and she nursed me back to health. Julia Roberts’s character in ‘Pretty Woman’ could have been based on her. 

You may not believe me, but even though we became the best of friends we never had sex; she kept her business and private lives totally separated. After I found a job and an apartment, we remained best friends for a long time. I was someone she could talk to openly about almost anything. I’ve always been a good listener, and people feel comfortable with me. 

We lost touch when I moved to Richmond in 1968, a major mistake I’ll talk about at some point. 

People like her should not have to look over their shoulders for scummy vice cops. She harmed no one, and gave lonely men pleasant nights. That’s no crime, and this country is finally seeing that.


a prostitute approaches a car potential customer on the street
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2022


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read Bob Shell’s, first essay on civil war, click here:

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Here’s the link: 

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