Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Prostitution in Montreal

It seems lately that when it comes to prostitution, Montreal is always somewhere in the shadows.

Most recently of course was the arrest of local girl Nathalie McLennan, allegedly New York City’s highest grossing call girl of all time. She reportedly made $1.5 million US last year. Not bad for a Dawson graduate.

In May, Montreal was host to ForumXXX, a professional conference for those in the sex-trade industry. The conference was organized by a couple of former resident prostitutes.

Mary Gallagher, the legendary Montreal prostitute who was found murdered in 1897 was also in the headlines this year. Supposedly her headless ghost reappears every seven years on the corner of William and Murray Sts. This past June just happened to be one of those years.

June also saw the arrests of six individuals for their involvement in an under-age prostitute ring. The ring operated out of an east-end motel, and used minors as young as 12.

The sex trade industry is on the rise in Montreal. One local pimp, who prefers to go by the name Maurice Tremblay when talking about his escort business, says that “the market is saturated with girls, business isn’t as good anymore, there are too many girls, and too much competition.”

Tremblay is correct in his assessment. According to Statistics Canada, there has been 95% increase in prostitution arrests in the city between 1999 and 2003. He explains this significant increase on the rise of powerful gangs in the city. “Before 1999, there were only the biker gangs who ran prostitution rings, now we have strong Haitian gangs, and a few Jamaican gangs as well.”

Tremblay began his career in the sex trade as a web designer for Montreal escort sites. He then began to chauffeur girls; picking them up, and driving them to their next location. From there, he was given his own crop of ladies; Tremblay is now responsible for eight prostitutes.

When asked how he recruits, he explains the classified ad system. “I put an ad in Journal de Montreal asking for pretty young girls looking to make money”, from there he interviews candidates, and if he likes what he sees, offers them a job.

But just who are these girls? Where do they come from? Tremblay explains that the majority come from homes with sexual abuse where they are “already used to pleasing somebody they don’t like”. Most are young, between the ages of 18 and 23 (Tremblay’s organization is strict on age, they do not employ minors), and they are all looking to make money.

Unlike street prostitutes, escorts who work through an agency decide before hand what they are willing to do. Some don’t accept clients based on race, some don’t accept clients who want what is called the girl friend experience; kissing, embracing, and conversation.
Other girls are up for anything, and that, says Tremblay, is where the money is. “A girl who is willing to go to a party where there will be several men, for a whole evening will be making $120 an hour per guy” explains Tremblay.

“Running an escort service is like any other business” he says. There are standards, there are rules, and there are consequences. Tremblay expects his girls to work a minimum of three shifts a week, either day shifts or night shifts. On a single shift, a girl is expected to go on four calls. “If a girl refuses to go on a call that would normally be okay by her standards, she is suspended for seven days” says Tremblay.

Other grounds for suspension include being overly intoxicated, using hard drugs other than speed, and smoking pot while in a small-enclosed space like a car.
Speed is allowed as it doesn’t give the twitches that cocaine does, and the pot rule is due to the smell. “Nobody wants a coked out girl smelling like trash,” says Tremblay.

“These girls are just like any other women at a job. They work hard, they listen to their employer, and they complain about what hours they have to work in a given week” he says.

According to Tremblay, it takes a certain kind of personality to work in this industry, both on the prostitution side and the pimping side. When asked how he is able to work in this industry he responds by saying, “I have no morals, I don’t judge actions as bad or good, and most importantly, I have no pity.”


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