Late last week, the Kew Motor Inn was shut down in a massive prostitution sting operation carried out by police. I wasn't surprised: I'd been to the hotel a week before, as part of an assignment to report on the seedy sex hotels of New York City for Oyster.com. I met a pimp within an hour of being there.
When I first saw him, I mistook the gigantic gold medallion he was wearing as a badge. When he began angrily pounding on the door of a room, yelling "Open up!," I thought I was witnessing a prostitution sting operation going down. I soon realized my error: He wasn't a police officer, but a full-blown pimp about to shake down a John. I could hear the voices of a nervous man and an excited woman from the other side of the door. I could barely make her out as saying "Just open it, just open it!" over and over.
This all transpired while I was waiting for a glacially slow elevator with my fellow reporter, Rachel, eager to get out of the hotel as quickly as possible. I had an expensive camera with a large lens hanging from my neck that made me look like an undercover police officer. And at the time, unbeknownst to me, the NYPD was nearing the end of its three-month undercover probe, so real undercover police officers were in fact frequenting the hotel. It's even possible the pimp was one, or the John on the other side of the door.
In spite of my camera -- or perhaps because of it -- the pimp was chattier than expected. I did my best to keep my eyes trained on the elevator's floor indicator when I realized the man was waving at me. He smiled and nodded his head at both of us. "Hi, there. You two having a nice day?" We politely nodded back.
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