the "pimp" chronicles

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 12 20:47:52 UTC 2008

For us elders of the tribe - using the preceding phrase *very* loosely
- there's a clear distinction between "whoring out" and "pimping out."

A person, usually a woman, who whores herself out, is free to stop
whenever she pleases.

A person who is pimped out is essentially the personal property of the
pimp and literally lives or dies at the will of the pimp.

Back in the day, there were a couple of episodes of The Naked City
featuring white pimps and white whores. In one, a single mother who
had been whoring to support her child tried to quit the game, since
the child was growing old enough to understand. When she broached this
possibility to her pimp, he simply got up from his throne (an
easychair maintained by a whore in his, i.e. her, apartment for the
exclusive use of her pimp), made himself a pimp stick (a wire
coathanger flattened out and wrapped in a cloth napkin) and proceeded
to whip the living shit out of her with it. Then he left. The question
didn't come up again.

In another episode, a whore who had run off from her pimp was tracked
down by the police for reasons having to do with the plot. She
explained to the police how she had been "turned out" (forced into
prostitution; if anyone cares, I'll spell it out in another post) by
her pimp, who then pimped her out at will. At the time that she
finished her tale of woe, the pimp, a long-time, experienced player
who had merely followed the police to the whore's hideout, once he had
gotten the word that the police were also looking for her, burst into
her room and, right in front of the police, tried to kill her by
throwing her out of the window. The police had to wrestle him to the
floor to save her.

These stories, being fiction, may seem a bit unlikely and extreme to
square readers, but, to me, both of these stories are as realistic as
a motherfucker, to break it down into the vernacular.

How the information that this is the way that it is, which was once
known to everyone, to the extent of being portrayed on popular,
all-white television dramas, came to be lost and, when recovered,
treated as though it was something peculiar to blacks, is a complete
mystery to me.


On 2/12/08, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      the "pimp" chronicles
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> There's much buzz about MSNBC's suspension of anchor David Shuster for
> suggesting that the Clinton campaign had "pimped out" Chelsea Clinton.
> Among the more informed commentary:
> ("A History of Pimping" by Jesse Sheidlower)
> (article quoting Jesse, Barry Popik, and Univ of Chicago's Michael Silverstein)
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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