M$. INTERNATIONAL

 LADY IN RED

"Excuse me." I asked nervously. "Are you ok? Do you..... can I.....do you need anything?" She stood facing the wall with skin the color of molasses and a frame that soul singers used to write songs about. She was beautiful, wearing a fire red dress. Tall, African and beautiful. I saw her in the club a few times before and she was always friendly. She never danced, but she swayed every now and again when saw the boys in my band close by. I knew she was a working girl. She was discrete and didn't make her presence known like most of the others. You know the ones with implants the size of basketballs above the belly and below the back. Yeah, you know the ones. She glanced at me for a moment and tried to smile through her tears as she nodded no to my question. As I walked to the toilet, soo many thoughts were running through my head and sadly, they all had to do with one thing...SEX. Did some guy tell her that she charged way too much for a lousy blowjob? Did she overcharge and under pleasure? Did she make the rookie mistake of asking for the cash after she brought her client to climax? Or was this the first time she did something for money that she promised herself she would never do? Even working girls have the "Don't" list. I could still hear her sobbing while I was in the stall and I hated that my mind only thought of dirty things instead of... human things. Why did I assume that she couldn't be dealing with boyfriend issues, or sad about the loss of a loved one back home that she was close to? Why not anything else. I had to face the truth about myself and soo many others like me out there who see the working girls of the world as victims. I just assumed for so long that somewhere in all of their childhoods, there was an incident of molestation by a sexual predator and that selling their body was the only way they could feel of value and accept love. I know that's an ignorant way of thinking but it just didn't seem logical to me that anyone would sell themselves for

money. As I say that last part, I guess we all do right? Sell ourselves in some way...for money. Security. Hmmm. Shortly after a break in my daydream while sitting on the toilet seat lid to rest my feet, I walked out of the stall and headed towards the sink to wash my hands and retouch my makeup. My band was only on set #2 of 4 for the night and I was already sweating like a pig on slaughter Sunday. Your Phoenie..right? She vaguely remembered. Yes. I replied. "You remember my name? I'm sorry I...don't remember your name!" I exclaimed. "I am Gina! Can you sing Amy Winehouse, please?" She asked while grinning mischievously. I smiled and shook her hand. "Yes, we can sing Amy Winehouse for you. Are you feeling better now Gina?" "Yes, I am happy, life is good, no worries. Thank you, Phoenie". She muttered. "Where are you from?" I asked as she was reapplying her lipstick and eye makeup. "Me, I am from Nigeria. And you? You are American right?" She asked assuredly. "Yes, I'm from America. But, my band is from different countries." I wasn't going to rattle off where everyone was from but if she would have asked about any specific member of my band I would have told her. Not to be lazy but, I need to save my voice on these breaks as much as I can, otherwise, I won't be doing much singing by the 4th set of the night. Anyway, She just smiled and continued to retouch her hair and makeup, until she was all ready to go back out there and finish the night. I had so many questions for her, but I just stood there pretending to doll myself up. Me, M$. International singer, standing in the restroom next to her, M$. International working girl. Two women from two different parts of the world trying to make a living with what we have been given. "Bye Phoenie, I will dance when your band plays Amy Winehouse!" She said excitedly as she straightened the bottom of her short black dress over her ginormous buttocks. "Ok, Gina! See you on the dance floor!" I watched her walk out the door with a smile on her face. As if moments earlier she wasn't face first in the corner crying her eyes out about God only knows what. There were girls I met over the years that I became sort of friends with who I assumed might have been working girls but I never asked and they never told. However, tonight was different. For the first time, I saw a working girl in a way that I have never seen them before. I saw Gina as myself. A young woman, independent and determined to find her place in the world. Dealing with life as it happens and moving through it a little stronger after every struggle. I couldn't go back to my ignorance. I worked on the Live music scene for years and met hundreds of working girls, But I never saw them cry. I never seen the side that I could relate to until this very moment. My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of my drummer. Two minutes before every set he would do a little drum fill to roll call the crew. I looked myself over once more and then headed out the door to finish the show. As I opened the door, two girls walked in speaking Spanish to each other. They were also working girls that I had seen a few times in the past and it was as if I was really seeing them for the first time. Hola! I said as I held the door open for them both. they smiled cheerfully and proceeded to head over to the mirrors and check their appearances. As I got to the stage, the male singer in my band handed me my microphone. I walked over to tell my band leader that we had a request for Amy Winehouse and he obliged. The stage was still dark as the band was waiting for the cue from the Dj to begin playing. But, I could see it all. It was like all of them were glowing all of a sudden. The working girls, they were...real people. The Dj gave the signal and my band was live and grooving. In a sea of faces where before I only saw men and women, doing the dance that men and woman do, there she was, as she promised, dancing in the middle of the dance floor with a nameless gentleman caller...There was Gina. And from that moment on, I was on a mission to really get to know the other....M$.Internationals!