Streetwalkers - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Streetwalkers

Streetwalking has dramatically died off over the past five years. Some prostitutes say it's far too dangerous getting into a stranger's car and the money is not very good, given the limitations of a moving or temporarily parked vehicle. (Source: WECT) Streetwalking has dramatically died off over the past five years. Some prostitutes say it's far too dangerous getting into a stranger's car and the money is not very good, given the limitations of a moving or temporarily parked vehicle. (Source: WECT)

In movies we see prostitutes with full make-up, styled hair, tight skirts and high heels. She's strutting down the sidewalk and leaning coyly into car windows to get her clients.

This is known as the Pretty Woman myth, where she also happens to be a stunning, long-legged woman with a quick wit and bright personality.

Conveniently, there's no evidence of abuse in her past or any kind of drug use, and a Cinderella story unfolds. 

That's why it's the movies.

Drive down Market Street in Wilmington, however, and see what happens in the "real world."

"If you see a female walking down Market, it's most likely shes a prostitute," said Karly, who offered a very close look at streetwalking - a subtle, but very quick exchange that often happens in broad daylight.

"You basically swish it," Karly explained. "You know, play with your hair and act real cute. That’s how they know you are working and then they wanna stop."

Once on the Market Street sidewalk, Karly started twisting her hair and added an extra sway in her step. She walked about a quarter of a block before a car honked. Instinctively, she turned around just as the driver pulled over.

"When they nod their head, or you notice that they pull over and don’t get out, they’re waiting on you," she said.

The car parked and Karly made her way over. As though she knew the driver, her head quickly ducked into the passenger's seat. When she returned, seeming frustrated, she said she only made $30. The man was in a rush as it appeared he was in the middle of his work day.

"The most I’ve ever made was $200 – walkin’," Karly said. "At one point I was able to provide a hotel room every night and provide my habit and be able to eat and still have money leftover."

Streetwalking has dramatically died off over the past five years. Some prostitutes say it's far too dangerous getting into a stranger's car and the money is not very good, given the limitations of a moving or temporarily parked vehicle.

Most attribute the change to the growth in online business.

"I call it the 'Ho Stroll,'" said Nikki, who prostitutes off Backpage and only uses streetwalking during desperate times.

"We use the acronym it’s a 'Fatal Funnel' between 23rd and Market and up to New Center and Market," said NHCSO Vice Agent Evan Luther. "You can see individuals walking down the sidewalk who walk in a 500 yard distance - back and forth, back and forth. Your typical person doesn’t do that."

Women walking along the street will suddenly turn towards slowing cars, hop in and take off. In some cases it appeared the act was being done while the car was moving. In others, a side road off Market Street provided just enough privacy before he dropped her back off on the street where the cycle repeated itself.

Other women use the street for advertisement but will carry out their business at one of the hotels lining that corridor. Many live at these lodgings full-time.

"I think some hotels knows what goes on, but they don’t care because they’re getting paid every night," Karly said. "But some hotels know and they don’t put up with it."

With recent pressure on cleaning up Market Street hotels, some businesses have begun to refuse rooms to anyone with a local address, which isn't necessarily effective. 

While hotel owners have not agreed to on-camera interviews, one did share his frustration with trying to keep prostitutes out. Renting a hotel room is not a crime and it's not unusual for their pimps or "boyfriends" to put it in their name so she flies under the radar.

Karly says every motel has their own drug dealer and their own prostitutes.

Click here to see what we saw on Market Street

Copyright 2016 WECT. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly