Tag Archives: punter

Reaction to comedian Chris Dangerfield spending over £200,000 on prostitutes

Chris Dangerfield looking around in London’s Soho last week

Two days ago, I posted a blog headed Comedian Chris Dangerfield spent over £200,000 in 18 months on having sex with Chinese prostitutes in London. This got quite a lot of reaction and I mentioned a couple of comments in yesterday’s blog, headlined The pros and cons of sex workers.

Since then, there has been more reaction and I print some of that reaction and dialogue (unedited) below, using the on-screen names of the people who made the comments. It starts with the original two comments…

Nothing quite like sloppy one-hundred and seconds on a woman who has probably been gang raped, people smuggled, beaten, pimped and possibly had her passport stolen, to be extorted back from her. Pretty funny really. Especially paid for by crack. ha ha! More people like Chris would improve the universe.

The percentage of sex workers on this planet who are raped or “extorted” is being sensationalised. Certainly rapes and extortions are terrible events but the numbers are actually minimal compared to the vast majority who choose this line of business because it offers better hours, more fun and ten times the money than other work. This is especially so in impoverished countries where the other choices are demeaning dangerous domestic labour or equally dangerous mindless repetitive jobs in garment factories….If we really care, we need to focus on eradicating poverty, not prostitution.


What you say is true – there is evidence that the numbers on globally trafficked women working in the sex trade is exaggerated. But so is the myth you peddle: “The percentage of sex workers on this planet who are raped or “extorted” is being sensationalised.”

I would hazard a guess (and it is just a guess, as are your assertions, without any evidence backing them up) that if you have any experience of the sex trade at all, it is with women working at the higher end of the market. And probably domestic at that.

Visit any sex worker at the lower end of the business anywhere in the world – the street workers – the women working around mass transport hubs (I’m not including airports here, as they tend to have a much more moneyed clientele) and speak to the women. Rape of lower end sex workers is commonplace, even mundane. That goes for Italy, Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia, South East Asia, and the UK.

This: “vast majority who choose this line of business because it offers better hours, more fun” is such a disturbing line I don’t know where to begin, however: “and ten times the money than other work” is inevitably true for any woman that “chooses” to become a prostitute.

Of course poverty is a massive factor for the women that “choose” to become prostitutes. No doubt there are some women, somewhere in the world who do form educated, informed and lucid decisions to sell themselves. But if you think this represents the majority, or even anything other than a tiny fraction of the total then…

See, I’ve been to trafficked women’s centres in Eastern Europe. I was in Kosovo just after the war, and met some of the hundreds of women who had managed to make it back home. Devastated, brutalised, eviscerated emotionally, and I’m afraid, physically. Often from the gang rapes that “broke” them.

I’m afraid that if you really think that gangsters don’t operate in the business, that various mafia are not involved, especially in cross border prostitution, then there’s not much I can say that will change your mind.

To misquote your words: ” If we really care… Certainly rapes and extortions are terrible events but the numbers are actually minimal.” How many are OK?

Mat. It appears you’ve confused prostitution with sex slavery. Don’t feel too stupid, you’re not the first.

Oh Chris, I do. I feel too stupid. Not being the first, or learning from others’ mistakes. Now you’ve pointed out that no prostitutes are sex slaves I think I’ll just go and boil my head. Makes it better for everyone, right?

Did you ask them if they were OK before you stuck it in? After you’d come in them, and paid, did you ask if they had to give any of your hard-earned crack-cash to a pimp? Or were you too busy watching them dance, they were so happy with life?

It appears you’ve confused nihilism with logic. Don’t feel too bad. etc etc.

“Now you’ve pointed out that no prostitutes are sex slaves” – No I didn’t. Sex slavery is a specific example of a general problem of human exploitation. Having been around prostitutes for years, worked with them, socialized with them, been friends with them, lived with them, had love affairs with them, I didn’t need to ask those questions, I already knew the answers.

I know bricklayers who are unhappy about their job. I know factory workers who have lost limbs earning money. I know many people who have been forced into marriage and others raped in the same situation. These are all other specific examples of a general problem of human exploitation.

I am dining out with a group of sex-workers tonight to celebrate a birthday. I’ll let them know that you’re doing your bit to save them from the life they have chosen.

I think you might have me mistaken for a 16th century puritan. But you still didn’t answer any of my questions, which is a bit… weak.

This might surprise you, but yeah, I also know a few prostitutes in Amsterdam, who are as you describe too, but I don’t extrapolate that out to cover everyone. And to be honest, some of them even though they were really lovely, independent and bright women were… how can I put this… a bit messed up.

I never said all prostitutes are sex slaves, ’cause, um, that would be daft. I know an ex-dominatrix, who’s a lovely lass and did some very odd stuff for cash, because she was into exploring it. She gave it up after a while, because she could. I didn’t need to save her from the life she had chosen, because, well, she had chosen it, and had the choice to leave.

My girlfriend works with hookers, and spent two years “saving” someone from crack addiction and her pimp. She’s not out of the woods yet, but is actually “happy for the first time in a long time.” So I’ll tell my girlfriend to quit, yeah? ‘Cause we don’t want to come over all do-goody. And we’ll leave her raping, woman beating pimp to do his thing, ’cause that’s cool, and a bit edgy.

From your lack of answers to my points, I’m just guessing you never screwed an East European lady that you didn’t know for money, or a crack addict, or someone who needed a bit of help. And that before you withdrew your shrivelling post coitus genitalia, you had vetted the Chinese girls you bragged about screwing for crack-money. That would make it better, wouldn’t it?

Actually, it would. A bit.

Anyway, have a lovely time tonight with women who are at the far end of the bell curve (geddit?) on prostitution…



Nice comeback.

But yeah, surreal. A guy breaks loads of taboos with his nihilistic behaviour, some of which certainly results in misery, some of which possibly does, and then in the service of his ego transforms it into a stage show for what he hopes is further ego massaging. The idea that someone might find fault with this process is met with, frankly, crap putdowns.

As I said initially, the universe is empirically a better place with you in it. Would that there were more. You are my hero.


I’ve lived with a WG (Working Girl) and have quite a few more as friends. None of them have been smuggled (they’re all British citizens), all do the job because it’s mostly enjoyable and pays well, some even pay tax on their earnings. None of the ones I’ve known have had pimps. When the lady I lived with went anywhere we went Dutch. We both had our own incomes and were quite happy that way.

Maybe female sex workers are less likely to tell men that they were OK with their work for fear of being thought of badly, maybe some don’t think men will understand unless they dress the experience up as a kind of romantic victimhood… I don’t know. It seems to me that there are plenty of sex workers who are exploited and plenty who aren’t and the subject is still too much of a hot button for most research into it to be reliable. I try to concentrate on not denying anyone’s experiences. Just because there are sex workers who are OK with or enjoy what they do, doesn’t mean there aren’t others for whom it’s a living hell and vice versa.

As to Chris Dangerfield, well, my gut reaction was “at least he’s honest”. He didn’t show any signs of giving a toss about whether the women he’d been with were truly there of their own free will, or any of the other things people tend to consider if they’re interested in behaving ethically. But it was only one interview, and I didn’t see his show, and even if it was representative of his attitude and he doesn’t care at all, I didn’t feel the blog entry was asking me to be OK with what he was saying. I felt that it was just an account, and it made interesting reading. From that point of view I’m glad you posted it; thanks John.


It just occurred to me, actually: it’s possible that the more vocal women on the subject of the sex trade are more likely to be those with a positive view of it, because those with a negative view would be so used to instantly being accused of being “anti-sex” or “prudish” that they could well be put off bothering to engage any more, given that those are often the first responses to anyone, male or female, who puts ethics before individual gratification. Except that there’s always the assumption that men like sex so, if a man objects to one kind of sex, it must just be that kind he doesn’t like whereas, if a woman objects to it, she’s assumed to be revealing her feminine distaste of anything sexual. And/or maybe people internalise the stance they think society expects them to have, given their gender, and only tend to speak up if their true feelings contradict it. I know very little about gender politics, but I’m sure the truth of the matter is very complicated.

MIKE TAYLOR (in an e-mail to me; I have edited this, mostly in brackets… Mike was aware this was for publication and works in the comedy business):

What do you want to know? I’ve a million tales from the ‘life’. Spend most of my time living and working from a Manchester (building which also houses) two WGs. Just off into Manchester to book a table for a meal for punters and WGs which we’ll be having prior to going to a ‘social’ for a lot of the North West’s Punters and WGs in November. I do know a fair bit about the scene, especially from the point of view of indies.

With regard to Chris Dangerfield I can’t really comment. My only major experiences with foreign girls being the Eastern European woman Kathryn (WG girlfriend) and I booked (for a show) in Prague and the 6 window girls in an alcohol and drug fuelled 48 hours in Amsterdam on a Manchester comic’s fun few days some years ago (about 6 months before my heart attack). My other experiences have all been with either UK Street girls, long ago given up, then independents; my social life and (housing) life has mainly been with indies. Although, through the social life, I have met quite a few parlour girls.

The indies and parlour girls I’ve met have all been UK citizens working freely because of their own choice. Some of them smoke some weed, some do a bit of coke, some drink too much. However the same can be said of many lawyers, doctors, accountants, and – shock horror – comedians. Most of them enjoy the job most of the time. They do get pissed off with ignorant blokes, unclean ones etc, but every job has it’s bad stuff; that’s why they pay you. The majority of guys are pleasant, polite and fun to be with. I’ve heard this from numerous WGs. I believe them. One: they know I’m not interested, partly because of heart medication, partly because I think Why should I pay? I’m not married. I think punting is more designed for married blokes who want extra sex (and blow jobs) without involvement.

I was going to do an Edinburgh show based on my experiences of the last 10 years but, in the end, decided that it could cock up my deal with (censored) if it became successful. Shame – I had a WG with experience of putting on Edinburgh theatre productions who was willing to help me with it.


Filed under Sex

In defence of racial jokes, Bernard Manning and Jimmy Carr but not this British Asian bloke I saw

(This blog later appeared on Chortlethe UK comedy industry website)

I once put on a show at the Hackney Empire theatre in London where a top-name comic refused to introduce or be on stage with comedian Jimmy Carr because, in the preceding week, Jimmy had been much criticised in the press for jokes about gypsies. Especially one gag:

“The male gypsy moth can smell the female gypsy moth up to seven miles away – and that fact also works if you remove the word ‘moth’.”

I had no problem with Jimmy Carr nor with the joke. Told in his particular dead-pan persona, it is a beautifully-crafted joke. From some other comic, it could have been very ethnically offensive. From the Jimmy Carr on-stage character, it did not seem to me to be offensive. It is/was a joke.

In a Guardian interview in 2006, Jimmy said, “If you’re doing wordplay, there is no real place to take offence. It’s like taking offence at a crossword puzzle… People don’t come and see my show and go, ‘That’s what he thinks’.”

I think if the late Bernard Manning’s live act – much attacked by knee-jerk PC supporters who never saw it – were performed today, word-for-word, by Jimmy Carr or Jerry Sadowitz, then trendy journalists would give it a four or five star review. Because they don’t believe (despite the gypsy jokes) that Jimmy Carr or Jerry Sadowitz are actually themselves bigoted.

But people do believe in retrospect and without having seen and heard him deliver jokes live on stage, that Bernard Manning’s live act was racist. Because they’ve read or heard other people say it’s a fact.

I did see Bernard Manning perform live three times. He was very funny. I also once had lunch with him. It seemed to me he had a bit of a superiority complex – he thought he was a bit better than the other Northern Comics of the time – but then he probably was. And he was very funny in a hard-edged, cynical way not un-reminiscent of the current Jimmy Carr on-stage persona.

The first time I saw Bernard perform live, at his own Embassy Club in Manchester, was probably in the early 1980s. It was one of the slickest professional shows I have ever seen in my life, performed in tacky, glittery decor like a cheap Hong Kong Christmas party that Butlins had staged for holiday campers in the mid 1950s.

The room was filled with ordinary down-market punters who clearly seldom went out and were be-suited and dolled-up for their Big Night Out. The only comparable thing I’ve seen was a Sunday night show at a Masonic hall in Easterhouse, Glasgow, which felt like it was set in South Vietnam circa 1968. The exterior (the walls were topped with barbed wire & broken glass) and location of the venue (a lone building in the middle of what felt like and very possibly was a free-fire zone) looked like something out of Escape From New York and the punters were middle-aged blue-rinsed women in over-tight sparkly dresses and dark-suited men looking uncomfortable wearing tightly-collared shirts and seldom-used ties.

What struck me about Bernard Manning’s act at the Embassy Club in Manchester for his very mainstream, very middle-of-the-road, probably Labour-voting but very conservative early-1980s audience was that, for the first third of the act, he used the word “cunt” very liberally. It was all over the place. This was at a time when the word was unacceptable in alternative comedy shows (which were only barely starting) and never heard on feature films, let alone in straight middle-of-the-road live punter shows. The use of the word “cunt” tailed-off after the first third of the act and had disappeared entirely by the final third.

It only struck me the next day that this was part of Bernard’s professionalism.

The show had been due to start at 8.00pm.

At 30 seconds before 8.00pm, Bernard appeared on stage and briefly introduced the first act. There then followed competent singers, competent comics. Nothing hyper-special. But satisfying. There were two breaks. In one, there was a charity raffle. In the other, chicken-in-a-basket. Throughout the show (as was the way with Northern clubs) you could order drinks at your table and there was a constant flow of staff bringing drinks from the bar to tables. It was a visible money-making machine and the paying punters got value -for-money. They got what they paid for.

At the climax of the show, they got Bernard Manning doing his stand-up act – he was the one they had come to see – and they expected his act to be rude and shocking. That was why they had come. He delivered. It was cunt-this and cunt-that and cunt-the-other at the start. After he had established the act was rude and shocking, he just got on with good, solid gags and had no need to say “cunt”. He had delivered what they expected and, next day, those punters would be able to tell their friends and workmates: “Ooh, our Bernard, he were so rude. It were proper dirty.”

Even there, I am perpetuating a stereotype.

The second time I saw Bernard perform live, there was a young honeymoon couple in the very front row who foolishly admitted the fact to him. He, of course, went for sexual jokes throughout. They loved it. At the same show, there was a black couple in the audience. He went for them as well. They loved it. Afterwards, they were laughing and joking with him.

I also saw him make anti-Semitic jokes.

He was part-Jewish.

I have seen the brilliant Jerry Sadowitz make what most people would consider anti-Semitic jokes.

He is Jewish.

The London-based New York comic Lewis Schaffer tells the best Holocaust joke I have ever heard.

He is Jewish.

Recently, I saw a new-ish comic, a British Asian, make an anti-Indian joke.

It should have felt OK – like a Jew telling a Jewish joke against Jews – but, to me, it felt racist.

It is relevant that he is a new-ish comic.

It’s the way they tell ’em.

A joke is a joke is a joke.

It’s the way it’s told that makes it funny. Or racist.

There is a difference between racial and racist jokes.

The sign of a non-racist society is that anyone can be the butt of a good joke.


Filed under Comedy, Racism, Theatre