I had seen them walking in the streets around my hotel, mostly in pairs or threesomes, from 10 in the morning till very late. They probably work around the clock. These are not the kind of streets where you’d expect to find prostitutes. No sleaze, no sex shops here: the neighborhood is quite posh.
‘I’ve been doing this job for 15 years,’ Bojanna says. She is 55, blond, short, wearing white boots, a sweater and a denim jacket – it’s a chilly October night in Warsaw.
We are sitting on a bench, and two of her colleagues are keeping an eye on us: just wanting to talk to one of them is an odd request. Normally they’re asked to step into a car, and are paid 100 zloty –about 25 euro – to be driven to a parking spot or a hotel for sex.
Are they your friends?
‘We help each other. Is normal, no?’ She says that a lot, is normal.
It is okay with the police to work here?
‘Yes, it is legal.’
From time to time a car passes, and Bojanna looks up to check it for customers.
You work long hours, right?
‘Tonight I started at 8, and I work till maybe 5 in the morning. Everywhere around here,’ and she points at the little park behind us and the cars.
Not in the Marriott, I guess. The Marriott Hotel, one of the finer in town, is 100 metres away.
‘Yes, also there.’
Is it also a nice job, do you enjoy it sometimes?
‘Yes. Is normal,’ she says, but she doesn’t not look very cheerful.
Are people nice to you?
‘Yes,’ she says firmly. ‘Normal people. From all countries. England, Poland, Germany.
I speak Russian, learnt that at school.’
Are you never afraid?
‘Yes. There are crazy people. They want crazy sex. They want to hit me. Or many men want to be dressed as girls, complete with make-up. Sometimes they come with the car, and I don’t know if it’s a man or a woman. Is not normal. What are they thinking of, I often wonder. They have watched too much porn, I guess. But their wives don’t accept it so they pay me, so they can have it that way. It makes me sad. Or sometimes they have sex and they force me to return the money. Especially young men.’
There’s no protection? No boss?
‘I don’t. I don’t want that.’
What did you before this job?
‘I used to work in the family business, in another town, 20 km from Warsaw. I live alone here.’
Do you have a family?
‘Yes, I have a daughter, she is married and has a family of her own.’
Does she know what you do?
‘No. No, no, no. I don’t even want to think about it.’ She shakes her head vigorously. ‘It is a different world. My daughter lives in another town too, she doesn’t check on me every night.’
Why does it have to be a secret?
‘Is a normal job. Is legal,’ she says without looking to me. ‘And I am helping the men,’ she says laughing.
How many more years can you continue to do this?
‘I don’t know. Tomorrow can be different. Maybe I will find a good sponsor, a boyfriend, and then I don’t have to come back here. Maybe I could work in a shop.’
You’re good at selling, I guess.
A red Mercedes passes, slows down, Bojanna gets up and after a minute of negotiating with the driver, she returns.
The EU. What do you think of that?
‘It’s good for the money. I’m a patriot.’
What do you think of Tusk?
‘I don’t follow politics. They are there only for themselves, they are stealing. There are many problems, but they don’t care. It is a catastrophe. It was a lot better when the communists were still here.’
Another car stops, and Bojanna gets in.