Role of pimps?

What, in purely socioeconomic terms of an illegal or underground economy, is the role of pimps? At first glance they would appear to be as pure a parasite class as could be imagined, simply taxing the earnings of prostitutes by terror. But if it were as simple as that then you might get the situation postulated in Frank Miller’s “Sin City” stories: The Girls of Old Town - Wikipedia that the prostitutes banded together, fought a vicious bloody war against the pimps, and emerged victorious to henceforth run on a guild system.

Yet as far as I can see, the pimps do little other than bail the women in their stables out of jail, and provide lackluster security against violent johns. Anything else?

Strong-arming johns that are reluctant to pay for services.

I found a recent article, I-Team: Metro undercover operation targets pimps on Las Vegas Strip.

Metro teamed up with federal agencies to target the pimps. Police worked both in uniform and undercover.

“I’ll just be walking through the casino floor and wait for pimps to come up and approach me,” explained one undercover officer.

Another posed as a prostitute.

“They usually start out by complimenting us, telling us, asking us what we’re doing out there, and they go on to just tell us how we can do better and how they can help us,” she said.

But what she described is a broken promise.

“They go after children; they go after vulnerable women,” she said. “They’re just extremely violent people. They enslave them.”

You had it right the first time. Pimps don’t fill an economic role. They’re slavers.

Weird as it may sound, I heard one prostitute say that some prostitutes didn’t want the money. They have a psychological aversion to the money made because they know they made it by degrading themselves, but also the prostitutes feared they’d try to get rid of the money ASAP if they had it, which generally means spending it on drugs.

But yeah its a parasitic job. I ‘think’ pimping mostly went away with 2nd and 3rd wave feminism as women learned they don’t need a man to run their lives.

The article I cited was from July 1. Of this year.

How often is the pimp also the drug supplier? That would help explain how the pimp stays in control.

That’s a role I hadn’t thought of- recruitment.

Especially if the pimp runs enough women to be able to buy drugs at the dealer price, so the women couldn’t afford the street price of the drugs they’re addicted to if they tried to leave.

This article, “The Hustle: Economics of the Underground Commercial Sex Industry”, may be what the OP is looking for.

The history of prostitution is pretty convoluted and full of various figures like Madames, pimps etc. Male “whore house” owners and etc.

The behavior of these figures, as far as I can tell, exists on a spectrum in terms of “providing value” to “being slavers.” It’s probably pretty complicated and based on various time and place factors as to what is more common. The overwhelming reporting done on modern pimps suggests that their primary business is getting women into being prostitutes, and the most frequent way they do that is by getting a young and easily manipulated woman addicted to drugs, this is usually going hat in hand with heavy emotional manipulation and physical abuse.

I’ve seen some push back against the narrative that all modern pimps fall into this category, and some modern sex workers feel like the narrative that all or most sex workers are “victims of sex trafficking” is just a distortion done to continue the crusade against prostitution as a moral wrong, since older morality concerns about prostitution have less cultural resonance today than they once did.

But I would say the “traditional” pimp, serves the purpose for a street walker that a Madame or brothel-owner serves for a brothel prostitute–namely, Johns are men and prostitutes are women. Men are dangerous to women, and can easily beat, rape, rob or just refuse to pay them, and a single woman versus a single man has little counter to it. In a brothel they can have toughs who will “correct” an errant John with a swift beating, and then shake him down for whatever money he might owe. A street walker would historically have had less protection, so Johns knowing that street walkers might have a pimp (who often had thugs of his own, often armed) out there might make them give second thought to refusing to pay, robbing, raping or beating the prostitutes. That’s probably the basic economic idea, but as mentioned it’s very hard to understand how many prostitutes are victims of sex trafficking versus willing participants, and the parties that like to make assertions one way or the other have biases (one side is made up of anti-vice moralizes, the other by female liberationist type prostitutes who have probably plenty of motivation to ignore or downplay problems in the “industry.”)

Marketing. A lot of legal commission-based marketing (that I have engaged in) feels like pimping.

In SuperFreakonomics by Levitt and Dubner

it was suggested that Customers pay more when pimps are involved
and some other benefits.

been a while since I read it, so there might be more

well originally when they worked for the girls the job of a pimp was to advertise for the girls and be a gofer mainly

one pimp who got started from the pre-ww1 Storyville district in New Orleans said he had gotten started in the business around 13 as a paperboy selling papers on a street corner when a woman approached him to hand out these business cards and he get a few cents for every card the clients turned in and running an occasional errand for her

Well after a week or two of this he went to get his money and sh became on to him and the expected happened and afterward, she said that was his payment he got mad they argued he grabbed her cards ripped them up and took the money that was his from her and said he quit in colorful terms

After a week or two, she came back to him and wanted to resume the arrangement but he said he realized she needed him more than he needed her and went back to her but he collected the money from the clients and took his share upfront and then gave what’s left of the take to her then it evolved to him taking care of everything and being security for her and her never getting the money directly