Hustle tricks

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teresio

Member
Italian
I've found this sentence, in a novel set in New Orleans. It describes the job of a lower-class woman, with no education, in 1950's New Orleans "She worked in bars and nightclubs as a barmaid, hustling tricks and rolling drunks.". What's the meaning of "hustling tricks"?
 
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    And rolling drunks means stealing their money when they were too drunk to notice.
     
    Last edited:

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    For some reason the writer did not want to label her as a prostitute. Possibly because it was a crime of opportunity. If the opportunity arose she would accept money for sex, but possibly she did not go out there looking to find a John (a potential customer).

    The above is just a guess, however.
     

    teresio

    Member
    Italian
    For some reason the writer did not want to label her as a prostitute. Possibly because it was a crime of opportunity. If the opportunity arose she would accept money for sex, but possibly she did not go out there looking to find a John (a potential customer).

    The above is just a guess, however.
    Exactly. He hesitated to label her as a prostitute for two reasons: because she was his mother and it was a crime of opportunity
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    She's a barmaid who turns tricks on the side. Hustling is her side hustle. ;) He doesn't think of her as a "prostitute" because it's not her main job.
    Saying "hustling tricks" is not a euphemism. It's not more polite. He hasn't avoided saying she's sells sex for money.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    She's a barmaid who turns tricks on the side. Hustling is her side hustle. ;) He doesn't think of her as a "prostitute" because it's not her main job.
    Saying "hustling tricks" is not a euphemism. It's not more polite. He hasn't avoided saying she's sells sex for money.
    But he did avoid calling her a prostitute. That is what I would expect a woman selling sex to be called. But as a "side line" perhaps not.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But he did avoid calling her a prostitute. That is what I would expect a woman selling sex to be called. But as a "side line" perhaps not.
    "Prostitute" is equal to "person who turns tricks". Nothing is softened (lady of the night) or avoided. Calling someone a cop is not avoiding saying "police officer".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Prostitute" is equal to "person who turns tricks". Nothing is softened (lady of the night) or avoided. Calling someone a cop is not avoiding saying "police officer".
    No. Calling someone a prostitute is giving her a label. The other is describing a pattern of behavior. Labeling a woman as a prostitute seems far worse to me.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    No. Calling someone a prostitute is giving her a label. The other is describing a pattern of behavior. Labeling a woman as a prostitute seems far worse to me.
    So if it said "She tends bar." that would be hesitating to call her a bartender?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    So if it said "She tends bar." that would be hesitating to call her a bartender?
    It is a negative label. Negative labels are more onerous.

    Which is worse:

    “Myridon, that was a stupid thing to say.”

    Or

    “Myridon, you said that? You’re a moron!”


    The first is a description, the second is a label.
     
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