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Pimps, Prostitutes & Pawn Stars

Rick Harrison, of History’s Pawn Stars, has a book out: License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver. You can read a more traditional review of the book here; I’m gonna talk about some of the seedier sides of the book.

Hey, it’s what this blog’s about.

If you ever wondered just why pimps (and probably old skool gang-banger rappers) wear so much expensive jewelry…

The stereotype of the pimp with the fancy, loud suit and the gaudy, large jewelry is, in my experience, very true to life. But did you know there’s a practical business purpose for that jewelry?

Pimps buy a lot of jewelry from me, and the bigger the better. It’s not fake either. They insist on real gold and they’re willing to pay a good amount for it.

And here’s why: If they get arrested, the cops will confiscate their cash but not their jewelry. They can give their jewelry to one of their girls, and she’ll take it directly to the pawn shop to get money for bail. It makes perfect sense if you look at it from their perspective.

The jewelry is not just an accessory for them, or a way to announce their success. (Or their profession.) They know that a pawn shop, as an industry standard, will give fifty cents on the dollar for jewelry that was purchased in that shop. And gold is always valuable to us, whether as is or scrap. So to these guys, jewelry is economic security.

Oh, and the joke Deanna refers to in her review is this one, a conversation with a former regular of the pawn shop (may he rest in peace) who was bragging about having seen a prostitute the night before:

Corey interrupted the story and asked, “Dude, how much you pay for a hooker?”

Bill says, “Four bucks.”

We’re almost on the ground laughing, trying not to let Bill think we’re making fun of him. Four dollars? Corey says, “Dude, what kind of hooker do you get to come into your seedy-ass apartment for four bucks?”

Bill gets this little shit-eating grin on his face and says, “Corey, you know the difference between a four-dollar blow job and a hundred-dollar blow job?”

“No, I can’t imagine.”

“I’ll tell you the difference: Ninety-six dollars.”

Laughs aside, License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and My Life at the Gold & Silver is a rather good read. Not just for the history, the economics, the following of the TV show casts’ life stories — or even the collectibles; but for the insights into people. There’s the billionaire who brings his dates to the pawn shop, teasing them with jewelry he’s not going to buy them; the guy who’s waiting for a $3 million dollar inheritance — and when he got it he blew the entire $3 million in 36 hours gambling at the Horseshoe; the woman who walked up the night window and inquired if they paid for gold teeth; then asked for a pliers and yanked her own tooth — for $40. And that’s just the ones I recall right now. It reminds me of my retail jobs, really; just the wider inventory and business options makes somethings even more transparent.

My favorite quote from the book rather sums up best why I like this book:

It all leads me to believe one thing: If you had a degree in sociology and came to work in my pawn shop for two hours, you’d throw it in the trash.

Posted in Books, Prositution, Television.

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