In the news this week was the report of a murder at the upscale Whitehall Hotel (105 E. Delaware Pl.) just off the Magnificent Mile. A young woman identified as Brianna Gardner, 22 was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head at 10 am on Monday. Housekeeping found her body in the 7th floor room and immediately called the police. Research conducted on the victim's background suggests that she was working as a prostitute. Gardner had previous arrests on August 8 in Chicago for solicitation and back in April she was arrested for the same crime in Harris County, Texas.
Gardner is not the first woman working as a prostitute to be killed in this tony area of Chicago. Back in October of last year a woman was killed at the boutique hotel Felix in the River North area. Although these crimes aren't related, the killer in the October incident is currently behind bars, both murders open a window on the sex trafficking business in Chicago.
Here in the windy city the streetwalker is largely a thing of the past. Replacing this 70's era figure, made iconic in such classic films as Taxi Driver and the blaxploitation picture Coffy, is an entrepreneur modelling herself on the much earlier madames of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. She will invest her money in the right places and know when the time is right to get out of the business.
Of course, most never do get out of the business and the whole equation changes when drugs and organized crime enter the mix. Suddenly the cannily self-employed (or independent contractor if you will) becomes simply another worker in the heartbreaking game of capitalism.
Eventually we may learn what happened to Brianna Gardner. At the moment what is interesting to consider, however, is how reality can sometimes put a damper on our fantasies Who hasn't dreamed at some point in their life of a sugar daddy or sugar momma? At some time all you good girls and boys must have considered what sex is like on the darker side of town or else E.L. James (a.k.a. Fifty Shades of Grey lady) would still be a relative unknown. Stripper inspired exercises and burlesque classes would not have taken off either.
And yet.... Sometimes you can't have your cake and eat it too. Unless a culture can be honest with itself about sex and sexual desires, women on the fringe are more likely to die.
Update: A suspect is now in custody for the murder. His cell phone was found in Gardner's room. Although police have not yet released his name, news sources indicate that he has prior convictions for theft, aggravated assault, and possession of illegal drugs.