Entertainment

The Deuce's sex-work story gives that sinking feeling: Schneller

For everyone who’s dumbfounded by the mountain of recent sexual-harassment claims and wondering, “How did we get here?” — this HBO show provides a compelling answer.

Chris Bauer and James Franco’s characters help build the sex trade in The Deuce.

Contributed

Chris Bauer and James Franco’s characters help build the sex trade in The Deuce.

The Show: The Deuce, Season 1, Episode 8 (HBO)

The Moment: Fist over fist

In 1970s New York, mobster Rudy Pipilo (Michael Rispoli) has partnered with responsible bar owner Vincent and his irresponsible twin Frankie (James Franco plays both) in the burgeoning sex business on scuzzy 42nd Street, including peep-show porn films and the whorehouse they’re meeting in.

“That’s your cut of my cut of the quarters from the peeps,” Pipilo says, tossing down wads of cash. “We’re making money hand over fist.”

“Fist over fist,” a lackey says, miming masturbation.

“Add that to what you took in last month from the (massage) parlour, and nobody goes home poor,” Pipilo says, exiting.

“There must be 4, 5 large here, just from the peeps,” Frankie crows.

“We pulled 14, 15 thousand from the parlour last month,” says Bobby (Chris Bauer), Vincent’s brother-in-law. “That’s 20 thou in four weeks.”

Later, they meet in a warehouse, which they’ll convert to a three-storey sex palace. Vincent looks ill. Pipilo chides him: “What, you don’t think there’s a market?”

This season started slowly, but it’s built to a pretty sickening climax. Every time these men brag, we cut to the female sex workers who do all the work, but don’t see a dollar of the earnings. At first I thought showrunners David Simon and George Pelecanos were giving us a sexy series that pretended to be a moral one, but they’ve convinced me it’s the other way around.

For everyone who’s dumbfounded by the mountain of sexual-harassment claims that rises hourly, and wondering, “How did we get here?” — this show provides a compelling answer.

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