A pimp is an agent for prostitutes
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

 who collects part of their earnings
Income is the consumption and savings opportunity gained by an entity within a specified time frame, which is generally expressed in monetary terms. However, for households and individuals, "income is the sum of all the wages, salaries, profits, interests payments, rents and other forms of earnings...

. The pimp may receive this money in return for advertising services, physical protection, or for providing (or in some cases monopolizing) a location where she may engage clients. A woman who runs a brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

 is known as a madam
Madam, or madame, is a polite title used for women which, in English, is the equivalent of Mrs. or Ms., and is often found abbreviated as "ma'am", and less frequently as "ma'm". It is derived from the French madame, which means "my lady", the feminine form of lord; the plural of ma dame in this...

 rather than a pimp.

Like prostitution, the legality of certain actions of a madam or a pimp vary from one region to the next. Pimps may punish johns for physical abuse or failure to pay, advertise services to potential clients without alerting police, and enforce exclusive rights to 'turf' where their prostitutes may advertise/operate with less competition. In the many places where prostitution is outlawed, sex workers have decreased incentive to report abuse for fear of self-incrimination
Self-incrimination is the act of accusing oneself of a crime for which a person can then be prosecuted. Self-incrimination can occur either directly or indirectly: directly, by means of interrogation where information of a self-incriminatory nature is disclosed; indirectly, when information of a...

, and increased motivation to seek any physical protection from clients and law enforcement that a pimp might provide.

The pimp-prostitute relationship can be abusive and possessive, with the pimp / madam using techniques such as psychological intimidation, manipulation, starvation, rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use and the shame from these acts. Pimps can be arrested and charged with pandering and are legally known as procurers.


The word pimp first appeared in English in 1607 in a Thomas Middleton
Thomas Middleton
Thomas Middleton was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. Middleton stands with John Fletcher and Ben Jonson as among the most successful and prolific of playwrights who wrote their best plays during the Jacobean period. He was one of the few Renaissance dramatists to achieve equal success in...

 play entitled Your Five Gallants
Your Five Gallants
Your Five Gallants is a Jacobean comedy by Thomas Middleton. It falls into the sub-genre of city comedy. Allusions in the play point to a date of authorship of 1607....

It is believed to have stemmed from the French infinitive pimper meaning to dress up elegantly and from the present participle pimpant meaning alluring in dress seductive. Pimp used as a verb, meaning to act as a pimp, first appeared in 1636 in Massinger's book, The Bashful Lover. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term was commonly used to refer to informers
An informant is a person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency. The term is usually used within the law enforcement world, where they are officially known as confidential or criminal informants , and can often refer pejoratively to the supply of information...

. A pimp can also mean "a despicable person". The term can also be applied to a person who is considered a ladies' man. Rapper Nelly
Cornell Iral Haynes, Jr. , better known by his stage name Nelly, is an Grammy Award winning American rapper and actor. He has performed with the rap group St. Lunatics since 1993 and signed to Universal Records in 1999. Under Universal, Nelly began his solo career in 2000 with his debut album...

 tried to redefine the word "pimp" by saying that it is an acronym for "positive, intellectual, motivated person." He created a college scholarship with the name "P.I.M.P. Juice Scholarship". Dawn Turner Trice of the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

argues that there is "something truly unsettling, to say the least, about attaching such a vile word to a scholarship" and expresses concern about the glamorization of the term.

The verb "pimping" came up in the early 17th century.
In the first years of the 21st century, a new meaning of the word has emerged in the form of a transitive verb pimp, which means "to decorate" or "to gussy up" (compare primp, especially in Scottish usage). This new definition was made popular by Pimp My Ride
Pimp My Ride
Pimp My Ride is a TV show produced by MTV. Each episode consists of taking one car in poor condition and restoring it and customizing it.The original United States version was hosted by rapper Xzibit...

, an MTV television show. Although this new definition paid homage to hip-hop culture and its connection to street culture, it has now entered common, even mainstream commercial, use.
In medical contexts, the verb also means "to ask (a student) a question for the purpose of testing his knowledge". In the US military, the verb can be used to express a superior reminding a subordinate of a task that the subordinate forgot to accomplish.

Business of pimping

Pimping is sometimes operated like a business. The pimp may have a bottom girl
Bottom Girl
A bottom girl, bottom woman or bottom bitch, is a prostitute who sits atop the hierarchy of prostitutes working for a particular pimp. A bottom girl is usually the prostitute who has been with the pimp the longest and consistently makes the most money...

 who serves as office manager, keeping the pimp apprised of law-enforcement activity and collecting money from the prostitutes. Pimps recognize a hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

 among themselves. The least respected, or newer pimps, are the "popcorn pimps" and "wannabes". A pimp who uses violence and intimidation to control his prostitutes is called a "Jonas pimp", while those who use psychological trickery to deceive younger prostitutes into becoming hooked into the system are called "finesse pimps". An important part of the business is obtaining and maintaining a selection of prostitutes. Losing one's prostitute to another pimp is known as being "peeled". Informing a pimp that one of his prostitutes has switched pimps is a professional courtesy, and any attempt to respond to this courtesy with violence will quickly get the violent pimp labeled a "Gorilla" or "Godzilla". Prostitutes who move between pimps often are labeled as a "Choosey Susie". In addition, a prostitute may "bounce" from pimp to pimp without paying the "pimp moving" tax.

A large percentage of pimps in the United States are also documented gang members, which causes concerns for police agencies in jurisdictions where prostitution is a significant problem. Pimping rivals narcotic sales as a major source of funding for many gangs, this is particularly true with African American gangs. Gangs need money to survive, and money equates to power and respect. While selling drugs may be lucrative for a gang, this activity often carries significant risk as stiff legal penalties and harsh mandatory minimum sentencing laws exist. However, with pimping, gang members still make money while the prostitutes themselves bear the majority of the risk. Pimping has several benefits to the gang that the pimp belongs to. These benefits include it helps the gang recruit new members because the gang has women available for sex and the money brought in by prostitution allows gang members to buy cars, clothes and weapons, all of which help to recruit younger members into the gang by increasing the reputation of the gang in the local gang subculture. The presence of gangs (and weapons and drugs) is a virtual guarantee when prostitutes are present, which is why many law enforcement agencies advocate taking an aggressive stance against prostitutes. Many vice units work to ascertain if the prostitute they have arrested has a pimp, and if so they pressure them to provide information about their pimp and the gang involved. This information can then be used to go after the more serious and violent offenders.

The pimp business has an internal structure – built around violence – for dealing with rule breakers. For example, pimps have been known to employ a "pimp stick", which is two coat hangers wrapped together, in order to subdue unruly prostitutes. A variation is a "pimp cane", used for similar purposes. Another punishment for disobedient prostitutes is to "trunk" them, where the pimp locks the prostitute in the trunk of a car. Although prostitutes are supposedly free to move between pimps, this movement sometimes leads to violence. For example, a prostitute could be punished for merely looking at another pimp; this is considered "reckless eyeballing". Violence is also used on customers, for example if the customer attempts to evade payment or becomes unruly with a prostitute.

Use of tattoos

Many pimps tattoo prostitutes as a mark of "ownership". The tattoo will often be the pimp's street or even his likeness. The mark might be as discreet as ankle tattoo, or blatant as a neck tattoo, or large scale font across the prostitute's lower back, thigh, chest, or buttocks.

Internet effect

Since the Internet became widely available, it has become the preferred medium for prostitution. Prostitutes increasingly use websites to solicit sexual encounters. In turn, pimps have used these sites to broker their women.

However, the use of the Internet for prostitution as well as other changes in the sex industry have resulted in the disintermediation
In economics, disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain: "cutting out the middleman". Instead of going through traditional distribution channels, which had some type of intermediate , companies may now deal with every customer directly, for example via the Internet...

 of prostitution, allowing prostitutes to deal with clients directly. This has rendered pimps largely superfluous, at least in the United States. In 2011, Wired
Wired (magazine)
Wired is a full-color monthly American magazine and on-line periodical, published since January 1993, that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, the economy, and politics...

reported that of 11 pimps working out of New York's midtown Manhattan in 1999, all were out of work within four years.


Loverboy is slang for young men (boys) who lure underage girls into prostitution. It is a significant problem in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and it is estimated there are 1,500 victims a year. One of the factors is that immigrant groups of boys leverage their sexual sophistication over the largely conservative Protestant Christian population where sex is repressed. Even though loverboys use kidnapping, gang rape and other terrorist techniques on their victims politician Jamila Yahyaoui notes as of 2009, only 5 cases lead to convictions. Because of the young age, fear and emotional dependance of the girls and the vagueness of what exactly happened, many times loverboys and their associates can only be charged with having sex with a minor and get short sentences. The socialist party ROOD wants police to remove obstacles to girls reporting abuse and to not lose contact, while some municipalities are educating front line workers to better identify victims.

Notable pimps

  • Fillmore Slim
    Fillmore Slim
    Clarence Sims , best known by his stage name, Fillmore Slim, is a blues vocalist and guitarist with five albums to his credit...

  • Iceberg Slim
    Iceberg Slim
    Iceberg Slim aka Robert Beck was a reformed pimp and American author of urban fiction.-Early life:Born Robert Lee Maupin, in Chicago on August 4, 1918, he spent his childhood in Milwaukee and Rockford, Illinois until he returned to Chicago...

  • Don "Magic" Juan
  • A Pimp Named Slickback
    A Pimp Named Slickback
    A Pimp Named Slickback from the Adult Swim animated television series The Boondocks, made in the likeness of Natalac in his Pimp of the City video which aired late night on BET: Uncut. He is voiced by Katt Williams.- Personality :A Pimp Named Slickback's defining trait is his self-professed name...

See also

  • American Pimp
    American Pimp
    American Pimp is a 1999 documentary that examines the pimp subculture in the United States. It was directed by the Hughes Brothers, the filmmakers behind Menace II Society and Dead Presidents....

    , a 1999 documentary by the Hughes Brothers
    Hughes Brothers
    Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes , known together professionally as the Hughes brothers, are American film directors, producers and screenwriters...

     consisting of first person interviews with people involved in the pimping lifestyle in the U.S.
  • Case C-268/99 Jany [2001] ECR I-8615, on free movement of workers in the European Union
    European Union
    The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

  • Pimp tenure
    Pimp tenure
    Pimp tenure was a form of feudal land tenure which required the land-holder to keep and maintain whores for the king or his army. It was thus a variety of serjeanty. It was described in Bouvier's Law Dictionary, volume 5, as: "A very singular and odious kind of tenure mentioned by old writers". The...

    , a form of feudal land tenure
  • Procuring (prostitution)
    Procuring (prostitution)
    Procuring or pandering is the facilitation or provision of a prostitute in the arrangement of a sex act with a customer. Examples of procuring include:*trafficking a prostitute into a country for the purpose of soliciting sex...

External links

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