Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: I think my neighbor is a prostitute

By Jamie Lauren Sutton  | August 18, 2010 - 6:10AM

Dear Ms Demeanor,

I live in the East 60s in walk-up with no doorman. Strange men buzz my apartment at least once a week. I didn't think that much of it until one said he was dropping off money.  I told him he must have the wrong apartment.

The next night I came home at 2 am with my roommate to hear the woman down the hall screaming.   At first I thought she was in pain so I was about to call 911 when I heard a man screaming, “Don’t stop!  Don’t stop!  Do it to me!”  It then hit me that she was probably a prostitute.

I am now fairly certain this is the case.  What should I do???

Baffled in a Bordello

Dear Baffled,

I am somewhat baffled by your query.  From the facts presented, I cannot agree with certainty that your neighbor is anything but sexually active, occasionally loudly so.

Moreover, a man dropping off money may simply be a friend who borrowed some…and if your neighbor truly is a sex worker, she is a very foolish one who does not get the money upfront.

If you are truly concerned about your personal safety—which is not clear from your question—then a complaint to the landlord or the board and a call to the police might be in order.

Otherwise, assuming your neighbor is of age and not being exploited by a pimp, remind yourself that this activity is occurring between consenting adults--and that because the vertical village is home to just about every kind of person, tolerance or willful blindness is part of the social compact that binds us.

If you still feel like alerting the authorities, do a hypocrite check first: Like designer knock-off bags, prostitution is illegal in this state….and when is the last time you blew the whistle on your friends and coworkers who shop on Canal Street? 


Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to [email protected].

See all Ms. Demeanor's advice here.

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