Motown Women lead way in Stage Prostitution - It was a Pimps Paradise

(Part 1)

Watch Video Here.... Video

Mary Wilson (of the Supremes) once said:

"We made people forget their prejudices. Before we came along, when people thought of black singers they thought of prostitutes."

The statement was so ‘NEW’ that someone wrote into Ebony Magazine (Oct 1986), and asked where did she get that statement from. In fact, to most people in the world this statement is ‘NEW’. Ironically, the Supremes and the rest of Berry Gordy’s stable would forge a clean-cut, image but the truth is Berry Gordy was a Pimp and the Motown women were ‘REAL’ prostitutes.

Since pimps see women as inventory they believe all women were born to be prostitutes. All women should sell sex for money. Therefore, exploiting them is okay.

The music industry is good at creating images. There have been many ‘pimp-prostitute’ images created. Two of the most popular are Rick James (Although he was a real pimp once too) & Teena Marie and Prince and his stable of talent which include Sheila E and Vanity 6 (Prince wanted to called them "The Hookers"). Motown did the opposite. (The early original artists.) They had a pure image, untouchable but the opposite was going on behind the scenes. Whereas, say, Prince had the outward image of a Pimp but might not have been a real pimp and Sheila E and Vanity might not have been real prostitutes. Without evidence, I will not say they were. This is the theory though.

In the video you will notice that I used four terms to tell the Women’s story: Square, Trick, John, and Jumping.


Squares are the most difficult term to figure out when you are outside ‘the game’. Pimps reduce the meaning to ‘anyone outside the life’. At first read you think it is everyone including johns. That would mean a john is a square but a john is not a square. My best definition: Anyone who is outside the ‘secret society’ called the game but is still involved with/knows about the game. For example, a square girl is a girl who is paying a pimp money because she loves him, knows he is a pimp and what he is doing, but is not yet a prostitute. She may never become one.

The term ‘square’ is often used loosely. It could be used to describe anyone, like I mentioned in the video, who causes a girl to ‘square-up’ or get out of the life. Rest assured, if you ever hear someone use that term, and that have been associated with pimps or prostitutes, they have been or are most likely involved in ‘the game’.

Ever wonder what Teena Marie's Square Biz was about? Also a Motown song, it was about a prostitute. Its normal term it obviously "Square Business". Square Business is turning a girl into a prostitute. [Turning someone out]

The Supremes and Milton Jenkins

Milton Jenkins was not only the manager of the Supremes but of ½ of the future Temptations as well. They were known as the Primettes and the Primes respectively. (Mary Wilson said on Unsung:Eddie Kendricks that they were used to promote the Primes). Milton Jenkins was a pimp.

In the video, you will see that I put up a quote of one of his ‘well-dressed’ lady friends dressing the Supremes. Prostitutes back then were well dressed women. They weren’t the shabby image we see today. In our video, Berry Gordy: Pimpology 101, you see Martha Reeves mention that all of the Motown women got their style of dress of prostitutes.

Popular culture likes to portray Otis Williams of the Temptations as the one who created the Temptations. This is obviously portrayed because they do not want you focusing on the fact that Milton Jenkins was a pimp. If anything, ½ came from Milton (Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams) and the other from a women named Johnnie Mae Matthews. Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin were part of a group named The Distants under her. If you follow the actual trail, which is portrayed in the video, you will clearly see what was going on. Milton ended up being paid by Motown. Also, He would marry Florence Ballard's sister Maxine Ballard.

Berry Gordy and Milton Jenkins met at the Flame Show Bar, a bar owned by a pimp. Ironically, Detroits other popular club, one in which in also threaded throughout the Motown story, the Twenty Grand, was also owned by a pimp.

Mary Wilson would say a lot of interesting things about the women at motown and how they were treated in her book. Below you will see a quote that was deleted from the video:

Back home, we continued with our itinerary, opening at the Flamingo in Las Vegas toward the end of September. By now, anyone who’d missed our shows could see us –and Berry- at the gambling tables. Gambling fever had always been rampant among the men at Motown, where there were probably as many all-night games upstairs at Hitsville as there were on the Strip. As the money had started rolling in, most of the male producers, writers, and performers took their turns being high rollers, usually with disastrous results. Women were rarely admitted into this male bastion, so we only knew what we heard, but it was no secret that money it had taken-or would take years to earn was disappearing at the turn of a card. The stakes were also pretty outrageous—the keys to a brand new Cadillac, thousands of dollars, and once even the right to produce an up-and-coming female lead singer, bet by a producer and won by Berry.

They were gambling on who would sleep with the females. Notice she said 'feamles' and NOT 'male singers'. Motown had male singers too.


Jumping has come to light through the movie ‘Sparkle.’ It is intercourse between two persons. It is actually a term to describe how stage prostitutes get clients AND a dance form. I’ll put it like this, during the process of jumping they use certain hand movements/dance movements to get clients and for those who know what is going on it can be signals or signs. The movie Sparkle is all about stage prostitution and how it works although in both the new and old versions they try to tone the issue down, thus making both versions seem incomplete. Soon I will do a video on both Dreamgirls and Sparkle. These two analysis will help you to further see what is really going on.

In the video you hear Florence Ballard give her testimony about some of the illicit activities that were going on, below you will now see a fan talk about the ‘activities’ that were going on. This is a deleted scene from the video.

Supremes Fan from BBC Documentary: Deep Soul the Rising up of Motown (See Below)

Iceberg Slim was a pimp from back in the day. In his book, "Pimp", he lets you know this: "What if I hadn’t kept my ears flapping back there in the joint? I would be a boot black or porter for the rest of my life in the high walled white world. My black whore was a cinch to get piles of white money from that forbidden white world." They used black women to get in the white world. He also says this: "I was still a black man in a white man’s world. My hope to be important and admired could be realized even behind this black stockade."


Tricking is the act between a prostitute and her client. A prostitutes clients are Johns. Martha Reeves gives a compelling story of her journey with tricks. She is the lead singer of Martha & the Vandellas and they are famous for "Dancing in the Street", "Heatwave", "Nowhere to Run" and "Jimmy Mack". She admits to a few interesting things about tricking including the following in her book "Dancing in the Street: Confessions of a Motown Diva". Of course, she denies everything but we know the truth:

[Before her Motown Days] "Mrs. Rogers also acted as a booking agent for her pupils, and she booked me in Canada as Martha LaVaille. The club owner was the kind who wanted sex with the women who worked his club. I didn't and never have opearted like that so after a week, I formally booked."

Did you notice she denied it but then said she was there for a week? Another story she shared was this:

"[While out walking to get something to eat]As big a place as New York is, who should see us walking about but Berry's sister, Gwen, and his ex-wife, Raynoma Gordy.

They instantly placed a call to Berry and accused us of "tricking on Broadway". The minute we returned from our brief walk and got a hot dog purchased from a street vendor, the telephone rang. It was Mr. Gordy himself.

"You can't be streetwalkers!" he said, lecturing on the phone. "Don't you know better than to go wandering around on your own in Times Square? You will be recognized as Motown stars, and you aren't to be confused with prostitutes!"

"At first our feelings were hurt, and we felt really bad to have been misundersood. But once we thought about it, we girls had a good laugh. How could anyone confuse us with streetwalkers? The "ladies of the night" on Broadway were much sharper than we were, and always the flashiest dressers in the entire area. From Detroit's House of Beauty on John R Street to the bar at the Twenty Grand, we had always tried to look as good as "the ho's". After that embarrassing episode in NYC, though, we didn't dare walk outside of the hotel again without permission. Besides, we were very shabbily dressed in jeans and leather jackets."

Why would someone accuse you of something you are not involved in? Even if they weren't tricking that day they still tricked or else his wife and sister would have had no reason to call Berry Gordy. Once again Martha denies a story about tricking she puts in her book, why put it in the book if it's not true. Remember, there's an unwritten rule, 'What goes on on and off stage remains a secret'. That is exactly what Motown has done!

Martha Reeves admitted in her book the men (Johns) would go from room to room looking to see which women they can sleep with. Ironically, on the episode 'Unsung:Eddie Kendricks' Martha said about the Temptations, "They had their choice of women as they walked up the halls of various hotels. That's just how charming and alluring they were and how sought after they were. The girls went absolutely nuts. Half of them would be in their negligees standing in the doorways."

Prostitutes will disguise themselves as groupies. Traditionally, groupies are the girls that go backstage and to hotels to solicit stars. Pimps will send their stable of women to higher paying Johns such as the stars. The Motown women were well sought after prostitutes which meant they could charge a lot more money.

The Motown women would call their Johns 'friends'. In the video Florence Ballard mentioned 'friends' and Martha Reeves reached out to a male in the audience to get his approval out of 'friendliness' (which was a sign that he was invited into her room. Once in the room he abused and tried to rape her.).


Johns are the customers of prostitutes. They are also referred to as 'tricks'. Bettye Lavette gives the most explosive testimony about what was happening behind Motown's doors. In the book "Ladies of Soul" by David Freeland Bettye gives us some of her knowledge.

All the books that have been written really haven't been forthcoming. I haven't read any of them, but the things that I hear on TV from the writers and excerpts that I've heard -- from Martha Reeves's book, from the Temptation's books, from Berry Gordy's book-- it all sounds like we were all just young, bright-eyed people waiting for Berry Gordy to come along and discover us to make us famous. And it really was not like that at all. None of these people were young or bright-eyed. They were never young, almost. All these people were grown by the time Motown started. They weren't virgins, and they had all been drunk at one point. I don't know anybody that came over there with a smidgen of innocence but Stevie Wonder. And we soon corrupted him.

I'm not even talking about what happened after the time Michael [Jackson] came. They went on to get some real young people, but those original people [The ones who recorded at Hitsville USA in Detroit: This includes Mary Wells, The Temptations, The Marvelettes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Four Tops, the Contours, the Velvelettes] were never young, and all of the people that we hung around with here in the city very bad people. Now they seem that way, but then everything was so segregated--the ministers and the drug dealers all dealt together because all the blacks were in one place. So it sounds very bad now, some of the people that we dealt with and knew personally and came to our house and we went to theirs. It sounds bad in retrospect, but that's who they were and that's what they did, and no one's writing about any of that. It all sounds so very innocent. That's not the group I knew.

If you were strung out on heroin, that was a no-no. The only people we knew that messed with any heroin were Esther Phillips and Ray Charles. But that’s when you were messing with ‘drugs’. Other than that, the other stuff was not "drugs". And I guess just before Motown got really big, the people who were messing with cocaine, like Jackie Wilson and Little Willie John they had graduated into a kind of a "white thing", we called it. So they were dealing with a heavier kind of drug. We had cocaine dealers that were on the road with us. They went from town to town with us, and then they would fly back here and get more drugs and come back. It was just after people started losing their homes because of other financial things --not because they messed it all up with drugs. They were making enough money to buy the drugs, you know. But when other things started to fall down and the groups started breaking up, it became more apparent that they needed to leave it alone, and then we all did. I guess everybody still kind of smokes joint, but nobody ... I mean, you just had cocaine. Everybody had some cocaine. Everybody knew several drug dealers. We had known these people from the beginning or our career. The numbers men and the drug dealers --these were our fans.

IIf you're an R&B singer [laughs]. You invariably marry a pimp or a fan. And either one of them is just really bad. So it takes a while to find someone that's secure enough with themselves or is generous enough to not take advantage of you. It's hard doing anything, unless they’re dong it with you. It's hard to go to school or have children or be married, unless they're with you. And then you've got to really be kind of soul mates, you know, and feel the someway about music.

Another thing, when you talk about trying to be married, people do not know the extent that these young women go to get into these guys' rooms. And I just know some awful stories. There were hotels that we could no longer stay in because Jackie Wilson's show had just come through or because Sam Cooke's show had just come through. And they had just caused so much trouble we couldn't even stay there. They used to do just awful things, but they didn't seem awful then. They just seem awful now.

IIt was always what they called "stage-door Johnnies." The guy that would years ago be standing backstage with the flowers or the diamond bracelet, he was there with the cocaine. [Cocaine in those days, was not claimed to be habit forming, but would help you perform better sexually and stay-up longer hours] It was "Pretty Rick" and "Fast Eddie", and these people were pimps or drug dealers or numbers men, and they would be there in their El Dorados waiting for Diane [Ross], me, Florence [Ballard], Martha [Reeves]. Everybody that we were messing with was out of the same group, and there was nobody that was really notorious. If a cop got killed, the streets stood still until they found out who did it. Everybody got involved and helped. These people did these awful things, but they took care of their mothers, and they opened community centers, and they didn't cuss in front of grown folks, and they didn't carry guns. But they were the sleaze of the earth and they did really bad things. And most of them are dead now, and no one mentions them at all. No one mentions that those were Berry Gordy's running partners, or that I used to go with them and that Martha used to go with them and Martha I used to go with the same ones all over the country, because these was a nightlife group. And everybody knew them all over the country."

Video Notes

*In the video, I portray Berry Gordy and Martha Reeves as lovers and you hear Teena Marie’s song "Ohh La La" in the background. This is a direct reference to a scene in our video 'Motown Secerets Revealed: Hotter than a Heatwave' in which I tell you that Berry and Martha Reeves came up with the name 'Martha Reeves and the Vandella's in secret. In the same video, I portray Berry and Martha as lovers and play Teena Marie’s song in the background.

Supremes Fan from BBC Documentary: Deep Soul the Rising up of Motown