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Lost and Found

Baby Girl has one last chance at a new life.

The crack hit is like a rocket blasting off. The capsule is your head, and it leaves your body behind like pieces of a NASA booster as you get higher and higher. The first hit is the best, and addicts keep smoking to try to regain that height, but they never can, no matter how much crack they smoke.

When Baby G came down, she decided to go to work. For a shift, at least. "So I'm working this waitressing job," she remembers, "and I come home with like $40 in tips, and I went and bought me some crack with my mom, and we smoked it. And then I went out, because I wanted more. Oh, God, that's sick; the urge for it is sick. I'm glad I know how sick it is -- it makes me feel good to know how sick it is -- but it makes me sick to know how sick it is. It was something you can't even control."

At first crack made her paranoid and non-social, but when her use became habitual, she could pull off being high in public, maintaining her composure. "I overcame the paranoia, the fear of the law, anything," she says. "The urge is just unbearable. Oh, my God, damn, that shit's disgusting."

After collecting eight mug shots from Denver police 
arrests, a former drug-addicted prostitute poses one 
month into rehab at Chrysalis (far right).
After collecting eight mug shots from Denver police arrests, a former drug-addicted prostitute poses one month into rehab at Chrysalis (far right).
Judy Lopez screens potential Chrysalis clients and 
coordinates with the court.
John Johnston
Judy Lopez screens potential Chrysalis clients and coordinates with the court.

A black man taught her the crack game and gave her the name "Baby Girl." She followed his hustle during a six-month street internship. She'd watch as he bought enough crack to make a few deals and pinch some off for his services as a middleman. They'd smoke whatever he could scrounge for them, in parks and apartments, or dip into an alley off Colfax and get high behind a dumpster.

Eventually he asked her if she would fuck, and she had to say no. She didn't tell him, but in her Hispanic family, sex with black men was frowned upon. To Baby G's surprise, he let her go, with no strings attached for all the free hustling lessons and crack.

Without the man, she was alone on Colfax, "hustling so hard I had three blisters on top of each other," she says. "But still, crack sells itself."

Baby G lived crack hit to crack hit until her addiction outgrew her hustle.

She was looking for someone who needed dope so that she could hustle a hit or two when the johns kept rolling up to her, but Baby G told them she wasn't turning tricks -- though she really wanted some crack, bad. Then along came the dopeman. The first time Baby G ever traded sex for crack was with that dealer, a man she doesn't dare name.

"And it's a big old black dude, too," she says. He was such a baller, he had keys to any hotel room he wanted. They went to one and had about five minutes of sex; he went easy on her and used a condom. Then he dropped her on the east side without money or dope, and Baby G thought she was getting ripped off. But he came back with $50 and a quarter-ounce of crack -- about $200 worth -- to see if she could slang the sack and make some money.

Instead, Baby G smoked all of it. She doesn't remember what she spent the $50 on, but guesses it was probably more crack that she shared with her crackhead friends.

"Now I know how to ho," she says. "It's uncomfortable at first."

Baby G sucked dick in alleys. She fucked in cars. For two years, she turned up to a dozen tricks a day to feed her crack habit. Sometimes she was so desperate for a rock that she'd charge as little as $10. But another guy would pay her $150 to watch him masturbate, and someone once gave her $600 for a couple of hours of smoking crack with him on his bed while wearing nothing but her panties and bra. Sometimes she could talk money out of men without giving up anything.

"I could sell your left shoe for your right foot," she says, because the "promise of pussy" is so strong. She'd lure a man, seduce him. She'd wear some tight shorts under her baggy pants, spread her long, beautiful hair out on the bed. She'd make him think she liked him as they smoked up his bank account. "Damn," she'd tell him. "You keep treating me like this and you won't even have to pay for the sex."

Then it was back to the ATM for more money for more drugs.

One john tried to rape her in his car. He was much bigger then she was, and she stabbed him in the back with her trusty blade. Then he bit her in the face. A "hillbilly white dude" rescued her after she managed to push the horn with her foot.

She's convinced that another trick was going to kill her. She found bloody hotel towels in his duffel bag and thought he was toying with her. She had sex with him because she was sure she'd be raped if she didn't. "All the crack in the world wouldn't have kept me there," she says, "because I knew it was my life."

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