The Issue of Payment: 

Did Money Change Hands in Brainerd?

Margaret: Is there possibly a semantic confusion here? If these are good-time Susies who have day jobs waitressing and sometimes accept cash from men in return for sexual favors, I say, yes, they are hookers although they don't fit the hardened professional streetwalker mold.

Endora: Did money actually change hands? I do not remember that.

Skyvue: To answer your question, Endora: no, no exchange of money was shown onscreen or mentioned, or even hinted at, in the dialogue.

Endora: Without having witnessed the exchange of cash, I think the hooker camp has no case. The circumstantial evidence is not sufficiently strong.If, for example, these women had prior arrest records for prostitutionyou might be able to make a circumstantial case, but we don't know that.

ian grey: I think Endora has hit upon a vital, and vastly underappreciated aspect of the procedure of for-pay sex in America cinema.To use a hideous word, the nature of the sexual transaction is always signified by the stuffing of greenbacks down cleavage, by the john (or steve) leaving a wad on the table (ahem) or *something* of that nature. In BARFLY, Mickey Rourke buys fellow tosspot Faye Dunaway booze--not too much later, they are rutting. Is Faye a hooker? I mean, Mickey is pretty gamey, definately in the Buscemi league, but the answer is clear. The booze, like the post-coital TV enjoyed by FARGO's gals was just something happening along with sex. Minus the on-screen exchange of currency, we are told this was a consensual act of noxious carnality. So! In terms of cinematic procedure, the They Were Hookers case relys entirely on the evidence of credits created by some unknown firm who were not, I say, *were not* on the set, did not speak with the Coens, and anyway, credits are fucked up all the time. In terms of law, the mere fact that two skeevy guys have the hubris to think they can cop some easy booty and then do so, and then have someone point a Catholic finger and shout "hooker" is palpable nonsense. Thank you. The defense rests.

Endora: Why would these women hang around watching TV afterwards if they were hookers? Hookers would be on to the next trick. These women thought the skeevy guys were okay, otherwise they would not have hung around after the fact. These women hung out watching TV. There was no money. Ergo, they were not hookers.

The Lonesome Drifter: Endora, I take umbrage at your disingenuous affectation of ignorance concerning basic facts appertaining to hookerdom, one of which is that outside of New York maybe, one of the standard options they offer is *paying for the entire night.* This is not esoteric knowledge--you can get it from CATCHER IN THE RYE, for Christ's sake. E. McD. is correct, of course, but then for SOME people this is not an argument about simple, observable facts, but about Faith.

Margaret: In fact, the hookers in FARGO -- one step up (or down) from amateurs -- probably don't know any better than to accept a relative pittance for an all-nighter, not realizing that they are forgoing the greater income that real hustling could yield.

Endora: The amount of money which would have had to change hands to secure an entire evening with women such as those would have surely been visible to the viewing audience. We're talking piles o'cash, here. And I am not being disingenuous. I forgot about poor Holden.

jneil: They probably don't even realize they could get paid for it.