Legendary Baby Bleu, 24, has an active Go Fund Me page, Instagram, Twitter, and a couple of polished websites offering her services. She is trying to rebrand herself as "Reno's Little Princess". She also has a backpack full of drawings and books with life plans. What she doesn't have is a home.
"So I'm homeless right now," she said during a recent interview on the UNR campus, where she spends hours inside quietly working on her websites and journals. "But I'm dressed well. I do my best to shower and still do my makeup so I can walk around and smile. But it's hot outside, and my legs hurt. I've been walking from north to south Reno, maybe just because I'm killing time."
Growing Up into Prostitution and Brothels
She spent part of her teenage years in shelters with her mom in California, a time she became a cutter. (Listen to her poem above). Her aunts gave her tips on how to be a prostitute, as they were, and when she came to Reno, she followed in their footsteps while still a young teenager going to Hug High.
"I started working when I was 16," she says. "I just basically walked from school to downtown. A couple of guys would pick me up here and there and then eventually I was making like $1,200 a week. With this one guy, we would do these crazy threesomes."
After going back to California and being arrested a dozen times there and doing community service, she was advised by a judge and social worker to work legally in a brothel, which she did for a couple of years in Elko. She was making about $50,000 a year, she says, but eventually she was back to being a prostitute for herself, finding the brothel work stifling.
"It's hard, because it's like an institution," she says. "You work when you work, and then when you're off of work, you can do whatever you want, but it's still locked down. You're not going to your friend's house around the corner, and I'll be right back.... You're at work and you're not allowed to leave the brothel even if you're not working."
Sober but Struggling
She says she was living in an apartment with a boyfriend last year, but that when things got nasty between them in the fall, she says she had no choice but to be homeless again.
When we met her, she said she had been off alcohol and cocaine for six weeks, drinking lots of Red Bull and doing arts and crafts to stay sober. She now avoids shelters, where she doesn't get along with other homeless, so she hops around between motel rooms, whether she is working or not as a prostitute, and a few secret spots, "on the concrete or in somebody's grass", where she tries to avoid police.
"The birds chirping will wake me up and that's right when the sun is coming up. I try and go somewhere with a public restroom and that way I can wash my face up real quick, and do a little makeup or something with my hair," she says of her early morning routine. "And then I wait until I can get into the Eddy House. Luckily I can still go to the Eddy House (a drop-in center on 6th street for street adult youths), as I'm still under 25. They have a shower there and they also have food and groups."
She said she had recently gotten her ID stolen, so she was trying to figure how to get that back. She also said she had applied for several regular jobs, but repeatedly got turned down, and was giving up on that. Now, she spends a lot of time in libraries across town, working on her own ideas and web presence.
'No Sex Trafficking' or Pimps in Reno
Despite what others say, including activists, politicians and organizations, Legendary Baby Bleu doesn't believe there is sex trafficking going on in Reno.
She says there is widespread "guerrilla pimping" in southern Nevada and California but not in the Reno area. She says she believes some who make these claims have something to gain by saying there is lots of sex trafficking. She says 4th street is now mostly "trannies" working on their own trying to get some money.
"Guerrilla pimps are people who forcibly take women. In SoCal and southern Nevada, they just sell girls back and forth.... There's a ton of girls like me who started prostituting at 16 and then you meet the girls from Oakland who started prostituting at like 12 because they're guerilla pimped and then that's kind of the only skills that they know.... But there's no sex trafficking going on in this area. It's all the girls' choice here. You don't even need a pimp anymore.... I mean, usually when you meet guys in this industry, they're your age and they're trying to figure it out, the same stuff you are. So it's not like working for, it's more like working with. But I've never had a pimp. I've always had boyfriends. They would like to be pimps, but they're like emotional."
Trying to Reverse a Downward Slope
"Just because I present myself a certain way, doesn't mean it's not horrible," she says. She tried going back to live with some of her family in California, but that didn't work out either.
"By the time you get to the end of the day, you're just exhausted. My legs hurt, my feet are constantly swollen. My makeup has become more raggedy," she says.
She didn't show up for a third meeting for a planned interview. A recent Instagram post from a few days ago partly said: "I did everything on my own until October 2017 when I fell off ..... I hate that they hate me and ruined me for no reason. But I will get everything back by myself like I always do."
Interviews by Our Town Reno in Spring 2017