A pimp (also called fleshmonger) finds and manages clients for prostitutes and engages them in prostitution (in brothels in most cases and some cases street prostitution) in order to profit from their earnings. Typically, a pimp will not force prostitutes to stay with him, although some have been known to be abusive in order to keep their prostitutes submissive or to maximize profits. A pimp may also offer to protect his prostitutes from rival pimps and prostitutes, or from abusive clients. He can also enable a prostitute to work in a particular area under his control. Pimping is illegal in many countries.
Most people who work managing prostitutes are men, but some women work in this capacity as well, though rarely in street prostitution. Women are rarely called pimps, as the word implies male dominance - a woman who manages prostitutes is generally called a mamasan or a madam. (This should not be confused with the title of respect given to adult women in most English-speaking countries.)
Often , low level pimps will initially present themselves as lovers or father-figures to prostitutes (who may be run-aways or otherwise lack a family network) before introducing them to prostitution and perhaps drug addiction. This practice is called "turning out." The pimp-prostitute relationship can be abusive, with the pimp using psychological intimidation, manipulation and physical force to control the members in the "stable".
First, as to business structure, pimps operate a multi-tiered business. There is even a series of pimp videos, produced by pimps themselves, that illustrate how the business should be run.
As to the business structure, at the top there is the pimp who runs the business. Below the pimp is the "Bottom Girl." She acts in a way like an office manager, keeping tabs on the "track" when the pimp is away, keeping the pimp appraised of the law enforcement activity, and collecting money from the prostitutes. The Bottom Girl can be especially important when the pimp is incarcerated. In addition, under the Bottom Girl, the pimp may employ a "wife-in-law" who has similar duties as the Bottom Girl. Below that there is the bevy of normal prostitutes.
The pimps even recognize a hierarchy among themselves. The least respected, or newer pimps, are the "popcorn pimps", "wanna-bes", and "hustlers". A pimp who uses violence and intimidation to control his prostitutes is called a "gorilla pimp," while those pimps that use psychological trickery to deceive the younger prostitutes into becoming hooked into the system are called "finesse pimps." Lastly, the successful and established pimps are called "players."
An important part of the business of pimping is obtaining, and maintaining, a selection of prostitutes. The rules allow prostitutes to move from one pimp to another by "choosing." To choose, the prostitute is first supposed to make her intentions known to the new pimp. This intentions period is most likely to allow prospective pimps to reject the prostitutes intentions. If the prospective pimp wants the new prostitute to work for him he will then accept money from the new prostitute. This money exchange is referred to as "breaking bread." The new pimp is then supposed to inform the old pimp of the change, and possibly some of the bread from the moving prostitute is exchanged. Losing your girl to another Pimp is known as getting "Peeled". Informing a Pimp that he's been peeled is a professional courtesy and any attempt to respond to this courtesy with violence will quickly get you dubbed a "Gorilla" or "Godzilla". Prostitutes that move between pimps often are labeled as a "choosey Susie." In addition, a prostitute may "bounce" from pimp to pimp without paying the "pimp moving" tax.
With rules, inevitably come people who break the rules. The pimp business has an internal structure for dealing with rule breakers, and it is a structure built around violence. For example, pimps have been known to employ a "pimp stick," which is two coat hangers wrapped together, in order to subdue unruly prostitutes. Another punishment for unruly prostitutes is to "trunk" them. The pimps lock the prostitutes in the trunk of a car to teach them a lesson. In addition, although prostitutes are supposedly free to move between pimps, the movement between pimps sometimes leads to violence. For example, a prostitute could be punished for merely looking at another pimp; this is considered "reckless eyeballing."
The stereotype of the inner-city pimp was popularized in the 1970s, making terms such as pimpmobile or pimp walk (a kind of swagger which was mainly popular among African-American men) widely known. Many blaxploitation films of that era glamorize a pimp lifestyle.
The verb "pimping" came up in the early 17th century. In the first years of the 21st century, a new meaning of the word has emerged in the form of a transitive verb which means "to decorate" or "to gussy." This new definition was made popular by Pimp My Ride, an MTV television show. Although this new definition paid homage to hip-hop culture and its connection to street culture, it has now entered common, even mainstream commercial, use. In medical context, the verb also means "To ask (a student) a question for the purpose of testing his knowledge.