Dolly Parton Recalls The Time She Was Mistaken For A Prostitute In New York City… Pulled A Gun On The Creep

Dolly Parton in a yellow dress
Harry Langdon/Getty Images

In case y’all haven’t noticed, let me remind you that Dolly Parton is one of my favorite people ever.

She hysterical, over-the-top, talented, and also so down-to-earth it’s almost unbelievable for someone who’s seen as much fame and success as she has.

I could go on, but she hasn’t been in the business this long and become a legend without being exactly who she is and owning it. I’ve read so many interviews with her over the years it’s not even funny, and she has such an incredible knack for being honest and telling people exactly what she thinks.

It’s crazy how open she is about a lot of things, and it’s part of what makes her such an endearing and lovable person. She really does not hold back.

If you recall, last year she said last year she’d do the cover of Playboy again for her 75th birthday, but that passed in January and nothing has come of it yet. Who knows, maybe she still will and it got delayed with the insane year that was 2020, but if not, her interview from when she graced the cover for the first time in 1978 is pure gold.

Dolly Does Playboy

She and Larry Grobel, who interviewed her, covered almost every topic under the sun, and it might be one of the best interviews I’ve ever read.

But, the best story she told was of the time her and her friend got mistaken for prostitutes in New York City when she was just 21 years old. Larry had asked her if she’d ever seen an adult film, as they had talked about how open Dolly is about sex and her sexuality, which sparked more conversation and led her to tell this tale.

She admitted she had, and that she was always curious about them. Then, she goes on to say that one time on a trip to the Big Apple, her and her girlfriend decided to go see one in a public theater. At the the time, she was very early in her career and could usually manage to fly under the radar in terms of being noticed by fans:

“We had always wanted to see a real one. We thought it would be somethin’ dirty enough to enjoy. We tried to sneak in when nobody would see.

There is somethin’ real shameful about goin’ there, but we dared each other to do it, so we went. It had an awful smell in that theater.”

I can only imagine… though I don’t really think I want to.

She said they sat near the back in case they needed to make a quick exit, and she mentioned that there were mostly men in the auditorium, maybe a few women. She said it got gross real quick, and they didn’t know what to do:

“We were so curious we couldn’t keep from lookin’. I didn’t know how to react with her. If I had Carl there or somethin’, we might have got down to business.”

I really think Dolly might’ve missed out in a career in comedy.

Lady Of the Night

Anyways, what she didn’t know back then was that prostitutes used to go out in pairs in NYC as a precaution for a little more safety. So there was a bit of a mix-up when the duo found themselves waiting for a cab in the streets of New York City alone in a bad part of town:

“We ran out and we started runnin’, so nobody would know where we came from. At that time, we didn’t know that prostitutes ran in pairs in New York City for protection.

And there is no way in the world that you can catch a cab on a Friday night in New York City. We didn’t know that.”

So, you can imagine Dolly is (no pun intended) all dolled up in her usual over-the-top hair and makeup and clearly not in a safe area:

“All of a sudden, these men started approaching us on the street. They thought we were up for sale. You can imagine how ridiculous I looked. I would look like a streetwalker if you didn’t know this was an image. I would look like a total whore, I suppose.

I’m sure we looked just like what they thought we were. But I had a gun. I never traveled without a gun, still don’t. I always carry a gun.”

When I first read the story, I was absolutely DYING when she started talking about how she realized she looked like a prostitute. It’s just another reason I love Dolly. She knows exactly who she is and can make fun of herself.

I mainly laugh because I could see the same damn thing happening to me. I like to get a little creative with my hair, makeup and what I wear too, so honestly, if I ended up on the wrong side of town, I truly would not be surprised at all to find myself in this situation. Not that I would ever compare myself to Queen Dolly, but you get the point.

Not shockingly, while they were standing out there waiting for the cab, men kept approaching them thinking they were going to, um, make a transaction. Dolly, being the business women that she is, was going to get them out of the situation.

You have to hear her tell the rest of it, it really is incredible:

“I was doin’ all the talkin’, because my girlfriend always knew I’d get us out of any situation, and she started laughin’ at me. That made me mad, because I was so scared!

This one man came at me and he was really pullin’ at me, he was tryin’ to handle me, just maul me, the whole works. I told him, ‘Just get away and don’t bother me anymore.’ He kept sayin’, ‘Oh, come on, honey, I know you want it.’

He was offerin’ us money and I said, ‘Look, I don’t know what it is, we are not interested, we are not on the make, we are tryin’ to get home, don’t you understand that?’

There I was, with my big Southern accent and my big wig. He just thought if he bargained long enough that I’d give in. He kept pullin’ at me and I was getting furious and I was cussin’ him, and I don’t cuss that much. I was sayin’, ‘You son of a bitch, you dirty bastard!’

Just things like that is not like me at all, but I was terrified, and I was mad, too, because I can’t stand people who pull at me unless I want to be pulled at.

And my girlfriend was against the wall, dyin’ laughing. We could have both been raped or killed, but she was gettin’ such a kick, because she’d never seen this side of me before. I got furious at her and I told her, I said, ‘Boy, you just better stop laughing or I’m gonna beat the shit out of you too!’

And I got my gun out of my pocketbook. I told the man, ‘If you put your hands on me one more time, I swear to God that I will shoot you.’ And I would have. I wouldn’t have shot him in the stomach or nothin’, I would have shot his feet off or shot at the ground.

My girlfriend was just hollerin’, laughin’ and, boy, I told her when we got rid of him, ‘If you ever do that to me again, I swear to you I may not whup your ass, but I’ll be caught dead tryin’.’ She never did quit laughin’, she just thought that was the funniest thing she’d ever seen.

We headed out to a porno movie and it wound up bein’ a comedy.”

Some of the best stories you really could never make up…

Here’s another snippet of audio from that interview where she talks about how her family got by without heat or indoor plumbing:

And of course, the iconic cover from the shoot:

A beer bottle on a dock

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A beer bottle on a dock