From the archive
The following list of expressions has been compiled from the slang current in the hotels of Los Angeles. Many of these terms may be found in other collections, for it is in the nature of the hotel business that its slang should come from many and various sources.
An attempt has been made, however, to exclude expressions which are common in vulgar speech. An exception has been made to this rule wherever an unusual application of a term has been found or where the term should be listed for the sake of completeness.
ADMIRAL | Maid. “In charge of the vessels.”
BATHROOM CHARLIE | Guest who ducks into the bathroom to avoid tipping the bell-boy.
BEAT | Guest who leaves without paying his bill; guest who fails to tip.
TO BEAT | To bilk; to neglect to tip.
BEEF | Bill for the guest’s account; complaint.
BELL | Errand for the bell-boy.
TO BLOW THE JOINT | To leave; to leave without paying.
TO BOUNCE | To pay a bill; to ask for payment.
BOY | Bell-boy; male homosexual.
BROAD | Prostitute; girl.
BROOM, BROOM-PUSH | Lobby porter.
CAVE | Guest room.
TO CLIMB THE CLEATS | To use the stairs.
COMP | Non-paying guest.
CRACK | Prostitute.
CROCK | Bottle; drunken person.
TO CUFF | To borrow; to extend credit.
DEAD HEAD | Non-paying guest.
DEAD ONE | Non-tipping guest.
DEAD WORK | Bell-boy’s work yielding no tips.
DEEMER | One who tips a dime; a dime tip.
TO DIVE | To indulge in unnatural intercourse.
DONNICKER | Public lavatory.
TO DROP THE BOOM | To refuse further credit.
DRUM | Hotel; saloon; cabaret.
FINK | Unpleasant guest.
FISH | Prostitute.
FISH BUSINESS | Pandering.
FLATHEAD | Non-tipping guest.
FRONT | Errand for the bell-boy.
FRONT-BOY | Bell-boy next on call.
FRUIT | Male homosexual.
GASH | Prostitute.
GIRL | Prostitute.
TO GANDER | To examine.
TO GIVE A FAST FRISK | To examine a guest’s room in his absence.
GONNOF | Unpleasant guest.
JOE GOSS | Politician.
GRIFTER | Small time crook.
GUN | Elevator.
UP AGAINST THE GUN | In difficulties.
GUNCEL | Male homosexual.
HEAD END | Same as front-boy.
HOOKER | Prostitute.
HUSTLER | Prostitute.
TO HUSTLE | To make a living at prostitution.
IN | Advantage.
INDOOR AVIATOR | Elevator operator.
JAKE | Drunken person.
JOCKEY | Elevator operator; pimp.
KENNEL | Room.
KEY JAMMER | Key clerk.
TO KITE PAPER | To pass bad checks.
TO LAM | To leave without paying.
LAST BOY | Bell-boy not on call.
LOBBY-LICE | Loafers.
LOBBY LIZARDS | Loafers.
LUG | Same as cuff.
TO MAKE THE JOINT | To defraud a hotel; to go to jail.
McGEE, JOE McGEE | Non-tipping guest.
TO GIVE S.O. THE OFFICE | To apprise S.O. of something.
OLD MAN | The owner.
ON THE BACK | Working as a prostitute.
PAPER-HANGER | Passer of worthless checks.
PLUG | Specialized key used to lock a door in such a way that the regular key will not serve; advertisement.
TO PLUG | To refuse entry to a room, especially for delinquent rent; to advertise.
PLUG-PUSHER | Telephone switchboard operator.
TO TAKE A POWDER | To leave without paying.
QUEER | Homosexual; worthless money.
QUETOR | Twenty-five cent tip; one who tips a quarter.
RAG | Dollar tip; one who tips a dollar.
TO RIDE | To operate a switchboard or elevator; to fornicate.
RUM-DUMB | Person habitually stupid or vague from drink.
SAN QUENTIN QUAIL | Girl below the age of consent.
SCREW | Room-key.
SCUTTLE OF CLINKERS | Pitcher of ice.
SHAMUS | Policeman; house detective.
SHOW | Prospective guest.
SIDE-DOUGH | Bell-boy’s earnings above his salary.
SKIP | Guest who leaves without paying his bill.
SLEEPER | Account carried as active beyond the departure date of the guest.
SLEEP-OUT | Room paid for but not used.
STAIR-CLERK | Bell-boy.
SKY HIGHBALL | Pitcher of ice-water.
STALL | Guest room.
STICK | Same as front-boy.
STIFF | Non-tipping guest.
STUFF | Drugs; liquor.
TO TICKLE THE CLEATS | To climb the stairs.
TOP-SCREW | Pass-key.
TOUCH | An easy job.
TO CUT UP TOUCHES | To exchange reminiscences.
TRAPEZE ARTIST | One who indulges in unnatural intercourse.
TRAY | Cafe order.
TRICK | Prostitute’s job; bell-boy’s watch.
TRUNK-TUMBLER | Baggage porter.
WINO | Drunken person, often rumdumb.
TO WORK THE JOINT | To try to make a pick-up (said of a prostitute).
WRONG | Not worthy of trust.
TO YENTZ | To cheat; to fornicate.
TO YODEL | To indulge in unnatural intercourse.