the who’s who of punter forums

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Once upon time about back when local hookers were just beginning to utilise the internet for business, i met a Annie. She was a tech savvy sex worker with an established online identity who introduced me to a whole new world. She showed me around sex industry forums, review sites and advertising options. It was all new to me and i spent hours reading the various posts and reviews engrossed in this ‘client community’. It felt like i was gaining some kind of inside knowledge about the industry, the workers and our clients. As i read the candid comments by the anonymous ‘punters’ as they refer to themselves, I felt like i was getting a true sense of what clients think, a real insight, a glimpse of our industry from their perspective. I was excited to see if anyone had reviewed me, so i searched my name, but i didnt find any mention. I began to check back regularly looking for my name but i was also curious to read what clients were thinking and saying.

Being the talkative and opinionated whore i am, i didnt last as a voyeur for long. I started joining in with some of the forum conversations, using my work name, keeping my comments sweet and fluffy and trying my best to stay endearing and in character. It wasnt always easy and plenty of times i had to bite my tongue (or sit on my hands as the case maybe) to stop myself getting into heated debate and risk turning potential clients off. I didnt always succeed.

It was only after i began to advertise occasionally online that i got my first review. When I saw my name  I felt almost famous. I read the post and breathed a sigh of relief that it was a positive review. Other clients had commented on the in response, all expressing their interest in seeing me as a result of this recommendation. I felt full of confidence and in demand. I had always had return business and good feedback from my clients in the past but for some reason this felt different, I read it over and over. I had no idea who it was that reviewed me, it could have been anyone and i started me wondering which of my bookings would result in the next review. I kept checking back at the forum to find out the latest gossip and see what they were saying about me. Out of curiosity I read the other workers reviews feeling envious of their outstanding reputations or sympathetic when it wasnt so good.

It wasnt long before i got my second review. It was another good one, followed by more comments from clients who were keen to see me. But reading this review didnt give the same thrill, actually it made me feel uncomfortable. It went into specific gory detail, giving a blow by blow account of his time with me and the service he received. It was almost like reading a tacky story from a picture mag and I couldnt help but cringe. This time i knew which client had written the review because he described the passionate kisses and the extra 10 minutes that I gave him, which was not part of my standard service. That worried me too, I had clicked with this particular client but I didnt want everyone making appointments expecting the same type of service. I realised though, that i was lucky. It could have gone the other way. If he happened to rub me the wrong way, his service might have felt forced and rushed and I could have just as easily gotten a bad review. I thought about the workers who had received bad reviews and felt bad for them. It could happen to any of us, and if a good review has the power to triple my confidence i didnt want to know how it felt to be criticised and insulted in this space.

Sometimes I would read a review that frustrated me. I couldnt believe how indiscreet some clients could be. I would be blinking my eyes with disbelief while i read in detail, how a particular worker at a massage only establishment had offered sex, even though it was against the rules of the business. Or how another worker had offered oral without a condom for extra money even though that was not allowed at the brothel she worked at. These careless clients were so busy gloating about the extra services they got, they didnt seem to understand the potential ramifications for the workers. Apart from having to deal with every man and his dog showing up expecting the same type of extra service described, one of these “good” reviews could result in the worker loosing her job or being ostracised by the other workers.

After that second review, i started getting enquiries from people who made mention of the forum and my reviews. I felt popular and was thankful for the extra business. But every time a forum punter made a booking i felt anxious. Will this be my next reviewer? I began feeling like they were all writing their reviews in their head during the service. Im trying to be sexy as I strip my clothes off and they are judging my body and face, Im rubbing my naked body against them and they are busy scoring my massage, Im trying to be sensual while i go down on them and they are rating my blow job. I was imagining them all scoring each aspect of my looks and service out of 10. It made me self conscious and put me off. Ironically, if i thought they were a potential review writer, their service would suffer.

I still managed to get a couple more good reviews and for a while it seemed like i was the flavour of the month. I was the one to see. But it didnt last. Before long all the forum punter started looking for the next hot tip. The 5 or 6 regular reviewers had seen and written about me already and now all their posts were asking about new recommendations or talking about who new is good and where. And i was old news. Which is fine. I mean at first I was frustrated because I had been reviewed so well, I had done nothing wrong but they still seemed intent on moving on. But I didnt let it get to me, my business wasnt suffering, sure there had been a slight spike during the height of my forum sweetheart days, but it was still steady, no quieter than it had been before the positive reviews. I realised these forum punters were a bonus to my business and not our bread and butter.

A while later I came into contact with a worker who was fairly new to the industry and was incredibly concerned with what they were saying about her online. She, like me, had been the flavour of the month but her stint ended abruptly when she got a nasty scathing review. It really knocked her confidence. I begged her to stop reading, but she couldnt stop worrying about it, trying to figure out how to get back on the good side of the online forum punters. She was beating herself up trying to guess where she went wrong, what she didnt do right, or who was behind the bad review. It really got to her. In her desperation to please them all, she gave them all her power. She began thinking of herself as a failure which affected her business and the whole thing spiraled out of control.

I stopped visiting the forums and searching for my name among the reviews and I became less invested in the punters community. After reading about the situation for sex workers in Hong Kong and just how toxic these review sites can get, I decided they are not healthy for sex workers, and I made a point to avoid them.

I know for some sex workers, avoiding ‘client community’ and review websites is not always possible.  Im sure that for some workers, like those in Hong Kong mentioned in the article above, engaging in these forums is an essential part of their business plan. But for many more of us, its just not necessary. Most of the time, we dont need to hear it. Its not fair or balanced. we have no right of reply, and we dont even know who is behind those screen names! Sometimes its not even a genuine client. It could be our competition, a vengeful ex, or anyone with a grudge. It could be the online equivalent of those douchebags that get their kicks by visiting brothels for intros, just so they can reject all the workers there. We need to remind ourselves that most of our clients arent reading those forums. If we have repeat business, and we are happy with the service we provide its probably best to stay away.

And with that in mind, I invite our clients to consider how they use such forums. I completely understand why you would want to read reviews about a worker before you spent a large amount of money. I do the same with accommodation, with movies, with holidays and restaurants. And i guess i understand why you might want to write a review about your experience good or bad. I have wanted to share my inside knowledge about particular hotels  with other travelers, however, lets be clear, giving my breasts a score out of 10 is not providing inside knowledge. Its also not helpful because its subjective and your taste in breasts is not relevant. I understand that some people might write a review in order to warn others about their dissatisfaction with a service they received. But in the same way as you would if you were sent the wrong meal or over charged in a restaurant, you should give the worker the chance to resolve their mistake before you rush home to tell your murky mates. If you havent given them this option, perhaps dont vilify them online. Tastes and expectations of sex workers vary so much they may not even realise you were not happy.

Given there is probably limited opportunity for clients to share stories about their experiences with sex workers, I guess some people write reviews as an opportunity to debrief or vent. If thats the case why do you have to name the worker, list their contact details,  link to their website etc. And why is there such a tight community of outspoken regular posters on these forums? I cant imagine being as emotionally invested in tripadvisor.com as some of these posters are. Be careful that your online punter gang isnt being used to bully workers or to share information in order to prey on vulnerable workers … “I know she has been desperate to make money lately, if you threaten to walk i bet you could knock $50 off her price” (actual quote i saw not that long ago on a popular punter forum)

Just keep in mind when you are reading or writing reviews in these forums, they have the potential to not just effect our business but they can also seriously effect our self esteem.

And for those of us on the other end of the reviews, remember there is nothing to gain from hearing the boys club compare notes trying to outdo each other. It has been my (limited) experience that we are much better off focusing on the people who are paying us RIGHT NOW.

 

The Madame of the house

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This is a story about the time I jumped the desk to become the Madame of the house. Its about running a business in the South Australian sex industry, about who has control over who and about the myth of easy money. I wrote this for the feminists who believe our industry is dominated by male bosses that make big bucks by controlling female workers. I wrote it for every 5th client I see who has multiplied the money he spends on sex by the hours in a day and the number of rooms in a house and thinks he has hit jackpot. I wrote it for the politicians who worry about organised crime taking over the sex industry. For the wanna be bikies n thugs that fancy playing boss man to some ladies of the night, for the desperado that thinks owning the business will control the girl and for the saviours that honestly believe they would treat their ‘girls’ differently to how we are treated anywhere else. And I wrote it for the sex workers that don’t like their boss, or are sick of having a boss, or think they could do it better, or just feel like trying something different.

This story is from many years ago, sometime after my second brush with law and before my forced break from the sex industry. I was between jobs when a friend of a friend introduced me to Neil who apparently had an interesting proposition for me. I had heard about Neil the wanna be pimp before. I use the word pimp flippantly, I’m not sure Australia has pimps, but if we do, Neil would probably LIKE to be one. He definitely had the sleaze factor to fit the stereotype but lacked the backbone. Neil had a reputation in the industry as a slimy sucker, with more money than sense and a boner for big talking. Needless to say I was curious about his proposal, but wasn’t surprised when he told me he was having another go at opening a brothel. I say another go because, as legend had it, he had tried to open a number of brothels in the past and had failed.

One of the difficulties Neil had always encountered was that he was a man. There is not much of a role for a man in a South Australian brothel, other than client. A lot of female sex workers aren’t that keen on having men hanging around on premises and the cops generally aren’t that thrilled with it either. So Neil had decided he needed to pay a female manager. In addition to that, clients are generally put off if their phone calls or door bells are answered by a man, so Neil would also need to employ a female receptionist. It struck me as ironic that in order to brag about being a big brothel boss, he had to remove himself from any actual brothel bossing. He was forced to downplay his involvement in the brothel, hand over control of the brothel, stay away from the brothel, and give up a decent amount of profit from the brothel, in order for him own a brothel.

But Neil must have been impressing someone with his brothel bragging because he was determined to try his hand at the game again. When he met me, he already had the lease on a town house in the city and had furnished it simply and adequately. He knew a few workers from other brothels who were ready to jump ship and take advantage of the new businesses honeymoon period, one of which was the friend that had introduced him to me. At the time I was in a relationship with one of those partners that made it difficult for me to do sex work, and I had been missing the industry. So when Neil asked me to manage his new business, I was excited about the opportunity to be involved in the industry in a role that I hoped my partner would find more palatable. I accepted the offer immediately.

From the beginning Neil and I disagreed about everything right down to the goofy name he had given the business. I fought for what I considered to be fair pay for all the workers of the business, I pushed for flexible conditions and I advocated for an increased budget for advertising. But Neil was stubborn or stupid and wouldn’t give. He had a bottom line that wouldn’t budge. So for those first few weeks, we did it his way. But it didn’t take long before Neil was again learning that the sex industry is not easy money and opening a brothel is not a get rich quick scheme.

Business was up and down and Neil was becoming anxious. After paying the manager a cut, the receptionist her wage, the rent, the overpriced advertising, the utilities and essential supplies for the business, Neil quickly discovered 50% of a coupla jobs a day doesn’t go far. He responded to his anxiety by reducing the advertising budget further, cutting receptionist wages and introducing ‘shift fees’ for the workers.

But it’s a vicious cycle. Without enough advertising, business became even quieter and without clients bringing in the money, the workers became unhappy. When Neil introduced the shift fee, the workers felt disrespected. Who would be happy about coming to work, sitting around all day for minimal pay with the risk being caught up in a raid AND then being forced to pay an illegal shift fee!??! They began to resent working there and those that stayed were unreliable.

Anyone who fantasises about making easy money off the backs of hookers is going to struggle. Hookers are not that easy. Many of us chose sex work for the flexibility it offers us, so we expect a flexible work place. Many of us chose it for the money we can make, so we expect to make money. Many of us chose sex work because we are good at it, so we expect to be appreciated by our employers. Neil offered his workers none of that.

But an empowered hooker is a powerful force. A hooker that knows there are ten other businesses in the vicinity that need staff (and there usually is) will not settle for anything less than what she expects. A hooker that knows its OUR service that makes the money will expect respect. And if that hooker works for a boss that disrespects her, she will disrespect them right back.

None of Neil’s workers respected him, and the business suffered because of it. One typically quiet Saturday I caught out the receptionist and worker on shift doing something dodgy. I knew they had done two jobs, but the bookwork indicated only one. They had decided to not record the second job, splitting the business’s 50% cut between them. I couldn’t blame them. They were making next to nothing and Neil’s decisions were only making it worse.

I was frustrated. I knew Neil was not meeting his target, or even covering costs, but less advertising and unhappy, unreliable and resentful workers was not helping to bring in the clients or the cash. And the expenses were still mounting.

That’s when I decided to go around him and do what needed to be done. I started taking the money from one job a day off the books and used the money to pay for more advertising. I also introduced a small retainer for the staff to cover lunch and maybe a cabfare, on those occasions when they didn’t do any jobs. And when no workers showed up to shift, I did the jobs.

At the same time Neil seemed to have an epiphany. If he wanted money he needed clients, if he wanted clients he needed workers, and if he wanted to keep the workers, he would have to loosen his rules. Since he couldn’t work himself, he was on his knees. He had no choice but to give the workers the flexibility and work conditions they were demanding. Its not unusual for sex industry employers to take advantage of the criminalised setting by attempting to control us like they would an employee but only giving us the pay and conditions of a contract worker. But in a situation where there was little money to be made, not many would accept a bad boss.

So Neil began to back off and let me take a bigger role in managing the rosters and staffing. Sneaking around behind Neils back doing jobs myself and advertising more, started to pay off and I managed to keep the business afloat a little longer. The staff appreciated the token retainer and the more flexible conditions and when I abolished the shift fee that Neil had introduced the mood shifted.

The flexible, fair and friendly work environment resulted in word of mouth reaching the workers of a brothel that had been closed down recently. It was early one quiet weekend when Winnie, an unremarkable woman in her mid 30’s came in for an interview. Looking like a proper house wife dressed in ladies floral and a perfect perm, Winnie was an unlikely looking hooker, but she bought a huge loyal and very regular client base with her. And the good fortune Winnie bought us did not stop there. She immediately sent for her two friends who she had worked with at the previous brothel. They were impressed by the guaranteed retainer our business offered and were keen to start work straight away. So at that moment, our luck had changed and business looked up. Winnie had swept in with a hoard of clients and a couple of fresh faced workers under wing and saved the day, and the business.

And so it was, that due to the decision to treat our workers well, my ability to perform ALL the duties necessary, and a little bit of good luck, business began to boom. And Neil didn’t know the half of it. His pressure was gone and he was making enough to cover his costs as well as a reasonable profit for doing nothing. He could finaly hold his head up high while he bragged round town about his latest business venture. I kept lying to him about how many jobs we were doing so I could use the extra money to continue paying the staff well, stock the business with nice things, pay for adequate advertising and offcourse I gave myself a bonus.

Everyone was happy, business was flourishing under my management, the workers were all content and making money and even Neil was satisfied. Everyone was happy except my partner. The generous pay packet I was bringing home did not sweeten the deal for them. Running any business is hard work, and clearly a sex industry business is no exception. I was on call 24/7, I was stressed about the threat of police, and I was doing lots of unrostered work relieving staff when needed. Stopping sex work and taking up this new role as manager was meant to appease my partner who was uncomfortable about sex work, but instead I had succeeded in making the sex industry a bigger part of my life than it had ever been before. My partner didn’t know about the occasions when Id provided the service myself in order to keep the doors open, but that didn’t matter. They didn’t want me involved in the industry at all.

My job was beginning to cause problems for my relationship which was probably a good thing. Looking back on this time of my life I’m glad my controlling and jealous partner made my life hell to the point I ended up walking away from the business all together. Because I nearly did something that coulda been mighta not ended well.

Neil was a shmuck. Worse than a shmuck. He was a sleazy roadblock to our success and he made me cringe. I was sick of answering to him, lying to him, even seeing him. Basically, I was sick of having him on the pay role. He was the ‘owner’ of the business, sure, but what exactly did he own? The workers? No, certainly not, most of them at this point had never even met him, and would never work for him under the conditions he wanted me to apply. Did he own the clientele? Definitely not, some clients will perhaps follow a worker from location to location, but generally clients go everywhere and belong to noone. And the clients we got came from the advertising I DID, and it was the happy skilled workers that kept them coming back. Did he own the business name? well, sure, he owned a ridiculous goofy name he chose, but that wasn’t the name that I used in our advertising, or the name that the clients had come to know, or the name that the staff and I used. The name we used, was the name I chose. Did he own premises? Well sure, he had the lease on the townhouse we operated from, but, after being there for 8 months and with a steady stream of business coming and going, it would be time to move on soon before we attracted police attention anyways. So what did he own? Some of the furniture was his, but I had also bought a lot of newer pieces for the business since we opened. And he owned the phone number.

The workers and I began talking about ditching Neil and taking complete control of his business by simply shifting the location to a new premises that was in my name. We even joked about diverting business phone to our newly connected number until Neil noticed and got round to disconnecting it.

A sex industry business, in an illegal setting, is nothing. In an environment where businesses have to move regularly, operate discreetly out of residential properties or under the masquerade of health clinics or massage parlours, a reputation or a name, an address or even a permanent phone number is not something any brothel in South Australia has. Places and faces pop up and get shut down all over town all the time, and while certain individuals may have a reputation in the industry, finding a brothel you like, is largely a case of trial and error for both sex workers and clients. So when people talk about buying a business in our industry, I always wonder what they think they are buying, and when I thought about leaving Neil and setting up shop elsewhere, I didn’t feel guilty.

I started looking for a new place to operate from and found a perfect house. It was fully furnished, in a central location and it oozed executive luxury, which was a long way from the plain and simple townhouse Neil had rented. The landlord approved my application and I was excited, nervous and determined to break away from Neil. But the night before I was due to sign the lease, my partner gave me an ultimatum. My relationship or the sex industry.

To be honest, I didn’t think too long about it. I was so sick of fighting about this, and the stress at home combined with the stress of running a business was getting too much. I allowed my partner to believe that our relationship won and the sex industry lost the competition for my loyalty. In reality, I knew I wasn’t leaving the sex industry, just leaving this role in the industry.

I suddenly realised that while there was some satisfaction and profit in successfully running my own business, it was also hard work, with big legal and financial risks. I reminisced about how easy life was when I just had to suck cocks and count cash. That night spurred on by my partner’s ultimatum, I did a 180. The next day I left the business, its workers and Neil to fend for themselves. And the next week I left my partner and went back to fending for myself.

Soon after I heard that Neil’s business had been visited by police and had been closed down. I felt a mixture of regret and relief about what was and what could have been.

Now when I reflect on the business owners and employers I have known in our industry I notice that those that have survived in the industry the longest are current or ex workers themselves, and I think that’s due to the fact that they willing and able to jump back over the desk and into the bed, in order to keep the doors open when business is tough.

The South Australian sex industry is also made up of lots of collectives of workers and private and independent workers. Having these choices easily available to us is an important aspect in ensuring we have the power to negotiate pay and conditions that suit us.

However, the fear of the police and the law does mean many workers are reluctant to work for themselves, as part of a collective or open their own business. Criminalisation does mean that many workers will not be willing to risk taking out a lease on a property in their own name and instead will opt for working anonymously for a boss. We NEED law reform urgently in this state, but any new laws we consider must support our choice to work in a variety of ways. We do not want laws like those in Victoria that favour big business and make it impossible for the average worker to try out other roles in the industry, or to work for themselves, or that stops a group of sex workers from working together. Any new laws must not take away the power we DO have. That’s one of the reasons I advocate for decriminalisation. It is the only model of law reform that protects and empowers sex workers allowing us to work for ourself, in collectives, or even to open our own small business. It’s the only model that supports our cottage industry here in SA.

But until we get decriminalisation I will continue to giggle and enjoy the stories I hear about bosses who attempt to rip off workers but end up getting ripped off themselves. Because its true that the most successful businesses are those where the workers are happy and respected.

Show me yours and I’ll show you mine…

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I wanted to write something about the human body in all its naked and diverse glory. I wanted to share the unexpected gift that sex work gave me; forgiveness for all my physical imperfections.

Working as a sex worker for many years I have seen naked bodies belonging to my clients, my co workers and myself in all sorts of positions, settings and lighting. Over the years I have become incredibly comfortable with human bodies and getting naked but that wasn’t always the case.

Taking my clothes off and showing my naked body to someone I just met, AND  having the nerve to expect them to pay me for it, was my first and most persistent fear about starting sex work. Before sex work my experience of being naked in front of people had largely been in the dark, after foreplay and with lots of anxiety. Each time i let my mind wander  what it would be like to do sex work, I would get stuck at the bit where I had to take off my clothes.

And it wasn’t just a concern for the first booking, every time I went back to sex work after having a break I would confront the same insecurities. None more pronounced than when I returned after having carried a 9 pound baby full term. I was paranoid about my changed body shape, my new stress lines, decreased sexual confidence, stretched skin, my more mature attitude, everything.

There were times when I tried to hide the bits that worried me. Id leave my skirt on to hide my mummy tummy, id leave shoes on to hide my feet, id wear wigs to change my hair, stockings to cover cellulite, id leave the lights low, id do a combination of all of the above. And other times I adopted a ‘fake it till you make it’ attitude and strut my stuff as if I had not a care in the world.

Each time I got naked and got paid it got easier. To the point I barely think about it anymore. Yeah sometimes I notice clients looking at my stretch marks as they ask how many kids i have. But I have just as many clients who admire my legs or my bum or even my uneven boobs.

The raw commercial reality of selling sex and desire makes it increasingly obvious that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. That phrase gets new depth and credibility when you see its sentiment play out again and again in the intro rooms every night. Sex work taught me that for every body there is someone who thinks its sexy enough to pay for it. Even more than that, its possible to work your insecurity and turn it into your money maker. Your big ass or hairy legs could be the just the thing this client is into.

And its not just my body that I have become comfortable with, but ANY body.

Through my work I have seen bodies of all shapes and sizes with all sorts of bodily functions and dysfunctions. I’ve noticed and critiqued the changes that  occur  to my own body in the  quick glimpses of myself that I catch in the strategically placed mirrors as I massage and make small talk. Ive cleaned up all sorts of messes that  were made by various bodies. Ive learnt when to be gentle and work sensitively with my own and other peoples insecurities and body image issues. I’ve ignored, discussed, nurtured and pleasured every type of physical and sexual hang-up you can imagine.

Sometimes clients try to hide what they think is their abnormality for fear of rejection, humiliation or judgement, and some will be completely upfront in an attempt to avoid experiencing judgement or rejection at a later stage. Either way don’t let it effect your self esteem. Sex workers can decide who they will and wont see as a client for any reason they want. For example some sex workers wont see a client from the same cultural background as them (for confidentiality), some may decline because they suspect those skin tags are actually warts or due to the clients disabilities. Some sex workers may even have a preference for age or any other kind of physical appearance. That’s completely up to them. But there are just as many sex workers who will not see young men, or football players, or clients with lots of muscles, for just as many reasons. And the majority of us only care that our clients are hygienic, respectful and prepared to pay our price.

Ive seen so many different genitals and tummys and feet and chests and bottoms and backs and bodily and sexual function and dysfunction and attitudes and egos and insecurities, penis sizes and shapes, circumcised willys, loose foreskins, foreskins so tight its joined at the top,  pearls and rubies inserted underneath forskins, hard cocks, soft cocks, cocks that go up and down, wet orgasms, dry orgasms, lots of cum, barely any cum, cum that squirts in all directions, warts, skin tags, herpes, sunburn, blotchy skin, shaved skin, hairy bodies, lost hair, big ones, small ones, ultra sensitive and over stimulated, cock rings, female condoms, eczema, swollen pumped up penises, catheters, cum before their pants are off, requires specific actions to make cum, stretched skin, stretch marks, burned skin, bruised, scars, tattoos, dry rough and scaly, super soft and silky, one testicul higher than the other, one ball gone, hanging low or high and tight balls, good kissers, bad kissers, pacemakers, gastro tubes, old, young, all teeth, false teeth, some missing. business suits, surfers clothes, tradie blues, golfing gear, trackies and tshirt, work uniform, jeans and polo, poking out nipples, inverted nipples, guts and man boobs, tupe’s, home d bracelets, medical alert bracelets, piercings, hairy back, muscles, skinny, ugly feet, warts, freckles, missing limbs, differing abilities for fitness and positions, germaphobes, people from many cultures with many religions, scars and birthmarks, noisy bodies, weird sounds, injuries, sores, wounds, sex aids, medications, and I’ve seen all these things across all genders n ages n abilities.

I am always reminded that we are all human. We are all vulnerable. Whether we are being paid to use our bodies to sexually arouse others or if we are paying for our body to be aroused. We all bleed and excrete and have lumps and bumps. And we all have insecurities. Too many of us are too worried about our average and regular bodies. We are are own worst critics.

Once a client

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This piece is an original and true story written by me and recently published in ‘Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each Other’ Edited by David Henry Sterry and R.J. Martin Jnr. Which is the sequal to the equally as awesome ‘Hos Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Love, Money and Sex’. Do yourself a favour!

I met Barry during the time I was working at 333, which was both the name and street number of a typical suburban brothel in Adelaide Australia. 4 bedrooms, one bathroom, client waiting room, ‘girls’ (staff) room, receptionist and us sex workers. It was clean, safe, sparse and far from high class. I was a 25 year old single mother and uni student with average looks and average attitude, dressed in a wig, a hooker dress and trashy stay up stockings. I was half way through a fourteen hour shift one Sunday evening when Barry rung the brothel doorbell. Brushing our hair and applying another layer of lipstick the three workers on shift clip clopped in our high heels one at a time into the waiting room where Barry sat. We introduced ourselves, smiled, sussed him out, did our best to impress and then clip clopped back to the staff room. It is impossible to predict which worker a client will choose so I always got a bit of a thrill when the receptionist called my name, especially when it was a slow night.

Barry booked me for an hour and I provided my service in one of the dimly lit, no frills brothel rooms. An hour can be a long time to spend shut away with a stranger in four small walls especially if you don’t get along. Fitted out with nothing but a double ensemble bed, a bedside table, a clock radio and a wooden chair time could drag and those rooms could end up feeling claustrophobic. But Barry and I clicked and the hour passed quickly. The sex was over early in session and we spent the rest of the hour lying around naked telling silly stories. Just before the hour was up Barry got aroused again and he happily offered to extend the booking. During the second hour I got to hear Barry’s story; he worked out at the mines in central Australia and had a fly in/ fly out contract working solidly for two and a half weeks and then having ten days off. He came to Adelaide during his downtime and spent all his money on 5 star accommodation and partying.

Still in the tiny room the second hour went by quickly and easily. We were having fun and Barry didn’t want to say goodbye, so with only 3 more hours left until I finished work he decided to pay the fee to book me out for the rest of my shift. We spent the whole night in that room fucking, laughing and talking. I can’t deny I was attracted to Barry’s obvious disposable income, and I was flattered that he was willing to spend so much of it on time with me. I also enjoyed his company and his sense of humour so at the end of the 5 hours I agreed to meet him after work and hang out in the bar of his hotel – for free.

Mixing business with pleasure is widely warned against in many businesses and the sex industry is no different. Infact in the circles I mixed and worked in it was considered a big no no. My friends would have called me crazy and my boss would have sacked me, so I kept it to myself.  I was crossing a lot of lines. I might have spent hours alone naked in a room with this guy but he didn’t know my real name and he hadn’t seen the real me or even my real hair! I surprised myself when without too much thought I agreed to meet him in the lobby of his hotel. Nothing but the time and place had been confirmed or negotiated and I felt vulnerable but excited.

After spending five hours with me, Barry left the brothel and went back to his hotel while I packed up my work gear, collected my pay and headed home. Once home I had about half an hour to pretty myself up before calling a taxi into town. I noted in my head that the taxi was was going to be at my expense and I felt a bit annoyed with myself for not only agreeing to give away my time for free but also spending my own money in order to do it. Then I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had made good money on this night, largely because of Barry.

I let the butterflies take over. What will I wear? He only knows me as the hooker in a trashy short dress and too much cleavage. What I choose to wear will represent the real me, and what about my hair! He only knew me with the sexy sleek stylish wig hairdo, but my real hair underneath was more like pink rock chick. I was all nervous and excited. I showered, put on my expensive perfume and my matching girly undies and bra, the ones I kept only for my personal life. Then I put on my jeans, sneakers and hoodie. I looked in the mirror and tried to see myself through his eyes. I looked like a more wholesome version of the person he met in the brothel hours before, more like the girl next door than sultry sex kitten. With just a brush of mascara and lip gloss, my crazy hair looking cute and my clothes comfortable, I still felt sexy with my favourite underwear and scent on my skin.

I hoped Barry appreciated that he was getting the real me, in my real clothes. I hope he knew that he was lucky. I wanted him to understand the significance. But when I met up with him he didn’t seem concerned with my changed appearance one way or the other.

That night was fun; we partied with his money until it was time for me to return to my child and real life. We made plans to catch up next time he was in town, and then the time after that. This hotel room romance continued for only a few weeks before Barry made me an offer. He wanted commitment, he wanted me to stop working and he was prepared to put his money where his mouth was. I didn’t want to give up sex work but if he was prepared to financially support me I would consider it, who wouldn’t be tempted by not having to go to work right? He told me he was sick of hotel rooms and after working hard all month he wanted to come back to a home. He offered to rent a nice house for me and my son so that he could stay there during his downtime. It sounded perfect to me, ten days of fun while he was in party mode followed by twenty days of the house to myself while he went back to work 400 km away.  I jumped at the offer.

For the first time our fling shifted from hotel rooms and bars into the public and domestic domain. We looked at houses together and visited friends, he spent time with my son and he met my mum. Everything went well and our new home was gorgeous. He was happily paying all the rent because it was still cheaper than the expensive hotels he used to pay for and I got to live somewhere beautiful rent free. We spent his first visit home playing house; I cooked, he bought me flowers, we cuddled on the sofa and watched movies. It was fun. His second time home was less enchanting. He was less appreciative and I was less excited by cooking. We bickered for the first time but when we kissed each other goodbye I had hope that next time would be better.

While he was gone things were good. We talked on the phone and sent emails, he paid my bills and we missed each other. But when he returned it didn’t seem so much fun anymore. Real life got in the way of the sex, romance and indulgence that had bought us together. We did dishes instead of ordering room service. We sat on the couch and read the paper instead of rolling around on the crisp white sheets of hotel beds. We talked about bills and shopping lists instead of fantasies and fears. Once domesticity set in our true colours began to shine. I had thought that all those hours spent alone together surrounded by four walls would have given us an opportunity to really get to know each other.  I thought all that talking and laughing and exploring and confessing would have meant I understood what I was getting myself into.  But it was the outside world, the real life pressures and the daily distractions that really tested our compatibility, or lack of.

We continued our relationship together for about six months but it felt like 6 years. By the end of it I was bored and he was demanding. I was broke and he was sick of paying for my expensive phone bills. We still had fun but the shine had worn off and there were lots of times when we would argue or just ignore each other.

Instead of missing him I was happy when it was time for him to go, but we both pretended to be sad. We had settled into the house, my son and I were happy in our new home and there was no way I could afford the rent by myself. I had a part time job but Barry had made me give up sex work so my income was small. I wanted to go back. I missed the money, the independence of making my own money, the other workers, the attention from clients and the excuse to wear trashy dresses and high heels. I wanted out of this deal with Barry and sex work was going to be my way out. I fantasised about returning to work for a few weeks but I didn’t take it any further initially because I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea and I didn’t want to hurt Barry. During his next visit home I tried to reconnect with him but he seemed so distant. Then he bluntly told me he wanted me to ‘make my hair normal’ and I knew for sure that we were not suited. I liked my cute pink hair and if there is one thing being a hooker has taught me, it’s that everyone is someone’s type. I didn’t want to stick around with Barry if I wasn’t his type. And then when I thought about it I realised he wasn’t really my type either, he had a temper and he was often quite chauvinistic. We spent the rest of his stay going through the motions until he left early. He always left at 4pm after making a big song and dance about how much he was going to miss me and he always wanted sex before he left because it was a while in between. But this time he left at 2pm with barely a kiss goodbye saying that he was tired and wanted to get back in time for an early night.

Now it was obvious to me that leaving early wasn’t about him needing sleep.  He was always tired when he headed back to work but that had never stopped him from dragging the process out as long as possible. I didn’t know why he was leaving early this time, I just presumed he had come to the same conclusions about our relationship as I had, but I didn’t dwell on it. I didn’t really care what his reasons were I was just relieved to get my house back two hours earlier than expected so I could plot my escape.

I had made my mind up, it was over. I still didn’t know how I was going to tell Barry but first things first, I needed to make some money. I was going to go back to sex work and pay my own rent and then I would call Barry and tell him of my decision. Sometime before his next visit.

When Barry had been reading the paper earlier that day I had noticed the sex industry add pages in the classifieds section.  As soon as he walked out the door I poured myself a wine, grabbed the paper and sat down ready to find myself a job in a brothel. I flicked through looking for the ‘adult relaxation’ section. I knew there would be plenty of ‘looking for staff’ adds amongst the columns and columns of names, numbers and promises of a good time. I looked through the paper three times, but I couldn’t find the page with the adds. They had been there before, I had seen them. I found the section and page number listed in the contents table…. Page 16. I turned the pages but page 16 was not there. On further inspection I realised that page 16 had been removed. Presumably by Barry. Barry who had left my house two hours earlier than necessary, without hassling me for sex, with a list of local hookers and their phone numbers.

The penny drops, but I am not mad, instead I see my out. The irony of catching my boyfriend sneaking around with hookers only because I was trying to sneak around and be a hooker myself was not lost on me. I was just annoyed with myself for crossing the line with a client in the first place. I should have known better. I am payed to be the professional. My client should be able to fall in love all they want, safe in the knowledge that their sex worker will not let them take it any further. But I let us both down.  If I had have maintained my professional boundaries Barry could still be paying me by the hour instead of sneaking round paying someone else by the hour – and we would all be happy.

Dear SA, can we have the bill?

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There is a new bill before parliament which seeks to decriminalise sex work in South Australia. The ‘Statutes Ammendment (Decriminlisation of Sex Work) Bill 2013′ was introduced to the House of Representaives by Steph Key on the 16th of May 2013 and unlike the previous bill, I am thrilled with this one.

This bill is pure decriminalisation with the exception of the clause that states sex workers and clients must be over 18 and the addition of ammendments to the anti discrimination act and spent conviction act which will make it illegal to discriminate against a sex worker and mean existing sex work convictions would be wiped from our records.

Decriminalisation basically it means that all the offences related to sex work will be deleted and no new special laws will be added, allowing sex workers, sex work businesses and the industry to be governed by all the laws and regulations that govern every other citizen, worker, business and industry. Under a decriminalised model police would be there to protect us, not bust us and we would be able to access all the protections that other workers can access. Creating special laws just for sex workers means we are often discriminated against, treated differently, still have the police trying to catch us out doing something illegal, have OH&S and industrial regulations contained in criminal codes with criminal punishments as opposed to being dealt with industrially like other workers and industries. Decriminaisation ensures that sex workers are not subject to special laws that were often made for political not pragmatic reasons and then shelved for another hundred years, rather decrimnalisation means sex workers are covered by the same sophisticated protections and reguations as other workers which are reviewed and updated regularly (such as industrial relations and OH&S regulations).

This bill will mean that no sex worker is a criminal. It means that all sex workers should be able to call police without fear. It means that potential offenders think twice before committing crimes against sex workers. It means sex workers have access to oh&S standards. It means sex workers are less isolated and have less barriers to accessig assistance when they need it. It means sex workers can put safe work practices before police evasion tactics. It means sex industry business can be more open about their business activities and provide more specific tools and resources to assist sex workers and clients stay safe. It means sex workers can be clearer with potential clients and employers about their boundaries. It means sex workers who have criminal records will no longer need to worry that this will effect them in finding work outside the industry. It means sex workers do not have to worry about getting a criminal record or having negative contact with police. It means that instead of sex workers breaking the law, it will be the people who discriminate against us who are breaking the law which is a massive shift and i can only imagine the long term impacts of this on the self esteem of sex workers.

Decriminalisation is best for everyone. There are some brothel owners and employers who would have preffered there to be tighter controls on sex workers and businesses so as to limit competition and to maximise the power they can have over workers, but ultimately the day to day work lives will not change for people in the sex industry (or outside it) except where we need assistance we will have places to get it. Decriminalisation is not a magic wand and will not solve all our problems, but it levels the playing feild. It gives us somewhere to start. It gives us the right to fight for our rights. Decriminalisation is what sex workers around the world have been demanding for decades.

New South Wales and New Zealand have already decriminalised sex work and have reported successes for sex workers health and safety, and maybe South Australia will be the third place in the world to give sex workers equal rights. The current bill will be voted on following its second reading on the 20th of June. If the vote is successful the bill will go to committee stage, where ammendments can be put forward before it gets voted on a second time. If passed by the lower house, the bill then needs to be passed (by a similar process) in the upper house.

This is a really big deal. Maybe sex workers in South Australia will finally be able to work with dignity choice and legal protection, maybe our laws will be featured in power point presentations in conferences everywhere, maybe all the work of South Australian sex worker activists past and present will have positive outcomes for sex workers here and internationally.

But now we need your help. South Australia was once considered a world leader in progressive law reform, but this is no longer the case. Our leaders are scared of controversy, they are scared that you wont vote for them if they support these laws. If we are going to get this bill past, we need you to tell your local MP that you support us, and you support decriminalisation and you want them to support this bill.

Please consider supporting us by:

Signing the petition

Writing to your local MP

Meeting with your local MP

Attending the rallys

Writing letters to the editor and commenting on onine media

Getting in touch with SIN or SWAGGERR to find out how you can help

Liking the facebook pages to keep informed, including the new one ‘decriminalise sex work in south australia’

This is not just an issue for sex workers past and present and in the future and our friends and family, it is an issue for all South Australians who care about equity and social justice. Please get behind us, We cant do this alone!

Dear South Australian MPs and sex worker allies

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Dear Ms. Key, Ms. Gago, members of the South Australian parliament, people with influence and anyone following the latest attempt at sex industry law reform in this once progressive but now somewhat stale state.

Please stop it! You’re making it worse!

You may think you’re doing the right thing but The bill you’re debating has been cut and paste so much in order to appease and play politics that what remains is not workable or fair and will not improve the lives of sex workers or anyone else. It’s not a game of bluff, nor is it a matter of compromise. The bill you are considering is a big step backward.

This is ridiculous. Why are politicians sitting around and deciding how sex workers should best practice safe sex. Why should they be able to criminalise some consensual sex acts between adults just because there is payment involved? Why do they get a say on how adults are allowed to negotiate sex and money. And why do we need to be kept 500 meters away from schools? Is it me who is the danger to children and does that include my own children? Or is it my client who is the dangerous monster? What is it about paying an adult for a sexual service that you think has anything to do with kids at school? What exactly are you scared of? And we’re not talking about inappropriate signage or amenities, because that is covered by different laws. And frankly, sex workers and our clients are generally discreet. You don’t even know that I’m selling sex from my home right next door to yours! And why is no sex work allowed near churches? Who is that clause designed to protect anyway? And why bother even worrying about schools and churches when the bill gives all the power for approving any kind of sex industry business to the councils, who have made it clear that they will never support brothels! So even if I tried to comply with this new law and secured a suitable location and put in a planning application, it’s going to be rejected on moral grounds and I will be back to square one. In reality councils will have about as much luck of stopping sex work from occurring as they do now. And just like now, most will be sex industry businesses will be forced to remain unregulated and underground.

And why is it anyone else’s business who I entertain in my own home or how they compensate me? Can you see through walls? And what’s the deal with all the hate on sex workers who solicit in public places? What exactly is so offensive about a woman standing on the street at night time anyway? And I don’t believe that she is propositioning your children, because it’s unlikely your children could afford it. Personally I feel more uncomfortable walking past a building site in the broad daylight than I do going to the pizza shop on Hanson Road.

And why should we have to deal with police on regular basis. I have had a lot of different jobs in my time, and never did the police come and check to see if I was bending at the knees when lifting nursing home residents, or displaying a slippery when wet sign when I mopped the floors of woollies. Why are we still being treated like this? Sex workers are not criminals. Stop making us into them. In some states of Australia it is illegal to discriminate against sex workers but the bill you are debating is discriminatory. It treats sex workers differently to other workers in comparable industries and it discriminates against different ways working in the sex industry. But even less forgivably, it will make our lives harder, not better.

Yes it’s true that most sex work in South Australia is currently criminalised. And that most of us already dodge laws, deal with police, and work underground. It is true that our laws are the oldest in the country. But please don’t change them just for the sake of it. Do not change them unless you are changing them for the better. Sex workers know what we need, its decriminalisation. Every credible report from the last 10 years names decriminalisation as the only model that will promote sex workers health and safety. Every state and Territory in Australia has a different model of regulation for the sex industry and if you need any more proof that the only workable model we know of to date is decriminalisation, all you have to do is speak to sex workers about our experiences of working across Australia. NSW and NZ have successfully decriminalised sex work for more than a decade. In those places sex workers are not criminals. We have full access to all the services and structures, protections and rights that every other worker does, and employers have the same obligations as any other employer. Sex workers all over the world are begging for decriminalisation. Its not rocket science.

In stark contrast Victoria and Queensland have different versions of licensing mixed with criminal laws that govern various aspects of the industry. Special bodies have been set up to monitor the laws and the police are still heavily involved in regulating sex workers work spaces. Not only have those laws been ineffective but they have also been expensive and dangerous.

When I went to Victoria to work I had very little option but to work in a brothel for a boss under their rules. I wasn’t able to work for myself because the only way I could advertise was to first register myself as a prostitute with the government. This process is expensive and it is unclear who has access to those licensing records or if it is possible to get your name removed from the list. Even if I was willing to buy a licence and register, I would still not have been allowed to have the clients visit me in my hotel or home. The law states that I was only allowed to visit them at their home or hotel. So I worked for a brothel. But before I was allowed to work, I was first forced to have a full medical examination, as is the law. The nurse visited me at the brothel and took swabs while I lay in an undignified way on the brothel bed. The nurse insisted I needed an anal swab too, even though I objected and told her that I did not provide anal services to my clients. But unlike when my clients ask for this service, this nurse was not going to take no for an answer and she unconsentually and unnecessarily stuck her swab in my ass.

If I didn’t want to work for a boss in brothel conditions and I wasn’t in a position to register myself with the local authorities, my only option was to solicit publicly. Street based sex work is illegal in Victoria, but obviously still exists and in larger proportions than here in Adelaide. Victorian police have taken to dealing with this by placing female police officers posing as sex workers on the streets in order to bust potential clients. What criminalising our client’s means is that sex workers are pushed further underground in order to ensure their clients safety and the booking. It means the possibility that only the clients with nothing to loose will be willing to take the risk of visiting sex workers who publicly solicit. Essentially it decreases the amount of “respectable” clients willing to see street based sex workers and leaves us more vulnerable and fewer options.

Another huge slap in the face was working recently in  QLD. I worked alone from a hotel which is legal as long I work completely alone. Not even with a friend. This is obviously not ideal, but it’s workable. Until I found out that I also can’t work in same hotel as any other sex worker. I can’t do doubles with another worker unless the client organises it. Infact I cant even have any friends who are sex workers. I was told to be careful even having lunch with another worker whilst answering my work phone. It felt crazy. I got the distinct feeling that I was viewed as a piece of property by QLD government. As a sex worker in QLD I must belong to one of the only 25 government approved registered brothels in the state or I must completely exile myself from the rest of the industry. I must rely only on my clients or my employer for support. And on top of all this, they have entire sections of the police force dedicated to ringing up private workers and trying to convince them to offer a double service or a blow job without a condom, so that they can bust them. All in the name of protecting sex workers.

And then I come home to Adelaide where the old and unworkable laws are……. well, old and unworkable. I can advertise and work for myself in ways that I choose with minimal difficulty. I can work with friends as a collective, I can work from home, I can work for a boss or opportunistically. Its all equally illegal, and easy to remain anonymous, unless I’m a victim of crime and need police assistance, or unless I’m working in a brothel that police have singled out for a raid, or unless I don’t know my rights, or unless I haven’t yet learnt the police evasion strategies. Our current laws are bad, but the new laws being proposed will only make our lives harder. They won’t work and rather than address community concerns they will highlight them. The issue of sex work regulation will not be resolved until we get sensible fair and workable law reform.

We already have sophisticated systems to deal with all areas of work, industry, OH&S, public health, zoning, amenities, child protection, industrial rights and any other areas of concern. Stop with the politics and just let us access them already.

A journey out of town

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After writing about the time I was dramatically evicted from the country town I was working in, I wanted to write more about my regular trips out of town. For a few years that was the way I worked. I would travel to some rural location, work solidly  for a couple days and return home cashed up. Sometimes I would go to different places but mostly I worked in the same town. It started with an agreement I made with my partner of the time. The only way he was going to be ok with me doing sex work is if I left town to do it.

So when a friend in the industry gave me a tip that there was decent cash to be made in a town few hours drive away, i decided to give it a go. I discussed it with my partner, chose a date and started making plans. As the time got closer, I became more nervous for different many reasons; was I going to make money? What if I lost money? Would it be worth the time it was taking from my busy life? Will I feel differently about the work after not having worked for a while?  Would I hate this particular way of working? Am I going to hate being stuck with a driver in a country town, miles from home? Will my partner act weird towards me when i got home? Would he think the money was worth it? Would there be any trouble from the police in town, or the hotel management or clients or the locals? I had all this on my mind as I planned my trip. All my decisions were based on attempting to minimise my financial and personal risk.

I ran an advert in the personals section of the local town paper the week before I was going to be there asking people to book in advance, as well as for the week that I was there. I never count the money before it’s in my hand but I was hoping to get an idea as to whether it was going to be worth my while or not by asking for advance bookings and i figured that giving the potential clients early notice of my trip couldn’t be a bad thing either. When planning future trips I decided to make it a rule that unless I had 10 confirmed bookings, I wouldn’t go. Often one or two would  cancel when I was already in town but I could usually pick a few new ones up too.

For this first trip I decided to use a driver. For the following trips I ditched the driver in favour of going with another worker, or even by myself but this time I wanted the security of having someone with me and I wasnt sure if business was going to be good enough to take another worker.

The day came, my driver arrived and we hit the road. I had my two phones, one for work, one for personal, a piece of paper with the details of the 12 confirmed bookings I had for the weekend, my little handbag with condoms, lube, massage oil, and a mini vibrator, a backpack with a little black dress, heels, stockings, trackies, a T shirt, make up, and toiletries. We drove for hours, telling each other stories and listening to music.

My driver was a friend of a friends, he had a nice car and he turned out to be very efficient and useful. He drove me all the way there and back, ran my errands, provided my security and even answered my phone and took bookings while i was busy. In return I paid him a flat fee plus expenses. It felt very luxurious having my own employee.

In trying to reduce the likelihood of contact with the police or being kicked out of my hotel, I decided to do mostly escort bookings where i visited the clients and only had the occasional client visiting me in my hotel. This is not my proffered way of working and in this town it was worse than usual. The town had had a big influx of workers and not enough accommodation to keep up so as a result I was visiting clients in caravan parks, share houses and on mattresses on the floor. I would have much preferred the clients visit me where I was in control of my surroundings but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and I didn’t want my first trip to end disastrously. I kept discreet, had security measures in place and charged $50 more than I normally did.

I arrived in town at around 2pm and had 2 clients booked in straight up. As we got into town, I called my first client to let him know I was close and my driver pulled into a petrol station so I could use the bathroom and freshen up. It was going to be my first client in a while, I was in a new town, visiting them at their house. I didn’t know what to expect. As I knocked on his door and introduced myself, it all came back to me, like riding a bike. I took the cash and did my thing, in and out and on to the next one. They were not easy but not difficult either. I spent the full hour massaging, talking, sucking, fucking, washing and dressing. No early minutes for me. But I jumped into the car at the end of the second job happy that I had already made enough money to cover my expenses and I was ready to work hard and go home with a fortune.

My driver had taken a booking for me while I was in the second job, this time the client was going to come to my hotel room. I had an hour to spare so I relaxed and showered in my room. All the money I made from here on in was profit and it was only 4pm. I had shaken off the nerves of seeing my first client and my phone was ringing hot. I was trying not to get too excited about money i hadn’t even made yet.

I set my room up and got myself ready for my client. My driver was waiting to make sure i was ok, and then he was going to get me dinner. While waiting for my client to arrive I answered my phone and filled up my booking sheet between 8pm and midnight. I was feeling good that i was going to make money and I still had a couple of hours free straight after the next client.

The 6 – 8pm time slot stayed empty and i remembered it’s always quiet during that time wherever you are, it’s dinner time. It didn’t matter though because I was busy the rest of the evening, finishing up at 1am, exhausted and cashed up. I soaked myself in a hot steamy shower, put on my trackies and then rolled around in my money. I am not even joking. When i publish my book, you will see the photos of me rolling in $50 notes.

I had two bookings for first thing in the morning, one with a client from the night before and the other one was in the cabin of a truck. The client was too nervous to come to my hotel because he thought that people would see him and know he was visiting a hooker which is a common concern in a small town. I often wondered when i went out for food or through the drive through, if people knew i was the hooker that was advertising in their paper. Especially after i had been to the same town a few times.

By the time I had finished the truck job it was nearing check out time and i had to make a decision. I still had bookings for the next night but only a couple, and nothing during the day. Over breakfast I considered my options, should I  to stay on for another night or call it quits and head home. I had made nearly 2 grand and I was exhausted. I decided to leave on a high. I checked out of the hotel and did one last escort job on the way out of town.

The drive home felt so amazing. A renewed feeling of whore power! After 2 years of struggling on part time minimum wage, all  I had done was outlay $50 in advertising plus a spare sim card and i was able to make 2 grand in just over 24 hours with very little planning.

I was tired all over but i felt satisfied. I rewarded myself with a facial, massage and manicure and pedicure when I got home.

Over the coming years I got to know the town, the clients, the hotels, the take away shops, the bars, the pay weeks, and the routine. It wasnt always as financially rewarding as the first time, but it was successful for many years. It was always hard work but it was always the same amazing feeling on the drive home. Feeling powerful, feeling satisfied, feeling the big wad of cash..

Easy cum, easy go..

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Money! Money! Money!

Thousands of words in this blog and not enough about money! Too much research into sexual health in the industry and not enough about the economics. Sex work is work, like all work we choose it for many reasons, but like all work, a big factor in those reasons is often our personal financial considerations. For me the primary reason I choose sex work over other work options is the autonomy it offers me. I can work for myself with little overheads.. so I do. I would still choose sex work even if it paid the same or slightly less than other work options. But if it were to pay considerably less, sex work would no longer become an attractive option to me. Like in any industry, obviously, money comes into it.

Due to sex work being so incredibly stigmatised and not to mention criminalised, it’s likely that I may never have entered the industry if it weren’t for economic reasons, I needed the money. I choose to keep coming back for so many more reasons but to begin with, it was almost purely economics.

Yet all the surveys being distributed from naive and voyeuristic psychology students asking about our daddy issues and drug use histories trying to figure out how someone could consider selling sex, rarely ever ask about my economic situation, or my spending habits, my savings and investments. I’m not talking about questions like ‘how much money do you spend on drugs?’ ‘was your mother on welfare?’ or ‘hookers should pay tax’, I mean, meaningful enquiry into the economic situation of sex workers before, during and after working in the sex industry and the barriers for sex workers becoming financially secure etc.

Sex work is not a gold mine, most of us are not making more than we can spend, but a lot of us are making enough and not enough of us have as much as we could. I’m not saying we should all aspire to have 3 properties and an investment portfolio, or that some of us don’t already, or whether acquiring wealth is even a worthy goal to have, and I dont want to imply that I think there is any particular ‘good’ way to use our money. This post is more about representation. I am suggesting based on my own limited experiences that, compared to people on similar incomes in other indsutries, there arent enough rich hookers.

And I wonder how much stigma and discrimination has to do with it. Do sex workers’ financial situations in decriminalised Sydney more accurately represent their income than sex workers in criminalised South Australia. Or for an even starker contrast, what would a comparison of sex workers financial situations and the level of stigma and criminalisation that they live with globally look like.

I’ve never been good with money, but then I never had money before I was a hooker, so who knows which came first. My parents weren’t good with money either, probably has more relevance to my career choices than the fact that my father didn’t love me enough. Not as interesting to psychology students though.

I think sex work has given me less respect for money, the money I earn in sex work doesn’t always equate to the effort I put in. I could get paid $700 for a two hour booking and then go home straight after it, or I could sit around all day answering the phone for 12 hours and only do one half hour job for $150. Sometimes its easy come easy go. You can’t plan for it, so it’s easier to spend. Common phrases that run through my mind are ‘oh, well I might not have done that last job, I didn’t know i was going to get that booking, so it doesn’t really matter if i spend that money on… (insert vice of choice)’ or ‘ohh, i can just work an extra day and make that money back, no worries’. It sure does make it easier for money to slip through my fingers, but it must be similar to any independent contract worker in any industry.

Being paid daily and even hourly doesn’t help either. Dribs and drabs of money is much easier to be irresponsible with than large sums once a week. I’m not complaining though, I love dribs and drabs of money. And in an industry where your boss’s business could be shut down by the cops any second, who would tolerate having their pay withheld for a week!

Perhaps I’m just too generous. Having come from not much money, a lot of my non hooker friends still don’t have  lots of money. I don’t know about you, but when im going out for dinner, I don’t want to go alone, so I might pay for my friends. If im doing well enough to be able to afford a holiday, I don’t want to go alone, so I might take my sister. Are other hookers as generous?

On the other hand there have been times when I led a double life, no one knew that I was a sex worker and so I almost had to be careful to not have too much money. There was never any  pressure or expectation for me to be ready for home ownership when I was meant to be making $15 an hour as a waitress.

And when I’m not telling anyone about my job or the income, who do I talk to for financial advice? It’s not like financial institutions are marketing their services to me. And working somewhere or somehow in a criminalised way, like many of us are it’s hard to know where to begin, who to trust, and whether its even worth it. Paying super seems a pretty far stretch for a lot of us.

Maybe there is an element of dirty money? I don’t think this plays into it for me at all. But maybe for some people, especially those new to the industry, there is an element of perceived risk taking or doing the wrong thing which impacts on the way people view the money they make from it? Like internalised stigma stuff. Or maybe not? I’m not sure.

For me there is an element of freedom that I get from sex work which impacts on the way I spend money. I feel like sex work allows me to live in the moment, and I spend accordingly. Live day to day, place to place, no savings but confident Ill have a roof over my head. Not to mention sex work makes me a rule breaker, I already live on the fringes. Avoiding authority, not much in my real name and I get paid and play with cash. Paying tax on my sex work money is a relatively new concept and I actually have no idea what an investment portfolio is.

It’s hard to build assets in a criminalised environment when you know that the cops could possibly seize everything you have as proceeds of crime, or even worse, here in SA you could be charged with illegal possession if the cops can prove you made your money from sex work.

Then it seems that there are some people out there who see us as easy targets as well. watching us making money, busy justifying the reasons they should take it from us. Sometimes they see it as easy money, sometimes its jealousy, sometimes they convince themselves that we owe it to them. And i bet some people are counting on the belief that lots of us are not in a position to do anything about it when they rip us off. We might be scared to go to the cops, we might not know who to tell, we might not have any proof that we had the money in the first place, we might be scared of blowing our cover.

I guess another consideration is that due to the stigma and criminalisation and the discrimination we face from others, sex work is not always seen as a career by many, sometimes it’s just something to do right now. There isn’t much incentive to plan ahead if its seen as a short term option.

I guess for some there is the belief that the bigger the risk of discrimination that you face in doing sex work, the better the rewards should be, but for myself I feel like the more out and proud of my work I become, the greater my expectation that I’ll have access to the same financial security as other employed/ independent workers on decent incomes. I feel entitled to my seat at the grown ups table, and I want this money to work for me…

So you’ve met a hooker…

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So you’ve met a sex worker. Maybe someone has recently “come out” to you, maybe you met a sex worker at a party, maybe a friend or lover has just told you about their sex work or maybe you’re a social worker and one of your clients is a sex worker. You might not be sure how to react, you might have some questions or concerns or you might not have an issue and want to let the person know. Maybe you have seen the Shit they say to sex workers video and the Shit they say to strippers video and you don’t want to be a cliché. This post will help guide you through those first few moments after someone tells you they are a sex worker. Take note because you never know when you are talking to a hooker.

First of all, stay calm. If the idea of sex work shocks, excites or upsets you, just relax. Don’t say something dumb in the heat of the moment. Give yourself a moment to compose yourself and  consider this post before you open your mouth. If you are not at all shocked or concerned either way, then feel free to act normally.

Take a moment now to think about every stereo type you can imagine relating to sex workers. Think of the pretty woman, and the bodies in dumpsters on Law and Order, of high-class call girls, and desperate drug dependant street workers, about sex slaves, pimps and dangerous clients about sex workers childhoods, their reasons for working, their lifestyle. Every stereotypical image you can think of and then some.

I want you to understand that every single time we tell someone that we are a sex worker, we do so knowing the person we tell may have one or all of these assumptions about sex workers. When we tell someone we are a sex worker we risk having  them instantly apply and compare any or all of those stereotypes to us. Imagine how we might feel when we disclose our job to you, or anyone. If its hard for you, it’s hard for us.

Its important that we see that our job doesn’t change anything for you. That you don’t presume anything about us just because we are sex workers. That you don’t judge us. If you want to respond in ways that demonstrate this, here are some hints from my personal perspective:

1. Just because I tell you about my job, doesn’t mean I have told everyone else. Please don’t parade me around the party expecting me to play the role of happy hooker for the amusement of all your friends.

2. Our job is not inherently violent, it is not an accepted part of our job, and many of us work our entire careers without experiencing workplace violence. Some of us have experienced violence at work, but it’s polite to wait for appropriate safe and supportive spaces before bringing up sensitive past events. What I’m trying to say is when I tell you I am a sex worker, don’t let the first or second or even third question be ‘so, how often do you get hit’.

3. Sex work doesn’t always include penis and vagina penetration. Sex work can be anythingand everything related to sex. Massage with a happy ending, stripping, bondage and discipline services or any number of things. Dont presume you know about the service I provide unless I tell you.

4. Don’t presume anything about my sexuality, my sexual boundaries, my sex drive or my sexual preferences. The sex I do for work is work and is not necessarily related to the sex I do for pleasure. Me being a sex worker doesn’t preclude me from also being in a monogamous relationship, or being celibate, or dating, or being fussy, or being promiscuous or being gay, or being sexually adventurous or being shy in the bedroom. All on my own terms. And just because I sell sex at work, doesn’t mean I’m always working or that I will sell it outside of work, and it doesn’t mean I’ll fuck you. But it doesn’t mean I wont either.

5. No it’s not OK to ask me if I was abused as a child, If my dad loved me, if I have any self-esteem, or what I spend my money on. All I did is tell what job I do, not ask for a psychological/financial assessment. My relationship with my parents is hardly relevant, I can bore you with my childhood stories some other time when we all start talking about childhood and daddy issues. My bills and finances are none of your business and my personal stuff is my personal stuff. Right now I’m trying to tell you about my job, and I am judging your reaction. These questions show me you are looking for reasons and needing an explanation or excuse. Your questions may seem innocent and harmless but have a look at your assumptions behind them or  at the  least remember the stereotypes that i deal with and  understand how it makes me feel when you respond to my disclosure with questions like that.

6. If you have known other sex workers, feel free to tell me about it, particularly if you hold those sex workers in high regard. I don’t need to hear about your ex who was a hooker who you hate or about some hooker you saw in a movie who was hot. Dont bunch us together or pretend you know anything about me just because you once knew a hooker. If you are telling me about another sex worker you know, make sure its because it is ether relevant to the conversation in some other way or because you are trying to reassure me that my job is no issue and I am welcome in your group. But don’t break someone’s confidentiality. Dont point out the other hooker at the party or tell me that Dave’s girlfriend is a stripper. That’s not cool and you just made me wish I never told you.

7. Dont feel sorry for me, ask me about other jobs I could be doing, ask me what my goals are in life, offer to help me with a resume or lecture me about my future. If I need help in career planning or employment pathways I will ask. If, by the way, I do want to consider other options outside the sex industry, dont presume it’s because I hate the sex industry and am ready to repent.

8. Dont tell me if you think its hot that I’m a hooker or I’ll charge you by the hour. Its my job, I’m not at work. If you were talking to me as a hooker, you’d be paying me by the hour.  In my personal life I like people who like me even when I’m not a hooker.

9. Dont compare me to other sex workers, either positively or negatively. You don’t make me feel good by telling me I’m smarter than other hookers, or that at least I don’t work off the street. You might think you are giving me a compliment, but it’s very backhanded. Not to mention, what if I do work from the street, or have worked from the street. Your judgements are showing again.

10. Dont ask me about the intricacies of my work unless its necessary or I give you permission to ask. It’s like a doctor doesn’t want to start looking at everyone’s skin irritations and swollen glands when they are at a BBQ. Also when you ask me if my clients are gross or dirty, or if I kiss, or how often I get tested, or how many clients i fuck in a shift, I know your making those judgements about me. Why else do you want to know about the attractiveness of my clients or how many of them I have sex with? You’re being grossed out and it’s offensive.

11. Dont tell me you couldn’t do it. Yes you could, you just choose not too. I’m not superhuman, I wasnt born with a whore gene. I find it insulting when someone thinks there is something inherently different about me. I would rather not work as a plumber cleaning shitty sewage pipes, but I COULD do it. Obviously.

Now, obviously there will be times when some of these questions feel relevent to you. For example if you are in a sexual monogamous relationship with someone, their sexual practices at work, especially their safe sex practices, may be important to you. I am not saying you have no rights to ask those questions, I am saying it’s probably not a good time to ask those questions at the time of disclosure. I am suggesting that you listen, trust, show your non judgement first. Then at a different time when you have had time to consider what you really need to know and for what reasons you can have that conversation. Be clear though, that your insecurities or concerns or lack of awareness are usually your issues. We may be willing to help you work through them, but it’s important you own it.

If you want to ensure that people feel comfortable and safe enough around you to disclose their sex work status, or share stories or information about their work, there are some things you can do to help make that more possible.

1. When you hear stories about sex workers anywhere ever, speak up! Show your support. You never know who around you might do or might have done sex work. Maybe it’s them telling you the story, testing the waters, checking your reaction before telling you about their own sex work.

2. When someone discloses let them know that you are cool about their job and then follow their lead. How you do this will depend on your relationship if you just met someone at a party  “ok, cool, im a teacher/nurse/student/etc” should do the trick. If its your partner “ok, thanks for telling me, i love you/ I really like you/ I support you/etc” and then let them make the next move. If you don’t get all your questions answered right then and there, it’s ok. By providing a safe space you are increasing the likelihood of getting the information you want.

3. Try saying something positive. Like “it’s great you have a job that fits around your studying/parenting/other interests or responsibilities” and just see what they say. You are all of a sudden giving us permission to talk about our job both the positive and the negative. You have shown us in one sentence that you hold no judgements. In fact I really really recommend you try saying this to someone when they tell you they are a sex worker. Let me know how it goes.

Of course all of this only applies to those that have any desire to have the person  in their life in any capacity in the future and for those who want the person disclosing to feel safe in their presence and those who wish to behave appropriately and respectfully. You may have some concerns or some feelings about the issue and that is ok, you may even be unsure about your feelings. But there is plenty of time  to work through any whorephobia you may have lurking later. If you are willing.

However if you have a big problem with sex work or sex workers and you have a severe reaction to the disclosure it might be best if you quietly leave the room without making a scene. Try to say as little as possible so as to not incriminate yourself any further. I just told you what my job is, not that I’m about to murder someone. I don’t need to explain myself. I don’t need your permission. I don’t need your judgement. I have heard  it all before and I was expecting this. If you stick around and show me how you really feel either purposefully or inadvertently,  I will react in one of two ways 1. I’ll answer your questions say what you need to hear, respond in the ways i need to get your approval and make it stop  or I’ll defend myself, stand my ground, put you in your place. And you don’t want to be  put in your place by an angry hooker. for real.

After all of this, if your still looking for something to say let me suggest “can I get you a drink?”

Welcome To My Boudoir

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Yesterday I got the keys to my new work space, my very own unit! And today I did my first jobs from there.  I have worked in so many different spaces over the years, both for myself and for other people but I have never had my very own place just for me. It’s all mine and mine alone and it is very exciting. Setting it up and slowly settling in, I have been enjoying the challenge of decorating my new workplace in practical and attractive ways that are economical. I refuse to spend money that I haven’t yet earned, I’m not a gambling woman. Pilfering from my home, accepting donations of old furniture from friends and  towels and linen from ex workers and  watching my ideal work space come together, dreaming about future white goods and artwork. I can put things where ever I want, and they will still be there in the same spot when I come back the next day. It’s so fun not having to compromise with other people!

So because workrooms, brothel décor and furniture placement is what is on my mind I have decided to write about the places I have been paid to fuck in. There have been so many different places I have had paid sex but some things were always the same.

My first ever sex work booking was in a gym after hours. I had just started escorting and my first client was the Gym Manager. During that booking his desk became my workbench, I laid back on it with my legs in the air and he fucked me. The building was dark, big and a little daunting. Afterwards I washed at the basin in the ladies toilets. These days, after so many beds,  it would be a fun and interesting job, but back then for my first time, a well-lit private bedroom would have been preferable.

Over the years during escort bookings I have fucked in offices, in ware houses, in cars, in trucks, in the kitchen of a golf club during business hours, on couches, in wives beds, on the floors of empty houses with for sale signs out the front, in backyard sheds, in make shift floor beds, on spare single beds, in spa’s, in caravans, in hotels and motels and probably plenty of other places that i cannot think of.

Being in a clients home is never predictable, the clients might be but their homes and hospitality vary massively. Some clients will show you straight to the makeshift bed on the lounge room floor. Out of respect for their partners they wont do you in the marital bed or even let you close to the bedroom. Others don’t care and will have you in their bed with wedding pictures and children’s toys all around. Sometimes you get the distinct impression there might even be kids asleep in another room somewhere. I have been lucky to not be chased out of a house by an angry partner. Yet. It is a fear though, so I always keep my clothes and money close!

Some want you to have a drink with them or listen to their music or show you their garden or play a game of pool or introduce their dog or show off their big screen tv. Some wont want you anywhere near their things. Some have immaculately clean houses, some don’t. Sometimes you’re at a bachelor share pad in the middle of the day while the other house mates are at work and it doesn’t look like someone has cleaned the shower in years, let alone washed a towel for you. Sometimes you do it on their parents bed because they are away for the weekend and its cleaner than your clients bed.

The only thing the workspaces on my escort bookings have had in common is privacy. I do insist on privacy.  The cars have been parked on private property (like in the warehouse haha), the trucks have cute little private bed cubicles and I wont go into a house if I think there is more than my client at home. But once my client is horizontal, my handbag of tricks becomes my portable workstation containing all the tools of my trade such as condom, lube, massage oil, toys, wet ones and a mobile phone sometimes even some lip gloss.

But I prefer in-house work, where the client visits me and I get to control the environment. I pick the music, offer the drink, invite them to lay on my bed, set the lighting and make sure I have clean towels. Make my sex work space is the way I like it. The first brothel I worked at taught me everything I know about a good sex work space. Back in those days the police were very active and my boss used to move the brothel from townhouse to townhouse in order to evade the police or reopen after a bust. She told me it was important to have a place with an address that was simple and easy to find and impossible to confuse. It was so important to reduce the likelihood of clients going to the wrong door and  causing neighbours to complain and alert the police.

The town houses were 3 bedrooms with two bedrooms converted into work rooms and one being used for a client waiting room. There was a private space for workers (usually the kitchen)that was off limits to clients and whole place would be immaculate and clean.

In our work room we had a queen size firm and stable bed. No creeks or squeaks to distract  our clients during the important bits. Condoms in different sizes and flavours and sachets of lube in the bedside drawer. Tissues, wet ones, massage oil and talcum powder on the bedside table. A chair for clients to put their clothes on, a CD player with something like enya or sade playing, prettily rolled up fluffy towels stacked on a small stand and another towel on the bed folded into a fan like (wh)origami. After taking the clients money we unfold the towel flat onto the bed so the client could lay on it, decreasing any spills onto the bed sheets. And ofcourse there was a clock.

Most of the brothels I’ve worked at since then were pretty similar to this set up, although with varying degrees of cleanliness, classiness, and attractiveness. In Adelaide our brothels are so basic because the illegality prevents people from investing in them. Noone wants to put in spa’s and ceiling mirrors when it could be closed down any minute. Brothels are mostly rented premises in residential areas with usually only two or three work rooms.

Some of the brothels I worked at did not have condoms or lube in the room because they were worried about them being used as evidence, so they would be kept under lock and key only distributed sparingly as needed.

Some  staff rooms double as a waiting room for clients, meaning workers are always on display and on duty even between jobs. I hate that. Who wants to get stuck talking to someone elses client for twenty minutes while he waits for his worker? You have to be sweet and polite and noone is even paying you!

While most brothels I have worked in have been nicely decorated, with classy and sensual framed prints hanging on the walls there were some exceptions. One place I worked was decorated with framed photographs of the owners parents, children and family members. I always found this bizarre and slightly off-putting. I wonder if it was yet another strategy to throw the cops of the scent.

And then there was Melbourne, an eye opener. Ten work rooms, a shop front where the clients just let themselves in, big massive dressing room for the workers, showers built into every room, music playing in hidden speakers in every room, special purple lamps to do STI checks on clients, buzzers and intercoms in our rooms. And this brothel also had a couple of themed rooms, a B&D room with a big wooden chair with buckles on it, a rack with lots of toys and pain inflicting devices, and bed with bars and handcuffs attached to it. It also had an orgy room with a king size bed, a day bed and a spa in the room. But even with all the new features and modern conveniences, everything else was the same, there was still a bed, the towel folding, the tissues, wet ones, condoms and lube.

In my private work I have rented rooms with or from other workers and in hotels, motels and apartments. I bring my own towels, I put on the clock radio on for music and I take my money down to my car between jobs as there is often nowhere to hide it when in a small hotel room with your client right there. I put on the big room light for doing business and a softer bedside lamp for doing….. business. I have the same set up with my whorigami on the bed, my tissues, wet ones, lube, oil, talcum and sometimes my toys on the bedside table. I hang my sexy costumes and lingerie in sight for decoration and eye candy.

And there have been times when I worked on the floor, behind a screen on my friend’s apartment floor, or times when I worked on my other friends couch whist visiting her in Darwin (she was working from her bedroom). Times when I rented a room from the Asian parlour around the corner or from the busy suburban brothel 2 suburbs away. Each time I do my best to try ensure the space is private, clean, practical and comfortable and has some ambience or atmosphere. But even when I don’t, it doesn’t stop the clients from paying.  I have always felt guilty when inviting clients somewhere that I consider not up to scratch but they never seem to care. They are not there for the towel folding or the music playing.

But I am really enjoying being  able to offer my clients a shower in private, playing good music in the background and buying lots of fluffy soft towels. Maybe I should put my prices up?

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