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One of the problems with anything criminalised and stigmatised is that it can be very difficult to get accurate, up to date, relevant and reliable information about it. Writing this blog has led to a number of people emailing and messaging me asking about getting started in sex work. I want to tell you everything I know, but there are so many variables, and I’d be here all day. So as an introduction I write you this letter. I have already written letters to feminists and to clients, Hey little sister is my shout out to all the wanna be hookers. Here are the 20 things I want you to know.

1. Take the money upfront – It’s probably universal, no matter what sector of the industry you’re in, you ALWAYS get the money first. Even if they’re a regular, take the money up front. The one time you don’t do it will be the one time you learn the lesson.

2. Get in touch with your local sex worker organisation – In South Australia, that’s SIN, or you can find the national list here or there is a massive international list here. They will be able to give you current information about the laws and policing strategies in your area. They also have lots of other information and services you might like to access (now or down the track) so have a chat and find out what they can offer. Usually they are staffed by other current or former sex workers, so you wont get judged and you will get the information you need.

3. If you can, work a few shifts or even a few months in a brothel situation with other workers. It’s like an apprenticeship. You’ll learn lots from hanging out with the other staff between clients. You’ll get tips and tricks about the actual work, particular clients, the industry, good places to work, how to avoid police etc etc. It can also be a good debriefing space if there is no one else in your life that you can talk to about your job.

4. Remember you and your service are the product. If you are working for a boss, keep in mind that they need you more than you need them. If you’re not happy with your workplace there are usually plenty of other options in the sex industry open to you.

5. Don’t try to please all the people all the time. Decide before your first booking or shift what you are willing to do, what you are not willing to do, and what you will do only if they pay extra. If you work for a boss, there will probably be some expectation that you will provide a certain service and sometimes it can be difficult to know exactly what will be expected because the laws prevent candid conversations. Be clear in your own mind about your rules and stick to them. If it turns out your workplace isn’t compatible with your needs, you can usually find one that is. If not, you can always work for yourself, that way you can say when, you can say who, you can say how, and how much! Generally if you work for a brothel, you will be expected to provide massage, oral sex and penetrative sex. You are not required to kiss, let clients go down on you, provide anal services or provide any kind of other fantasy or role play. If you choose to offer those extra services, you may sometimes be able to charge extra. You should also remember that fully inclusive services (full sex) are only one type of service in the industry, there are many ‘full body massage’ places, strip joints etc where you can provide an array of sexual services that do not involve full sex. One of the beauties of sex work is you can really make it work for you.

6. Have a basic routine. You’re providing your client with a service. You do it to them, not have them do to you. You can always vary and adapt your routine but have one developed to fall back on. Don’t just lay on a bed and allow them to poke and prod you. Stay in control, even when you pretend you’re not.

7. Use condoms even for oral sex. Use lots of lube because condoms dry you out. If you’re not good with condoms, practice. Make it part of your routine. Don’t listen to any of the clients excuses about why they can’t or shouldn’t have to use one. Don’t even ask them, just slip it on.

8. Don’t be scared to call the police if you need them in an emergency (and then call your sex worker organisation straight after to help you deal with the cops). If you’re in danger, the police need to help you.

9. If sex work is illegal where you are – admit to nothing ever without first speaking to a lawyer. Knowing what you do and proving it are very different.

10. There are a bunch of safety tips I want to tell you, but I don’t want to give away our secrets so publicly because it will decrease their effectiveness. Again your local sex worker organisation can probably help you with that, or private message me.

11. Don’t believe clients. They will always tell you that such and such is doing more for less. It’s a trick. Don’t drop your prices or do services you’re not comfortable doing trying to keep up with the imaginary services of the sex workers your clients are telling you about.

12. You’re hot, and you will make plenty of $$. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how old you are or what gender you are. Find out what it is about your looks, your personality or your skills…. and work it! Don’t try to be someone you’re not or compete with anyone else. There are so many tastes and so many kinks that I guarantee you are exactly what someone has been looking for. You may need to experiment with different workplaces and ways of working to maximise your marketing spin.

13. Invent a story to go with your name. Clients inevitably want to get to know you. If you’re trying to keep some privacy it can be easy to forget who you told what to. Decide on a basic life story and an answer to the “what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this” question, and stick to it.

14. Fake it till you make it. Both confidence and orgasms.

15. Be careful who you tell. Once you come out of the closet it can be very difficult to go back in.

16. Don’t apologise. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Sex work is just work.

17. Take your bosses word with a pinch of salt. They might try to put you off other workplaces or lie to you about taxes. Talk to your colleagues, the other sex workers in the business or elsewhere.

18. Dont think you’re better than any other sex worker. Whether you work for yourself, or for someone else, in a brothel, on the street, or doing escort services, providing full sex or any other kind of sexual service. There are so many ways of doing what we do, and different types of sex work appeal to different people for so many different reasons. We are all in this together.

19. Trust your gut. If a client gives you the creeps, don’t take the booking.

20. Enjoy your money. Spend it, save it, give it away! Whatever! It’s yours, you earned it, and there’s plenty more where that came from.