Stop the Traffic! Peak Hour…

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Hot topic of the moment – human trafficking. Not to be confused with people smuggling. But feel free to mix it up with sex work and migrant workers, or just Asian women generally. There’s been a lot of media about the problem, politicians are discussing it, feminist and church groups are concerned about it and 4 corners is exposing it. Well I’m calling bullshit and here’s why!

I’ve worked in nearly every brothel in Adelaide for many years and I’ve never worked with anyone or met anyone who has  worked with someone who was being forced into it. If I or anyone I knew, ever worked with someone who was there against their will, we would call the cops.

It makes sense that sex workers would care the most about this sort of thing. If it’s happening, it’s happening in our industry, to our colleagues, in our workplaces, by our bosses and with our clients. Of course we would know and ofcourse we wouldn’t do nothing while this happened to us or our colleagues!

Maybe we don’t know about these sex slaves in our own industry. Maybe they are not in the brothels that I work at, or anyone I know has worked at, but in some secret dark and unknown brothel that no one knows about. Well there are still some people who would need to know about it – the clients.

I’ve seen a lot of clients in my time and I have had a lot of requests. Clients generally seem to prefer workers who want to be there, or are at least very good at pretending they enjoy their job. Most of my clients ask to kiss and cuddle not to have me sad and broken. 

Our clients are not demons. They are just clients. If you went to a restaurant do you want to be served by someone who is being forced to work against their will under awful conditions, or do you prefer to think your waiter is treated well and therefore treats you well? I have faith that there is more business in happy hookers than there is in Asian sex slaves. Not to say that there isn’t any money in Asian sex slaves, but happy hookers can play that character if required.

I have worked in Asian brothels. I worked for 12 months in a brothel that was run by a Chinese sex worker and had many workers, mainly Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. These women were not your stereotype victim. They were very often strong, clever, motivated women who worked hard to provide for themselves and often their family. They were also very good business women, who knew how to manipulate the industry to bring in the maximum profit.

That includes playing up to your stereotype, if that’s what will make them money. We all do it. Find our niche and work it. I loved listening to the workers play up their soft accents or act out the submissive Asian girl character for the sake of taking his money. Just like most of us hookers, they knew how to be a mattress actress, while skilfully and assertively negotiating their terms and providing their service without ever breaking character. Until the client leaves. And then its back to loudly laughing and teasing each other, cooking the whole place a feast or yelling down the phone to their family and friends.

And these workers know how to make money.

There are a few well-known cases of rich old white men roaming around South East Asia or poorer parts of India trying save the prostitutes by “buying their freedom” from the brothel that has captured them. In many of these cases the newly freed victim returns to the brothel of their own accord and it’s usually blamed on drug addiction, inability to cope in outside world or economic necessity. But it makes me wonder because I can totally picture a sex worker in a Thailand brothel meeting one of these geezers while they are on shift, he starts talking about buying her freedom and the $$ flashes above his head. She goes down to the boss and says something like “it’s another one of those knight in shining armour fantasies again, I reckon he’s rich, lets tell him its US$5000 to buy my freedom”. She goes back to his hotel with him and tells him sad stories, he then takes her “home to her village” before he trots off to write his award-winning saviour book and she goes back to work having made a months wages with that one client.

In the Asian brothels I have worked at, I have been treated better than in many of the other brothels I have worked at. The working conditions were better. My cut of the service fee was fairer, and I felt like part of a family. Lots of the workers came and went, but that’s because most of the workers I worked with in Adelaide Asian brothels actually lived in other states. They came to Adelaide to do sex work because they wanted to remain discreet. They didn’t want to do sex work in their own small communities in their own home states because of the stigma we all face. But we felt like part of a family. Often the workers would live and work in the brothel for a few weeks at a time before returning home and the coming back every few months. This meant our workplace was also someone’s house so we’d share home cooked meals and intimacies that you share when you spend that much time in someone’s living space. This community was networked and looked after each other.

I have been to parts of Asia and Pacific countries and hung out with sex workers there. When I was in China recently, all the sex workers I met wanted to come to Australia. They asked me so many questions about how they could get here. Many knew someone, who knew someone, who could help them come here for a considerable fee. Many knew people who had decided to take that option and had been happy with their business arrangement. No one knew people who had been tricked into doing sex work in another country. Although some people knew some sex workers who had been mislead about work conditions or contract arrangements, but they weren’t told they were going to be a waitress.

Why would traffickers have to trick someone to come to Australia to work as a sex worker, when I could right now give you the contact details of 20 gorgeous young Chinese sex workers who would pay you money to bring them here to work happily and voluntarily in your brothel? They can even  play a perfect game of submissive sex object if you’re willing to pay.

Why would someone take these risks for an unhappy unwilling worker when other sex workers and our clients will not tolerate it?

It doesn’t ring true to me. It isn’t logical. There is no evidence and I call bullshit.

And it’s more than that. I was reading this great book about the history of sex work in Australia and it talked about in the early 1900’s the media and public concern with the “white slave trade” back then it was all about young white girls accepting overseas domestic jobs with evil European or Japanese villains who would then trick them into prostitution. There was very little evidence of this however and infact it seems there is a lot of evidence of workers of all nationalities migrating for better work conditions, include young white Australian female sex workers. It also tells of how the Salvation Army and many feminists attempted to save sex workers by forcing them to work in laundries in sweatshop like conditions, and had their pays docked to cover lodge and boarding. It’s still the feminists and the salvation army who are trying to raid our workplaces, rescue sex workers and rehabilitate us into a less than suitable job.

That rings true to me.

And it’s more than even that. If people care about us, how come the cops don’t do anything when you tell them your boss is withholding pay or taking unlawful fines or blackmailing you but they jump on the trafficking bandwagon, taking it upon themselves to raid Asian brothels intimidating everyone they find. How come the same feminists who fight to close our workplaces now act like they care about us but don’t listen when we fight for workers rights. How come the church groups that used to be about saving us from our sins now want to force themselves upon asian sex slaves and call themselves an anti trafficking group. And how come adult business groups (big bosses of big legal brothels) are so quick accuse their competition of trafficking, the same brothels they used to accuse of spreading disease. Why don’t any of these people care about trafficking in other industries? And how come I still haven’t met any of these trafficked sex slaves. It’s because these groups have seized the few sad stories they have ‘exposed’ to serve their purpose and further their agenda. Sex workers have been yelling for years about our problems, but no one is interested in sensible boring workers rights and anti discrimination strategies.

Sex workers DO experience exploitation at work. Migrant workers DO have barriers to accessing support and services. Our immigration and our Visa systems DO make Asian sex workers vulnerable. We DO want allies and attention to these issues. We DO need urgent legislation reviews and reforms.

But you’re getting it all wrong. Media hysteria and more cops and reactionary policy and strengthened stereotypes and preconceived ideas and misinformation and salivating over discovered victims and villains and then some more cops. It isn’t helping!

I wont leave this here,  I’ll write more about this very soon, in particular about the real life harms of the sex trafficking rhetoric and what sex workers want to address these issues. Up next in the ‘stop the traffic’ series is ‘the car accident you can’t look away from’ followed by ‘the scenic route’ .

My Two Faces

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I choose sex work for many reasons. Obviously making a decent income is one major factor, as is the flexibility. I don’t make an obscene amount of cash, I’m not the most successful or motivated hooker in town, but its a decent income. Comparable to what Id make doing the job I’m qualified to do but with less stress. And in hours that suit me.

The flexibility is definitely my favourite thing about my job. It has always worked around my social engagements, my studies, my parenting, my travelling, my other jobs, my relationships, my passions. Whatever. It’s always been there for me while I run around doing my thing.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a reliable source of income because it is so up and down, but I’ve always felt secure that I wont starve and I can put a roof over my head (even if it’s just the roof of the brothel im working at).

But Its more than just that..

I ALSO LOVE THE DRESS UPS!

When I broke up with the father of my children, I hadn’t done sex work for a number of years. I had myself a straight job and a family. But once we separated, still in my mid twenties, I knew what I wanted to do. After starting sex work again, I decided I had what it took to further my education. What it takes, as a single mum, to go to uni is, passion, motivation and a flexible well-paying job that lets you study between bookings, and having a mouthy whore attitude helps to insist the system works for you.

So back to you Uni I went, if you were around those parts in my day you might remember me because I took the opportunities  that university affords and indulged in self-expression. I had bright pink long dreadlocks.

And I studied hard and went home and did my best at playing perfect mum, and on Sundays I worked at the brothel.  Every Sunday the kids went to their dads. Every Sunday I worked from 10am until midnight.

Nobody knew what I did on Sundays. It really was my secret back then. No one at uni, none of my family, none of my friends. I’d had enough trouble telling people in the past and I just wanted to avoid it. I knew what I wanted to do, and I was just going to do it, my way, so I did.

For 2 years I Showed up to work every Sunday morning with my crazy hair, daggy jeans, sneakers and my bag of tricks. It was fun. Id enjoy watching myself in the mirror while I began my transformation. The other workers would watch and sometimes we’d laugh about it. I covered my dreadlocks with a shoulder length dark wig with a sharp fringe, id do my make up to match, darker around my eyes, red lips. I swapped my groovy glasses for bright green contact lenses and paint my nails pretty. Under my daggy clothes I’m scrubbed, moisturised and If I got around to it, waxed. Id take off my comfortable undies and put my sexy (but often cheap and tacky) lacy red matching bra and knickers, slinky one piece black nightclub dress (for easy slip off and on), stay up stockings and amazing heels. I was a different person. I loved it. I was so different under those brothel lights that you wouldn’t recognise me as the pink haired mother at uni. It was nice having a reason to be super sexy. Just as it was nice having an excuse to indulge in pink hair.

My favourite thing about my transformation was when new workers would start a shift in the middle of my long shift.   They would only see me as the dark-haired hooker Id transformed myself into. We’d work and chat for hours. And when the clock struck midnight, the spell would be broken. Id pull of my wig and shake out my long pink dreads and grin at them. I loved the look of shock and the surprise they would express by the time my transformation was complete, all showered clean of make up, back to my cotton undies and jeans.

 

Hey little sister

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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.

How to spot a hooker

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Have you ever met a sex worker? Shall we do the math?  Lets say there is 1000 sex workers in South Australia working in any one year and 85% of them are female (an estimate shared by the SA Police, the local sex workers health organisation SIN and quoted in the media). That would mean 850 women have done sex work in any one year in SA. In June 2010 South Australia had 1.09 million people of working age between 15 and 64 years old (from the Australian Bureau of statistics) and roughly half of them (545 000) were women. Using these statistics 1 in 640 working aged South Australian Women have done sex work this year alone.

Now lets say their average length of time in the industry is 10 years (It was more like 5 years in research done with Australian sex workers in 1991 by Roberta Perkins some of which is published here and in a book called Working Girls) and your working life lasts 50 years (based on the ABS age range used above) I could take a leap and say that over a 10 year period all the current sex workers have left and a new 850 have entered (overall, on average, generally, based on these estimates). My sketchy brain (and dodgy calculator) work that out to mean that 1 in 65 South Australian women will do sex work at one point in their life.

Does this math add up? That seems like a lot! And I am using conservative figures. Any way you look at it, it’s a good proportion. Someone pull my math apart, because I just sent my brain into a gooey mess.

And while we wait for the judges to get back to us, I’ll tell you why I wouldn’t actually be surprised if my guess was close to accurate.

You may think you have never met a hooker (except the one you paid maybe) but a lot of my friends, family, lovers and even partners have thought they never met a hooker either. You see, most of us sex workers don’t wear a sign on our head, we don’t have a red light on our house and we don’t advertise our identifying details on a billboard.

Many of us hide our work from some, or most, or all the people we know and meet or maybe we just hide it just from you!

Many of us are only sex workers when we are at work. The rest of the time we are people’s friends and family members and community members. Maybe yours.

Some of us may want to suss you out before we make ourselves vulnerable by sharing our secret. It’s not that we are ashamed, but maybe we have reasons to hide from the discrimination. Maybe we are testing your values and your trustworthiness first to make sure our secret life is safe with you.

Some of us have detailed cover stories so when strangers ask about our work we easily talk about our job in telephone sales, converting stories about our clients into a story about an interesting call we took at work. Maybe we can’t be bothered doing a sexwork 101 class right now, or maybe we’re saving you the embarrassment that we suspect our disclosure would elicit.

Some sex workers will never tell a soul, taking their secrets to the grave. The only people knowing are other sex workers and their clients. They have decided that the risk is not worth it. Perhaps they are a student who is scared about jeopardising their future career, a single mum who is only working for a few years to set herself up. For many of us, sex work is just a job that is meeting our needs. Sometimes its only a temporary plan and we decide that coming out and fighting the stigma for the sake of a short term job is just not worth it.

I feel privileged to receive emails from people sharing their own experiences of sex work with me, stories that they have never told anyone else. If you have never met a sex worker, you are missing out.

I had a partner for three years and I never told him that I was a part-time sex worker. I guess the thought of me in that line of work never occurred to him, because he never suspected. I didn’t find it difficult, I just went to work as per normal, did my job and came home. He even met other sex workers who I worked with, but he presumed they were co workers from my “straight” job. It wasn’t a big deal to me, and I didn’t want to make it a big deal to us so I kept it to myself.

If a client complains about the lack of sexual attention they receive from their wives or girlfriends I will often make the joke “maybe she is just too tired from working at the brothel all day”. Everytime he will laugh heartily assuring me that for whatever reason this is a ridiculous suggestion. And I giggle as I respond with “yup, that’s what my partner thinks about me too”. Then I sit back and watch them consider my words.

Have you ever met a hooker? Maybe you’re married to one, or maybe your mum is one. Maybe one of the people in your class is a hooker, or maybe your best friend has done sex work. Maybe the person on the bus, or at the party, or your mates partner or family member or the person that helps out at the canteen or maybe even your child has done sex work. If my maths is right, its likely nearly everyone has met a sex worker at some point. Some of you might love one.

Maybe we havent told you because we don’t trust you. Or maybe we trust you, but we don’t know if we will be able to trust you next week. Or maybe we don’t trust your friends.

But  mostly we don’t know who we can trust.

Don’t let your friend or loved one be the ones who dies with their secrets. Or the one who emails a stranger with their amazing stories but can’t tell anyone in their lives.

If you want to spot a hooker:

Don’t presume you are not talking to a sex worker when you make that nasty comment about us.

Don’t presume there are no sex workers in the room feeling uncomfortable or unsafe when you pass judgement about us.

Don’t presume that you are not talking about someones loved one or family member when you discuss stereotypes and misconceptions about sex workers.

We are not just in the brothels, we are everywhere. Perhaps even in your home.

Don’t fail our test.

If you haven’t heard stories like mine before, you haven’t been asking the right questions.

Do you ever have female clients?

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This post is part of the Sex Work 101 series, along with other popular questions and answers such as what was my most interesting booking? What do you tell your kids? And various other questions to be answered in the future such as, do you pay tax and what’s the worst booking you’ve had. But this post will answer the ever popular question about whether I see female clients.

Yes. I have had female clients. But not many. The majority of my clients, by far are men. And I am fairly confident in saying the majority of most sex workers clients are men.

Most of the women I have seen were part of a male/female couple, who had booked me to join them. I have done many many bookings with couples over the years and have always really enjoyed them. When I take a booking for a couple I generally ask to speak to both of them to make sure everyone is equally as enthusiastic. The last thing I want is to get caught in the middle of an awkward relationship drama.

More often than not I am told that it was the womans idea to hire a hooker because she was wanting to experiment. Obviously there would be times when she just wanted to please her fella, but that was definitely not the case for most. There was one couple i used to see a lot, she was about 10 yrs older than her boyfriend. The second time I visited her she waited for her boyfriend to leave the room and whispered that she used to be a sex worker as well. I saw them lots after that.

These couple bookings are probably different to how you are picturing. Again they are heavily negotiated. I know what they want from me, what their rules are, what they don’t want. I am careful to respect both people and their relationship and nearly always focus most of my attention on the woman. Rather than being some kind of porn scenario acted out for the males pleasure, I often use these sessions to encourage the male to help me pamper the woman. It is very nice massaging a woman after massaging so many men.

I have seen some women clients by themselves as well. But in all honestly, I can count them on one hand. I know other sex workers have had more female clients than I have had, and there are even agencies and brothels that specialise in catering to female clients in the eastern states. But I have seen only a few. 3 of them were women experimenting, 1 of them was a lesbian, and one was a closeted married woman in her 50’s.

Even the male sex workers I know mainly see male clients. Although one of my friends has a number of female clients who have disabilities. They are women who have been very assertive about their sexual desires and pushed hard to get access to a sex worker. Often women’s sexuality is not considered and way too often a woman with a disability is considered asexual.

It also seems, anecdotally, that a lot of female clients are or have been sex workers themselves. I have stories from other workers about female clients who are or used to be a sex worker. They either wanted to see how it was on the other side or they just felt like laying back and being pampered. I even know a sex worker who hired another female worker when she was visiting Adelaide from interstate.  I have to admit, it does sound appealing, but I’m too cheap to hire a hooker 😉

Why so few female clients? Well, we can only speculate. Depends on what lenses you use to look at the world through I guess. Some will say, men need or want more sex and women can get it for free. Some say men are given access to women’s bodies due to patriarchy, and I say:

A little from column A) and a little from column B)

Men are often encouraged to embrace and promote their sexual urges. Men often have more access to a disposable income. Women are often discouraged from acknowledging their sexuality at all. Women often have less access to disposable income.

Combine that with an entrepreneurial instinct and a desire for independence and you have yourself supply and demand.

The sex industry is a reflection of society, warts and all (lol – see what i did there?). The sex industry is not the cause of societies problems but it is affected by them. But as society changes, so is the sex industry. There are many male sex workers catering to men who have sex with men, and the number of female clients is slowly increasing too. We know that the number of women viewing porn on the internet is huge, there are female only strip clubs and porn producers.

I look forward to a day when I can confidently tell you that 50% of my clients are women.

Who am I?

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I work the night shift and I hate it. I get to work at 8pm and work right through till the early hours of the morning. I drive home when it’s still dark and the streets are empty. On the way home I entertain myself by looking at the people in the other cars on the empty roads and imagine what their lives are like, why are they driving around at this time of night? I get home just before the kids wake up. I scrub myself in the shower to get the smell off me. A mix of sweat and bodily secretions, disinfectant and room deodoriser. It gets ingrained in my skin, in my hair and in my clothes no matter how hard I wash and scrub.

In the shower I reflect on my night at work. I have good and bad nights, but im always exhausted! Last night was not one of the good nights. I looked at my body, it had bite marks and scratches, and I knew there would soon be bruises too. They don’t get violent or hurt me very often, but when they do, there isn’t much I can do, I just have to keep going, and do my job. My back aches too. Sometimes I feel pressured to do things im not comfortable with, because there is no one else to do it. I know I shouldn’t but I just want to fit in and earn their respect, so I do whatever it takes.

I remember my first day. I had showed up with no experience or training. They chucked me in the room with some brief instructions about what was expected from me, and everything else I learnt from the other workers. I hated my first day. By the time I finished that long shift I was sweaty, sore, broken and tired. I hated what I had done, and I was confronted by what I saw. I had been there for a few months when I started to get used to it. I was used to seeing and handling naked bodies in many different forms, I was used to dealing with bodily functions, I was used to dealing with people’s psychology, I was used to working hard. I was used to doing things and being someone who I wasn’t always comfortable with, and I was used to feeling sore, exhausted and exploited when I came home.

I had heard from the workers that there are other places I could work. Nicer places. Places where im not forced to do things I don’t like, places where they treat people with respect. After I drop the kids at school I lay down and try to sleep before I have to get up and do it all again. I lay there dreading the next night at work. I hate doing it, but I need the money. I consider my options, work and pay the rent, or quit, but with limited skills or experience I wont be able to find other work, and so the rent wont be paid.

Maybe I should take the plunge and try somewhere new. Filled with dread and loathing, I decide that this is the day to do something about it. I flick through the paper and make some calls, it’s not long before I have an appointment at a place a friend recommended.

I’ve been at the new place for 6 months now. At this new nursing home you can pick and choose your shifts and they offer training for new workers and regular workshops for the rest of us to keep our skills up to date. This has really helped me learn how to deal with those couple of residents who are violent or aggressive. They have also taught me how to lift properly, and so now I never need to hurt my back when I lift the residents. This has ment that my back problems have gone away and im no longer covered in bruises.

The rest of the carers at this nursing home are so friendly and supportive as well, If I need some one to help me I know I can ask someone. At this new nursing home we treat the residents with respect and courtesy, so now I don’t feel like im doing something wrong or unethical, in fact it’s the opposite I feel as though im doing something worthwhile and contributing to a happier life for many people.

Now I have found a better place to work and have the training and experience I need, I really love my job. I now know that we don’t need to outlaw nursing homes, just because some are bad, but infact we need to create better OH&S regulations, increase access to training, and build power for those of us doing the work.

It reminds me of the other industry I work in. The sex industry. So many parallels. But the biggest difference is the stigma I face and ofcourse the money I make.

Dear John

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Dear John (or peter or paul or whatever name you give me today),

Thankyou for spending your money on me. My service is not cheap and in this day and age, I really appreciate that you probably worked hard for that money. For some, an hour spent with me is the equivalent of two or three full days work. For some, an hour spent with me took 6 months of budgeting, and for some,  my fee is a drop in a vast and impressive ocean, giving me hope of a nice tip or a good regular. Rich or poor, I appreciate every dollar you give me.

I’m not always sure about your expectations or motives for deciding to make a booking and hand over your hard-earned cash, and I am only one woman, there is no way I am able to be all things to all people. But I want you to leave me feeling that it was money well spent. So I write this letter affectionately and honestly to assist you in getting the most out of your  time with me. You may find that some of the suggestions I make also benefit your encounters with other sex workers.

When first making contact with me keep it professional. Only ask the questions that you need to know. Be clear if you are just making enquiries or if you are ready to make a booking. Remember that I get many enquiries and very few of them eventuate into genuine bookings so over the years I have developed a reliable bullshit detector. I learnt it from other whores I have worked and associated with. There really is a collective wisdom being passed around from brothel to the street to escort agencies, massage parlous, beats and bars, from generation to generation. We can spot a wanker (in the literal sense). If your initial enquiries include going into gory details about what you want to do to me, or asking me for more photos, or telling me how big your dick is, or worse – showing me, if you send email after email after email with more and more questions or if you try to bargain with me, I will deem you a wanker. Once deemed a wanker I will either blacklist you, ignore you, give you very limited responses and availability, double book you, or if I do decide to accept your booking, i am likely to treat you with suspicion for the first 15 mins of your time.

If you have specific desires, needs or concerns then please discuss them with me. Try to keep it simple giving only the necessary details. Telling me about your disability, or your kink, or your erectile dysfunction or your curiosities will put you at ease knowing I am then able to tailor the booking to meet your needs. Or recommend you to someone who is able to. If I cannot cater to you for whatever reason please do not take it personally, I am not judging you, I am simply acknowledging that I am not able to provide you the best service for your money.

Be aware that depending on the context I may not be able to discuss things as openly as I would like to. Sex work is illegal in South Australia . If I look anxious and am not forthcoming in answering all your questions there may be very valid reasons why. Please try to read my non verbal cues, or better yet pay me and hope for the best. This situation sucks but it is the reality of our laws here in this state and in many many many other places around the world. If you keep acting like a cop, I will ask you to leave.

Once you pay me there will be plenty of time to talk about all your dirty desires and the size of your penis. You can open up to me about your vulnerabilities in detail and you can ask about extra services available. You can even try your luck in negotiating that barter offer you have in mind. When you put your money where your mouth is, it shows me that you are genuine. It’s only then that I know you’re not a cop, a wanker, or a time waster.

When making a booking be prepared to trust me a little with your personal information. If I’m visiting you, I will obviously need your address. If you’re visiting me it is likely I will want your phone number or email or some other way to contact you in order to confirm the booking. Or to abuse you if you waste my time. If you’re in a hotel I may ask you for your real name so they let me past reception late at night. I know that you are concerned about privacy but we are both vulnerable in that regard. If you want me to trust you enough to visit your home or to give you my address, it’s only fair that you offer me the same trust. I have as much to lose as you do.

If you’re running late or need to cancel, let me know at your earliest convenience. I will appreciate it, even if its last-minute. If you do not show up to a confirmed booking and you do not cancel, I will pursue a cancellation fee. If unsuccessful I will keep your details and share them with other workers to make sure they are aware of the disrespect you showed. It’s not that I hold a grudge, but I need to protect myself. Please understand that I may have to pay rent for the room I booked for your service, or for the hotel room. I may have turned down another booking, or spent half an hour driving to the booking. I may have paid a babysitter or  bought new stockings or paid for a taxi. Preparing to see you takes my time and money, please don’t make appointments unless you are confident you can keep them.

When visiting me, make sure you get the address right and that you arrive at the agreed time.  Dont upset my neighbours by knocking on the wrong door. Dont upset me by knocking on my door at an unexpected time. I may not be there, I may be with another client or it maybe an inappropriate time. If I said we close at midnight, don’t show up 12:15 and bang loudly enough to wake the neighbours dog.

If we’re in a brothel context I do not mind you asking to meet the other workers but do not suggest that it is because I am not good enough. I don’t mind you having a preference but there is no need to be rude. Don’t look me up and down with disdain or make me jump through hoops trying to prove my worth to you. Don’t make the lame joke “you should be paying me”, I will only roll my eyes. I hear that every day from clients with something to prove. Please pay me upfront. Lets get that out of the way so that we can all relax. Please pay my quoted price without any debate.  If you spend the first 5 minutes of our time together displaying arrogant or disrespectful behaviours, I am likely to spend the next 55 minutes of our time giving you a pretty bad service (that’s if I agree to see you at all). When I feel comfortable and confident with you is when you will get value for your money.

Don’t act like you’re better than me or I will be tempted to prove you wrong.

Make sure you are washed and clean, if you need a shower, tell me and I’ll show you where the bathroom is. When washing yourself, pay special attention to your bum, your genitals, your hands and nails. Make sure your dental hygiene is at its best. If you smell bad or have bits of toilet paper hanging from your bum-crack (and a huge percentage of you do) I will ask you to take a shower mid booking. If you have bad breath I will avoid being too close or intimate with you. I will not let you kiss me, and infact i will encourage doggy position only to avoid having you on top of me. If your hands or nails are filthy I may ask you to wear gloves or limit the ways and places that you touch me.

Let me know if you’re enjoying it. You can use your words, your actions or your facial expressions. Telling me it feels nice, responding to me physically, smiling or even a satisfied sigh will make it easier for me to read you making me relax and enjoy the booking a little more. Tell me what you want, nothing shocks me, nothing offends me (at least nothing that involves only consenting adults ). I wont always say yes, but I often will. I am happy to explore your fantasies with you, but if you tell me what they are it will take away the guess-work. You’re paying me by the hour, it’s up to you how long it takes for me to find your secret spots.

I know you might be nervous and that’s ok, sometimes I still get nervous too. But I am a professional, I have done this plenty of times. Try and relax with me and let me take the lead.

Don’t ask me if I’m ‘faking it’ or make comments alluding to your suspicion that it’s all an act on my part. If I am faking it, I am faking it, do you really want me to tell you the truth? Even if I am faking it, I may still be enjoying myself. Asking me to constantly reassure you will only make me feel self conscious and will limit my ability to connect with you.

Dont expect me to bend my rules for you. Not even if you’re my regular. Even if you have reason to believe that I may negotiate, always ask, never presume. If you do something I do not like I will let you know. If you do it again I may decide to end your booking immediately. If I decide to give you a second chance I will finish the service in a very clinical and controlled way focussing on controlling your behaviour rather than providing pleasure. Conversely if you show respect for my boundaries, listen to my verbal and non verbal cues and ask if you are unsure, you will find that I am very open minded.

Respect the need for latex. I know condoms are not always ideal for a whole range of possible excuses you could offer me, but they are all I have. I work hard to make safe sex sexy and if you pay attention you might learn some things. Trust me when I say no to your request for “natural services”. If you persist I will be forced to graphically explain the worst possible unsafe sex scenarios. And that is a bit of a mood killer. Don’t ask me if I’m clean or tell me that you are, just use a condom. And while on the subject, if during the service i notice something that could be a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection, don’t get upset when I point it out. Most STI’s are fixed with a trip to the doctor, and others can be managed. You might be right when you try and explain it away, it might just be skin tags and not warts but I might not be in a position to take the risk. I will not kick you out, but I will have to provide a different safer service. Please know that my level of care to ensure our sex is safe will mean that you can have a guilt free hour with me.

If you’re going to drink, take drugs or masturbate before our booking, do not blame me if you can’t get an erection or achieve an orgasm. In fact, don’t blame me for that no matter what the reasons are. Same goes if you cum to quickly. I do my best to time our sessions perfectly, but you well know that there are things beyond my control that affect your sexual function. Dont be embarrassed by it, you’re certainly not alone. When you’re with me there is no pressure or expectation, your sexual performance is only of concern to you. You payed me and I want to make sure you don’t regret it, so if you experience problems in any of these areas due to drugs or alcohol, prescription medication, physical reasons, emotional reasons or anything else, I will be happy to spend the session trying, playing, pampering, massaging, or whatever we negotiate. But please don’t expect me to perform miracles or give refunds

Be respectful of my time and the time you payed for. Remember you payed for a service, not just the sex. If you need a shower at the end or take a long time to dress or you want to sit and have a chat, make sure you allow for that in your booking time. Dont try to delay having an orgasm until the last 5 mins and then expect me to go overtime when it doesn’t happen straight away. Understand that i may have other appointments, i may be paying for the room by the hour, I might have to answer to a boss, I might have kids to pick up from school or I might have to get to the bank before it closes. As intense as the session may have felt, if the time is up, the time is up. It’s not personal, but I am a busy woman. If you need longer we may be able to negotiate extending the booking, feel free to make me an offer.

If I gave you a good service, tip me. Or at the very least – tell me.

Be discreet, if you see me on the street, don’t approach me, understand that just as you may have reasons why you don’t tell everyone that you book sex workers, I have reasons for not telling everyone about my work. If you attempt to approach me in any way outside of the sex industry you will not be happy with the response you get from me. On the other hand, please keep looking for my adds and follow me from business to business as I try out different workplaces over the years, we can grow old together.

I look forward to your next booking

Lots of love, respect and gratitude,

Jane (or whatever name I have given you today)

The many wigs of a whore

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I was pretty keen to return to sex work after doing the dutiful wife thing for a while. During my semi retirement from the sex industry I had found other work and done some study. I did enjoy my ‘straight job’ but as soon as I separated from my children’s father I was planning my return to sex work.

I missed the money and the flexibility of sex work. Obviously. But it was more than that. I missed hanging out with other sex workers, I missed providing indulgent pleasure, I missed the compliments, I missed the feeling of being my own boss, even when I was working for someone else there is power in knowing you are (or your service is) the ‘product’. And Ofcourse I missed playing dress ups! Wigs, lingerie, costumes, sexy shoes, red lipstick, pretty nails… the best excuse for a usually plain looking busy single mum to indulge my girly side!

Besides stopping sex work was never my idea in the first place so I had  no doubts about returning.

But things had changed since the last time I worked. I’m mother now. I had to rethink my happy hooker image this time round. So for the first time I went into the hooker closet where I stayed for a long time. I wanted to protect my children from the stigma that my job carries, and I needed to protect our family from the discrimination that we might have otherwise faced. Through sheer determination my separation with the father had been fairly painless, there had been no custody battles and I certainly didn’t want to jeopardise that. Not to mention, sex work is STILL ILLEGAL in South Australia! I didn’t want to make our family vulnerable to attacks from any of the possibilities I had considered or the ones I hadn’t. So I invested in a wig.

I reduced my hours at my straight job, took my wig and started working at a very small escort agency. Originally I only kept my straight job as a cover so my friends, family and the whole world wouldn’t find out my dirty little secret but it turned out I really enjoyed the variety of the different roles I had or the different hats I wore in my day-to-day life. I was a stay at home mum on some days, I had a respectable day job on some days, made wads of cash on other days and, with my kids spending every second weekend at their dads, I had a chance to act my age and spend my wads of cash on the occasional night out on the town. I even kept up with a little bit of study throughout it all, it kept me busy between bookings.

And busy I was. The escort agency I worked at was very small with not many staff. I mainly worked  during the day sitting alone with the receptionist while she worked the phones trying to secure bookings. When she got one the owner/driver would drive me to my booking and bring me back to the office to wait for the next one. Day business for escorting was pretty quiet and that was fine for me because it meant I was the only worker on shift. But it also meant I was pretty much the only one making money.  Businesses need more than one worker to make a profit. So when the receptionist left, the owner decided not to replace her.

Fine by me, I started answering the phones. I could do a better job of selling myself anyway, plus this way I get all the day bookings PLUS the receptionists cut!

Now here is where I let you client types in on a little secret. I know many trade secrets, most of which I will never tell.  But some are harmless and make for a good story.

I’m sure this will not come as a surprise to those experienced punters, but many sex industry businesses find very creative ways of marketing the workers they have available to potential clients. While mostly it’s just a case of finding enticing ways to describe the workers using rose-tinted glosses and sexy adjectives, there are some businesses that will take it further. Everything from exaggerated measurements and optimistic age ranges to completely made up characters are used in an attempt to get a bite from potential clients. Some places are worse for this than others, I once worked at an agency that had standard adds running daily in the local paper that read “Eva Italian brunette lingerie model” or “Candi the blonde beach babe” and when a client called up looking for Eva or Candi the agency would send out any blonde or any brunette available. And if there is no blonde to play the part of Candi, no problems, we have wigs.

A common trick is to ask the caller what kind of worker they were looking for. If they tell you they want a mature redhead – Hey Presto!  That’s what we invent.

And so with only one worker (me) answering phones and doing bookings I quickly adapted to this sales technique. I had 2 different wigs, 3 different names (4 if you include the receptionists name) and a couple of different life stories.

I was Nikki the 21-year-old bubbly blonde, busty and cute

I was Bridget the brunette in her early twenties with the hourglass figure

I was Melissa who was 27 with a platinum bob and long legs.

And I could pass for all three descriptions easily. I enjoyed playing the game, it amused me. As a single mum I already had so many different hats, and now one of them was wearing a bunch of different wigs.

Pimping out my three characters worked well for a while, they all got repeat business and we all made money. And  then the inevitable happened. One of Nikki’s clients wanted a booking with Bridget. And he was quite persistent.

Well I had felt pretty clever up until then, but the gig was up.  I was a good mattress actress but I couldn’t pull that one-off (so to speak). The client was disappointed to learn that both Bridget and Melissa had run off into the sunset together never to return, preventing him from ever meeting either of them.

Not long after, I took Nikki off the market and went looking for greener pastures.

Mother and a Whore

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I also wanted to title this post:  Wont somebody think of the children!!

There will sometimes come a time in a persons life when they fall in love and ‘settle down’. And I quickly realised that for a lot of people ‘settle down’ means I am expected to stop sex work and find something else to do to make money and fill my time. So when I met and started dating  Jack I knew it was just a matter of time before he voiced a problem with my job. Things got serious and we moved in together and sure enough it wasn’t long before Jack told me that he loved me so much that I had to find a new job. I had been through this before and so I pretty much gave in to his insecurities straight away. I stopped sex work and started applying for ‘straight work’.

Skipping through the long and not very interesting story, Jack and I had babies, fell out of love and separated.  I immediately went straight back to sex work. It was a choice. Yes it was a choice made by a single mother, but it was my choice just the same. I reduced the hours I was working in my ‘straight job’ and started back working for a local escort agency while my kids were either at school, childcare or at their fathers. Instantly I felt the judgemental double sting of mother blaming joined with whore shaming. Those who always knew and supported my choice to do sex work, had a different opinion now that I was a mother. There are people who believe that being a sex worker automatically makes me a bad mother. Maybe even the readers of this blog have questions. So in order to continue telling you my stories I thought I should get these questions out of the way – upfront.

What will you tell your child?

How would you feel if your daughter turned out to be a hooker?

What happens when your son finds out you fuck for money?

What will their friends think of them at school?

Im going to answer these questions here and now, once and for all, in response to all those well meaning people who seem to struggle to get their head around me, my work, my relationships, and my family. I may follow this post up with answers to other popular questions such as “Is there a difference between sex work and ‘real sex’”  “how can you ask me to be faithful when you’re fucking all those other men?” “do you have any self respect?” and my favourite usually asked at completely inappropriate social functions…..“will you fuck me if I pay you for it? What about your friend?”.

But for now im going to start with the ones that I find most offensive, and that’s the ones that involve my motherhood.

What will I tell my child?

I, like other working mums, tell my child age appropriate information that describes what mum does for a job. Unfortunately, I have to be careful, because I don’t want my little tacker running off to school ruining his social calendar for his entire school life because he told Tommy who told his mum that his best friend’s mum is a hooker. So I choose my words carefully. Mum works at a massage centre. At a young age they don’t know enough about the world to say much more than that anyway.  When they get a little bit older and the conversation comes up or when they ask, I might say something more like: mum gives sexy massages. Over the years each time the topic comes up I will tell them a little bit more. After all I don’t see this as any different to what I vet might say… “I fix animals when they are sick” The vet doesn’t say to her 4 year old that sometimes she has remove a uterus or cut off testicles or give lethal injections to cute kittens etc. There is no need for that child to know the finer details yet, but as they get older, they will be given more information. No different to my plan, except of course I have to deal with the fact everyone else thinks im a bad person. So at some point I have what I see as a harder discussion. Those are the discussions about what everyone else thinks of my job. These are discussions that are hard and hurtful to my family.

How would I feel if my daughter became a hooker?

I hope my children grow up to be happy, healthy and respectful adults. That’s all I wish for them. I know for a fact that being a hooker doesn’t mean you can’t be happy, healthy and respectful. However I do know that everyone else’s attitudes to sex work can create barriers to a sex worker being happy. But I feel those are my children’s choices to make. If being a hooker made my daughter or son happy, I would not have any concerns. What would hurt my son or daughter and our family, all sex workers and their families, is the attitude everyone else has to sex work and sex workers.

What happens when my son finds out I fuck for money?

To be honest I can’t imagine my children using those words with me. I do expect there will be some words about my job thrown at me during different phases of rebellion as I imagine most parents deal with..…even non whores. If I try to be honest with them, my children will grow up respecting me and sex workers. It is possible that the attitudes of other people may encourage resentment in my kids towards me or my work, but if that ever happens I am confident that once they move through the rebellion phase they will again see that my job was a positive thing for our family, that it was just a job and that the rest of the world is unfair in its discrimination of me and my work.

What will their friends think of them at school?

This is an area that I have no control over. It is an area that I have the most sadness about and the area I wish my kids didn’t have to deal with. However I don’t see other people’s attitudes as my fault. My kids have never suffered because of my work, to the contrary, they have a happy, healthy respectful mum who has a well paying flexible job that allows me to be the sort of mother I always wanted to be. In my own way I try to educate people to see sex work as work, nothing more or less than a job. Once again I see other people’s stigma and discrimination about sex workers as the only innate problem of my work. It all comes down to what other people think. It means I have to have conversations with my kids about being careful about who exactly they say what to and about other people’s bad attitude. I might even have to teach them to lie so they can protect themselves from your stigma.

It is because of other people’s ignorance that my children may suffer. Not because I am a sex worker.

You feel sorry for my kids? Do something about it and examine your own discriminatory attitudes.


Going Private

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I ended up returning to Melbourne and the main course a few times on working holidays, but I was at a loss for what to do for cash in Adelaide in between. I had stayed in contact with the worker that was caught in the raid at Karma Therapy with me and so one boring day I decided to pay her a visit. Anna hadn’t gone back to work since the big raid for the same reasons that I had chosen to leave Adelaide for work. Both of us were terrified of being caught up in something like that again.

We hung out all day and over coffee I told Anna about my trips to Melbourne and The Main Course and she was very jealous. Anna wasn’t able to travel for work because she had young children, she didn’t want to work in a local brothel because she was scared of the cops, so she was jobless and broke. We started talking about something we had talked about many times before: the idea of going out on our own. It’s something I had often thought about, the idea of keeping all the money from the booking was definitely appealing.

But it was scary too. Not because we were scared of the clients, but because we would be outlaying money and commitments, and what if we didn’t make enough to cover it? Anna and I started to write some lists and do some sums.

How hard could it be. We could just give it a try. We needed somewhere to work from, a phone number, an advert, massage oil, condoms, lubricant, tissues, wet ones and talcum powder.

It seemed pretty simple so we decided to do it. First thing we needed to do was to find some where to work from.  We ended up booking a two bedroom apartment in the CBD for just one night. It was a cute little brand new apartment with a balcony over Rundle street and with all the modern facilities. It was important to us that the place we booked was central, nice, and had plenty of parking and had direct access for our clients. We didn’t want a bunch of random people flowing past a hotel reception all day looking for our room and blowing our cover.

Next we had to write our adds. We wanted to put three adverts in the local paper “The Advertiser” where all the other sex industry adds were. So we wrote one add for each of us and one for us together. It was difficult because there are a list of words that the advertiser wont let you use, but they don’t make that list public, so you just have to guess what words someone might find offensive.  When we tried to place our adds we were confronted with “Sorry no passionate and no sensual – it describes a sexual act. No playmate- the word play refers to a child. No ‘Girl Friend Experience’ ( a common term used in the industry to describe a passionate service)  –  use of the word ‘girl’ describes someone under age, no abbreviations, no reference to age or nationality etc etc. We ended up having to rewrite our add several times trying to describe what we have to offer, fit into invisible guidelines and stand out from all the others adds.

We bought a new sim card for my mobile phone and used the new number in our adverts. We kept our prices around the same as they were when we worked in the brothel because we still had our expenses. And by our calculations we only needed to do 2 jobs each to completely cover our costs, plus some.

The day before our add appeared we headed into the SIN Safe Sex Shoppe to buy a bunch of cheap condoms and lube and to the supermarket for everything else we needed. We got condoms in big (maxi), little (ultra special) and medium (classic) sizes. We got flavoured condoms (most sex workers in Australia use condoms when giving oral and latex flavour is pretty gross), we got pump-action lubes, dams (a thin piece of latex used when giving a woman oral or anal rimming) female condoms (yes they exist – although not very sexy), unscented easy wash massage oil (clients don’t want to go home smelling like a perfumery) and tissues and wet ones (for cleaning up the mess).

Now all there was to do was check into our apartment, turn on the phone and starting taking the calls. We were actually a little bit excited. We knew we would do well, we were two new workers with new adds and we were private (lots of clients seem to prefer a quiet private discreet setting compared to a busy brothel), and sure enough the phone rang hot.

Anna and I were opposite in our looks and description, and neither of us had any trouble getting bookings. When the client called we would run through our phone  spiel and encourage them to make a booking. We wouldn’t give the address or room number to them until 10 minutes before the booking when they called to confirm the booking. This was strategy to try and minimise ‘no shows’ (fake bookings) and to try to keep our location discreet. The last thing we needed was to have the management of the holiday apartments suspect what we were doing and kick us out before we had made enough money. But our plan worked well and we were both booked solidly throughout the day. By 3pm we had bookings to keep us busy through till 10 pm.

The day went  off without a hitch and at 10 O’Clock we were tired and thrilled with our success. Our total price for our services were comparable to the just the workers cut at The Main Course (In the late 1990’s Adelaide had the worst payed hookers in Australia) and after costs I had made a comparable amount to what i made when i worked in Melbourne, but with the bonus of  finishing at 10pm and having a luxury apartment to relax in all night. Taking appointments seemed much more civilised to the insane intro lounge and hallways at The Main Course too.

At the end of the day Anna and I opened a bottle of  champagne to celebrate our success and did what all hookers do at the end of their shift: counted our money and made a million plans for it.