During these golden years of mine, I often find myself contacted by emerging sex workers seeking help and advice starting out in the industry. I’ve written some general pointers to redirect people’s enquiries. Anyone can take it or leave it, but if you do derive some knowledge from what I’ve written, take it with a grain of salt.
1. Figure out what the hell it is you’re asking people to buy.
What are you selling here exactly? Obviously sex comes into play, but there’s a myriad of sexual acts and variations that I already know you’re not prepared to do. So what are you prepared to do in a booking? Clients are not interested in uncertainty or ambiguity, they’re paying money, and they want to be given hints as to what they’re getting. So you really need to sit down and ask yourself what it is that you are, not just willing, but comfortable providing. If you think to yourself ‘well, whatever the client wants’ then you’re doing it wrong. You can’t rely on an assumption that the client knows precisely what they want and will command that of you. Other times clients want as much as they can get. It’s up to you to set the mood. If you neglect to cater to your comfort levels, you might find yourself not liking the job, and you wouldn’t want that. No one else is going to tell you how to do this for you, and if they did, they’d most surely do it wrong. You’re responsible of ensuring your own comfort.
Moreso, you need to figure this out because some people are boundary pushers. If you have no idea what your boundaries are, then you won’t know when to reel back when you’re close to the edge. Make sure your service list is transparent. Don’t leave room for error or miscommunication; make it clear what’s on the table. An inner dialogue with yourself shouldn’t be sexual-specific. You need to figure out what level of emotional output you’re happy to sacrifice. You are not obligated to feed a client’s emotional or physical need if that’s not what you have on offer. That communication with yourself will help you notice when a client is demanding too much of you in a booking. And once you figure out what you want from the work besides the money, you can begin to target and attract the right clientele.
And finally, when people are buying something where the vendor sets the price, there will be some who leap at the opportunity to bargain. This is simple consumerism, it happens everywhere in a number of industries. Of course you wouldn’t bargain with a Kmart employee over the price of a movie, as you know they have no power to change the price. But as a proprietor of a small business, sex workers can, so there’s no veil of inability to hide behind. The negotiation is up to you, so it’s important you realise what you’re comfortable doing and at what price point.
2. Trust your gut.
First and foremost, for everything and anything, trust your instincts. I cannot stress this enough. When doing physical labour, networking/connecting, admin, security, screening, advertising, marketing, your instincts are always on, even if you’re unaware of it. The number of times I have nearly left a hotel room, turned back, swept the room and found a condom wrapper in the furthest crevice of a room is silly. When trying to keep a low profile, the little things can cause avalanches of consequences if they go unnoticed. Your instincts are there to save your life, never ever ignore them. The great thing about your gut is that it has one job; to keep you safe. So as soon as your spider senses tingle, don’t do the common mistake of ignoring it. If someone sounds fishy, test them. Think about it, for a minute or two, really think and then react. Your gut is bound to be wrong at times. Big deal – it’s inconvenient, imagine the situation you might be in had you just listened to your gut. If I had a condom for every time I’ve heard of a situation turn because the sex worker ignored their gut, I would never need to buy a condom again. Always trust your intuition forevermore.
3. There’s so much more you need to learn about sexual health and hygiene.
Think Year 10 sex education will equip you for escorting in a safe and hygienic manner? You’re kidding yourself. I assure you, there’s about a hundred bazillion million extra things you need to learn (on top of what you already know or think you know) to really have a steady grip on safe and hygienic sexual practices. The extra information isn’t hard to find, just read everything you can on google, get as many pamphlets as you can from a medical clinic, get into contact with your local SWOP or sex worker organisation, or talk to a doctor. A word of caution: I’ve received incorrect information from a qualified doctor so it’s always good to be thorough. I find seasoned sex workers know best. After all sex is our specialty. There is new information coming in every day. I learnt so much from the Melbourne AIDS conference 2014. And I wasn’t even there, I was just following the tweets. Be prepared to become your own nurse. Even learning what size condom is perfect in size and shape by holding a penis in your hand is handy (ha), to ensure there’s no slippage or breakage of the condom. So heads down in the books before your ass is in the air, and remember, if you’re unsure, you can always ask another sex worker or sex worker organisation for pointers. You need to be conscious of how sex will affect your body. Add cranberry juice to the list, avoid getting UTI’s. Don’t eat certain foods if you know you’re going to be doing anal. Your body is a temple, treat it as such.
3. Personal relationships are 100x harder with escorting in the mix.
Assuming you do tell your partner or any potential partners what it is that you; it is going to be hard. It’s a funny because in reality, sex work shouldn’t be a problem. And for a long it might not be… but then… it is. No matter how deep you etch that line between sex work and personal life, there’s always a cross over at some point. And it’s not necessarily your partner that’s causing an issue; sometimes it’s you.
Some workers feel guilty or dismayed about working when having a personal relationship. A lot of the time sex workers attract gross partners who prey on this guilt, using tokens like ‘you’re lucky I’m even with you, you could never find another guy who’d put up with you.’ What’s worse is when sex workers actually believe they are worthless simply because of their job. If that’s not internal stigma, then I don’t know what is.
There are so many things that can go wrong. Partners sometimes pressure workers into leaving the industry with promises that they can find work elsewhere or they’ll be looked after (without asking the worker if that’s what they want). Sometimes your partner pens up their aggression and frustration instead of communicating about it (and this inevitable shines through eventually). Sometimes your partner is happy with your work, until whoopsies, they actually ‘love’ you and therefor everything must change to suit them. It annoying because it’s not the partners fault entirely, sometimes we think we can handle things, but we can’t. We like to think we’re strong and can cope, but we can’t. If they are just ‘tolerating’ your work then the relationship is probably going to collapse. There’s only so long you can ‘tolerate’ something.
When you’re juggling sex work and personal relationships, you have to negotiate terms and conditions to reach mutual satisfaction. The key is communication. It can work, but it takes a hell of a lot of work, commitment and time. It’s you’re decision. But it can work so don’t ever assume that it can’t. Personal relationships are tricky, to say the least, and not just to get but to also maintain.
Hint: watch out for those guys who only want you so they can have that token vixen hooker girlfriend/boyfriend (or a glimpse into the strange and bizarre world of escorting). They’re no good.
5. You’ll probably fall for a client.
I’m not going to deny that when working with sex, emotions like affection and adoration can get caught in the mix. Especially if you’re open to it. You’re cultivating fruitful grounds for many forms of love to grow. As someone who is extremely disposed to love and yet completely emotionally impregnable; I can vouch it happens. There are not many people who make it past my walls, but it does happen with this work. I’ve had to learn to cope with it. No matter how much you fortify yourself from your clients, it sneaks in. It doesn’t have to be love-love; it’s just a manner of love. A soft spot, really. Everyone feels love at dispersing levels, they present it in a variety of ways. Plenty of sex workers stop working to give that potential love with a client a go. Some feel love as something that grows, like a plant, something that would truly break their heart if they lost. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with falling with a client. You can weave strong relationships with some fantastic clients. They will play a role that you’ll need at that time: protector, guardian, advisor, best friend, lover, guide, carer, you name it. Whatever you’re seeking, you’re sure to find a client who will provide. It’s up to you to take it from there and make something of it. This might happen more than once. It might happen with several clients at the same time. You’ll get used to it. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t freak out. Don’t feel disgusted. And if you have a partner it’s not so bad because it’s all in the professional confines of a work space and you can pawn it off as labour. But if the relationship is threatening the home base, it’d be best to just leave it. Falling for a client doesn’t happen to every sex worker, but it happens often enough for a mention. Also, don’t be a fool about it. It’s a great opportunity to make friends or lovers but it can do the opposite as well. Sometimes people turn into strange creatures when love is in the mix. All the risks associated with love feel so much worse when it happens in the work place.
6. Sex work is boring.
Okay, okay, this one applies specifically to me. But if you’re the type of person who bores easily like me, and you think the sex industry is the place to be to sate the boredom, then you need to face the reality. Once you set up your business, have your clients, are doing it regularly and steadily, it dawns on you. Sex work is boring. I have to burst the bubble, better sooner than later. I’m sure a lot of people assume I’m swinging from chandelier to chandelier but I’m not. I might be rocking, but the only thing I’m rolling is my eyes. Sex is fun, if you put in a lot of effort, but you can’t always do that. You don’t know if your client is a good fuck. You don’t know if your client is interesting. There’s so much effort and energy required to keep things interesting and it’s impossible to always have those things to dispose of for each and every booking. If you want to do sex work for the thrill of it, that’s cool, but know it doesn’t last. Like anything, there’s a honeymoon period and then it sets in… This is work. If you want to do it professionally, you need to come to terms with the fact that sex work is boring. It’s mundane. Just like any other profession it runs the risk of becoming mediocre.
7. Pay your taxes
Pay your taxes. Pay them, pay them, just pay them. Do not have a gap in your income history. It is so easy to do your taxes. No, you don’t have to tell the government exactly what you do. Yes, you have to pay from your own pocket. No, you don’t have to declare everything. Yes, it sucks. But if you want a future with the prospect of having a loan or a home, then you need a good history on paper. Declare your income, even if it’s a little. Just do it. It’s not hard. Don’t try to be smart. Pay your taxes; seriously, you’ll thank yourself in the future. And also, when you put money away in the bank, it helps to prevent cash spending. I find I spend my money more when it’s so readily in my hands. Which brings me to my next point…
8. You’re going to waste so much money on stupid shit you don’t need.
There’s that’s old saying, ‘the more money you have, the more money you will spend’. I realised this to be very true when escorting. Before escorting everything I had was on a need to have basis. Now? I spend money on the shit I don’t need and to cut corners because I can’t be bothered. I take more taxis then I need to. I buy more clothes then I can wear. I think I can afford anything. On holidays I’m like psssssshhh I’m on holidays, I’ll just work when I get back. It all becomes very easy to justify in your head. You’re making money so of course it’s okay to spend money, right? Wrong.
You need to prepare to change the way you spend your money to align with the change of income. You need to learn to become a proficient financial planner. If you don’t have the skills, get a financial planner. Everyone is free to spend their money as they choose. Without financial freedom I wouldn’t even be escorting, so I need to be careful on how I plan my finances without feeling constricted. Planning does not have to be constricting if you do a good enough job. If you’re reeling in thousands and throwing out thousands in the same week, you really need to stop, self-reflect and tap into your financial skills. Where do you want to be in 5 years? Make financial goals. Stick to them. You’ll thank yourself later. Always have a financial goal so your money is going somewhere safe. Always have a rainy day fund. Always have a buffer. You never know what might happen and there will come a day where you can’t work for a week or a month or even a year. Prepare. You’re allowed to buy all the stupid shit you want but don’t do in such a way that you put yourself into a tight position. Keep buying stupid shit – but don’t do it in a stupid manner.
9. The key to a good business is good customer relations.
Workers always worry. How am I going to get clients? How am I going to keep clients? What must I do to keep them coming to me? Your appearance gets you somewhere, but there’s only so long someone can stare at you before they bore. Sex gets you somewhere, but clients have fishbowl memories and are horny every week, so unless you’re actually amazing, you can’t rely on this. The real money maker is the delivery. How do you make your clients feel? How do you treat them? How do you talk to them? How much respect do you have for them?
I am by nature, a try hard, which works wonders for me in this industry. I enjoy impressing people, it’s a part of me demeanour. I try so hard to be good company when I have a guest within my presence. I will talk and talk and talk and say everything I must to make sure my client is comfortable and entertained. Feeling like you’re in a synthetic relationship with someone isn’t going to make them see you again. Having character, showing that you’re a real person and actually caring of the other party does wonders for your business. That’s what clients think about afterwards. That’s what lasts. So work on your customer service ability above anything else. Be friendly, be kind and be good. I do this because, personally, I derive comfort in it. Some workers can’t because it infringes upon tip # 1; they don’t want a connection, they don’t want thing to feel too real, it’s not comfortable for them. That’s ok, tip #1 trumps tip #9 easily. Whatever works for you, but remember, if you want to set up a sustainable business, you need to be able to connect with your clients.
10. Screen everyone you meet in the industry, not just the clients.
It doesn’t matter where you go, people suck. Having common ground with someone can be the start of something amazing… It can also give you a false sense of hope that you and another sex worker will get along. To an extent, that’s true, since we can’t talk about our work as readily with others. There’s an instant spark and excitability when you meet a fellow sex worker, there’s so much you can talk about that you can’t with others. Academics, feminists, clients, partners, they always make the common mistake of assuming our sex worker identity is the cornerstone of our whole identity or personality. It never is, it can contribute, but it’s not where you should draw your final conclusions about someone. So if you think you and another sex worker are in the same basket, and buddies by default, you are very wrong. Characters and personalities are formed way before sex work, and you might clash with those former, reliable and cemented traits of another. As peers, we are generally supportive, but if you move outside that realm and into something more personal, then you create room for conflict. You learn who someone really is, and spoiler alert, it’s not the pseudonym you initially thought.
When business is slow, it’s easy to blame other workers. At stressful times, bad characteristics will bleed past the sex worker persona. This is becoming more and more apparent with the onset of open fields of communication, like twitter. There will always be workers who don’t care for you for the benefit of their own business. There will be workers who pretend they care for you, who do this to draw personal information that they can use at a later date. Sometimes we connect just so we can entertain ourselves with the gossip generated when scrutinising another’s life. Overly friendly sex workers are often burnt by trusting the wrong sex workers. Be aware that in this industry, things can be competitive and any intimidate knowledge you release can be turned against you to damage you. So when networking within the industry, screen your friends like you’d screen your clients. If someone has a history of malicious behaviour, be wary. You’re no special exception in their eyes.
Bonus tip: Stigma’s a bitch.
When you become a sex worker, people perceive you differently, regardless of whatever else you do or whatever else you have done. And this is what stigma is and stigma changes how you feel about others and how you feel about yourself. Don’t let it get to you. Stigma is one of the most detrimental elements in sex work and it’s not something you can change. You need to have a strong identity of self. You know best, no one else, don’t ever let the stigma get to you.
Bonus, bonus tip: Don’t fucking plagiarise! I’m getting real tired of lazy pieces of shit stealing my content or copying my styling. Create your own goddamn persona. Just hire someone, it’s not that bloody hard.
Now, on your way sweet thing, and good luck working the terrain.