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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Features |
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It’s a hard knock life

Fiddy once said: “In the hood they say there’s no business like ho business.” So what is the sitch in Wellywood’s hood? What is the morse code thumping of Wellington’s sexy pulse spelling out? What does it take to be the best in a tough game? It’s hard to be a hooker with a heart of gold, but Salient’s Josh Cleary had a chat with one.

Names have been omitted for privacy reasons.

So just to clarify, you work in the sex industry, right?

I have—I’ve just finished working as a ‘supervisor’ at a brothel. I was actually a legit supervisor, not just saying that. So, I worked this year as a supervisor three nights a week at a brothel, basically running the place, serving at the bar, putting bookings through, and some light cleaning and a bit of sales. I did about two and a half years as a prostitute, with a bit of kink work added in. I also did three years on and off as a stripper. I got into the escort work through being around it in the strip clubs—I got to know some working girls and I was happily promiscuous. Eventually I decided if I was going to be having casual sex with drunk men who were often fucking crap lays, I may as well get paid for it.

I got into the stripping because 18-year-old me had an endearing habit of running around in underwear every time alcohol was consumed. It was much the same rationale: may as well get paid for it!

I worked for about two months as a waitress/promo girl in the strip club before I got up on stage. I took my time and really scoped it out, and I thought about the decision to start whoring for quite a few months before I started that too—and I’m very glad both those decisions were quite considered.

So it was something you thought through fully?

Yup, and my decision to quit was much the same. I was definitely still enjoying the job and it was still working out for me, but it was just getting more tiring, and I thought it’s definitely better to quit than get burnt out.

That’s a little bit different from the popular idea that women somehow get exploited and pushed into it. Is that idea justified?

I think that the idea that sex workers are coerced or exploited is part stereotype and part legitimate concern. Even though I entered the industry at 18, I have seen many girls start escort work at 18 who clearly weren’t aware of their own psychological and emotional limits, or the boundaries they needed to set to keep themselves happy and safe. And while I don’t, by any means, think that the industry is inherently exploitative, I think that if you aren’t protecting yourself and with a good support network in your personal life, there can be a lot of really hard emotional and mental problems to work through. Some related to the job, some related to the social discrimination, and some related to the wider social aspects, i.e. the prevalence of drugs in the industry.

So it’s something that, perhaps, wider society needs to gain a better understanding of?

Well I’ve always thought that a lot of the self-destructive behaviours I’ve seen—the higher visibility of substance abuse in the industry, the seedy characters some girls hang out with, and the messy relationships that are definitely hyped by stereotype, but can sometimes be seen—they can quite often be fuelled by self-destructive urges which are clearly fuelled by these internalised messages that girls get about their sexualities. NOT that I think being promiscuous means you’re automatically self-destructive, just that there’s often a link, you know?

I think the point is that we’re all a little bit ‘deviant’, and while there are millions of people who will never want anything other than monogamy and meaningful sex, I think a society that realises everyone’s a bit kinky in their own special way and that’s ALRIGHT will definitely be better off. You don’t need to be a raging whore who likes nothing more than a night of tequila, fivesomes and reclaimed language, to agree with sex-positive or sex-radical principles. The thing about sexuality is that’ll mean different things for absolutely everybody.

So, to go down a slightly different track for a minute—what do you think makes a good sex worker?

I think the most important thing, and it may seem glaringly obvious, is people skills. Especially empathy. The nature of the job is such that, even if you work in a very standard knock-shop where it’s ‘get in- get off- get out’ mentality, you’ll never have any two clients looking for exactly the same thing.

The most successful hookers I’ve known have had the same things in common: an ability to have interesting conversations on many levels, the ability to connect with many backgrounds, a brilliant natural smile, and a sense of ease with their own bodies. If you don’t have those things, the jobs where clients book you for four hours just to talk about their lives, depression or ex-wives, are going to be the hardest things ever. And no matter how good your body is, if you’re not comfortable with it, providing a really good and non-awkward sexual service is near impossible. One of the most incorrect stereotypes about the sex industry, in my experience, is that guys book girls just so they can fuck ‘em and walk away.

All of my regular clients—and I had several who’d book me around once a fortnight/once a month each—did so because I was genuinely open to trying new things, and I welcomed the idea of getting myself off at work, and showed them how to do it.

So what should the stereotype be?

The stereotype of what the client wants?

Yeah, we’ll start there…

It’s a hard thing to generalise, but I think almost everyone who uses the sex industry wants to find a service—no matter what ‘flavour’—with someone who is happy, respects themselves, and makes the client feel like a king. More often than not the essence of the service is escapism—and the punters I know would hate nothing more than spending an hour with a worker who’s clearly unhappy with their job, because then they, the client, isn’t going to have much of an indulgent escapist time.

People like being pampered, and paying a beautiful person to have sexy fun with you is definitely an indulgence.

It must be an incredibly insightful role to be in. To be the arbiter of people’s deepest desires, needs, fetishes and dreams. Does that ever weigh on you?

[Laughs] Woah—it does now that I think of myself as the arbiter. It’s definitely a responsibility, especially in terms of confidentiality, and respecting people’s privacy… I’ve definitely found it more empowering than anything—the confidentiality’s an important concern, but the feeling of being trusted, the quite real connections you get—especially with regulars—and being able to see the beaming smile on a repressed dude’s face after you’ve pegged him for the first time, that’s pretty rad.

And I wish more of society could appreciate just how fucking sweet a post-orgasm smile is, without being grossed out by it.

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