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_interview prostitiute
August 12, 2013 | by  | in Features Homepage |
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Pulling an All-Nighter

Finding herself in a tricky situation, one first-year student turned to prostitution to pay off her “stupid debt”. By day, she is a Politics student; by night, she is Felicity*. Salient talked to Felicity about the ups and downs of life as a working girl.

How did you get started in this line of work?

I started a few weeks ago. There was an ad for a bar job, but when I got there the manager said: “I’ve got a few positions available bartending, but you can actually make so much money…” So I could earn minimum wage, or I could [much more] an hour, so I said yes straight away.

I’m not a person who really enjoys sex at all. I enjoy sex if it’s with my boyfriend, but I’m just not a really sexual person. There’s a pole in the lounge and all the girls get on it, but that’s just not me. When I signed my contract I actually vomited. It’s my body and soul. They tell you: “Think that you’re someone else, you’re not this girl. Work is work; money is money.” I really, really needed the money, because I’m going away, and I had a few stupid debts that I needed to pay off. I have goals; I didn’t just start doing this because I like sex. This is very out-of-character for me.

After that, I went on my trial straight away and got booked twice. It’s so weird. All the girls just sit there and the guys either come to you or you go to them. I would never approach them. So the guys just come up to you and book you—there’s a standard room, a spa room… but some girls get booked for five hours! What do you do? They’re not even all-that—I’m not all-that either—but they’re not!

How good is the money?

I’m not the kind of girl that will come up to you and then just hustle hustle hustle, but some girls make a grand a night—on a Tuesday!

So there’s quite a lot of hustle involved?

Yep. You can charge for kissing, you can charge for them touching you. What you’re obliged to do when you get paid is a massage—but that never happens, even though I give a really good massage! So you have a massage, you have sex with them, and you give them a blow job or a hand job. That’s the standard. If they want to touch you or whatever, you can charge for that. People are actually like, “But I want to please you!” and I say “Okay, that’s $100.” Cha-ching!

How much do you charge for kissing?

$70. Is that too much? $70’s the lowest but I always say “$100… Okay, $85… Okay, last chance, $70.”

Does management set the rates or do you set your own rates?

With extras, you hustle as much as you can. But they have a set rate. If a guy comes in he’ll pay [a set rate] an hour—some people pay that much money for sex! So we get half of that. Once you’re in the room, you hustle as much as you can. Not that I do, but some of the girls get $700 in tips.

Do you feel safe when you’re working? Can you refuse clients?

Yes, you can refuse clients, but of course, you’re a “Gentleman’s Club”; you can’t just say “Fuck that”, you have to be discreet about it, and tell your manager. If there’s ever a problem, you can run out and run to the reception. There’s an intercom in every room; you can always ask for help. They make you feel comfortable and safe, but of course you can’t help it when sometimes it’s just really bad. I had one client and I actually just cried. It was terrible—it was the worst sex of my life. It was disgusting, it was scary, he was ugly, he was fat, but I just had to think about the money.

Even if I tell myself, “This is work, this is work”, I will always have that voice in my head, and I don’t want to lose it—the voice that tells me, “This is weird.” I might be part Felicity*, but I don’t want to lose the other me as well.

Do you ever find it pleasurable? Do you find any of your clients interesting?

There is a huge variety of guys out there. You’d be surprised; there are some guys who come in there and they just need company. I think they feel bad because they think I’m too cute, or something. With some guys, I actually just sit there and we talk, talk, talk. There’s one who is really good-looking, and I’m like, “Why did you come here? You could so easily get laid anyway.” I think he’s going through a bad patch, or something.

There was another guy I met who’s really nice. We just had a weird connection, and both liked each other. We both found it really weird so I offered to get him another girl, because neither of us could go through with it. He offered to take me out to the movies, or something, and he said, “I wish I didn’t meet you here.” But, you know, c’est la vie; that’s how he’s met me, if he wants to be friends with me that’s fine, but that’s how he’s met me, and he can’t change that.

There was one guy who just couldn’t get it up. Those are the best kinds of customers because you just sit there and you get paid. And so this one guy was just like, “I just can’t do this eh, I’m real drunk”, so we got into talking, and he asked what I did. I’m a really honest person, so I just told him that I wasn’t planning on doing this forever. But then he was like: “You’re so honest I just got really turned on.” And I was just like, “Oh fuck,” but it wasn’t too bad.

If I get my head into it, sometimes I enjoy it, but because it’s work there’s always that person inside of me saying: “This is just work”. I can never really enjoy it. It’s a stranger. Usually I’m just glad it’s over.

Has the experience changed your perception of men?

Yeah. What I’ve realised about men, is that everyone has a story. You don’t know how they got fucked up like that. I will be more careful with men, because you don’t know how they are—you need to get to know them better. I will not drop into the next relationship that comes along.

In the meantime, I will just make the most money I can, while I can. Of course, the money will always be tainted, but I’ve just told myself that once I’ve worked and paid my debts off, that’s it for me. I’m done. I will keep my friends [at work], I will stay in contact with them, but that’s it for me. I don’t count the guys that I’ve been with, because that’s sad.

And it will have taught me that you should never judge a prostitute, because everyone has their reason. I think that’s the most important thing I’ve learned—never to judge anyone. Some guys look like hobos but actually have massive dicks.

Do you ever have female clients?

No. But you get paid more if you do bi-doubles, with one of the other girls.

What has been better, and what has been worse than your expectations about what working as a prostitute would be like?

You think it’s really seedy and disgusting, but the rooms are actually really nice, with spas and nice leather beds. But it’s also a much darker side of hospitality. There are drugs—it’s just the same loop of getting tired, getting drugs, getting drunk. Some girls, when you look at them, you see parts of them that have been like me now. I see me in them, but with most of them it’s just overshadowed; they got so deep into it because the money is so good. Yes, the money is good, but you can’t ever lose yourself. That’s what I always tell myself.

Are drugs a big part of that world?

You get girls who offer you, every now and then, party pills or whatever. You just have to say no. You know, if I’m going to say ‘no’ outside of that world, why wouldn’t I say ‘yes’ now? I don’t see the point—I’m naturally happy… I’m just not good in bed [laughs].

Is staying up late working impacting on your studies?

Definitely. Management is really pushy, but you have to fight back—that’s what the girls taught me. Uni comes first. If that’s your priority, uni comes first. I used to do four days straight; I’d start at 10 in the evening and finish at like 7 in the morning. Most of the time, you just sit there doing nothing. You’re not getting anything done—you only have three clients, and it’s shit. Now I’ve worked it out so I only need to work every other day and even bring some of my materials to read. You spend a shit load of time just waiting for people who want to have sex with you to book you.

It’s really good money—even though I’m not making as much as the other girls—it’s really good money, but you’re losing most of your life. I don’t plan to do this for long—only until I go away for the holidays. I just need the money so bad.

Apart from the long hours, has it had any negative effects on you?

It will change how I think about sex. I don’t think of work sex as real sex—I don’t count it. I know that the next time I have real sex I will be a different person.

Are many of the other girls students as well?

Yes, one of them I know because she does the same paper as me. Some of them I’ve made really good friends with; some are Bio majors, and so on. The main thing I’ve learned over the past few weeks is to never judge a book by its cover. Never. Everyone has a reason for being there. The stereotypes are bad—the things people assume about you. One guy booked me and said: “So where’s your pipe?” You’re so stereotyped. It’s really sad, but that’s how society works. [People assume that] we are crack whores.

I’ve made friends with some of the girls and we go out together—to dinners, and for coffee—and then you realise it’s normal. Well, not normal, but you know.

I’ve never heard any of the girls say that it’s to pay for their student loan; it’s usually; “I need to buy this,” or, “This shift is for my new shoes, for my new tattoo.” Some girls rely on it to live—one of the girls flunked uni last semester because she was working so much, so she’s reduced her hours and is focussing much more on uni now.

Do many people know?

The only person who I told is my gay best friend back home. He knows about ‘Felicity’. He’s the only person who I can talk to about it, but I think it’s a really big eye-opener—it’s a big issue. This is real.

When I told him, at first there was a long silence, and then he said: “It doesn’t change anything. You’re in a lot of shit, and I wish I could help you, but for me, nothing has changed.”

It’s hard to lie to my other friends, but I don’t think I will tell anyone else. Except for this interview, which has been a relief to do; to get it out there. I know that some girls will consider doing this, but if you’re in really deep shit like me, maybe, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

I’m in deep financial shit. You know, if you get a default then you can’t buy a house for five years or whatever. Getting that debt is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was stupid debt—it wasn’t for anything useful, and I have nothing to show for it now.

Does having two separate identities—‘Felicity’ and yourself—help keep those two parts of your life separate?

Yep, I have to always keep that in mind. I would never tell a client about my family; who I am, where I’m from. The guy who asked me out on a date asked for my Facebook, and I was just like, “Fuck off”, I’m not that stupid. I’m friendly, but I’m not stupid.

If you’re thinking about it… don’t do it. Or talk to me first! The money is very very very very tempting, but in saying that, I will never get those hours of my life back that I spent… you know. Especially for the bad experiences. It will change my life from the time I signed that line and sold my soul. It’s never going to be the same; you’re never going to be the same person. If you’re not as strong as me, it will break you. You will either get really sucked into it, or break down. That’s my advice. Think about it.

But you don’t regret it?

No, I’m in it already. I can’t wash my hands of it now. I’m in it, so I may as well just make the most of it now. Once I’m finished, that’s it. This is real, and it’s scary, but I can’t say I regret it.

——

*Name has been changed and details have been removed to protect identity.

——

Want to learn more? Head to the VUWSA Women’s Week Sex Work Panel Discussion this Tuesday at 5.30 pm in Meeting Room 3, Student Union Building.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (9)

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  1. j says:

    kind of weak for salient to publish this without a byline, especially since the writer/interviewer did such a piss-poor job, especially in directing their line of questions and the overall tone of the interview.

    for future reference, it might help to consult sites- such as titsandsass.com- that feature articles by people actually involved in the sex work they’re writing about, in order to develop your line of questioning.

    It also helps to know that not all sex workers define themselves or their work in the same way (indeed, many situations are different). Maybe before describing the interview subject as a prostitute in the preamble, the writer could have asked her specifically how she described herself, or referred more generically to ‘sex work.’ reading resources such as this could also have helped http://www.chezstella.org/stella/?q=en/14answers

    • Hi Lacey, J

      The interviewers were the Co-Editors—myself and Stella Blake-Kelly—and we did not publish the interview without a byline as an attempt to hide our identities.

      In terms of the tone of the interview, it is relevant to point out that Felicity contacted us as she felt it was important to share views on her line of work; referred to herself as a prostitute when she contacted us, and finally, that we had prepared a range of questions, but let the interview guide the nature of the questions we asked.

      We realise that there are a huge number of sex workers who do not define themselves in this way, and enjoy the work they do, and we did not seek to disparage their work or views in publishing this interview. In the coming weeks we will be conducting a follow-up interview to shed light on some different perspectives.

      Thanks for getting in touch.

  2. Lacey says:

    Wow. I’m hugely disappointed that this is now the impression that the entire student body at Vic has of the sex industry. If anybody were thinking of looking into this line of work, I would really not encourage going to this girl for advice.

  3. Syd Drew Card says:

    Lacey, This interview is clearly somebody’s genuine experiences and I really don’t think it purports to be the perspective of every single person in the industry. How dare you wish to suppress that viewpoint because it diverges from your own. Check your prejudice.

    • Felicity says:

      Syd Drew Card –

      Thank you. And to lacey, It is just a viewpoint based on my own experiences, I don’t represent or generalize the whole industry.

  4. Many Names says:

    I think the premise of this article is potentially really good (not everyone in the sex industry enjoys it or does it without feeling pressured to work in any way) but it would have benefited from an interview with someone who has more experience and more insights, probably someone who has worked for more than a few months.

    For instance, someone who has worked for a longer period of time would probably be able to better discuss the reasons why other women might be pressured into working: poor welfare support, a difficulty finding adequate mental health support which cuts down the employment options available to someone, or in the case of many trans* workers, a difficulty finding other work because of employers’ prejudices.

    Also, someone who had worked for longer would possibly have been more cautious in disclosing details about themselves and their workplace. Obviously the decision about what to disclose was made by Felicity and is ultimately her decision, but from the descriptions given I can more or less immediately work out which parlour she works at and potentially her employers could work out which girl is being interviewed here.

    And some of the biggest problems with the sex industry are that is it racist, ageist, sizeist and classist. All of these mean that a girl who isn’t slim, white, young and ‘educated’ has a much lesser chance of being able to work somewhere that isn’t a parlour (not that every sex worker would want to, but it drastically cuts down on opportunities). Another issue in the sex industry is workers rights: workers are nominally independent contractors, but in almost all of the tests set out by the IRD they would be considered employees. However the owners of the parlours typically know that there are few other options available to many women, and so practices like fines continue while workers miss out on things like sick leave and holiday pay.

    Obviously Felicity isn’t enjoying her work, which is unfortunate and a totally legitimate experience that shouldn’t be ignored, but this interview really doesn’t cover all of the ground which it could and ends up being not particularly good and not particularly informative.

    • b says:

      I just want to second everything in this comment, it’s completely on point. You can’t have meaningful discussions about the issues within sex work (and, as someone who’s been fucking for money for three years now, there are plenty of issues to talk about!) if the conversation is still hung up on: “it’s empowering!” “No it isn’t!”

  5. b says:

    also, one of the reasons why I and other sex workers are taking this piece so badly is blanket statements like this: “If you’re not as strong as me, it will break you. You will either get really sucked into it, or break down.” which reinforce the idea that we’re all damaged goods.

  6. L says:

    Check my prejudice? Pfft. Check your assumptions. I never said anything about supressing anybody’s viewpoint. I say good on you Felicity for bringing to light some of the issues within the industry, however if an article or interview is to be published on a topic as polarising and sensitive as the sex industry, surely it would be a lot more informative and meaningful if it were more well rounded and balanced. Perhaps this could have been achieved by interviewing more than one person and including the experiences of women with more experience in the industry, as the above commenter points out, to get a more diverse perspective.
    I have been in the industry for 4 years now, and a lot of time and effort is put into trying to change the way that sex workers are perceived, as it from that point that we can begin to have some real progress in dealing with the current problems faced by workers. My issue with this kind of story does nothing to alleviate the horrible stereotypes and stigma that sex workers face on a daily basis – only encourages it.
    Felicity, if you’re having such a bad time at work, go elsewhere. There are plenty of places to choose from that offer excellent working conditions and will be much more conducive to your needs. Vote with your feet, and good luck.

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