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Sex Workers – An Invitation to Tell Your Stories

If you work, or have ever worked, in the sex industry — as a prostitute, a stripper, a pro dominant, a pro submissive, a phone sex worker, a porn actor or model, or any other area of the industry — what was your experience?

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT COMMENTS: The comment policy for this post is different from my usual one. It’s at the end of the post. Pay careful attention to it. Violators will have their comment disemvoweled, and may even be banned.

As regular readers of this blog know, my fellow blogger in the Freethought Blogs, Taslima Nasreen, wrote a post a few weeks ago positing that all prostitution is always patriarchal oppression, always sexual exploitation, always sexual violence, that women are always forced into it, that it is never a vocation choice, that it is always human rights abuse, that all of it harms women.. I wrote a post in response, saying that I understood that there were often terrible abuses in the sex industry and that many prostitutes are forced into the work, and that of course I fervently opposed this — but also saying that there are many sex workers who freely choose the work, and like it, and do not find it abusive or exploitative.

Nasreen and I had a private email conversation about this. I’m not at liberty to disclose her side of that conversation. But I will tell you that I asked her, repeatedly, to put up a post on her blog asking sex workers what their actual experience was working in the sex industry — so she could hear for herself the tremendous variety of experiences that prostitutes and other sex workers have, and so she could take those experiences into account when she considers the questions of how abuses in the industry should be handled.

As of this writing, she has yet to do this.

So I’m going to do it myself.

If you work, or have worked, in the sex industry — as a prostitute, a stripper, a pro dominant, a pro submissive, a phone sex worker, a porn actor or model, or any other area of the industry… what was your experience?

This query is for women, men, and trans people who don’t identify as one gender or the other. Please feel free to answer any or all of the following questions, as well as any others:

Why did you get into the sex industry?

Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

What are your feelings about your customers?

Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

I’ll start things off, with my own answers.

The basics:

In the late 1980s, I worked for a few months as a nude dancer in a peep show, the Lusty Lady in San Francisco. I mostly worked on the main stage: a small stage with four or five women dancing naked, surrounded on three sides with booths. Customers would go into the booths and put in quarters, a metal windowshade would go up, and they’d watch us through a window.

I also did one stint in the “talk to a live nude girl” booth at the Lusty, which had a similar setup but was one-on-one (more focused personal attention, a more explicit show that could involve sex toys, more expensive). I might have done more of those eventually, but I quit the job soon after my first stint in the talk booth.

I never worked as a prostitute — but to a great extent, that’s a distinction without much difference. I had more physical protection than most prostitutes; I didn’t earn as much but had a more regular income (I was paid an hourly wage); the work I did was legal. But if I had been in a hotel room with my customers instead of on a peep show stage with a pane of glass between us, much of what I did would be considered prostitution by pretty much anybody. Not to put too fine a point on it: I showed off my naked body, and often masturbated, for men (and occasionally women) who watched me and often masturbated. I’m not going to pretend that my experience as a peep show dancer qualifies me to speak about the experience of prostitutes — but I’m also not willing to pretend that I’m on the “good girl” side of some bullshit line between good girls and whores.

(For the record, I’ve also done nude and erotic photo modeling, and have performed in video porn — but none of that was for money, it was just for fun, with small independent labor-of-love pornographers, so I don’t really categorize it as sex work. I did write/ produce/ narrate a sexually explicit how-to video, and that was for money, but I didn’t do any of the sex in it, so I tend not to think of that as sex work. I also worked as an order taker for a phone sex company, but I wasn’t the one doing the phone sex, so I don’t think of that as exactly sex work, either. When I think of my experience in the sex industry, I mostly think of dancing at the Lusty.)

Why did you get into the sex industry?

A combination of sexual curiosity, sexual exploration, and money.

I worked at the peep show at a time when I was doing a lot of sexual experimentation, throwing a lot of sexual things at the wall to see what stuck, and this work was part of that. My sexuality has a strong exhibitionist streak to it, and I was intrigued by the idea of dancing for an audience of strangers. My sexuality, and my personality in general, also has a strong adventurous streak (more so in my twenties than now, but still now to a great extent): I like trying new things simply for the sake of trying them, and this work was part of that as well. I was also just starting to really come out as a dyke, and dancing naked in a small room with several other dancing naked women had an obvious appeal. I had friends who worked at this particular place, who liked it and spoke fairly highly of it, so I felt safe trying it out. Also… this is hard to explain, but part of me simply wanted the experience of working in the sex industry. I wanted to be in solidarity with sex workers, or something. Again: I didn’t want to be on the “good girl” side of that particular fucked-up “good girl/ bad girl” dichotomy. I felt like this was… well, like this was a fucked-up dichotomy, and I wanted to transgress it. I wanted to cross that line, and be on the other side of it.

And I also had a debt to pay off (ironically, to the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit school): there had been a screw-up with my student loans, and I got stuck with responsibility for a big tuition payment. I was already considering getting into this work for personal and political and sexual reasons, and the debt tipped the scale of my decision.

Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

I freely chose it. There was a certain amount of economic pressure, in the form of the abovementioned debt. But I could have found other ways of paying that off (such as working overtime at my other job). I wouldn’t have taken the work if I hadn’t been interested in it anyway.

Economic pressure isn’t always a simple either/or thing. There are often degrees of economic pressure, with sex work and any other kind of work: “I’ll starve if I don’t do this work,” “I’ll get kicked out of my apartment and will be on the street if I don’t do this work,” “I’ll get kicked out of my apartment and will have to move back to Indianapolis with my parents if I don’t do this work,” “I’ll have to take a shitty job that I’ll hate if I don’t do this work,” “I’ll ruin my credit rating if I don’t do this work,” “I won’t get tenure if I don’t do this work,” many shades in between. My pressure was on the less-pressured end of that spectrum, right around “shitty job” and “credit rating.”

Why did you go into the particular line of sex work that you did (i.e., prostitution instead of stripping, or vice versa)?

Nude dancing in the peep show let me explore sex work in a way that felt safe to me. I didn’t feel comfortable doing forms of sex work that involved physical contact with customers, such as prostitution or lap dancing. I briefly considered lap dancing, since the money was better, but decided I wanted to keep the physical barrier between me and my customers.

What, if anything, did you like about the work?

The actual work part of the work was usually pretty pleasurable. I liked dancing naked for an audience: I found it hot and fun. I liked being on a stage with other dancing naked women: again, hot and fun. I liked many of my customers: many of them were sweet and appreciative, some of them were sexy and fun to work with, and some of them were imaginative and hilarious. One of them, in fact, actually stays in my mind as one of my favorite sexual partners of all time.

I gained a lot of sexual confidence at that job, and got much more comfortable with my body. It was a good place to explore and experiment with different aspects of my sexuality: different costumes, different personas, and to some extent sexual exploration with other dancers (dancers were encouraged to fool around on stage, although more explicit sex was supposed to be saved for the private talk booth). And I loved most of the women I worked with. They were smart and funny and tough, they had great attitudes and interesting ideas about sex, they had great attitudes and interesting ideas about lots of things, and there was a strong sense of camaraderie, on stage and behind it. We took good care of each other.

I also liked the exercise: I got into good shape dancing at the Lusty. Plus there was a good burger place right across the street. I have very fond memories of wolfing down Clown Alley burgers right after a shift. And it was cool working in North Beach. If I got to work early, I’d sometimes kill time at City Lights Books before I went in.

What, if anything, did you not like about the work?

Mostly the management. When they first hired me, they put on a good show of being responsible and supportive employers, but they kind of turned out to be jerks. Not in any of the cliched ways you might have heard of — they didn’t hit on dancers (that I know of), they didn’t give us drugs, nothing like that. What they did was this: They hired women with promises of frequent raises and lots of money if you stuck with it, but the reality was that once you’d gotten a few raises and were making over a certain amount, they often started hassling you. (I got hassled about my weight, which they’d been fine with until I started making more money, and even though I got good reviews from customers. Another woman got hassled about her body hair, which they’d also been fine with until she started making more money.) They kept very few women on at the higher rate of pay that you got after you’d been there more than a few months. I think they liked having high turnover: it kept fresh faces on the stage, and kept wages low. But they weren’t honest about that. They just kept hiring new women, and giving them lots of encouragement when they were new and not making that much, and then turning into assholes once their pay got too high.

(BTW, the dancers at the Lusty Lady in San Francisco later unionized, and still later bought out the place and operated it as a worker-owned collective. I wish I’d been able to work there during those days. I don’t know what the status of the place is now.)

The other big downside was some of the customers. There were very few who were serious assholes — and the dancers had full authority to get any customer kicked out if he was being a serious asshole — but some of the customers were kind of just… blank. They didn’t smile, or wave, or make eye contact, or give any acknowledgement that we were human beings (or indeed that they were). They just stared blankly, and left. Or stared blankly, and jerked off, and left. They were like robots. It was hard to keep my sexual energy up when these guys came in. It kind of sucked the life out of the room.

Of course, much like any job, there were days when I didn’t feel like going in, I just wasn’t in the mood — but if I wanted the paycheck and wanted not to get fired, I had to go in anyway. Actually, though, on most of those days, once I got on the stage and started dancing, I got into it and was fine. (It was a lot like writing in that regard. There are days when I don’t feel like writing and do it anyway because I’m on deadline… and once I get started, I’m usually happy to be doing it.)

On the whole, did you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

On the whole, I liked it… except for the management. They were the reason I finally quit. (I sometimes wish I’d stuck it out for longer — I knew I was being pushed out of their revolving door, and I sometimes wish I’d made that harder for them.) But on the whole, I liked the work, and am proud of having done it, and have very fond memories of it.

What are your feelings about your customers?

Tremendously varied. They ranged from “one of my favorite sexual partners ever” to “Christ, what an asshole.” With a whole lot of “Yeah, he was okay” in between. The ones I strongly liked were the ones who brought some real sexual imagination to the table (the guy who wore red lace lingerie under his business suit, the one who took off his shirt and danced for the dancers, the one who showed us how he could suck his own dick). The “one of my favorite sexual partners ever” guy was the guy who brought in a notepad and a pen so we could communicate (you couldn’t really talk through the glass), and who smiled and flirted like crazy, and who obviously really liked me and really liked being there. I can still picture his face now, giving me a big coy grin through the glass. The ones I strongly disliked were the ones who violated house rules (we got those guys thrown out); the party animals who came in drunk in groups (ditto, often); and the one who said “I love you” after watching me dance for fifteen seconds. Ew.

Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

I had somewhat idealistic ideas about the job when I first got into it, and those became more nuanced and realistic. In a weird way, I both liked and disliked the work more after I’d done it for a while: I guess because it had become more visceral and more immediate. Right when I quit I was very bitter about it… but only about the management, not about the work itself. On the whole, I always liked the work, and that hasn’t changed with time.

If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel completely free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel completely free to leave it? If not, what restraints did you have?

I felt pretty much free to leave it. I did have this debt I had to pay off, and there were days I didn’t much feel like going in and went in anyway because of that economic pressure. But if I’d felt really strongly about it, I would have quit, and found another way to pay that debt. I never had a terrible revulsion against the work or anything; there were just days when I would rather have been doing something else.

Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

Zillions. But for now, I’m going to leave it at three.

1: I’ve had better jobs. I’ve also had worse jobs. I’ve had jobs where I felt more appreciated and less exploited — and I’ve had jobs where I felt less appreciated and more exploited. At the time I was doing nude dancing, I also was working for Ticketmaster as a charge-by-phone drone… and that job was far more exploitative.

2. If you, personally, would not enjoy doing this work… then don’t do it. But don’t assume that I couldn’t really have liked this work, or that there was something wrong with me because I did. Not everyone likes the same things — sexually or otherwise. When you assume that nobody could possibly like this work unless they’re stupid or co-opted or damaged, you’re contributing to the slut-shaming system that treats sex workers as Other — and this contributes to the abuse.

3: If you’re going to have opinions about sex work, you need to start by listening to sex workers. Far too many laws and public policies about sex work get set without ever inviting the input of sex workers. Many of these laws and policies are supposedly in place to protect sex workers from abuse and exploitation… but if you don’t listen to sex workers about what their problems are and how they want them handled, it doesn’t help us. It patronizes us. It treats us as children, incapable of making decisions for ourselves. And the laws and policies will typically hurt us more than they help us.

(BTW, I’ve written more about my experiences as a nude dancer in the anthology I edited, Paying For It: A Guide By Sex Workers for Their Clients. The book includes stories from many other sex workers, about their experiences in many different fields of sex work — and in particular, it includes lots of stories and perspectives on sex workers’ feelings about their customers.)

Now, as promised, here’s my comment policy for this post:

Comments on this post are for current and former sex workers ONLY.

This thread is NOT for debates about the sex industry by people who have never worked in it. If you want to discuss and debate the sex industry, and you’ve never worked in it, there are plenty of other places in the blogosphere to do so. You can even do so here on this blog, in this recent ongoing thread, or in other threads about sex work. This particular space is intended as a space for sex workers to share their experiences, for anyone who is open to hearing about them. It is therefore for current and former sex workers ONLY. If current and former sex workers want to disagree and get into debates here about the sex industry, that is fine. But if you comment in this thread without having worked in the sex industry, your comment will be disemvoweled, and depending on what mood I’m in, you may be banned.

And no, this thread is not for sex work customers. I may create a separate thread for sex work customers to tell their stories and their experiences — but this isn’t it.

Current and former sex workers: If you want to comment anonymously, that’s fine. If you want to use a different handle than the one you normally use, that’s also fine. I don’t normally approve of sock puppetry, but if you have a regular online persona and you don’t want to discuss your experience as sex worker using that handle, that’s fine. Please, however, stick with one handle for the duration of this conversation: don’t post here under multiple handles.

So sex workers, current and former: If you want to tell your stories, I want to hear them! And I hope other people do, too. Your time starts… now!

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for this invitation to tell our stories. As a former stripper of many years, I will be responding to this in detail via my blog. This is a level of respect for sex workers those who oppose sex work could learn from. I am not surprised that TN has not risen to your request.

    Much respect
    @~>~~

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I first got into writing sex because I was so cut off from my sexual self that it took a serious breakthrough and some serious personal exploration to realize I could have sexual feelings, not just, “Oh, I would love to cuddle with you and cook food together and I will certainly do you so that you won’t leave me when I don’t put out” feelings. I happen to have some skill as a writer and realized quickly how the sex writing of others with whom I came into contact, well, sucked. I looked for a niche, but I realized I didn’t want a place where I could fit in the existing sex world. I wanted the sex world to be different. So I wrote sexy writing that always, always, always included sexually marginalized characters in centered, humanized roles.

    Turns out people were into that. Who knew? So I ended up doing public readings of writing that was at times quite sexually explicit. These weren’t novels, of course, but they typically had actual relationship building in them and not only sex. But they did have sex. Sexxy, sexxxy sex. This started conversations with a number of other people who worked in the sex industry formerly or in that moment. A number of people actually did phone sex work. At one point I felt very much in need of money and my work options were limited (since this was a second job and also by disability). Phone sex seemed like the thing to do.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I had economic pressure, sure. And yes, my choices were constrained by physical disability and a lack of educational qualifications. But it wasn’t like I could do nothing. I worked another job and wanted something I could do from home, if possible, for environmental and other reasons. Although I made my choice within constraints, I definitely made a choice.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    Writing sex is activism for me. People with disabilities are desexualized. Sexualizing people with disabilities (sexualizing them NOT objectifying them, learn the difference) and de-objectifying trans folk without forcing them to lose their sex lives is incredibly important work. Trans folk and people with disabilities will not be fully human, fully integrated members of our communities unless and until they/we are free to have fully human relationships that include sex.

    So working on that? Yeah, that rocked.

    Phone sex? Well, there was some interesting “people watching” to do. What do people desire? What are the specific desires that they feel need to be expressed to a stranger instead of with someone they trust? I understand that a relationship means having something you can lose. I understand that ups the risk of talking about desire. But it also ups the payoff – and who wants to live with someone who can’t be trusted to love you?

    So watching people make these choices even as I was interacting with them, providing this talk-service for them, was interesting. In fact, at least at first, I had to think seriously about their desires and their psyches because that was the only way I could improvise the necessary dialog. So that part of the work was interesting and valuable.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    When I write sex and/or about sex and then read that work publicly, people think that they know what I would want. Any time you create a realistic character less imaginative people are going to assume that it could only be autobiographical. In fact, there’s a huge percentage of sex writing that is merely, “this is what I would want” idealized personal sexuality, so they aren’t even super-off base when they think that. (More’s the pity, since then I could feel also superior to their faulty reasoning skills.)

    But I write sex fiction. Or at least I did. I don’t anymore. But the point is – fiction. You know, not true? So coming up to hit on me after a reading and thinking you know all the smooth buzzwords to say to reduce me to merest putty? You don’t. Even if I ask people from the stage not to hit on me, people hit on me. Yuck.

    Phone sex was similar in what I didn’t like, but people had even less reason to think that they know my desire or to think that I actually would want a real sexual relationship with them. They call up. They state desires. We act out those desires in dialog. Where, exactly, did I ever express my desires? Where did I even negotiate a little time for my desires? Nowhere, that’s where. There are lots of things that consenting adults do, that is legal, that is even moral, but that I don’t wanna do. Sorry. Not my thing/s. I’m glad you had a nice fantasy, but I’m providing you with a service, I’m not providing access to my deepest, most secret, most powerful desires.

    Fuck that.

    Last thing: Some folk who call phone sex want kid-sex (including child incest) fantasies to be played out in dialog. I try to think that there must be people who think it’s okay to fantasize about such things but who would never do it in real life. I try to remember that people say all the time, “I wanted to kill [that person],” but only a very tiny percentage of people willing to say that are also willing to actually kill a human being. But I found myself just super icked out. While there may not be anything inherently violent or wrong about having a thought, it starts to get iffy for me when you are playing out the scenario in dialog. Not because dialog is wrong, but if it leads to actual violence/violation that it contributes to something else that *is* wrong.

    So I constantly found myself thinking (during these rare calls) that I needed information on whether this serves as an outlet and prevents actual violation, or whether this serves as a stepping stone and promotes it. Of course, the reality is that it almost certainly serves both purposes – one for some people and the other for others. The question is, how do I tell when I’m providing a neutral experience, when am I helping to provide an outlet, and when might I be promoting abuse/rape? The feeling that I couldn’t know, that there were no stats and even if stats showed me that *in general* I was preventing abuse more than contributing to it, I would still have been constantly wondering, “is this the call that I say something that makes rape seem okay?”

    So I stopped doing those calls – I drew a hard line – before I stopped doing phone sex altogether.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I very much write the writing and lecturing. I’d kind of like to get back to that.

    Phone sex is something that felt interesting to do when I was still exploring my sexuality. Listening to others’ desire helped me think about my desire. Without that benefit, I’m certain to get less out of it. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to doing it again, but I really want to change the world for the better and I don’t see revolutionary change coming out of the phone sex world, so I’m unlikely to go back.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    On the phone? Pity for some, happy when I encountered someone intelligent and interesting, impressed when someone could talk in complicated ways about desire. And, of course, I feel fear, trepidation, and varying levels of revulsion and/or disgust for people who called me with fantasies of abusing kids. I was actually more okay with most of the adult non-consent fantasies (though these were also rare) because in those cases most of those people were really clear that it was a fantasy. They actually seemed to have more skill in talking about it as a fantasy and not as a potential real life activity then the people who wanted sex with kids. I don’t know if it was embarrassment because of the stigma attached (and thank goodness!) to adults having sex with kids or if it was some quality that people who engage with those fantasies are more likely to possess, but the kid-sex guys (always guys, as far as I knew) would either mumble or be very assertive but brief and matter of fact – neither group made an effort at even the brief meta-conversations that the adult non-consent fantasists did.

    I don’t feel much of anything about people who just read things I’ve written. I generally feel grateful to audiences who listen to me read/lecture.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I’ve known a lot of people who exchanged actual sex for money, not just sex talk, sex fantasies, sex writing, or sex info. Others I’ve known (only a couple) have done stripping. Still others have written about sex without ever doing anything else. These diverse experiences have given me a lot to which I can compare my own experience. I don’t think it’s immoral to talk about sex on the phone. I don’t even think it’s immoral for one side of the conversation to get paid for it. And I think in an ideal world it shouldn’t be a problem at all – just folk expressing fantasies: we see the same thing in the movies, right? People turning fantasies into dialog and art?

    But we dont’ live in an ideal world, and I sometimes wonder if anything I said (although I tried to be very careful and draw very clear ethical boundaries) might have validated for someone the idea that something okay to talk about is something that should be put into practice.

    Which is ridiculous and not what I want. After all, it’s not only okay but necessary to talk about racism, war, and other things that are horrible. Yet I don’t want to make people think it’s okay to practice racism, war, etc. The trick is that with sexism so rampant in US culture (and other cultures), what I mean when I say something isn’t necessarily what people think I mean when they hear it.

    Sex is, after all, one of the trickiest subjects of human communication in our current time and place.

    It’s not as if I didn’t know this at the time, but ironically when I remember things less well, I have less certainty on how perfect my ethics were at the time. Thus it’s easy to become more concerned over time and think it’s because I’m gaining in education but in reality it might just be because of the growing error bars eventually encapsulate the line between what I consider ethical and unethical.

    So my feelings have changed, but I don’t know for absolute certain that I would have done anything differently with more life experience.

  3. Annabel says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was eighteen, unemployed, and needed a quick buck. There aren’t many jobs out there for teenaged girls with very little work experience. It looked fun and exotic, and I wanted to prove that I wasn’t a boring and straightlaced schoolgirl.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose it.The only economic pressure was that of lack of opportunities.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I went into pro BDSM work because I was already involved in the community, and felt safe with it. I knew I wasn’t comfortable doing actual prostitution, because I’ve seen enough Lifetime movies and newspaper articles detailing what happens to girls who advertise sex.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I felt wanted and desirable. At the time, I had an eating disorder and extremely low self-esteem, and believed that most of my value came from being wanted. I liked seeing that my attractiveness could be quantified in money. Now that I’m a little older and more stable, I just like that I had that experience, and know better now.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I disliked pretending to find men attractive. It wasn’t easy; I’m not good with flattery. Pro subbing/domination is all improv, and that is just not my strong suit. I felt phony and awkward, like a very bad actress.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it. I think I’d do it again now if there were a safe way to advertise and a clientele I felt I could trust. I’m more confident in myself now, and feel like I have better boundaries.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I don’t feel much about them at all. I don’t remember their names, or what they looked like. Mostly I just remember hotel rooms and the various tools and weapons they used on me.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    At the time, I felt very empowered by the work. Now I just kind of roll my eyes at my own naivite. I know it’s not empowering or some sort of bold feminist statement to let strangers beat me for money. It’s just a way to make fast money with something I already have on hand- a body and a high pain tolerance.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    It wasn’t all bad, but I had the benefit of being a white, educated, middle class girl. I could choose who I wanted to work with, where I would go, set my rate, etc. I had a lot of security that other women do not have. I chose to do this, and feel no regrets, but I know it’s not like that for everyone, so I never claim to speak for all women who have done sex work.

  4. tenya says

    If you work, or have worked, in the sex industry — as a prostitute, a stripper, a pro dominant, a pro submissive, a phone sex worker, a porn actor or model, or any other area of the industry… what was your experience?

    This query is for women, men, and trans people who don’t identify as one gender or the other. Please feel free to answer any or all of the following questions, as well as any others:

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was a stripper for two years, started when I was 19. I also did one softcore porn model stint.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I was in college, my parents could only help me financially some. I was terrified of debt, so student loans became Not An Option. Working as a cashier again (the only other job I’d had) wouldn’t pay the bills and would conflict with taking classes full-time. My boyfriend at the time had been to strip club once and was incensed at how much money “those strippers are making at doing nothing.” So I thought maybe I could do that. I looked into online, then called and was directed to try out at an amateur night. So while I wouldn’t say anyone made me do it or coerced me, I’m not sure I would have gotten it into without the financial pressures.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    There weren’t a lot of other options, I wasn’t great with a camera so porn modeling, especially enough to live on, was viable and I didn’t know anyone professionally. I wasn’t comfortable with escorting and didn’t know the first thing about it anyway. Stripping, at least, had someone on the other end of the phone saying “Sure! Come try out! Wear some heels and sexy underwear!”

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I liked being on stage, I liked doing pole tricks and impressing people and slithering out of a sexy outfit to someone appreciating the effort. I liked being able to support myself, and later a boyfriend, working 15-20 hours a week.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I hated hustling. I was never a salesperson, and selling lapdances or private booth time was really the only way to make any money at the places I worked. Sometimes guys wanted to, but a lot of times you were Glengarry Glen Ross selling and it was really desperate and annoying. If I only did stagework I wouldn’t make minimum wage, since I was paying to work there. I hated judging my body constantly, hearing all those comments about every dancer and every comment each dancer made to each other, considering breast implants? Fake eyelashes and 7″ heels? Those things weren’t me, but were a standard at the places I worked. I also didn’t like that if a customer broke the rules, it was my fault for not controlling them – stuck their fingers inside me? Why didn’t I make the rules clearer? Did I want the place to get shut down for prostitution? Guy stiffed you on money owed? Should have made them pay up front!

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I’m going to have to come out neutral to dislike a bit, there were things that I didn’t really think about being a problem until much later, at the time I was naive enough to ignore them. Like one club I worked at had the dances go outside to a different building to do lap dances. Super safe and comfortable! That being said, it was not a terrible experience and I had some fun.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Really varied! I liked the guys that knew what the strip club/bachelor party was all about, didn’t try to break rules or be my new boyfriend (and inevitably be pissy that I didn’t want to be their girlfriend!) and could spend money. You play this weird game of pretending not to be interested in money when really you’re only thinking about how much they are spending, to be interested sexually but not, and so forth. I remember a few customers I had fun with, like this adorable couple celebrating their anniversary with a series of lapdances for her, while he watched. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the guy who pinched the back of my arm hard enough to bruise because I’d “lied” to him – but I hadn’t made any money that shift, so I didn’t get him kicked out, I asked him to buy a dance and he refused.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Definitely, some of it is just experience in the world and wanting to go back and say “you made enough money! Don’t put up with such shit!” Like the above little anecdote, I put up with a lot of horrible things because I felt really desperate for the money. I used to really think this thing I’d heard, that “if strippers had any more self-confidence, they’d smell bad” was completely true – but then looking back, I had very little, and it was easily shaken by one asshole one bad night. Like one thing, I always sexually liked having my breasts and nipples played with, until I worked at clubs that allowed it, and I felt like if I told guys not to I wouldn’t sell any dances and make no money (because they told me so), so for a long time I really HATED it when partners outside of work did it, because I associated it with those clubs. It took a long time to recognize that and unlearn it.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Yes and no, when I was first applying for jobs outside of the industry, I felt like nobody wanted me with the gaps in my employment and no references (“hey, sexyclub, could you give me a reference and pretend I was a waitress or hostess or something else?” “Nope.”) and I was never going to find enough work to escape. It wasn’t that anyone was forcing me to work, but this feeling that I was “only good enough” for sex work seeped in. I started panicking about ever doing anything else. I finally got a 8-hours/week holiday job, which turned into more hours, and eventually finished my degree and got a job making more than I had in sexwork.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Haha, lots. But that would be a book. The money wasn’t that fabulous. It was more than minimum wage, sure, and there aren’t job where you can make much more at 19, but for some of the emotional crud you take to walk away some days with $50 or so, not worth it. It will follow you. It got out at jobs afterward, to my parents, and so forth. And people will judge you for it. Hell, even my normally lovely feminist fiance said something the other day about “I’m glad you don’t work as a stripper anymore.” Not because of my own feelings on it, but because it would make him uncomfortable. And while then I thought “I don’t care what other people think!” it gets harder a decade later to feel that level of conviction.

  5. says

    Thanks for this, Greta; my own story is discussed at length on my own blog, so I won’t take up your space here, but I’m going to point as many sex workers as I can reach toward this thread. I think it’s going to be very interesting indeed.

  6. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Oh, right – did I feel free to leave it?

    Sorry, I guess I didn’t grab that in the cut & paste.

    yes, I felt free to leave phone sex. I probably wouldn’t have considered doing public readings sex work if I hadn’t had the experience of phone sex, but realizing how people incorporate your words into their fantasies and use that as a reason to believe that they know you at some deep level – plus the pressure to perform (literally and figuratively) for the audience was so similar that now i do think of it as sex work.

    But this kind of thing isn’t much like textile work or street prostitution where pressures other than just the need to have a job come into play so darn frequently. While any abusive partner could push you to make more money, etc, etc, there isn’t the same level of physical threat to keep doing phone sex work. A few times people wanted to know where I lived so that we could get together in person. Most of those experiences were kind of scary because you had to not know boundaries well if you were going to suggest that to a person providing phone sex. Once one of those persons happened to live close to me and I found myself feeling panic about whether I’ve said anything that could identify me off the phone. but generally my problems weren’t fear of anything happening to me.

    So, I worried about money, but this was a second job, and not a long one, so I didn’t feel trapped. As for doing public readings, I never felt tempted to “leave”. It’s hard to get gigs like that anyway, or can be, so it was just a matter of not doing it anymore when I stopped promoting myself.

    Thus leaving was easy, but again, neither of these forms of sex work are where the worst abuses lie.

  7. Anonymous bay area sex worker says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I had just moved to San Francisco, and I was BROKE. Like no money for food broke. I was in school, and couldn’t find a job at all (this was early 2009). I started doing nude modeling for pay, but it just wasn’t very steady work. I then decided to audition at the Lusty, got hired, and have been working there since. In late 2009 I branched out into porn, and I’ve been in a few movies and on a few websites, but nothing major. In 2010 I started stripping at a Deja Vu club in SF, but only lasted a few months there (I threw my back out from working too much). In 2011 I began having back problems again, and realized that 20 hours a week dancing in high heels was too much for my body. I started doing FBSM, which is basically massage with a happy ending and lots of tantric hippy fluff, and after a month of that also started as an escort.

    My motivation has always been money, but also flexibility. I can work as little or as much as I want or am able to, and I have no boss checking up on me. My work is highly paid, and I am fastidious about my personal safety. It’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than any other job I’m qualified for in the straight world.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Economic pressure has always motivated me, but also a desire to have a workplace where I don’t have to censor myself. Sex work has brought this formerly shy and nervous girl out of her shell! I am confident and sure of myself now, and my self-esteem is at an all-time high.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    Dancing came very naturally to me. I started ballet at a very young age, and have always danced in one way or another. Porn is just pure fun for me. Getting paid to have sex with hot people that I probably would have banged anyways? Sign me up! Massage and escorting came along as a logical next step, to increase my earnings while lessening the toll on my body.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I love performing! I also love the multiple opportunities for job growth within the Lusty cooperative, and the power escorting gives me to set my own schedule and make plenty of money to live on and save.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    Stripping wreaked havoc on my body, which wasn’t perfect to begin with. Scoliosis and 7″ heels don’t get along very well.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    I like my work. It’s hard sometimes, and it’s not perfect, but it really works for me.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    My customers vary depending on the job I’m doing. The customers I have in massage and escorting are my favorites, as they’re generally respectful, kind, highly appreciative of my time, energy, and skill, and even fun to hang out with. I see a fair amount of musicians, academics, and tech workers, so we have lots in common.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    I eased my way in slowly, going from no physical contact to lap dancing to massage to outright sex, so my boundaries have evolved along with my work. I always have been very sex-positive and pro-sex work, though, so that never changed much.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    I don’t think I could leave any time soon, because in this economy and without a college degree I’m pretty much only qualified to work retail, which couldn’t come close to paying my expenses. However, I have absolutely no desire to leave sex work, and when it comes time to do so I will have plenty of savings to get by on. I am also heavily involved in sex work activism, which I think will be a large part of my life forever.

  8. Simone says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    Homeless teenage runaway, desperate.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    No, yes, yes.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    Desperation, fear, past history of abuse made me feel unworthy of joining society.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    Nothing.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    The humiliation, the fear, the uncertainty, the abuse, etc.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    Disliked.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    Revulsion.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    Yes, I used to think it was not so bad. Now I see it as exploitation the vast majority of cases.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    I was arrested and sent back to my parents because I was a minor. I’m thankful, otherwise I might be still doing it or dead.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

  9. K says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    When I first read this post, I was really only thinking about one foray I’ve had into what I guess could be considered sex work, but after reading the other comments so far, I guess you could say that I write very sexually charged fiction, although it’s not erotica. As a young person, I was looking for work one summer in Las Vegas, and if you’ve ever looked for job in that town with no real job experience, it’s really hard to find anything that’s not essentially a scam. I’ve been on so many job interviews there where they wouldn’t even tell you what the job *was*… so weird. One interview turned into an all-day door-to-door sales thing in the middle of the summer in neighborhoods I didn’t know… super sketchy.

    So I responded to an ad for phone sales of pornographic movies. This ended up being much more like unsolicited phone sex in an effort to get people to purchase movies sight unseen. The tactic was to cold call mechanics’ shops, for the most part, and then phone-sex whoever answered into purchasing videos. I needed a job asap, at least the company was honest about what they wanted you to do, and I had all the qualifications (i.e. a girly voice and the ability to follow direction).

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Like everyone else, I wouldn’t have done it for free, but that was really the only pressure. I needed a job, and I could get this one easily. Regular hourly wage, and bonuses for sales.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    There was really no “risk” to me – I was on the phone, no one knew what I was doing, so there was no danger of my extremely conservative family finding out, and there was zero physical interaction or personal nakedness/vulnerability. Plus, when I was in high school, everyone said I had a “phone sex” voice, whatever that means. It was a safe, kind of exciting way to break a serious taboo I had grown up with.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    It was really entertaining. They played the videos in the call center room, and sometimes people would say the funniest things to us. Also, if we had wishy washy customer on the phone, the (male) manager would just listen in and coach us through all kinds of flirtatious dirty talk.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I hate sales, in general, so that part was not fun. I don’t get energized by the high-pressure sales atmosphere. It also wasn’t so fun to have women answer the phone, because they generally started calling us whores.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    It was an entertaining chapter in my young life, and if it had been not based on cold calls, maybe answering sales calls instead, I would have stuck with it a lot longer.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I was always shocked that anyone would just buy porn over the phone without having seen it or even having any idea of what it would be about. Of course I was much younger then and didn’t realize that most porn will get watched, even if the watcher doesn’t particularly like it all that much.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Not really. It was pretty low key in the overall spectrum of things. Different people react to hearing about it differently. Interestingly, many women jump to the slut shaming thing.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I ended up finding a full-time job a few months later, so I quit the phone porno sales, and they never bat an eyelid. There were plenty of new recruits all the time, some of whom only lasted a day or two, and some who had been there for years. If it hadn’t been cold calls, who knows? I might still be doing it now. The aspect of transgression was exciting at the time, so maybe I would be bored by that at this point. Hard to say.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Admittedly, my experience was “sex work lite,” if you can call it sex work at all, but it definitely wasn’t exploitative. I learned some fun sexy dialogue techniques. For a young, sheltered girl, it was an exciting dip of the toe into the waters of sexuality, including seeing my first porno ever (and then hours upon hours of porno throughout the work day). I think the main take-away for me is that everyone has a different experience, and it’s poor practice to leap to judgment without understanding an individual’s situation.

  10. Going to Stay Anon This Time says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I needed the money, and the opportunity was there. I was just getting by with working in tech, largely because of student loan payments, and working for the magazine meant I could buy my partner a present now and then.

    I was a soft-core porn model for a magazine that specilized in fat women, but I wouldn’t call it solely a “fat fetishist” magazine because the women in it ranged from chubby to very large, so there was no one type in the magazine apart from having at least a little extra meat on their bones.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose it. Like I said, I was scraping by, the porn modeling just let me have some extras and fun.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I had the opportunity. A friend of mine worked with these folks, and said they were very nice and fun to work with. Plus $150/hr to play with persian cats while nude? Seriously.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    It was fun. I got to do my hair, the woman there did my make up, I got to dress up and undress. I got to be all sexy at the camera, it was blast. And I got to feel sexy while at my heaviest weight. Like I tell people, I was a “pretty” thin woman, but I’m apparently a “beautiful” fat woman.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Teetering around in 4 inch heels on an unstable surface, and then during the photo set I did with them to illustrate an article on yoga (who really reads these things for the articles on yoga?), I felt really ridiculous wearing a leotard and letting my boobs pop out, like I somehow hadn’t noticed.
    Oh, yeah, and the fact that they made up a bio for me. In real life, I am the Playboy bio writer’s wet dream, grad school, speak five languages, etc… They made me a travel agent who just liked “good old fasioned fucking.” Did I forget to mention, I’m kinky? Sigh.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it. They rarely used any women more than once or twice, or I’d have done it more for sure.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    You know, I’ve only encountered one dude who had seen the spread in the magazine without previously knowing me, and he was pretty awesome about it. Granted, I was also standing there with my 6’2″ scary partner. Male friends who picked up the magazine because I was in it were pretty awesome as well. I had one dude who was a stalker before who found out, and that was a little nerve-wracking, but for the most part I’m cool with the idea that well over a million dudes I’ve never met were masturbating with those pictures in front of them.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Like I mentioned above, the people I posed for rarely used women more than once or twice. My feelings became I think a little more nuanced about it, while I already didn’t have a problem with it. Also, WAY easier than artist’s modeling, let me tell you. I did it, for the money, but also just to have done it. To have experienced it. And I’m really glad I did it. Seriously, the only reason I haven’t done it lately is that I have REALLY distinctive tattoos, and I’m not sure how the dayjob would take it if it came out.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Totally free.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    A couple of things. The worst thing about my experience with sex work is how other people react when they find out I’ve done it, and not only THAT I’ve done it, but also that I did it while fat.

    Tied for that is hearing what people think of women in the sex industry in general. I have heard people say the worst shit about fat porn models, and it’s always hurtful and mostly disgusting. Granted, the fact that I do say, “Wow, because I’ve been a fat porn girl, and what you said is completely gross!” usually shuts them down, because suddenly there is a human being in front of them they know and thought they knew, who also happens to have done that thing they’re disparaging. And I hope that helps them to think about what they’re saying.

    Also, my grad advisor who was pretty cool, was very anti-porn, and when she found out I’d done it, she started to scold me in the sad voice about being exploited, and I just looked at her: “Look, I got $300 for two hours of ‘work.’ I lounged around naked and played with persian cats. Will they make way more money on those pictures than I got? Yes, because they have the knowledge and the contacts to market and sell those photos. I’m happy with the $150 an hour I got to play dress up and feel beautiful and sexy. The profit they make on top of that is their pay for knowing how to do all the other stuff.”

    Yeah, I keep considering posing for some of the alt-porn sites, but like I said, my tattoos are really, really distinctive and nearly impossible to cover up, but I’m still thinking on it.

  11. Greta Christina says

    Does writing niche fetish erotica for individuals on a commission basis constitute working in the sex industry?

    If you think of it as sex work, then I want to hear your stories about it. (And FYI, I included a piece from someone in that line of work in “Paying For It.”)

  12. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’m not contradicting Greta, I think it’s something you have to decide for yourself. But one thing to think about when trying to decide if you want to post about that experience here (and I’ll support you if you do) is your relationship to clients. It’s possible to do writing in a way that is completely divorced from those who are reading it. That’s mostly my experience. It wasn’t any kind of sex work for me until I was giving public readings for pay. Then I was performing for others and they developed expectations of me. On the other hand, if you are read widely enough, repeatedly enough, you may get that stuff from your audience without ever having met any of them.

    And then there’s what you seem to suggest: commissioned stories on an individual basis, where you have to engage with and serve the personal desires of another person. If that is what you do, how does that fit or not fit your idea of what sex work “is”?

  13. Priestess Mirae says

    The Basics:

    I am over 50. College educated. Raised in an affluent home. Well traveled. My son is now doing well in college.

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was raised in the Midwest. Italian/American Catholic. From an Upper Middle Class family filled with love, affection, great cooking, and music.

    The biggest challenge was the negative and conflicting messages I received about my body, sexuality, aging, and being a woman.

    I graduated with honors in Psychology but began to explore theatre, ritual, transformational theatre, and spirituality.

    The more I learned, the more I realized how wounded our culture is around the body, sexuality, aging, emotions, and gender. I felt called to help transform the war of the sexes over sex to sexuality as a blessing.

    At first, I wrote, taught workshops & counseled couples. Then I began to lead erotic ceremonies, and hands on sexual healing with my own partners. I realized that there is a huge need for human beings to:
    – be seen, felt and heard
    – have a safe space to reveal their emotions, vulnerability & desires
    – receive nourishing touch
    – safely explore or reclaim their sexual capacities
    – reclaim physical, emotional, and erotic trust
    – be allowed to follow their authentic pacing, or to reclaim it
    – to learn and discover their authentic “no” and healthy boundaries
    – learn and discover their authentic “yes” and healthy desires
    – how to communicate to create win/win collaborations with lovers and partners
    – release shame and guilt
    – return to feeling in their bodies

    I trained in Tantra, cross cultural sacred sexuality, clinical sexology.

    Then I began to offer a private sessions for the purpose of healing from trauma, or enhancing their relationships.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    No.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    The opportunity to help human beings be whole; heart, body, mind, spirit & Eros.

    What, if anything did/do you dislike about the work?

    I dislike that our culture carries so many wounds, so much shame, disconnection, and suppression from healthy sexuality that it blames the providers.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I feel tender about them. I feel hopeful about them. I pray for their peace & happiness. I hold them in my heart with love.

    If a man is VERY attractive to me, I calm the Primal in me DOWN so that I can be centered in serving the highest and best for him. If a man is very UNATTRACTIVE to me, I calm that down, and open my heart wider so that I can be centered in serving the highest & best for him.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    As a nice Catholic girl, I used to be terrified of sex work and sex workers. I thought they were evil. The female devil. A destroyer of goodness and safe relationships.

    Now. I know so many women (and some men) in sex work that are intelligent, well trained, and of good heart who are trying to make a positive difference.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I feel free to leave it at any time.

    Some times I work more in it, sometimes not. That is mostly due to how busy I am with teaching, coaching, writing. Or it used to be because I was focused on raising my son.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I would want people to know that ANYTHING can be engaged with in a Sacred – Conscious – Healthy manner OR in a Disconnected – Unconscious – Unhealthy manner. And that includes:
    – Love
    – Sex
    – Marriage
    – Eating
    – Shopping
    – Working
    – Raising children
    – Playing video games
    – Cleaning the house
    – Etc etc etc

    It is wise to be discerning that some Sex Workers have better skill, training, and heart than others. That is true for any profession.

    Dr. Kenneth Ray Stubbs book “Women of the light – The New Sacred Prostitute”, expresses it best by writing:

    “In some way most of us enter somewhere into the equation of time, attention, affection, security, and other indirect exchanges for sexual connection, marriage being the predominant form in our culture. What makes women (and men) of the light unique is that they exchange consciously.

    Throughout the centuries and across cultures, they might have been known as sacred prostitute, temple priestess, sexual healer, sacred whore (erotic priest), Tantnka, or FireWoman.

  14. says

    Q: Why did you get into the sex industry?
    A: I was a stripper at age 19 and have been a prostitute and sex surrogate in my 30’s.

    Q: Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    A: I freely chose this work. I was in no way forced into it.

    Q: Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    A: When I stripped at 19, I was broke and dared myself to do it. In my 30’s I decided to try prostitution in between office jobs. Sex work appeals to me more than anything else.

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    A: The money. Being independent. Having my own place and supporting my daughter as a single mom. The flexible hours. Helping others. Playing out fantasies. Gaining invaluable, hands-on sexuality experience. The orgasms.

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    A: The unreliability. So frustrating when someone cancels on you at the last minute.

    Q: On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    A: I LOVE sex work. Ideally, I would have 4 regular clients a month.

    Q: What are your feelings about your customers?
    A: I operate on mutual respect. I only choose to be intimate with people I respect, and I expect that they respect my time and professionalism. I really like most of my clients and enjoy spending time with them. It’s relaxing, erotic work.

    Q: Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    A: I hated being a stripper – I was too young, naive, and couldn’t dance. I’m wiser now and feel more compassion and understanding about why men seek out sex workers. I’m happy to help them accomplish their sexual goals or fulfill their emotional/physical needs.

    Q: If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    A: I have a day job that barely pays my bills, so I am very grateful that I have sex work to help supplement my income. I’d be really struggling without it.

    Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    A: Being a whore has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I’d rather do sex work than work an office job. The worst part about being a whore is the admin work and cancellations. But if things go smoothly, the actual time spent with the men is so rewarding. Sex work shouldn’t be so taboo, it is very similar to being a massage therapist. It can be very healing.

  15. Cee-anonymous says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I had this idea that I wanted to just see if I could do it. I thought about the way I viewed myself sexually and the way that I viewed strippers- I’d never even seen a strip club, but I had this idea that they must be powerful, like sirens, who could make men spend ridiculous amounts of money on them for existing. I thought that if I did it, I would be really good at it- I thought I had the attitude. And, as embarrassing as this is, I loved to dance (in my room, in front of crowds); I’d been in ballet, drill team, all that nonsense. But the dance I loved was silly over sexualized dancing; not like music videos, but things I did in my room to music with the door locked. Lots of arching my back, swinging my legs around, crawling on the floor. It felt erotic to me, and I love to perform in all kinds of settings. Getting paid to do it seemed glamorous.

    I planned to start when I went to college, but I put it off for almost a year out of fear (and an excuse about having super-short hair that wouldn’t work very well; a pixie cut, and having 0 knowledge of how make-up worked.) But, really, I want trying to wrestle with the stigma; if I did this, would I ruin my future? Eventually, I decided that I couldn’t let stigma dictate my decisions, so I went for it.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely and enthusiastically chose this work. I was not pressured economically or otherwise. I made lists of ‘why’ and ‘why not’ reasons. I considered myself empowered; I’d taken a damn women’s studies class, and learned not that much that I didn’t already know. I’d read books, blogs, learned as much as I could about it before I did it.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Stripping. Well, honestly, I think I’d made an awesome prostitute, but the fact that it’s illegal scares me. I don’t want to get busted for prostitution; that would be humiliating to my family and prevent me from visiting certain countries, or something. I don’t want to do porn (or didn’t then); even now, I’m not sure if I would or not. Doesn’t seem as rewarding. But stripping? Outfits, dancing, hello! Something about it being in a semi-public place made it safer, too; and I like the idea of being around other girls, other strippers. I wouldn’t be by myself. But really? Other than those things? Money.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I love how much money I can make. It’s not always consistent, but it usually related directly to your attitude and how hard you work. And I love the meritocratic aspect of it. You sit on your ass, you make nothing. You get on the floor, you bank.

    I love the outfits I get to wear and buy.

    I love being on stage, even when I complain about it.

    I love the attention, obviously.

    I love how every so often, I’ll have great conversations with someone, really make a connection, or I’ll meet people who really open up to me (since I’m a ‘safe’ stranger and they’ve been drinking). Being a stripper has a little bit of therapist built into it. Because really, all I have to do is listen.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I don’t like how there are jerks sometimes who try to manhandle me; thankfully we have security. I don’t like how a few people have refused to pay me after dancing for them; but now I know that the older girls were right and that you should NEVER stack your dances and that you should get payment beforehand; that way, you keep the power. I don’t like how sometimes there are girls there who don’t want to be there, but have been pressured by boyfriends or something; that’s not cool. That’s abuse. I don’t like how the club owners can be total douches sometimes; luckily, the owners at the club I work at now are great.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it most of the time, which is far more than I can say for any other job I’ve ever had. I’ve been a waitress and worked in fast food, and I felt like a robot at those places, and I was regularly dehumanized by customers and employers alike. That happens far less where I work now. Crazy, huh?

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    My customers. Well, I have regulars, who are great; they come to see me, spend money on me. Some other customers are weird, but after a few months of working I really realized that I could be in control and I feel more empowered now; if people do something I don’t like, I tell them to fuck off. I don’t need their money. It’s something the older girls try to tell us, and I finally listened. You don’t have to put up with that shit; it doesn’t matter how broke you are. It’s not worth feeling used. But for the most part, like 95% of the time for me, customers aren’t weird or bad. They’re neutral or nice.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Yes. I went through a cycle and had an episode of burnout. Now, I like it more than before, and I appreciate the industry more than before, even as I dislike many aspects of it (not my work individually, but the way the clubs operate on a national scale).

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I know I can leave whenever I want. I’d have to get another job, though, and honestly, that stops me. But if I really wanted to leave, I would, and I’d get an hourly wage job or something. It’s painful earning less than 10/hour when you can make that in a minute… but, if you really want to leave it, it’s because you’re missing something that you need to get somewhere else.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Yes. Listen to the older girls, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Whatever you do, be EMPOWERED. Don’t let someone treat you like anything less than a person. It’s not worth it. Oh, and be careful of your work environment; if you were at a nasty club, it’ll be very hard to get people to treat you right. You have to value yourself and enforce others to do the same. (Literally).

    Oh, and also? Maybe this is arrogant, but I do think that my experience as a stripper is worth more than the opinion of an academic who’s never done it a day in his/her freaking life. It is extremely condescending for people to think there’s something wrong with my life or me because I do this, or that I’m desperate. Truth be told, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d still do it (I’d just buy more outfits and make a name of myself doing it! Be famous! Travel the country!)

  16. says

    Q: Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I got into the sex industry out of curiosity and as an act of rebellion. I was raised by very controlling, Catholic parents with a strong constant message of “SEX BAD!” I had very little relationship with them outside of the constant expectations they had that I never seemed able to live up to…oh yea, and “SEX BAD!” I think this lead to a need to be seen but in a very specific way; as a sexual being, a powerful, and powerfully sexual, unashamed sexual being. One of my best friends at the time seemed to have this really cool secret that seemed to give her an air of confidence and the independence that came with having and managing her own money. When I asked her what it was she told me she had been stripping and invited me to go with her. I did. I danced off and on for the next ten years.

    Q: Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I chose it freely. I was not forced. I was not coerced and the only pressure I felt was the pressure brewing inside of my developing body. I wanted sex and sexual contact but at the same time I feared it~again “SEX BAD!”

    Q: Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Stripping gave me a way to explore my sexual self in a way I had total control of. I also knew I could only go so far sexually in stripping (lap dancing). For me it was almost like a kid who wants to swim but is afraid of the water so they cling to the side and go around and around the pool. I did that too btw :P

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I loved so many things about stripping. I almost can’t even begin to tell you. I loved feeling beautiful dancing in front of my mostly very nice customers and seeing how memorized they were with me. I loved that I could do this and fully expect not to be touched by them. This wasn’t only because I felt safe but there was also a bit of a dominatrix in me that enjoyed this teasing game. I loved that I could pick up and go to almost any city I wanted to explore on a whim and get a job dancing in a club making good money at the drop of a hat. I loved the control over my scheduled I had. I loved the money. I loved to dance on stage and perform. I loved how raw and funny the girls could be. I loved the lights, the music, the clothes etc….hated the shoes though. If I could have I would have danced the whole time barefooted.

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Of course there was the occasional jerk or a dancer that had too much to drink and wanted to fight but it is what it is. There were some managers that let managing a strip bar go to their heads. I usually kept mine down though and tried not to cause problems. The thing I absolutely hated and still do is the Scarlet Letter of sex worker shame some of us never seem to shake. Turns out I wasn’t the only one raised with the message “SEX BAD!”

    Q: On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I mostly liked it. I had a go round with addiction about 2 years after I started dancing but I got sober and danced for some years after that. 4/23/12 was my 17 year sobriety birthday. WOOT!

    Q: What are your feelings about your customers?

    My feelings about my customers are the same as my feelings about people in general because at the end of the day that’s all they are really; people. Some people are great. Some people are jerks. Most people don’t leave a lasting impression. They share space with you and fade away. At the end of the night all that remains of their presence is the twenty in your pocket…hmmm, time for IHOP! (strippers tend to be great tippers in those after hours grubbing places.)

    Q: Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I still work in a strip bar in a supervisory capacity. My views on sex work have changed a bit but this is mostly due to finding and getting involved in the sex workers rights movement.

    Q: If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I feel absolutely free to leave. The only problem is that ol’ stigma again. People tend not to take you seriously when you put former stripper as an occupation on a job application ijs.

    Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    YES! Sex work was mostly good, a small dose of bad and a bunch of ok in between; but I have NEVER been treated so consistently badly by a group of people like I have been by antis. Gail Dines goes on and on about how men who seek the services of sex workers treat them like “cumdumpsters.” The only people who have ever called me a “cumdumpster” have been anti-porn feminists.

    They even made a sock account impersonating me on youtube called cumdumpsterdiv (My youtube screen name is Divinity33372). I have been persistently harassed, slut shamed, trolled and even had an anti drop some of my docs on youtube. I document all this in this blog post http://bit.ly/guOwO5

    and here where I document their racism http://bit.ly/ihMdS6
    (I am Mexican American). Anyone who claims to care about you and your oppression that exacts this kind of abuse on you is full of shit and THAT is what I want people to know.

    From my latest blog post: http://agodlessstrumpet.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/a-response-to-greta-christina/

  17. Former Worker says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I had a job that paid well, but wanted a little extra spending money.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    It was 100% my choice. I wanted money and knew this would be an easy way to do it.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    A friend of mine had been working as an escort for several years and encouraged me to try it.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    If I wanted to work on a given weekend, I could. If I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to. Working as an escort was a side job for when I wanted spending money. I only did the work for about a year.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    Never knowing if the person who answered my ad was a cop.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    I enjoyed it. I got to meet some interesting men and make them feel good. All my clients were large men with rather small penises, which leads me to think they could not find random encounters, so they hired me to help them. They got someone to pay undivided attention to them and I got paid. It worked all around.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    They were all nice guys, none of whom met society’s view of “ideal.” They treated me with respect, and I treated them well.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    I feel the same as I did when I worked in the industry. In fact, I would still do the work if I could. (I met someone and fell in love. She knows I worked as an escort and has no problem with me having done it, but asked me to not do it any more.)

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    I worked by posting ads on Craigslist and on a Web site. The Web site was always up, but I only posted on CL when I wanted to work. How much and when I worked was 100% up to me, and I was free to ignore e-mails if something seemed “off” about it.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    I admit my experience is limited, but in time spent in the industry and amount of sex work I actually did. But I would not change things if I could, and I would still work in the industry if I could.

  18. A Lady says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I’d been thinking about getting into the sex industry for a very long time. The idea sat in my head for years until I was broke, jobless, unable to find a job and very much in need of rent money.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    No. I needed rent money, but I wasn’t going to starve or end up on the streets. Worst case scenario I probably would have had to leave NYC and go home to my parents. I really, really didn’t want to do that.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I started out picking up gigs off CL adult jobs, doing some full service, nude modeling, some porn. I eventually landed in domination, where I stayed.

    Escorting was the fastest way to make the most money, but once I was making steady money domming I kept with that. It took a while to make a good income just domming, but now that I do I haven’t done anything else in ages.

    I love domination. No sex, but fascinating work.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I enjoy most of my sessions, especially since I’ve gotten to a place in my career where I can turn down sessions that bore me. I enjoy slipping into my Mistress role. I enjoy dishing out heavy sadism and humiliation. A good session can put me into a fantastic mood.

    I’m fascinated by human sexuality. I love asking my clients about how they got into their fetishes. I’ve always been interested in this stuff and my job lets me see all sort of weird amazing sexual stuff.

    I love my coworkers. I’ve made some wonderful friends in the business.

    I love feeling like I am very good at my job. It took me a while to learn how to be a good dominatrix, and now I take great pride in my work.

    Pro-domming has let me explore new sides of my sexuality. I used to consider myself submissive, but now I would definitely say that I’m a switch. Recently I’ve started to really enjoy dominating men in my personal life as well.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I’ve worked at two different dungeons, and while the second one was/is a whole lot better than the first I have definitely learned that dungeon owners are crazy. At my first dungeon in particular, the owner loved making stupid rules for no apparent reason. My current dungeon is much less restrictive, but is run by people with poor taste and bad business skills. Watching them is frustrating.

    I do independent sessions as well and dealing with flakes, wankers and timewasters is such a pain in the ass. I hate them so much.

    I’ve learned that I cannot work in a dungeon and not be a regular smoker.

    It took a long time to get to the point where I started making a good living domming exclusively and became able to turn down sessions just because they sound dull. In the past I’ve put up with handsy clients and given discounts I didn’t want to give just because I needed money.

    It took a while for me to learn how to dominate skillfully. When I started I would often feel awkward and lost in session, which was terrible. Thankfully, this happens much less often now that I’ve been in the business for nearly 3 years.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I love domming. I liked it even when my worklife was a lot less pleasant than it is now, and now that I’ve gotten the hang of it I adore it.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    There are a few dickwads and there are A LOT of timewasters who contact me with no intention of ever sessioning, but most of the guys who come in are pleasant, respectful guys. I am quite fond of some of them.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    My parents know what I do and are unhappy with it to the point where they have offered to support me. After being independent and making a living for the last few years that idea does not appeal to me at all. I hate the idea of being a burden on my aging parents when I am perfectly capable of supporting myself.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    God. SO MUCH.

    Dominatrixing has been a mostly positive experience for me and I think most of my coworkers would say the same.

    The way some self-described feminists talk about sex work turns my fucking stomach. People who have never done sex work need to think good and hard about how valuable their opinions on the subject actually are.

  19. Jonathan Hoag says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was offered the opportunity on several occasions and accepted them. See below for more details.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Yes, I freely chose, without force or coercion. Economics did not enter into the equation at all, sex work was never my primary source of income. I started with porn when my day job was as a research chemist, and one thing led to another…

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Porn videos/photo shoots- I started doing porn when someone I was dating called me and asked if I wanted to do a BDSM video with her. “It’s pretty much what we did last weekend, but no fucking and with cameras.” One video led to more, all in the kink/fetish market.

    Phone sex- Another woman I had dated said, “You should do what I did. Start your own company; you get to be the boss!” That didn’t work out so well.

    Actual sex for money with me has never been prearranged; I don’t know if I’d call that actual prostitution. I know I’ve been taken to events and meals and stuff that I could in no way afford, there was never an expressed quid pro quo, but it was understood that I was someone’s “date” not for my sparkling personality. Oh, and twice, married couples left cash for me.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I met some great people along the way. One woman had run for LA county supervisor. (she lost) I married another. (That is to say, I performed the ceremony that joined her to her wife. This was long ago, way before marriage equality, so there was no civil union, but according to Jewish law, they were married.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Porn; At the time, long ago, people would hire “good looking” people for fetish videos, whether the person was “into” the particular fetish or not. It’s really hard to do, say a spanking video and have your costar say, “Hey! That hurts!”

    Phone sex; It’s kind of discouraging to realize that I lack the entrepreneurial gene.

    Ho-ing; It’s a very small market for guys like me. I don’t have a huge dick, and the boys around here are kinda racist. The “rice queens” are few and far between.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it, over all. But this was back in the days when sex work was semi-underground, illegal in some places, and “decent” people would work to suppress the sex industry as a whole. So of course, back then, the money was a lot better.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Porn: I now truly understand why actors, both porn and mainstream, are always saying, “I really want to direct.”

    Phone sex: Most callers were embarrassed or ashamed of their fantasies, some to the point where they couldn’t talk to their long term partners. I fond that kind of sad.

    My semi-not-quite-hooking: For most of the boys, I was just a novelty toy for a night, and I should have negotiated for cash. Actually, if I had known then that Bush-onomics would wipe out my 401(k), I’d have quit going to swing parties and giving it away.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Not really. I’d still be doing fetish videos, but now that people are “out of the closet” and into the Internet, there are too many good looking people working in porn. And there are too many actual fetishists willing to do on camera what would have gotten me arrested back in the day.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I didn’t so much as leave it, as the business left me. At least until I get older, grayer and can do “grandpa porn.”

    “Restraints?” I still have my ropes, several different kinds of handcuffs, I loaned my leather wrist/ankle cuffs to someone and never got them back…

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Sex work is the one industry where women make more than men, sometimes by a factor of a hundredfold. But it’s not for everybody. There are happy sex workers and unhappy sex workers. The same is true for dentists, plumbers, bus drivers, etc. The way to reduce the proportion of unhappy sex workers, IMHO, is with a better social safety net.

    There aren’t enough resources and shelters for our runaway/throwaway kids. Especially LGBT youth; there should be enough Ali Forney centers, or (I forget the name of that place in AZ) As well as training and support for kids that age out of the foster care system.

    I’ve met a few sex workers who, for psychological or sometimes medical reasons, can’t deal with “regular” jobs. Asperger’s syndrome, PTSD, dyslexia; we need Universal Health care that includes mental health services.

    We need legalization/decriminalization. Sex work is Real Work. (get the tee-shirt here: http://www.swaay.org/store.html ) Here are some more resources: http://www.feminisnt.com/

    http://belledejour-uk.blogspot.com/ and http://www.sfsi.org

    If you want to continue this conversation, please reply to this comment with your email address, or another way of contacting you.

  20. Nadia says

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    (Comment disemvoweled for violating the comment policy of this thread.)

  21. Tanit says

    The Basics
    I’m a 24-year old sex worker (whore). I work in New Zealand, where it is legal, and I’ve been working on and off since I was 20. I’ve worked at a total of 5 different ‘private houses’ (i.e. brothels that aren’t ‘parlours’) so far. They each had their pros and cons, and I’m currently back working at a place I worked at before several years ago.

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I was just about finished with my last semester of my bachelors degree, I needed a job, and I saw an ad on a jobsite. I’d thought about it (in a vague, hypothetical sense) before, so I called and figured why the hell not. I wasn’t in dire need of money, but I did really need a job, and lazy as I am, this seemed like a better solution than spending forever trying to find a ‘normal’ job. Funnily enough, that job ad was apparently taken off the website shortly after I saw it (it was deemed ‘inappropriate’). I was also curious about what it would be like.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    Yes, I freely chose it and was in no way forced, pressured or coerced into it. The only economic pressure was the need for a job, but any job would have done the trick.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    I guess it never occured to me to look into any other form of sex work when I first started. After I’d taken a break at one point though, I was looking at possibly getting into stripping, but (especially after talking to someone at NZPC – the New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective) I decided against it. I felt stripping would be too public (too much of a chance for random people that I know to see and recognise me), the few strip clubs in town were apparently focussed on stereotypically hot (very slim, etc) girls, and while I have curves and consider myself very hot, I’m not exactly incredibly slim. And I can’t dance and didn’t like the idea of spending hours on my feet in heels.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    I love quite a bit, actually. I love the flexibility. I love that I’m my own boss, I set my own hours, I can not go in if I don’t feel like it, I can go in more than I’d planned to if I want, I can organise my day the way I want because of how flexible work is. It hasn’t always been like this, because some work places have made a big deal about rosters and/or had very limited opening hours, but where I am now, I can work anytime 10am to midnight (or a little later if it’s still busy), any day of the week. The money : effort ratio has always been great. People always say it must be wonderful money, but it really, really depends how much you work. I have some really dedicated colleagues who work 10-12 hours a day, making at least $1K a day. I couldn’t do that. I work 4-6 hours a day, 1-5 days a week. I make enough to get by comfortably, and sometimes save a bit. But then, I’m lazy like that and I like my lifestyle.
    Also, sometimes you meet some really interesting clients, have really interesting conversations or get some really funny stories.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    The social stigma. The fact that I cannot put this on my CV, and will therefore have a huge gap on my CV where it will look like I didn’t work at all. The fact that I have to lie to people I love to avoid having them judge me for the work I do, or because I don’t want to deal with their disapproval. And sometimes the clients can be annoying, or I won’t be in the mood to go to work, but still need to because I haven’t made ‘enough’ for the week.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    On the whole I like the work, but I guess I do have mixed feelings. There are some aspects of work that are fantastic, others not so much.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    In many ways, I see it just like any other customer service job: you get great clients, you get awful clients, and you get many in between. In general, the sex is pretty boring, and I just try to give the clients the impression that they’re great, when in fact they’re not. Unless they’re cocky assholes, in which case I act very indifferently towards them. Cocky assholes bore me. I like the educated clients, and I like having discussions about politics, philosophy, religion, cultural politics, etc at work. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s great.
    And I love that I get some really funny stories from work. Like the 20min job quite a while ago, who, after we finished fucking, got a little spray bottle from his jacket pocket and stood in the middle of the room, naked, sprayiing his dick for about 5-10mins. I asked him what it was, and he said hydrochloric acid (I looked it up later, it’s bleach!) For hygiene purposes, apparently. Instead of, you know, having a shower. After he left, I pissed myself laughing.
    There are two things in a client that will really bother me – first up is if they stink. And I insist all of my clients have a shower before they come near me. And a fair few of them will still stink afterwards. And some of them have disgusting breath. Second, communication difficulty. The brothel where I work gets quite a varied clientele, and a lot of them are immigrants (or occasionally visitors), some with very poor English. I find it really frustrating, trying to explain “no”, or “gentle”, or “don’t do that, but this is ok” to clients who barely understand a word I’m saying.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Yes. Very much so. The first place I worked at was the worst. The other girls were bitchy, and they and the boss would spend a tonne of time bitching about former colleagues and looking up their profiles online, prank calling them, reminiscing about the ‘good old days’, when they worked in parlours making a shittonne of money, etc. And being completely new to the industry and not overly comfortable having sex with men, I wasn’t in a good place, and ended up really happy when I left. But when I came back to the work, in a different place, it was better. By then I’d been in touch with NZPC (they really are amazing), I had people to talk to there for advice, I felt more comfortable with myself, physically and sexually and it made the work so much better for me. Now, I mostly just see it as any other job, but I feel confident in my work, I know who I am, I know who my work persona is, I’m comfortable in my own body and very strict about my boundaries.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    Yes, for the most part I feel free to leave it. The main restrictions are personal. As previously mentioned, I’m very lazy, so going back to working an 8 hour day, on a fairly low wage would not sit well with me. I also wouldn’t like not being able to call in fairly frequently to say I’m not coming in (for no apparent reason). Also, there is the problem of my hole-y CV. But if I really wanted to leave, I do have the option of going on an unemployment benefit and getting help finding work, so the government does have help in place for those wanting to leave the industry and NZPC will help with leaving too.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    It’s not for everyone, and I always find it sad seeing other girls who can’t handle the work but insist on doing it anyway (like a colleague of mine who can’t work unless she’s drunk). But it can be a fascinating world to discover.
    And please, please, don’t judge me. A question I get asked at work a lot is “so why is a nice young girl like you working in a place like this?” It pisses me off. Because the answer is, “because I want to.” I chose this.
    And whenever there’s an article in the paper (the New Zealand Herald) about anything to do with prostitution, the ‘journalists’ always insist on getting a comment from the head of a very religiously conservative organisation who insists that brothels near schools harm children (who have no idea those brothels are there until you start yelling about them) and prostitution should be banned, etc. And more often than not they don’t bother to get the other side of the story.

  22. Tanit says

    Oh, and something I’ve long found an interesting, and disturbing aspect of my experience is the rascism. That is, the way sex workers (and managers/madams) are rascist about clients.
    The interesting thing is that According to NZ human rights law, anyone selling goods or providing a service may not discriminate on the basis of a long list of things, including race. However, also according to NZ law, a prostitute may refuse to see a client, or may discontinue the service at any time, at their discretion. And I’ve known girls who refuse to see clients of a particular race. And almost all sex workers (and former workers) I’ve come across have the same racial biases. And much as I hate to say it, these biases are not unfounded, they are based on experience. In my, and their, experience, people from a certain place/culture are much more likely to be smelly (even after showering), often much more likely to be rude, to lack respect for a sex workers boundaries and rules and to haggle and complain about the price. And this isn’t based on a handful of experiences, it’s based on years of many repeated experiences (my own and those of many others I’ve spoken to, including female sex workers from the same place/culture as the clients who hate seeing them as clients for the same reasons as the rest of us.)

    I find this really disturbing, since in general, discrimination, bigotry, racial biases and prejudice are things I abhor. And yet I find them rampant in the industry I work in, and I identify with (and to some extent share) these biases and prejudices (though that is limited to the sex industry).

  23. says

    Disclaimer: Technically, what I do doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of “sex industry”, but I feel like it’s close enough and that I’ve received responses similar, though probably not as extreme, as those who do actual sex work.

    Name: Joseph Gaspar
    Occupation: Nude Model (or Artist’s Life Model to be generic about it)
    Sex: Male
    Website: Facebook.com/BareSyntax

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I was hanging out with some people my first semester at Kent State when someone brought up nude modeling and mentioned that it was one of the highest paying jobs on campus. Being that this was my first time in a college atmosphere, at the ripe age of 23, all I could think about was Van Wilder. I thought to myself “I must have this job!”

    I was also lured in by the idea of having people see me naked, since I have a pretty good physique and up until that point, nobody had yet seen me naked. I was a virgin and I needed something to boost my confidence. I also had the naive idea that maybe one of the girls in the classes I modeled for would hit on me, thus making it easier for me to find a girlfriend or, at the very least, a one night stand.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    Yes, I chose this work freely. I was not forced or coerced into it. I would call the fact that it was the best paying job on campus an extra economic incentive rather than an economic pressure.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    The opportunity presented itself and I thought, “What could be easier than standing or sitting on my ass in the nude and getting paid for it?” If there was a male strip club close to where I am, I might have tried my hand at that as well. I even considered getting a job at the All Male Review in Cleveland last year, but lack of transportation short circuited that idea. If there was any opportunities to do porn, I would definitely consider that as well, but I’m starting to wonder if I could make the cut, given the competitive nature of the mainstream male pornstar market.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    I love showing off my body and the work I put into keeping it in shape at the gym. My legs are far more muscular than my upper body, so this gives me the opportunity to show them off that I wouldn’t otherwise have, unless I were to become a bodybuilder, which takes far more discipline than I have in terms of diet.

    I like the idea that I am one of the small percentage of humanity that can say “hundreds of people have seen me naked.”

    I really enjoy the meditative aspects of my job. Given any long pose, I could be standing or sitting for up to 30 minutes, or longer if the professor forgets about me. Sometimes, I get into a painful pose, which I both hate and enjoy. I enjoy it, because when you’re done with the pose, the excruciating pain gives way to a sense of bliss and accomplishment. I have been told that I am the best model they’ve ever had, because I am reliable, but also due to my ability to hold my poses without moving a muscle for the whole pose.

    I also enjoy the boost of confidence I get when I get a smile from some of the girls or overhear the students talking about me in a playful sense or giggling, which sometimes I just assume is directed at me and take it as a compliment, probably even when it’s just the result of unrelated banter that I can’t hear.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    Like I said above, sometimes I can get into a painful pose. I hate when this happens, because I can’t think straight and meditate on a computer science problem that I want to direct my thoughts towards. Also, sometimes I’m having a bad day and being in a painful pose doesn’t help.

    The other thing that I hate sometimes is that very few of the students talk to me during the breaks. It’s refreshing when they do, because it’s hard being so exposed to people and not having the ability to interact with them. I have depression and anxiety issues that I’ve had long before becoming a nude model and, on the bad days, when I’m feeling particularly lonely, having that extra exposure without any form of communication or acknowledgement of my humanity make it even worse. You might even say that nude modeling can ironically be more objectifying due to a misguided sense of respect for the model. I feel like some classes, the professor might have overemphasized that you need to respect the model, causing the students to think the most respectful thing to do is not speak to or acknowledge the model at all.

    Then again, this could also be due to the shyness on the part of the students due to the sexual tension that might arise in them. Maybe it’s confirmation bias, but it feels like more men talk to me than women, in terms of percentage, since there are an overwhelming number of female artists compared to male artists here at Kent.

    The worst thing though, is when I overhear people say things like “Awkward” or “Creepy” directed towards me, neither of which I feel are true. It makes me feel like crap, even though I know it’s only them projecting their insecurities onto me. It’s not helped by those anxiety and depression issues I mentioned.

    When I first made it known that I had become a nude model, I got some blowback from some older members of my family, who essentially asked me “Have you no shame?!” To that, honestly, I say “No, but you seem to want to give me some. What’s your problem?” There’s also the instances of artists who, when they do talk to me, and the probably mean well, but they say something along the lines of “Oh man, it was so awkward drawing you naked. How can you do that? I could never do that! It would be so awkward if I saw someone I knew drawing me, because then I’d have to talk to them knowing they’ve seen me naked.” It really makes me sad to hear things like this, because it just goes to show how much shame concerning the naked human form we have drilled into people since the time they learned to understand what shame is.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    On the whole, I love the work. I take pride in what I do and try to be the best at it, which I have achieved as far as the models at this school are concerned. I am constantly told how I am so much better at holding the pose than the other models and am thanked for me dependability, because sometimes I get a call telling me another model failed to show up for whatever reason and wonder if I could come in on such short notice. I am more than happy to, because it’s fun and I definitely need the money. I wish I could get more hours, but for that I would need a car to travel to the other universities nearby, such as Akron University or the Cleveland Institute of Art. That whole car and license thing is a summer goal. That, or I’ll get in much better shape this summer by biking up to Cleveland for work; a good 2+ hour bike ride.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    Like I said above, I just wish more of them would open up and speak to me if they wished to. I can’t be so open with them due to the risk that someone might take simple communication the wrong way and I lose my job. It’s probably a small risk, but I still don’t want to take it, so the onus of initiating communication rests mostly on them. It’s not like I’m naked during breaks. I even wear shorts and a t-shirt rather than a robe, because I feel like the latter distances yourself from the students even more.

    As for the professors, most of them are really cool and it’s fun seeing how each of them has their own style for directing the class throughout the semester. I like the ones that have a stopwatch type apparatus to keep track of how long the poses should last, rather than relying on a clock and forgetting about how long a pose has been going.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    I was really nervous the first time I modeled, but quickly became accustomed to modeling after about 3 or 4 sessions. I have also tried to develop it from a simple work-study campus job into a possible career branch. I have business cards and am working on getting a photo portfolio together.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    Yes, but I don’t think this question applies to me as much.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    Not that I can think of.

  24. Jane Doe says

    I’ll start by taking umbrage with your suggestion that some sex workers like the work. During my years working in various aspects of the sex industry, I never came across one of these mythical beings. Few women enjoy getting pawed by (often misogynistic and rough) creepy strangers. It would be more accurate to say that some cope well with it.
    Aaaanyway…

    If you work, or have worked, in the sex industry — as a prostitute, a stripper, a pro dominant, a pro submissive, a phone sex worker, a porn actor or model, or any other area of the industry… what was your experience?
    I worked as a stripper, in phone sex, in sensual massage, in private nude modelling, private fetish work, peep shows and in private and brothel prostitution on and off over a seven year period while completing a law degree and during a period of deferral from that degree. I experienced brothel prostitution in particular as a form of pay per rape. I take extreme umbrage with your suggestion that stripping is not much different to prostitution. Having done both quite extensively, I can tell you that they are worlds apart on many, many levels. Lying back while some stranger creep uses you as a sex toilet is a wholly different experience from dancing naked for crowds of fuckheads. When someone gets to touch and enter your body, it’s a whole lot more intimate and attaches itself to your psyche in a completely different way. Duh.

    My experience was in some respects nuanced – I quite enjoyed stripping (though not management , bitchy co-workers or grabby customers) and I found private prostitution far less rapey than the brothel kind, primarily because I could choose whether or not to have sex (and often did not offer sex at all) and was able to keep prices high and numbers of customers low. Working in a brothel felt like getting molested by my uncle over and over again, and I was not in a position to leave that job for over a year. It took more than a year after it for me to be able to endure being touched by a man. The phone sex and peep show stuff mirrored my experiences of rape culture on steroids.
    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I got into the sex industry because I was a drug addict, frankly, and this was the only way for me to sustain that habit. After I detoxed, I remained for quite some time because I could not get other work and because otherwise I would have had nothing to live on.
    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    See above as to economic pressure.
    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    I had friends who were strippers and followed them into the industry after I left home and had rent to pay that I could not cover on my part-time cashier’s job. They had encouraged me to do this for quite some time despite feeling disgusted with the job themselves. I was never very successful at stripping and got fired from jobs whenever my weight rose. After getting fired from the last possible club in Melbourne I could have worked at (given my average looks), I went to the peep shows. By this time I had become a heroin addict, having been given a free sample by a dealer at Kittens and having subsequently become a regular customer, and worked whenever possible. After detoxing the first time, I developed a problem with binge-eating and my weight rose sharply, so that I got fired from the peeps. I took up smack again and applied for a job at a brothel, knowing from my the housemate (who had dated a former prostitute) that women of all shapes and sizes were accepted in prostitution. Following a lead from a friend of this same housemate, I also took up phone sex on the side. After a year, I managed to cease binge-eating upon transitioning to a vegan diet, and when I had lost sufficient weight, I gratefully departed prostitution for the peeps (having detoxed from smack for good by this time). I made little money there on account of my average looks and lack of experience, and got private prostitution jobs from the internet on an occasional basis until finally taking up full-time legal work.
    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    I liked what I then considered the empowerment of stripping – feeling beautiful and glamorous – though I have to say I was also pretty high most of the time. Pre-smack I took stimulants by the bucketload every night.
    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    Brothel prostitution felt very much like repeated rapes, despite the fact that I had ‘consented’ legally speaking.
    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    On the whole I had a range of attitudes towards it at different times. My feelings have very much been coloured by the rapiness of brothel prostitution and ‘dislike’ doesn’t begin to describe what it is to have your body violated over and over for more than twelve months.
    What are your feelings about your customers?
    I hated them, almost universally, in each arm of the sex industry in which I have worked.
    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    My resentment has grown since I left it and it grew over time during my years in the industry. It was exciting at first blush but grinding down and damaging over the long haul.
    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    I couldn’t leave it til I quit heroin and got a reasonably paying full-time job. I could not otherwise have met my expenses.
    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I think that application of the capitalist ethic to sex is deeply problematic and has only served to further shut me down sexually. It has created a deep well of anger in me that is never very far away.

  25. anonywhore says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I’d been vaguely interested in sex work since I was old enough to understand what it was. I always though I might like to be a porn star, stripper, or prostitute. I love sex. I love performing. I love being the object of desire. I love people. It seemed like a very natural fit. I actually consider it my calling. Yes, I truly feel that God called me to the sex industry. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I snatched it up.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    When I started, it was my best option. I was 17 and saving up money to move out on my own. My parents didn’t allow me to work during the school year, so sex work was a way I could earn some money without them knowing. I only did a few gigs before I moved out. Once I was supporting myself, the economic pressure was much greater, but it was a matter of comparing sex work to my other employment options- at age 17 in the city I was in, these were unskilled, minimum wage options. I felt that flipping burgers would be extremely unpleasant and couldn’t imagine doing it upwards of 30 hours a week. Sex, on the other hand, was something I knew I enjoyed. It was only logical.

    I freely chose it to the same extent that anyone freely chooses their work, when they have an option that sounds shitty and another option that sounds great.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I started with fetish work, moved into professional domination and submission, then eventually branched out into modeling, stripping, and escorting. I started with foot fetish work because I was terrified of being arrested and was under the (false) impression that was I was doing was legal.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I love connecting with people I might not otherwise meet, both clients/customers and co-workers. I’ve had opportunities to explore aspects of my own sexuality that have really enhanced my private sex life. I love it when a client trusts me with their fantasy and I can help them dissolve some of the shame that society puts on them- the work can be very healing sometimes. I love sharing erotic and emotional energy in a way that multiplies all the sexiness and joyfulness in the universe. I love that I get to write off sex toys and Tantra workshops on my taxes. I wouldn’t say that it’s impacted my overall self-esteem one way or the other, but sex work (modeling especially) has definitely helped my body image.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    My two biggest gripes are the stigma and criminalization. I hate having to live a double life to the extent that I do. I hate that I could lose my “square” job if they found out that I’m a sex worker, and I would have zero recourse. When I first started working in the sex industry, I had a couple of really bad managers (at pro BDSM houses) who were able to do things that would be completely illegal at any legit workplace.

    I hate when clients think that because I’m seen as a criminal, they can commit a crime against me with no consequences. For the most part, they’re right. I was once assaulted by a client in public with witnesses present. Someone called the police, and I naively thought that since there were so many eager witnesses, the police might do something helpful. Instead, one cop said, “We can either arrest both of you and sort this out later, or we can walk away.” Terrified, and not wanting a record, I asked that they walk away. The other cop then advised me, “You know, most work girls have a pimp. If you had a pimp, he would have beat this guy up and there’d be no problem.”

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    Love it! Well, I love it about half the time and feel neutral about it half the time . . . I think that’s a better ratio than many people have with their jobs.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I feel very tender toward them. They’re opening up and being so vulnerable with me, a complete stranger. That’s a beautiful thing, and it’s easy for me to see their beautiful humanity in that interaction. With escorting, I screen really well so I don’t really see bad clients anymore. When I get a bad customer at the peep show, one who’s rude or bossy, I just have a lot of compassion. He doesn’t know how to communicate respectfully, he hasn’t been raised in a culture that respects whores, or he’s so overwhelmed by his shame and anxiety that he can’t access his highest self. I can always see the Divine within, and I see that my customers are no different from me. I am filled with love for them.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    It’s lost a bit of its sheen. I still enjoy sex work, but it’s not the exciting adventure it was at first. After a few bad experiences, I’m more aware of the need to protect myself, which necessarily precludes feeling 100% positive about the whole thing. I used to just be like, “Sex work is awesome!” and now it’s more like, “Sex work is awesome when I take good care of myself.”

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I feel free to leave it. I was able to put myself through graduate school and am now a therapist. I make enough working part-time as a therapist to support myself modestly. Supplementing that with sex work makes for a comfortable living. At any moment, if I didn’t feel like doing sex work anymore, I could find full time work as a therapist and maintain the same total income, or continue to only work part-time and live simply but securely. I set things up this way very purposefully- 20 hours a week of therapist work and 2-6 hours a week of sex work feels like an absolutely perfect balance for me. I appreciate that if that changes, I have options.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I’m just happy to have a chance to challenge some stereotypes. I started when I was 17 and living in an abusive home, but even with over a decade of perspective, I think sex work was a great idea. I hope the take away is that people are complicated, experiences are complicated, and you can’t make assumptions. Also, I’m a sex worker and a therapist working in community mental health. I know others like me. Whatever stereotype you have of sex workers, there are sex workers who don’t conform to it. We’re sometimes invisible, but you might have a sex worker for a therapist, co-worker, neighbor, family member, or friend.

  26. Jane Doe says

    ‘I made little money there on account of my average looks and lack of experience’

    experience should read enthusiasm. I got worked up writing this.

  27. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    To support myself while I went to college.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Hell no. I was totally excited to find a way to make $ without working a full time job while attending college full time. I could have worked my ass off at some fast food joint, but showing my ass for much shorter hours seemed like a great idea.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I’m a Pro Domme and started as a pro switch. I tried other types of sex work but this is what I liked best. I wasn’t pushy enough to be a stripper, I wasn’t affectionate enough to be a prostitute (not the courtesan type I pictured myself as anyway) but being a Pro Domme was all about wearing great cloths and doing crazy role plays. Loved it.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    Loved that I could just take a couple weeks off to hang out with my kids if I wanted. Loved that I could be there for them when they needed me. My short stint at a straight job confirmed my need to make my own schedule. I love the creative outlet and the crazy shit I get to do. I loved the random gifts and the sudden unexpected influx of cash during a good week. I love that I can travel to anywhere in the world and work. I also love the amazing women I work around and have had the chance to get to know throughout my career.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Having to take clients I didn’t like for the $$. I’ve always tried to have another type of income so I could limit those sessions. I hated not being able to get health insurance because I couldn’t afford it. I hated feeling marginalized because my career choice didn’t fit in the traditional 9-5 world. (But realistically, after a life time of not fitting in, that was rarely an issue.)

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    Nearly 20 years into it, I still love it. There have been times where I was tired or burned out, but I’m pretty sure less then other people. I’m pretty happy in my choice of careers.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Same as with people in general. Love some of them and try to spend more time with them, hate others and try to avoid them.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Of course. I spent a lot of time thinking this was a temporary thing and as soon as I was done with school, or my next stint in school, or what ever, that I would finally “figure out what I wanted to do with my life” but have realized… this is it. It’s what I like. It’s what I’m good at.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I feel free to leave at any time. I debated leaving after my son was born, and planned on leaving if we could have another, not because I hated sex work but because I’m lucky enough to be in a situation where I could be a stay at home mom if I wanted to.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I have had a great time. Naturally, as with anything, there have been ups and downs. Times where I’ve liked it more then others. Hated it more then others. I have run my business like a business, investing in it, marketing it, being as ethical and understanding possible. No one has pushed me to stay in it. I could leave at any time. But I have strange men who adore me and send me presents. So yeah. I’m fine here.

  28. AKR says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    When my spouse and I moved to CA, the job I was planning to get was not available. We had discussed it before, and so I tried out at the strip-club and did well. Before that, I had considered it mostly because it was something I wouldn’t mind doing that would bring in money.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose it, though there was some element of economic pressure. I wanted to find a job as soon as possible to make car payments and stop relying on my parents.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    It was the only one I knew about at the time, and the only one I could find. I also had no real desire to have sex with other men, or any other for of sex work that I knew about.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I loved all of it. I got to dance, and I got money for being sexy, and for the first time I really felt like I was attractive. (My spouse and I are bad at sex.) My boss in the first location was very helpful and approachable.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    My parents were very disapproving, and the second place I worked was over-staffed, too big, with too many girls, and a pay-out much too high, and the manager didn’t care in the least. I also never made as much money as I hoped, because I had no idea at all how to ‘work the floor’.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I very much liked it, and wouldn’t mind doing it again, even now.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Most of my customers were fine. Some seemed to need the attention of a pretty lady for their own self-confidence, and the only time I was ever approached to do something not allowed by the rules, I realized later that I still had the power. A co-worked took their offer, got the private dance money, and got to keep it after the customer was kicked out for groping her, but I wouldn’t have felt right doing that.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    They have changed. I was raised christian, and so of course was very against it. I used to pray for god to bless the women working at the first club, in the belief that would let them stop working there. When I began working myself, I found that the women very much enjoyed it, or at least didn’t see it as much different than ‘normal’ work, ie, not always perfect and great, but not bad. My feelings about the work have not changed after I left.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I felt totally free to leave it, and was actually forced out of it by first my parents and later over-staffing.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    My experience is, of course, not everyone’s, but I did enjoy it, and found it to be one of the most empowering things I’ve done. However, I also barely consider ‘stripping’ as ‘sex work’.

  29. says

    I’ll start with a little background: Het, white, cis. Neuroatypical. High school dropout. Addict. Convicted felon at 19, spent 5 months in jail for selling 2 ounces of weed, also lost the right to vote in the state of my conviction.

    Q: Why did you get into the sex industry?

    Not really a simple story, it’s all wrapped up in grief. My dad died, then my mom died and on the day that my mom died my boyfriend and my best friend slept together. I found out a bit later through a mutual friend. They felt so guilty (I assume) that they never answered my calls, they never spoke to me again. I didn’t care that they had fucked, I did care that they had been so cowardly at what for me was such a difficult time. I had a job in a small office, making enough to live paycheck to paycheck, which I considered a “good job”. Everyone else in my office went to the same church. Hardcore Christians. They just about drove me over the edge when my mom died. The receptionist gave me a copy of “A purpose driven life”. They were always telling me how they were praying for me, and I just wanted to die. A few less prayers, a few more phone calls to help me feel less alone would have been nice. Well maybe not cuz I’d probably have had to hear about jesus the whole time during the calls.

    Anyway. Enter casual internet hookups here and there – felt sorta empty and used. Morph casual hookup to hookup with pay – felt not-empty, and not-used. All that stuff I’d been told would happen – didn’t happen. I didn’t sit crying on the bed from shame while holding a handful of cash. I slept soundly. Quit the job, got away from the churchies – amen. Spent time grieving and healing at home in my own way at my own speed.

    Q: Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Freely chose it, as much as any of us chooses anything. We’re all economically coerced. Who knows, maybe if there was better support for grieving in this world, maybe if the government provided a years worth of assistance so I didn’t have to go into an office everyday and fight against the emotions. But it doesn’t. And the rent had to be paid. But I guess I’m glad it doesn’t, else I wouldn’t have learned what I learned.

    Q: Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I want to be clear here- the particular line is prostitution. I posted ads on craigslist. The grief, the rawness, being so broken, feeling so alone. I wasn’t interested in a ‘relationship’ – I had no trust left – but I was interested in intimacy. I craved intimacy but feared commitment.

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    Intimacy without commitment. So many people assume it must be cold and emotionless. Sure sometimes it is. But sometimes it’s not, and sometimes it’s perfect. To explain it, I’ve compared it to being stuck in an airport in some strange place, and you get to talking with a stranger – and sometimes, somehow you connect with that stranger in ways you could never connect with people you see in your daily life. You learn about the other person, and you share things you might not normally share. It was sorta like that, with some sex thrown in.

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Fear of assault. Yes that happened. Fear of arrest, that didn’t happen.

    Q: On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    On the whole, I think the work saved my life. On the whole, the work opened my eyes to the biggest, oldest, most disgusting truth of women’s subjugation and oppression. It’s not that women have such a bum deal that they sometimes resort to trading sex for personal tangible gain, (though I’m not at all denying that happens, and that it is a current reality) but it’s that the stigmatization of the tangible trade, and the criminality of the tangible trade shuts off and makes dangerous the most primordial and accessible method of female survival.

    That allowing women to engage in the tangible exchange is considered ‘misogyny’ and that dis-allowing women to engage in the tangible exchange is considered ‘feminist’ disgusts me. Changing that is all that matters to me now. It probably won’t change, not in my lifetime, but I’ll keep fighting to change it until I’m dead.

    Q: What are your feelings about your customers?

    Some were assholes. Most were not. Most were much like I was, desperate for some intimacy but for whatever reason not in a place emotionally to commit to anyone. Pity we’re all so convinced that connection and intimacy takes all that time. Some were just back from Iraq, and shattered inside, they were actually some of my favorites. Some were in grief like I was. There was much talk of grief and healing and loss.

    Q: Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I still have one ‘client’, he’s my best friend. Can’t put into words what he means to me. He makes all the hell that life has been worth it.

    The biggest change in my views happened in context with the sex workers’ rights movement. Shit gets brutal – brooootal – but it’s worth it. Seeing the lies and disinformation that there is about prostitution has changed my life more than anything else. OH! The lies they tell! The propaganda they spread! Most people who think they know things – they don’t know shit. Studies and research! Bah! Many methodologies are fraudulent at best, murderous at worst.

    That research about prostitution, about prostitutes, is so often behind paywalls is something that must change for the sex workers rights movement to advance.
    I would like supporters to help us get access to these studies.

    Q: If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I’m not really still in it, but not really out either. The stigma is there and makes leaving complicated. You can’t put it on a resume or an application.

    Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    It’s more about my experience of societal perceptions of sex work. Of prostitution.

    So much of the “debate” is about what is the majority experience in prostitution. As if once we determine what the majority experience is, then we can decide on the solution. Such a nice status quo upholding waste of time. The debate is actually about prohibition. Should be about prohibition. No matter what the experience, prohibition ain’t gonna help. If we determine that the majority experience is one of coercion and exploitation – does that justify prohibition? If we determine that the majority experience is coercion and exploitation, all this tells us is that we need to work towards creating more options to help those people. I’ve got hundreds of vids on youtube (click my name) about this issue. With screenshots and citations and stuff, because people don’t click links, and people must see to believe. My content makes the anti-prostitution crowd so very sad, Julie Bindel has called it an “abomination”. That made me so proud.

    Prohibition kills. Stigma enables prohibition. Stigma kills.

    Abolition is a crock.
    The Swedish model sucks.

    And of course, YMMV.

  30. Greta Christina says

    I’ll start by taking umbrage with your suggestion that some sex workers like the work. During my years working in various aspects of the sex industry, I never came across one of these mythical beings. Few women enjoy getting pawed by (often misogynistic and rough) creepy strangers. It would be more accurate to say that some cope well with it.

    Jane Doe @ #31: I’m so sorry your experience with sex work was so horrible. But I think it’s important to say that it’s not universal. If you think that sex workers who like the work are “mythical,” I encourage you to read the other comments in this thread. Many current and former workers are saying very positive things about their experiences with the work. That’s sort of the point of this whole exercise — people’s experiences with this work vary wildly. I’m not in any way trying to diminish the reality of your experience. I’m just saying that it’s not universal.

    I take extreme umbrage with your suggestion that stripping is not much different to prostitution. Having done both quite extensively, I can tell you that they are worlds apart on many, many levels.

    Yes, I understand that. I think you may have misunderstood me. My point wasn’t that nude dancing and prostitution are the same. My point was that, as a nude dancer, I was getting men off for money — and I don’t want to pretend that this wasn’t true. Like I said: I’m not willing to pretend that I’m on the “good girl” side of some bullshit line between good girls and whores.

  31. Jane Doe says

    I know my experience is not universal. No experience is. But I noticed that most people who expressed enjoyment were strippers, and I also found stripping fun in the ways they did. Brothel prostitution is a whole otger ball game.

  32. says

    -Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was working three jobs at the local mall, with next to no time for myself, and I was still barely scraping by as I was being paid minimum wage. I was severely depressed, my quality of life was crappy, I didn’t know what to do. I moved to California to live with family, and ended up answering an ad to work as a pro domme in a local dungeon. I hated the space and the madam, but loved the work- so I went independent and started charging more. Then I moved to the UK and decided to try my hand as prostitution, as it was legal there. I discovered my favourite was combining sex and kink, so I stuck with that.

    Ultimately I chose sex work because I could control my own business and marketing, take time off whenever I wanted, and made more in an hour giving a hand job than I did in a week juggling three shitty jobs. My quality of life was increased and I had more time to follow my other passions- school, activism, writing.

    -Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Well, I freely chose this instead of my other options. I could work in an office- I tried it, I hated it, I felt exploited and depressed by my lack of independence and value there. I could work at a restaurant, but the hustle for tips doesn’t appeal at all. I could work retail again. Ugh. I do freelance writing and social media marketing, and then I have sex for money here and there to supplement. Yes, the money is a part of that decision process, but I don’t know that I felt pressured into it, except by my own desire to have more personal time and less time catering to other people.

    -Why did you go into the particular lines of sex work that you did?

    I was already in open relationships and kinky, so figured why not do what I like? Also being a fat girl meant that stripping wasn’t suitable. I tried webcam but found those clients annoying and the hustle humiliating for me, especially as I would get insulted regularly on some sites. :/ The lack of respect sucked. In person, I was treated like a proper courtesan- probably because that’s how I focus my ads and marketing style, to get those sorts of clients.

    -What, if anything, do you like about the work?

    A lot of things! My freedom, mostly. I like being able to take time being ill, or travelling, or fighting for sex worker rights, while not panicking about the electricity being shut off. I love talking politics with my clients, who really listen and ask questions and enjoy my brain. I love meeting new people and figuring out what makes them work. I love creating space for men to be vulnerable. I love helping clients with disabilities discover how they can invoke more sensual/sexual energy in their lives. I love helping trauma victims learn how to accept sensual touch again, and how to state their boundaries. I often leave my job feeling like I’ve really made a difference and that’s rad.

    -What, if anything, do you not like about the work?

    The social stigma and oppression. I hate that I can never have a bad day at work without people jumping on me and saying I should quit. That never happened when I worked in the marketing dept. I hate knowing I can’t report violence against myself or sex worker friends because the police will laugh and/or abuse us further. I hate feeling like my safety is at risk when I see a new client. I hate that legalities insist I can’t negotiate a scene on the phone or via email, which leads to potential misunderstandings and issues. I hate when people judge me because I have sex for money, regardless of how articulate or well-adjusted I am. I hate all the dead hooker jokes that suggest on some level my death would be funny.

    -On the whole, do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I like the work. I hate working in the US. I hate fearing the cops, and knowing that johns can attack me and have limited consequences. I hate the way people feel they can make judgments about me without knowing me, simply because of the work I do. I hate feeling like I have to constantly fight to be heard or respected when it comes to my own autonomy.

    But that’s not because I have sex for money, or because I spanked men for money. That’s because the system oppresses consensual adult people doing sex work to “save” us. THAT’S what I ultimately hate.

    -What are your feelings about your customers?

    I’m privileged in that I have other income so can turn clients away. I have found all my British clients bar one to be immensely respectful, sweet, easy going, and careful of my boundaries, along with finding them actually interested in sex work politics. So I really like them, and I care about how they’re doing and am happy to see them again. I think they’re great people who treat me well.

    I have not had as good of an experience with American men, which is interesting. I wonder if the legality and the difference in social stigma makes a difference- I can’t see why it wouldn’t.

    -Have your feelings about the work changed with time?

    I used to be more frivolous about it- now it’s a career for me. I do job training in various specialities- sex and disability, erectile dysfunction, massage, dirty talk, dirty dancing, etc. I market myself uniquely and regularly. Before, it was something I treated as a lark- now I treat it like a business. A business I enjoy running, mind, but also take seriously.

    -If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it?

    Sort of. It’s more complicated than yes/no. The market is bad, finding jobs isn’t easy, and, while I maintain a fairly low standard of living and am happy with that (so don’t need to worry about maintaining a standard) the ease with which I can earn money or, more importantly, take time off, is really valuable to me. I *could* leave, but my standard of living would decrease drastically. More likely, I’ll move back to London and work legally there, down the line.

    -Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Sex work is complicated, because our relationship to sex and our relationship to money is fucked up. But for me, sex work is anti-capitalism and a freedom of choice. I am happier doing it than I was doing anything else, and I’m going to keep fighting to make it as safe as possible for other sex workers.

  33. Jane Doe says

    Also I must question why only I was told my experience is not universal. Sure tthere is no such thing as an across the board story, but no-one with positive experiences got given this caveat.

  34. says

    @JaneDoe “Also I must question why only I was told my experience is not universal. Sure tthere is no such thing as an across the board story, but no-one with positive experiences got given this caveat.

    That’s because you’re the only one coming off trying to invalidate the many commenters before you that said they DID like working in the sex industry…like me.

    JaneDoe = “I’ll start by taking umbrage with your suggestion that some sex workers like the work. During my years working in various aspects of the sex industry, I never came across one of these mythical beings. Few women enjoy getting pawed by (often misogynistic and rough) creepy strangers. It would be more accurate to say that some cope well with it.
    Aaaanyway…”

    “Aaaanyway” go invalidate someone else’s experience. I’m not saying you did like it. Don’t say I didn’t! It’s that simple. Tell your OWN story!

  35. ser.d. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    Mostly curiosity and money. I read about women making ridiculous amounts of money working in the sex industry. Did you know that if an escort at the level I was at (not even super high-class), worked 2080 hours a year (that’s 40 hours a week x the 52 weeks in a year), she could make about a million dollars?

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose it. Yeah, there was some pressure… From myself. To make money. Fast and easy.

    Why did you go into the particular line of sex work that you did (i.e., prostitution instead of stripping, or vice versa)?

    I went into the escort line of work because it seemed more convenient. Basically it was just a matter of sitting at a hotel all day waiting for calls, and while there were times I couldn’t get a break, there were days when I literally did nothing. I figured that if I went with dancing, I’d always be doing something, and money wasn’t going to be a guarantee.

    What, if anything, did you like about the work?

    It was fun while it lasted and convenient. Plus, I just felt like I was doing a job no man could do. Very feminist and all that.

    What, if anything, did you not like about the work?

    Mostly that I couldn’t really do anything during the day on weekdays, and not always because I was actually working.

    On the whole, did you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it. But to be honest, I probably wouldn’t do it again if I had the opportunity. My escorting ended when a cop walked in to my hotel room and arrested me. It’s already one permanent mark on my record, and I just don’t want another.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    They were all right. Most of them were really in need of affection, not even sex. They wanted to have sex, sure, but more than that they wanted to cuddle. I’ve always been told that prostitution ruins marriages, but I know for a fact that’s not the case for two reasons: 1) most of my clients couldn’t find a date, much less a wife, and 2) the small percent that were married had other, deep problems in their marriage already.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    My feelings haven’t really changed about the work itself, but like you, I was very better about how things ended. Being arrested sucks.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel completely free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel completely free to leave it? If not, what restraints did you have?

    I never had any restraints, I could have left at any time.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    What you said about laws and policies being put in place without inviting views from sex workers… YES. This. Sex work should be legalized and regulated. It will make it much more difficult for coercive sex work to happen. And let’s be honest here, there’s really nothing immoral about sex work. Anything immoral that happens is immoral outside of getting money for sex, not because of it.

  36. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I have always been educating people around sexuality. From a very early age, it has been known to me that people felt comfortable talking about socially “taboo” subjects. I started sex work as I had the skills, first as a Pro Dom, and then moving into the Sensual Arts as a escort, fbsm, Sensualist realm.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Yes, I was empowered to choose this work as it aligned with my values for freedom of choice, and open conversations around sexuality. I started my ministry in a ordination program, and was meditating on how I could best serve the Community with the talents I possessed. Sex work was a natural fit for me, and my desire to offer compassion, empathy, connection and a safe space for people to be.

    I was never coerced into it. Yes, I did acknowledge the financial benefits of sharing this work. I am grateful for the freedom the financial abundance brought to my life. To be able to set your own value, and schedule is very empowering.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I went into Pro Dom work as I am very educated in the Kinky Arts in my own personal life, and it was a natural extension of being available to seekers. I transitioned, and expanded my offerings into the Sensual Arts as I enjoy the healing aspects of touch. I feel our society is very limited in the amount of touch we give/receive and if I may be of Service to bring more conscious touch into the world (as I am called) I do so with great joy.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I love the personal space when two people meet and drop the walls of the outside world. I love that I am empowered to share empathy with people who have such a need for a caring soul. There is one seeker who shared in his many years of therapy at the Veterans Administration, he received more from one session with me. Those reflections are music to my notion that this work can be healing, inspiring and beneficial to those who seek it.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I am challenged with the current social attitudes around the work. As it is a socially marginalized area of work, I find the stress of external authority troubling.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I love this work. It is my vocation, that which I am called deep inside my Soul to share. I am grateful for all the many facets of those who share the work, and are touching the world one person at a time.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I am grateful people are empowered to step forward to create change in their lives. I feel heartened that women are starting to acknowledge their right to the Sensual Arts as a form of sexual healing and reconnection with their Eros. I am gladdened that men have so many beautiful options, and that they choose to spend time with me to bring more pleasure and compassionate connection into their worlds. Thank Goddess for customers.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    No my feelings about the work have not changed. As I have been sharing this work for over 9 years, the journey keeps deepening. I am honored to walk this ancient path, and celebrate the internal voice inside of myself which continues to guide me in personal integrity.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Do I feel free to leave it? I could choose to yes, and also I look forward when women have greater economic clout in the world. Where other work is as lucrative as this profession.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I would like for people to know that my experience of sex work has been amazing. I am very grateful for the supportive community which we weave together. If I have learned anything in my many years, it is that Community for self care is essential. I have learned much about myself in this work, and I am grateful for the many brothers and sisters who share this important offering to our world. Thank you. Namaste.

  37. Greta Christina says

    Also I must question why only I was told my experience is not universal. Sure tthere is no such thing as an across the board story, but no-one with positive experiences got given this caveat.

    Jane Doe @ #42: You’re the only one who was told your experience was not universal, because you’re the only one who claimed that it was. You’re the only one who said, in #31, “I’ll start by taking umbrage with your suggestion that some sex workers like the work. During my years working in various aspects of the sex industry, I never came across one of these mythical beings.” You’re the only one in this discussion who ignored, dismissed, and trivialized the stories of dozens of other sex workers in this conversation. Please don’t do that.

    As for your assertion that it’s mostly strippers who say they liked the work and not prostitutes: Please re-read #9, #17, #20, #25, #30, #32, #37, #41, #46, and #47. (Also, please re-read the comments from pro doms, phone sex workers, models, and other sex workers who aren’t strippers.)

    I want to hear your experiences of the work, and I have no intention of ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist. Please give the same respect to other sex workers. Thanks.

  38. anonymous girl says

    -Why did you get into the sex industry?
    Multiple reasons: I’m an exhibitionist and I enjoy sex. I’m disabled and sex work is just about the only thing flexible enough for me to do. I needed money at the time.

    -Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure? I freely chose it, but there were definitely financial pressures that pushed me into that direction. Due to my disability, I was never able to go to college, and thus,the only other jobs I’d qualify for are far too physically & mentally intense for me to maintain for more than a short time.

    -Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? I did all sorts of sex work- webcam shows, in-call prostitution, fetish videos, and live foot modeling. The majority of the work I did was in-call. I made more money for less work, though I was always terrified I’d be arrested. I only an occasional fetish video here & there now, but I’d go back to in-call work if it were decriminalized and thus safer.

    -What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    I liked my clients, who were all generally very nice and grateful for my services. I liked knowing that people found me attractive despite not being the typically attractive women. I really liked the money, which is the main reason I did it.

    -What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    Because prostitution isn’t legal, I had my girlfriend [who was a fellow sex worker] screen my clients for safety reasons. She ended up being emotionally abusive and screwing me out of my fair share of the money. On multiple occasions she had me do things I wasn’t comfortable with, and I did become traumatized. The trauma was from her abuse though, not the work or the clients. If prostitution was decriminalized, I’d feel safer about finding clients on my own and thus wouldn’t have had to deal with her.

    -On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    I mostly liked the work. I liked the pay. I liked making people feel good. I’ve had many more traumatic experiences with non-paying men than with clients.

    -What are your feelings about your customers?
    They were generally just lonely and didn’t have another way to express their sexuality. I know I’m lucky, but all of my in call clients were pretty awesome. Some of the legal fetish video producers have been jerks, but not about the video making in particular.

    -Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    My feelings are generally the same. I’d probably go back to in call work if it were decriminalized. It’s something I’m good at [it takes a lot of skill to entertain a client, believe it or not], and I’d be able to support myself. At present, I’m very low income because I don’t have any work alternatives due to my disabilities.

    -If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    I felt relatively free to leave. Leaving put a major dent in my finances, but I’m still able to get by.

    -Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    My experiences with sex work are overall very good. If I hadn’t had to rely on an abusive relationship to get jobs, they would be great and I’d still be doing it.

  39. MsTelephoneProHotness says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    A combination of a lot of things: An old fixer upper house that needed lots of TLC, a supportive sex positive relationship and a financial windfall that allowed me to think about what I wanted to do with my life.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I absolutely freely chose this work. Actually for the first time in my life I didn’t have negative economic pressures forcing me into anything.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I’m a full time phone sex operator. I chose it because I have a great voice and a vivid imagination but I am very shy in person. The phone allows me enough distance to be myself with a client with no warm up time. I was also looking for something I could do from my home so I could work on fixing it up during my downtime.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    I love the freedom to do what I want with my day. If its beautiful out, I can just grab my cell phone and go to a park. If I’m in the mood for a movie, I can just stop taking calls and go see one. I can travel or do anything else when the mood suits me.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    The stigma of sex work. I don’t mention what I do to most of my friends because they wouldn’t understand. I had one friend who I mentioned it to, a very liberal and sex positive guy, who freaked out and spend lots of time telling me how sorry he was that my life had been so bad that I had to choose sex work.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I love my job. I won’t do anything else as long as I have the choice.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I have some that I absolutely adore, most that are okay, and a few who put the word “ass” in asswookie.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I’ve loved and hated working for other people over the years. The first company I worked at was all about lying to the clients to get them to talk longer. The second company wanted us to lie and say that we just joined the chatline for fun. The third company at least allowed us to say what we wanted. They just wanted 50% of all our earnings including tips. I’m finally with a company that doesn’t lie, doesn’t want me to lie and where the owner takes better care of us than we do ourselves.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I supposed I could leave whenever, but why would I want to? 9-5 hasn’t been my style in years. I have everything I want in a job that suits me right down to the soles of my very sexy shoes.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Basically, its a job like anything else. Not every person is right for every job. I happened to be lucky enough to find what I liked to do and get paid very well for it. Its not for everyone. In fact its not for most people. I couldn’t work in a hospital taking care of sick people to make them feel better. That doesn’t make me think that there is something wrong with all hospital workers. I work with people’s minds and hearts to make them feel better. Just because you can’t, doesn’t mean that what I do is bad or wrong.

  40. Anonymouse says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    Curiosity mostly. I’m into S/M because I like putting myself in weird sexual situations. This was another situation.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Yes no no. The money didnt hurt of course. In fact the money was part of the experience. I wanted to see how taking money would affect my feelings about sex.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    None of the “sex work lite” stuff appeals to me. And the money is best if you actually fuck the clients.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    The money. The weirdness of the experience. The knowledge that I was “worth so much money.”

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I was surprised by how awful I felt at times. I really really hated it in a way that I have never hated any other job. Overriding and pushing through that feeling was part of the mindfuck for me, so I kind of liked it the same way I kind of like S/M but don’t really like it? This is hard to explain to someone who’s not into S/M. Anyway I felt visceral disgust at times. But I’ve actually felt worse in some of my past non-sex-work relationships when I had sex just to please my partner.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Honestly they seemed like nice people. None ever mistreated me. But I don’t like them. I needed to distance myself from them. I think I hurt some guys feelings as a result.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I was completely free to leave but sometimes I think about going back for the money. The thought makes me feel so awful that I never do it though.

    I told the story to a S/M writer friend and she said she wants to make it into a fiction story. Im not sure how I feel about that but she promised to run it past me before she does it. So keep an eye out for that I guess.

  41. aimee says

    Greta – I am also a Lusty Lady alum, from the Seattle Lusty Lady. If you have the book written by Erika Langley, you can see photos of me at work – I am Jesse.

    Dancing at the Lusty is my only experience of sexwork – I have never worked at any other peep show or club, nor have I ever worked as a prostitute.

    The Lusty was a good place to work – I think I was insulated there from most of the harmful aspects of sexwork. Specifically, I appreciate that I was paid an hourly wage by my female bosses and in no way had to depend on the goodwill of the patrons for my livelihood. Tips were nice, but my wage provided a ground level income that no man could deprive me of. Also, I was always insulated by glass walls. There was NEVER any chance that anyone could touch me against my will. If I needed an escort leaving the building (and sometimes I did) there was always one available.

    This is the only kind of sexwork I would ever have considered – one in which I did not offer my body for physical contact and where I was not directly dependent on any man for money. I think this is the least harmful form of sexwork.

    NOT harmless, however. After my year and a half working there, I chose to leave because I found that I began to dislike men more and more. Being a straight woman, I hoped to fall in love and marry a man someday, and start a family. I found that the corrosive exposure to the worst elements of men’s sexuality was destroying that possibility for me. Even though I was never abused, never assaulted, never coerced (things which are commonplace for other types of sexworkers) I still found myself, as time went by, less and less able to imagine myself loving one of the frankly disgusting creatures I dealt with every day.

    Yes, there were some men who were, within the limitations imposed by the Lusty’s design, courteous and kind. A few; perhaps as many as a third. But the baseline behavior of the men who watched me dance or perform in the Private Pleasures booth was so vile – demeaning, demanding, ugly, and hateful – that I seriously feared for my ability to ever love a man if I stayed.

    I do not, now that I have left sexwork twenty years behind me, doubt that a majority of men truly like women and enjoy their company. But the sample that I saw at the Lusty was so skewed away from normal, healthy men and towards damaged, unhealthy men that it threatened my perspective of the entire sex. I began to see my own sexuality as a tool to humiliate these men, if I could, and tried to “beat” them in each encounter by leaving them frustrated and extracting the maximum money for the minimum performance. I didn’t like the version of myself I was becoming, and I left for that reason as well.

    It is my opinion – which I realize you do not share – that physical intimacy as a financial transaction can never be healthy, probably for either party. It is my opinion – which I know you do not share – that all people are capable of and have a right to real, authentic, spontaneous, and loving sex, and that sexwork is inimical to humans experiencing this. I believe that sexwork is always corrosive and damaging to SOME extant – less in a well regulated and controlled environment like the Lusty and more so in an unregulated and poorly controlled environment like streetwalking.

    I feel extremely lucky that I was and am privileged enough to never have had to entirely depend on sexwork for my living. The majority of women – certainly globally and maybe here in the states – who are prostitutes are not so lucky. They have much less choice than I did. When you do the numbers, the majority of prostitutes fall into one of several categories which reduce their free will: drug addiction, underage, homelessness, prior abuse, trafficking. The vast majority are working illegally, which subjects them to dangers in and of itself. Even in the relatively rarified confines of the Lusty Lady, most of the women I knew were there under less than fully free circumstances, as was I. I doubt that, globally, one in a hundred prostitutes are truly free to choose their “profession” and truly free to leave it.

    I don’t know what the answer to the problem of unfree sexwork is. But I truly believe that it flows from an imbalance of power between men and women. Sometimes I like to imagine what the sex business would look like in a truly free and equal society. It would sure be different from what we have now.

  42. Liu says

    M bst frnd ws NYC prsttt ntl ctchng DS nd dyng t . Prstttn s mr lkl t gt y klld b mrdr, dss nd scd thn n thr wrk y cn d shrt f th mltr, bt ll ths strs cn nvr b tld bcs ths ppl r dd. Whn w wh cnt ll th prsttts wh dd rl, pnfl dths s prf tht prstttn s lmst ntrl xplttv t dsstrs pnt, w cnt cnjr th ghsts f th dd t tll thr strs. f th stll lvng, bttr rsrch thn ths hs bn dn mn tms nd th rslts hv nvr vdncd th mythcl lbrtrn mrktplc f nfnt dvrst f xprncs. f Ms. Crtn wntd t cndct tht rsrch wld spprt hr, bt ths Blg Cnfssns s t fr frm tht knd f rgrs scl scnc rsrch t hv mch vl n th grtr dbt.

    (Comment disemvoweled for violating the clearly stated comment policy of this thread.)

  43. says

    @soon-to-be disemvoweled commenter:

    What then? What’s the solution? NYC. It isn’t legal there, it isn’t decrimmed there – so what in the hell is your point? Abolish prostitution super extra double hard? End demand? Try to change certain aspects of human nature through punitive authoritarian behavior modification techniques?

    —-

    (@Greta – I’ll understand if you want to disemvowel this response)

  44. Liu says

    Wh wll tll m bst frnds str f nt m?

    This comment has been disemvoweled for violating the stated comment policy of this comment thread.

  45. Greta Christina says

    FeministWhore @ #54: No, I’m not going to disemvowel you. I created this forum for sex workers to say more or less whatever they want about sex work — and you’ve stated that you’re a sex worker. If folks come into this discussion who aren’t sex workers, my preference would be that sex workers not respond to them — especially since responses to disemvoweled comments can create a somewhat incoherent discussion — but I’m not going to disemvowel or ban you for it.

  46. Liu says

    Nw y wll bn m fr nt lstnng t ll sx wrkrs whn m dd prsttt bst frnd cnt spk nymr. knw th str nd wll tll t t nyn wh wll lstn.

    This comment has been disemvowelled. This is the second third comment from this commenter that violates the clearly stated comment policy of this thread — namely, that comments on this post are for current and former sex workers ONLY. The commenter has now been banned.

    To clarify once again: If you want to enter into online debates about sex work, and you are not a current or former sex worker, there are plenty of places on the Internet to do so. There are even places on this very blog. This particular space is a space for sex workers. If you don’t have enough respect for sex workers to let us have a space of our own to discuss our experiences in the industry, you are not welcome in this blog.

  47. says

    Basics

    I am a white, 27 year old graduate student from a middle class, Midwestern background. I am a sex worker, heavily involved in the Sex Worker Outreach Project, a researcher of the sex industry including research on street based sex workers, a harm reduction advocate, and an all around hooligan.

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    Curiosity, mostly. I was a vehement anti-porn feminist as a teen and after some major culture shock living in Amsterdam, I decided to put my feminist dogmas to the test.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    No one chooses anything freely. We are all historically and socially situated. That said, I do not think we are completely devoid of agency (if I did, I wouldn’t be a very successful political or social activist). Insomuch as I exercise agency within a murky, illusive, oppressive system, I choose my work as a sex worker.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Being a stripper seemed more accessible and safer than illicit forms of sex work.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I still get a wonderful thrill from dancing on stage. I was an exhibitionist at a young age and feel that, often, stripping is a safe space in which to exercise that proclivity. There is also something magical about undressing to music that is politically and socially critical. The songs I choose address issues like safe sex, the never ending wars in the Middle East, the war on women, and other feminist issues.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    The social stigma, first and foremost. I take my clothes off, like everyone else in the world. I also have sex like everyone else in the world. Because I sometimes do these things commercially, I am dubbed a qualitatively different “kind” of person. That’s terribly curious. That stigma—the stigma of being a qualitatively different kind of person—sometimes seeps into the minds of my customers. As such, another lament is how ungrateful, disrespectful, and crass customers can be.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    It’s a service industry job. It’s often terribly boring, repetitive, and laborious.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Through the years, I’ve come to call many customers friends and I indeed love a handful of them. I feel very deeply for many of the customers I’ve encountered—the man who recently returned from Iraq and no longer knew how to interact with others, the nerdy boy with crooked teeth who took care of his dying mother, the deaf boy who wrote “You’re pretty” on a bar napkin, the handicapped man with no feeling below his waist, the professor with roses and art supplies, the jaded, lonely businessman with an open mind and kind heart… These customers make my work interesting and exciting. Customers who are otherwise insecure, angry, misogynist, etc make the work difficult at times but I recognize masculine insecurity, anger, and misogyny as larger social problems… problems that exist independent of my work or any other sex worker’s work, for that matter.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    My feelings are pretty consistent, though I take less “shit” than I did when I was younger. I have less empathy for drunk, loud, or rude customers and have no qualms demanding more money, swearing at customers, or physically kicking them out of clubs. One of the most oppressive aspects of the job is when women internalize whore stigma and slut shame and feel obligated to tolerate unacceptable behavior. Said unacceptable behavior, I believe, stems from the social construction of masculinity, our global repression/obsession with sex and sexuality, and general inequities that engender violence.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Again, I am restrained by social stigma. Although I have the privilege of attending graduate school, should my work options be limited because of my “sordid past” as a sex worker, I will have little option but to return to the business.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I write about sex work related issues and academia at http://www.tsk-tsk.com

  48. Tanit says

    @aimee #52 – I thought it was pretty clear that this is about your story. It feels like you’re also trying to tell the stories of other sex workers, especially prostitutes. You say you have never worked as a prostitute, and I fully understand that a lot of people couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t. But some people can and do, and it does not harm them. I do not like you claiming that my work, which I freely chose “can never be healthy,” that it “is always corrosive and damaging to SOME extant” (sic) and “is inimical to humans experiencing … real, authentic, spontaneous, and loving sex.” You cannot speak for my experience, and that of other sex workers commenting here. You can not tell me how my work does or does not affect my life. Just like @Jane Doe #31 cannot claim that my clients are all “(often misogynistic and rough) creepy strangers”. Sure, some of them might be, but certainly not “often”.
    This is an industry where experiences vary so greatly, and different people fit into it (or not) differently (or not at all). So, just like I cannot and will not speak for your experience, I ask you to respect mine and limit your claims about sex work to the line of work you worked in and your experiences of it.

  49. says

    (reposting from my blog)

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    There were a couple strippers I was trying to impress. The club had a monthly male amateur night with the potential to make a good deal of side money and a lot of the female dancers attended. I had just spent several months getting in the best shape of my life (after spending most of my life slightly overweight) and wanted to show it off. Plus, it was a performance art thing. A lot of my routines were designed around humor, but the local comedy club didn’t want people stripping naked. It also gave me a lot of material for my stand-up act.

    There was a big streak of rebellion in there, too. I was raised in a conservative Christian environment that emphasized respect for women and wanting to have sex with a woman was the most disrespectful, dehumanizing thing you could do, unless she was your wife. Then it was OK. I wanted to prove that it was perfectly possible to see a woman naked and still respect her as a person and wanted to relate to these people who had been so thoroughly demonized in my upbringing as a way of ditching it for good.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Does peer pressure count? Several of the female dancers suggested it, but it’s not like they had to twist my arm. I had a day job that paid way more money than I knew what to do with, so there was no economic pressure. After I lost my day job, I think for moonlighting as a stripper, though that isn’t what they said, the money became a lot more important for a few months. It’s one of the few jobs where the only qualification is that you haven’t been previously banned from the premises and you have an ID saying you’re over eighteen, though it takes more than that to make money. It helped keep me afloat in this interim period.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    It’s what was available locally. There was no Craigslist back in 2005 to look for johns and even if there were, too many guys were giving it away free to make money at it, not that the idea really appealed to me anyway. A friend of mine suggested that I go into porn, but I’m not a consistent performer, especially with people I don’t know, so that basically left stripping and modeling and I had no idea how to break into the latter.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I got to set my own rules. I could dance to whatever music I liked, do whatever kind of dance I liked, shamelessly flirt with women (especially that hot older lady who worked the snack counter at the college I attended) and occasionally, men and not get called into the boss’s office and told I had to stop. I probably could have made more money if I had been less esoteric, but it was only my money on the line, so no one got on my case.

    I got to interact with a lot of strippers (including a few I had crushes on) outside the customer/worker dynamic and gave me lots to talk about with them. It led to spending a lot of time with them outside of the strip club and talking about pets and kids and fashion and not just the usual turn-on/turn-off bullshit. Once, one of them tried to pull me into the dressing room on female amateur night to do me up in drag when there weren’t enough contestants, but several of the other dancer objected to me being back there and the owners weren’t really crazy about the idea.

    I ended up getting to know people far better than I would have which taught me a lot about people I wouldn’t have likely come in contact with in my parents’ social circle. A couple of the other male strippers taught me how to dance and some of the women taught me how to pole-dance, though I can only do a few basic tricks. Most importantly, this played a large role in meeting and dating Kitty, who’s the closest friend I ever had.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Some of the guys I danced with were cool. Some were homophobes, misogynists or otherwise assholes. I have a whole bunch of anecdotes related to this, but I will save them for later dates as each one really warrants its own post.

    I had to remove most or all of my body hair if I wanted to make any money (and not get mocked by the DJ). I can understand the aesthetic reasons. I wouldn’t want to watch a hairy male stripper either. I’m very hairy, though. This was a huge ordeal and I had some unpleasant mishaps with Nair where I burned myself or mostly dissolved my fingernails.

    I also saw a lot of alcoholism and drug addiction up close. It really worried me to see people about drink themselves to death pretty much every time they came and I felt helpless to stop it. Most of my negatives about sex work come from watching my ex-girlfriend, Kitty, though. The women went through far worse of everything I saw and did get hassled by management, but that’s off-topic for this post. I will talk about it in more detail later.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it. I wasn’t excited enough about it to drive a couple of hours to a town with a full-time male strip club (and more gay customers, who were more my demographic) like some of the ladies at Stripper Web suggested, mainly because I don’t like driving, but it was responsible for a lot of the most important events in my life.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Most of them were good. They just wanted to flirt with someone who was young and in shape and see some genitalia. A few were annoyingly grabby.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Yes. It put me kind of on the front-lines of slut shaming to see the damage done, which is the main reason it pisses me off so much now. It also cured me of any rescue mindset I’d had about sex workers pretty thoroughly and moved me from an idealized view of sex work to a more realistic one. I ended up far more supportive of prostitution and also far more aware of the bullshit that goes on behind the scenes. Some of it happens in any job, but a lot of problems are mostly unique to the sex field. I recommend reading my previous article about why I don’t go to strip clubs anymore. A lot of this has more to do with what I was Kitty go through than what I went through, So I’ll save it for another post.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    The only restraint on me was losing the money and the social connections. The money was never huge amounts and the social connections with the few people I really cared about were solid, so this became less of a concern. I left because I was losing my hair and less money was coming in and I didn’t really need it anymore. Also, I got another job with a schedule that made going difficult.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    It wasn’t the highest-paying job I had. When you count all the grooming I had to do into my time, my hourly rate wasn’t exceptional, but I still enjoyed it more than anything else I’ve ever done for money. On the other hand, I also saw some of the most upsetting things I’ve ever seen through the industry, but that was more because of my contact with Kitty’s work than my own.

    Here’s one of the few good pictures from that era. It’s mostly work-safe.

  50. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I felt led by the Great Goddess, Mother aspect of God into this ministry in 2001. A series of mystical events shaped my beliefs and experience from the very beginning that sensual healing, full spectrum energy guidance and worship of the holy body could be a calling, not just a career.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure? I was never forced into the work nor forced in any of my personal healing sessions in the transformation chambers. Actually, the only ‘force’ involved was an ex boyfriend who threatened me for pursuing my calling, and the force used by the government to shut down my temple. The men and women who came to our tantra temple were seeking feminine wisdom, a new perspective on touch, the body and energy. Not all were ‘religious’ but most were ‘spiritual’. The occasional agnostic or atheist did not deter me from professing my own beliefs that the work of the body and energy is the gift of the Goddess.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? I really was called into it, the Celtic Goddess Brigid walked me right into this healing work. I was coming out of corporate work, and the idea of sitting at a computer to make my living (again) did not appeal to me at any level. I prayed for an alternative, one which would ‘put me on the path of my life’s purpose’. I answered an ad for ‘sensual body worker wanted’. When I met the gentle=man who ran the body work studio, I knew we were soul mates. I was given every tool, every safety and upliftment to proceed. It has been a constant blessing to me and to my family and my community. It is only recently that I ‘ve had the honor to defend the Mother in this legal situation.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    Everything about it, the giving of my gift especially, which allowed my life and energy to flow in natural forms, without outer restrictions of schedule, place and time (yes we keep a schedule but tantrikas are able to really heal when it strikes them, and be out and about when they need to be in the world). It has expanded my confidence in myself and people, allowed me to give bliss in exchange for right livelihood.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    Cynical people, religious zealots who attack religions that don’t match their idea of what is ‘holy’. A handful of men who thought I was faking my religion and came in with a ‘full cup’ unwilling to see the possibilities.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    It is what I was born to do

    What are your feelings about your customers? I have no customers, only guests, seekers, initiates. Since we are here to represent the Goddess, we promise to embody the sacred feminine and deliver Her gifts to those who seek her out. When this is sought and celebrated by the initiates, I have the best avocation in the world. When I am able to inspire a man to learn from the women in his life, I have helped the women he knows who come into his life after our meeting. So this has been very fulfilling as a life work. I do not create pollution, there is no harm done, and peace emanates from my chamber….this is a gift to those who seek my healing and guidance.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it? My commitment has deepened, as I have seen the value of removing guilt, shame and fear from the body and our life force energy can flood the rest of a life with power and the ability to create your heart’s desire.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    In temple, we are all free to leave. If anything it feels weird to leave and have no one ‘chase you’ and ask you to stay. But in the practice, self sovereign choice to be doing this work is primary, anyone or anything persuading you to do the work or stay in the work is ‘pimping’ and simply not allowed by the Goddess ethic.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work? It is glorious to serve humanity, I only wish our freedom of religion expression was truly protected by the Constitution.

  51. Greta Christina says

    aimee @ #52: I’m going to echo Tanit # @60. I’m deeply sorry that you had such a bad experience in the sex industry. But why do you find it necessary to insist that everyone else in the sex industry must have had a bad experience, too, and that it must be damaging to everyone in it?

    And what is your response to the people who say — here, and elsewhere — that they had good, valuable experiences doing this work, and on the whole liked it? Are you saying that we’re lying, or deluded, or somehow not competent to decide for ourselves what is and isn’t good for us?

    I strongly encourage you, and all current and former sex workers, to tell their stories, here and elsewhere. I am not, however, happy when “telling my story” turns into “telling other people that their stories should be ignored, dismissed, or trivialized.”

  52. Greta Christina says

    Oh, crud. I approved a comment that had gotten stuck in the spam filter (Jenny Heineman @ #60), and now the numbering is off. Tanit @ #60 is now Tanit @ #61. Sorry for any confusion.

  53. Aimee says

    I’m not trying to invalidate anyone else’s opinions or to say that anyone is lying. I was just expressing my own hard-won and hard thought out opinions. Obviously I am aware that others disagree, and I know by reading the threads that my opinion is in the minority. I don’t see that as “invalidating” my experience, and I wonder why you (plural) think that mine somehow invalidates yours. I’m not going to tell anyone what to think about their own experience, but my impressions were solicited (no pun intended) and I gave them.

  54. Aimee says

    Ps I actually think I had a pretty great experience as a sex worker – did you miss the whole “never abused, assaulted, or coerced” part? Or the part about supportive employers, a safe work environment, and a good wage?

  55. Greta Christina says

    I’m not trying to invalidate anyone else’s opinions or to say that anyone is lying. I was just expressing my own hard-won and hard thought out opinions. Obviously I am aware that others disagree, and I know by reading the threads that my opinion is in the minority. I don’t see that as “invalidating” my experience, and I wonder why you (plural) think that mine somehow invalidates yours. I’m not going to tell anyone what to think about their own experience, but my impressions were solicited (no pun intended) and I gave them.

    Aimee @ #66: Here’s the parts of what you said that I had a problem with.

    It is my opinion – which I realize you do not share – that physical intimacy as a financial transaction can never be healthy, probably for either party. It is my opinion – which I know you do not share – that all people are capable of and have a right to real, authentic, spontaneous, and loving sex, and that sexwork is inimical to humans experiencing this. I believe that sexwork is always corrosive and damaging to SOME extant

    You said that sex work could never be healthy, that sex work is inimical to people experiencing it, that sex work is always corrosive and damaging. That ignores and dismisses the experiences of people who say that this was not how it played out for them.

    I also have a problem with this:

    When you do the numbers, the majority of prostitutes fall into one of several categories which reduce their free will: drug addiction, underage, homelessness, prior abuse, trafficking… I doubt that, globally, one in a hundred prostitutes are truly free to choose their “profession” and truly free to leave it.

    Do you have any good data to back this up? If you don’t, you’re presenting your own pre-conceived notions about other people’s experiences as if it were fact.

  56. ryua says

    I’d like to note that this is an account I created just for this post, just as I created an account under the same name for this post.

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    Initially, it was a fluke. My then-boyfriend had promised to finance a trip to Texas that I had wanted to take, but he backed out on his promise (as he was wont to do). Getting the money through sex work was revenge and necessity rolled up into one neat little package. Nine months later, when I was with a much better and supportive partner, I began doing more sex work in earnest because I found that those little infusions of cash not only agreed with my budget, but bolstered my self-esteem.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    I definitely have used the money from my sex work to make ends meet, but I wouldn’t say that I was pressured or forced into it, even economically. I could have done other things, like sign-waving or something, but sex work paid a lot better for a lot less in the way of time investment.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    As a chubby girl, I knew that stripping was out. Camming seemed like it was full of scams and I wasn’t sure if I was pretty enough to make enough money off it; additionally, living with my parents would have made having the space for camming nigh impossible. I ended up answering ads on Craigslist because I knew that my being bigger wouldn’t necessarily deter men from paying me for direct sexual acts. This was after the Erotic Services section was taken down, so I had to learn the slang and euphemisms for sex work.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    As a lifelong chubby woman and a feminist, I have rarely, if even, had a man pay for me for anything. I have gone dutch on dates, driven halfway for meetups, paid for my own condoms, worked out like nuts, and generally worked my ass off to seem desirable. I’ve also had a lot of casual sex where the man expected me to do all the work without reciprocation and where he didn’t act very appreciate (or even nice!) afterwards. It has been really nice to have men not only pay me, but act appreciatively towards me. Most of the clients that I’ve had focused not on the paid aspect of the encounter, but on the fact that they were so darn happy to have me there. It makes me feel really desired and validated.

    Also, my best (i.e. best-paying and repeat) clients tend to be older married white men who don’t want me to go down on them, and sometimes not even to penetrate me. Most of the time, with them, they want to be dominated or engage in acts that give me pleasure more than the pleasure they receive. Really, what’s not to love about being paid $200 to tell a man that he’s not good enough to touch me, or $80 for a man to lick me for half an hour?

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    I have had two dickish clients. One came on my face though I told him not to and got some into my hair. Another told me that I didn’t smell good and advised me to douche before we met up again. Needless to say, I never had sessions again with either of those men.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    I like it and wish it were legal so it would be safer and easier for me supplement my income with something that I’d do anyway, i.e. casual sex.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    I generally feel a lot of compassion and sometimes even a slight fondness, especially the ones who are so appreciative towards me. They make me feel desirable in a way that I’ve never felt before.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    I definitely feel more and more strongly that it ought to be legalized. My life would be a lot more financially stable if I could openly advertise for clients and not worry about the potential legal ramifications. This is especially true for women like me who aren’t conventionally attractive. The hot ones can join an escort agency and still make tons of money and be protected through that. Not so much for us bigger ladies.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    I wish I could do more of it, actually! I’ve hit a dry spell and wish I could make more money off it.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    The idea that you’re this sad little girl selling her hotness is so demeaning to hot women and doesn’t even apply to women like me. Women like me don’t get doors opened for us, dates paid for us, drinks randomly bought for us — sex work is a pathway to being paid back for all the costs of sex that exist for women.

  57. Jane Doe says

    Greta: I didn’t claim it was. I said I had never *met* one who liked it while I was working. I don’t disbelieve anyone here who says they did.

  58. Jane Doe says

    agodlessstrumpet: I never said you didn’t. I said I never *met* anyone who did when I was on the floor. If you say you did, then I believe you did.

  59. says

    I also want to share another sex worker story here. It’s a video I have uploaded to my channel of an interview done with a stripper from Mexico who fell through the cracks of the failed U.S. immigration policy.

    Basically, her mother was from Mexico and her father from the U.S. She was brought to the U.S. as a baby. Her mother died when she was very young and her father was a drug addict so the state took her away. They would have helped her get her citizenship but they kicked her out because she got pregnant.

    She can’t go back to Mexico. The war on drugs has turned the town she would probably end up in into a war zone but no one considers people like her refugees from a war zone. She wants to be a teacher but she can’t get her GED without papers. She is stuck. Stuck in stripping. Stuck in sex work and it’s NOT because she was trafficked. She may be considered economically coerced but the U.S. government has done that to her not a pimp.

    The moral of the story is this. Yes, some women DO get trapped in sex work and if you come across anyone claiming to want to “rescue” or “help” these women that ISN’T talking about immigration reform I would seriously doubt their sincerity or knowledge.

    Sex workers aren’t the only people that get lost in the conflations concerning “trafficking.” Immigrants do to and sometimes they too are sex workers. Video link below:

  60. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I had just moved to Ottawa and was having a hard time getting a job without being able to speak French, despite having a B.A. in archaeology and classics. I didn’t want to work in retail and because of a sleep disorder, I have a hard time doing 9-5 type jobs. I also wanted to go back to school to study women’s studies. So I needed a job where I could pick and choose my hours. Sex work seemed like the best option. So that had been floating around in my head for a month or so when I had to end things with a guy I’d been seeing and he asked to pay me to continue seeing me and I figured, why the hell not? I already slept with you for free.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose this work in the sense that it was my own decision and I didn’t have someone forcing me to do this. However, it was largely motivated by my financial circumstances.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I started escorting in 2008. I liked sex and I was already having a lot of it, so once I’d had the idea put into my head, I thought, fuck, I should be charging all these dudes. I started putting up ads on Craigslist and eventually started doing sex work full-time. I’m not good at telling sexy stories, so phone sex was out, and I am not comfortable performing on camera when I can’t see who’s on the other side, and porn was much too public, same for stripping (plus, I’m a plus-sized woman, so even if I was comfortable being naked in public, the stripclubs around here wouldn’t take me anyway). But I knew I could make a niche for myself in the escorting world.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I love meeting new people who I normally would never interact with in my personal life. I like helping people get off. I like helping people have a good time. I love that most of my clients want to get me off just as much as they want to get off. I like the money. And, I’m not going to lie, I like the attention.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I do not like the review boards! Review boards are basically a male/client space–it’s like a guy’s locker room. The stuff they write on most of these boards disgusts me and actually makes me a bit ill (there is constantly talk of who is the tightest, or so-and-so was awesome until she got fat, etc). There are escort-only spaces on some of these boards, which are supposed to be used to post bad-dates etc and ask work-related questions but is generally a space to bash clients and subtly trash talk about other escorts. And there is a hierarchy between those of us who work indoors and street-based sex workers. Some of the women seem to think that they’re somehow better, and I can’t stand that kind of talk.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I love my job. I feel like I was born to do this work. Many of my clients have disabilities and so I often feel like I am really doing good work, work that helps and makes a difference in someone’s life.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    For the most part, I like my clients. They’re respectful, polite and often fun in bed. I get the occasional haggler or cheapskate who wants to negotiate and you get the tire-kickers who just want to talk dirty over the phone, but for the most part, the good clients outnumber the kinda crappy ones. I’ve never been physically assaulted at work, though I did have a client slip the condom off when I wasn’t looking. But that is the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    My feelings haven’t really changed. Over the last four years that I’ve been doing this job, I’ve just grown more and more attached to it. I’m active in the sex worker’s rights movement and often speak publically about my experiences. My experience in the sex industry taught me that this is something worth fighting for.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I am a little concerned about leaving the industry, should I choose to do so. I don’t have plans to leave any time soon, but I’m hoping when I do make that transition that the giant empty space on my resume won’t be a big deal. Or that when I do leave, the time will have come when I can include my sex work experience on my resume.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    This job basically saved my life. Before, I was depressed and upset that I couldn’t find a so-called straight job and was coming off of a grad-school rejection and was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I also didn’t know anyone in the city, so I felt totally isolated and friendless. Becoming a whore was the best decision I ever made.

  61. CraigslistRentboy says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I first started hooking up with guys on craigslist when I was 16 and and sexually frustrated gay teen. Later on as I became more adventurous I started accepting small jobs, like getting paid to be blown. That was just for the sake of novelty.

    Much later on, around 20, I also took a few jobs here and there, but they were only the experiences that fell into my lap when advertising for a regular hookup, not something I sought out.

    It wasn’t until one vacation from college when I was living with a friend and had no source of income that I used craigslist to find clients so I could have income for food and weed and the train.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose this work. When I did it due to “economic pressure” i.e. not having a job, it was as a last resort, but it didn’t feel externally imposed upon me. I had other avenues I could have explored, but sex work is easy and lucrative.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I like the thrill of going to meet a client for the first time. I like trying to figure out how they want me to act. I like the honesty of the situation even if we’re pretending the whole time. Whenever I did sex work, the following things were very important:

    I got to set my price
    I got to screen all potential clients anonymously
    I didn’t ever need the money so desperately that I had to work for a client that I didn’t want to.

    I did, however, frequently work for clients who i would not have had sex with for free. I like how it expanded my experiences into a place they wouldn’t have gone otherwise.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I didn’t particularly like sleeping over at other people’s houses, but I could usually get a lot more that way.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it. It was draining, and I always wanted a shower afterwards, obviously, but I liked it.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    It varies. On the whole, my customers were respectful people. I have my individual opinions, but so does everyone else.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

  62. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry? I used to think it was only because I was in an abusive marriage at 20 years old and I felt that for my 7 month old child’s well being I needed quick money to kick him out. I now think it was more for the adrenaline high and less because of my hubby. I saved enough in three days to kick him out – yet I still worked and LOVED every minute of it while holding a vanilla job on the side.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure? YES. Forced? No! My 1st client was only the 2nd man I ever slept with. My husband had only fucked me once since we’d been married as I got pregnant right after the wedding and he thought having sex with our baby in there was ‘weird’. Plus, I was a virgin til I got married – so I really had no idea how pleasurable sex was until I started seeing my clients. Looking back now I’m sure my ex is gay, but at the time I just felt about as unsexy as humanely possible – we didn’t even fuck on our wedding night. (he picked a fight). Economic pressure played a part – but before putting my first ad online I had been staring at and fantasizing about the lives of those women for weeks and how liberating it must be for them.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? I can’t remember HOW I found the erotic part of CL but I did. That’s the only avenue I knew of (I was VERY naive when I started) and prostitutes always fascinated me. I’d drive thru the areas in SF at night where they walked because I was just so fascinated adn wanted to peek into their worlds. This was when I was 15.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work? I love being my own boss, making my own rules and saying NO for the first time in my life to a man has to be the most liberating even still after 6 years. As I said, my marriage was abusive – I was 14 and he was 26 when we met. If anything, I owe my life and that of my child’s (maybe not LIFE but sanity for sure!) to providing and the income my clients brought me.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work? At first – I was a push over. I didn’t realize I could say NO. I don’t like how family court judges assume that if you admit to having been an escort at one time, you’re a liar and a druggie and a bad mom. I lost my kid for 6 months in 2009 because a client of mine fell in love with me and thought that sending my ads to my ex husband (got into my phone when i was in the shower) would deem him not only the shoulder i cry on but also my only client since he KNEW i’d pull my ad. That feeling was a very powerless one and one that I will never forget.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it? Oh, I LOVE/D it! That is, until it’s time to take a break I love it. I just came back from a 2.5 year break, and like to think that the fact I do not date romantically while working has something to do with my not being able to become jaded. just when I start to resent the work for one reason or another, my situation would allow me to take an extended period of time off.

    What are your feelings about your customers? Most of them are lonely and just want to be understood. I feel like I am lucky for the fact that I attract a certain type of gentleman who usually isn’t a poster on forums, is gentlemanly and respectful and sincerely cares about my getting off! I hold a very special spot in my heart for my regulars. Some I can call friends. I’m still friends, 6 years later, with my 3rd client ever who I refer to as my “RB papa” rb are the initials of the site I post on.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it? Well, YES. First of all, I had this complete fairytale fantasy like situation in my head of what being an escort must be like. When I posted that first ad I didn’t expect ANY calls and my first client actually passed (thank God that hasn’t happened again since!). I’ve learned that the unfortunately reality is that 99% are pimped/managed in some form or another and sometimes feel very vulnerable like I am still that naive little girl thinking I can stay safe and do this alone.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have? I have started working as a webcam girl, and can honestly say that while it’s still sex work – if i needed to stop escorting and make a good full time income webcamming I could. I know that isn’t what you’re asking though. I don’t have one person (well, besides my 6 year old) that benefits from my income at ALL. No one to tell me what I should and should not be doing for a career. I can stop when and if I say so.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    I just typed this all really fast, if I think of something I’ll add it :)

  63. aimee says

    Greta –

    while I appreciate that you have asked for an explanation of my thoughts, I’m afraid the kind of nuanced response I would like to write is too complex and time consuming for this forum or for my current schedule. I did not come here to start an argument or to try and change anyone’s mind, I simply was intrigued by the chance to read what other sexworker’s stories and to offer my thoughts. It wasn’t my intention to be offensive, but I understand how my position might offend some.

    The research on which my opinions are based (yes, they are informed opinions) is freely available online, I’m sure you could find it for yourself as quickly as I could gather the URLs. If you would like to start a serious conversation, I’d be delighted for the opportunity to talk in depth with someone whose experience is similar to mine and who has come to different conclusions. Via a slower, e-mail exchange I could explain myself more fully and provide some of the research I have read.

    Your blog is fascinating and I have enjoyed perusing it.

    Aimee

  64. Alexandra says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was eighteen, a college dropout, mentally ill, and living in an abusive home environment. I was dead broke, and I wanted out. Aside from dealing drugs, I couldn’t figure out any other way to make a large amount of money very quickly, and I was always too much of a “good girl” to know anything about drugs.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Certainly nobody forced me, took me off the street, etc. I felt compelled to prostitute myself because I was terrified to live with my parents, both of whom were alcoholics, and who were by turns physically violent (and regularly verbally abusive). I was also experiencing a mixed bipolar episode – I simultaneously had manic and depressive symptoms. So, for me, I was more than usually promiscuous and risk-taking, but I also had a ton of self-hatred and self-destructive impulses. I felt like I had to – but I wasn’t totally in my right mind, either.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I didn’t think I was attractive enough to be a stripper, and anyway, I thought it would be easier to hide prostitution than stripping until such time as I could leave my parents’ house.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    The money, the independence, the flexibility.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I was raped when I was sixteen – my first sexual experience – and thereafter I had a hard time not dissociating during sex. For me, being with strange men I’d found through craigslist was just another opportunity to lie back and let myself revisit all the bad experiences I’d ever had with men. I felt degraded, dirty, disgusting. I hated myself for it. I’d experimented with BDSM for similar reasons.

    I didn’t really understand this at the time. Like I say, I wasn’t in my right mind. At the time, I knew I felt sick but I didn’t really understand why. I knew I felt tremendous guilt about sleeping with married men, in their wives’ and children’s homes. I felt guilt for betraying what my friends thought of me, their good image of me. I felt all the guilt that sexually transgressive women ever feel, I guess. Guilt for what I’d done wrong, guilt for what I “was”.

    There was also the ever-present fear – I was working at the same time and in the same region as that Craigslist Killer guy, so that was of course a fear.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I sometimes feel like I will never be able to be normal again because of sex work, but then, there’s a whole lot of reasons why I was never normal, so it’s a drop in the bucket in the end.

    I’ve already made clear my strong negative feelings. Honestly, my feelings change day to day — sometimes I’ll flash back to something, and I’ll be left reeling and in pain for days at a time. Sometimes I can look back at things more calmly and say, nobody hurt me, nobody raped me. I did things that hurt me because I felt I had to, but in retrospect there were other things I could have done that I was too blinkered to see because at the time I was severely mentally ill.

    I suppose I’m inclined to believe, overall, that sex work serves the interest of patriarchy rather than women, that it is not impossible for women to benefit or to serve themselves within that system, but that the point of the system is to meet men’s needs, not those of women (or sex workers in general – not all sex workers are women, after all).

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Honestly, the first few were more scared of me than I was of them. Normal men, for the most part. There were a few creeps, but I think a lot of men are creeps when they can get away with it, and where else can you get away with it if not with a woman you’re paying for sex?

    Not going to answer anything else, I think it would be redundant. I’m not prostituting myself any longer, and I’m happier for it, but I’d be a liar if I said I wouldn’t do it again if the choice were between that and starving or suffering physical abuse. I’d rather sell myself to a hundred men than be utterly dependent upon one, I suppose.

  65. Alexandra says

    I’ll also say that this conversation seems to me to be somewhat skewed. I’ve had conversations online about “sex work” where the majority/totality of people sharing their stories were anti-prostitution advocates who’d come out of the life and considered themselves survivors, whereas here the overwhelming majority of people telling their stories have had positive or mostly positive experiences (unlike me). If anyone wants, I can ask some of the other people I know to share their stories here, if the goal is to be representative. It will also open a whole huge can of worms, because like I say, these are people who are super anti sex work and who are going to take issue to a whole lot of what’s been said here. But it would be more representative.

  66. Priestess Mirae says

    Is Sex Work bad OR is Sex Work good?

    Are women empowered by it OR wounded by it?

    I think the same questions can be asked about sex itself, dating, relationships, and work.

    Depending on the woman, her good luck or bad luck, her training, intelligence, or lack there of, and her sense of self worth, ANY WORK or ANY sexual encounter can be:
    – fun
    – joyous
    – enlivening
    – growth producing
    – worthwhile

    OR
    – hurtful
    – wounding
    – depleting
    – not worth the effort

    From my perspective and experience “the work” of sex work is not the problem nor the solution. Neither are the clients.

    The problem is a culture that:
    – shames women for having sexual needs & drives
    – doesn’t train us on how to have honest communication around sex in our relationships
    – separates sex from the sacred
    – doesn’t empower women to be safe & cared for should they choose sex work
    – continues to offer more jobs to men and pay them better

    If you asked women if they have ever been hurt sexually outside of sex work, wounded in relationships that they thought were based on love, and denigrated at ANY type of work you will always find some who had a terrible experience.

    Yes, please do have women share who have had terrible experiences in sex work. I would love to hear how they would like to change the system so that women can become more safe, treasured and empowered in their sexuality both within and outside of sex work.

    Kindly,
    Priestess

  67. Greta Christina says

    The research on which my opinions are based (yes, they are informed opinions) is freely available online, I’m sure you could find it for yourself as quickly as I could gather the URLs.

    aimee @ #78: Yes, a lot of research has been done about sex work, and I’m sure I could find it online. The problem is that a lot of research done about sex work is truly terrible: poorly done at best, highly biased verging into propaganda at worst.

    To give one example: A study was done a few years ago, it was all over the media, supposedly showing that sex workers are more likely than the average population to have been abused as children or teenagers. The problem was that their sampling wasn’t any sort of randomized sampling of sex workers — their sampling was sex workers who were seeking help for mental health problems. Are people who seek help for mental health problems more likely to have been abused as children or teenagers? I’d wager yes. And to give another example: Many of the statistics about human trafficking in the sex industry are highly inflated, to say the least — because the people who gathered the numbers defined all prostitution as trafficking. Talk about a self-fulfilling prediction: they equate prostitution and trafficking, by definition — and then announce a big “discovery” that the overwhelming majority of prostitutes are trafficked.

    I’m going to be honest: I don’t know the answers to these questions. What percentage of sex workers were coerced into the industry? What percentage went into it out of dire economic pressure? What percentage went into it relatively freely, and felt that they had other choices? What percentage feel free to leave it at any time? What percentage experience abuse by customers and/or employers? What percentage feel good overall about the work, versus bad, versus neutral? I literally have no idea. I know that the sampling of my own acquaintances and colleagues is highly biased. As is the sampling of people who read my blog and who got connected to it through my assorted loose Internet connections. I also know that it’s extremely difficult to get accurate answers to these questions: the fact that sex work is illegal in most of the world, and the fact that it’s highly stigmatized, makes it very difficult to get accurate answers to these questions. Not to mention the fact that it’s an extremely loaded topic, and that researchers studying it often have axes to grind and deep biases — biases that are readily apparent to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the methodology of social sciences.

    So I’m not going to speculate on what these numbers are. If I see reliable research, I’ll pay attention to it. In the meantime, I have to rely on what I can know anecdotally. Which is this: I don’t know what percentage of sex workers had good experiences with sex work and feel good about it on the whole — but it is not trivial. And I know that many current and former sex workers who did have bad experiences still don’t want sex work to be illegal and stigmatized. The laws and the stigma against sex work made their bad experiences worse.

  68. Greta Christina says

    I’ll also say that this conversation seems to me to be somewhat skewed. I’ve had conversations online about “sex work” where the majority/totality of people sharing their stories were anti-prostitution advocates who’d come out of the life and considered themselves survivors, whereas here the overwhelming majority of people telling their stories have had positive or mostly positive experiences (unlike me). If anyone wants, I can ask some of the other people I know to share their stories here, if the goal is to be representative. It will also open a whole huge can of worms, because like I say, these are people who are super anti sex work and who are going to take issue to a whole lot of what’s been said here. But it would be more representative.

    Alexandra @ #81: I want to hear the voice of any sex worker who wants to speak.

    I can tell you that I’m not going to be happy if they ignore or deny the experiences of sex workers who had different experiences from theirs, or insist that all sex workers had the same kind of experience that they did. But if they want to tell their stories, and talk about their own analysis of their experience and the experience of others that they saw, I want to hear it.

  69. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I started as a Pro Domme in college, since it paid well for short hours. It worked for me at the time, but wasn’t something I could have kept doing long term. I needed a particular sort of client (those who wanted sadism with no mercy, no sensual domination or anything that involved me touching them), and I didn’t like dealing with bookings.

    After college, I made some efforts to get into queer/dyke porn (which didn’t pan out until much later) more as a statement than as a career. I answered a craigslist ad for girl/girl porn, realized this was something I could do long term, and pursued that further. I was also interested in directing porn, and part of my motivation in becoming a porn performer was getting to direct eventually (which I do now).

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I chose it, I love it, and I’m happy with my decision. I wasn’t coerced, and while I wasn’t in a great place financially when I first started porn – I had rent and student loans to pay and freelance film work can be hard to come by – I was no worse off than a lot of recent college grads.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I’m a lesbian, and porn is one of the few kinds of sex work that don’t require interacting with men.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I like getting paid to do something I love and I like the people. As a director, I like bringing stories I want to see to life and creating work for other performers.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    The porn world can be judgmental at times and there are bad people in porn (although they mostly circle the industry as opposed to really being a part of it – sharks who prey on the new talent and those who don’t know how to protect themselves).

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I absolutely love it.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I’m happy to talk to fans and engage with them on twitter and facebook and so forth, but I have had people act crazy towards me and not understand that I’m a real person outside of porn.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    It became much more my job than something I was doing for fun or to make a statement about my sexuality. I pride myself on being able to do a good scene even if my scene partner isn’t trying. I love my job, but I do see it as my job.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I could leave if I wanted to. I don’t think it would be a good idea, given how much I’ve invested in production equipment and so forth, but I could move to shooting something else.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I do think that people get hurt in porn, especially if they don’t know who they are and want they want out of the experience. I love what I do, but it’s not for everyone.

  70. says

    Lily, your work is my go-to example when I’m arguing that lesbian porn isn’t just straight girls putting on a half-hearted show for guys. I was hoping you could comment on that. How widely is this true? DO you have any idea what percentage of your customers are men?

  71. says

    Hi Ace :)

    I like to say that I fuck rather than just play around, and seek this out in the performers I hire. Lesbian sex is real to me in a way that it often isn’t for girl/girl performers. I want to see people want each other, not just roll around. A lot of girls do girl/girl because they think it’s easier or not real porn. At the same time, just because a girl is gay or bi doesn’t mean she’s going to be a great performer any more than every straight girl is cut out to be a porn star.

    My website members are more male than female, or at least, their credit cards are. Some of those male credit cards belong to straight/bi couples which I can’t gauge unless they write me directly. I get way more fan-mail from women than men, but a lot of them are not paying for my content – they’ll do things like mention the name a clip has on a tubesite or mention where they got my movies for free (I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don’t realize this is rude…”OMG I love your band, I totally downloaded your entire discography on bitorrent!!1!”)

    I once gave an interview when I was very tired and very angry where I said something like “I don’t give a fuck what the fans want. If they want authenticity, then they can’t tell me what to do.” I stand by that, although I would have phrased it more gently – I will listen to fan comments like “please work with so and so” but I don’t really care that the generalized male girl/girl fanbase has certain tastes that don’t line up with mine (for example, a lot of the vocal ones don’t like fingering or aggressive sex, and actually want that half-hearted show). My content is what it is – if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

  72. betsy says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I needed money for college and living expenses. Even though I had scholarships and worked a “legit” job, it wasn’t enough to cover rent, bills, etc.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    There were no individual people who forced me into it, but I consider it to be a form economic coercion/”survival” sex.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I did several types of sex work: stripping, nude modeling, fetish modeling, and pro-domming. I had to do all of this stuff to support myself. I did what I assumed to be legal for fear of arrest.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    The money. It actually wasn’t as much as I think my work is worth, but it was more money in an hour than I would make in a week doing the type of min wage labor I was qualified for at the time.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    1. I never liked when I had give part of my wages to someone else – a strip club manager or an agency – because I believe I am entitled to the entirety of my earnings, and don’t think others should be making money off of my body and sexual labor, or choosing who I sexually service. (When I worked independently this was not a problem.)

    2. One photographer used my images in a way that I did not consent to.

    3. One horrific incident where my safety was threatened (see below)

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    Liked it when I could work independently and therefore select my own clients and keep all my earnings. Hated certain moments when I was taken advantage of.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Overall neutral. However there was one bachelor party where I was held hostage and forced to perform acts against my will, and later stalked/harassed by someone involved.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    This is tricky because although I am not currently doing sex work, it is something that I know will be on-and-off in my life whenever I become desperate for money. So until I am permanently financially stable (which may never happen) I won’t ever feel truly “free” to leave.

  73. betsy says

    oops, looks like I missed the last question:

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    That one can be pro-sex worker and anti-sex industry, which is the position my experiences have led me to. (I’m also pro-decriminalization & unionization). That profiting off of my own sexuality and body is not a character flaw or an indication of a mental/psychological deficit, or otherwise anything to be ashamed of. That sex workers are human beings who deserve health and safety protections on the job. That choices are not made freely when survival is at stake. That certain groups of people of which I am a member (women, poor, disabled, queer, etc) are more vulnerable to exploitation, both in terms of work AND sex. That some clients/men are aroused by this vulnerability. That to be poor in this country means most options will in fact be MORE distasteful and LESS lucrative than sexually servicing such men. That sex work debates need to acknowledge class as much as gender.

  74. SoftServe says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was lonely and desperate. My life at home was awful, I was alienated from my family and I was giving everything I had to a job I wasn’t good at.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I certainly needed the money. But I could have walked away from or rebuffed the pimp who approached me initially.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I was sitting alone at a McDonald’s in a major Canadian city, late in the evening. I was eating vanilla soft serve, and it was my first meal in a while. A man who had flirted with me at work a few weeks before, approached me, had a short conversation, then asked if I “wanted to make some money”. I said yes, went with him, and turned two tricks that night. It just fell into my lap.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I liked feeling sexy and powerful. There was a heady thrill about my body actually being worth money. I am not conventionally pretty, I have short legs and I am kind of hairy and I have a funny-looking face. It was the closest I will probably ever come to feeling desirable.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I was a little scared of the men – the johns and the pimp, just because I didn’t know them and couldn’t trust them. I am a very social person, too, so the stigma and secrecy were hard to deal with. I also didn’t like failing at being a sexual athlete while I was with my johns.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I did enjoy it, but it was just too risky. I was worried about being raped, beaten, killed.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I felt genuine kindness and goodwill toward them. Maybe a little pity. My first john asked me to be his girlfriend and I laughed and said; “Well, you have [pimp]’s phone number.” It felt weird to be so callous, but I was thinking; “This is my chance to act like the character of a hustling hooker”.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    My mother raised me to be a feminist, and am just young enough that I didn’t fall into the second wave trap of seeing all sex workers as sad victims. I have always thought that sex work should be decriminalized and destigmatized. Turning some tricks actually gave me a rosier view; I wasn’t assaulted or hurt at all and I kind of shook off the stereotype of johns all being violent weirdoes.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I was totally free to leave it. The pimp’s car service dropped me at my house when my night was finished. I lived with another pimp and his two “girls” for a week or so, not long after that, right before I escaped my living situation and left town forever. I didn’t work for him, though, and I am glad I didn’t because that situation was a mess.

  75. Northern British Anon says

    [b] Why did you get into the sex industry? [/b]

    I got into the industry via an acquaintance who was, amongst other things, a camgirl. It took me about four seconds to go from “Oh, that’s a clever way to work when you’re ill” to “Hey, I could so do that…”

    [b] Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure? [/b]

    I’m quite ill – ill enough that I can’t really work a nine to five job with any degree of success; I can’t guarantee whether I’ll be healthy enough from one day to the next to even get out of bed. With this in mind, and my mortgage hanging over my head, I decided to try webcam sex-work. I was always confident in my ability to put on a good show, so I wondered if I could do it for money.

    [b] Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? [/b]

    I chose camsex since I can work from home and set my own hours, and because there was no initial monetary outlay. Also, very importantly, my clients are physically a long way away so I’m in no immediate physical danger, and it guaranteed that I could be the one in charge of the situation – Even if I was playing a powerless role. On top of this, I’m more comfortable thinking on my feet than following a script, and the challenge of making up scenarios and personalities on the fly keeps me interested.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I mostly enjoy the combination of challenges involved – Keeping my movements aesthetically pleasing to the customer or customers involved, without moving out of the very small frame of the camera, whilst also holding several conversations, planning ahead to the next part of the scene, and trying to deliver an overall experience which is unique enough to keep me a regular client base.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Having to pander to the creepy clients – The ones who talk at length about how much they want to hold me and stroke my hair and make me feel loved. I, on an intellectual level, understand that it’s as valid a kink as any other, but the strangely intense personal violation of a total stranger wanting me to submit to that level of emotional intimacy makes me feel ill. I can roleplay any character I’m asked to, but clients assuming that they know me at all, based on a ten-minute wanking session with my fictional alter ego, and that their affections are wlecome, is just one step too far.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I feel neutral about my work – Some days are amazing, and I finish work high as a kite and feeling like I’ve run a marathon. Other days are horrible and I end the day by crawling into bed with a bar of chocolate and trashy television. I’d say that the worst days are still less bad than the worst day at my old day job, largely because I know that as a camgirl I’m not going to end my working day, then have to face an hour-long commute. I can just switch off my camera, change my clothes, and talk to my housemate, who has usually made me dinner.

    [b] What are your feelings about your customers? [/b]

    My feelings about my customers are as varied as my feelings about most people – Some of them, had I met them in a different setting, I’d probably be best friends with, others I’d have crushes on, others I’d make passing small talk with and a tiny minority I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. I, deliberately, falsify a LOT of the information about myself and my social situation when talking to clients, not only to protect my privacy, but to prevent a real emotional bond forming; If I know that I can’t ever really befriend a client, since doing so would mean telling them that the entire, complicated, detailed person that they know is actually a work of fiction, I can’t end up either ignoring other clients in favour of my hypothetical friend, or ending up with a weird, sexually-tinged friendship with someone on the other side of the world which could overflow into and damage my real relationship (‘m poly and my partner isn’t, so I’ve agreed to monogamy, which has worked pretty well for the past five years, and breaking his trust would make me a much less principled person than I think I am).

    [b] Have your feelings about the work changed with time? [/b]

    Mostly, there’s been a normalising effect – I used to be very reticent about what I actually did for money, and very worried that it would have strange emotional repercussions, but now I see it as no more or less of a reasonable job than being a sommelier or a design consultant. I am selling a service, which requires very skilled, specialised labour. To do that, I need to tailor my purview to my clients’ needs, both as individuals and as a group, and to use my time efficiently. For this kind of service, I charge a fee, which is both acceptable to my customers and to me. They get the goods, I get to practise my craft, I get paid, and we all go home happy.

    [b] If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? [/b]

    I currently feel very free to leave at any time – I’m my own boss, so to speak, with only market forces dictating whether I’ll make a profit or not, so I imagine that once I find a job which I enjoy more and which is as accommodating to my medical needs, I’ll give it up and do that instead.

    [b] Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work? [/b]

    Sex work, in the limited, technologically-privileged, language-group-privileged, way that I do it, is probably the most disability-friendly job that I’ve ever done. I can work around my own physical limitations much more easily as a camgirl than I could as any thing else that I’ve ever been, and generally my customers have been very nonjudgmental and understanding about my disabilies, when they’ve come up at all.

  76. Anna says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I had always been fascinated with sex and sexuality for sale in all its forms. When I was 26, someone I knew well brought me in on a double session with a regular client, and it continued from there. The money was better and easier than any other kind of work I was doing.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I chose it, but I do it for the money, no doubt: I think if I had a very well-paying job I would still see a client or two for the fun of it, I would just choose them a lot more carefully. I have (touch wood) never been so broke that I agreed to a session with a client I didn’t like.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I’m a pro-domme in the UK. I had thought about going into escorting but didn’t feel ready to have intimate sexual contact with strangers, or face the security risks and vulnerability that go with that. The money for pro-domming is almost as good as for escorting, but I keep my clothes on and rather than being vulnerable, I’m explicitly in control of the situation. I am too fat to be a stripper, and too privacy-conscious to be in porn. I like to keep my physical appearance unknown except to clients, so as to keep the risk of future exposure low.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I like getting paid to dress up and play ‘let’s pretend’, and I genuinely enjoy getting to hurt and dominate people too. Like other escorts and doms that I know, I’m a bit of a frustrated actress, and I love improvising – even if we both know how the scene is going to end! I like connecting with somebody in such an intimate way, and making it possible for people open up about needs that are very deep for them and about which they can also feel a lot of shame and fear. Soothing that fear and telling them that this thing they like is OK and they are not weak or bad for wanting it, and that it’s normal, feels like such a good thing to do. I like the money, and I like the confidence boost it’s given me. I am a lot more assertive now in relationships: my self-esteem is pretty high. I like the people I’ve met. There is great cameraderie in sharing work stories and bonding. I also like the free time to work on other things. Oh, and I like the little window onto sexuality and desire that this gives me.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I hate keeping it secret. In the rest of my life I look unsuccessful because I can’t be honest about where 40% of my income comes from. I don’t like the fear of getting raided and jeopardising my future career. Some of my clients are awkward, but most of them are nice. Disclosure is a problem in dating. Sometimes my clients’ sadness and loneliness gets to me. Most of my fears are about exposure, though.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I love it. I love being good at something, and I’m good at this.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    A range of sympathy, genuine fondness and annoyance. I always feel sorry for the ones who can’t get their needs met within their partnerships, or who have to sneak around to indulge their habit. I get annoyed with the ones who push my limits, but if they’re really annoying then I just grit my teeth and get through the hour and don’t session with them again. Generally, though, they are a pretty sweet bunch. I’ve done sessions with guys who were definitely good-looking and interesting enough for me to want to date! Making the ones who are physically less than perfect feel comfortable in their bodies is a major part of the work, too, and it feels like very good, healing work to be doing.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I’ve only been doing it a year and a half, and I’m getting wiser. Many sex workers put up with stuff at the start of their careers, while they are a bit ‘green’, that they wouldn’t stand for later on, and I am no exception. I wish there was a firmer support network for girls going into pro-sub or pro-domme work so they could get advice from people who’d been in the business longer, and not trust what their clients say.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Obviously, work diverts energy from doing or finding other work. So the time taken up with marketing, networking etc takes time away from growing other areas of work or looking for jobs, but that’s true of any line of work. I think with the kind of sex work I do, it’s actually easier to drift in and out of it than other kinds of work. I can lie low for a few weeks and then put an ad up when I’m ready to session again. Getting raided and having my name on a database would severely damage my chances of employment, though.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    The work itself is fine. It’s the stigma and legal grey area that’s annoying.

  77. A Lady says

    I answered the questions above (I’m a pro-domme) and I had some other thoughts.

    I am very open about my job. I tell strangers in bars. I told my dentist. I once snapped it at a TSA agent, who then searched my bag and found a whip.

    I’m a naturally open person, and I feel like I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of my job. I also like seeing the reaction. And I do agree with this:

    http://www.feminisnt.com/2010/an-argument-for-more-sex-workers-to-be-out/

    I think a major reason I CAN do this is because I’m a dominatrix, which gets a very different response than escort or stripper would. I was fairly open about being an escort for the brief time I did that and came to regret it. I’ve never regretted being open about my domme work.

    I’ve had friends who wait a certain number of dates to disclose to guys, and that has always seemed very awkward to me. I tell people as soon as they ask me what they do. I even list my occupation on my okcupid page. I’ve considered taking it down, but it lets me filter out all the dudes who message me to tell me how domly they are.

    Both boyfriends I’ve had since becoming a sex worker have had issues with what I do despite finding out within 5 minutes of first meeting me.

    So, my question to any sex workers who care to answer: How open are you about your work? Are you open with strangers? Dates? Friends? Or are you very secretive?

  78. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry? – I mentioned to a friend that I wished I could find a job that paid well, I could do from home, and that didn’t have a set schedule. I was just daydreaming out loud. He recommended porn. I thought I was too fat for porn, but he pulled up an amateur site, and I realized that there was room for every body type. It sounded like fun, so I went for it.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure? – I freely chose it. Yes, it’s a job, but plenty of other jobs are available to me.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? – Because I can do it from home on my own time.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work? – I love how much I’ve come to love my own image. I also love having a photographic record of myself over time.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work? I get annoyed at the setup for shooting. Setting up the lights, props, fixing my hair… that part is tedious.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it? – Overall, neutral.

    What are your feelings about your customers? – Through correspondence with my “fans” I’ve learned a lot about sexuality, and I feel really honored to have access to their intimate thoughts. I’m continually amazed at how no matter who you are or what you’re into, there’s someone out there who matches up with you. Being a part of so many matches is really neat.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it? – I suppose it’s become less fascinating and more routine over time. But my overall feelings are generally the same.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have? – I feel free to leave.

  79. Godiva says

    # 60 Jenny Heineman — Your story actually says almost everything I wanted to say about my own experience, right down to being from the Midwest, living once in Amsterdam, and working as a stripper, although I left the business a year and a half ago.

    “I take my clothes off, like everyone else in the world. I also have sex like everyone else in the world. Because I sometimes do these things commercially, I am dubbed a qualitatively different “kind” of person. That’s terribly curious.”

    This. A hundred times.

    I had a certain fondness for the industry when I worked in it, and even now, I’m surprised by the nostalgia I feel. The social stigma was ultimately what pulled me away from a job that I generally enjoyed.

    The slut-shaming from the general population was bad enough, but I was/am also a sexual assault and domestic violence crisis line counselor (go figure) and the guilt from feeling like what I did was somehow hurting other women sickened me enough to make me toss in my plastic heels. I didn’t know what my clients at the club did when they went home, but I had a feeling most of them did not hold women in high esteem, and I felt that I had somehow enabled that attitude and another woman would pay for my misdeeds.

    I’ve reflected on that since, and while I don’t think I did anything on that stage to advance the place of women in society, violence against women happens for one reason and one reason alone. It is not because I wear lipstick or take my shirt off in public. The question of right and wrong here has an obvious answer, and the men who think it’s okay to hit and rape and gaslight are not going to find the question simplified just because I keep my pants on. Their reasoning is not clouded by a close-up of my labia. Men do not hurt women because I was naked in public.

    I also want to add that there was economic pressure for me entering the business in that I had to find work quickly if I was going to stay in school. I lived in a college town, and hours at my dayjob were cut because most of our clientele leaves for the season. I needed to come up with rent if I wanted to stay until fall.

    However, I won’t claim that this was the only possible solution to my problem. There were other possibilities, other sources of income, I’m certain. This is the one I chose, and it worked for me. I paid my rent and graduated from college the next year.

    I won’t lie and say I thought the experience was empowering. It wasn’t, but neither were any of the other minimum-wage jobs I worked to get through school. Picking up other people’s trash and half-eaten food at my day job did not leave me with a feeling of sexual liberation. But that was never what I was looking for.

  80. Julie says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was an overprotected, insecure teenager who started fantasizing about stripping in high school, because it seemed like a way to get the admiration I wanted from guys and to break free of my uber-conservative upbringing.

    When I was 20 years old and in college, I started stripping. At first, it was everything I ever dreamed of. Over time, the asshole customers got to me. I stopped by the time I was 22 and now, at 25, still wouldn’t be able to bring myself to go back to it. When I was 23, though, the sex work itch started up again, so I got into being a pro switch (mostly domme). That’s pretty much my only job right now.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Yes, no, and sort of. My mother got cancer when I was 20 and needed money. I was working at a no-money club at the time, so I started escorting to help her out. It was fucked up, but I felt that I didn’t have a choice. (We have a complicated relationship with past abuse.) I quickly found a regular client who became my sugar daddy. There was really nothing enjoyable about spending time with him, but I felt I had to for the money.

    I haven’t felt economically forced into stripping or pro switch work. At this point, pro switch work allows me far more money and flexibility than I could have by working your typical post-college office job. But if I wanted to get out of it, I could find such a job again and survive.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Stripping: Glamor, excitement, adventure, money, validation.
    Escorting: Money, wanting a break from asshole strip club customers, and sort of a self-destructive/self-punishing bent.
    Pro-switching: Excitement, money, validation.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    As a stripper, I liked being admired while dancing on stage – feeling that people were really noticing me and wanting me. I liked the money, though it was pretty up and down.

    As a sugar baby, I liked the money; that was it.

    As a pro switch, I again like the admiration that I get from clients, even though I know that they’re exaggerating a good portion of their feelings and that the rest of what they feel is directed to my persona, not to me. I like the fact that I don’t have to give them a sales pitch; when they walk through the door, they’ve already decided to session with me. I like the fact that compared to strip club customers, they treat me respectfully, in that they usually keep their rude and unflattering opinions to themselves. I very much like the money. I earn a comfortable, fairly consistent income working 3-4 shifts a week at the dungeon. I like the fact that I work at a dungeon with lots of awesome ladies who are very supportive, including the owner. I like that in my job, I get to play the part of a hot, uber-confident, extremely dominant woman who doesn’t take shit. That’s fun and it’s also bled over into my real personality and made me noticeably more confident in normal life.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    As a stripper, I didn’t like the customers, so small surprise that I got burned out on stripping to the point where I still can’t do it, three years later. Many were polite and ok, but I was particularly thin-skinned in my very early twenties, and even one rude or grabby customer would wreck me for the next day. Of course, there were many rude and/or grabby customers. Plenty of them tried to finger my vagina, which was violating, and toward the end one of them succeeded, which was very violating.

    At that point in my life, I was still not secure enough in myself to firmly set boundaries with customers. I never fucked them, but I went way farther in terms of touching than I ever wanted to. With my low self-confidence, that was inevitable. It happened in regular sexual situations as well. I won’t say that I shouldn’t have stripped, because I think that stripping taught me some extremely valuable lessons about people that it would have taken me many more years to learn otherwise. But I will acknowledge that I am damaged in some ways because of events that happened while I stripped.

    Also, I didn’t like the managers and staff for the most part. They tended to be condescending and sexist.

    As a sugar baby, I basically didn’t like the guy who was paying me for sex and companionship. I really became a part of his life, but not in a healthy way. He wasn’t a particularly nice person. And I didn’t like having sex on demand. That’s an important boundary for me to keep, and I’m never crossing it again unless I’m in dire need.

    As a pro switch, I don’t like the touching involved in sensual sessions. I take them, because otherwise my income would drop off hugely. But I’m not particularly a fan of having clients kiss my butt and boobs. It doesn’t matter if they’re old or young, handsome or ugly, nice or rude, if I’ve just met them or if I’ve seen them a bunch, if they are genuinely in the headspace to worship me or if they are only nominally submissive. I just don’t like them touching me.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    With stripping, it evolved from loving the work to absolutely hating it. With escorting, I hated it all the way through. With pro switching, I like it on the whole and think I will for a while.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    In the moment while stripping, I would make myself like them – at least the polite ones. Now, I tend to look back and see them all as interchangeable schmucks. In reality, some were assholes and most were more or less polite.

    I was really impressed with one customer I had. We were at a chichi club that charged $60/dance, and he bought two. I completely forgot to get the money from him. I was wandering around the club afterward when he came up to me and held $120 out. “Here,” he said. “You forgot to get this.” That was great, and I still think of him when I’m trying to remind myself that they’re not all dicks.

    In my pro switch job, I’d say that it’s still hard to escape a feeling that they’re all interchangeable schmucks. Again, I make myself like them in the moment, but it’s hard to genuinely like them when I know that they’re all trying to get value for their money. Value means as much touching as possible, or at the very least it means that I have to be as sexified as possible. I suppose that for me, the nature of my job precludes my having real affection toward my clients.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I still see it as exciting and glamorous, especially compared with the shit office jobs I’ve worked. I’m still a fan of the money. But I’m certainly more jaded about it now. I don’t expect much from my clients, and I’m wary of them – even the ones I’ve known for quite a while. In my straight jobs, I could have said the same thing about my coworkers and the company’s clients. But there’s a little more disillusionment in sex work, because the interaction is a parody of intimacy in a way that interactions at straight jobs are not.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I could leave it. I quit my straight job several months ago and am freelancing for them occasionally while pro-switching almost full time and doing nonprofit volunteer work. It was the right choice, because my straight job was far more hellish than anything about the dungeon. But if I was interested in getting another straight job, my resume is good enough at this point that I could. It would be crappy minimum-wage admin stuff that I have no interest in, but I could survive. That’s not my plan, though. My plan is to continue pro-switching mostly full time while gaining nonprofit experience. Eventually, I hope to get a nonprofit job and continue pro-switching a few times a month.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    That I’m privileged, which probably comes through anyway. My experience of sex work is not one that everyone could have, and I do believe that many sex workers are in terribly shitty situations. Perhaps more controversially, I also think that I am privileged over non-sex workers who might prefer to do my job but who are instead working longer hours for less pay. It’s a blessing to make a comfortable living and still have enough time left over to build nonprofit experience through unpaid work. I have no idea how I’d do that if I was working a ton of hours to make ends meet.

    Also, that while having your sexual touch boundaries violated feels horrible, I’m not sure why people overlook the fact that having your non-sexual boundaries violated in a shitty straight job is also horrible. I don’t believe that the former is automatically a worse violation than the latter for everyone. I would much rather put up with some unwanted touch at the dungeon than go back to my old office job.

  81. Julie says

    In answer to A Lady’s question, I keep my pro-switch stuff somewhat private. I won’t tell people I don’t know well, especially if it might make career trouble for me later. I’m a bad liar off-the-cuff, but I’d prefer to fumble my way through an obvious lie when they ask me what I do rather than tell them I’m a sex worker. YMMV, and perhaps this is just my skewed perception, but I feel that if non-sex workers hear that I’m a sex worker – even if I emphasize that I’m a pro domme and theoretically in charge – they stop taking me seriously. I feel that this happens not only because of the sex work, but also because I’m getting them to think of me in a sexualized way where they might not have before. My experience with life in general tells me that many people stop seeing me as a serious person once they see me sexually.

    An exception is that I will tell strangers if we are in a self-described sex-positive environment where half the women present have done burlesque or nude modeling. Other than that, I keep it private.

  82. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I have always been fascinated by prostitutes. When I was searching an interesting job as a undergraduate student but could only find low-paid , exploitative jobs that didn’t fit my qualification, I decided to try escorting.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    No. I could have taken another job, but I didn’t want to.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    Escorting means providing longer “dates”. I like this because you usually don’t just have sex with the clients, but talk, joke, have fun. Also, the clients of escorts seem to be more respectful than those of shorter-bookings prostitutes.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    I love the excitement and the sex. I started escorting because I wanted a job and was curious, but now it’s more like a fetish for me, because in the meantime I have a well-paid, interesting other job.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    I hate the stigmatization, having to hide part of who I am. Also, some potential customers have no manners or are plain stupid.
    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    I like it.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    The ones I currently see are wonderful, decent men. But I have come across some incredibly stupid people. Since I only escort for fun, I have the luxury of choosing my clients and refusing them on a whim, but there are sadly many nasty men out there (fortunately, not the majority).

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    I feel more confident while visiting clients, since I have more experience.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    If I wanted to, yes. But one could say I’m “hooked on hooking”.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    My experience on sex work may be a minority, but I’m by no means an absolute exception. I have gotten to know some ladies who also choose to do this work because they like it, and not only because of the money.

  83. says

    PS: I forgot to mention that there is much exploitation going on in agencies and regular brothels, not necessarily in the sense of violence, but they take 40% or more of the earnings for providing working space, drivers etc. some of it is justified, but I have calculated that the actual rate should be only about 25%, profit included. Sex workers often don’t have the motivation to build something like this as a cooperation and working together fairly rather than having a manager because the market is fluctuating fast and many are migrants who stay only for a few months. Some think they can’t make it on their own.

  84. says

    The Basics: I work as a rope expert, on and off-camera, for fetish porn. I work as male-dom talent for my own websites and for other fetish porn companies. I have been in this field for over 16 years. I’ll try to keep my comments brief so people will actually read them…

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    My girlfriend was invited to do a bondage shoot and thought it would be fun. I was permitted on-set as her escort to ensure her safety. We bought 200 feet of rope on our way home and never looked back.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose to continue in this work with my girlfriend, and freely choose to continue after she retired. I was not in any way forced or coerced. I felt I had found something I love and am good at and was delighted to discover this career.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Blind chance, really.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I enjoy the artistic and creative outlet. I would do live, interactive and pro-dom sessions if anybody paid straight guys to do that, but it seems they don’t.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I hate the feeling of being judged by society as a whole. They all watch porn, but somehow I am still a second-class citizen for producing and appearing in it. In fairness however, I’m sure plumbers, sanitation workers and others feel this same discrimination.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I LOVE my work. I love the people I’ve met through it. I love the way it has challenged my own preconceptions and continues to do so. I love getting to challenge other people’s beliefs as well.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I have had some few bad experiences with individual customers, but for the most part I am grateful to them for buying what they could have stolen, and for the polite praise they often give me. Like any job, the customers are varied, but in general I find them to be pleasant and non-judgemental. I have had fanmail letters from women that brought me to tears, actually.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Over time I feel more desperate as it becomes easier and more acceptable for people to steal what I’ve worked so hard to create. Over time I’ve watched larger companies try to homogenize and label and package the most extreme parts of our work, and that is disappointing, but again I don’t think that’s specific to adult work.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I feel free to leave, although currently it is a large part of my income and I’d have to find other work first. I never want to stop doing this work though.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    In my experience, adult work is like any other career. There are good days and bad. Some people are born for this work and thrive here, others have no place in this field and should never have started. Some love their job, some feel trapped by it. People who work hard and treat their job like a job tend to meet with success. Is that any different than any other career? Do all auto mechanics love their job? Or did they feel they were unable to do anything else? Do all plumbers dream of unclogging drains for a living? How about secretaries?
    I get the overwhelming feeling that almost everyone who is outspoken against porn, or any other area of sex work, is really against sex and sexuality. They are against the acknowledgement of sex and sexuality. They are against what we represent. We are just an easy target in a larger war.

  85. says

    I’ve been an escort (aka call girl) on and off since I was 18, and am 23 now. I’ve always loved sex and have had a high sex drive and an exhibitionist streak, so the thought of getting paid to have sex just sounded awesome. I was not pushed into by anyone.

    I’ve never had a truly bad experience – the worst of it is having a client who was comically full of himself, who had terrible breath, or who tried to stretch their 1 hour into two. Never been robbed, raped, or not paid. I really like the work while I’m doing it, and I also I get a rush after a session of feeling powerful and on top of the world.

    In general I like my clients, they’re usually super nice! And even though I’m not really attracted to many of them, I don’t mind having sex with them because I see them as good people. And the situation itself is usually enough to get me wet. :)

    I had a escort friend whose family found out what she was doing and really tried to shame her out of it, called her a whore, told her she was because she had low self-esteem, didn’t care about her body, and generally verbally abused her. She came to the realization that none of her clients had ever treated her so poorly. And it’s true for me as well. My mom found out when I was 18 (she now thinks I’ve since stopped). She yelled at me, told me I should be better than that. But my clients have almost always treated me with the upmost respect, respect for me, my boundaries, my field, and my time. My clients make me feel beautiful and appreciated.

    My only complaint is that business has not been good lately. I’d live to live off escorting alone, but now I’m only working for an hour or two each month. I could maybe make more if I joined an escort agency, but I prefer being my own boss. I’ve heard from some other girls that they hate getting online reviews, but personally mine make me pretty proud. :)

    I could stop if I wanted, sure, but I don’t see myself wanting that any time soon.

    I’ve come out to my friends about this slowly. Even very liberal people can be very anti-sex work, and I was closeted to my schoolmates all though college for fear of becoming a social pariah. Now that I’m graduated from school I tell more people. I’m not out to my family, and don’t come out at work (other work – in an office) either. I usually tell people I’m dating on the second or third date. Because I seek out partners I already think would be okay with it, I haven’t had a boyfriend who had an issue with it. Mostly they care that it’s something I want to do and I’m being safe.

    To make myself feel safe, I always screen my clients. They either need to give me two references (escorts they’ve seen before who can vouch for them) or their real name, work info, and show some ID when we meet. This is as much to screen out law enforcement as it is to protect against a bad experience from a client. Barriers (condoms, female condoms) are my friend. I also take self defense classes, both as a god work out and a guard against the “what if” scenario.

    Sex work isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly for me. :)

  86. LisaStGeorge says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was 26 and I had been working for several years as a cocktail server. When our economy tanked in late 2008, I was complaining to an acquaintance I’d met through my local sex-positive community about how I was no longer making the kind of tips I was used to and that I was going to have to figure out a way to lower my monthly expenses (which were already pretty bare-bones for the city I live in). This particular friend was an escort and it just so happened that she’d recently opened up a “sensual massage” parlor in town. She invited me to try it out. I said, “Oh, that’s a lovely offer, and I totally respect your line of work, but I don’t think I could ever do it.” And she said, “Well, I’ll tell ya what. You come on down this week and we’ll give you someone we know is extra nice. If you don’t like it, you never have to do it again. You can even stop the session short if you feel uncomfortable at any point. And remember, all that’s expected is a topless massage and a handjob.” And I thought hell, it’d be a story for my memoirs, that I worked in a brothel for a day. Turns out I really enjoyed it. I saw three guys that day for an hour each. They were all really sweet and fun and I walked out with $350 cash about six hours after I’d shown up. I was sold. For a while I just worked at the parlor part-time for extra income, but eventually I went part-time at the bar to focus more on the parlor. I was treated fairly at the parlor, but after about a year I felt I’d learned enough about the industry to become an independent escort, so I rented a studio apartment for sessions and soon quit the serving job all together.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose it, yes. I could have continued to live in poverty as a waitress. I would have gotten by. I was not forced or coerced in any way. Economic pressure, certainly.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Like I said, the opportunity to work at the sensual massage parlor simply presented itself. Now I do full-on escorting as an independent. It suits me well because I’m educated, articulate, and I genuinely love men. I’m not thin enough to be a stripper even if I had any desire to do so.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    Most of all I love the autonomy. I don’t remember the last time I set an alarm. I have no boss. I can take vacation whenever I want. I don’t have to do a damn thing I don’t want to do. No one is allowed to disrespect or degrade me, which is a luxury I did not have working in the food and beverage service industry. I have plenty of time for writing, volunteer work, family, reading, travel, non-paid dating, socializing, and exercising. Also, I enjoy the work. I’m good at it and I improve people’s lives.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Frankly, I wish it paid better. In my city there are new escorts on the scene constantly. This is a good sign that we are facing less stigmatization. The downside is that the demand is not increasing at the same rate as the supply. Business is slow for most escorts I know. Most of us live month-to-month and do not make enough money to buy health insurance or save for the future.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I like it.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Mostly quite positive. They are all very sweet to me. I’m not going to lie, I wish they tended to be more feminist. Then again, I wish almost everyone tended to be more feminist. They are just regular guys who understand that the kind of encounter they seek typically requires financial compensation.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Not changed much over time.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I suppose I could go back to waitressing, but I prefer poverty with plenty of personal freedom over poverty with having to work for and with a bunch of assholes until 3am every night.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Yes. I want them to know that I enjoy this work, I choose it freely, and most importantly that I AM NOT NOW NOR HAVE I EVER BEEN ADDICTED TO ANY SUBSTANCES. I’ve never had a pimp. Arresting me and/or my clients is NOT going to help me IN ANY WAY. I am more knowledgeable than most doctors about STIs and how they are transmitted (even most of the doctors who work at STI clinics). I use condoms every single time I have intercourse and I get tested several times a year for STIs. I had a typical suburban, middle-class upbringing, and I have never been abused. My clients treat me very well, far better than any employer ever did in all the straight jobs I’ve ever had. The unfortunate aspects of this work for me could be alleviated by decriminalizing and destigmatizing what I do. Underaged prostitution and sex trafficking are WAY overblown in the media, but what of it there actually is could easily be thwarted by decriminalization and destigmatization – if everything were on the up and up, there’d be little or no demand for a seedy black market. Screening clients is much more difficult when everyone’s terrified of getting caught. I live in fear that a neighbor or a cop could figure out what I do and report me, extort me, or worse. Many other developed, Western nations don’t criminalize prostitution and it works just fine. Prostitution is NEVER going to disappear. It’s called the oldest profession for a reason. Prohibition of prostitution works about as well as prohibition of alcohol did in the 1920s. This misogynistic puritanism has to stop.

  87. LisaStGeorge says

    @93: I’m an escort and I’m pretty secretive. I used to be more open, but like you I came to regret it. I told my sister when I first started doing sex work, but now I regret that, too. Most people make assumptions as soon as they find out. At best, I’m going to get asked a bunch of personal questions. The thing that pisses me off the most is when people make nasty assumptions about my boyfriend, who is probably the sweetest, most kind-hearted person on the planet. My parents live far away, so it’s (sort of) easy to hide it from them, but his parents live in our city and we see them a lot, so it’s hard to dodge all their questions about what I do for a living. I’ve had to isolate myself a fair amount from other people. The work itself is fine, but dealing with the stigma is tough.

  88. Alexandra says

    Ms St George, I don’t think it’s as simple as saying decriminalization = less trafficking, and I find your dismissal of the problem of trafficking and underage prostitution really, really disturbing.

    While it appears that trafficking in Germany’s stayed about the same since prostitution became legal in 2002 (remember the panic around the World Cup?) the NYT has been reporting recently on sex trafficking in Spain, for instance, a country where prostitution is legal (more accurately, decriminalized).

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/07/world/europe/young-men-flock-to-spain-for-sex-with-trafficked-prostitutes.html?pagewanted=all

    And the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime lists the Netherlands – the Netherlands! – as a top trafficking destination.

    Can’t we have a conversation about choice in sex work without minimizing the extent to which women are forced or coerced into it?

  89. Nick says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    It’s a little odd to think of myself as being in the “sex industry”, since it happened over twenty years ago, involved a single client, and was fairly limited in scope, and I don’t even think about it very much. I’m a man who once had sex with another man for money on a regular basis; I guess you could call me a rent boy, or “gay for pay” since I identify as primarily heterosexual. I had just joined the Army and visited an adult video store since this was before the Internet had made porn ubiquitous, and if you wanted to watch porn and didn’t have a VCR or the privacy to enjoy it, that’s what you did. Back in the video booth area, a well-dressed older man asked me if he could suck me, and before I could say no, he added that he would pay me twenty dollars. Not only did I appreciate the money, but it was very enjoyable for me. We would meet up four times a week in a place that we could have more privacy in, and he’d blow me for a while and then I would fuck him. We did this for nearly three years. He paid me forty dollars each time.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Yes, no, and sort of. He certainly didn’t force me or coerce me in any way; any leverage that he had on me was cancelled out by the fact that he was a married man whose religion was not gay-tolerant at all. But the money was a powerful incentive. As I said, army pay was kind of crap and I had no backup plan in case I washed out of the service.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    He didn’t ask me to do anything that I wouldn’t have done with a female partner, and in fact let me watch straight porn while we had sex. We didn’t have anything to do with each other outside of the sex, and didn’t even know each other’s last names or where the other person lived. I probably could have found out, but I think that we both wanted to compartmentalize what we did into this little bubble that was separate from the rest of our lives.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    The sex was surprisingly enjoyable, given that I’m not sexually attracted to men, but mostly it was the money. I didn’t know what to do with it at first so I stuck it in a safe deposit box every month, and sometimes when I went to the bank to deposit it, I’d hug the little rubber-band-wrapped bundles of cash like they were my security blanket. I suppose they were. I think that I also liked the affirmation that someone was so attracted to me that they’d pay to have sex with me.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Worrying about being found out by the army and being dishonorably discharged; this was before DADT. Also, near the end of our relationship, he wanted to penetrate me and although I didn’t want to do that I also wanted to keep the money going. I think I resented him for that, and when he finally broke it off, I was kind of relieved.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I liked it, although I was kind of weirded out when I did the math and figured out that, although I thought of myself as a Kinsey 1, I was more like a Kinsey 5 by the numbers–I had had way more sex with this guy than with all of my female lovers combined. I certainly enjoyed the physical aspect of it, especially since it was at a time when there were quite a few less women who were even willing to try anal sex, and I think that the forbidden nature of it added to the thrill.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I feel kind of sorry for him, even though he must have gotten something out of it, because he paid a not-small amount of money for something that he probably could have gotten for free once Craigslist was invented.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    It’s still not something that I’d feel openly comfortable admitting to, and I admire those who can and do so, but I think that my own experiences having sex for money have made me more appreciative of the work when I’ve been a paying customer myself.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I was perfectly free to leave it.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    That not everyone has the same experience of it. I hesitated to even write my comment here because it was such a relatively limited experience, but I asked myself if I’d have had sex with him without the money, or at least nearly as often, and since the answer was honestly no, then I guess that I was a sex worker. And I would probably have done it again if I’d had a similar situation worked out.

  90. says

    Late to the commenting party!

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I had always, ALWAYS been curious about it, from the time I was a teenager. I read books about Sumer and the goddess Inanna and sacred prostitution, which probably glamorized it a bit too much. I had casual sex and used to browse Craigslist and wonder why I didn’t take the GENEROU$ men up on their offers to watch them masturbate when I was clearly perfectly willing to fuck strangers.

    I had a summer where I was living off savings, between incomes, so I started working as a phone sex operator to stretch things out. Then I hooked up with an escort that I met casually, and she introduced me to some of her clients. It was fun, and profitable, and I thought maybe it would make me feel different… but it didn’t. If anything, phone sex was more mentally taxing. Escorting didn’t work out for me, mostly for logistical reasons, but then I wandered into the world of camming.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose it. I’d been curious, like I said. I dipped my toes into a very safe, private world of sex work to start with. I got introduced by friends to things. It always felt comfortable, and I always had a support network.

    Obviously economic pressures got me started, but I could have found a different part-time job. Now I’m in it mostly for economic security. I have other sources of income, and I enjoy that work, and I’d make enough to keep a roof over my head… but I wouldn’t have enough money to have savings. I wouldn’t have enough money to travel. My camming income makes me feel safe, and I know almost no one my age who has the extent of savings that I do.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Mostly, my feelings of safety. Phone sex felt safe. It felt like a wacky adventure I could tell my friends about. No one was ever going to see a picture of me, no one was going to know my phone number. I had six personas the company assigned me, with six different names, and personal details that were all lies. It wasn’t going to touch me if I didn’t let it… but then I discovered I really liked it and didn’t want to stop. (I did want to get paid more, so I went indie, but that’s another story.)

    When I started escorting, it felt safe because I knew someone. I had a mentor, I wasn’t alone. When I started camming, it was also because friends of mine in the phone sex community had started camming too, and again, I had mentors, and friends, and other people to talk to. As curious as I was about escorting, I’m not sure I would have done it if the right circumstances hadn’t presented themselves to me.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    Sometimes sex work feels like the most obviously good thing I do in the world. I give people a very concrete kind of happiness and satisfaction. I also give them a place to accept themselves and their desires that maybe no one else gives them. …of course that’s not ALL of the work, and not every customer is a sweet person who confides in me, or feels a special kind of release with me, but the ones who do? I feel like I’ve done something good. One of my friends likes to joke that I’m doing “the lord’s work”, and although my ideas about sex work are INFINITELY less glamorous now, the idea of the whore as priestess, confidante, and public servant is still very much at the forefront of my work.

    Being told how hot I am all the time doesn’t hurt either. ;) I’m not a small girl, and the amount of body confidence sex work has given me is just incredible.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    So many people feel entitled to my time and attention. When you put yourself out in the world with a big “SEXUALLY AVAILABLE” sign on you, people will try to take advantage of that wherever they can.

    I think this is especially true in camming because of the prevalence of free porn on the internet. People see me as an image on their laptop screen or whatever and don’t seem to fully comprehend that I’m a person and not recorded. They don’t understand that it costs money to keep porn going. They don’t understand that hiring a cam girl to basically be your custom porn, interact with you and perform specifically FOR you, is different to just watching porn clips. That there’s no way you can get that service for free.

    (Well, maybe you could find a random girl on the internet who’s up for it, but it would take you a lot longer than finding a paying cam girl.)

    Oh yeah… and the money is uneven. It’s easy to gloat about the times when you make giant piles of money, because there are nights when you do. Then there are the nights where you don’t make a damn thing. There’s a bit of anxiety—more than a bit really—in the feast or famine nature of the money.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    On balance I like the work. I’m an exhibitionist and a performer by nature, and a social scientist by trade, and it suits me well. There are absolutely moments where I feel used, or tired, or where I’ve been treated really rudely by some entitled asshat, and I want to hide away from all the penises that want things from me… I’m lucky that I can take a break so I don’t get burnt out.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I adore my regulars. Quite possibly most of us do, if I had to guess. The people that stick with me, who want to talk to me and have fun with me over and over again are people who tend to really click with me, people whose desires tend to match up fairly well with what I like to do on cam.

    The rest of my customers? As long as they’re polite I’m happy. Most of them are, really. The ones who are impolite, the ones who feel entitled to my time, well, I’m not a fan. But they’ve taught me a lot of important lessons about saying “no” and setting boundaries. I’m infinitely better at setting boundaries now than I was prior to sex work, and I don’t know if I would’ve learned those lessons so well and completely without it.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    My feelings have gotten a lot more moderate, over the four years I’ve been doing this, as I’ve moved from feeling experimental about the work, like a tourist, you know? Like a girl on an adventure, to feeling like a pro. When it was an adventure it was GREAT! or AWFUL! The bad customers were REALLY BAD and the good customers were WONDERFUL. Now? It’s just a job. It’s a job I like, it’s a job that’s become an important part of who I am, but at the end of the day, it’s a job.

    Some of my colleagues will love it and some of my colleagues will hate it, and for those who hate it, I really hope they can find something else. Because I’ve worked at other jobs that I hated, and there’s nothing more soul-crushing than hating your work, whatever it is.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I do feel free to leave it, but I’d have to make a lot of lifestyle changes! And that would be a big deal. I guess that’s true for every career change.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Adding “sex” to “work” doesn’t inherently make work exploitative. There are lots of personal and intimate service industries out there that aren’t viewed as exploitative… nursing, massage, barbers for fuck’s sake! And I view sex work on a continuum with those.

    What makes work exploitative is exploitative working conditions, and while it’s horrific when it happens in sex work, it’s equally horrific in other industries.

  91. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry? It was another outlet to use my skills as a videographer and director, one where, unlike the mainstream entertainment industry at the time, you could actually make money with a short film.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure? Yes I freely chose it. I was pressured by my economic situation to find more freelance work, but I could just have easily have pursued opportunities with non-adult companies

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? It was what I was most qualified for. Having practiced a number of fetishes in my personal life for many years, and with over 20 years of professional video creation experience, it seemed like an easy thing to pair the two.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work? More than anything, the people I get to work with, many of whom have become almost family to me. Then there is the chance to be creative, to educate others on the fetish lifestyle and like many other jobs, the flexible hours and the paycheck.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work? The negative stereotypes regarding what I do. As Tommy Smothers said, “The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.” If you don’t like fetish porn, hey, I’m cool with that, don’t watch it, but don’t criticize me for creating it. Everything I do involves consenting adults- no children and no animals. One of the first things I learned when I started enjoying fetishes with others is that you must “respect the kink”. Just because something doesn’t get you off, or even if it repulses you, you have to respect the right of other consenting adults to enjoy themselves, otherwise you have no right to expect that respect from them.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it? I love it.

    What are your feelings about your customers? Some of them amuse me, some confuse me, but in they end, they’re just kinky freaks like me trying to get their rocks off, so good for them.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it? Not really, I pretty much enjoyed it from the get go. What has changed is the climate in which I work, going in both directions. Fetish seems to be more socially acceptable in some ways, but in others there seem to be if not more, than at least more vocal critics of what we do, people who want to make us stop doing it.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have? From a business standpoint, if I had to, I could walk away tomorrow. From an emotional standpoint, I don’t think I could leave the work, or my dear friends. Like I said, many of the people I work with are family who mean the world to me, and I don’t know if I could give them up.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work? That most of what you read and hear about it is wrong. We’re not bad people, we’re like any other group of workers, with the wide range of emotions and experiences that exist. Like I said above, if you don’t like it, then change the channel, turn it of, walk away. You respect my choice and I’ll respect yours.

  92. qvaken says

    My job was as a skimpy barmaid in Western Australia – that means that you go to country towns, do bar work in lingerie, and can go topless and spend time with the patrons after your shift for tips. I only did it for about two months.

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I was unpaid over the summer holidays, so I needed an income during that time. I liked my body and thought that it would be a great way to show myself off, and boost my self-esteem.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    I was unable to get a different holiday job, and I needed the money.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    I figured that it would be really good pay for really easy work – I knew that I wouldn’t even have to dance.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    Sometimes the customers were nice people who didn’t drink too much, and they would look me in the eye and make good conversation, so I liked talking to them.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    The fact that I quickly forgot about the idea of feeling sexy by wearing lingerie at work and started wishing that I could just wear a regular uniform. I didn’t like the fact that I was suddenly viewed as “sex” – that’s all I was, to a lot of the customers. They had no respect for my space, or my thoughts or decisions – they would run their hands up my back if I crossed to the other side of the bar, their eyes first and foremost went to my breasts, they would tell me how they wanted to “see my tits and my pussy”, they would argue with me persistently and for a long time if I rejected their request to see my tits early or to go home with them, not to mention the constant leering – which they knew that they were allowed to do; after all, I had chosen this work and was being paid for it. Of the patrons that I befriended and hung out with after work, two took a turn each at trying to rape me in my bedroom.

    Also, my bedroom hadn’t been cleaned in a long time – it was covered in dust and stains, and one wall had a swipe of blood on it.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    I disliked it.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    The ones who viewed me as a human being were fantastic. I enjoyed talking to them, and befriended some of them, too – and instead of trying to rape me, they spent time with me, and we chatted and had a lot of fun. As I stated above, a lot of the customers were disgusting, though. I hated that they were there, and I hated the attitude that they had toward me – that I was subhuman and that I only existed to excite their boners.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    After I left it, I realised that I would only ever try it again if I became really, really desperate for money. I realised that men view sex workers not as people, but as fucktoys. I gained a lot of sympathy for women in more intense and intimate sex work, and I became passionate about the need for attitudes toward them to change so that they can be safe.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    My job started up again after the summer, so I was certainly free to leave, and I did.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    When I told friends of my negative experiences while working as a skimpy, and of the attitudes toward skimpies that were so bad that they shocked me, my friends asked me rhetorically, “Well, what did you expect?” My response to everyone is that we should expect something much better than THIS.

  93. qvaken says

    Oh, I forgot to mention, above, that although I was seeking really good pay for easy work, the pay was crrrrrap. The company that contracted me took in most of the money that the bars paid to have me there, and my pay was only slightly better than I would have gotten in a fully clothed hospitality position. On my best night for tips, I made $100AUD – and spent it all on booking a motel room to escape the dirty, stained one that I mentioned. The company that contracted me refused to reimburse me, because although I’d already complained to them in full detail about the state of the room, including mentions of how it was actually so bad that it violated Occupational Health and Safety standards, I hadn’t explicitly asked for another room, so it wasn’t their responsibility that I ended up moving myself out.

  94. Comixchik says

    I left home early, as a teenager. There weren’t many jobs for a school leaver with little work experience, so I got myself a fake ID and got a job waiting on tables in a pizza pub. (This was the 1970’s, the fake ID was easier then.) The pizza place was in a “bad” part of town, and there was a strip club upstairs. Workers at the club would sometimes come down for food, and one night the manager invited me to come upstairs and work for him. (In all honesty, I had done “street work” for survival, occasionally. Odd that, I never really worked at it. I would just be walking somewhere and be approached. I didn’t like it, and based on that, had someone asked me if I would choose sex as a career, I’d have said definitely not.)

    I debated that. I really didn’t see myself as “The type”, I was skinny, a ginger with glasses. Certainly not some curvy Barbie look alike. But I was barely making enough to survive waiting tables, so I thought I’d give it a try. I went up and auditioned, and although I was a terrible dancer, they took me on.

    I found I quite liked it. I stripped for a while, but eventually broke my foot, and ended up in a big cast for a while, which put an end to that, at least for the time. But while I had been dancing, I had gotten other offers. The manager knew people, and I had gotten nude modeling offers, and explicit photo offers, I did that. Eventually I got an offer to do video work, and I took that on too. Video was new at the time, and some stuff was still done on 8mm film. I was nervous at first, I still never thought I looked the part, but got work in it. I suppose my major asset was lots of energy, and a willingness to try most things.

    I also began working phone sex lines at that time. I could do that from home, the customers would call in the office line, their credit card details would be checked, then they’d ring through to me. I never used scripts, I had a good enough imagination, and all my bookishness paid off as I could describe things well.

    Eventually, the woman who ran the phone sex company decided to retire, she was getting too much competition from companies in places where the workers were very low paid, and couldn’t compete. Video work was an occasional thing, so I went to work for an escort service. Again, I was nervous at first, but it was like video without having to be mindful of positioning for the camera, and without breaks for rearranging and all.

    I moved from one escort service to a better one, and then a better. About that time, the internet and web was developing. I fairly well ignored it at first, but then a friend introduced me to computers, and I was enthralled. For a while I worked for a website where the customers would log on, and we’d be there in the “lounge”, in fancy lingerie, and we’d entice them to buy shows, they could have single girl, toy or two girl shows. We had different sets, a shower, locker room, jail, bedroom. Once a month each of us did photos and videos, that were also on the site. I also worked with another woman and we did bachelor party stripping, and I offered “extras”.

    I also decided to go independent as an escort, and advertise on the web. So with some help I put together a website, which grew into having several sections. I had the escort side, another side one had to log into with porn. Eventually, I put my comics, that I drew as a hobby, up on the site, and those actually got a following too. So there I was, a working class girl from a farming and coal mining area, working as a call girl in the big city. I did that for years. But I had also had arthritis for years, and it was getting worse. My call girl business centered on a very energetic, active type session (now known as PSE rather than GFE) and I found it more and more difficult to make my body do. So, in my forties, I quit. I admit, I hated to. I liked making good money, liked the freedom, and liked many of my clients.

    Since then, I relocated back to the country, I’ve always been a country girl at heart, and taken a job in an office. I’ve done my best to hide my past, so it won’t upset my present. I’m well middle aged now, and arthritic, so I doubt I could go back to the sex industry. But I miss it. If I could do it over again, I would. I wish the internet had come sooner, I would have done my own site, and done the adult website thing so much sooner.

    Did I have fears? Well, there’s always the chance, with the escort, of drawing a nutter. Even if you’ve got an escort service working for you, you’re alone in a room with a strange man. I had a few scary situations. Twice I had a gun put to my head, and was beaten a few times. (Twice, it was cops.) By the mid eighties, we had become aware of HIV and AIDS, and that was a worry, so began taking precautions.

    I liked the work. Now, with the early bits, the video and web stuff, I never really thought so much about the customers- Didn’t really have any contact with them directly. It was more a job. I was more focused on giving a good looking, hot performance. With stripping, well, customers came and went, we worked them for “drinks”, and I didn’t feel close to them either. But with the escort, especially once I was on my own, I had regular clients and I got to really know, and like many of them. They were fine men, and I’m pleased to have known them.

    Escort/Call Girl was by far the hardest work. I was doing mostly all the same things as in video (well, not group scenes or multiple men so much) but several times a day, five to six days a week, rather than a couple of times a week. But in all, I think I liked escort/call girl best.

    Was I ever forced or coerced? No, I can’t say I was. Oh, occasionally some one would try to talk me into something I hadn’t signed on for, and I would decide to do it or not, and I knew if I didn’t I might not get hired again by that person, but that was the worst it got. As an escort, I rather specialized in the hardcore/rough sex end of it, and that may have seemed to be forced, but it wasn’t.

    Was I free to quit? Yes. When I finally gave up sex work for good, I just took down my ads, disconnected my work number, and quietly left town. Although some of my regular clients were upset, especially the more specialized ones, and asked if I would make exceptions for them (and would have, had I not moved away), no one tried to force me to stay. Same with video and stripping. There’s really so much less drama in it all than people seem eager to invest it with.

    So in all I enjoyed my career. There are so many things I wish I had known sooner, about marketing myself and developing an image back in early days, about money management, but that’s all just hindsight. I would do it all again. Had I stayed home, I probably would have done what others like me did, married young, had babies, worked hard. Instead, I traveled, met many interesting people, had lots of experiences. I only regret having to quit.

  95. says

    Thank you for the opportunity for us all to share our experiences. I am a current escort and have thoughtfully responded to the questionnaire on my blog.

  96. Anli says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    My decision to get into sex work was on a bit of a whim. I was working in a call centre at the time and really hated my job, and I decided I needed to change jobs, to something more fun and less exploitative, so when I found an ad in the newspaper seeking exotic dancers I felt like this could be the type of work that satisfied my needs.

    ——-

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose the work. There was zero pressure to enter the sex industry, in fact social stigma made me hesitate and consider my decision in ways that I wouldn’t have if we lived in a culture that treated sex work like work.

    ——-

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I got into dancing because it was the path that was laid out before me. Before I came across the newspaper ad I hadn’t give much consideration to getting into the sex industry. It was a good choice for me at the time also because was legal and very structured and didn’t involve any physical contact with customers (in the province I started in.)

    I later got into modeling for alt-porn sites because it felt like an empowering and affirming way to express my sexuality in ways that I was comfortable with and that gave me a lot of control over my expression, and also because it just seemed like a lot of fun.

    These options also seemed like relatively safe ways to participate in sex work, physically, legally and because they attract less social stigma than other forms of sex work.

    ——-

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    When the money was good, I loved the money. It was absolutely wonderful to be able to work 10 hours a week and pay all my bills. When I moved to freelancing it was also very empowering to be my own boss and choose when and how much I was going to work. I learned a lot of self-management skills.

    I met a lot of really amazing people through sex work, some of who became friends and partners. Not just other dancers and models, but site owners and clients. Discovering that transactional sexuality could still be intimate and genuine was a really important lesson for me.

    Dancing got me into excellent shape as well. I loved being on stage and moving my body. Sharing sensuality and intimacy with clients was also really great in many ways.

    And in retrospect I feel like sex work provided me with really amazingly valuable life experience.

    ——-

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Cheap customers who wanted the service we were providing but didn’t feel like it was worth any money. This was particularly common with young, college age men, who would come into the bars in large groups, nurse a beer all night and not spend any money.

    Exploitative, misogynistic bar owners, DJs, agents, and feeling disempowered to do anything about their behaviour or policies. If you fell out with the agency you pretty much eliminated any employment opportunities for an entire province or geographical area.

    The sex-negative, competitive and hierarchical culture fostered amongst sex workers. There was definitely an attitude amongst dancers that dancers who had no physical contact with customers were better than dancers who did full contact work and definitely better than prostitutes. Rather than being each others allies the culture taught us to be adversaries, which often created a tense working environment.

    Being an introvert in an industry that requires you to be on all the time was also often a challenge for me. There were many days when I desperately wanted to avoid work, but I think that’s the case for anyone who has ever had a job in any industry.

    I also found it very frustrating that agents and bar owners enforced a very narrow and normative beauty ideal on everyone, failing to recognize that not only are sex workers diverse, but that diversity is marketable and desirable.

    ——-

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    On the whole I liked it and look back on my experiences with fondness. Towards the end I started to hate it, but that was a combination of getting burnt out and the money starting to decline.

    ——-

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    My customers were such a diverse group of people. Most were lovely and respectful, some were objectifying assholes. Some were hilarious, some bored me half to death.

    I had customers that I looked forward to seeing each week even if they weren’t big spenders. They were probably one of the most positive aspects of my work.

    ——-

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    As I’ve become a more confident and sex positive person I’ve been able to bring a strong feminist analysis to my experiences, so the lens through which I view them has changed a lot. I have a much better understanding of the intersectional power dynamics that were at play during my time as a dancer. Being more aware of the context in which sex work occurs makes me really grateful to have had those experiences, and I feel more positive about them than I did at the time.

    ——-

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I was hesitant to leave dancing for financial reasons. I was going to college full time when I left that part of the industry and giving up a job where I could work that little and still pay my bills was a really hard decision, even though I had a job offer on my career track and wasn’t enjoying dancing too much at the time.

    I’ve drifted in and out of modeling over the years and have never felt even the slightest pressure to keep doing it. I do it because I enjoy the occasional injection of extra money and because I enjoy it, but at this point it’s harder to stay in the industry than it is to leave it.

    ——-

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Sex work was a choice that I freely made. I entered sex work as an attempt to reclaim the dignity I was not being afforded working in a “respectable” job. My only hesitation around continuing to do sex work comes from the social stigma around it, that makes it less safe than it can and should be, and that forces me to choose between sex work or having other opportunities available to me, and I say this as a college educated person who has ample experience and skills to be very successful in a well paying, mainstream industry. I am not and never have been a victim of the sex industry, and I don’t appreciate having my agency denied.

  97. says

    The Basics…

    I am an Escort, which is a lovely sanitised 21st century way of saying “prostitute”. I’ve been doing it for several years having entered the profession in my early thirties… and I love it. I am degree educated I was not coerced into it, I was never abused as a child, nor as an adult, I do not consider myself “damaged” in any way. I earn very good money and live in a fashion that most of my contemporaries can not afford. No one earns out of what I do except me and I would invite anyone reading this thinking that sex work is always exploitation to consider who, exactly, is exploiting who?

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I chose to give sex work a try rather than doing a more traditional, mainstream job, because it had intrigued me for a number of years and at that particular time, an opportunity presented itself to me.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    No, I absolutely was not coerced in any way.

    I guess you could argue that there was a certain degree of economic pressure… but only in so far as I had quit one job (end of contract) and was looking for another. I had to find an income from somewhere, but I wasn’t under too much pressure as I had plenty of savings and felt confident of being able to secure a new contract in my existing profession if I should so choose. So in that respect, I was no more economically pressured than anyone is to do any kind of work.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I’ve always been sexually adventurous, but I don’t really think of myself as a “performer”. As an Escort I specialise in the “Girlfriend” experience, which means that I get to relax and be myself with guys rather than having to put on an act for them. Most of my work these days comes from regulars who come to see me time and again and many of them see me as much to spend time in my company as for sex.

    What, if anything, do you like about the work?

    I love meeting new guys… it is always a thrill, every single time. I never seem to tire of it! But I also love the “relationship” I have with my regulars. I love the fact that I am fully independent so I can pick and choose who I will and will not see. And having seen a guy once, I am under no pressure to see him a second time.

    I like the attention. I like being taken out to posh restaurants and staying in top hotels, but I really love the intimacy. It’s like that spark you have when a relationship is new and you are at it like rabbits the whole time… well, I have that all the time! I’m sure some day I will want to settle into a proper relationship, but for now I am much happier with my “Ships in the Night” guys. I get all the fun bits but I don’t have to listen to them moan or wash their socks.

    I earn great money and work far fewer hours than most. I arrange my own schedule and work only when I want to. I have so much independence compared to my peers, so much flexibility. I am beholden to no one.

    What, if anything, do you not like about the work?

    Okay, every so often you will get a guy who somehow got through the screening and freaks you out. It is rare, but it does happen. Having said that, I can only remember one occasion where I was actually afraid for my safety.

    It does make you a bit cynical about men and relationships. Probably about 60-70% of the guys I see are either married or in a relationship. It troubles me somewhat.

    Also, I don’t like the secrecy. I don’t like having to lie to family and friends about how I earn my money. They all think I am still in the same profession as I had worked in before starting this. I would love to be able to tell them the truth and dispel some of the stigma attached to sex work. If the topic comes up in conversation, though, I always argue in the sex workers favour, but I am not brave enough to just tell them.

    On the whole, do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    On the whole……… I love it!

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I love my guys! I really do!

    Every so often I will get one who I feel a bit so-so about, and I simply won’t see him again. I screen my guys before agreeing to see them and I must be doing something right because I generally seem to attract middle class, middle aged businessmen types who are typically charming, attentive and very often good looking too!

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time?

    Well, yes, I guess they have. I am far more positive about it now than I was when I first started. I think that comes with confidence and experience.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it?

    Yes, absolutely. In fact, I have always had a plan… this was never going to be forever. I expect that I will commence a staged retirement from the industry within the next 12 months.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I know that there is a darker side to this industry, I am not naive. But I know a lot of girls and I know a lot of guys and I have never, in all my time of working, heard of anyone who has encountered an under age sex worker, nor a sex worker who they suspected had been trafficked or was being coerced. I am sure it does happen but I can tell you that those of us who work professionally within the industry are as keen to stamp it out as those who are the other side of the line and would not hesitate to report any abuse we came across.

    On the subject of married men, which earlier I said did trouble me a little, I kind of feel that without girls like me, these men would be off having affairs and that, I have to say, is far more damaging.

  98. N Todd says

    f y r tryng t xt th ndstr r lv smn n th ndstr, vst r blg.

    For seriously violating the comment policy of this thread, this comment has been disemvoweled, the URL has been deleted, and the commenter has been banned. -GC

  99. Elayne says

    Q: Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I got into the sex industry because I was a single mother in my 40s, recently separated from a highly abusive husband. I’d been doing freelance work from home for years but work in my industry–which was highly specialized and therefore extremely limited–dried up for reasons that had nothing to do with me. After that, everywhere I applied for work I was told that I was over-qualified or that they didn’t think I would stay for long because they thought someone else would make me a better offer. When personnel agencies and headhunters told me that I was basically unemployable as far as they were concerned, I knew something had to change. But I couldn’t afford to re-train when most of what I was able to earn was being eaten up in legal fees. My ex wouldn’t negotiate anything but insisted on going to court repeatedly because he knew I couldn’t afford it. He said he planned to force me into complete poverty so that I wouldn’t be able to afford to support the children or live in the community. Then he would have the kids and would make sure I never saw them again. Because of the kind of work he does, he had a lot of credibility with the family court. I was afraid that he would succeed.

    Q: Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    No one manipulated me into becoming a prostitute. I chose to do it because of my financial circumstances. I didn’t have any other options.

    Q: Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    I became a high-end escort because of the income I thought it could provide. I did a LOT of research. I read escort sites, blogs and forums until my head was spinning. I made endless notes, asked questions everywhere I could find online. I posted ads on places like Craigslist to see what kind of responses I would get and to learn how to screen them.

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    I started working because I needed the money. I also like sex a lot and I didn’t want to have a relationship. This was a way to have sex without having to deal with the complexities of having a boyfriend and also support my children.

    I learned that there were escorts who catered to older men–over 50 or in their 60s. I decided to do that, too, because I was in my 40s and thought I would be most comfortable with men in that age range. One of my early clients sat me down one day and told me that he thought I should up-scale what I was doing, market myself as a very exclusive companion and double my fees. I thought he was insane, but I drafted an elegant advertisement and placed it in a few places online to see what would happen. I didn’t think anyone would pay what I was asking. It turned out that I was completely wrong. And so one of the things I enjoy is that I meet with very dynamic, intelligent and highly educated older men who appreciate spending time with me because I’m educated, can talk about almost anything and am interested in a very wide range of things.

    Q: What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    Screening potential clients takes an enormous amount of time. I have to deal with a lot of men who are difficult, unpleasant and sometimes degrading. All of my initial contact with them is through e-mail, though, so I don’t have to deal with anyone in person until I’ve decided that I’m willing to meet them. I would never have said that I was a good salesperson. I’ve learned how to do it well, but it still doesn’t feel natural to me.

    Q: On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    I like it well enough to keep doing it. The men I see treat me well and I make a very good living. I hope to retire sometime in the next couple of years and I don’t think I’ll miss working then. This has been a means to an end for me.

    Q: What are your feelings about your customers?
    I don’t see anyone unless I really believe that we’re going to get along well. I take some time exchanging e-mail and having phone conversations before we meet. When we do finally get together, I feel some level of connection with them and that makes the meetings go well, I think. The men I meet are good guys who treat me well.

    I’ve only had trouble with one man. He became obsessed with me and started stalking me. At first he called me many times a day and sent lots and lots of e-mail even though I didn’t respond. When he started coming by my house to leave cards and presents for me, I told him that I didn’t want to have anything more to do with him and to stop contacting me. That didn’t work. I finally had to report him to the police. They were very supportive and helpful. The harassment stopped.

    Q: Have your feelings about the work changed with time?
    Not really. I’m comfortable with what I’m doing. It’s often a lot of fun and it’s rarely difficult work. I’ve also made some good friendships with other women, which I hadn’t expected.

    I began to feel much more empowered within a few months of starting to work. I control what happens with clients. Our interactions are all time-limited. I know what to expect. My self-esteem has improved a lot, too! I’m an attractive woman, but not a model type. I feel better about myself and my body than I did when I started this work. I used to think that I wasn’t beautiful enough or that I needed to compensate somehow for not having a perfect body. I’ve learned that those things aren’t important. Clients want an experience that makes them feel good. If that happens with someone whom they admire, even for a short time, that’s even better.

    Q: If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it?
    Yes, I do. I’m not ready to leave it yet, but I know that I can, and that I will leave, on my own terms, when I decide it’s time.

    Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    Yes. The men who pay for sex are just ordinary men. My clients are no different from anyone else: they’re the husbands, fathers, uncles, brothers, and neighbours you know in your daily life. They come from many different backgrounds and professions. Some are very good looking, successful men. Most are average. It’s rare for them to be men who couldn’t get a date any other way. They want things that most people want: intimacy, connection, pleasure. Sometimes they want to see the same lady over and over again. Sometimes they just want to meet once, or once in awhile. Some are lonely. Some want to engage with a woman without having to think about what happens after the date is over. Sometimes they have a fantasy they want to try out or there’s a particular sex act that they want to experience. A lot of them just want to see someone new and feel that thrill of excitement that’s part of a new encounter. Nearly all of them want something that’s not going to follow them, calling, making requests or demands, getting involved in their lives. They don’t want any trouble and they don’t want to be any trouble, either. I have never had anyone try to force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. I’ve never been beaten or hurt. I’ve never felt that I was in any kind of danger. It could be that I’m just very good at screening out potentially dangerous men, but I don’t think that’s all there is to it. I believe that most men are good guys who don’t want to hurt anyone. We may not feel like we have a profound connection or even that we’d be compatible for more than a couple of hours, but that doesn’t mean that the men feel entitled to harm us. They can walk out the door and not call again.

  100. jennifer says

    I also worked in a peepshow for about 10 years. I was never ever able to resolve my ambivalence about sex work. I was an avid reader and this was a great job because you could sit there reading while waiting for customers. I was also college educated and had a day job. I had also taken a number of women’s studies classes. It felt like easy money and i needed it at the time as i had a fiance with cancer i was supporting. (he has since passed). Even if he wasn’t sick i would have done the job for the money and out of of curiosity. I liked some of the women i met, some of them were cutthroat bitches, but i tried to understand their stories and not judge too much even when they were bringing negativity to the workplace. the thing that bothered me most about the job is how it perpetuates looksism. always the barbie dolls made the most money, normal girls like me did ok, but women who were less conventionally attractive had a harder time. THis was painful to witness and i always felt bad if a friend had a bad night. However, i do wonder about the subtle damage this kind of work does to all of us, even those of us who think we enjoy it and are choosing it freely. For me i can never seem to get away from the issue of lookism and how i have internalized it and if it can be undone. I quit because my significant other died and i no longer needed the money, but i also worried about my karma, frankly, and how it was effecting subsequent relationships as not everyone is so open minded. But mostly I DID NOT WANT TO GROW OLD IN THIS JOB, NOR WOULD I BE ALLOWED TO. I notice most sex workers are terrified to contemplate aging, as this is a job you absolutely cannot grow old in. Where do we draw the line as far as getting out with our dignity intact? Unfortuately, i think i have to agree with the more hardline stance that this work under a patriarchy is just never good. I wish i could be hip and think otherwise, but constantly being concerned about one’s looks and getting paid for looking pleasing is just dehumanizing, even if only subtely at times. When i think of all the time i spent and have continue to spend thinking /worrying/fussing with my looks, it is so depressing. I wonder if i could have been doing more productive things. On the bright side, i got a lot of reading done at that job, but one wonders if we lived in a truly liberated society with no economic pressures or lookism, would anybody do this job at all??? OR would we becoming great painters, chefs, lovers, poets, athletes, etc. I know some bike messengers, a dangerous job one ages out of easily, whith no benefits or pension. It is often romanticized and glamorirzed an mythologized and why? Because it doesn’t have much to offer except a certain coolness, i guess it should have at least that. There is no equivalent coolness for fast food workers…I don’t know, i am having financial issues and think of going back but i dread what it will do to my psyche as i am getting older….I fear there are no real answers here but those who emrace sex work and find it “empowering” are not really looking at its dark side, the way it promotes looksism….

  101. Amelie says

    I worked as an escort in Montreal(through an escort agency) many years ago and just for one year. I did it because at the time I was looking for a job and was already having a lot a casual sex as I was craving for sex, intimacy and attention. I was also being told that I was good at it, that I knew how to please a man; since it seemed to be one of my rare talents, I thought I should exploit it.

    I freely chose to do it.

    I liked the flexibility (I am not a morning person and could adjust my schedule accordingly), the fact that I could work while being high, and I did make a lot of money.

    I did not like having sex with people I found unattractive or outright repulsive . I did not like having to act so male-pleasing all the time. I did not like the temporary but real fear I experienced at the beginning each time I opened the door to a new client. At the end, 90% of my clientele were regulars, so that fear had practically gone away.

    My clients were mostly older (40s-50s, while I was in my early 20s) married men on Viagra. I never experienced violence or been forced to do things I did not want to. The worst experiences I had were with clients who did not talk at all, not even smile; their coldness was chilling but that’s about it.

    I felt empathy towards my clients at first but this feeling changed to contempt. I feel most of my clients only wanted a young body to sexually served them and boost their ego. Some were saying they were in love with me, saying things like ‘if only I was younger, if I was not married, you and me could have been together’ and I would hypocritically approved… It made me wonder if men were capable of genuinely love a woman with a real personality, desires and wants of her own or all were just wishing for a compliant sex doll…

    I left on my free will. I knew it was going to be a temporary thing and I was bored (and sometimes quite disgusted) and wanted to do something else.

    My view changed a lot after I left the work and became interested in feminism and feminist theory (which I was not into at the time). I feel sad that some women had to do sex work to feel validated (I do understand this feeling though because I experienced it too). What does it say about women in our society when our value and self-esteem is so dependent on men’s sexual attention? Why is it even considered empowering? What power? The power to submit to male desire? I don’t understand… Catering to men’s needs and desires, sucking their dicks and boosting their ego… there is nothing feminist in there; if it’s something, it is anti-feminist.

    I understand that experiences are diverse, some are positive others not very so and others very negative. But even though on an individual level the experience can be positive, or empowerful, I think that on a collective level, the sex industry does a diservice to women and to men/women relationships.

    I do not see sex work as glamourous or empowerful (at least, not anymore); bottom line, you are just fulfilling one of patriarchy’s mandate as a woman, i.e. sexually serving men (the other being to domestically serve them). I think that the sex industry furthers a vision of sex that is centered on men’s desires, men’s arousal and men’s orgasms. This is why I think it is false to accuse people who criticize the sex industry of being anti-sex. If you listen to their discourse, most are criticizing the vision of sex that it promotes. I do think however that in regards to the criminalization of the sex industry, the safety of the workers (and there will always be people working in this industry) is the priority.

  102. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    for starters, i was just curious. i was also broke, and i wanted some easy money. sure, i did! who doesn’t? i decided to work in a strip club, one where i knew a dancer or two.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    i was broke, but i was surviving. i wasn’t pressured into it or anything. i had been pondering about working as a stripper for a few years, and i finally just decided to go ahead and do it.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    well, stripping wasn’t a big deal for me – as far as nudity goes, i could care less. plus i’m a dancer, so i knew dancing while nude would be really easy for me. i’m an exhibitionist, and i liked the idea that people would have all eyes on me, watching me dance.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    i loved dancing, i loved learning pole tricks and feeling sexy, and being desired. some of my customers were great. i met really cool people, and had a lot of great experiences – even a few that really turned me on.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    there is a type of customer who comes in and feels entitled to treat dancers like dirt. it really sucks to have people treat you as if you don’t have a brain, or as if you aren’t human and don’t have feelings, just because you happen to be dancing around half naked.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    i loved it, when i first started. after a few years, i experienced dancer burnout. the economy sucked, the money was tighter, and it became harder to make decent money even as a dancer – while the customers became more entitled, expected you to do more for less money, and generally acted like assholes. it’s why i quit. i wasn’t making enough money to deal with the shitty way customers were treating me.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    some of the customers i had were GREAT people. i really liked them. i have more memorable good times, than memorable bad times, as far as customers go. of course, the assholes, you can forget them easily enough. the good customers really stick out in my mind. they treated me like an intelligent human being, and i really enjoyed being in their company.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    no, i still have fond memories of stripping, and i may even go back to it after i’m not so burned out. i mean, dancing is so much fun. just feeling free to take off your clothing and whirl around – it’s great. and sometimes, you can make SO much money, and make connections with really great people. yes, after a while, the balance of assholes over good customers tended to burn me out. but it will always be a fond memory for me – dancing at my first club, dancing for all these appreciative customers.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    of course, i felt free to leave. maybe not financially free, but certainly nothing was *making* me be a stripper. and it was rough, financially, after i quit. it’s hard to go from easy cash every day, to having to work for an hourly wage.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    hi, i used to be a stripper. no, that does not mean that you can make assumptions about who i am, or what my life is like. i have worked naked. but i’ve also gotten a college degree, had several careers, worked with music festivals and stage managed shows, and i’m also a published writer. it’s not so easy to sum someone up with just one job that they’ve had.

    and working as a stripper is just like any job, when you come right down to it. you have to deal with shitty coworkers, and shitty customers, and you do have to work for your money. people don’t just walk in and hand you hundreds. dancing is hard work. you spend 8 hour shifts in 6 inch heels, wearing not much of anything, and you have to talk to people – make them really want to see you dance, spend their money on you. it’s a persuasion game. you do have to make connections with people, and it IS work. it’s just not “normal” work, and yeah, you are naked a lot of the time.

    as far as being “exploited,” i knew very few girls who weren’t there of their own desires and accord. there were a few moms who didn’t know how else to make money, that’s true. but mostly, the girls i knew were goal – oriented. we had bills to pay, college tuition to attend to, cars to buy, things of that nature. sure, some of our managers were assholes – just like any job. but i have to say, of all the jobs i’ve felt exploited at, stripping was never one of them.

  103. says

    Th nmbr f sx wrkrs wh hv dd s drct rslt f thr nvlvmnt n th sx ndstr s nt nn-trvl nmbr f wmn. n xrcs lk ths wll nvr tll thr strs.

    This comment has been disemvoweled for violating the comment policy of this thread.

    About which I will say this: There are multiple comment threads taking place right now, on this very blog, in which the general public is debating and discussing sex work. If you don’t have enough respect for sex workers to let us have ONE FUCKING SPACE ON THE INTERNET TO OURSELVES, to tell our stories and talk among ourselves, I see no reason to take anything you say on the subject seriously. -GC

  104. says

    I’ll try to keep these short and sweet-

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    Money. Duh! But really, I wanted a job where I could work as little as possible and make as much money as possible & didn’t require a college degree, and I also wanted to pay off some of my old lingering financial debts.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    Capitalism coerces all of us into various manifestations of wage-slavery; I just happened to pick a manifestation that’s particularly socially stigmatized and potentially super profitable.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    I strip. So I don’t actually have to fuck anyone. There are bouncers around in a club for my safety, too.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    The quick (not “easy”) ca$h, the outfits, only having to work 3 days a week or sometimes less so I have time to pursue my passions and have lots of fun with my friends and travel, dancing helping me lose those extra pesky 15 lbs., becoming privy to the secret thoughts and desires of straight men, for better or worse (I’m into the idea of learning the ugly, vile truths of humanity, as opposed to living my life in a blissfully ignorant activisty-feministy bubble)

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    When old men tell me horrific war stories, men trying to violate my boundaries, customers with bad hygiene, having to tip out the bouncers and DJ because the club management doesn’t pay them a living wage, paying to work at the club (FYI- strippers don’t get paid by the club AT ALL!), getting rejected by customers a lot until I find the ones wanting to spend money on me, nightshift.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    Stripping and sex work in general are so nuanced and complicated and diverse it’s hard to boil it all down to a single “like/dislike/neutral” choice. I feel different about it on different days I think.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    I feel sorry for the lonely, unhappily-monogamous ones and I hope I never become like them.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?
    I can leave stripping anytime I want and go back to my $10/hr kitchen job, but the constraint I’m putting on myself is that I’d like to leave the industry debt-free, and even then I might still stick around in it because I like only working 3 days a week.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    Most sex workers are just normal people with kids, cars, homes and expenses just trying to make a living. But we hate when people go out of their way to say condescending shit like “oh don’t worry, I see you as a real person even if no one else does!” Dude, don’t worry, my self-esteem isn’t so frail that I sit around worryin that no one likes “the real me”, being a real person means, you know, that we have real friends and family and partners that love us at home. Don’t pearl-clutch over us much more than you would for a waitress or the lady who has to play Cinderella at Disney World in 90 degree Florida heat. We’re grown-ass women.

  105. LisaStGeorge says

    Seriously, I had to be pretty and pleasing while working as a cocktail waitress, too. I’ve had many different kinds of jobs (childcare, office, and restaurant/bar) and they ALL involved putting on an act for pay. At least now I make hundreds per hour and only have to put on the (partial) act a few hours a week. I really don’t feel exploited when a client leaves enough money to pay almost half my rent for the month before he walks out the door after staying only a couple of hours and being a total sweetheart to me. If you don’t/didn’t like doing sex work, that’s understandable. It’s not for everyone. But don’t imply that those of us who do like it are just clueless victims of the patriarchy. Shit, before I realized I was a feminist and totally revolutionized how I viewed the world, I had less-than-awesome sex all the time just to please men, and I did it for free, so on top of that I had to work for The Man 40 hours a week in environments where women were only equal in rhetoric, not practice.

  106. says

    A good friend of mine (the Kitty I mention in my previous comment) did die as an indirect result of her sex work. I can take a crack at telling her story if it would make the haters feel better.

  107. Greta Christina says

    A good friend of mine (the Kitty I mention in my previous comment) did die as an indirect result of her sex work. I can take a crack at telling her story if it would make the haters feel better.

    Ace of Sevens @ #128: Since you’ve worked as a sex worker, you’re invited to say anything you want in this thread (within my usual comment policy, of course). However, my preference would be that this space be for sex workers to tell their own stories — not those of other workers. I don’t know what Kitty would say about her life and her work if she were alive, and I’m reluctant to have this space be used for people to tell other people’s stories.

    However, this space is for sex workers to talk to one another and to the world about the work. So if you think it’s important, please go ahead.

    And I am so sorry for your loss.

  108. LisaStGeorge says

    So the solution to violence against sex workers is to continue to criminalize and stigmatize prostitution and force it further underground? To tell female sex workers that if they ask for help from feminists, they’ll get patronized and framed as a victim for the choices they’ve made? No. Bringing everything above board is the only path to harm reduction.

  109. says

    I got custody of her computer hard drive. I tried to find things that she said that directly answer you questions, but no dice. here are a couple of things she wrote, though:

    wow. I can actually walk around in platform heels for 9 hours and NOT want to kill myself for it the next day.

    Good talent to have… ;)

    note.. walking in the suicide shoes for nine hours.. and dancing in them for like 8 minutes.. are two VERY DIFFERENT things.

    I am ouch.

    and there were some major assholes judging… someone called me saggy… but whatever…

    i made a couple bucks.. nowhere near what i spent on the shoes.. but i dont care.. i had an awesome night. ;)

    now.. time to lay down and not move till the ouch is bye bye.

    could be days… lol

    This after she was told she was too pale to be a stripper:

    anyway.. time to cover my nekkid body in mustard cuz it helps with sunburn…. (fucking tanning bed… and damn me for not letting my back, tummy, thighs, and ass see the sun in .. 5 years.. or so…

    This after she slipped and hit her shoulder on the pole:

    i dont know what i did. my shoulderblade is killing me. i want to have it looked at but i shouldnt drive like this. someone come take me to hospital….

    On auditioning for a regular place at the topless bar:

    yesterday……….. well.. i guess since its waaay after midnight i should say 2 days ago..

    i went in to audition at dancers ranch.
    I called at 2.. was told show up at 3. at 3 20 the guy finally got around to checking my ID and pointing me towards a hallway saying “dressing room is over there.. rules are onthe wall. youre on first so be ready by 4″ we’ll see how it goes.. come talk to me after your set.

    so I go onstage at 4, do my set .. then hunt down the guy. he said he’d been busy and missed my set. then he shut the office door and said “ok so let me see how you look in a t bar.. just.. drop your dress”

    This made me a bit nervous.. but i did it anyway.. and he barely even glanced at me (he was busy stocking the liquor safe) and he said .. ok I’ll give my report to woody (the other manager.. the one id talked to last week about auditioning) .. call back tomorrow around 2 or 3.

    so i called back and Woody said Mark wasnt working today so he had to talk to him.. call back Tomorrow…..

    WHAT THE FUCK???

    so.. in the rules.. it says.. “if you like to enjoy your recreational pharmaceuticals then just do not bring them in here. Leave them at home, or at least in your car. if you need to do whatever your kick is, then leave our property to do so. you would be jeopardising everyones job not just yours having them here. we allow you to leave once a shift, use this time to do what you need”

    …………….. that …

    wow. sad… but funny as hell. (to me anyway)

    After we went to the Halloween party at the club where I danced:

    oh.. yeah.. forgot to mention halloween.. well.. the sat b4 anyway..

    went to Woodys.. had like 7 or 8 guys trying to buy private dances from me.. one said bullshit when i told him i dont work there.. it was made extra funny by the fact that my guy was sitting right next to me.. arm around me and everything…

    what an ego boost.

    That’s some stuff there for at least the like/dislike questions. These were interspersed with post about how she really needed a few hundred dollars to keep her apartment, so there was definitely economic pressure, but she complained a lot more about the roommates that she took on to deal with this problem than the job. Take this post about living with someone she met through work:

    There Is a girl who I’ve been letting stay at my house lately. (I shall call her L on here) She is 17 … turns 18 in a few months. I’m never home because I’m usually at work or at my boyfriends house. She was initially staying there to hide from the abusive jackass she was trying to leave (from here on referred to as Jackass), then she started calling him saying she wanted to work things out. So he ended up knowing where I live. She started having him spend nights there even though I told her I didn’t really want him around there..

    Three days ago, while I was at my guys house sick as hell, stoned on cold medicine, barely able to move without having a huge coughing fit, I got a call from a friend who lives really close and he told me L and jackass were fighting, my house was trashed.. and cops were there. So I tried to call L. No answer. I tried again, left a message.. tried again.. and this time it went straight to voice mail. My friend who had called me was to drunk to go check on things while cops were there..so I drag myself to my car and go to my house. There were 3 cop cars there and L was in the back of one. Jackass was nowhere to be seen and as I walked up to my house the cop asked who I was. I gave my name and said I lived there and wanted to know what the hell was going on, so he said to go on in and he would talk to me in a minute. (I am mildly irritated that he did not ask for ID.. I could have been some brave thief lying to get into the house before it got locked…)

    So I went in and saw that my shelves with my dragon sculptures and some pictures were knocked over.. $100 worth of dragons were broken.. there were beer bottles all over the place, some broken. papers that had been on the shelves were all over the floor.. Decorative items from the top of my tv were across the room scattered on the couch and floor…

    I started trying to clean up a little but couldn’t move without coughing like mad so I sat on the couch and waited to talk to the cop. He said jackass was on his way to jail for public intox, and L was being taken to the youth shelter for 48 hours so they could figure out if she was going to home, foster care, or being allowed to go on her own. So I had him tell L to call me as soon as she could. And I went back to my boyfriends house.

    The next day I just relaxed and started feeling better and waited for my doctor appointment.

    Yesterday morning I went to the doctor, got given some antibiotics and Prednisone.. went home (… um… ok.. I guess by home, I mean Aleksey’s house… even though I don’t ACTUALLY live there…. ) Took my medicine.. felt tons better really fast. Then Aleksey and I went to dinner at a pretty little place downtown and rented movies to come back and watch. On the way back I asked him to stop at my place so I could leave a note for L since she had not called me yet and so I could check my mail.

    We got to my house and the door was hanging open.. and I didn’t recognize anybody on my front lawn or in my apartment, except for one girl who last I heard was in jail. Then I noticed Jackass on my lawn. I was like.. “Where the fuck is L!!”

    Then she came walking up from a couple doors down saying “hey Kitty!”

    I was PISSED. I somehow managed to be calm and not fly of the handle, and still get everybody (and their damn drugs) out of my house. Then I told L that my first instinct was to take the key I gave her away, tell her go the hell away and call me in the morning to arrange picking up her stuff. But I didn’t do that. I informed her that I will be checking on my house a lot more now, and that nobody is allowed in there but her, D (who I agreed to let sleep there ONLY for THIS weekend), and Jackass.

    I told Jackass to his face that I don’t like him one tiny bit, I hate having him in my house, and the only reason I allow it is because I don’t want to be ANOTHER person trying to FORCE L to make the right choice and leave him. I told them he was NOT allowed to stay there overnight, only like an hour or 2 so they could work out buss schedules and stuff like that.

    Then L told me that when the cops got called he had not hit her at all, he was just beating himself up (with my shelves that had the dragons on them) so I told him what the dragons were worth and he said he would pay me back. I told him that I didn’t trust him any further than I could spit and I will stay pissed till they are paid off. I said I didn’t expect him to, but would be pleasantly shocked if he did, then he gave me $20 towards them.

    Also, since I had looked at the police log online, I knew that it had been Jackass who had called the cops. He called them from the gas station claiming that L had beat him up. From the story I collected from everyone, all she did was grab him to try to stop him from continuing to break my shit. So I also told him “so, how do you like calling the cops on her only to go to jail yourself?”

    He denied calling them.. and I told him he was full of shit because I had seen the log. So he finally admitted it and L was pissed, but then decided I was right and it was a bit funny since he was the only one who got any legal trouble from the whole thing. Then L and Jackass decided to catch the last bus to Jackass’s house where they would be staying the night, and L promised to call me when she was headed back to my place.

    At about 3 today, she had not called, so I called her. She was at a friends house and told me she was going to my house, alone, in a few hours. Then she told me that Jackass had dumped her to go back out with his ex, who just inherited $4,000. AND he said he was only going back to his ex to freeload off her for a bit, and visit his kid “till he got tired of it”
    hell… I didn’t even know he had a kid!

    So now she is all sad that he left her, and I think she should be celebrating because he was an abusive asshole, physically AND emotionally.. and she can do WAAAAAAAYYYYYY better.

    THE END. …. for now.

    While she didn’t seem to write about it, L introduced her to cocaine, which is ultimately what killed her. She was also a prostitute who was meeting clients in Kitty’s apartment without telling her. I’ll keep looking. Maybe I can find things she wrote that give more comprehensive answers.

  110. LisaStGeorge says

    I’m getting ready for work and didn’t have time to read all that, but I will later. For now I’ll just say that your friend was working in shitty conditions that would’ve been shitty regardless of the type of work.

  111. says

    Found another one. This is as to why she chose her particular line of sex work. Context: I had just posted on Stripper Web about how one of her co-workers bit another’s finger off over a drug deal gone wrong. At this same club in the previous couple years, one of her friends had been assaulted in the bathroom by a stripper from another club who alleged that she had ripped off her tattoo (which may have caused her to miscarry) and a different stripper bit off a customer’s nose for calling her fat. One of the other posters said they would never stop at this club if they were in Iowa and questioned why anyone would work there. She replied:

    aww, but what about those of us who work there and AREN’T psycho bitches??

    It IS the only club in the area that isn’t a full-nude BYOB.

    So you can also see some elements of pressure to do something she didn’t want (go full nude) because she could work in a generally nicer club if she did. (One where the owners were more focused on dancer needs and less on who they could sleep with and how to push drinks.) I could go on about how bars that just have topless women as a gimmick to get people to show up and buy drinks have a conflict of interest, but so far haven’t found anything she wrote about it and that’s not really my story. I will tell it in another venue.

  112. says

    @NTodd #118 “If you are trying to exit the industry or love someone in the industry, visit our blog.

    WTF is that?!?!? Your little rescue industry taking the opportunity to infiltrate a space that is specifically and ONLY for sex workers to tell their own personal stories! Don’t you people have any respect for anyone’s boundaries FFS!

    Let’s see; “We are not affiliated with any of the organizations that appear in our links. They are simply resources.” RIGHT! Right…so what are your “resources?”

    Dignity Program for Exiting the IndustryCatholic Charities Community Services recognizes prostituted women as victims of sex trafficking(no middle ground there) and helps them to escape “the life” through DIGNITY” (sounds rather indoctrinaty to me ijs)

    GEMS~a place they send sex workers when it’s a choice between that and JAIL! GREAT!

    Mary Magdalene Project(oh look at that. A whore from the BIBLE)
    Narcotics Anonymous ok fine…
    National Conference on the Sex Indusry hmmm, spelled “industry” wrong meh, “Second Chance offers comprehensive services to women victimized by prostitution” NO! PROSTITUTION doesn’t abuse people! PEOPLE abuse people…morons!
    Prostitution Research and Education well if it isn’t good ol’ Melissa Farley’s website of pseudo-research and sensationalism. Isn’t that the site Taslima Nasreen linked ( http://freethoughtblogs.com/taslima/2012/04/11/prostitution/ ) to with her “oh check out this bullshit advert for people seeking employment in the sex industry…that was COMPLETELY MADE UP! Any sex workers reading this; you have GOT to read this bullshit http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/faq/000009.html

    You know what is NOT in your list of sources…any links to sites run by sex workers’ rights advocates. VERY objective. No SWOP, No COYOTE, No Scarlett Alliance etc…WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL!

  113. Violet says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    Curiosity. I was intensely curious about sex and sex work. I also wanted to break out of the 9 to 5 routine and do something a bit different with my life.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Absolutely chose it freely.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I started off stripping in a bikini bar, and then worked in a peep show similar to what you describe at Lusty Ladies. The first I started because it was easily available. They advertised for dancers, and these jobs were easy to find.

    I finally found my niche when the internet world gained speed. I was a cam girl for several years. I liked the freedom to design the sort of shows and choose the type of clientele I liked.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    The money, the flexibility, the creative aspects of my work. I liked running my own business as a cam girl and site owner.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Every now and then, I would meet a guy with a very bad attitude toward women. They were not the norm.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    On the whole, I liked it. If I had my life to do over, I’d have gotten into web-related sex work even earlier.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    They’re fine. I dealt largely with fetishists, who frequently could not have their needs met in relationships.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    My feelings are pretty much the same. I liked it. I only left because I was ready to try out something new. I still sign on to cam a couple times a year, and probably will for the rest of my life.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I was totally free to leave. The only restraint was money, but, I saved up seed money for my next venture and took the plunge.

  114. Jane D says

    In response to Lisa, I’d like to say that one can be industry critical without supporting criminalisation or stigmatisation. I had a bad experience which caused me to see the industry in a negative light, but support making it as safe as possible for the workers, which involves decriminalisation.

  115. Jane D says

    And banning someone who never broke rules makes this look more like a point proving exercise than an open sharing forum for workers.

  116. qvaken says

    If you ever use this comments section to support any claims in future posts, please be very conscious of the fact that it has thus far not been a friendly place for sex workers who have had negative experiences, and that Internet forums can only include the 30% of people in the world privileged enough to have access to a computer and the Internet. It is an extremely select group of experiences, so I’m requesting that you please never use it to, in any way, discount the experiences of those people for whom sex work has been a nasty and damaging reality – whether they’ve had a voice here, or if they never did.

    To avoid a misunderstanding, I would like to mention that – though it may seem incompatible with my previous sentiment – I simultaneously support the right of those who have had a positive experience in sex work to freely share their stories.

  117. Greta Christina says

    And banning someone who never broke rules makes this look more like a point proving exercise than an open sharing forum for workers.

    Jane D @ #137: When and where did I do that?

    The only people I have disemvoweled and/or banned in this thread are people who have violated the stated rules — the rules that this thread is only for sex workers. Who have I disemvoweled and/or banned who hasn’t done that?

  118. amanda says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I got into the industry at the age of 18. I was angry at the world and wanted to feel independent and defiant. I was angry at mainstream culture for marginalizing my sexuality, and shaming my love of being slutty. I was equally as angry with many radical feminists and activists who marginalized my desire to be submissive, objectified, and to become a whore.
    As I started realizing how much money I could make having sex in front of a camera, or even just getting naked and wiggling around for a couple hours, it became even more of an obvious choice for me.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I did freely choose the work. I could have applied to fast food restaurants, to office jobs, to other kinds of low paying work. As a full time student I knew I could only make so much many at a minimum wage job, and knowing myself I knew I would hate every second of it. I did it for economic reasons too, obviously, I live in a capitalist society, and I want to be able to party and live comfortably. Honestly my sex work has bought me food and clothes and paid my bills, but it has also helped me party and enjoy myself. My sex work has paid for camping trips, festivals, drugs, booze, pampered weekends in hotels and lovely meals in nice restaurants that I would never have been able to enjoy otherwise.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I don’t have a “perfect body” by mainstream standards. My boobs are huge and floppy, my hips are wide, I have little chubby stomach. Mainstream porn has never really been an option for me because of my physical appearance (not skinny, basically). I found that fetish porn was much more accepting of different body types because fewer models are willing to do fetish work. I’ve done erotic horror, controlled and frozen, doctor patient fetish, foot fetish, bondage, other s/m, among other things. It pays well and its easier to get jobs. Plus I’m kinky myself and I enjoy participating/experimenting in weird/unusual/kinky sex acts.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I like a lot of the producers and models I have met doing fetish work. There has been a lot of really cool people I have connected with and consider good friends. There is definitely a kinky porn community that I know I could fall back on if I really needed money or a place to stay.
    I like acting, and I like taking on a role of a dumb little submissive girl. It’s been interesting reconciling my personal feminist beliefs with my enjoyment of acting stupid and submissive. But I do enjoy it, I find it fun, and I’ve been extremely respected by producers and other models the vast majority of the time.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I have been assaulted in the industry, three times. Two was rape, the third was sexual harassment. Obviously these were negative experiences. I have had a hard time even admitting that it has happened. It pisses me off that my submissive tendencies were taken for granted and turned against me. But I think those issues are less related to porn as an industry, considering 95+% of the experiences I have had were positive, and more of issues with misogyny and patriarchy in the culture in general. As long as patriarchy and misogyny exists, women will be raped and assaulted, regardless of whether they are whores and porn stars or just regular girls.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    On the whole I love my work. It’s easy, its fun, I get to hang out with cool people, and I get paid pretty damn well.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Mixed. A lot of the porn I do is fake snuff films, where I pretend to be raped, tortured and murdered. On one hand its fucked up content. It creeps me out a little to think that some guy is getting off watching me get “murdered”. On the other hand, snuff film shoots are probably my favorite, because they tend to be the nicest, most respectful producers. At least in my experience.
    It makes me wonder what kind of guy can jack off and watch a girl get murdered. On the other hand, they are fully aware that what they are watching is fake, and they are watching a campy movie instead of actually going out and doing it. I should really be more horrified that some men get off raping and murdering for real, not just on an obviously fake porno.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    It has changed- I am more aware of abuse within the industry. My assaults happened early on in my career, and I’ve been much more cautious and withdrawn in the scene since then. I wish I had the ovaries to be more involved still, but I’m not nearly as trusting now. It sucks because out of the hundreds of shoots I’ve done, only 3 were negative. I wish that those 3 bad experiences didn’t often outweigh the hundreds of good ones in my head, but they do. It just makes me anxious to make the industry a safer place for other girls. But I’m unsure how to do this.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Yes, I feel free to leave it, but I have grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and it would be hard to adjust to having so much less money every month. I wouldn’t be able to go out the bars, go out to nice dinners, go to festivals, buy the drugs I like. So if anything is barring me its how accustomed I’ve grown to having extra money around.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Lets work on ending misogyny in the greater culture. Don’t target sex workers. Plenty of girls get raped and abused, sex workers and non sex workers. Lets end abuse for everyone, and not focus on one profession!

  119. Jane D says

    I didn’t realise it until I wanted to tell Lisa that most of us who are industry critical do not support shaming, stigmatising and criminalising those in it – rather we tend to support widening options for those who want out and protecting those who remain – and found I couldn’t.

  120. Greta Christina says

    Jane D: Can you please email me, at greta (at) gretachristina (dot) com, and tell me what name and IP address you were using when you stopped being able to comment? I want to figure out what happened.

    FYI: I’m currently traveling, with limited time and internet access, so I may not be able to reply right away. But I do, in fact, want anyone who has worked in the sex industry to be able to comment here, regardless of their opinions about it.

  121. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I wanted to become a stripper when I turned 18 from about when I was 16. After being talked out of it when I was younger, I found myself at age 24 with no decent means of supporting myself, and decided it was time. Obviously, there was economic pressure, but how many people who aren’t born to wealthy families DON’T feel economic pressure to work? Anyway, I freely chose to become a stripper because I wanted to travel, have adventures, and still get paid.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? Mainly accessibility. I’ve also considered camming and escorting at various points, including before I started stripping, but the setup costs and legal issues kept me at stripping for the obvious choice. Also, I don’t feel very comfortable in front of a camera, so the idea of masturbating in front of one doesn’t sound fun to me.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work? I love that I can go to almost any city in the US and have a hundred or four hundred dollars in my pocket by the morning after I get there. Some cities are better than others for this, but the freedom to travel is there. I love that simply going to work keeps me active and fit. I love that I make people feel good for a living. I love that I can make my own schedule, or just not show up if I don’t feel like going in. I love that for all my complaining about how the money isn’t what it used to be, I still make in one night what many of my friends make in a week. I love that I can work once a week, get my bills paid, and still have time to maintain a 4.0 GPA. I love that I can refuse service at any time to a customer I dislike, no matter how much cash he’s offering.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    The main things I dislike about it stem entirely from society’s perceptions of what I do. Customers that feel entitled to physically touch me in ways I don’t allow, because I am a sex worker and not a human in their eyes. Cops that steer me away from even pressing simple assault charges on a man who tried to rape me, because the fact that I am a stripper would come up in court and be used against me. Customers who try to bargain with me on the prices of dances because they think they’re too attractive to pay full price. Club managers who treat me as disposable because no matter how much money I make for the club, I’m still “just another stripper.” Clubs that serve alcohol and care more about the sales numbers for the bar than the safety of their dancers.

    On the whole, I like my job, even after coming up with that paragraph. My involvement and self identification as a sex worker has had influence on my life that is far more positive than negative. Everybody has things about their job that they don’t like.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    Neutral to good, on most days. My favorites are the customers who tip well and respect my physical boundaries. I like people in general, and I like learning about different people’s stories. I avoid dealing with customers I dislike for any reason, and encourage the ones I do like to come see me again if they’ve enjoyed the experience.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time?

    If anything, I like it more now than I did when I started 5 and a half years ago.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    This is tricky. No person or group is compelling me to stay. However, I’m getting minimal to no assistance from the government or my family to pay for school, so I’m “stuck,” so to speak, for a while longer if I want to maintain a lifestyle that lets me go out once in a while, pay my rent and bills, and have time to study.

    I’m also probably somewhat spoiled when it comes to not dealing with the constraints and authority of a normal 9-5 gig, so it’s doubtful whether I’d be able to tolerate one. I often feel sad for my friends when I hear about someone treating them badly at a “normal” job and realize they can’t just walk away from a shitty customer, or go work at a place with better management the next day.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    Every job has its ups and downs. Every profession has people in it who fit the bad stereotypes. Bankers, Lawyers, sex workers, people who work at head shops, teachers, doctors, and so on. We should all be so lucky as to like what we do and make our own lives, rather than live a certain way because other people think we’re supposed to. I’d strip until retirement if I could, but it hasn’t been good to my knees and the money isn’t what it used to be.

  122. says

    I truly wish I had more time to give this the considered thought it deserves, but I at least want to give my “basics”.

    I worked in phone sex for about a year. It was entirely voluntary on my part, and mostly due to interest in the field as a sexuality geek. It was at a company with excellent treatment of their employees, which made more of a difference to me than anything else. I was worried it might give me negative feelings about men, despite having been theoretically in favor of sex work for years prior to this. I didn’t find that to be the case at all; if anything, my computer support IT job does a lot more to ruin my view of humanity. I found some of the work truly sexually pleasurable, some an ok way to pass the time getting paid, and a relatively small minority actively distasteful. I eventually quit because I was working three jobs, and it was the lowest-paying at the time, not because I didn’t like the work (for values of work that equal “wouldn’t be doing this the same way if I weren’t getting paid”). If anything, I had a lot more ability in that job to deal with problem clients (ban them from my line, get office-provided counseling, etc) than I do working at an IT Helpdesk. Here, people can abuse me all they like and get away with it.

  123. Alexa says

    Greta, I was a Hooters Girl for quite awhile. To you, would that qualify as a degree of sex work? I think, in some ways, there are some intersections/similarities.

    I just wanted to say I really have enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions here so far!

  124. Greta Christina says

    Greta, I was a Hooters Girl for quite awhile. To you, would that qualify as a degree of sex work? I think, in some ways, there are some intersections/similarities.

    Alexa @ #147: Interesting question. Hooters is something of a gray area. But if you think of it as sex work, I’d like to hear your stories. I’d just ask you to be clear that that’s where you were working, so people reading your story know what kind of work you’re talking about.

  125. Lynne Tansey says

    1.Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I needed the money & felt sexwork gave me the choices & self government that other jobs did not!

    2.Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Not forced at all, it was an informed choice.

    3.Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    When I first started sexwork, I was a street worker, learning the trade. I then was seriously attacked by a client, which led to me killing him & facing a trial for murder!
    It was then I truly faced the prejudices & stigma`s attached to sexwork! I was acquitted after spending nearly a year on remand!
    After this I decided to be a pro-dom, which gave me the control & power over my clients that I sought!

    4.What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    It gave me the unique opportunity to have a short sex contract with men & observe the experience without the emotional content!
    This could be both humbling & intriguing!

    5.What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Only the stress that is attached to doing illegal work & the inability to discuss ones work outside of the industry for fear of prejudice & stigma attached!

    6.On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I like it, always did!

    7.What are your feelings about your customers?

    I treated my clients with respect & understanding!
    Most clients just want to explore more about themselves both sexually & psycologically!
    If they have power & control in their careers, they usually want this taken away, in order to get some balance!

    8.Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I no longer work in the industry actively, but write internationally to support sexworkers & get sexwork decriminalised!
    I left the industry because it was time to, my age was obviously a consideration too!

    My feelings are the same about the industry & have never changed, I am not a victim of my choices

    9.If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I was free to leave at any point. I did so, to explore other aspects of myself!

    10.Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I think that people should start to listen to those sexworkers who have a positive attitude to the industry & why!
    Sexworkers have alot of valuable & interesting information about sex & the psycological aspects to sex! In a way those outside the industry don`t, due to the veil of emotion attached to sex!
    Sexworkers mop up the excess of semen in this world, without which there would be more sex offending, therefore they are guardians of the family, rather than the bandits of family, as usually they are portrayed!
    Sexworkers should be respected for their contribution to society! Whilst sexworkers, especially females are stigmatised, this also affected all women, not just sexworkers!
    To truly honour sexworkers will affect societies attitude to all women, so all will benefit from such a change! Including those sexworkers who are exploited or abused! This is the only way to make some difference in societies attitude to sex & those in this industry in order to affect crime & offending behaviour!

  126. Alexa says

    Thanks for your response, Greta! In some ways, I suppose the issue is I don’t know exactly how to classify that sort of work, even in my own head. It has elements of both a regular table-waiting, and some of the elements of a more sexual job (revealing outfits, flirting with customers for tips, dealing with boundary violations from customers, and to some extent, the stigma and stereotypes that come along with the job, although I doubt it’s even to the degree as that of what an average sex worker must deal with).

    For now, I will sit back and listen! I really appreciate your thoughts, Greta. :)

  127. Noemi says

    Love all the stories so far. Thanks for creating this space.
    My story:
    I was living in a new city and had a low-paying job and was bored. I wanted to try escorting but was skeptical of the agencies I saw advertised because I didn’t know anything about them. I also wanted to try stripping but didn’t want to put a lot of money into bikini wax and nice lingerie and the like if it wasn’t going to pay off. So I started setting up my own appointments on CL. I didn’t charge enough but I made some money and I loved the thrill of meeting guys and getting the cash. I stopped working because I was raped (in a situation unrelated to the prostitution work I was doing) and was completely unable to work at this side job or my main job for many months. I changed my whole life after that and my recovery, and don’t do sex work anymore. But I would in the future if I felt like it and needed extra money. I have no regrets about it, only that I didn’t get enough experience.

  128. says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    (I needed the money)

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    (I did it on my own Free Will)

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?
    (Quick Cash)

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?
    (The money, companionship, and freedom)

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?
    (The uncertainty)

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?
    (For the most part I LOVE being a Sex Worker)

    What are your feelings about your customers? I LOVE my Clients. Without them there is NO me!

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    (I am retired, but I still dream about those wonderful sessions with my clients).

  129. Anonymous says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?
    I was curious and playing around on the internet and saw these hot women and thought “I could do that”… then this guy I was chatting with online told me how much camgirls made (this was the early 2000s when it was all still new). I basically put myself thru the last 2 years of college as a camgirl.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?
    I think that if I hadn’t needed money, I would have kept on doing it for free.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did? I would be lying if I said it wasn’t for money. If money were no object, I would have produced erotica rather than been IN it…well, maybe in my egotistical 20s, I still would have been in it, but I would have done things different if I didn’t need money.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work? The self expression and meeting interesting people online, and the naughty thrill of doing something secretly “deviant”

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work? – the occasional asshole men can really ruin it! For every asshole it takes about 10 nice guys to bring me back up. I also didn’t like that friends were so darn judgmental – webcamming is legal and not like I was invading their homes with images of my fetishy nakedness.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it? 10 years later, I feel pretty neutral. If you look at it one way, it looks desperate and immature and rather silly; another way and it looks adventurous and exciting and deliciously naughty.

    What are your feelings about your customers? I really miss some of the attention and the wonderful fans who would send me lingerie and gifts… I generally had positive experiences and liked the clients.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?
    Very much so! I did webcamming til I burned out (but I was burned out on college too, by the time I finally graduated!). Having alot of time “off” and matured more, I think about it alot more positively than I did when I left it. Time has given me more rose colored sunglasses on webcamming and my college experience, when really probably both were mediocre. I really wish I had not taken rejection and assholes so personally and that I’d had a thicker skin. I wish I’d not paid so much attention to the naysayers, and that I’d had more confidence in how nerdy I had to be to get such a high-speed streaming self-filmed video production set up on a budget!

    As much as I see that society has come a in the past 10 years so that webcamming/nude modeling is not such a big taboo… there is still a stigma when it comes to any kind of sex work – current or former. I’ve learned that it’s like being a blind person with a cane – nobody notices if you bumble around climbing mountains without the cane, but the minute they see that cane, you’re labeled and it’s suddenly a big deal if you climb Mount Everest (and people will doubt you did it yourself).

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have? I left it because I got a job that paid my bills, and I was totally burned out. I think it would be the worst feeling to have to continue to do any job while burned out, just for the money.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?
    There are MANY in society who cannot imagine women being capable of making choices about basic contraception, and there are as many on the other end who view sex work as inherently demeaning. Both sides are very vocal and polarized, and very similar to eachother in their objectification and dehumanization of sex workers.

    There also seems to be an unconscious assumption that women lose about 50 IQ points the minute they admit to doing or having done sex work, the more nudity or touching involved OR the more money, the more IQ points are deducted. Women actually seem to have this bias more than men.

    There is a certain cachet to having done it “old school” before huge corporations got so involved with the internet and before there were so many restrictions on what you can and can’t do. Before cell phones shot in HD. My biggest regret is not that I ever webcammed, but that I didn’t take MORE advantage of that great economy and of the unrestricted “wild west” internet more!

  130. says

    @ a Lady # 93

    Like you, I am out to anyone who asks, on a daily basis: my waxer, hairdresser, my friends and family, etc. It is on my OkCupid profile as well. I am proud of what I do. I’m not ashamed. I use my work as a litmus test for whether you’re worth fucking or hanging out with. If I tell you what I do and you balk or say something offensive or are otherwise put off, then I know right off the bat that I don’t want to hang out with you. On the other hand, this does mean that I get offensive emails from dudes who think it’s appropriate to send me one line messages such as, “do you really like to suck cock?” Mostly what I deal with being out are what many refer to as microaggressions, such as loaded questions, offensive statements or assumptions and the occasional asshole email where I’m called a fat whore or similar. I did a radio call in show on CBC and conservative MP Joy Smith called in and said that she didn’t believe the things I was saying about not feeling degraded or hating my work, and insinuated that my partner is my pimp. I love how she can just decide “not to believe me,” in order to further her own agenda (she is trying to push for the Swedish model here in Canada). No offense, Joy Smith, but I wouldn’t go on a provincial radio call in show (all of Ontario)using my real name and take all the flack that I take and listen to people’s bullshit if I was making it up.

    But for the most part, people are cool when I tell them. They’re more fascinated than disgusted and I really think this has to do with the fact that there is very little realistic (as opposed to sensational) coverage about sex work in the media and few of us are able to be out (I’m very privileged in that respect–I’m white, pass for hetero, pass for middle-class, university-educated and my family knows what I do–there are very very few repercussions for me being out). In my experiences, most people either don’t really think about prostitution at all, or if they have, they’ve only got some Pretty Woman idea of it all. I’m likely pretty biased in this respect as well, as the circles I frequent are largely women’s studies/criminology types who are usually familiar with the sex worker’s rights movement. However, in the few instances where I am out or open to people who are not part of these circles (e.g. I participated in the Human Library, an event where people could check out human “books” and talk to them one on one for 20 minutes), or the people who work at CBC or the folks who called in on the radio show, etc), my experiences with their reactions have been largely positive.

    I really think it’s important to be out if you are able to. As most people really have no idea what the sex industry is like or what working as an escort (or other sex professional) might be like. I think it’s important to challenge dominant stereotypes and inform people. Not only that, but not everyone has the ability to be out, and I like to use my privilege to tell the stories of those who cannot. They need to be heard just as much as I do.

  131. Caren says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I had friends who had done it, and I was intrigued. And I had recently come back to New Zealand from overseas, and was a bit shocked at how low the wages were. And, my partner’s friend started working for an escort agency and my partner (girlfriend/lover) was thinking of doing it too. Which she did… we both worked for the best part of a year. It was the late 1980s.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I freely chose it. But in terms of economics, well, there was definitely nothing else that paid as well. I mean, it was tons of money. Incredible.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Just knowing the woman who worked for that escort agency. A little later, I met women from the Prostitutes’ Collective and they encouraged me to work in a massage parlour instead. So I did stints of several months apiece in a couple of parlours.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    Loads of money. Sense of rebelliousness and outsiderhood. The very down-to-earth and straightforward communication and camaraderie with the other workers. Also, I learnt to be more sexually assertive and clear than I’d ever been in my life.

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    Escort agency work going to private homes – a crazy idea. You’re so vulnerable. I remember going to one house once that was out in the country basically, f***ing miles from anywhere. I was dropped off and left there for an hour. The guy was fine, but what if he hadn’t been? Too dangerous.

    Keeping it a secret from my family. That sucked.

    Long hours sitting around doing nothing on a slow day. Unpleasant clients sometimes – rude and unkind. Got ripped off once. Oh, and yeh, it was illegal back then! For the workers but not the clients! I didn’t get busted, but I know people who did.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    Liked and disliked. Maybe more dislike than like.

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    They were just guys. I remember some lovely ones, as well as a couple of nasty ones. Just guys.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    It’s over 20 years since I worked in the industry (and it was less than a year anyway). For a while after leaving I was very out about it, but now I’m not really – I have quite a middle-class job and I don’t feel like dealing with people’s weird reactions. That may be a copout. I’ve been doing some research into the history of the industry and sex-work activism recently and I keep wondering, should I go back to my old policy of being out to everyone? But I haven’t yet – only to friends and other former workers.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Yup, it was easy to leave – in fact all of a sudden, I just felt utterly that I had to stop. But I have never ever earned anything like as much money again!

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    In my experience sex work is much more work than it is sex.

    My sex-work jobs were often kind of a drag, the days felt long, and I would have preferred to be off writing, travelling or doing the garden. But I think most wage-workers feel much the same about their jobs. At least it paid heaps.

    There was nothing particularly horrific about it. The sex was kind of basic. Anyone who’s able to have reasonably emotionally uninvolved sex could do it. (Having said that, I love being married and having emotionally involved sex with just one person.)

    Sex workers are real people (I know I’m preaching to the converted here). They’re diverse, they’ve got brains, hearts, minds and lots of other interests and talents. They’re not victims. They’re not all sexual-abuse survivors. It’s like the clients being ‘just guys’ – sex workers are just people, too.

    Thanks for the opportunity to write this. I could go on!

  132. unknown says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    I was a 16 year old runaway from a dysfunctional and abusive home…

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    I guess you could say I freely chose it.. My friend told me I was 16 and couldn’t work, so I had to sell drugs or become a prostitute…She became my first pimp….

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    I always had a pimp, so of course I had to do what they wanted… Walking the streets (my first experience at 16), escorting (my fav), and stripping….

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I loved the money and how easy it was to get… That took care of everything I could ever want…I liked the attention, I felt beautiful… I was good at it…

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I always joined pimps with other girls, and I hated them, the jealous sk**ks. I also couldnt take the abuse from pimps… I have been raped and beaten…

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I loved escorting, I was so great at it….. I wasn’t a fan of the others… I did those cause my pimp told me to….

    What are your feelings about your customers?

    I didn’t feel anything about them, I just wanted their money… I know that’s mean but after a while you just go numb…

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    I have just recently left, I used to enjoy this but to be honest I had a baby with my last pimp and he s**t all over me… Verbally and physically abusing me… Just 2 weeks ago a john killed my friend… There are many reasons I have to leave this, I have 2 babies to care for….

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    I am free to leave but there are so many emotions keeping me around it…

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I have been doing this for 10 yrs… I have 2 babies (8 and 5, the loves of my life) and no one to help me because I put all my trust in my pimp….

    I was a young girl starting this and it slowly changed me into an uncaring and bitter person… That was never who I was…. I cried and had more heartache than anything….I always lied to myself, making myself believe it was where happinesss dwelled.. I now have nothing but clothes and a computer…..

  133. XinXin says

    I was hungry and impoverished. I had nowhere else to turn. I had recently moved to a new area of town and knew nobody that I could lean on.

    I prostituted myself. It was really easy to get customers but with more and more of this lifestyle I found my sexual self splitting.

    I knew what it was like to have loving sex, and a great deal of it, prior to my time on the streets hooking. So this was so devastating. I justified it. I told myself that I was a ‘sex workers rights advocate’ not knowing what that truly meant.

    At the time I thought that term would somehow help me but later I realised the great denial I was in. When I finally stopped hooking I knew that what I did, that fracture in my sexuality, needed to be repaired.

    I never trusted men. While prostituting, myself and my other friends on the street would cheat men out of every last dollar. This was the ‘business’ after all. I felt so guilty about that but that is part of prostitution. I hated men, as did all of the women I hustled with.

    So after almost a year of prostituting myself. I stopped because I didn’t have the financial oppression that once held me in that prison. I see prostitution as a prison. It takes young girls and women in, and spits them back out damaged and split.

    It took me a long time to go into therapy and a long time to recover. I considered myself lucky because, even though I refused to walk my old stroll, I would still see some of the same women out there, years later. I thought, ‘lucky lucky me.’

    In therapy I had to come to terms with why I prostituted myself and why I so foolishly believed that this ‘job’ was good for women and girls. Calling myself a sex workers rights advocate was just a label to help me think I was empowered.

    I recalled stories of women being beaten by their boyfriends/pimps if they didn’t get on the street. One woman I knew, who I was close to, lets call her J, had a nasty boyfriend who would turn her out, spot for her, and beat her if she didn’t do it. He was using her to finance his drug habit as well as her newly forming one.

    You see, I KNEW J before she became a hooker. I saw how silky her hair was, how blue her eyes were and how smooth her skin was. I saw myself too.

    After 2 years of J being locked in with her boyfriend she looked nothing like the beautiful woman I once knew. Her hair was a mat of tangles. Her skin was constantly picked at with red bloody blotches even on her arms, and her eyes were exhausted.

    After I went into therapy I didn’t see her again until I found out she got pregnant by her boyfriend and that both babies died shortly after birth from being malnourished and drug addicted.

    Yes, this was women’s rights. A woman’s right, my right and EVERY SINGLE woman I ever met on the street to downward spiral into the ground. Yes, ladies, that’s our liberation.

    I cannot speak of my experiences outside the political. I cannot speak of them without wondering what kind of world we’re making by continually telling ourselves it’s the world oldest profession and that we’ll feel empowered.

    I’m tired of being shouted down by so called sex positives who deny my sexuality because I disagree with them. I was a happy hooker alright. Happy when I had to switch all my common sense off just to survive and, when I could get out, that common sense came right back.

    I never said to myself as a girl ‘when I grow up I want to be a hooker, get slapped, raped, and spit on.’ That wasn’t my dream.
    To think that people talk these days as if that IS a young girl’s dream just frightens me.

    I felt unclean. All those men I had NO feelings for but had to say ‘yes’ when every pore in my body was saying ‘no!’ I got my common sense back as soon as I had a little bit more cash to live on. I got the hell outta Dodge.

    When I tell other women and men that they’re better than prostitution I get many incredulous comments. Like I said, I get labelled an ANTI and told I have no sexual desire. I get called a radical feminist as if that’s some sort of bad word. I even get told my so called sex workers rights advocates that I was obviously the wrong woman for the job as if it was some choice I had or that it even was a job. Imagine that, a bunch of so called sex worker rights advocates and male friends telling former prostitutes they were the ones that had the problem. You just couldn’t take the hitting and name calling like the pros can. If you can’t take the abuse with the best of them then you’re just never supposed to be there in the first place.

    I find some delicious irony in that.

    How can these people who call themselves sex worker rights advocates shout down ANY other former prostitute for telling a truth about prostitution? I really don’t see them as about rights at all. They’re just a group of middle class white women and men who, I think, are really about exploiting other women in prostitution. I think the reason they shout down the realities of this industry is because they want a piece of the industry but they don’t actually want to do it themselves. They just want the right to prostitute other women.

    Well, I’m glad I don’t abuse myself and abuse men anymore. Whatever sex I’m having is with a loving partner, even threesomes! My sex life is quite nice thank you very much. So I suppose when these *ahem* ‘sex worker rights advocates’ try to shame me I can just claim my authenticity, live well and fight so that other women and girls will never say ‘I never dreamt I’d become a prostitute when I was a girl.’

  134. Lady A says

    Why did you get into the sex industry?

    Haha, I never really intended to become a sex worker. I had just moved to New York by myself in a desperate mission to escape the drudgery of my home town. I had been working a pretty decent office job before but it made life boring, monotonous so I decided to move. I didn’t have a job and while searching the “etc” section craigslist I came across an ad that said “Dominatrix wanted: will train” and I thought to myself, “Well, I came here for something different, and I guess this is as different as different gets.” I didn’t really have any clue what it meant to be a domme, but I went in anyway. It was a rough start, but for the first time I felt like I was owning my sexuality, I felt powerful, beautiful, and confident and I just couldn’t walk away.

    Did you freely choose this work? Were you in any way forced or coerced into it? Were you pressured into it by economic or other pressure?

    Not at all. The economy is tough right now, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten into it (or rather, stayed with it) had I been able to find a high paying salaried job. Isn’t this how most people end up taking odd jobs anyway? I enjoy what I do, and in a way it’s become a part of me that I don’t care to let go of.

    Why did you go into the particular line(s) of sex work that you did?

    Gosh, lots of reasons. I’ve always had a fascination with the taboo, with sex, particularly forbidden and dirty sex and prodomming gave me an avenue to explore that in the sex industry without having direct sexual contact. I was also never comfortable enough with my body before to do something like stripping, so I guess it felt safer. Initially that was what was so appealing about it, but I’ve always been fascinated with the psychological aspect of domination. My background is in therapy, and domination definitely has a therapeutic aspect to it so being able to provide that service falls directly in line with my professional and academic passions.

    What, if anything, did/do you like about the work?

    I like people, and this allows me to connect with people (albeit strangers) on a much different level than anything most people would have the opportunity to. When I’m in session my client is submitting to me, mentally, physically, and emotionally. I get to see the deepest darkest secrets that these men could never tell their wives or their closest friends, and then I get to be a part of helping them act out that fantasy. Physically, I enjoy providing different sensations; everything feels different to different people. What a lashing is to one person is the same as being coddled like a baby for someone else. Everyone has different needs, and learning about that never gets old.

    Before I got into the sex industry, I would say I was pretty sex negative. I was scared of my own sexuality, I was nervous, I was definitely not confident in my own skin. I learned how to take control, to not be afraid of being dominant and to not only be okay with, but enjoy all aspects of my sexuality. A lot of a sex worker’s value comes from their physical appearance, which certainly has it’s downsides, but it also taught me the importance of taking care of and pampering myself. It’s not only about vanity, it feels good and having everyone encourage and praise you for pampering yourself is rather nice. The sense of camaraderie among the girls I work with is also unparalleled to anything else I’ve ever experienced. We take care of each other, encourage each other, and try to help each other learn. The experiences we are share are ones that few others will ever have the opportunity to, and I really cherish that level of friendship it fosters.
    Domination is a skill and an art form; it’s mentally and sexually stimulating. What more could I ask for in a job?

    What, if anything, did/do you not like about the work?

    I work for a really good house, so it’s a lot of fun but when I first started I didn’t, and it was awful. The girls were catty, competitive, and management didn’t care about our well-being. They only cared about money. They didn’t train anyone, most of the girls were doing “extra” stuff to make up for the lack of knowledge. Girls came and left on nearly a weekly basis but for the management it was all about having fresh faces for the clients, so the turnover rate and quality of performance didn’t matter. That being said, having personal boundaries often equated to walking out with no money. That was an issue with the place itself though, so it wasn’t the work per se, but it absolutely becomes part of the overall experience. It’s like any job though I suppose, the work may be the same but it depends more on where you work that dictates whether or not it’s a good job.

    On the whole, did/do you like the work, dislike it, or feel neutral about it?

    I love it!! Even after I stop prodomming I’m sure I’ll still be involved one way or another.

    What are your feelings about your customers?
    I like them for the most part. They are coming because they want to submit to me and they are their most vulnerable while we are in session, so I rarely come across someone who causes problems. I get the occasional guy who wants “extra” stuff, but usually one “no” is enough for them to drop it.

    Have your feelings about the work changed with time? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did your feelings about the work change after you left it?

    Absolutely. My first experience was terrible, and I didn’t think I would ever want anything to do with the sex industry ever again. But, I could never completely walk away and once I got in with the right people, those who were in the industry because they loved their work that completely changed.

    If you still work in the sex industry, do you feel free to leave it? If you no longer work in the sex industry, did you feel free to leave it? If not, what restraints did/do you have?

    Yeah of course! I’m a student, so this is really the perfect job. During my time between sessions I can study, sleep, hang out, do whatever I want plus they work around my schedule. It’s nice and quiet so I have ample opportunity to focus on my school work, and when I’m not doing my work I’m making money. It’s a win-win.

    Is there anything else you want people to know about your experience of sex work?

    I think that a big reason why sex work is so stigmatized is because it’s still taboo. My clients never tell anyone about their fetishes because they are afraid of what their friends and family would say if they knew. That being said, if people knew I was being paid to participate in this, that adds a whole new dimension. People have sexual needs; I have friends who are young and attractive who have no problem finding sexual partners, but they can’t find anyone who shares their same interests so that’s why they come to me. They’re not perverts, or messed up in some way; they are expressing their sexuality and taking care of their needs, something that most people don’t know how to do. We downplay so much the importance of our sexuality and sexual expression, and the sex industry provides an avenue for us to explore that in a safe environment with professionals who know what they’re doing. People who work in the sex industry are not whores, bad people, low-class, or dirty. We’re just like everyone else, we just do a line of work that the majority of people are uncomfortable with. The sex industry thrives because there is a demand for it; we’re here because they are.

  135. allofme88 says

    Why did I get into the adult industry? Did you freely choose this work?

    I got into the adult industry because I was desperate for money at the time. My jobs just were not cutting it, and I was barely getting by. Not to mention I was away from my baby for such long periods and when I was with him I was exhausted or had homework to do. I started off doing porn thinking there was a lot of money in porn but there actually not. So I got involved in a massage parlor and have been doing it for a year. At first I thought the money was great and it is. Although I have not been in the sex industry for years like others have I’m completely sick of it.

    It’s fast easy money. I mean really giving a massage and happy ending very simple. But, I feel like doing this I’m degrading myself. I loved it in the beginning my clients are great for the most part. As a woman it doesn’t feel right having another man that’s not my fiancé play with me in any way. Even if there’s no intercourse involved I just feel disgusted. I feel guilty that I had to come to this but right now no other job will pay my bills.

    At the same time when these men come to me they are all married and I just have the thought of…”right now I’m the other woman” and it feels awful.

    I’m not going to lie I’ve actually had sex with 3 of my clients (regulars) and have no clue why.
    The things that I once enjoyed sexually I don’t enjoy as much, or things that used to turn me on dont or it takes my body awhile to react. I’ve become immune for the most part.

    In the beginning I was so confident that all these men wanted me and loved the things I did to them to arouse them, now it’s just really lowered my self esteem and I’m an angry person. When I drink all this anger just comes out and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so angry and disappointed in my life,with myself. All for money.

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