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Archive for the ‘Q & A’ Category

Last Friday, Dan Savage tweeted a question he’d received to get the opinion of several sex workers, namely Mistress Matisse, Mike Crawford and me (plus anyone else who cared to chime in).  The question itself is interesting, and I found it fascinating how much the answers diverged.  So although Dan already published the question and answers on his Stranger blog, I’d also like to feature it here:

man courting womanI’d appreciate your thoughts on a matter of sex worker etiquette and social boundaries.  Someone I’d describe as an acquaintance/casual friend recently let me know that she is working as an escort.  I’ve known her for a few years, and have always been more than a little attracted to her.  We dated very briefly when we first met and have had an intermittent friendship in the years since.  We’re close enough to talk about subjects like sex work and our mutually non-judgmental attitudes toward it, though this is someone I bump into fairly rarely—maybe a couple of times a year.  If there’s an appropriate and respectful way to bring up that I’d be interested in her professional services, I’d love to do it in the right way.  Or would you advise me to leave this alone?  We’re well enough acquainted that I could broach the subject in an in-person conversation or by text (as opposed to, say, booking an appointment anonymously and saying “Surprise! Remember me?”).  Any thoughts?  –  Friend In Favor Of Compensating For Benefits

My answer:  It’s a delicate one. If they had never dated I’d say it was pretty straightforward. But as it is she could conceivably feel awkward. My advice: He should tell her he’d like to see an escort and ask if she has any recommendations. Then IF she’s comfortable, she can volunteer her own services, and if not he’ll get a very good recommendation to another.

Matisse:  I personally do not accept people as clients if I’ve been friends with them socially. But that is partly because I’m a dominatrix and some fantasies and D/s rely on a certain level of mystery and distance. Definitely via email, NOT in person. Tell her it’s cool if she doesn’t feel comfortable. And accept it will change things.

Mike Crawford:  “How’s business? Are you taking new clients? Would you be open to seeing me professionally?” Best approach I can think of. As mentioned, the prior relationship could make it awkward. As any client should, if she declines to see him, FIFOCFB should accept that graciously.

Lara Belle:  I would choose one of the zillion other SWs where boundaries are not an issue. The question can be broached: “Are you open to seeing clients who are part of your personal life,” etc., but don’t even go there at all if he expects her to keep it a secret and have a whole range of new pressures forced upon her with her other friends/acquaintances.

Conner Habib:  Yes, he definitely has the right to ask! But I want him to ask himself why he’s asking, too! I’d ask: Out of all the escorts in the world you can hire, you chose one whose boundaries may be problematic for you and would need negotiation. What does that tell you about yourself? Self-investigate & move on.

Rosemary Lashes:  I had a friend ask this of me when I came out and frankly I find it insulting. For me, I want compartmentalization. I do not mix business/clients w friends. It complicates too much, and $ creates power dynamics regardless of intention.

Ava Grace:  Definitely don’t surprise her with a booking without notice. But considering the history of the friendship you can always ask the question. If she’s not ok with it she will say no. And you need to be prepared for and ok with accepting that no if it comes. Good luck.

Daddy’s Princess:  It would be awkward to see him professionally & maintain a friendship.

Melodie Nelson:  Sex -paid for or not-can change relationships. But he should ask simply. No more stigma 1 day.

Sensual Muse:  IMO no on this-personal life is sep from work: 2 mix risks never having down time.  it’s personal I think…just my boundary pref. no clients in personal spaces

Mandy Mitchell:  every SW is different but to me the “used to date” part gets a little dicey, there are plenty of other pros to seek, always

Sophie Darling:  I NEVER EVER mix business into my personal life. Just my MO though…

Buttercream Bombshell:  My view is to face to face express interest politely and let her decide.

Violet Baudelaire:  IF she says yes, he needs to realize that all her normal work rules still apply, even though they know each other.

There were also a good number of conversations on the topic; Matisse especially had some good discussions with a number of the respondents, as you can see by following the links.  It just goes to show you:  everyone’s different, and on matters of sex work etiquette there’s sometimes no one “correct” answer.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Ordinary Men

Not long ago you linked to a piece about what sex workers want from their clients, and I was deeply depressed by it because of the very low bar for client behavior that it seemed to set.  I cannot imagine showing up dirty, nor behaving meanly unless I were greatly provoked.  Is that so terribly unusual?  What is the percentage of clients who are honest and courteous men?  I grew up as a “local” in a coastal resort community, surrounded by wealthy retirees and summer vacationers, and spent several years in retail there.  Some of these people were outright asses, some were oblivious or self-absorbed, and some were kind and interesting people.  Is it really as simple as that?  To some extent, is all service work the same?cartoon guy

In a word, yes.  The clients of sex workers are neither paragons of humanity nor the cartoon villains imagined by prohibitionists; they’re just ordinary men.  I would say that the fraction of them who are really awful is extremely small; the majority are polite and honest, and anything they do to offend is mostly unintentional (born of social awkwardness, poor habits or a bad sense of sexual boundaries and/or practices).  That having been said, it’s a well-known observation that the less a guy pays, the more he wants; girls who charge less probably see a lot more misbehavior than those at a higher price point.  I don’t think that has anything to do with wealthier people having more “class”; you and I both know that rich people are very often boorish, rude and unpleasant, and poor people are very often polite and gracious.  No, I think it has more to do with the fact that the more people pay for things (and that includes experiences), the more they value them; nearly every whore I know has remarked that men who pay here usually treat her much better than those she dated for “free” before starting her career.  Furthermore, I’ve noticed that as I’ve aged, the clients have become much more polite and respectful; part of that may be that older men are on average more mature and better understand how to treat a woman, and part may be that my own presence has developed to the point where it silently demands more respect.  Nobody’s ever done a survey, but I suspect that younger sex workers, inexperienced ones and those who charge less see a lot more misbehavior from clients than older ones, those who charge more and those who have the self-assurance that comes with years of experience.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

 

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I am a retired madam who used to post often on a well-known review board; I knew quite a few escorts fairly well, and some even worked with me while visiting my city.  But when persecution of sex workers increased, my nerves were shot and I retired; that was five years ago.  I thought I had enough to retire on, but a few months ago I lost a lot of money in bad investments, and now I find myself needing a source of income again.  Although I am no longer interested  in taking on the all-consuming responsibility of an agency, I would be very interested in becoming a booker/screener for another agency or for a number of independents.  I have tons of experience, intuition, and good judgement, plus actual empathy for the women I worked with.  Do you have any suggestions on where and how I could get established in this business?

gatekeeperI’ve met several ladies who work as bookers & screeners, and some of them do quite well.  Personally, I wouldn’t approach an agency; instead, I would look for independents who would be willing to pay you a fee for every completed gig.  After you get a few happy customers, I think more will come looking for you; it’s the first few that are going to be the hardest.  Do you still have a presence on any escort advertising/review boards?  If you do, you could contact the owners or moderators and ask if they’d mind if you advertised your services there.  You could also call or email the ladies you know, and pitch it to them; you might even advertise on Twitter.  It’s even possible you might get some business advertising on Backpage, and Aphrodite knows many of the ladies who advertise there could use an experienced assistant; however, as we all know that site is crawling with cops, and I’m afraid you might be setting yourself up to be targeted by predatory “detectives” looking for a big “sex trafficking” bust to add to their resumes.  It may take you a little while to get this rolling, but once you do I think you’ll not only have a very decent income, but also help a lot of our younger sisters to stay safe.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Amateur Night

I’m a 33 year old man who was the victim of more than 20 years of physical, emotional and non-penetrative sexual abuse; as you might imagine this has impacted my sexuality in pretty negative ways.  But thanks to more than a decade of therapy, I believe that I have put the most of the worst behind me and I would like to lose my virginity.  I respect prostitutes a great deal, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t want that as my first experience.  I could go out and get a girlfriend (I’m actually quite comfortable with women), or I could attempt to have a one-night stand, though I don’t know the first thing about doing that.  I could go back into more therapy, but at this point I’m leaning towards doing the deed itself being the best form of that.  I would appreciate any assistance you might possibly render with your wisdom and experience in this field.Amateur Night

There’s nothing wrong with taking the slow, socially-approved route of getting a girlfriend and losing your virginity to her, provided you

A) aren’t in a rush;

B) are reasonably sure you won’t have any extreme reactions if she accidentally does something that triggers a traumatic memory; and

C) don’t really care about the quality of the sexual performance itself.

If, however, you feel a sense of urgency about this, like you “need” to lose your virginity right away, it’s probably much better to get a professional.  With a pro you can control the time and pacing; it will happen when YOU are ready, not when an amateur decides she’s ready.  And while navigating the dance of consent and the give-and-take of a romantic relationship is probably something you should learn at some point in the future, learning it right now, at a time when you aren’t yet sure you’re completely over your trauma yet, might be more than you can handle.  Furthermore, I’m a little uncomfortable with the way you say, “go out and get a girlfriend”, like “go and get takeout food”.  It makes it sound like you plan to use her to lose your virginity, and then…what?  What if you have a traumatic reaction, as I touched on above?  What if you get really needily-attached to her, or have a bad experience and reject her?  While those are things an adult woman should be able to handle, it’s just not ethical to dump your garbage in someone else’s yard without her permission, and frankly, most amateurs really have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to dealing with any sexuality more complicated than the typical vanilla “love” or lust-based interaction (which is why their STI rates are so damned high).  To me it’s a lot more honest, ethical and sensible for you to pay a seasoned professional (choose one who has a long internet history and a reputation for patience) for a multi-hour session, take her to dinner, get to feel comfortable and tell her about your issues so she can be ready.  Once you’ve got that troublesome first time out of the way, you can decide how you want to proceed in the future.  But given that most amateurs are barely even competent to give an untraumatized person a decent first time, I think your reticence runs counter to your best interests.  At one time it was quite normal for young men to have their first experiences with a whore; the modern preoccupation with amateur initiations is based in foolish romanticism, not good sense and a sober analysis of what would provide the best results.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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What do you think makes for a healthy sexuality?  I’m a 26 year old professional and have a much higher libido than most other people I know.  I’ve had many partners who have been satisfying to me in many different ways, but I have often felt baffled by my intense level of sexual pleasure and excitement.  I’m not afraid of my sexuality, but how does one go about understanding something so powerful?  Does it require study?  A good partner?  Much of the time I feel that my sexuality is offensive to some people, particularly other women.  How do you deal with jealousy from other women?  Do you feel that it is important for a young woman to control her sexuality in some way?

First of all, I want you to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you; in fact, many women are troubled by having the opposite issue from you, a low sex drive  (and pharmaceutical companies are trying to capitalize on that).  I hope you never feel that you need to suppress your sexuality, especially not to make other people comfortable; it’s a large part of who you are, and if other people are bothered by it that’s their problem, not yours.  Now, obviously I’m not telling you to run wild and do whatever you feel like regardless of consequences; as ethical people we need to be aware of how our actions might harm others, and we need to respect others’ boundaries and to be up-front about our motives and intentions so they have the information they need to make valid decisions about consent.  But as long as you are honest and open with potential partners about your intentions, desires and needs, and refrain from pushing clearly-expressed boundaries, you have absolutely no cause to feel ashamed.

Now, it’s true that some other women may react to you with jealousy or competitiveness, but in my experience that usually happens when an attractive woman only pays attention to the men in the room.  I’ve found such reactions can usually be minimized by friendliness, openness and paying just as much attention to the women around you as to the men, thus counteracting the perception that one is trying to be a “queen bee” and monopolize all of the male attention.  Now, I have the advantage of being bisexual, and therefore at least as interested in female sexual attention as male (and maybe just a little bit more).  You didn’t mention whether your sexual interest is confined to men, but even if it is being friendly and platonically affectionate with the women in your social environment will go a long way toward defusing jealousy.  Some people are going to be judgmental of you no matter what you do, but I’m afraid there isn’t much you can do about that, and it would be the same even if you were as prim as a nun; as the expression goes, “Haters gonna hate”.

I wish I could tell you how to go about understanding your sexuality; I’ve been wrestling with trying to understand mine since more than a decade before you were born, and I still haven’t made a lot of headway.  I think sexuality is less something to be understood, and more something to be experienced, explored and accepted.  We still don’t really understand why people’s sexualities manifest in the myriad ways they do; for example, I’ve been attracted to both sexes and fascinated by bondage, dominance and submission since I was a wee lass, long before I had any actual idea of what “sex” meant.  Why?  I never experienced any kind of childhood trauma that might have “perverted” my development, and I can’t recall a time I was any other way.  In high school, I knew a pair of identical twin brothers: one was straight and the other gay.  How in the world could that happen, when they were genetically identical and raised in the same home?  Yet it did.  My advice to you is to accept your sexuality as an intrinsic part of yourself, just as you accept your preferences in food, clothes, entertainment and everything else.  Don’t let anyone tell you that a high libido, a large number of partners and/or enjoyment of kinky activities are signs that something is wrong with you, and whatever you do don’t succumb to pressure to conform.  The intense level of pleasure you can experience is a precious gift, and when one is given such a gift the only gracious and proper reaction is to accept and enjoy it.queenkatherinesdream

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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Diary #311

It looks like things are getting busy again for me, and probably will be for the next month or so.  I’m going to the Desiree Alliance conference in New Orleans from July 10th to 15th, so if you live in the Big Easy and want to see me professionally you need to speak up pretty soon.  I have a two-day gig this week and a three-day gig the weekend after next, and a bunch of other stuff mixed in between now and early July (including a much-anticipated beauty procedure today).  The interviews also seem to be ramping up again; a couple of weeks ago I talked to a reporter from Michigan for this story, then last week local reporter Sydney Brownstone for this one.  On June 2nd, I appeared on Jeff Richardson’s podcast:

Then on Saturday, I spoke to an ally (who used to be a politician, of all things!) about client criminalization for an article he’s working on for a mainstream publication.  Finally, I’m going to be doing some more filming on the documentary project, and I hope to be doing at least a couple of more photo shoots for the nudes project before the summer is out.  And that’s just the stuff I know about now; if you’ve been reading for a while, you know things can change awfully fast, and for all I know I could be running hot all the way down until autumn.

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Do you still feel Gina and P411 are dangerous?  I disabled my p411 account because I am still worried, but I do not really know how to screen clients so I am wondering how I should go about it.  I live in a city where the cops target escorts frequently, and though I have never been arrested for prostitution, I have been in trouble for other things and cannot have any legal issues from this.

lady scientistI don’t think you need to disable your account; however, I wouldn’t assume any guy from P411 is automatically good, either.  I’ve written about screening a number of times; my personal favorite method is asking for references.  If you don’t trust references, there are other means of screening including  Date-Check, a helpful whitelist with a better track record than P411.  I’ve also written about several other methods, and here’s a good resource list compiled by a provider in New Orleans.  You should also look at the posts in my mentoring tag; some of them may make you nervous, but it’s better to be prepared.  And one final thing: if at all possible, get in touch with your local SWOP chapter.  This can be a very isolating business, and connecting with other local sex workers will not only help you to stay safe, but may also help you to find peace of mind and emotional support.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

 

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