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Archive for the ‘Q & A’ Category

In the past few weeks I’ve seen a number of Facebook posts urging people not to wear offensive Halloween costumes, which got me thinking:  Are you offended when “amateurs” wear “hooker” costumes?

I think the problem with the whole “offensive costume” thing is that, like nearly everything nowadays, it’s so incredibly overblown.  I totally understand why people from marginalized groups (including, but not limited to, black people, Amerinds and sex workers) are annoyed and offended when people from majority social groups who have never done anything to help them (and indeed support political policies that hurt them) use caricatures of their identities as costumes; it feels patronizing and kind of dehumanizing.  However, I draw the line at telling anybody else what to do, and I would actively fight any kind of institutional rules telling people what they can and can’t wear.  If some clueless amateur couple wants to dress up as “pimp and ho” caricatures I will mock them, tell them they’re classless imbeciles, and probably even mute them on social media; however, I would not support some puritanical bean-counter telling them that they were not allowed to make asses of themselves thus.  I’m of the “more speech” school; in other words, I think the most effective way of shutting down offensive anti-sex BS is to lob it back harder, as I do when I mock the “dirty whore” myth by featuring articles about sky-high STI rates among amateurs and declaring that they’re a public health menace who should be licensed and regulated.  So if I felt really strongly about some nitwit wearing a “whore” costume, I’d respond by creating an even more over-the-top and offensive “amateur” costume.

The worst excess of the “offensive costume” controversy, though, is people telling little kids that they’re not allowed to dress up as heroes of different races for Halloween.  If a little white girl wants to dress up as Moana, or a little Asian boy as Black Panther, or a little black boy as Batman, no adult has the fucking right to say anything about it…and frankly, I think it’s arse-backward anyway.  If a little kid’s greatest hero is someone of a different race, I consider that a good thing, not something to discourage; it brings us one baby step closer to the day when we start judging people by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skins or the sounds of their surnames.  And if a teenage girl wants to dress up as a famous whore like Calamity Jane or a fictional one like Inara from Firefly, not out of mockery but out of admiration, I have absolutely no problem with that.

(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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Why, in discussions about monogamy, do you use the words “harm reduction” or “pressure valve” to characterize the act of seeing a sex worker within an outwardly-monogamous marriage or partnership?

Every person has the right to control their own sexuality and no one else’s.  What this means in a monogamous marriage is that if a partner (nearly always the wife) loses sexual interest, she has the right to refuse sex; she does not, however, have the right to stop her husband from procuring what he needs elsewhere.  But while this is ethically true, most marriage laws take a dim view of so-called “infidelity” even if the only alternative is celibacy.  And even in jurisdictions where the court isn’t supposed to consider “fault”, in fact many judges do, and a husband who is caught “stepping out” is likely to get an even shorter end of the stick than he otherwise would.  Furthermore, marriage is primarily an economic and social arrangement, despite the popular lie that it’s about love and romance; even a sexless marriage may have many benefits, and the husband may wish to remain with his family rather than weather the pain and upheaval of divorce.  So if he’s going to get his sex elsewhere, it’s better for all parties if he does so discreetly, from a qualified professional practicing safe sex who has no interest in him romantically and is highly motivated to keep his secrets, rather than from an unpredictable amateur with questionable hygiene who may get pregnant, become emotionally entangled with him, start making extracontractual demands and otherwise making a mess out of what should’ve been a simple business transaction.  In simpler terms, I call sex work a harm reduction method for monogamy because it is.

(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’m a 24-year-old gay male sex worker who recently got into a relationship.  My partner knows about and respects my work, but he wants to be monogamous and feels like we have to be in an open relationship because of my job.  I don’t mind being monogamous, but I enjoy my job and I don’t want to quit, but I truly want to be with this man because he is the most wonderful person I’ve ever met and has an emotional depth and maturity that is truly unparalleled.  I was wondering if you had any advice or personal experience/wisdom you could impart.

Whether or not you can make this work will depend largely if not entirely on whether your partner can understand that sex work is work rather than a recreational activity.  Notice I didn’t say “if you can make him see that…” or something similar, because although you can express the truth to him, you cannot make him accept it.  All you can do is to tell him that if he wants to be monogamous, you are happy to promise him that you won’t have any sexual contact with anyone else unless money is involved; after that, the rest is up to him.  You might also take a look at a couple of other columns I’ve written on similar topics; though they’re about hetero relationships, I honestly don’t think the dynamic would be all that different.  And if you find them helpful, you’re more than welcome to share them with him.  The most helpful column of all might be this two-part interview with my (now ex-) husband; even though we are no longer together, our separation was very amicable and had little to do with my work, and we are still good friends.  His insights on jealousy and looking at my work as an outsider might help to give your partner insight from another man who’s been there, and that might do more to help him than I as a female sex worker could ever manage.

(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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Distinctive

I’m very interested in sex work, but I have a rare (not contagious) skin condition.  In day to day life it can’t be seen under clothing, but when I’m nude it’s impossible to hide.  Because of this I don’t think I could successfully advertise my services without compromising my identity, and I’m concerned that there are some men who might be put off by the appearance if I dress to hide it in pictures.  Do you have any suggestions on finding men who would consider my marks an asset to my beauty, without compromising my privacy or boundaries?  I’ve also considered exploring long term arrangements where I would exchange both my emotional intimacy and sex for money and material items (I’m not too sure if there is a specific name for that).  Have you know any SW who leveraged unusual physical characteristics and were able to thrive in their careers?

One thing we learn in the sex industry is that anything which sets one woman apart from others will have its fans.  For example, my friend Buttons Berry is a little person, about four feet tall, and she supports herself quite well via escorting.  But though men are accepting of a wide variety of characteristics, they definitely want to see what they’re getting (and can get angry if they feel as though they’ve been “fooled”), so hiding your skin condition in photos might be a bad idea, and showing it could compromise your identity, since the condition is rare.  How would you feel about trying sugar dating on for size first?  That’s the name for the kind of compensated dating you’re talking about, and though it’s not as lucrative as escorting it’s “softer” in the sense that there is far less social stigma in being a sugar baby than an escort, and it’s not illegal.  You could make your public pictures clothes-on and mention your skin in the write-up, with pictures revealing more on a private page that men need your permission to get to (most sugar sites are set up that way).  That way you could get used to the work and see how men react, without spreading nudes all over the internet and potentially torpedoing your future “straight” career plans.  Plus, as I wrote a few weeks ago, this is a very uncertain time to be entering escorting, so I feel uncomfortable suggesting any new ladies enter that particular type of sex work right now.

(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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There’s one question I get far more commonly than any other; I am asked this same question (with slight variations) a minimum of several times a week.  Sometimes it comes by email, sometimes phone, sometimes text, sometimes Twitter and sometimes in person.  That question is, “Can you let me know when [you do whatever thing it is the enquirer is interested in]?” and the answer is always “no”.  The questioner most often wants to know when I’ll be visiting his city, or when I’ll be releasing a new book, or something like that, but I’ve seen some unusual variations.  Obviously, these people just aren’t thinking things through; apparently they’ve gotten used to automated notifications on their computers or phones which remind them of everything from doctor’s appointments to their kids’ birthdays to when to take a crap, and they don’t stop to consider that I probably don’t have access to such software.  I don’t honestly believe it’s the same syndrome that drives the “Debate me!” narcissists, because the notice-seekers are usually friendly rather than demanding and often want to be reminded so they can spend money on me, unlike the time-wasters.  Be that as it may, the logistics are still impossible; there’s only one of me and thousands of fans, and since I can barely remember things I need to do personally without Google calendar and automated billing, the chances of my remembering to remind other people who (no offense, y’all) are not members of my immediate social circle are essentially nil.  Fortunately, I don’t need to; I announce trips and such in my weekly diary columns (which usually appear on Tuesday, and occasionally on Monday or Thursday) and Twitter, so if you follow either this blog or my Twitter feed you’ll have all the notification you need…unless I forget to post it there, of course, but if that starts happening it’ll be indicative of a much more serious problem.

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I often get questions from women who are interested in becoming sex workers.  Sometimes they have specific questions, but more often they want general advice; you can find past questions like this in my Mentoring tag, or on my “Previously Asked Questions” page under “Mentoring”.  But while I was answering last week’s question I realized that I cannot in good conscience continue to advise young American women to enter full-service sex work (i.e. escorting or other forms of prostitution) at all until “sex trafficking” hysteria has imploded and the ramped-up persecution of sex workers, our clients, our loved ones and our associates has at last died down.  Every day I read stories of women being raped, beaten, humiliated, locked in cages and even murdered by cops who claim either that they’re “rescuing” us or “abating” us (like a disease).  Every day I receive communications from time-wasters and psychos, and read other ladies’ complaints of similar incidents.  Every few weeks another advertising site or escort service falls victim to a high-profile pogrom, and a constant stream of new surveillance weapons are deployed against us (and this doesn’t even count the shockingly-invasive amounts of information websites like Eros are demanding as a condition of carrying escorts’ ads).  On top of all that, I myself keep advising gentlemen to stick to contacting well-known and well-established providers, and to avoid unknowns; that’s excellent advice for them, but very bad for new ladies just getting into the business.  And while the vast majority of clients are probably unaware of my advice, it would be pretty shitty of me to help women get into the business while simultaneously warning men to avoid them.  No, I’m afraid that for the duration of the moral panic I’ll have to limit myself to helping those who’ve already crossed the Rubicon, while suggesting that those who haven’t consider taking up a branch of sex work that hasn’t been criminalized…yet.

(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’m an 18 year old virgin, barely making ends meet at my dishwashing job; I’m interested in making money with my body.  I’ve thought about stripping but I don’t think I have the body for it and I have self harm scars on my thighs; maybe porn or escorting might be another avenue to explore.  Would it be a good selling point that I’m a virgin?  How would I go about advertising that?

Since stripping and porn performing are more visual than escorting, you may be right about the latter being a better path for you than the former two.  I wouldn’t worry too much about the scars if I were you; I have some fairly noticeable scarring on my left arm, and I know a lady with pronounced Cesarean section scars, and both of us are quite popular escorts.  There are three things in your letter, however, which do concern me and you should consider them deeply before attempting to pursue sex work.

The first is your youth:  while 18 is of legal age and I’ve known some ladies (including me) who did sell sex at that age, the ongoing hysteria over “child sex trafficking” has made being so young a liability rather than an asset.  Advertising sites are going to subject you to extra scrutiny, webcrawling programs run by the government and its prohibitionist cronies will flag you for increased surveillance, and your local cops and/or the FBI may even target you for “rescue” (i.e. arrest and use as a propaganda subject) in one of their pogroms if they decide you might be underage or vulnerable.

The second is your use of the phrase “make money with my body”, which to me indicates you’ve absorbed some harmful myths about sex work.  What you’re doing now is making money with your body; unless commercial dishwashing is very different from the home variety, it doesn’t exactly require a lot of mental work.  Escorting, on the other hand, requires considerable emotional labor; creating ads, screening clients and building a brand also require a great deal of head work.  It may be that you’re up to the challenge; since I know nothing about you I can’t say.  But even some very bright people don’t really like expending the kind of mental and emotional energy necessary to succeed as an escort, especially in these times of vanishing advertising sites and increased screening difficulty.

The third is your virginity.  You didn’t say where you live, but your spelling and word use seem American to me.  So unless you’re planning to go abroad, the only way to openly sell your virginity without bringing down hordes of authoritarians attempting to “save” you from a sensible decision (because you’re supposed to give your virginity for free to some stupid, penniless boy who may inflict an STI or worse, a pregnancy, on you) is to make a deal with a Nevada brothel to market that, and they’ll take 50%.  Furthermore, none of the high-profile virginity sales of the past few years have gone well, which rather makes skeptical of the whole concept in the 21st century (though it worked well in the 19th and early 20th).  Furthermore, I don’t think it’s an especially good idea for a young woman who doesn’t even know how she’s going to feel about sex with men to try to make a living at it from square one.

My advice to you is this:  get a bit of sexual experience under your belt (no pun intended) before considering any kind of in-person sex work.  Try doing phone sex (there are some services such as Niteflirt which are quite popular) and see if you like that, then maybe move onto camming.  Do some research and talk to sex workers, and then after you’ve been doing the not-in-person stuff for a while you can try dipping into escorting if you still want to.

(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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