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:
I’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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