A whore is born

On my way to buy fuck-me boots last night, I walk past one of Sydney’s best known brothels and an inexpressible ebullience wells up in me. A swell, a glow, a lightness, a secret knowing smile. It’s p. r. i. d. e.  I get to know what goes on in that brothel. I can see the warm smile she gives the customer as he gets out of the shower, looking at her a little sheepishly. The smile that is part and parcel of our technique for managing the booking. I can’t believe I get to be part of this unruly band of traitors-to-patriarchy, this group of people that I hold in such high regard. I am a whore. It fills me with love and pride and gratitude. Thank god, I am a whore.

The longer I whore, the more I realize how highly skilled it is. I watch in awe as the older, more experienced hookers hustle with sterling confidence. We have to know how to hustle, how to read and handle all men, when to soften and relax, when to harden and be a pushy bitch, how to stand up to brothel management, do a health check, employ a much more sophisticated understanding of safer sex, sell ourselves in the introduction or on the phone, work various niches/tropes, determine the right use of language, dress and euphemism, manage relationships with other workers, predict the impact of alcohol or various drugs on our client, manage their physical limitations and disabilities without shaming them, determine what the client is really after, monitor and protect our physical boundaries, get regulars, read a client’s ability to pay (and conduct all financial negotiations), subtly “train” clients to follow our lead, prevent work related strains on our bodies (e.g. RSI), control when he comes, get extensions and tips, connect and communicate with an incredible diversity of women and men with whom we may have almost nothing in common, find (or feign) intimacy and fun in a 30 minute interaction and finally to direct the entire interaction from “hi!” to “goodnight!” PLUS prevent burnout, educate community and friends, find appropriate, non-judgmental services, housing, health care and social support (part of resisting and managing ubiquitous social stigma and discrimination), avoid arrest(in criminalized environments) and have good sex. Amazing! I’m inordinately proud of these skills. They make me feel incredibly fucking smart and I can’t believe I’ve gotten to do this.

And that’s the problem. Since the financial crisis began I get to do it less and less. The sex industry has been slammed by the recession and no longer being the new girl, my income is down by over 60%. Ouch. I’m faced with much longer periods of time waiting for clients and fewer who can afford long bookings and extras. I love seeing clients and I hate sitting around the brothel so for me it’s a total disaster and I’ve been avoiding work lately. I’ve begun pro-domming (or “mistressing” as it’s called here) and have seen a few clients. It’s fun, easy, enjoyable. Amazing really—to see what’s on the inside, the flesh and muscle and bone hidden underneath our language and defenses. But again, there aren’t enough of them.

Alas, nothing gold can stay. So the gold-plated hooker has become a reg’lar working girl. Now I’m hangin’ round the brothel, tv blaring and the smoke hanging thick in the air, trying to read over the sound of American sitcoms where a month ago I was stuffing 50’s into my makeup case. So sad! I’m not yet sure what i’ll do but something will work out. For about one second I considered taking on non-sex work but what’s the point of that? Might as well just go home in that case. Plus the bar has been set high—what other work provides what I’ve gotten out of sex work?

Every time I work, there is at least one wonderfully strange or surreal moment that i wish i could share with friends. I’ve been thinking about posting more regularly—shorter, more frequent postcards from the brothel about these little moments and about shifts in my own sexuality. Here are a few:

I never know who I’ll be working with. Tonight I sit at the vanity in our dressing/staff room beside a heavy lidded Portuguese woman reading Tolstoy’s The Resurrection. Later I spot a Filipina woman i recognize from my first Sydney brothel. Also in her 30’s, she’s got long gorgeous black hair and a winning smile—both of which she needs to pay her $2000/month condo and hundreds of thousands in gambling debts. She estimates she’s gambled a million dollars away over her life. When she tells me about making $4000 in a week and then being unable to stop herself from blowing it all the next day, I am so stunned that I can only state the obvious: “wow….you really do have a gambling problem” and she nods her head vigorously. “I know, I know! That’s why I’m here.”

My first client of the evening is a Yugoslavian emigre named L. who’s celebrating his 35th birthday. “How old are you?” he asks me. “26” I say brightly (or did i say 27? I make it up nightly). The Australian sun is unforgiving and in this country I do actually look younger than my years. His brother has gotten him drunk then brought him here, all on his credit card. L. is still a bit drunk and awestruck so when we’re done he tells me that I ought to spend Christmas with him on his yacht with his family. He hates being the only one with no date since his divorce last year. “Of course we couldn’t tell them where we met!” he warns. “Mmmm” I nod. I tell him (honestly) about my Christmas plans and mentally start calculating whether he’s too delusional to become a private client. That is, whether he so invested in the fantasy of our apparent compatibility that he’ll be hurt when he finds out I’ll only see him for timed and paid sessions. In the end I get his number and contact him a few days later. (This is a major infraction of brothel rules and something that gets one fired instantly but since there’s no way for them to find out, we all still do it. As if you can stop us from making more money!) He’s keen but we’ll see if he’s keen enough to pay. And if it’s worth the hassle to gently manage his ego. It’s so much better when clients understand that they are your clients and that bringing money into it doesn’t mean we don’t like you—it just means we’re working! My therapy clients never expected that if i liked them i’d start hanging out with them for free.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

8 thoughts on “A whore is born

  1. I believe wordpress ate my last comment, so I’m posting again.

    I’m in love with this blog. (Yes, I know it’s only been one entry, but I tend to fall in love easily). You are a goddess of a writer…please tell me you are going to post here more than once a month. Seriously.

    Also, can I add this blog to my blogroll? In fact, I may have to write an entry sometime devoted to how fucking awesome this is.

    /end gush

    So, yes. Write frequently.

    Happy holidays!

    –Lindsay

    (P.S. if I end up actually being a good blogger again and posting interesting things on a semi-regular basis, I’d love to have you comment on stuff once in a while. Because I like hearing your opinions and such.)

  2. You go grrl. Love your writing and your insights. Really hear you about the client vs more stuff..its such an intimate space created in therapy and sex work that people can get confused, and maybe coz we “get” them and make them feel Sooooo goooood 🙂

    Sorry to her about your recent financial sitch, hope it picks up xx

  3. AHHHHHHH!!!!
    You’re soooooo amazing!
    I’m so blessed to have met you!
    Thanks so much for sharing your treasures with the world. I can’t wait to read more, to hang out more and be “chipper” together 😉

  4. Pingback: Blog Post: Mad skills « SWOP-LV NEWS

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