Sex work is an amazing journey and one I’ve been on for almost nine years. It can be rough, brutal, inspiring, easy, transformative, heart-breaking and simultaneously empowering and disempowering in the same breath. I’ve worked in agencies and gained my own personal agency as a woman and sex worker. I’ve worked in brothels and also run my own business where I am in complete control over my branding, marketing and clientele.
I get emails frequently from women and men curious about entering the sex industry and often wonder whether they can hack it in the long term mentally, emotionally and physically. Being on the forefront of humanity and entering and being entered by other people on a primal level can take it’s toll. It also has its downsides as anything does. You can’t have the champagne and the hotel suites without a few hiccups or practicalities along the way.
20 Things You’ll Never Hear About Being a Professional Sex Worker
You’ll develop either a depressed or super human immune system. From kissing to swapping spit, touching genitals, pre-cum, cum, girl squirt, fingers in orifices and people touching you – you come in contact directly with a huge range of people from all walks of life. Be prepared to get hooker flu or ride out the winter season safely assured you’re probably immune to all the current viral strands. This doesn’t make you immune to STI’s though. You’ll learn your body IS your business, so the safest sex you can provide whilst keeping your economic goals in mind is healthier for you and the community. You’ll either develop an external outside of work bareback/cum fetish or be so paranoid fucking someone without a condom that you’ll take 50m of plastic wrap where ever you go.
Your social life will suffer.Two options. You’re too stressed keeping a massive secret from your friends, family, partner and community to really engage because you’re worrying your secret will get out. If you are open, you’ll be paraded around a party as “Look! My Friend is a Hooker!”. Suddenly your night off is spent answering 100,000 inane and ignorant questions that are deeply offensive and personal. Cosimawhore said it best.
Your personal relationships will suffer. Either you’re in the “too hard” basket or someone is just wanting a free fuck, or you’re so exhausted that a little bit of alone time is more satisfying.
If you’re working privately, sex work can be very alienating. You’re 24/7 in hotels and apartments or strange clubs either waiting or doing admin or seeing clients. Touring can be isolating. You’ll be grateful for the interstate and international contacts of sex workers when you get cabin fever, or friends. Don’t shit on the sex worker community, they will be your lifesaver when you least expect it.
If you’re working in a brothel – be prepared for some of the most competitive and catty environments you’ve ever encountered. Whilst most are good, sex workers are tough and astute creatures, and you will be sussed out. When in, they’re the most amazing community on earth. When you’re arrogant, self entitled, undercut or steal other workers clientele in addition to creating a negative working environment, you will be targeted. Also, don’t underestimate jealousy.
You’ll develop a foul mouth and an ability to get offended at nothing.
Get ready to earn nothing. Sometimes for weeks and months at a time. Even if you’re at the top. People imagine the sex industry to be this never ending pot of gold. It isn’t. You have to fight for your clientele and earn the right to keep them. You’re also a subcontractor or business owner. There is no guaranteed income. You can go to a brothel or strip club and hang around for 12 hours and earn NOTHING because you didn’t get a job. You don’t get paid for turning up, advertising, answering your own phones, soliciting. The only time you get paid is when a client hands you the money.
There is no annual leave, no holidays, no sick leave. If you’re sick, you’re relying on whatever acorns you have squirrelled away. Your body is your business and there’s no boss to cover your arse if it fails.
Sex will invade your life, your talk and your mannerisms. If you’re not physically fucking, you’re often booking or talking about appointments. You’re researching. Connecting with industry peers on advocacy or security or advancement. Counter that with the million questions from the public if you’re willing to have a public sex worker profile. It will drive you loopy.
Be prepared to be rejected, constantly. Especially in brothel/agency scenarios where you’re in a line up or being picked from a bunch. You’ll get dissected online and offline on every inch of your body from your feet to your hair to the size of your body, breasts, genitalia and facial features. Suck it up princess/prince, if you cry you’ll have puffy eyes and then you’ll really earn no money.
You will set and break and reset and break again every sexual boundary you ever considered. You’ll set personal and work sexual, emotional and mental boundaries. You’ll get bored or have a glut in work and quietly cross them too for the money.
The hours. If you’re in a brothel/agency you’re looking at 8-12hr shifts with no guarantee of money. If you’re private and setting your own hours, you may find yourself attached to a phone/email/online and spending insane amounts of time for every booking.If you’re touring, you may find yourself never seeing daylight for days or weeks until you’ve got enough cash to fly home or make the rent.
The dollar fee you set privately is often not what ends up in your pocket at the end of the day. If working for someone else, it’s often split. If you’re private, you still have to pay out advertising, clothing, supplies, phones, internet, drivers, security, rental (hotels and private) plus tax.
If you’re not careful, the erratic hours can play havok on your diet, body, sleep patterns, energetic and drug/alcohol intake – often to your own detriment mentally and physically.
If the work stress isn’t enough, people will blame any mental health issues on your job. Psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors will project their own sex industry judgements upon you so that work is the issue, but the myriad of problems you face as a complex human being outside of work is irrelevant. Obviously sex work is the problem. Be prepared for people implanting false memories of sexual abuse, over complicating family relationships and heightening or rehashing any child or adult trauma. YOU ARE THE VICTIM. You don’t know your own mind obviously do you? If this is the case, feel free to have an epiphany and ride off into the sunset in a different gig with new sex of complexities.
Remember the pet you had when you were a kid that you tugged, half buried, wrapped up, carted everywhere, accidentally squished? That’s you but with adult human beings and it’s your body their playing with clumsily. Be prepared to be scratched, bitten, tugged, pounded, clawed at, sucked at and slobbered over.
Be prepared to develop as a professional sex worker from point 16 into being a professional sex educator. Three (or one) strike rules apply. It’s not a matter of aggressively saying no, which can escalate a situation. You will have to educate strangers about your own body, their own and how to manage other peoples bodies in a non-harmful way.
You will at some point int he current global political climate of sex work, be an illegal worker. You have no rights. Get used to screening, aliases, vulnerability and corrupt political systems. If you just decided to work a “normal” job for lower pay, you’re fine obviously. As we all know, sex work isn’t work.
You will be a target for media and police if you’re not media/legally savvy, have contacts or you’re dead. In their eyes you’re just a prostitute, stripper, porn actor/actress or deviant whose systematic cultural abuse and targeting is entirely defined by your choice to work in this environment. Obviously it isn’t their fault working conditions are subpar and sex worker stakeholders in policy making are the minority, whatever you did or whoever you are outside of that moment as a victim of crime you will be defined by your sex work choices.
It’s one of the most incredible and rewarding jobs in the world when you keep yourself, your clientele and your working environment healthy when you’re allowed the freedom of decriminalisation and recourse to access services like any other worker. It will change your life and it’s one of the few jobs that will make or break you. If you survive, you’ve learnt a skill that will outlast any deconstruction of civilisation.