Crossing Borders: Sex Work in the U.S. and U.K.
When I got into sex work as an insecure, chunky 18 year old, I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought it would be like.
I had heard things, of course, and seen things- the usual ideas of either upper class escorts in designer suits dining in fancy hotels, or low class streetwalkers being pimped out to pay for their drug habits. I knew as a zaftig girl I was never going to be the upper class type, and, lacking a drug habit or the ability to submit to someone else, figured being a pimp’s ho wasn’t for me either. But there was no information, really, on the in-between. Not that it stopped 18 year old me for an instant, as I was adventurous, slightly impulsive and obsessed with understanding all I could about human sexuality.
I waited until I moved to San Francisco to really give it a go, however. Starting with erotic massage, I quickly bored of that, and when I saw an ad on Craigslist for a professional Dominatrix, I jumped at the chance. I was interviewed and accepted, but it didn’t take long for me to feel disenchanted with the underground dungeon and the stockings and pumps dress code. Working in a house meant that the Mistress of the House had to like you, or you’d never get recommended to clients- and, as a plus sized girl who knew a lot about kinky sex, she didn’t like me much. I imagine she didn’t think I’d last long in the world of whoring. Anyway, I stayed for a month- irritated by the lack of work, the high-feminine horror of how I had to dress, and the fact I was expected to follow the client’s scripted fantasies, I quickly decided to strike out on my own.
As an independent sex worker, life improved drastically. Suddenly I was getting all sorts of calls, from all sorts of men, attracted to my light-hearted text and geeky girl-next-door looks. I did fetish modelling, I did my first adult baby scene, I spanked, tied up, and scolded men. Some clients looked terrified, others looked bored as I learned how to engage a stranger for a couple of hours while making it look effortless. I learned how to enjoy a hot tub while keeping your makeup and hair perfect. I learned that yes, you can indeed get paid for a man rimming you for an hour. The more freedom I had to engage with my clients on my terms, the more I began to enjoy it.
Still, sex work (any lewd act for money, actually- figure out what THAT means) is illegal in California, so every call I received, every appointment I had, arrest was a possibility. As I did my eye shadow, my armour for the encounter, I would recite my rights, just in case. And I got very, very good at figuring out where a client might be able to hide a weapon, or what was in the hotel room that I could use to protect myself if a client went mental. I knew I wouldn’t have the protection of the police if I was assaulted at work (unlike in the UK), and in fact would risk my own arrest if I called them. My wariness served me well, and as I continued to work and continued to be safe, I went from tense to relaxed and confident. I wonder how many of my clients knew that under my smile I was calculating how I would take them in a fight.
There were phone calls, too, from wannabe clients I had spoken to on the phone and felt uneasy about so had refused to see. One man told me I was a fat cow and he didn’t want me anyway. Another stalked me online and via text for 6 months, saying things like “isn’t it interesting how many hookers are found dead each year”. He tried to friend me on Facebook- obviously, I refused. That sort of harassment was just part of the job, I figured.