When I was doing brothel work, I had the BEST time. I was in my early twenties, working with my best friends and earning lots of cash. What wasn’t to love?
My first slog of brothel work was hard. I was working a ‘straight’ full-time job and then would do night (4pm to midnight) or grave (midnight to 8am) shifts at the brothel. I was tired all the time. I would go from the brothel straight to my day job where I would start at 8.30am. It was TOUGH, but I was chipping away at my debt, and it was the only way I could think of to get out of the hellhole of financial stress I was in.
After six or so months of this, I couldn’t see the point in my day job anymore. The pay was ridiculously low, my boss was annoying, and it wasn’t even the career I wanted to be in. So, I quit. And I started sex work full-time.
In reality, my idea of full-time sex work wasn’t full-time hours. I worked 2 to 4 shifts a week, depending on how much money I made, what bills I had coming up, and how much I could be bothered on any given day. It was the height of irresponsibility, but it was also really, really fun.
I would sleep most of the day and wake up just in time to have ‘breakfast’ around noon while watching Ellen on daytime TV. Then I would shower, put on my hot girl disguise and head to the brothel for my shift at 4pm.
I had the BEST time at work. I made such good friends (some of who are still my best friends today). Between bookings, we would hang out in the girls’ room watching trashy TV and eating piles of Vegemite toast (the only free food the brothel provided – it became my staple meal).
I can’t describe how much fun we would have – we would do each other’s makeup and play games like hide and seek when we got bored (yes, a handful of adult women would play hide and seek in a brothel… It was all fun and games until someone accidentally locked themselves one of the industrial dryers). When we finished at midnight, we would often head out for a drink or two at a local bar, laughing hysterically at the ridiculous things clients had said to us that night.
My life was like this for a couple of years – no real responsibilities, no commitments. Just a giant whirlwind of fun. And while I loved it and don’t regret it ONE bit, eventually it became really unhealthy for me.
No responsibilities and no commitments was fun to begin with. I woke up and went to sleep when I wanted to – alarms weren’t a part of my world. If I couldn’t be bothered to go to work one day, then I didn’t go. If I needed $1000 for bills the next day, then I would call and ask for an extra shift. I spent a lot of my time in my pyjamas and not in the ‘real world’. I had the most atrocious sleep schedule and a horrendous diet (I don’t need to tell you that toast isn’t a balanced meal).
Everything felt out of control – my financial situation, my relationships, my mental health. The fun lifestyle I had created wasn’t fun anymore. I thought I was living ‘the dream’, but I really just ended up being a hot mess.
I realised that if I wanted to achieve my goals (i.e., financial stability, good relationships, stable mental health), then I would need to create some structure in my life.
I dropped the evening shifts and switched to day shifts. I had always been scared to do this, because girls on night shift always seemed to make more money. The funny thing is that when I worked four days a week consistently, I made WAY more money than when I was working erratic night shifts and cancelling all the time. I went to bed at a reasonable time and actually went outside in the sunshine during the day. My sleep improved. I started exercising and taking control of my diet. I created a budget and financial goals and started saving. I made time to nourish the relationships in my life.
Having a daily routine allowed me to cultivate positive habits and prioritise self-care. Organised my time allowed me to build in blocks of time for things that were important to me. This routine was invaluable when I moved into escorting.
We always talk about flexibility and no schedules as positives of sex work, but we rarely talk about how these can be negative things. Humans thrive on routine, and being self-employed with no set commitments can be a recipe for disaster, especially if you’re not an intrinsically motivated person.
I’m not saying you have to follow a minute-by-minute schedule every day. Nor do I think you HAVE to work certain hours to get your life together. Everyone has different values – for some, it might be essential to be available at 3pm to pick the kids up from school, others might want to have 10am free every day to go to the gym. You have to figure out what is important to you and design your life around that.
You’re never going to get it 100% perfect, and I’m not going to pretend I have a perfect routine every day. But I have seen a massive change in my life by implementing a daily routine. If you are struggling to manage your finances, mental health, relationships and business as a self-employed sex worker, I encourage you to try implementing a daily routine. Grab a notepad and map out your ideal workday (or a week, if your days vary a lot). What would each day include? When would you wake up? When would you go to sleep? I want to challenge you to stick to a routine for a few weeks. Notice whether it impacts how much money you earn, the way you run your business and how you feel
Photo by Unsplash.
Disclaimer: I cannot, and do not, speak for all sex workers. I speak from my experience of working in a legal brothel and as an independent escort in Australia. Where possible I try to be inclusive. However, I can’t relay every experience of sex work – especially if I haven’t experienced it myself. This blog is for entertainment purposes only.