We’ve all had those clients. You know the ones.
“Do you live here?”
“Do you live alone?”
“How much money do you make?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Have you ever had a violent client?”
“What do you do for work?” (As if they didn’t just pay you money for your time)
“How do you date? You know, with what you… do?”
“Do your parents know what you do?”
It takes all my energy to not shoot back, “Do your parents know what you do?”
Of course, there are many different reasons clients ask these kinds of questions.
I’m sure some of them are just genuinely curious. When they step into the boudoir, perhaps they are overtaken by nerves, and their social etiquette and common decency goes out the window.
I’m sure some of them are just naïve and don’t understand that their questions are inappropriate. (I mean, why wouldn’t a sex worker want to recall her traumatic experience of a violent client while simultaneously trying to appear sexy and keep your dick hard?)
And then there are the clients who are malicious, manipulative, boundary-pushing wankers who know exactly what they are doing when they ask these types of questions.
Whatever the flavour of your client, it’s up to you to figure out how to manage these questions. Because you will get asked them. Again, and again, and again.
When I started sex work at 18 years old, no one told me that I should hold my cards close to my chest. I was honest and open. If a client asked me a question, I would tell the truth. I had never been in a situation where there would be a reason for me to not tell the truth before. As I jumped into sex work feet first without much research, I didn’t think about the consequences of what I was telling these men. I was young, and I was naïve.
My honesty left me open to manipulation from nasty, malicious boundary-pushers. Some clients take advantage of naïve, new sex workers like myself. And you will see these clients justifying themselves on review forums, saying they like new girls because they are ‘fresh’ and ‘not jaded’ like the more seasoned workers. Excuse me while I vomit.
I’m here to tell you to put the opinions of these sewer dwellers right into the bin.
Wanting to protect your personal information is not being jaded.
Wanting to keep a part of yourself just for you is not being jaded.
Implementing boundaries between your personal and professional life is not being jaded.
It’s being SMART.
And implementing these boundaries and protecting your personal life doesn’t mean you have to appear any less authentic with your clients.
After I was burned by nasty clients a few times, I became fiercely protective of my personal life. I was protective, but I was also ANGRY. I was SICK of these men constantly prying, constantly pushing, constantly wanting MORE from me. And so, when clients would ask me personal questions, I would SNAP.
“Do you live alone?” they would ask, and I’d quip back, “Why? So, you can follow me home and rape me and no one will find my body?”
“Do you have a boyfriend?” they would ask, and I’d quip back “Yes, and that’s actually none of your business.”
“What do you do for work? They would ask, and I’d quip back, “You just PAID me for SEX. I’m a PROS-TI-TUTE,” sarcastically articulating each syllable.
And I’d feel better, for a second. Maybe even superior. I couldn’t believe these ridiculous men were asking me these even more ridiculous questions. ‘How pathetic,’ I’d think as I rolled my eyes when they turned their backs.
And while these mini outbursts were therapeutic in a way, they also ended up costing me a lot of money. I know it’s wild, but after you sarcastically accuse a client of wanting to follow you home and rape you, they generally don’t want to come back for a second visit.
Yes, some nasty clients asking invasive questions to garner information to use it to manipulate you later. But a lot of clients are just anxious, awkward and suddenly naked in a room with a beautiful woman and they don’t know what to say. I’m not making excuses for their lack of social etiquette by any means (the bar is low enough as it is). But what I AM saying is that if you want to make money, you have to drop the attitude.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to tactfully answer questions about my personal life. I maintain my boundaries and protects my personal life while also maintaining my bank account.
How much you want to reveal about your personal life to your clients is ultimately your choice and depends on your personal situation. But, in my experience, it’s best to err on the side of caution. You can always tell clients more, but you can’t take back what you’ve already said.
I personally tell my clients very little identifying information about myself. I have found that there is a way to be personable without being overly personable. I do this by being warm and friendly, focusing the conversation on the client, and sharing small anecdotes about my life (e.g., a funny conversation I had with a friend or an interaction with a work colleague) without sharing the big details.
But, how should you respond when clients ask a personal question you aren’t comfortable answering?
Setting boundaries in any situation can be uncomfortable and tricky. And as sex workers, it’s even trickier, because we are trying to maintain this façade of intimacy. And disrupting that façade with the inconvenient reality of boundaries can mean losing a client. It can be a delicate dance, but if I can do it, so can you.