Today I’m talking to Summer Choi, a 28-year-old sex worker from Brisbane, Australia. Summer describes herself as an “Oriental luxe companion” who was introduced to the industry by her LGBT friends. We touch on a bunch of topics, including:
Amelia: Hey Summer! Could you maybe start by just introducing yourself to the readers?
Summer: I’m an Oriental escort provider in Australia. I’m mainly based in Queensland.
Amelia: Awesome, and how long have you been in the industry?
Summer: About seven years, I think? My LGBT friends introduced me to “client-ing” for extra $. I finally made it an official business 4 years ago.
Amelia: That’s such an interesting introduction to the industry! I’ve never heard of the term “client-ing” before. Could you explain that a little?
Summer: [laughs] I really don’t know where they got that term. It just fit at the time.
Amelia: It sounds like you have some great friends. So, what sort of sex work do you do at the moment?
Summer: At the moment, I offer a companionship-style girlfriend experience. I started as a half-service provider before I became a full-service provider.
Amelia: Oh, like erotic massage type of thing?
Summer: No, more like outcalls doing short quickies such as hand jobs and blow jobs. I just wasn’t ready for full service yet.
Amelia: Got it. What caused you to take the leap into full service? What was that decision like?
Summer: Once I became comfortable with my own booking procedures, I decided to give full service a try. Of course, the first try was awkward, but after a few trial-and-error bookings, I finally found my own way until I raised my rates.
Amelia: That makes sense. I had a similar period when I first started working privately – I didn’t offer full service for a while until I got used to managing everything myself. It can be a tricky learning curve. Now that you’ve found your feet, where do you see your career in the industry heading?
Summer: I see myself working for maybe another five years. Then, I may retire. If Queensland laws change to decriminalisation, then maybe I’ll continue, but I don’t they will any time soon. I just pray that my peers are able to work in a safe working environment.
Amelia: Yeah, the laws in Queensland are pretty rough. Readers outside Australia might not know, but the laws around sex work in Australia vary state by state. That means that each state has different laws, and the state of Queensland, in particular, has some pretty bizarre laws. Which laws do you feel impact your business and safety the most?
Summer: There’s a few. One is that it’s illegal for two or more providers to work in a hotel at the same time. This applies even when the providers are working alone in separate hotel rooms, not knowing they are in the same hotel as another provider. As I use hotels for incalls a lot, this gives me the most anxiety. There’s also a law that providers can’t call each other to let each other know the details of their bookings. I’m face-in (my photos don’t show my face), so calling a family member who doesn’t know my work would be detrimental to my relationship with my family. At the same time, it’s illegal for me to call a peer and have them be my safety person to check in with right after a booking. There’s also a rule that providers cannot share drivers. In fact, you can’t have a driver, even if it’s a personal friend, unless they are a licensed security person. Having someone physically outside the booking is merely for security. Queensland is basically saying, “you’re welcome to do sex work, but screw your safety, so you won’t have to depend on sex work.”
Amelia: It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? The laws in Queensland are so outdated and not helpful to sex workers at all. It’s always struck me that the laws seem to target the most marginalised workers as well, which is really disappointing. In terms of running your business as an escort, what is your overall approach to marketing and branding?
Summer: I experimented, branded and rebranded until I was comfortable with what I had created and the clients I was attracting. To get to this comfortable level, I had to, of course, start at the bottom ladder, where I was just trying to survive. I was working to pay personal bills, family bills, loans and university debts. I swam my way through different customers, bookings and screening systems. I had worked my ass off to the point where I decided to rebrand my overall visual image and booking policies. I wanted to be able to be more selective in my clientele. I think I have had to rebrand three times? Now I feel that I am more comfortable with my brand, and it suits my lifestyle. I’m able to have an intensive screening process, be selective in clientele, save for the future and still have leftover to be able to donate to peers who are surviving through tough circumstances, particularly during COVID. We all came from the bottom. It’s so much more satisfying when we can support each other as a team, rather than perceiving each other as competition.
Amelia: I absolutely love that. I don’t think anybody (or almost anybody) starts at the top. We’ve all had a hard slog, and it’s so important to remember where you came from and give back to your community when you can. I notice in your branding that you mention that you are “Australian, Korean, Chinese” – do you feel that being Asian impacts the way you brand yourself? Do you feel as though you face challenges in the industry that Caucasian escorts don’t face?
Summer: All the time. Every minority group faces all types of racial stigma. In my case, because I have more Chinese descent and look more Chinese, at the beginning of COVID, I was told to, “GO BACK TO CHINA, COVID CHINK. I don’t want your COVID.” When I declined a booking inquiry from a client because they would not submit screening details, they would say, “You’re Chinese. Go back to China, where you belong. You shouldn’t tell me what to do. You need the money, so you should listen to me.” When they see my size, they say, “You’re a fat Chinese. You should be a size 4 or 6.” Another one that’s just ridiculous is that when they see my rates and services, they’ll say, “You’re an Asian prostitute. You should be quiet, submissive and horny. You should be a lot cheaper.” Even as I’ve raised my rates to advertise to the more “gentlemen” market, I still receive such racial comments. It doesn’t make a difference. I can’t imagine how my fellow minority providers have to deal with such trash, regardless of their rates and services.
Amelia: That’s just horrifying. I wish I could say I’m surprised. But nevertheless, it’s horrifying. Especially as sex workers deal with enough crap and stigma already, then adding that on top as something additional you have to deal with is really horrible. Do you have any final words of wisdom for readers who might be young sex workers trying to find their way in this tricky industry?
Summer: To young sex work entrepreneurs: I encourage you to experiment, rebrand, experiment, rebrand. It takes time to figure out branding that is suitable and comfortable for you. If your lifestyle and financial circumstances allow you to have a vanilla job, use it as a backup for days or weeks where your glitter business might be slow. We live in an era where we can reach out to sex work friends or groups or organisations when we need advice, to vent or just a shoulder. Take advantage of the resources where in the past, they were not so easily accessible. To every reader: sex work isn’t for everyone, sex work can be empowering, sex work is still work, sex work is still a business.
Save yourself a whole lot of time (and frustration) by letting me write your copy. Think clear, concise brand messaging, words that prompt action and avoid clichés – I’m an expert when it comes to strategy and creating clever copy that speaks to clients.