At my first brothel shift, I was told how the place worked – the client paid a set rate for the time he wanted to book (from memory, it was about $150/30 mins and $250/1 hour). Half of that rate went to the brothel and half went to me. The rate covered ‘standard service’ which consisted of a massage on him (which clients rarely wanted), a blowjob with a condom, and intercourse. If the client wanted anything outside of the ‘standard service’ (like kissing or oral on me), then I could refuse, or I could accept and charge extra for it.
This system sounded simple enough to me. The rates weren’t great, but they were a hell of a lot more than I had earnt at my ‘regular’ day job. Plus, I was glad I had the discretion to decide if I wanted to offer ‘extra’ services and how much I wanted to charge for them.
To be honest, I didn’t have much sexual experience when I started sex work. At the time, I was 18 and had only slept with a handful of guys a handful of times. My sexual repertoire wasn’t extensive, and I really wasn’t sure what ‘extras’ I could offer or what clients would even want.
I started to feel overwhelmed by the list of extras that other workers were offering. They offered ‘deluxe’ services, anal, rimming, pegging, toys on them, toys on clients, doubles with other workers, spanking and bondage. Meanwhile, if a client even shyly asked me for a lap dance, I would tense up with anxiety. I was totally out of my comfort zone.
Despite being WAY outside my comfort zone, I felt pressure to conform. Now, I want to be clear that no one ever actually pressured me to do services that I wasn’t comfortable with. The pressure I felt was internal – I felt inexperienced, unsure and was lacking confidence. I felt pressure to keep pace with other workers to show that I belonged – I didn’t want to be the naïve young girl who didn’t know what double anal was. But I also felt like I needed to keep pace because I was scared that if I didn’t offer certain services, then I would lose clients (and therefore income). Because of this pressure, I offered services I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with.
This feeling continued, to some extent, when I began escorting. I saw other escorts advertising Porn Star Experiences and Dirty GFE, and I felt as though I needed to keep up. Did clients expect PSE? Was deepthroating the norm? Would I get bookings if I only offered oral with a condom? Escort X only offered outcalls to 5-star hotels, does that mean I shouldn’t visit 4-star hotels? Escort Y charged a transport fee for bookings more than 5km from her incall, should I do that? And escort Z only saw clients above a certain age. The rules and standards seemed endless, and I felt like if I didn’t do all the right things that a ~luxury escort~ was doing, then my business would fall flat.
The reality was very different.
Over time, as I gained confidence, I realised clients didn’t care about all the things that I thought they did. They might ask if I did anal, but if I said no, the world didn’t end. Perhaps I’d lose a client or two, but by staying true to myself, I gained other clients who were more interested in what I had to offer. The same applied to every service under the sun. I realised that I didn’t NEED to pretend to be comfortable doing lap dances to be a successful escort. If I was honest and said I wasn’t comfortable, clients (for the most part) respected that. Instead of trying to keep pace with other sex workers, I focused on myself and acting in line with my values. And when I did that, my business flourished.
It’s easy to get caught up in expectations (real or imagined). But, as a sex worker, you shouldn’t conform to the expectations. Instead, you should focus on living a life that is in accordance with your values, and let everything else follow.
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