Brooke Nichols began her career in the industry as an agency phone girl while completing grad school. These days, Brooke works as an independent companion in New York City while also managing her civilian career. While the industry in New York can be fierce, Brooke says, “the most surprising thing I learned about the industry in NYC was how supportive and kind it is for the most part.”
Read more about Brooke’s story below.
Photo by Inamorata Photo
Amelia: Hi Brooke! Thanks for indulging my curiosity and questions today. Can you start by introducing yourself and letting readers know a little bit about your experience in the industry?
Brooke Nichols: I started out as a phone girl at an agency several years ago. I was going to graduate school in a relatively rural area, and the agency was nationwide, so I would turn the phones on as soon as I got home from school and take calls and screen clients for other girls till about 2 AM.
Once I finished grad school, I moved to Los Angeles and eventually went independent. I briefly danced in a few strip clubs, but it became difficult to work late hours at the club and pursue my civilian career at the same time, so that made companionship by appointment that much more attractive to me.
I ended up taking a year and a half long hiatus while I was in an exclusive arrangement, but the industry changes so rapidly that I felt like I was starting all over again after. I’ve learned so much about business in general and about myself in this work that I have nothing but gratitude for the industry. It has taught me how to set boundaries, how to preserve my energy and how to cultivate an environment of organic connection and interaction, and much more.
Amelia: As you know, I’m based in Australia. I’ve only ever visited New York once as a tourist, so my knowledge of the escort industry there is close to zero. I only know what I see on Twitter and browsing escort directories out of curiosity. What is the industry like in New York?
Brooke: Probably the most surprising thing I learned about the industry in NYC was how supportive and kind it is for the most part. When I first moved here, I was exchanging references with a well-known provider who has since retired. Right as I was gearing up the courage to ask her to go out for a coffee, I got a note from her asking me to get a coffee! We became fast friends, and she ended up introducing me to a few other people in the industry.
I’m very proud to say that nearly all of my best friends are sex workers. I’ve heard some horror stories of mean girls targeting providers here, but I’ve also heard of that happening outside of New York, so I don’t think it’s location-specific. I’ve definitely received my share of hate emails as well, and they are all reliably hilarious.
Amelia: How has COVID impacted your business? I know New York has been hit pretty hard by COVID – that can’t have been easy as an escort.
Brooke: COVID was the worst thing that I’ve personally experienced in the industry, and, of course, the sex industry isn’t the only industry that has been very adversely affected. But true to our resilience, so many of us – myself included – pivoted to creating content as a way to keep the revenue stream running.
I knew the city and the industry would bounce back with a vengeance – so many people said NYC was dead forever and would never be the same again. Now, I would ask those people to see if they can try to get a reservation anywhere decent for dinner in this city and see if they still think that.
Since there was so much downtime in the early days of lockdown, I would be on the phone for hours at a time with my lovely assistant, Sandi. One thing she told me really stood out – that if the industry could bounce back after the AIDS crisis, then it would bounce back after this crisis too. That comparison really helped put things in perspective, as NYC in the ‘80s likely felt as apocalyptic as the city in March of 2020 did. I feel incredibly grateful that I was able to sustain my lifestyle through such a difficult time, and I know that luck has a lot to do with that.
Amelia: Can you speak a little bit – as much as you feel comfortable – about what it is like to work in a country where escorting is criminalised? As a ‘high class’ escort, do you fear law enforcement, or are you able to screen to an extent that this isn’t something that crosses your mind often?
Brooke: I think it’s appropriate to fear law enforcement regardless of your hourly rate. I’m extremely lucky that I have a wonderful assistant who screens very diligently – more than I was even capable of for myself. I’m sure I turned down a lot of great appointments because of my fear of being set up, regardless of the strength of their screening. It’s been remarkably helpful to have a second person to run things by, someone who is very objective and has a lot of experience. I believe that decriminalisation is the best way for sex workers to feel safe and have recourse.
Amelia: What is your approach to marketing and branding as an escort in New York?
Brooke: I’m not sure I have a specific strategy, so to speak, but I think one of my strengths as a marketer is that I know my product, meaning me, really well – the good, bad and ugly. I’ve done a lot of work on myself and developed clarity around what I’m drawn to and why and can therefore recreate that in my marketing material.
For me, it’s not as simple as just posting luxury items and expecting clientele to respond to that, although some will. Regardless of industry, the “why” really matters. So, I asked myself, why do I like a certain designer? Or a certain kind of car? I realised that I value immaculate construction, attention to detail, the confluence of aesthetics and utility, experiencing luxury in daily life. Then, I applied these same principles to my website, copy, photoshoots and ultimately, in client-facing experiences.
Amelia: I really love that. I agree; the “why” definitely matters. I absolutely love your ‘brand’. It’s sleek, sophisticated, slightly mysterious, a little bit fun… You really paint a picture of living a glamorous life and truly enjoying being wined and dined by clients. It’s that classic picture of the luxury escort living a hedonistic life of, well, luxury. Can you speak about what your ‘real’ day-to-day life is like and how closely your escort marketing reflects your daily life?
Brooke: Thank you for your kind words! I feel truly blessed and so grateful to live the life that I do now because my life was not always so good – as far as material comforts, emotional fulfilment and joy. My favourite thing about my life now is that every single day is different, and yet I have space and freedom to prioritise my self-care and routines. Balance is key, especially when I’m a sucker for the good times! I love this Kate Moss quote, “My mum used to say to me, ‘You can’t have fun all the time’, and I said, ‘Why not? Why the fuck can’t I have fun all the time?’” I feel that deeply and yet know how important it is to take care of ourselves.
So, while everything I post is true and in alignment with my natural free-spiritedness, I’m more likely to post the champagne picture than the green juice or turmeric shot I’m drinking the next day. Although I know there are great clients who appreciate both, I realise the overall fantasy and fun element is stronger with bubbles than veggies. Ultimately, the best marketing is what feels most authentic and creates a connection with the viewer or reader.
Amelia: I’ve noticed you show a little bit of your face in your photos, but not a whole lot. What was your decision process behind this?
Brooke: I’ve always struggled with revealing my face and haven’t felt comfortable doing so for a few reasons. My main reason initially was privacy and protecting my loved ones. Now it’s more because of my civilian business. I do think I would make more money if I showed my face, but it’s not something that can be undone, so for now, I’m sticking with the light blur. I never say never, though!
Amelia: Any final words of wisdom you’d like to share with sex workers reading?
Brooke: Always trust your gut, and not all money is good money. Take care of you!
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