One of my favourite guilty pleasure TV indulgences from the past few years is The Secret Diary of a Call Girl. If you haven’t seen the British series, the show is based on the blog and memoir of the same name written under the pseudonym “Belle Du Jour.” The show follows the life and adventures of Hannah Baxter aka “Belle” (Billie Piper), a high-class, handsomely paid London escort. I watched the first few episodes with my Mom (oddly enough) and got completely sucked in. I liked how the show combined sex and humour in a smart, witty way. It was like Sex in the City, while also being the complete anti-SATC. Hannah is whip-smart, articulate and has a killer wardrobe, but on the same hand is completely devoid of any romantic illusions about her life.
Although this blog usually focuses on the fluffier side of sex in the form of product reviews, sexy lingerie and dating disasters, I thought it would be really interesting to switch gears for a day. A friend of mine has worked as an escort on and off for the past few years. When I mentioned writing this article, she generously agreed to be interviewed anonymously and give a behind the scenes look at what goes on in this industry.
Whether someone is an activist, sex trade worker, writer – or all of the above, I am fascinated by people’s personal stories – especially when they are ones that don’t normally get told. I hope you enjoy reading her interview as much I did!
What made you decide to try escorting?
When clients ask me how I wound up escorting, I always joke that stripping was a “gateway job.” It’s true in my case. I was broke in NYC and couldn’t even get a waitressing or bartending job. I became a strip club hostess, then a strip club bartender. Then a stripper. As a stripper, the hustle didn’t come naturally to me. I’d have guys wasting my time and I didn’t know how to work the room and get them to respect the fact I was there to make a living, not give them free attention. Escorting is better suited to me, because my clients appreciate my intellect and aren’t looking for a dumbed down girl like at the clubs.
I was very sexual from a young age, and as a well-raised girl, I never thought I’d be a literal prostitute. I was kind of fast in high school, but low profile about it, but when I started college, I was hooking up like crazy. So many years later, at 26, I bit the bullet and did what was once the unthinkable, given my upbringing. Let’s say, bottom line, it was cirumstance combined with my hypersexual brain and body’s wiring.
I know tons of other aspiring writers in sex work, thanks to resources like Twitter, and most of us want to live comfortably while writing severely underpaid freelance articles, or working on novels, memoirs, screenplays etc. I knew the work had certain perks such as travel, schedule flexibility, doing something fun for profit and making as much in just an hour or two as my hourly job used to pay per week. I just had to take the plunge.
Escort as a word is basically a euphemism. but that’s the word I identify with semantically. I don’t consider myself a “call girl” because I only accept inquiries via e-mail, not phone, and don’t consider myself someone working “on call” where a guy can just impulse-see me at the last minute. People think a whore will have sex with ANYONE. Not so. Thanks to the internet, we screen and turn down guys who seem risky, like ones who are potentially violent or cops setting you up to get busted. I have a screening assistant who can get me a guy’s name, address, criminal record and much more based on his cell number.
HUGE misconception is that we get tons of crazy requests and super fringe, fetishy guys. While some girls cater to that, it’s not really the norm. It’s more like “physical therapy” ahem ahem get it? Guy wants non-judgmental pretty girl to talk to and have sex with, not necessarily defile, just be INTIMATE with.”Civilians” always assume we’re doing all the sexual dirty work that others won’t. In many cases, we’re doing cleaner, not dirtier, sexual work cause of the obvious need for protection.
Another huge misconception is the assumption we don’t choose to do our work and that every time a client has sex with us it’s “rape.” This comes from feminists who want to be our soundboard instead of letting us speak for ourselves.
What’s the best part of the job? The worst part?
I like traveling and this business rewards wanderlust. I get lots of time alone, which for a big reader and writer, can be great, but it’s a lonely double edged sword. I’m probably more lonely than most clients, because most of them are married with kids, and I’m 30 with no boyfriend, child or even pet to come home to. The job affords me lots of adventures and literally buys me time by earning me in an hour what I used to make a whole paycheck entry level. The lonesomeness, having to lie to my family, having to worry about getting outed and having to be a fantasy fulfiller that’s disposable to the end user can get me down. The stigma obviously really sucks. If I speak up against whorephobic jokes it’ll inevitably put a spotlight on me, like “what do you know/you have some kind of personal POV on this?”
There is a lot I enjoy. I do something fun for a living. I only have to work a few hours a week. I have ample time to pursue my writing career and simply enjoy more down time than others have.
America and pop culture in general, has such a hypocritical and fucked up attitude about sex work, as well as sexuality and sex in general. The status quo and media always want to portray us as victims who had no other options, or greedy and insatiable. I occupy the grey area, which TV portrayals and the media can’t seem to wrap their head around. I’m not getting beat up by pimps and Johns or giving cheap-o blow jobs in cars, but I’m also not buying Louboutins and charging over a grand per hour. All these unsung hookers like myself see run-of-the-mill doctors, lawyers, accountants and others in the $350-500 per hour range. I’m not a Spitzer gal, a Tiger Woods gal or a gal seeing tons of pro athletes and celebs. I’m somewhat under the radar.
I feel like pop culture needs to separate us into two distinct groups; desperate and vulnerable/exploited, or greedy and exploitative, never acknowledging the in between. Glamourizing it is definitely a way I think curious male civilians, and Johns alike, justify it. I take the damn bus, sometimes even the Greyhound, traveling city to city. When I buy a car, it’ll probably be a Nissan. I’m not a first class jet-setter. But because I try to appear high end, I downplay these unglamorous logistics. Let the guy think I took a last-minute 300 dollar one way flight just to see him for a 2 hour 800 dollar appointment. That obviously makes no sense from a financial overhead perspective, but I have to play into the fantasy sometimes. As with other businesses, you have to pretend you are more in demand than you are.
Why did you leave the biz?
I’ve left and gone back, left and gone back. I have an online footprint as an internet escort that makes it easy to simply pick up where I left off, but that same footprint will undoubtedly haunt me the rest of my life and make it impossible to keep the secret. Just like waitressing and bartending, or stripping, it’s one of those quick fix cash gigs you can always fall back on, for better or worse. When I feel my emotional state start to seep into my appointments (I’m a fantasy, remember!) I need to take mental health breaks. I’m currently enjoying a necessary “down time” phase right now.
Thank you to my friend who kindly took the time to answer all my questions. Is there anyone you’re interested in seeing interviewed on the blog? Leave your suggestions in the comments!