Sex Work


Thank you so much for your questions. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my life with you. Please be aware that these answers are mine alone, and do not represent the entirety of sex work. These questions are answered from the experience of a female-bodied, white, indoor, independent prostitute. I have a very specific experience and encourage you to seek out the stories of others, specifically transgender and street-based sex workers, as I do not have experience or sufficient information in those categories.


101

What does “sex work” mean? What kind of work do you do specifically?

Sex work is an umbrella term for any work in a sex-related industry. That could be anything from acting in porn, dancing, erotic massage, indoor or outdoor prostitution, phone sex, domination or submission, modeling, and the list goes on. I dabbled in a few types of work in the early years, with considerable experience as a professional submissive, but most of my work has been as an escort or prostitute. I also like to use the terms professional lover or patriarchy hacker.

What made you want to do sex work? How did you start?

I grew up in a very conservative part of Texas that didn’t allow for much bodily autonomy or expression of sexuality outside of the very narrow norm. However, my parents raised me to be an individual, think for myself, and question authority. I studied psychology and sexuality in college. Those years really opened my mind and I dropped a lot of the ideas I had about what kind of sex is valid and what a woman “should” or “shouldn’t” do with her body.

This time also happened to be the golden years of craigslist. There were enough people there for a critical mass, but it wasn’t so overblown and full of garbage and predators as it seems to be now. I was exploring my sexuality, clicking around the ads for casual hookups and the like. I saw ads for folks willing to pay for an interaction. I was curious and looking for adventure, and looking for ways to make money that allowed for more autonomy. I read a book by Scarlett Harlot, “The Unrepentant Whore”, that showed me sex work could be a viable option.

I was heavily involved in the Dallas BDSM and Leather scene and attended lots of workshops and meetups. The community was just amazing. It was there that I learned so much about consent, negotiation, fluidity, authenticity, nonjudgment, body acceptance, and sexual creativity.

Around that time I was waking up at 4:30am to work at a before-school kids’ program, going to my own college classes for 6 hours, back to work from around 3:30-7pm for the after-school program, then home for studying and homework. I was paying for college and my living expenses with some grant money, but mostly on my own. Another job I worked around that time was as a nanny to a family that was going through a divorce. The dad was a very manipulative psychologist who pushed sexual boundaries with me. I had also worked at a telemarketing company, offering predatory “free” damage appraisals to homeowners in areas recently ravaged by natural disasters. Needless to say, this was not work that felt good. What I’d make in a week doing that kind of work, I could now make in an hour, tax free. This, coupled with the new realization that I could choose when I worked, who I worked with, and could walk out at any moment with no repercussions, was quite attractive.

I started with activities that didn’t require physical contact, like selling panties or letting someone look at my feet or watch me shower. The people I met were wonderful, kind, gentle folks with lots of shame and embarrassment. They weren’t trying to hurt or take advantage of me. They weren’t the monsters I’d seen on TV or in movies. The transactions felt fair and I was enjoying it quite a lot. So over time I figured out what services were most interesting to me, my boundaries, safety protocol, etc. I had no idea it would become such a passion for me.

I moved to San Francisco and started checking out the local escort advertising website. I found a few ads I really liked that were written by women a good bit older than me. I wrote them individually and asked them for coffee and a chat. They each agreed and spent many hours explaining things and answering my questions. One of the women connected me with an apartment that offered hourly rentals for sex workers. She eventually ended up renting work space from me a few years later.

I got really involved with the local sex worker rights movement and made many of my most rich connections to community there.

How long have you been doing sex work?

About 7 years.

Do you do porn?

Nope. I’ve considered it quite a lot, but I’m just not a performer. It’s not me. I also have lots of worries about signing over the rights to sensitive imagery without any control of where it might end up. Also, it doesn’t pay that well comparatively.

Would you define the more specific parameters of your profession?

Basically, I get paid to have sex with people. As most awesome people know, sex looks different to each person on the planet. Some things I do with clients are cuddle, private model, make out, give or receive massage, oral sex, intercourse, and kinky play. Sometimes we go to out to dinner or lunch, but mostly we spend hour increments together. Some folks really like that I am a trained as a sex educator, so they spend a lot of time talking and asking questions. Other clients like to get to know me and want to hear about all my life. They’ll sometimes sponsor specific adventures like travel or massage school. A one hour session is the standard. Some people find it interesting that it’s very common for an hour session to only include around 20 minutes of physical activity. Since I’m established at this point, I have a regular client base of 5-7. I’ve known most of them for over a year, a few for 2 or 3 years, and one client I’ve known for 5 and a half years! This group is currently the bulk of my work and I only take a new client once every month or two.

Can you give us a day-in-the-life?

I currently work around 10 days a month and I only see one client per day. I could step it up if I wanted extra cash, but I really only work enough to pay for my life. All my communication with clients is online. They find my ad on a website, email me, I screen them, then we meet. Every day I check my work email and do administrative stuff like scheduling and screening. On days that I work, I don’t do much else. I like to be sure I’m relaxed, comfortable, focused, and calm when going into a session. That means no partying the night before, no smoking weed earlier in the day, and no fighting with my partners. I have a special apartment just for work that I share with a friend. I get to the apartment about an hour before my session. I tidy up, put out fresh linens and any supplies I might need, light candles, and choose music- anything you’d do to prepare for a special date. I take a shower and get dressed in something that’s kind of flirty but casual and comfortable, careful that it wouldn’t raise the eyebrow of a neighbor. The client arrives, we spend our time together, they leave an envelope of cash. I clean up, shower, and go home or run errands. I sometimes like to get myself a little treat after work, especially if it’s a large amount of cash or it’s been a tough week. I usually go for food treats.

Why do you do it? What do you love about it? What is more compelling about it than a more mainstream job? When seemingly everything in society is stacked against you, why do you choose this path over others?

I build amazingly deep relationships with people I would normally just walk right past on the street. All of my clients want the best for me and they want to help me achieve my dreams. They are inspired by me and I by them. It’s an underground community of people looking for connection and to feel love. It is deeply spiritually fulfilling. I am a lover. It’s my identity and my cause and I’ve known it forever. It’s not an easy life, by any means, but it’s absolutely authentic. And the pay isn’t bad, either.

How much fun is it? Is this what you would do if income didn’t matter?

It’s a lot of fun. My work requires constant creativity, playfulness, self awareness, intuition, good decision making, flexibility, understanding, and compassion. I love that shit! If all work was paid equally and we got to choose, I would probably try something different every day.

How does one get into your line of work?

There are a vast amount of entry points into prostitution, and it’s really dependent on the circumstance. If someone needs cash quick or is traveling or whatever, they might simply step onto the street where other people are working. Others may apprentice with a more experienced worker. Some people work for an agency or a manager.

Clients

What is your opinion of men that pay for sex? Could you imagine developing feelings for a client? What about a friend’s client?

I wouldn’t say I have an opinion of men that pay for sex as a group any more than I have an opinion of men in general. I have yet to become romantically interested in a client, but can’t say it’s impossible. I’ve certainly had great sex at work, but I think it would be very difficult to transition from a service-based relationship. The client’s basic impression of me will always be a version of me that’s providing a service- not the authentic me that can be lazy and selfish and stinky. I do have very, very strong feelings of love and loyalty and care and concern for my core group of clients. I could definitely see a romantic relationship developing between myself and a friend’s client. Someone who already understands and accepts sex work as a valid choice is very attractive!

Can you describe a typical client?

Typically my clients are straight, cisgendered, financially-comfortable males and around half are white. Other than that, they are totally individual unique snowflakes. They are artists, musicians, bankers, architects, writers, scientists, tech guys, students, CEOs, bike racers, yogis, gamers, politicians, and entrepreneurs.

What would you want the wife/partner/girlfriend to understand about the difference between what you do versus someone they hook up with.

I have a lot of anxiety about this subject. I hate that people choose to cheat, lie, and deceive their loved ones. I hate that. It’s the one part of my work that I struggle with. My clients who are married or in relationships also struggle a lot with this. I encourage them to explore their motivations for sex outside their marriage, and to talk to their partners about the issue. The unfortunate reality is that most people cannot imagine life outside monogamy, and cheating is their pressure release. I don’t know how to rectify this and the conflict saddens me. A somewhat useful analogy is this: you don’t blame the bartender for the behavior of the alcoholic. What I can do is be as ethical as possible in my dealings. I encourage clients to stop seeing me if their relationship is in jeopardy, and I’ve ended relationships with clients who became too attached to me. I do not contact clients, I only respond when they contact me. So, if someone is going to go outside their relationship, seeing a sex worker is a less-harmful option for most. There’s a guarantee of a professional boundary. I’m not going to call at 3am, demand he leave his wife, I won’t get pregnant, or transmit an STI. I want to be very clear that this is not the answer. It’s harm reduction. My favorite married clients are those that have arrangements with their wives. Maybe they’re looking for something very specific and their wife is not interested. They can see a professional who can provide just that, no strings attached. And sometimes they see me as a couple!

Would you see someone you’re friends with or know from outside your work?

I have a no-friends or friends-of-friends policy. You know how you’ve got that friend who’s a graphic designer and you think his stuff is great and you hired him to make your album cover then he wasn’t as professional because you guys are friends and you also kinda expected a discount or something, then it was just awkward every time you saw him after that? Well, imagine that but with sex.

Do you feel sex work affects your feelings towards your client demographic as a whole (whether that’s gender or type of kink, etc)?

Sometimes folks get burnt out on the work, or simply have bad experiences, and that can turn into some kind of disgust for all men, or all submissive people, or something like that. I am lucky to have not had that experience. On the whole, sex work has been an exercise in compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. I understand much more of the pain of male sexuality, the fear of vulnerability, and all the ugly stuff that comes from that. I have much more compassion and understanding for men because of this experience. I can’t say this without pointing out why my experience has been a little different from what most people would assume. Most of my work has been in San Francisco, and the market has been good to me. Because of the many privileges I have in the world, I have been able to screen my clients, end sessions or relationships whenever I see fit (for the most part), and carefully choose who I want to work with. I don’t have a lot of trauma from this work. It may sound silly, but it’s been an amazing heart-opening experience overall. This work has helped me address the deep-seated racism, ageism, classism, ableism, and fatphobia that lurks in me. Imagine a practice in which you chose to whole-heartedly love every person who walked through your door! It changes your life.

Can you share a story of some sort of relationship you’ve developed through this work that has impacted your life in a positive way?

One of the founders of the activist group I’ve done a lot of work with was dying of cancer. She didn’t have many things figured out and was pretty scattered. Her care was complicated, she needed a hospice worker, and her social security money hadn’t come in yet. I asked a very lovely and intelligent client of mine what he thought we should do. He pulled some strings and within 24 hours there was a hospice worker at her side. He never asked for anything in return.

Can you share a story of some sort of relationship you’ve developed through this work that has impacted your life in a negative way?

Not really. Once a client kept removing the condom, then got angry and left without paying me. That was frustrating and I felt violated, but I wouldn’t say it impacted my life in a negative way. It definitely impacted my week though.

Can you share a story where your work and has impacted the life of your client in a positive way?

I’ve helped people through chemo, the death of a spouse, taught clients how to date, restored sexual confidence, and so on. I hope that our time together impacts every client’s life in a positive way.

Can you share a story where your work has impacted the life of your client in a negative way?

All I’m aware of is that a few clients have developed intense romantic feelings for me that lead to heartbreak or disappointment.

Safety

What kind of safety precautions do you implement to keep someone from really hurting you?

I use a very common screening process. Every person who contacts me is required to provide at least one reference in the form of another sex worker they’ve seen recently. I first check this reference out- do they have current advertising up? How long have they been working? Does it seem like we have the same standards of acceptable behavior for our clients? If they seem trustworthy, I ask about the potential client and find out if he was respectful, on time, etc. Sometimes they’ll even provide information about the client’s emotional state, interests, or quirks. Usually I have already spoken to this sex worker about a previous client, so we develop professional relationships. If a client doesn’t have a reference, I encourage them to first see someone who screens with work information or does not require references. I never see a client without a reference, in any circumstance.

What do you do if someone crosses the line and does something you’re not comfortable with them doing?

Well, I would just tell them to stop. I don’t really have to deal with this these days, but it was a concern earlier before I really knew my boundaries and how to express them. Not to say that’s the only reason people push boundaries! I think my ability to spot a boundary-pusher is much more honed, and usually those folks don’t get past a couple emails.

The overwhelming majority of clients I’ve met have been really really cautious with me. Most folks are very excited that they’re having this experience and they don’t want to screw it up. This wasn’t always the case, but these days, I have a harder time getting folks to just express their desires.

Important safety tips for first-time sex workers?

Talk to other sex workers in your area and field. Screen your clients if you can. Have a safe call- a friend who knows what you’re doing, when and where and with who. Plan a time to call them when you’re done and an emergency protocol. Be firm on your boundaries and keep a little savings so you can say no when you need to. Try to work when you’re feeling the most healthy and stable, and be careful drugs and alcohol. Don’t isolate yourself. Even if you can’t tell anyone around you, have some internet buddies you can talk to. Find a support network.

Have you ever been physically harmed? Have you ever had to get violent to protect yourself? When you are feeling at risk what is your next move?

I have never been physically harmed, never been in any kind of physical altercation, and only felt at risk once or twice. In those instances, I say how I’m feeling and change the situation. I have ended a session once, before it started, but it didn’t have to do with violence. The supposed client kept very clearly mentioning the money and seemed to be trying to get me to verbally acknowledge it, which is exactly the “act of furtherance” the police like to make an arrest. I told him there must be a misunderstanding and asked him to leave.

Have you ever been the victim of some sort of extortion, blackmail, ect by anyone?

A former client was going through a divorce and his ex wife hired a private investigator who found out that he had seen me previously.Her lawyer took excerpts from my website and filed them publicly, with my work name, legal name, and home address. They were demanding my financial records for the past decade (which was when I was 13 years old). I hired a lawyer and demanded the files be sealed. Their response was that I had given up any right to privacy because of my line of work. Luckily that’s not true, so we had the records sealed. It was very scary.

Rights

What would you do if someone hurt you? Would you feel comfortable involving law enforcement? If not, how do we keep sex workers safe from predators?

Unfortunately most police don’t take crimes against sex workers too seriously. In their eyes we’re criminals, too. And we knew what we getting into. I often hear of cops laughing about a sex worker’s rape, arresting the sex worker themselves at the time of reporting a crime, and raping sex workers themselves. So, they’re not here to protect me. The Bay Area is supposedly somewhat better than most places, but I ultimately feel no security from the police or judicial system. Decriminalization would change that. So would public outcry. In my work with Sex Workers Outreach Project, I took a call from a woman who had been raped by a perpetrator posing as a client. She went to the police and they laughed at her and told her to leave or be arrested herself. I called multiple lawyers and news outlets with the story and no one would take it. Even the rape crisis counseling center I tried to refer her to does not have a great history respecting sex workers. The judicial system is just as bad. Within the past few years it has been argued in court that a sex worker’s murder should not bear the same punishment as any other person’s murder. A judge also lightened a rape charge to “theft of services”. It’s disgusting. So how do we keep sex workers safe from predators? We stop enabling predators. We loudly complain when we hear jokes about “dead hookers” and other marginalizing media and conversations. We write letters to TV shows that use the word “whore”. We tell our friends their jokes aren’t OK. We stop othering sex workers, and we stop sitting by quietly when they are mocked and stereotyped. Predators target sex workers because society says we’re worthless and disposable. We support sex workers in court, and demand that predators of sex workers are held accountable. We have to make it ok for sex workers to simply exist in this world, so they can be out, and connected to others, and build a network of support and safety. Stigma is the killer.

What are some strategies to question and undo the stigma surrounding sex work?

Some common phrases used by the Sex Worker Rights Movement are: sex work is real work, keep your laws off my body, we deserve the right to choose, nothing about us without us, and rights, not rescue.

We have to get the message out that sex workers are real people, who deserve the same rights and respect as any other member of society. There’s not one experience of sex work, and it’s not all good or bad.

Speak up, every time. Call people out for sex worker phobic language and behavior. Question it. Find the document “How to be an Ally to Sex Workers”. Tell our stories, repost our writing, invite us to speak at your events.

How are women and transwomen disproportionately affected?

The stigma that a sex worker will face is multiplied when the individual is a person of color, transgender, disabled, a drug user, or any other demographic that society deems less-than-human. Many trans youth spend time in the sex industry, and many people report it’s because their work options are severely limited, or they’ve been kicked out of their homes because of their gender presentation. Police respect trans sex workers even less. Trans sex workers have an amazingly difficult time getting competent healthcare. It’s socially acceptable to degrade trans sex workers. Think of how many times you’ve heard the slur “tranny hooker”, even in queer or radical spaces.

What terms and statements or positions that attack you or your work are you particularly sensitive to?I get particularly hurt by the assumption that sex work is all awful and traumatic or all easy high rolling princess life. Anything that takes away my agency is hurtful too. For example, I’ve been told by self-described feminists that I’m “just brainwashed”. Also, I’m hurt by the assumption that I’ve got STDs or that my partners have them because of my work. That’s such an ugly assumption too. First off, STDs are nothing to be ashamed of. Second, why would a professional not be concerned with their health? It’s my livelihood! I worry much more for the drunken hookups that happen out in the world without any conversation or negotiation.

When I’m talking to friends about such topics, the conversation inevitably veers from self-actualizing folks like yourself to survival-occupation folks. Given the anti-sex-worker bent of most human trafficking orgs, what are some good ways of straddling that line and expressing concern about human trafficking without taking agency away from people like yourself?

It’s important to stress that people enter the sex industry for a variety of reasons. There is a spectrum of choice, circumstance, and coercion that most people move within. You can never tell what a person’s experience is from the outside. There are many immigrant sex workers and street-based sex workers and survival sex workers that are doing OK.

That being said, there are also exploitative predators who kidnap women and girls, sometimes move them to a different location, force them to have sex, and take the money. This is not sex work. This is kidnapping and rape. I cannot stress that enough.

It is so important to recognize the difference. As of now, most anti-trafficking organizations are religiously founded, government funded, and use absolutely false, inflated statistics to create a public panic. The conflate all sex work into exploitation and abuse and trafficking. And the laws reflect this. I could be charged with felony interstate trafficking if I recommend an out-of-state client to a friend. The law does not consider choice.

We need our governments to recognize the difference. And we need consensual prostitution decriminalized. Then the willful workers could work above ground and report abuses going on around them. The clients could be trained to spot abuse as well, and report it.

Part of the way traffickers and abusers are able to keep their victims captive is because they tell the women and girls that if they go to the police, they themselves will be arrested and possibly deported, which is unfortunately true. In this case, it’s clear to see how anti sex work laws actually harm the women they are intended to protect.

These anti trafficking “rescue” organizations often do more harm than good, especially in other countries. I often hear stories of police raids that these organizations fund, they leave consensual sex workers out of a job, publicly shamed, and vulnerable to police abuses. There have been reports of rape and theft by police after these “rescue” organizations get involved. They are often run by well meaning Western white women with no understanding of the sex industry or the culture they are intruding upon. This is not to say these organizations don’t help some people, but the information we get from sex workers in this country is that they don’t need “rescue”, they need rights.

Does it annoy you that you cant give blood?

This is not the most annoying thing, but it’s an example of discrimination I experience because of my work. I also have to consider this discrimination if I want to apply for a lease, bank account, college classes, or even fill out a doctor’s intake form. Annoying is a very nice word for that feeling.

What are the cons?

It’s illegal and highly stigmatized. My friends have been raped by cops, and there’s nothing we could do about it. Cops ignore reports of rape, robbery, and assault that we report. It’s socially acceptable to degrade sex workers, so I constantly hear jokes about murdering and raping us. It’s really painful to read news stories that report on our deaths as if we deserved it or were asking for it. If I get raped or murdered, it is guaranteed I’ll be blamed for it. I’m viewed as disposable and less than human by most of the world. A large number of “feminists” blame me for all the bad behavior of all men. My autonomy is ignored and I’m told I’m “brainwashed”, that I couldn’t actually be making my own decisions about this. There just must be someone coercing me, and I don’t realize it.

If this type of work were legal, do you think that type of threat would be minimized?

I wholeheartedly believe in decriminalization of all forms of sex work. Decriminalization would ensure that the police would take crimes committed against us seriously, that we could organize our labor, that we could plainly and clearly discuss our safety procedures and safer sex measures, and that we could honestly seek housing and healthcare. It would bring the industry out of the black market and allow law enforcement to more easily identify instances of abuse in the industry.

If given the choice between your current arrangement and a well-managed brothel what would your choice be and why?

No boss is a good boss. I believe in organized labor, but no top-down management is ideal for me. I would love to see cooperatively run brothels.

I always have the opportunity to work at a legal brothel in Nevada. It’s seems like a good fit for some workers, but ultimately is very restrictive and can deny autonomy of the worker.

Do you feel that the industry should be regulated like it is in some European countries?

Regulation is complicated. I’m not really sure what’s best for the United States, or even San Francisco. I definitely do not believe in criminalizing the client and am saddened by the prevalence of this idea. I would love to see decriminalization, but sometimes that comes with very oppressive regulation that makes the situation worse for the workers. In any case, the workers themselves should be the authors of any industry regulation.

Sex

If you don’t like sex with a specific client, do you not see them again, or do you keep seeing them if it’s harmless, because “it’s part of the job”?

My motivation for liking a client is not about the sex at all. That’s what the work is- providing a sexual service. So, my criteria for “liking” sex with a client is very different than for “liking” sex with someone I’m dating. When it comes to work I’m happy to get down with whoever, however, as long as my boundaries are respected and I’m physically comfortable.

How often do you have an orgasm when you are with a client?

I’m not sure, maybe just a few times. I’m kind of a rare bird, and not really orgasm-focused to begin with.

Do you pretend to like the acts more than you really do? (like how a salesperson pretends they like buyers, or like how one pretends to like one’s co-workers)

Most of the sex is not something I’m personally interested in or feel aroused by. Sometimes I’m curious or interested or delighted, but my personal sexual tastes are not often experienced at work. And even so, I’d still be in the role of service provider: watching the clock, my facial expressions, keeping the noise down, reading their experience, and so on.

Do you kiss clients?

Yes. Kissing is a most sweet and intimate act and my sessions would feel much different without it.

Personal

Does this affect your marriage?

Yes. Part of the reason Johnny and I got married was to make a public statement that sex workers are capable of love, and that people love sex workers. It has been amazingly easy overall and Johnny also gets support from other partners of sex workers when he needs it. The biggest challenge I’ve noticed is that the stigma and discrimination reaches him too. We have an open relationship and many women do not want to date him because of my status as a sex worker.

For those who wonder, I was already working when we met (and in the middle of a huge campaign to decriminalize prostitution). We met at a psychedelic rock concert and on our first date I told him about my work. His response was “Do you like it?” and I said yes. Then he asked what kind of music I like. He’s the best.

Do think you think of your job as most 9-5ers i.e. just something that you tolerate, are good at, and can pay the bills?

No, fortunately. My work is so different. These days I only see 2 or 3 clients per week, so I don’t spend much time working at all. It’s not like 9-5 work at all in my experience. I form relationships with my clients, and we really care for each other. The relationship is based on a transactional agreement, not unlike many non-sex-work relationships, and we’re just very direct and honest about our expectations. Tolerate is not a word I would use for my attitude about my work. Sometimes I tolerate a grumpy attitude, or neediness, or bad breath, but I never just tolerate the whole experience. If I start to feel that, it’s my signal to end the relationship. I usually leave my sessions damn near skipping down the road, happy to be alive, and so thankful for this situation. My clients inspire me, make me laugh, and generally treat me like a princess. And sometimes their situations can make me sad, give me insight into a suffering I don’t know, or show me when I need a boundary.

How is your relationship with your family? Can you be open about what you do for a living?

I am out to my family, to varying degrees. I talked openly about my work to the New York Times, LA Times, and Associated Press a few years ago, and the story was rebroadcast by over 352 local news outlets. And word travels fast within a family. I assume everyone knows, but I’ve never talked about it with my aunts, uncles, or cousins. My grandparents know and my grandmother gave me a very vague and disapproving talking-to when I came out, but has remained very loving towards me. My mom has been there every step of the way. While it’s not her dream for me, she respects my choice and believes that I’m doing good in the world. She has been supportive and loving unconditionally and I feel very lucky to have her. My sister definitely understands and supports me and has never been anything but amazing. When I came out to my 14 year old niece, and her response was “Who cares what you do for work? Why are people so mean about it? You should be able to do whatever you want to do.” My dad knows and doesn’t want to talk about it. We have a nice relationship and talk on the phone every week or two. I spent 2 months of last year in Texas helping him with some chronic mobility issues. I wish he could accept my work, but I understand his resistance and appreciate having him in my life in some capacity.

How does your professional background affect your process for or interest in forming intimate relationships outside of that context?

This is a good one. I used to be really attached to the idea that my work didn’t affect my personal life at all. However that’s just not true for me. I am much, much, more picky about who I have sex and spend time with “off the clock”. If I can have mediocre sex with someone I don’t share many interests with any time and even get paid for it, why would I do it on my own time?

I know so much more about my authentic desire, and how to ask for what I want, and how to say no to what I don’t want. Because of my experience, I can read someone and know pretty quickly if we’re a good fit. So, not counting work, I have much less (and better) sex and relationships than I did before I started working.

Do you have an alias that you use for work? Do you keep a wall of separation between work and life?

I do. I have always had a “work name”. Not for much reason though, it’s just kind of industry standard. Most of my clients know and use my legal name. While I wouldn’t invite a client to a party, I don’t keep a wall of separation. My clients are free to ask anything they like, and I’m honest. I was much more concerned with privacy early on, before I knew how to read for trustworthiness. My clients have so much going on in their lives, I’d be amazed if one of them found the time to stalk me. I did see someone a few times and got a stalker-vibe, so was careful with information and ended the relationship very early on.

Why don’t use you a pen name?

I’m out. Like really, really out. When I moved to San Francisco in 2008, I worked on a campaign to decriminalize prostitution in the city. I was a media spokesperson and I did many print and TV interviews with photos and video my face and I used my legal name. I have also done a great deal of public speaking at universities and conferences. I’ve taken a step back from activism, but remain somewhat involved with my local chapter of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. And I don’t think I’ve got anything to be ashamed of. I don’t plan on hiding this at any point in my life, and it makes a big difference when it comes to people’s perception of sex workers. If I act like I have something to hide, people believe that sex work should be hidden.

I want to clearly state that I have the ability to be so out due to the many privileges I have had since birth. Part of my experience of privilege is using it to the advantage of others.

What are the pros of your job personally?

My work doesn’t feel like work. I make my own schedule. If I wake up and don’t feel like working, I don’t. I get presents all the time: free hotel rooms, shopping, fancy dinners, good wine. I have great connections. I know politicians, architects, community leaders, lawyers, sound engineers. I get free software. I only pay taxes if I want to. I can fire anyone I work with. The money is amazing. I can take off months at a time.

What are the pros of your job on a community and societal level?

For the most part, my work is a luxury. However it is absolutely therapeutic for most of my clients and provides a calm, centered time to regroup. They tell me they are more kind and loving and relaxed in the world. I help my clients gain self-acceptance and move towards a healthier life.

What do you wish more people understood about your work, or what it’s like to do it?

Most of the time my work feels like I’m providing therapy. My therapist and I actually talk a lot about the similarities. I help people explore parts of themselves that they haven’t yet, and I process trauma and pain with them. I provide a safe space to be vulnerable and be seen and respected.

My work is an expression of my spiritual and political beliefs. I believe everyone is deserving of love and I believe I have the capacity to love everyone. This is my attempt to embody those beliefs.