Sick as hell currently with what appears to be the flu and been down a couple days now. Not sure how long I’ll be able to sit up to type, but I can edit and add to this later as needed.
Been thinking a lot on the topic of prostitution and what it is I’d care to share with the world about it. Well, first off, my own experiences working in that capacity for about 7 years wasn’t some nightmare or period in my life I seriously regret (at least not through and through) — however, I say this as me, and I’m not your average duck. Plus, I quickly learned to take measures to protect myself in that role to the best of my ability, which is what I’d like to discuss on here today.
Some of the lessons gleaned in that line of work can carry over and be applied in “civie” life, so this entry is intended for a general adult audience. For the record, and to keep from being slapped with a stupid pandering charge, here’s my disclaimer: I am NOT encouraging anyone to become a prostitute or to continue working as a prostitute. Not that I have the power to make demands on anybody about how they live their lives anyway — to each her or his own. These are just some considerations to take away that proved beneficial for me personally (as well as for others I’ve met along the way).
In a recent blog post I mentioned an episode where an older guy harboring a rape fantasy held me down one afternoon and took me without a condom. That and one other episode involving another man in another town where the guy drank too much and held me down in a similar fashion were the two events that occurred within the first few months of my becoming an escort that set me off into seeking out ways to take better precautions to protect myself going forward. I learned to employ several strategies in conjunction, which I’ll list below, some of which should be just as applicable in the civie “hook-up culture” as in sex work:
1.) If picking up someone out in public, like at a bar, have a friend there with you that follows you and the person you’re leaving with out into the parking lot. Once the man signals to which vehicle is his and opens the car door, your friend needs to immediately write down his vehicle’s make and model and tag’s number and state. It’s best that the man sees this transpire (and also is blatantly informed of it just after writing everything down) so that he is aware someone has his information logged and will turn it over to the proper authorities if anything happens to you. This can serve as a powerful deterrent, because he’s being made to understand that his actions will have consequences (and now that cell phones have cameras, that could be employed as well, though I would still write the information down separately in case the phone is lost or damaged).
2.) If you’re meeting someone out at a restaurant and then heading somewhere private with them afterward, record what information you’re able to and then transmit that to a trusted party for safe-keeping until you return home and check back in with them. Most of the time I worked as an escort I hired my friends to be my “security” in this sense (and I furnished them with a cell phone to be used expressly for this purpose). What I did was as soon as we walked into the hotel room (and this is after I’ve already left other information about the guy, like his email correspondences and the hotel and room # he’d reserved where others could find it), I’d immediately and a bit authoritatively request to see his ID. As soon as it was in my hand, my phone was open and already dialing my security person who was always instructed to let the call go to voicemail so that the information would be recorded. Then I would read aloud the man’s name, address, state, license #, and hotel and room #. As you can imagine, this made many men blanch—lol—but it comes with the territory, what can I say? He’s taking a risk, as am I. He could look up my reviews and read about me, but I had much less to go on about him, so this was the necessary trade-off. Any man who would not honor such a request was not worth sticking around with, and that’s why it’s also important that they understand upfront I had left what information I did have (like IP address and hotel room info) accessible in case they wanted to get froggy right about there (and they won’t since they’re in a hotel room that they booked in their own names, with cameras, that will track right back to them).
3.) Always have the man book the hotel room, preferably in a reasonably decent location (meaning nowhere seedy). If the hotel is registered in his name, the front desk clerk often will require that he provide his car’s info as well, and all of that information will aid in deterring someone harboring crazy ideas. A hotel is a neutral space with damn-near paper thin walls and housekeepers who come around daily, unlike his private residency which could house a torture chamber for all I know. We just don’t know. So I made a habit of very, very rarely ever agreeing to go back to a client’s private residency. And as for sex in a car? Why do that?? Seriously, no. That’s for teenagers and lovers, not people serious about protecting themselves with strangers.
4.) Which brings me to my next point, DO NOT HUSTLE ON THE STREETS. In the age of the internet there is absolutely no reason to do so. The only folks who continue to do so are those desperate for drug fixes or extremely poor — sad, but true. That’s the most dangerous work environment, bar none, and it puts you in direct contact with thieves, drug dealers, and dangerous hooligans. There are tons and tons of websites to advertise on online where you can cast your hook and then be more selective in who you agree to see out of the responses received. (BUT, I recommend completely avoiding sites like Craiglist and Backpage.)
5.) The worst decisions are made while financially-strapped. I know that myself first-hand as well, having experienced an episode where I had to flee from someone who set off every alarm bell inside of me but that I refused to heed until the last minute. Should’ve never agreed to go anywhere private with that one, but I did because I was hard-up at the time. Now, I know it’s going to sound counter-intuitive, but the best way to make money in that line of work is to look and act like you’re not desperate for money (even if you are). I would dress my best, spoke as if I had at least one foot planted firmly within their economic class, and they treated me very well in response. But when you beg and appear needy, that’s when they start giving you trouble because then they sense how much you need them, and that’s when this cat-and-mouse shit starts up and they want to try working the price down and negotiating for more demeaning services. Never let them have that upper hand. It does nobody any good. Never feel so desperate for money that you’re willing to compromise your standards and let someone compromise your boundaries, because you WILL regret that. That is letting oneself down. That is selling out to the all-mighty dollar, but there are some things in life too precious to let money ruin. It’s better to walk away penniless than submit to being scarred for life. Period.
6.) Appeal to a higher authority. In this I’m referring to using the name or position of a relative with a career that, if they became involved in the event of your disappearance, the police would be more likely to take that type of person more seriously and thereby (hopefully) your case more seriously (seeing as how people commonly assume that “hookers” don’t matter to police and therefore can be treated any which way, on the low probability of being busted for doing so). For this I evoked my stepdad’s rank, seeing as how he knew what I did for a living (was the first one to know actually, right from date one), and he’s a college professor in the Business School in a prominent university for that state. Letting the men know I had his backing, which was dropped in fairly casually in conversation over dinner or drinks, was just another layer of deterrence. I’d treat it as a bit of humor, joking that someone might eventually take me down, but then he’d be sure they received retribution for their crime.
Would my stepdad have actually helped me any if I had gone missing? I don’t know. We go months nowadays without speaking and never were close. But back then we emailed fairly frequently and hashed out lots of political topics, and he was the only relative I could rely on on any level in the entire Midwest, so I worked with what I had there. He’s the only person I knew who had enough money and clout to pursue the issue if he felt so inclined, but of course I didn’t rely on that. That sort of help would only come after-the-fact once I was already in the hospital or 6 feet under, which thankfully never was tested. But still, the point here was to deter by appealing to people’s desire to not have to deal with unpleasant consequences.
7.) Since I frequented hotels I did not carry firearms. However, I did bring along a canned airhorn as an attention-getter. I’m not opposed to someone skilled with using firearms opting to go that route (with the proper shot), it’s just that hotel room walls are oh-so-thin. If working out of one’s own residency, it’s a no-brainer. Might also be useful to keep a pistol in the car. But weapons are no joke, and if you’re not totally comfortable with them they won’t be of much help or could possibly wind up used against you. I personally opted for less lethal options for personal protection back then, including a metal baseball bat in my truck.
8.) Most of the time I did NOT dress super provocatively. Most of my clients preferred that I look like someone they could perhaps pass off as knowing from work, so the typical dress code was business casual or business formal. Saved the overt sexiness for the lingerie worn later in private. Not that you certainly can’t be quite sexy even wearing office-type clothing. Ha But the important thing here is that the way one dresses does have an impact on the way others perceive us, as well as how they treat us, how much esteem they grant us. It might not sound fair, but so far I’ve discovered this to be the way life goes. Besides, it’s not the clients you only have to worry with — it’s strangers you don’t even know who observe you while you’re out and about. Now, granted, those jackasses can’t really be managed because you don’t know them and can’t control for them, but my way of disrupting their interest in me, say, in my own neighborhood, was on the days I wasn’t working to dress way down in sweatpants or muumuus and not wear any makeup so as just to blend in with the rest of the riff-raff. Cut down on harassment in my own time and allowed me to be less recognizable when I was out in public while “off-the-clock.”
9.) Always keep in mind: your clients are only as good as your selection process. If you don’t screen then you might as well just prop the front door open and let anyone off the street walk on in, because that’s the basic equivalent. And this is where we get to the meat of it: screening. My primary way of handling this was by requesting after the initial email that the gentleman forward along two references from well-reviewed, well-known providers, including their contact information. If the woman wasn’t verifiable or seemed shady, that reference couldn’t count and he’d have to try again. Then I’d contact these ladies directly through their website contact links to find out if the man checked out, and they’d let me know if they ever had any problems with him. There’s a national online system of escorts trading this sort of information on private networking sites so as to keep one another safe (a big reason to go online with your dealings rather than go it alone out there on the streets or in pubs).
For potential clients who were new to the game and couldn’t provide such information, we have a couple options there as well, one being verification through the site Preferred411. Another good one is DateCheck.com. When I wanted to do more of a look up on someone myself, I’d head over to PublicData.com (which is now also linked with CriminalCheck, a free sex offender registry look-up). PublicData is a site intended as a resource for the general public, so don’t hesitate about utilizing it. Doing so won’t in any way lead anyone to think you’re affiliated with the sex industry. ha
Hell, I even occasionally conduct background searches on people in my everyday life on PublicData.com, including on the man I’ve been seeing the last 3 years when we first started out (lol, I find that funny, he found that strange, but he didn’t have a serious record so all is fine). It’s a good site and worth the money, IMO, because I like to be aware of what kind of people I may be dealing with. Now, obviously just because a person doesn’t have a record doesn’t mean they aren’t a criminal, so we have to take the information for what it’s worth. It’s a head’s up and a notifier if anything is amiss in their history.
When in doubt, schedule to meet in public to chat over dinner with no strings attached so that you can get an intuitive feel on the situation. And perhaps that should have been rule number 1: GO WITH YOUR GUT. As someone who used to joke that I possessed no “lady’s intuition,” I found out over time how incredibly important intuition is. Hone it and learn to trust it. Better to be safe than sorry. A little money wasted is just part of the game. When I’d get a bad vibe during dinner and decided to leave, I’d stand up and let him know I appreciated him asking me out but that I don’t think this is going to work out and that I’d be more than happy to cover my half of the cost of dinner, but that I am now leaving. Easy as that.
10.) The main thing is try to be smart. Don’t drink excessively (my own rule was generally to not go over 3 glasses of wine during the course of a date, though I made exceptions sometimes with the few I’d come to know very well over several years). Don’t partake in any drugs since that destroys your judgment and makes you a sitting duck if you wind up busted in a police sting. Read up on how other women (and men) protect themselves in these situations and keep a finger on the pulse in the communities you work so you’re aware of problematic clients when they surface, because when they do it’s often call-girls and the like who wind up tangling with them first since those gals are more easily accessible due to not screening (and their manager pimps do a piss-poor job of protecting them, which is why I will never understand why anyone would choose to abide by someone else’s rules and split their earnings with them when they receive nothing real in return — in fact, I’ll go one further and state that pimps of all stripes are a liability and are parasitic and should be avoided at all costs).
11.) Oh! Thought of one more. Set age restrictions on who you’re willing to entertain. In my case, after about a year in (making me 22 at the time) I decided to refuse to see anyone under 30, then later I increased that limit to 35. The reason being is that young men, IME, tend to behave more erratically and unpredictably, not to mention how hard they can be on one’s body. I’ve rarely had much to do with men my own age on down since I can’t stand all the bullshit associated with that age range, like poor manners and etiquette, demanding instant gratification, complete sense of entitlement, hooliganism, expressed rudeness toward sex workers (apparently learned from all the movies and porn they watch and aim to emulate), and general attitude problems. Plus younger folks are a lot more likely, IME, to get emotionally attached and to project on to you what they wish to see, and then to react aggressively and/or melodramatically when affections aren’t returned. I cannot put up with that shit. Flat out cannot and will not. Older gentlemen can behave in those ways also, but not nearly as often I’ve found. Perhaps younger men behave better with older providers, but when we’re in the same age group they tended to behave with little to no respect.
Also, I placed an upper age limit as well (forgot to mention this yesterday — finally getting over that flu now, thank goodness) because I didn’t like the idea of seeing anybody my Papa’s age. So I set that limit at about 60 or less (and still had a couple dudes disregard that and book me anyway, and one of those dates turned into an embarrassing disaster… a story for another time). We each have our preferences and there’s no reason to think that just because you accept money in exchange for your time and sexual company that you should put up with a situation that makes you really uncomfortable, especially if it can be easily avoided.
That’s about all I can think up to post on here right now, but I’ll come back around and add to this list if anything else springs to mind.
I should briefly state that a woman can utilize the above procedures without coming across as a total bitch. My clients considered me pretty nice and friendly, though I would scare ’em a little bit when I asked to see their IDs, but I didn’t bark at them or behave hostilely toward them (except in some cases when they turned out to be pains in the ass), and plenty of us became friends for years, a few even on through ’til today. There’s a way to come across as commanding without appearing accusatory or rudely domineering or bitchy, and I suppose that’s something each individual has to strike a balance with on their own. I’m not opposed to speaking up and assertively stating what I need from others in order to feel comfortable in that setting, and once that’s provided to my satisfaction I could then relax and have a nice time, which then made everybody happy. The industry isn’t suited for shy people who are afraid to stand up for themselves and put their foot down definitively or walk away or even run if the situation calls for it.
As with anything, there’s a learning curve, during which a person can be given a hard time because some folks out there will take advantage of young people’s naivety. That is a fact of life — unavoidable. But we have the power to minimize risks so far as we’re able. Now, if someone can’t handle taking hardly any risks then they really shouldn’t be playing over in that arena. Nor should they probably be out clubbing and getting shit-faced drunk with their civie buddies on the weekends either, since that involves a bunch of risk-taking too. Heck, even just meeting people on a dating site can introduce risk into your life. I’ve known people who met lovers at church who turned into nightmares. That’s just the way life goes. So we each decide what we’re able to handle, and we work with what we’ve got. This is what I’ve got, and I’m sharing this in case it can be of any small benefit to anyone else. If you have any questions or need clarification on anything, feel free to ask.