The preamble to this tale of misspent youth is that prostitution is legal where I am from.
Despite spending years telling myself that working at an Erotic Massage Parlour didn’t make me a prostitute (“But I don’t fuck them”), I have since come to the conclusion that yes, trading sexual favours for money does indeed a prostitute make.
I guess what you are wondering is how a nice girl from a nice little town falls into that kind of life? Really though, I was not a nice girl. I was a well-meaning but selfish, naive, highly-strung, nymphomaniacal 19-year-old with a taste for assorted substances, bouts of hysteria and shopping sprees.
I can tell you that a lot of women who work in the sex industry are perfectly normal, happy and well-adjusted types who use the work to bolster their financial situation, or assist in their education. I know, I met many women like this and a lot of them are very successful, make a lot of money and improve their lot in life. Me? I was one of the fuck-ups.
I used sex work to pay the bills when I was otherwise unemployable. I left home and moved to the city. I found work as an office temp and moved into a house with some other bohemians and everything was going well… until I had what I guess amounts to a breakdown, spurred on by relationship problems and drug problems.
My unreliability, bouts of tears and half-hearted suicide attempts got me fired from my office job, which was something of a relief -- pretending that I was normal for eight hours a day became too much to bear. I spent a few weeks floating around completely broke, having idle thoughts about maybe trying to be a stripper, but my social awkwardness made all that publicity seem kind of daunting.
Then, one day I saw an ad in the adult services section if the paper. “Erotic Massage. Good money, No sex.” No sex? If no sex, then what? I called and arranged an interview.
The address revealed itself to be a nondescript door on a busy main street that opened to reveal a dimly lit staircase. Ah, the soft-lit staircase, hallmark of the rub-and-tug parlour. I would go on to blindly fumble up many of these in the next few years.
The interview was pretty simple. A gorgeous, well-dressed older woman told me about rates and hours and showed me around the rooms (all dim and well appointed with a large massage table in the center -- a massage table with TWO HOLES. Seriously.)
She filled me in on the service -- a full body massage, then a "body-rub" (wherein the masseuse oils herself and literally slides all over the customer.) Then, a hand job. Oh, OK, no sex but hand jobs. Easy-peasy.
After the tour she asked me, “So when do you want to start?” Of course it was that simple. I was young and fresh and soft-skinned and my crazy was well-cloaked under my glossy hair and pretty, crooked smile. Not that it would have mattered anyway.
My first shift was the next night and I showed up with some hastily bought make-up and lingerie. The girls' room was tiny, with a futon, some cushions on the floor and a TV with cable. At the shift changeover the place was crowded with girls in varying stages of undress, all gossiping and kissing and laughing. It was terrifying.
Being a high-school outcast, I have always found large groups of beautiful girls to be very intimidating. At first I was standoffish, but by the end of the night I was in the middle of the futon, exhausted, one girl’s head resting on my lap as another plucked my virgin eyebrows, watching music videos on the TV.
With those girls, I grew to say goodbye to my boundaries, one by one. When you are in a place like that, the physicality is so raw that it is nothing to hold hands, cuddle and spoon the other girls as you chat about dicks and cash and clothes.
You would think that I would have crystal clear memories of my first client. Yeah… I don’t. I remember that the booking was with another girl (so I could get an idea of what to do), an older, brash and hilarious New Zealander with a ridiculously thick accent and amazing tits. I remember everything about her, she was gold. The client? He was just Some Guy.
The majority of the clients were just Some Guy to me. Nice enough. Not too grabby or rough. Just dudes on their lunch-breaks or after work or in the middle of the night who wanted a pretty girl to give them her undivided attention. They had money and I was that girl.
I ended up being that girl for another three years. Not all the clients were Some Guy, though. Some were memorable, in good and bad ways. The bad? Aggressive men who called me a whore to my face and seemed to hate me despite the fact that they were paying me to be there. The well-known boxer who literally chased me around a room for two hours, blitzed on cocaine, mumbling "Letmeeatyourpussy" repeatedly.
The worst customer I ever had got so rough with me that I had to ask him to leave. He didn’t like that, and stood in the reception area screaming obscenities. The receptionists locked themselves in the office and left me to deal with his rage, towel-clad and crying as I begged him to leave and hoped he didn’t decide to punch me in the face like I was scared he might.
He didn’t, but I did have to give him his money back. I got roughed up for free that day.
That was truly awful, but I’m glad to say that the vast majority of my clients weren’t bad at all. Being both young and young-looking meant I got my share of creepy grandpa types, but there were also a few old fellas who took such sheer delight, not so much in my youngness, but in the essence of my youth and my touch that I couldn’t help but to be affected by their joy.
The oldest was 94. Ninety-four! The juxtaposition of his withered limbs against my plump, smooth body was fascinating for the both of us. I always enjoyed the hour-long sessions we shared together (and yes, if you are wondering, he "functioned" perfectly well.)
There was the obese man who barely fit on the table -- I would climb his rotund form like a mountain. He had the softest, cleanest, coolest skin I’ve ever felt and I could have slid over him all day. Whenever he came back he always asked for me, loving that I took such pleasure in conquering his expanses of flesh.
I was left both confused and delighted by the gloriously plump middle-aged woman who came in alone, told me I looked a little bit like her daughter, giggled like a maniac through our entire 45 minute booking, then came unexpectedly and explosively, like a plane hitting the side of a mountain a few seconds after I put my fingers to her clit.
And there was guy with the burns, or the man who just wanted to sit in the spa and hug and talk books or the Scandinavian couple and that one time when… Too many to recall. Too many to list here. When it sucked, it really sucked -- but on good days I fed on the joy I gave out. I rolled, full-bodied in the pureness of the sexuality that poured from me. I had an endless well of it to share, and why not?
My exit from the sex industry was without fanfare, catharsis or tales of redemption. I’d worked my way all over the city (my unreliability, constant stoned demeanour and random outbursts of misery tended to burn a lot of bridges) and ended up taking the day shift in a place that I coined "where masseuses go to die."
It really was a pretty sad place, suburban and exhausting. I’d calmed down a lot with the drugs, and matured a little out of my hysteria. I’d just started at university and I was tired of being completely unable to relate to any of my new student friends -- you know, the kind who didn’t spend their nights and days off pulling strange dick for money.
So I just stopped asking for shifts and got a job as a waitress. It was as simple as that, but also wasn’t. The money was hard to give up, no more flush days coming home with eight or so hundred bucks in my back pocket to be blown.
Sex work allowed a lot of free time to study as I sat around all heeled and red-lipped, waiting for customers. I could get away with being drug-addled, coming down or chronically depressed when I was a masseuse, but that sort of shit didn’t cut it in the "real" world.
It was hard to be pretend to be normal in my new job, especially as I had so recently emerged from my murky, daylight-less world. But I managed. Slowly it has faded to a memory, to something that I’ve added to the bunch of hilarious and madcap stories that make up my life.
I thought about going back once or twice, especially when financial matters got complicated. But I don’t think I’m made of the right stuff for it now. I don’t have the patience to deal with the boundless neediness of men, not any more.
I could write 10 more of these with the fruits of this experience in my life. “IHTM -- How My Boyfriends Coped (Or Did Not Cope) With Me Being A Sex Worker.” Or “IHTM -- How Sex Work Enabled Me To Be A Drug Addict and Crazed Lunatic For Several Years Unchecked.” How about “IHTM – I Met Some of The World's Most Amazing Women in the Girls Room of A Rub & Tub Joint”? Maybe one day I’ll get those stories out.