Confession Time: I got fired from my 9-5 office job and went in to sex work to pay the bills.
But why sex work?
I didn’t have an emergency fund at the time (ouch!). I know, it’s a huge no-no. I had revolving credit card debt to the tune of $6,000 CAD, a not-s0-great credit score, and bills that weren’t going to stop just because I wasn’t working anymore. I spent the week after I got fired applying for every job I found. I didn’t even get calls for interviews. The place I live was going through a pretty bad recession, so jobs were hard to come by and the market was competitive. I vaguely remembered that an acquaintance of mine used to work at an adult massage studio in town. It seemed like a decent way for me to be able to get some cash to put food on the table and pay my rent.
How does it actually go down?
It’s totally different in every studio, but I really like the way we do it. We work cash only, and we always take the money up front. We also have very strict pricing. The pricing is stated on our website, so the clients know how much we charge. We’re a high-end studio, so the prices range from $120-$260 CAD ($93.10-$201.71 USD) depending on what they want and how long they’re staying. These are just for the massage. “Extras” are more. My boss always makes sure the girls know their worth. In fact, she has a saying about it: “Bitches don’t go on sale.” The strict pricing keeps one attendant from underselling themselves to steal clients from other attendants, and it makes sure that we’re getting a standard minimum for our time.
(Disclaimer: every studio is different, and there is no standard across the board for how many clients you’ll get in a week or how payment works. Also, I don’t support human traffickers, and my colleagues and I are independent contractors who are not forced to work at any time. We can refuse a client for any reason. Anyone getting a bad vibe from a studio or being forced to work without appropriate pay should seek legal help immediately. Stay safe.)
So the client comes in, and one lady opens the door and welcomes him (our front door is always kept locked, and we have a 24/7 security system, so we can see who comes in before we even open the door). Everyone working introduces themselves, and then goes back to the employee lounge. We don’t have the clients pick in front of a lineup. Personally, I find that demeaning, and it also puts the clients on the spot by having a bunch of girls staring at him. He says who he wants to see, and then he’s shown to her room. They have their session, and when they’re done, the attendant leaves and gives the client a couple of minutes to get dressed before seeing him out.
What’s my work/life balance like?
I find my work/life balance is better than at my office job. I only work three times a week — two weeknights and one weekend shift, normally Sundays. I have additional streams of income (I’m a published author under my real name, and I do some cleaning on weekday mornings). I also have total freedom when I’m working. As long as I’m not leaving a coworker alone with a client, I can run and get some takeout or coffee as I please. I spend a lot of my time when I’m not with clients either catching up on Netflix or doing something creative, like drawing or writing.
It’s hard to keep this work from my family and close friends, though. That’s the one big stressor that I have while I’m working. I wish I could tell my family, but I’m not ready for that. I don’t think I ever will be. That’s hard because my Mom and I are really close and we tell each other everything.
What does a typical workweek look like?
The studio I work in is super low-key. We send the shifts we can work, and our manager schedules us. I take cash home every night instead of getting a paycheck. After we pay our room fees (about 40% to the house), I take home $100 CAD ($77.58 USD) on a slow night, $400-$500 CAD ($310.32-$387.90 USD) on a good night. I’ve seen other girls take home more than that. Keep in mind sometimes we have really slow nights, and I don’t take home a penny. But the good nights tend to be more frequent, which makes the time worth it. Also when we’re not seeing clients, the girls just hang out, watch The Client List on Netflix, bitch about our boyfriends, and eat snacks. Normal girl stuff. Honestly, it reminds me of a middle school sleepover, but everyone goes home at midnight.
I’ll stop doing this work when it interferes with either my real life or sex life. (If I ever go home and not want to have sex with my romantic partner, I’ll know it’s a sign to leave. I never want it to take a toll on my real life.) Or I’ll stop when I stop making money. I’ve gone a couple weeks at a time making nothing, which sucked. But my city is in a depression, so every industry is slow, but it’s been gradually picking up again.
Is saving for emergencies more possible now?
It is, for a couple of reasons. It’s a very good turn around for a side hustle, so the up in income is a big part of it. I also need to make sure I’m saving for and investing in my future self. Mostly, I’ve had a huge change in mindset about my credit card. Before, it was a “just for emergency” card. The thing is, you’ll convince yourself new shoes are an emergency, and then before you know it, you’ve maxed out the card. Now you have revolving debt and also no emergency fund. Now, I put as many bills on the credit card I can so I can earn cash back, and I pay it off as quickly as possible. I’m happy to say I’m almost at a 0 balance on that. In the future, there will always be more emergencies, but I want to make sure that I can take care of them from a liquid account and not a credit card.
I actually fell in love with the work, and it has since inspired an erotic book series that is releasing this Summer (stay tuned for when Desire hits Amazon). I love my new job, I love the clients, and I love my colleagues. I like being able to take control of my body and my financial decisions. I have learned from my past mistakes, and I save the money I make at this job in an emergency fund, pay essential bills, and very soon I’ll be looking at making my first investments. Sure, it’s not my dream job or something I want to do for the rest of my life, but it gets the bills paid now and leaves me lots of time to pursue my passion for writing.
Hazel is a writer and sex worker residing in Canada. She runs a blog dedicated to telling the story of how she navigates life, sex work, and relationships. Her erotic novel series is coming out this year. You can get in touch with her by emailing her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Unsplash