I think I covered pretty much the whole spectrum of “sex work” during my time in the industry, except for escorting, which tends to be the profession most people think of when hearing the term “sex worker”. From the amount of e-mails I use to get and actually still do get demanding to know how much it would cost for anything from 30 minutes to a whole night with me, I would imagine I could have wiped out world hunger single handedly if I’d taken that route. In the same way that people always ask me questions because they are fascinated by how I could do porn, I feel the same way about escorting. I just could not do it. Despite having slept with an obscene number of men in my personal life, most of which were for the wrong reason, I can’t envision a time when I would be okay with some random guy pawing all over me, trying to kiss me, or me having to pretend that I was at all turned on by his fumbling gropes or hot breath on my tits.
But one time, when I was really, really poor and really, really scared and quite sick of ten-hour long days spent travelling and then shooting “glamour” in someone’s back bedroom in Margate for £60, I went to see an escort agency.
My finances were at an all-time low and I was struggling to feed myself and to sleep for worrying about my rent. I was floundering and panicking and the only consistency in my life was casual sex so I decided I’d try and cash in on that by joining an escort agency. The first one I came across online was full of glamorous women, the kind I’d always idolised and who always seemed so in control. The kind who dated footballers and drove sports cars and spent all their spare tenners on hairdressers’ appointments and sunbeds. These girls wouldn’t be thrilled to find they had a fiver in their purse at the end of the week and could buy themselves a KFC for dinner and that thought made me both sad and excited. I don’t think I was thinking straight – if at all – but I filled in the “Contact Us” form on the website and waited. Before I knew what I was really doing, I’d had an e-mail back inviting me to an informal meeting – “more of a chat really” – and I’d agreed.
To this day I don’t remember what I wore but I knew it wasn’t right before I even got there. What does one wear to a meeting about selling their body? A little black dress? The obligatory trench coat with nothing but stockings and suspenders underneath? The agency owner’s house was in Knightsbridge, for God’s sake, and I turned up in my Primark leggings with my best River Island bag with the broken clasp.
The guy who opened the door was fabulously rich and fabulously gay.
“Dahhhhling!” he demurred. “I hope you haven’t had to come far!” This was accompanied by a glance at my leggings, with a look that suggested he wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d come by horse. This was a man who’d never had reason to venture past Zone 2 and his home was the nicest one I’d ever been in. Pimping is big money, especially in major cities. You can dress it up however you like but if you’re making money from pairing up girls and horny guys you’re not a modern-day Cupid or a “helping hand”, you’re a pimp. However, this pimp was in Dolce & Gabbana and I wanted to hear what he could do for me.
I was incredibly nervous and the guy’s squawking Pomeranian dogs didn’t help. He gave me some paperwork to peruse as he wafted around his flat, arranging throw pillows and making fancy teas for us. I had to fill out a questionnaire, neatly printed with three columns to tick running down the page: yes, no, dependent. I was very dependent on what this man could do for me so I tried to answer as liberally as I could but God, I was scared.
Looking back now I was so naive – I’d never even discussed anal sex before and now here I was having to tick a box to let this man know if I’d be happy to do it and if yes, would it have to be with a condom? I was terrified and so out of my depth. I tried to vary my answers so I didn’t appear like too much of a prude but it was really hard – could I really let an old man stranger cum in my mouth? Would I be happy to swallow it, fee negotiable?
“I think I’m done,” I said. I have to admit, I was quite proud of myself for how nonchalant I was acting. Granted, I’d still probably slept with more men in my private life than his best girls had for work but at least I’d always had a hand in picking the men who used and abused me previously. This time I was completely up for grabs.
He glanced down at my list, smiling and nodding intently. “Are you a natural redhead? Such lovely, fresh skin – you look so young! How old did you say you are? How old would you be happy with us putting you on the site as?”
Luckily we were disturbed by his phone ringing. What age should I be? My own? My mum’s?
“Dahhhling!” he purred, phone pressed to his ear. “How did it go? Brilliant, brilliant. Oh you are such a naughty girl!” he tinkled. “Yes well, Mr X said you suck beautifully you filthy thing!”
Oh God, I wanted to go home. My home or my parents’ home, I wasn’t quite sure but I didn’t want to be here, listening to this. It was all too much. I was racking my brains for an excuse to leave but it was too late, he was off the phone to his naughty girl and back studying my list. I remember moving through to the living room then – the paperwork had taken place in the kitchen – which I suppose, in a “normal” job interview would have been some sort of indicator of having moved on to the next “round”. God, I wanted to go home.
“So, Jaye darling,” he was cocooned in a nest of cushions, his legs up, face kind and grinning at me. “Are you keen to come on board? I think you’d be ever so popular, you like deliciously young. Do you have a school girl’s outfit?”
“Oh, um, no I don’t – but I could get one?”
“Wonderful!” He clapped his hands with glee. I was glad one of us was enjoying themselves. I probably had pound signs all over me.
I needed to know how it all worked and that was information he was more than happy to provide; the fee was £300 an hour, ask for cash upfront as soon as the gentleman enters the hotel room. The agency takes a percentage of course (it escapes me now exactly what that percentage was but I think it was something like 10-15%, the same fee an agent would take) and whatever happened between consenting adults behind closed doors was down to us.
The amount of cash he was talking about was very, very appealing. You have to remember, I was sleeping with a different man at least twice weekly at this point, what would two or three more be added to this mix, really? Okay they wouldn’t be men I’d picked or necessarily wanted to have touching me but £300 is a lot of money, in anyone’s book. To be making a thousand pounds a day for doing something I could usually detach myself from anyway – it wasn’t ideal but if it meant I could pay my rent and afford to treat myself to a pair of new jeans once in a blue moon, I’d do it. I don’t think it took a lot for me to make that decision. I was tired and stressed and London was sucking me in besides, those girls all seemed to be doing alright. I wanted to look like one of them.
There was just one, glaring obvious catch that I’d missed and which he went on to explain to me. I’d seen the website, as he well knew, and how gorgeous and pristine all the girls looked. To achieve this and be put on the site, all the girls had paid something like £600 to cover the make-up artist, the photographer and all the post processing.
“Oh”, I was stumped. I thought I’d had a job, set in stone. “But I’ve got lots of pictures already, can I use those?”.
He sighed, as though he only wished he could. “I can’t my darling, you have to fit with the theme of the site. We need the same style images”.
“Then I can’t do it”. It was as simple as that. I didn’t even have the money for a weekly Tube card, there is no way on earth I could have found £600 anywhere. No way. All those dreams of glossy hair extensions had flown out of the open window and burst over the glossy, preened heads of the wealthy passersby down below.
He brooded on this for all of ten seconds. It seemed my biggest lure was the fact that he didn’t currently have a redhead on his books and my age. At the time that didn’t mean anything to me – if anything, I was actually quite flattered that I’d be the only redhead – but thinking about how my tender age was such a key factor now makes me cold to the bone.
“There is a way! We could set up a shoot with our photographer, get the images, have you set up on the site and available and then you can pay us back with the first two jobs you do”.
I was desperate but I wasn’t that desperate. The thought of having to sleep with two strangers, for free, simply to pay for some stupid photos told me this wasn’t ever going to be for me. I told him I’d think about it and hurried away, back down underground and emerging to the safety of my little bedsit and my empty purse. He did try and call me in order to set up a shoot date; he left me a message and I never replied and that was the last I ever heard from him.
A lot of people outside the industry don’t see a difference between escorting and making porn and I can’t say I blame them. Fundamentally the two are the same – having sex for money – but to me, having done porn and lived that lifestyle, the differences are paramount. With porn you are in a safe environment, in a position to say “no” to anything you’re not comfortable with and frankly, porn sex is nothing like “real sex”; it has to look good, not necessarily feel good. This means that half the time the man isn’t even “fully” fucking you because the camera needs to see the dick going in and out and the man isn’t just pumping away. You also know in advance who you will be working with and are able to say “no” if you don’t want to work with them.
With escorting, who knows who will walk through the door. Not only might you not find them attractive, the idea of a man thinking that he owns me and has unlimited access to my body simply because he’s paid makes me feel physically ill. I couldn’t sit there and pretend I was okay with or aroused by some awful, creepy man pawing all over me, touching my breasts and between my legs, genuinely thinking that I am enjoying being in his company.
Even though I was at a bad stage in my life where I was letting men I met do that to me anyway, I’m still glad that in my head I was still fiercely vain and stuck on the idea of “Hell no, you think you can touch this?”. I have a strange, quiet sort of admiration for girls who can do it and particularly those who seem to enjoy it, but for me, I just know I couldn’t do it.