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Wish I'd Known

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When I was twenty-six, I saw a sex worker for the first time.

I hadn't become an escort yet at that point, I was just a regular lady with a male partner, looking for a threesome. It's very hard to find unattached single ladies for threesomes (that's why they're called 'unicorns') so we decided to go to a brothel and find someone to sleep with us. Well, it sure was a nerve-wracking experience! I remember that we picked the most expensive brothel in Sydney, and when we turned up I was so nervous that my hands were shaking. I had dressed up for the occasion in a strapless black dress and heels. When we walked in through the door, we discovered that the place was overrun with pro footballers after a match - they stared and my boyfriend and I, probably wondering what the Hell we were doing there.

When I walked through those doors, I definitely didn't anticipate that I would know all about the industry in less than three years' time.

For me, sex workers had always held a fascination. Part of it was that I was interested in women, but didn't know many my age who were willing to experiment with me. After that first experience, I was always dragging my boyfriends off to see sex workers (I promise they didn't complain!) It would have been a lot easier though, if only I'd known a few things about the sex industry before I started. Here are the things I wish I knew, before I saw a sex worker.

1. You're not going to be judged - especially for not knowing how things work. The first time, I really didn't know how to conduct myself. We had met a really nice lady, and she has taken us up to one of the rooms in the brothel. I said to her "I guess we should give you the money now?" I thought I was being helpful. She said "Um, yeah". She was so nice about it, when she easily could have rolled her eyes and said "Of course you have to give me the money first, isn't that fucking obvious?" She knew that my partner and I were new to this, and she graciously explained that the money was always handed over up-front. A good sex worker understand that not everybody knows how things work, and will be happy to explain it to you if you get it wrong

2. Whether you get along with your lady is up to both of you, not just the worker. Try and be friendly and personable. A good sex worker will do their best to be friends with you, but it takes two to tango. You need to give them something to work with.

3. The person you're paying to have sex with you wants to be there. Initially, I had a lot of weird ideas about sex work. I was worried that the lady we chose might not like us and be secretly wishing she were somewhere else. The media makes up a lot of stuff about sex workers being 'forced into it', and good guys are often concerned about this. But it's not the case - we have chosen to do this job, the same way anyone else chooses to do any job. We may have good days or bad days, but if we are professional you'll never know. And it's just as possible to have a good connection with an escort as with a regular lady. Asking for consent ("How do you feel about what we're doing right now?") is great, but asking insulting personal questions ("are you just pretending to like me?") only makes our job harder.

4. Give them the money up front - not negotiable. It's really awkward if you just stand there and we have to ask for the cash. As I mentioned above, I did actually do that the first time, and it's sort of understandable. But now you know: hand over the fee in an envelope and you'll have made a new friend, instantly.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. Sex workers aren't mind readers. there are so many different reasons why people come to see us, so it's really helpful if you're up-front about that interesting position you wanted to try. A lot of guys I meet are shy about talking about sexual acts, so it takes a while for them to become comfortable enough to open up. But if you want to actually get what you want, you have to ask for it. Sex workers are very good at saying 'no', and as long as you respect that then asking is never a problem. Also, we talk about sex (and have sex) so much that we're virtually impossible to embarrass.

I hope this is useful to someone out there! Until the time machine is invented, I won't be able to go back and give my twenty-six-year-old self a good talking-to. I'm lucky that I've had so many great sex workers show me the way.

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