Here are edited-down excerpts from four articles based on interviews with current or former prosititutes. They’re quite varied in how they say that market works, and I don’t find them all equally believable. But here at Neurotoxin, we report, you decide!
(1) What It’s Like to Be a Madam for the Richest Guys in America By former Las Vegas escort and madam Jami Rodman, as told to Cheryl Wischhover, Jan 6, 2016
From the Intro: “Jami Rodman became a Las Vegas escort after getting divorced at 22. She started as a stripper, which she claims she wasn’t good at. That progressed to going out on “paid dates” with men at strip club events, which eventually led to her becoming an independent escort. She later started her own high-end escort agency, which she ran as a madam for about three years, until she was outed when an exposé revealed that former Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton was an escort at the agency.” [Interesting.]
At the top of my game when I was escorting, I easily made $3,000 a day. That would be about three clients, sometimes one, sometimes four, but by the time I got to the last guy, I couldn’t remember the name of the first. That’s when it started to really feel like work and less like a fun time.
[Note that it started out as “a fun time.” Whether prostitutes are happy or not is not a function of prostitution as such; it’s a function of their particular situation. This is a theme that emerges throughout these articles, particularly the next one.]
I was escorting for maybe three years and had sugar daddies a couple years, then got into a serious relationship and pulled away from the business. I had stopped escorting and was running an art business. All of a sudden, we had the recession hit and people were not spending money on art. I started escorting again and very quickly started dating a client. He was an attorney and the escort agency was his idea [!]. He helped me start it, and drew up all the paperwork. I was running both businesses and the escorting agency shot through the roof. I didn’t escort at the time because it was very hard to run a business like that plus escort. I really had to work 24 hours a day for at least a year. I had two or three cell phones, and was always taking calls.
At the busiest point, there were 60 women in the agency. When I started it was just six or seven of my friends who had been in the industry. I did screening and marketing, but they were responsible for their own success. If they only wanted to work once a week that was fine with me. Word got around that this agency was doing really well, I was great to work for, I didn’t charge exorbitant rates, so they started coming from all over the world. There are a lot of girls who work on tour and they travel to all the big cities. If you’re a working girl and you go to Vegas, you can make money. There’s somebody looking for companionship at all hours.
It was so much different as a madam because I was running a business, which means I was paying taxes. I paid an assistant, and I paid for photo shoots every month, and anywhere from 40 percent of your income goes to marketing. When clients were not happy, we offered a discount because that’s customer service. If I was in business for money, I never would have run an escort agency. [Wait, what? I think you’re doing it wrong.] I was making connections and making the industry safer for both sides of it. [So you did this as a charity and for “making connections”? Seriously, the best way for you to make connections was to run a whorehouse?! I don’t believe this story for a picosecond. Maybe she actually was in it to make money but it turned out harder than she thought it would be.]
The girls really did charge their own rates. Some were $500 per hour, some $600 or $1,000.
[A thousand bucks per hour!? Whoa!]
When I ran the agency, I was working all day, everyday, and getting phone calls in the middle of dates, in the middle of having sex. I was a horrible partner. As an escort, if I’m having sex all day with clients, the last thing I want to do is go home and have crazy, wild sex with my boyfriend. Maybe I am very sexual in one part of my life, but there’s a sacrifice and that is when I’m in my downtime, I just want to chill. It’s tricky to find someone who first of all is not intimidated by past experiences…
[“Intimidated.” In other words, turned off by the fact that you’re an (ex?) whore. “Intimidated,” snort. So if you decline to bang a pussy that’s had a thousand cocks in it, it must be because you’re scared. Come to think of it, it would be quite reasonable to be scared of catching an STD, but obviously that’s not what she means.
I’ve noticed that women have two main ways of trying to manipulate men (aside from getting other people involved to apply pressure): One is the implicit promise of sex, of course, and the other is some variation on “Bawk, bawk, you’re chicken! If you don’t do what I want you to do, it’s because you’re skeeeeeeered!” Don’t want to marry a prostitute? Ha, coward!]
(2) Sex Talk Realness: What It’s Really Like to Be a Sex Worker by Rachel Hills, Dec 1, 2014.
In this article, Cosmo interviews three “sex worker” women. Here’s a sample of the questions and answers:
What kind of sex work do/did you do?
Woman A: I currently perform in porn, and I used to do all sorts of other sex work — professional domination, camming, escorting, phone sex, hands-on sex education, erotic modeling, and live sex shows.
Woman B: I was a hooker.
Woman C: First and foremost, sex work is an inaccurate description. The terms “sex work” and “sex worker” sanitize the harms in prostitution. Sex is not work; it is exploitation and denial of human rights based on vulnerabilities and power imbalances between the oppressor and the oppressed. For me, stripping and survival sex were gateways to prostitution resulting from vulnerabilities including economic inequality, substance abuse, and the need for survival.
[Wow, a burst of Dworkinite rhetoric that could have been produced by a feminist random word generator. Was Woman C ever really a prostitute? She sounds like a Women’s Studies major who decided to strike a blow against the Patriarchy or whatever by responding to Cosmo’s call for interviewees.]
Woman A: After working three jobs at a mall that an hour and a half walk away, working for an hour to make the same amount seemed obvious. Sex work was a way to see firsthand how diverse human sexuality was while also being paid for it. [It was really just anthropology fieldwork, you see.] Later, when I began escorting specifically, it was because I felt ethically better about it than I did working in marketing for a large corporation that employed sweatshop labor. I particularly worked with people who had disabilities and women who had dealt with sexual trauma, helping them rediscover their bodies…
[Jeez, the self-justifying rationalizations! I doubt this woman is a serious lefty like Woman C, but note how she uses lefty rhetoric: blah corporation blah sweatshop. And you gotta love the random veering comparison to a completely irrelevant alternative: “Why were you a whore? “Better than something something sweatshop!” Reminds me of this exchange from The Tao of Steve:
Dex : Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler. He did a lot. But don’t we all wish he woulda just stayed home and gotten stoned?
Syd : Oh, I see. So your only options are to get stoned or commit genocide?
By the way, The Tao of Steve is a great red-pill movie, until the end, when the playah gets one-itis for one chick.]
Woman C: Childhood issues from mental health and alcoholism in my family groomed me for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation. Substance abuse, homelessness, date rape, teen dating violence, gang rape, and police brutality were some experiences in my youth that groomed me for sexual exploitation.
[So summarizing: I was a homeless druggie (OK, I can believe this I guess) and rape, rape, and more rape caused me to become a prostitute. Wait, you skipped a step. How does being multiple raped apparently twice per day and thrice on Saturdays cause you to become a prostitute? Also, what does police brutality have to do with turning you into a prostitute? A cop beat you up, therefore you had to quit journalism school (see below) and become a prostitute?]
Who are your clients? What do you think brings them to you?
Woman A: My clients are, for the most part, a mixture of curious couples, shy women, and men who have social anxiety or a physical disability. I think it’s because my profile is approachable, but it’s also not the standard “I’m the woman of your fantasies” type of marketing. I present a good sense of humor and affirming language, as well as an awareness of social justice politics, [WHAT THE FUCK?!] and I think the sort of clients I get are attracted to that.
[Okay, I was wrong about Woman A; she is a lefty, just not as foaming-at-the-mouth as Woman C. Also, it’s amazing that she thinks displaying “ an awareness of social justice politics” is an attractive feature in a prostitute. How insane are leftists? Imagine a guy goes to a whore for a blowjob and she gives him a “Racism is evil” speech. Or better still, a “Women are oppressed by prostitution” speech.]
Woman C: A variety of sex buyers purchased me for sex [actually they rented you], including politicians and workers in large corporations in the tech industry. The demographics of sex buyers are broad, but they all operate on their inherent need to be in control, exert power, act out violence and other acts on a prostituted person.
And how do you feel about your clients?
Woman A: Well, how do you feel about your coworkers or your boss? Sometimes they’re lovely, sometimes they’re wearing on your last nerve. For the most part, I feel genuine affection for my clients; they’re really lovely people and respect me as well as my time and boundaries.
Woman B: Some of them were nice enough guys. Sometimes they’d buy me supper first, almost like it was a date, which was sweet. Those guys tended to be kind and respectful, and I’d happily go back to sex work in a heartbeat if I could only see those guys. Some of them were real creepers though…
Woman C: The buyers of sex are not clients — they are rapists. I felt repulsed and disgusted by them. Not one sex buyer was anything other than disgusting, degrading, dehumanizing, and harmful to my body, mind, and soul.
What do/did you enjoy about your job?
Woman A: The time flexibility. I could manage my schedule and fit clients in around my other whims and responsibilities. For example, when I was escorting, I could focus my time off work on my activism and my education, which was very important to me.
Woman B: I enjoyed the relative autonomy, and that it wasn’t, generally speaking, terribly difficult, especially for the pay. I liked some of the clients, and it was sort of validating for me — I’d grown up believing that I was ugly, and as a young teenager I had an eating disorder. That part of me liked feeling like I was showing up the people who’d told me that I wasn’t good enough.
Woman C: Not one thing. The life of prostitution is a horrific form of violence against (largely) women. It was nowhere near enjoyable.
How much money do/did you make doing sex work?
Woman A: I adjusted my lifestyle so that I could work one or two days a month [!] and pay rent as well as groceries, so while I didn’t make bank the way others can, I preferred to work less and have more time to pursue my other interests… I’m a bit of a gutter punk at heart so don’t need a lot to feel satisfied.
[She supported herself working one or two days a month? Holy crap!]
Do/did you have other jobs at the same time? If so, did your coworkers know, or were you worried they’d find out you do sex work?
Woman C: Yes, I worked in journalism industry for a short period of time simultaneously. However, it quickly became impossible to uphold two different lifestyles and the money didn’t compare.
[Whoops, she forgot to keep her story straight. First it was “I was forced into it by date rape and violent cops,” but now it’s “The money was better.” Also, she said in an earlier passage I elided, “The exchange of currency doesn’t change the fact that it is rape, because you don’t want to be there and wouldn’t be there except for your economic need.” Now she’s saying, “Actually I didn’t have economic need because I had another job, but whoring paid better, so…”
Also, undoubtedly the ethics of whoring are better than the ethics of modern journalism.]
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about sex workers and sex work?
Woman A: That sex workers are all doing it to fund a drug addiction, that we’re doing sex work because we either don’t have any other option, that we’re uneducated… All of those may be true for some people and is completely untrue for others … like if you substituted “retail” for “sex work.”
Woman B: One of the big ones — and one that really bugs me — is the idea that no one would choose to do sex work, or that all sex workers are being exploited (which often comes with the implication that they’re not smart enough to realize it). It strikes me as very paternalistic — sort of, “if you’re not doing what I think you should do, it’s because you’re not smart enough to realize that I’m right.” But many women choose sex work — it pays relatively well, allows flexibility, and allows some control over what you’re doing. Sex workers aren’t stupid. They might not be making the choices that you would make, but they might be making the best choices for themselves.
Woman C: That there is a choice. Individuals don’t willingly enter exploitation; it comes from a myriad of vulnerabilities. For example, in a nine country study, 89 percent of exploited women wanted to exit but had no other means for survival.
(3) Confessions of a Real-Life Madame, by Jake Simons, 7/15/2016.
“A safe and happy childhood eluded Jenny; who only managed to escape her sexually abusive stepfather by running away from home as a teenager. Things didn’t get any easier, though — from the time she was 16 well into her 30s, she managed to date assholes: guys who hit her, scammed her, abused her, and robbed her.”
[Yes, by some unfortunate coincidence, all the guys she dated for twenty years just happened to be abusers! What a run of bad luck!]
There’s a lot less sex than you’d think
Once upon a time, Jenny arranged for three women to accompany three wealthy men for a three-day weekend in the Caribbean. That’s two overnight stays in the same hotel room. No sex happened that she knows of. Each girl collected $2,000 a night, plus made extensive use of the resort’s room service and spa to ring up a five-figure bill.
“You probably already know this, but most stripping and hooking isn’t really about sex,” Jenny said. “It’s about companionship, being made to feel important. For the worst clients, it’s about enforcing power. You can do a lot of those things with your clothes on. For some things, it’s easier without the sex.” Over the course of her time as a madame, Jenny guesses only about 75% of her paying clients actually had actual sex… and that number would go to about half if you only counted penetration to orgasm as “actual sex.”
…a surprising number of Jenny’s workers simply gave back rubs and basic spa treatments.
(4) Report: The world’s top prostitutes by Charlotte Edwardes January 22, 2014
‘Dark red, you know the one, like blood. I forget the name. Anyway, he wants that on your toes. Light-pink manicure – fresh, innocent. So what’s next? Underwear, yes. He wants you in La Perla, off-white. Corsetry. Nothing whorish.’ Lauren (All names have been changed.), 31, is mimicking her madam, putting on a breathy Parisian accent, adding a few Gallic gestures for effect. ‘He’s a nice guy, veeery discreet. Remember: act like you know him. Packing, let’s see: a cocktail dress – black, whips, lube…’ She laughs, returning to her own voice, which has a faint Scandinavian lilt. ‘And that was my life for 10 years. I was a high-class hooker. Call me a courtesan, call girl, escort, whatever you want. But basically I was a hooker. Just very well paid.’ She looks at her ring, an enormous pear-shaped diamond, and adjusts it. ‘Very well paid.’
On condition of anonymity (‘I don’t want my legs broken’), Lauren has agreed to talk about her life as a high-class prostitute. She earned £10,000 a night – at her peak £20,000, and £40,000 for a weekend. (‘No one earns that money now,’ she says. ‘Prices have gone down in the last five years. Changing times.’) [Prices fell after the world economy recovered from the Great Recession?! (The article is from 2014.) Uh, no, honey, you aged out so you can’t command as high a price.]
She travelled aboard private jets and yachts to Monaco, St Tropez, St Barth’s, Barbados and Malibu… the Cannes Film Festival, the Miami Art Basel, the Met Ball, the Monaco Grand Prix. ‘Our clients were on the Forbes list. Men who owned countries, private islands, people who were huge in property, big-scale retail, international industry and oil. I’ve had dinner with royalty and major politicians. If you knew who! These clients were – are – powerful, powerful men.’
Aristocrats? ‘No. They don’t pay. It’s new money. Having a hooker for them is nothing – like having butter on their bread. Sometimes their wives knew and turned a blind eye, sometimes they didn’t [know].’
We are in Lauren’s house in Chelsea. She lives with her husband, who was not a client – ‘I got lucky’ – and who disapproves of her talking about her past.
She says her look – extraordinary pale hair, gas-blue eyes, peachy skin – ‘was the look everyone wanted. They don’t want skinny models, they want a little bit of…’ She plumps her cleavage. ‘But nothing fake.’ Like others girls in her earnings bracket, Lauren is clever. She speaks several languages (Swedish, French, English). She used to read the Financial Times and The Economist to stay abreast of world events, as well as fashion magazines ‘for style’. ‘These clients want someone who can hold a conversation at a cocktail party or dinner. You can’t be like [she puts on a thick Slavic accent], “Er, my name is Svetlana. My father work in factory.” Although some girls do come from that background.’
Lauren says there are two ‘major’ madams in London right now, both women, and that they supply girls all over Europe and to the States. One is English, ‘but her background is not English. Big woman. Looks like a frog.’ Lauren’s was French, ‘in her 50s, very elegant’, lives in north-west London and has dominated the industry for 20 years. She has ‘the best, best girls. She has the top 10 girls right now. They are seriously beautiful. They look like models.’
How does her madam recruit? ‘She has scouts, who work like model scouts, trawling hot clubs and bars and model parties. And girls find her. Some come through contacts. Mostly they are models, strippers or dancers. Or students. They are smart and pretty, pretty. There are young actresses too. Sometimes recognisable faces.’
Lauren’s madam worked with a man who was ‘friendly with all the top model agencies. He’d pretend to be a Saudi prince and sleep with models. Then he’d tell them they could earn £10,000 a night and they’d say, “Oh really? Here’s my number.'” At other times, he might proposition a pretty girl by offering large amounts of money for sex. ‘Ninety-nine per cent of the time she’ll tell him where to go. But the seed is planted. Next time she sees him, she might say, “OK, tell me more.'”
There’s also a place in Paris she’ll send top girls to learn about sex, all the tricks. Paris is unbelievable for that stuff.’ Are the girls nervous? She laughs. ‘You can’t have nerves! These girls are tough. And there’s a numbness – it’s work. We don’t care about clients. A lot [of girls] come from not-great backgrounds.’ She trails off. ‘Let’s just say there’s a reason why they’re doing what they’re doing.’
‘The very least you’ll be paying is £1,000 a night – those are the get-’em-in, get-’em-out service girls.’ They’re booked for events like ‘the big weekend shoots’, or to sit in a nightclub, ‘making some sleazy guy look good’. She continues: ‘The mid-range are the majority – £5,000 a night up. A lot of Russians. They’re usually exceptionally beautiful but maybe didn’t cut it modelling. Most of the mid-range guys aren’t mega-mega – they’re wealthy-banker league.’
Girls are sent ‘to etiquette classes, to learn how to sit, eat, which knife, fork, which glass for the white, for the red. It can’t be obvious to the other dinner guests that she’s a prostitute.’ It sounds very My Fair Lady – albeit a pornographic version. [Actually it sounds like a naive fabulist’s idea of what “high-class courtesan” training is like, gleaned from cheesy movies. I half expected her to say that the training includes several martial arts and knife fighting.] ‘But not all the girls are badly educated,’ she adds. ‘There are students, girls with private school backgrounds rebelling against Daddy.’ She tells of a girl from a fabulous background who fell in love with a client. ‘And the client left his wife and three children for her.’ Do many girls marry out of the game? ‘Not as many as you’d think,’ she says. ‘It’s not Pretty Woman. But then again, a lot of society women started out this way.’
What makes a £10,000-£20,000 girl? ‘Looks and training. We were professionals. We’d need to be funny, a laugh, party all night. Or cool and clever, discreet and well-mannered. You could never be fazed by power or mega money – or what you were asked to do.’ She says the top girls are ‘healthy’ – they go to the gym. ‘They don’t do drugs, smoke or drink. Sometimes you’re up all night, you need to look after yourself.’
‘An absolutely stunning girl might not be so bright, or her English isn’t good. She’ll go to Arab clients. They want a beautiful girl they can lock in a room and bang, bang, bang.’ She pauses. ‘But they pay well.’
Does that mean other clients treat girls well? ‘Yes, but…’ She takes a deep breath. ‘A lot of these guys are seriously fucked up. If they’re married, their wives don’t do what they want. No woman in her sane mind would do half of it.’ She describes unprintable scenes and remembers being put in ‘an exceptionally expensive outfit so that the client could [urinate] on it’. One European royal ‘who has hookers all the time’ is so rough that Lauren’s madam refuses to send her best girls. A famous film director offered to make Lauren famous ‘if I didn’t use a condom’. She refused. ‘And one guy – you definitely know his name – wanted to be a baby girl dressed as a ballerina. We had to smack him and put things up his bum.’
In addition to their fees (which were paid to the madam – ‘no money changes hands with the girl’), clients would take them shopping for tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of clothes. Retirement age is 28, ‘latest 30’, Lauren says. ‘They need to earn enough to send home, or to put away for their future.’ (Lauren invested in property.) She says there’s an upper echelon of exclusive prostitutes, the famous ex-models, It girls and actresses, who charge for their celebrity premium. ‘They have a longer shelf life.’ Lauren cites six, including a former Victoria’s Secret model, who charged ‘£25,000 an hour. That’s a lot of money, so good for her.’
Through Lauren, I meet Anna, 24, who is currently working as a prostitute. She’s braless under her white T-shirt but it doesn’t look tarty – it looks hip, unbothered, sexy. She has a loose sweep of caramel-blonde hair, parted roughly in the middle – the kind of girl you might see hoicking her modelling portfolio around Paris. She remembers the ‘cheap fake-fur coat’ she was wearing when she stepped off the plane five years ago from Russia. Her modelling career failed because ‘there were a million Eastern European girls like me at the agency. I couldn’t earn proper money.’
Anna refuses to discuss her madam (or ‘agent’, as she calls her), but says she was introduced by another model. Most of her clients are financiers – ‘hedgefunders, CEOs, rich businessmen who like to travel. I can make £5,000 a night. Sometimes £10,000 or £15,000 for a weekend.’ She says the other girls ‘are nice, we’re often booked in groups’.
I ask Anna how she sees her future. ‘Maybe I’ll marry a rich man,’ she says. ‘If not, I’ll start my own business.’ Does she think she’ll ever fall in love? Have children? Have a normal life? ‘Maybe. I hope.’ She shrugs. ‘It’s hard to think about it. Right now, I just want to make money.’
The Paris Sex School Lessons:
Knowledge of all sexual positions, including the unusual (eg, reverse cowgirl).
How to perform the world’s best oral sex. Including how to relax your throat muscles and how to incorporate other male parts.
Light bondage (how to be dominant, rope tying, light spanking and whips).
Exercises to develop core muscles (internal grip), thigh muscles and balance – crucial for domination.
How to use your fingers and tongue to best effect, and when.
Grooming and cleanliness (eg, no hair around bikini line and ensuring there are no unsightly ‘accidents’).
How to look as if you’re enjoying it as much as they are (eye contact, appearing to take your time, faking orgasm).
How, when and where to use a vibrator.
Three or moresomes – how to work together in order to maximise pleasure.
Business. Keep him satisfied; ensure repeat custom.