clients, friends and family, Love, money, personal stories, Relationships, sex industry, Sex Work, south australia, stigma
This piece is an original and true story written by me and recently published in ‘Johns, Marks, Tricks and Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each Other’ Edited by David Henry Sterry and R.J. Martin Jnr. Which is the sequal to the equally as awesome ‘Hos Hookers, Call Girls and Rent Boys: Professionals Writing on Love, Money and Sex’. Do yourself a favour!
I met Barry during the time I was working at 333, which was both the name and street number of a typical suburban brothel in Adelaide Australia. 4 bedrooms, one bathroom, client waiting room, ‘girls’ (staff) room, receptionist and us sex workers. It was clean, safe, sparse and far from high class. I was a 25 year old single mother and uni student with average looks and average attitude, dressed in a wig, a hooker dress and trashy stay up stockings. I was half way through a fourteen hour shift one Sunday evening when Barry rung the brothel doorbell. Brushing our hair and applying another layer of lipstick the three workers on shift clip clopped in our high heels one at a time into the waiting room where Barry sat. We introduced ourselves, smiled, sussed him out, did our best to impress and then clip clopped back to the staff room. It is impossible to predict which worker a client will choose so I always got a bit of a thrill when the receptionist called my name, especially when it was a slow night.
Barry booked me for an hour and I provided my service in one of the dimly lit, no frills brothel rooms. An hour can be a long time to spend shut away with a stranger in four small walls especially if you don’t get along. Fitted out with nothing but a double ensemble bed, a bedside table, a clock radio and a wooden chair time could drag and those rooms could end up feeling claustrophobic. But Barry and I clicked and the hour passed quickly. The sex was over early in session and we spent the rest of the hour lying around naked telling silly stories. Just before the hour was up Barry got aroused again and he happily offered to extend the booking. During the second hour I got to hear Barry’s story; he worked out at the mines in central Australia and had a fly in/ fly out contract working solidly for two and a half weeks and then having ten days off. He came to Adelaide during his downtime and spent all his money on 5 star accommodation and partying.
Still in the tiny room the second hour went by quickly and easily. We were having fun and Barry didn’t want to say goodbye, so with only 3 more hours left until I finished work he decided to pay the fee to book me out for the rest of my shift. We spent the whole night in that room fucking, laughing and talking. I can’t deny I was attracted to Barry’s obvious disposable income, and I was flattered that he was willing to spend so much of it on time with me. I also enjoyed his company and his sense of humour so at the end of the 5 hours I agreed to meet him after work and hang out in the bar of his hotel – for free.
Mixing business with pleasure is widely warned against in many businesses and the sex industry is no different. Infact in the circles I mixed and worked in it was considered a big no no. My friends would have called me crazy and my boss would have sacked me, so I kept it to myself. I was crossing a lot of lines. I might have spent hours alone naked in a room with this guy but he didn’t know my real name and he hadn’t seen the real me or even my real hair! I surprised myself when without too much thought I agreed to meet him in the lobby of his hotel. Nothing but the time and place had been confirmed or negotiated and I felt vulnerable but excited.
After spending five hours with me, Barry left the brothel and went back to his hotel while I packed up my work gear, collected my pay and headed home. Once home I had about half an hour to pretty myself up before calling a taxi into town. I noted in my head that the taxi was was going to be at my expense and I felt a bit annoyed with myself for not only agreeing to give away my time for free but also spending my own money in order to do it. Then I consoled myself with the knowledge that I had made good money on this night, largely because of Barry.
I let the butterflies take over. What will I wear? He only knows me as the hooker in a trashy short dress and too much cleavage. What I choose to wear will represent the real me, and what about my hair! He only knew me with the sexy sleek stylish wig hairdo, but my real hair underneath was more like pink rock chick. I was all nervous and excited. I showered, put on my expensive perfume and my matching girly undies and bra, the ones I kept only for my personal life. Then I put on my jeans, sneakers and hoodie. I looked in the mirror and tried to see myself through his eyes. I looked like a more wholesome version of the person he met in the brothel hours before, more like the girl next door than sultry sex kitten. With just a brush of mascara and lip gloss, my crazy hair looking cute and my clothes comfortable, I still felt sexy with my favourite underwear and scent on my skin.
I hoped Barry appreciated that he was getting the real me, in my real clothes. I hope he knew that he was lucky. I wanted him to understand the significance. But when I met up with him he didn’t seem concerned with my changed appearance one way or the other.
That night was fun; we partied with his money until it was time for me to return to my child and real life. We made plans to catch up next time he was in town, and then the time after that. This hotel room romance continued for only a few weeks before Barry made me an offer. He wanted commitment, he wanted me to stop working and he was prepared to put his money where his mouth was. I didn’t want to give up sex work but if he was prepared to financially support me I would consider it, who wouldn’t be tempted by not having to go to work right? He told me he was sick of hotel rooms and after working hard all month he wanted to come back to a home. He offered to rent a nice house for me and my son so that he could stay there during his downtime. It sounded perfect to me, ten days of fun while he was in party mode followed by twenty days of the house to myself while he went back to work 400 km away. I jumped at the offer.
For the first time our fling shifted from hotel rooms and bars into the public and domestic domain. We looked at houses together and visited friends, he spent time with my son and he met my mum. Everything went well and our new home was gorgeous. He was happily paying all the rent because it was still cheaper than the expensive hotels he used to pay for and I got to live somewhere beautiful rent free. We spent his first visit home playing house; I cooked, he bought me flowers, we cuddled on the sofa and watched movies. It was fun. His second time home was less enchanting. He was less appreciative and I was less excited by cooking. We bickered for the first time but when we kissed each other goodbye I had hope that next time would be better.
While he was gone things were good. We talked on the phone and sent emails, he paid my bills and we missed each other. But when he returned it didn’t seem so much fun anymore. Real life got in the way of the sex, romance and indulgence that had bought us together. We did dishes instead of ordering room service. We sat on the couch and read the paper instead of rolling around on the crisp white sheets of hotel beds. We talked about bills and shopping lists instead of fantasies and fears. Once domesticity set in our true colours began to shine. I had thought that all those hours spent alone together surrounded by four walls would have given us an opportunity to really get to know each other. I thought all that talking and laughing and exploring and confessing would have meant I understood what I was getting myself into. But it was the outside world, the real life pressures and the daily distractions that really tested our compatibility, or lack of.
We continued our relationship together for about six months but it felt like 6 years. By the end of it I was bored and he was demanding. I was broke and he was sick of paying for my expensive phone bills. We still had fun but the shine had worn off and there were lots of times when we would argue or just ignore each other.
Instead of missing him I was happy when it was time for him to go, but we both pretended to be sad. We had settled into the house, my son and I were happy in our new home and there was no way I could afford the rent by myself. I had a part time job but Barry had made me give up sex work so my income was small. I wanted to go back. I missed the money, the independence of making my own money, the other workers, the attention from clients and the excuse to wear trashy dresses and high heels. I wanted out of this deal with Barry and sex work was going to be my way out. I fantasised about returning to work for a few weeks but I didn’t take it any further initially because I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea and I didn’t want to hurt Barry. During his next visit home I tried to reconnect with him but he seemed so distant. Then he bluntly told me he wanted me to ‘make my hair normal’ and I knew for sure that we were not suited. I liked my cute pink hair and if there is one thing being a hooker has taught me, it’s that everyone is someone’s type. I didn’t want to stick around with Barry if I wasn’t his type. And then when I thought about it I realised he wasn’t really my type either, he had a temper and he was often quite chauvinistic. We spent the rest of his stay going through the motions until he left early. He always left at 4pm after making a big song and dance about how much he was going to miss me and he always wanted sex before he left because it was a while in between. But this time he left at 2pm with barely a kiss goodbye saying that he was tired and wanted to get back in time for an early night.
Now it was obvious to me that leaving early wasn’t about him needing sleep. He was always tired when he headed back to work but that had never stopped him from dragging the process out as long as possible. I didn’t know why he was leaving early this time, I just presumed he had come to the same conclusions about our relationship as I had, but I didn’t dwell on it. I didn’t really care what his reasons were I was just relieved to get my house back two hours earlier than expected so I could plot my escape.
I had made my mind up, it was over. I still didn’t know how I was going to tell Barry but first things first, I needed to make some money. I was going to go back to sex work and pay my own rent and then I would call Barry and tell him of my decision. Sometime before his next visit.
When Barry had been reading the paper earlier that day I had noticed the sex industry add pages in the classifieds section. As soon as he walked out the door I poured myself a wine, grabbed the paper and sat down ready to find myself a job in a brothel. I flicked through looking for the ‘adult relaxation’ section. I knew there would be plenty of ‘looking for staff’ adds amongst the columns and columns of names, numbers and promises of a good time. I looked through the paper three times, but I couldn’t find the page with the adds. They had been there before, I had seen them. I found the section and page number listed in the contents table…. Page 16. I turned the pages but page 16 was not there. On further inspection I realised that page 16 had been removed. Presumably by Barry. Barry who had left my house two hours earlier than necessary, without hassling me for sex, with a list of local hookers and their phone numbers.
The penny drops, but I am not mad, instead I see my out. The irony of catching my boyfriend sneaking around with hookers only because I was trying to sneak around and be a hooker myself was not lost on me. I was just annoyed with myself for crossing the line with a client in the first place. I should have known better. I am payed to be the professional. My client should be able to fall in love all they want, safe in the knowledge that their sex worker will not let them take it any further. But I let us both down. If I had have maintained my professional boundaries Barry could still be paying me by the hour instead of sneaking round paying someone else by the hour – and we would all be happy.