This little anecdote about my life is a bit out of nowhere. Although it was thinking about the new Audio Visual Media Services Regulations that probably sparked it off. I was thinking about how it really wasn’t necessary for a bunch of men in suits to sit down and decide exactly how they feel about face-sitting and female ejaculation and amputee insertion. Surely the only questions one needs to ask in regard to porn are “Is it legal, safe and consensual? Is everybody involved happy to be there and feeling like they’re being paid enough?” If the answer is ‘yes’ then we’re good to go.
And of course the same questions can be applied to prostitution which is similarly mired in a whole bunch of needlessly complicated and often seemingly contradictory regulation. We seem unable to legalise (and regulate) the industry because, well, a lot of people feel a bit squicky about it, you see.
Which brings me back to me my brief excursion into the World’s Oldest Profession.
This was a long time ago. Pre-internet, in fact. These days I imagine if one wishes to procure the services of a sex worker then you’d nip online to whatever the solicitation equivalent of JustEat.com is and sort it all out with a click of a button. Back then, escort services relied heavily on classified ads in local newspapers.
|And cards in phone boxes, of course. They were jolly popular.|
I was out of work at the time and sitting in the pub, scouring the Surrey Advertiser for suitable job opportunities. I noticed that one of the many Escort Agency ads in the Personal Services section said something like “We are currently looking for escorts. If you’re interested please phone the following number.” I believe my thought process at the time went along the lines of “Oh, why the fuck not?”
So I gave them a ring (from the pub payphone – this was pre-mobile phones as well) and an interview was arranged.
The remarkable thing about the job interview was how very, very normal it was. It was like most other job interviews I’ve had. It took place in the Holiday Inn in Guildford, it was formal and polite; pay and conditions were discussed. Nobody asked me to remove my clothes at any time.
|"And what do you enjoy most about whoring?"|
This was, I feel I should point out, all taking place during what was a rather slutty period in my life. I was extending my “why the fuck not?” philosophy to all manner of drink, drugs and sleeping with anyone who looked they might be up for it. A few of those sexual hook-ups were rather ill-advised and not, in any way, very much fun. Knowing this made me think that prostitution really wouldn’t be all that much bother. I’ve slept with people I didn’t like not for money, I reasoned. Sleeping with people I didn’t like and getting paid for it seemed a positive improvement.
A few friends did try to talk me out of the venture. My housemates, on the other hand, thought it was a great idea. Two of them were drug dealers and I think they rather liked the idea of house becoming a fully fledged den of sin. Wall-to-wall sex ‘n’ drugs ‘n’ whatever I was listening to at the time. Urban folk, probably.
And one of my drug dealing housemates did point out that as he provided me with free drugs, I would be able to return the favour which is a fairly opportunistic way of looking at things, I feel.
I got the job. I suspect that as the Agency’s main requirements for their employees were ‘actually exists’ and ‘willing to do it’, there was probably wasn’t too much chance of me not getting it. The way in which it worked was that the client would ring the agency who would then ring the Escort at home with the phone number and details of the client who the Escort would ring back. It sounds needlessly complicated but it was pre-mobile phones and you didn’t want to be giving out your home phone number to just anyone.
So the day after I formally accepted their job offer, I made my first phone call to a potential client. And you know, he probably, wasn’t as creepy as I remember him. He was just a guy wanting to buy some sex with a woman. But in my memory the entire phone call was a whole heap of skin-crawling creepiness from beginning to end as clothing, positions and financial details were discussed and I realised at some point between the beginning and the end of the conversation that there was absolutely no way on earth that I could do this. I really, really didn’t want to have sex with someone as part of a business arrangement.
Yes, I had to get this far along the process to discover something that plenty of people instinctively know about themselves already.
I quit the job that evening. I had technically been a prostitute for 24 hours but the number of clients I serviced was zero. I would have done really badly in any customer satisfaction survey.
|Not a chance.|
I don’t have a problem with the idea of prostitution. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with one person paying another for sexual services. We pay people to plan our weddings, look after our children, listen to our problems and wax our butt cracks. There is no service – however personal, however intimate – that can’t be outsourced to someone else for cash.
And my main motivation for wanting to do it was sound. The job paid £70 an hour (approx US $110). That still sounds like a pretty good rate of pay to me and back then, it was mind-blowing. I would have only had to have worked two hours a week in order to earn the same as a full week’s work in the uninspiring data input job that I ended up doing instead.
But it wouldn’t have been enough, it turns out. And hopefully, the episode did prove to be a bit of a turning point in reviewing some of my dubious attitudes towards sex during that period in my life. Mostly that “Oh, why the fuck not?” probably isn’t the question one ought to be asking oneself when deciding whether or not to have sex with someone. A much better question is always “Will doing this make me happy?”