Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Sex Workers' Supporters: Please take a bow

 Sex work: sometimes it really is fields of daisies and buttercups.  Painting by John William Waterhouse.

Frequently during discussions about sex work, the subject is raised of bitches and bitchiness among sex workers.  Perhaps images of girls pillow fighting while wearing skimpy underwear is tantilising, and often there are suggested scenarios of "professional jealousy" causing cat fights or other dastardly, non-violent deeds designed to sabotage working opportunities by those who believe they are above actual violence, or outright scraps, plenty of which happened back in the day among ship girls.  I'm not denying these things happen, but overall, the sex industry is a pretty supportive environment in New Zealand this century.

In fact, from punters, fellow sex workers, and interested others alike there is actually a lot of admiration and support for the work we do. I have personally seen many situations where sex workers and their supporters go beyond what is needed, quietly and without expecting acknowledgment or reciprocation.  

A lady I used to work with had a best friend who helped her write her ads, carry out her social media activities, arrange her advertising, occasionally take her calls when she was busy, carry her equipment when she had engagements (she was also a stripper), and deliver her to her clients' houses for outcalls.  She never received any money or expected anything in return, and neither was it anything creepy, such as a pimping situation, which may have been suggested or suspected if she was male (why should that assumption often be made so quickly?)  She was just a caring friend who wanted her sex-working BFF to be safe and feel supported.  I have so many friends with loving and supportive partners and family members helping them behind the scenes, you could be reading for hours if I wrote them all down.

For that matter, many a non-sex working friend has given practical help, moving things into a new brothel, erecting furniture or suggesting rooms to rent in towns where other accommodation has fallen through.  This happened recently to a friend of mine when her accommodation was cancelled at the last minute, and a kind person suggested accommodation which is working girl friendly in a North Island town completely unfamiliar to her.  A small thing maybe, but made a huge difference and prevented her sex work tour being cancelled at the last minute.

Thoughtful gifts are given to sex workers often to encourage and delight.  Just yesterday, I received a gift from a lovely man which had been designed and made with me in mind, all while he was in a hotel in France, then delivered to him from Australia, then locked in a drawer in his office until he could give it to me - it was created to cheer me and make me smile.  Thanks so much, I'm still smiling! 

How about this?  An ex-sex worker and her partner who occasionally arrange fun social get-togethers, are spending their annual holiday to accompany and care for a transexual friend (practically family actually) while she gets gender-reassignment surgery overseas.  All at her and her partner's own expense, I'd like to add.  

Then there is the political.  Sex work supporters from all over the world message us and retweet our tweets, email us with questions and experiences, blog astutely about sex work, lobby on behalf of other sex workers in places where they are not even affected, and support us in numerous practical ways here in New Zealand.

Actually, the friction and bitchiness is minor and really not worth a worry.  Mostly the sex worker community is a generous place with loving supporters.  It's worth remembering that when things get a little dark.

Let Love Rule - Lenny Kravitz

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Fifty Shades of Fucked Up*

NOT a scene from the film but these are the male and female leads.  
*"Fifty Shades of Fucked Up" is how the character Christian Grey describes himself.

I did not leave the cinema totally disappointed, I have sat through worse films than Fifty Shades of Grey.  This is a nice little film.  It is ok.  It is not great.  But it is almost perfect for its market.

No, its market is not people who work in BDSM or who know anything about BDSM - it isn't really about actual BDSM in any way, other than that the lead male character has a room full of "proper" BDSM gear, as you'd expect from any man of means who has a hobby.  This film is no more BDSM than the film Pretty Woman is a realistic depiction of street-based sex workers, I'm sure it was not pretending to be otherwise.  If you believe that is the case, you may as well take a wander down the street in your city where some sex workers work from, and try and spot someone who looks like Julia Roberts or clients similar to Richard Gere, or who even drive cars, or have chauffeurs, like Richard Gere.  Make sure you are wrapped up warm, as you will be waiting outside for a long time.  Comparing Fifty Shades to real practioners of BDSM is like that.

Much ado about nothing, as it happens.

And in answer to columnists who criticise the film because it is about a rich powerful man forcing a poor desperate woman to do things against her will which sends the wrong message to impressionable young women:  Yes, it was about a man attempting to do that, in particular trying to get her to be his submissive so that he could inflict pain on her, but it was also about a young woman who resisted it the whole time, but did allow him to slightly dabble, I suspect because she was curious: as far as I can tell she never did sign that contract, and I will not say how it ended because that would be a spoiler. 

I found it interesting the time that the film spent trying to explain or justify his kink.  This was obviously an attempt to go beyond the BDSM factor.  I suspect this was of interest to a lot of women, pop psychology being a bit of a trend, and some women do like to deeply understand their men or men in general.  This was a mistake in my opinion, as a kink is just a kink usually.  But given that analysing and what I consider over-thinking is our thing, this was a good strategy to give the film more depth and obviously it needed padding out to go beyond the soft porn factor, which would never do, particularly if you want to show a film in mainstream cinemas.

I have not read the book.  (I will read the book because I have an academic interest in film adaptation and I like to do film-book-film sandwiches).  However, I can remember among the middle-aged mum set, of which I am a fully qualified member, there was a murmur of arousal because of the book at the time of its release.  Copies were being recommended, bought for others, lent and read in a night, which I could tell from the film, would be an easy task. It's not for me or you or anyone to mock tweens who get fanatical about boy bands, or women who get a bit obsessed with a sexual scenario they have never explored, or even ever thought about.  I'm all for a spark of interest being ignited, and even a new thought being given to sex by a group of women who lead such busy lives, generally quite fulfilled lives actually, that often these are lives where sex takes a back seat because you just can not fit everything in, to the chagrin and disappointment of their husbands who have to live with vows of fidelity they made in a church a few years earlier, (but no vows were made to stay sexually active when life takes over.) 

I admit, while I wanted to leave the film early to watch my present sporting obsession - I had a friend text me the opening situation which I naughtily checked from the cinema (so spank me) - I really did care about how it ended and I also wanted to see how hardcore the BDSM actually got.  If you care, go and see the movie and find out for yourself.

So what's it like?  Well obviously the story is unrealistic, in true Mills and Boon style.  The man was impossibly handsome (very nice gym-toned body and pleasant enough boyish face) with intense eyes and of course a vast fortune.  A cold control freak.  I thought the character was a prat but I do like a man who reeks of lovely dosh.  The girl was a virgin and prone to innocently asking "what?" when she was confused.  She was young and attractive with big blue eyes and a young body.  The set was gorgeous in a sterile way - he was after all a billionaire - and I quite liked the music, but not the music he played.  (He played maudlin pieces on a grand piano which he had in his apartment).  I thought it ended neatly with the very clever elevator door motif which is full of suggestion (future sequel options).

My verdict?  Well, first my position.  I'm a mature sex worker with an interest in society and its attitudes towards relationships and sex.  I care about the sexual fun of other people and while I have never known anyone to have the same lifelong interest that I have had in sex or bodies or fucking, I believe that most people have an idea that sex and in particular orgasms are healthy and good for both men and women and I'm all for anything wholesome and legal that inspires sexual exploration.  I socialise frequently with other women who are not sex workers and we talk a lot about men and sex.  My verdict is that for the purpose of causing curiosity and even arousal, (yes, I was turned on) the film works.  

If you want something representive of BDSM this is not it.  If you want something deep and meaningful this is not it.  But if you want something with beautiful actors who have to occasionally say quite lame things but do it well, this is actually pretty good.  And it's titillating.  It is not quite perfect for its market (we are a bit brighter than that), but it is adequate.  Leave it be.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Loving relationships: can a sex worker have it all?

"I loved you since I knew ya, I wouldn't talk down to ya"...*

I've known sex workers since I began working as a teenager who have been in long term relationships with people since before they were sex workers, as well as relationships which started while they were sex workers with their clients and with men who were not their clients, and obviously relationships which began after they stopped being sex workers.  Relationships and searching for love is what some of us do or attempt to do.  Some work out, some don't.  Some men don't even realize their partners are or once were sex workers.  

It's complicated.

Regarding relationships, I can only be objective (or can I?) about the ones I've had.  And I've had to conclude that it's not a good idea for me to attempt one as a working girl without laying all my cards on the table about who I am and what I do.  

Generally it starts off positively. A man is suddenly in the seeming reality of his sexual fantasies: a sexually awake woman whose boudoir behavior screams "yes yes yes!" when in the past his sex life had been reduced to "no, no, no" from his partner whenever an attempt was made to get intimate.  Ever wanted to try this?  The sky is the limit, he is with an open-minded professional now as opposed to an unenthusiastic amateur.  It's amazing how the mind can transform someone ordinary into someone scintillating because the lady is supposed to know what she is doing due to having done it so much before, and professionally.

A recent attempt at a relationship had the dude at the start saying that he found it a real turn on that other men paid to fuck me when he could get it for free.  At the end he was saying things like "I wish I could afford to free you from sex work!" But how did he get the idea that sex work is something I need to be freed from? As our differences in perception of sex work became apparent it caused a lot of difficulty. 

I do actually enjoy what I do and I'm not ready to give it up yet. An issue with my last partner was that I admitted I really like the variety of fucking lots of men for money.  Obviously I am going to do my best to find men who pay me for sex as attractive as I can so I can get the most fun out of my job, and believe me, it isn't that difficult with my clients.  It is rare that I get someone where I can't find something rather hot about them, men are such beguiling creatures when they are naked and horny I find, particularly when they are in the mood to please.  It seems that sex workers enjoying fucking other men can become a dealbreaker in relationships. I wonder if this is an issue for partners of gynecologists?  Do they mind that their partners rather like to look at other women's vaginas?

It's the nature of relationships that as the rose-tinted glasses lose their pink pigmentation, fault is found with ones partner. The sexy mouth painted in cock-sucking red (my personal shade is Ruby, a matt lipstick by the brand MAC for anyone passing through duty-free who wishes to collect a small gift for me) soon becomes a tiresomely trashy shade of unnatural lip. The sensual sex-partner becomes a whore to be embarrassed about, even when no one else is necessarily aware of how she occupies herself occasionally.  It's as if being "just a sex worker" makes a person less than nice.  And probably any loving feelings she may or may not profess to have are not worth anything either. 

When you're all gooey in the treacle of the early stages of a new relationship, sex work can seem a bit like a perverse infidelity before one gets ones head around it, so one way to counter this impression and lessen the eminence and responsibility of whorishness while letting the partner enter into the sindustry as a co-conspirator is to demonise the clients in conversation with ones partner, but to do that means convincing oneself of same and thereby risking less job-satisfaction - the sword is surely double-edged at this point, which is why I hate to be around moaners, nit-pickers and those who simply can't keep secrets about their clients. These attitudes are contagious, but maybe there is this belief: it surely isn't so bad to be in love with a sex worker if she doesn't actually enjoy interacting intimately with other naked men. Therefore occasionally I wonder how partners and husbands of sex workers feel when they read particularly graphic reviews of said sex worker's performances and pleasure with her clients? Does it cause jealousy if they suspect there is any truth to it?  Or has their sex-worker partner convinced them it was all just fake, fake, fake with every client in order to spare the feelings of the sex-worker's lover?  Is there a happy middle ground?

It is a big ask for a man to graciously accept that his partner is willingly being intimate with other men as a conscious career choice at this point in her life story, and full credit to those amazing partners of sex workers who remain supportive of and loving towards their sex working partners without ever throwing it in their faces as the ultimate insult during arguments.  I think it takes an extraordinary person to truly be ok with or even offer practical help (ever tried to erect a flat-packed bed?) to his sex working significant other so she can make her living by doing something which couples jealously guard as something to be kept for them alone.  To make matters more stressful, partners have to deal with ignorant attitudes, by some who consider that men who love sex workers are there for one reason only: to be "living off her," or worse, "pimping" his loved one.  Surely those who hold this belief have no understanding of what it is like to truly accept a woman for who she is.

A fantastic Australian partner of a sex worker produced a great resource for anyone who is in that position.  (I found out about this through the excellent Australian radio show for sex workers and clients, The Vixen Hour).  Another great resource called Ho Lover, which contains amazing information for friends and lovers of sex workers, has also been produced by "a white queer trans-guy of mongrel class background" (with "amazing feedback and contributions from Juliet November, Lusty Day, Scarlet Alliance, Vanessa Lash, MVT and various anonymous others").  Another resource I would recommend for anyone interested in being supportive of sex workers is "Every Ho I Know Says So."

As for me I've decided to keep things simple and avoid entangling myself emotionally for now, and I certainly don't believe in Cinderella sex work stories anyway. Never say never though, who knows what is around the corner? I'm just enjoying this life for the ride, and at the moment the ride has the exciting kind of ups and downs.

* For a lovelier version of the song Roxanne featuring the sexiest of the Marsallis brothers (Branford, in my opinion) on a saxophone which slightly resembles a clarinet, click here and also recommended is another more mellow version, which was recorded live in Tuscany on the evening of 11 September, 2011 with a rather poignant comment at the end of the song in light of the events in New York of earlier in that day (9/11).

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Must we mature sex workers still lie about our age?

A guest contributor on my blog last year wrote in favour of mature ladies, acknowledging the benefits of more experience and knowledge of the wonders of a woman’s sexuality. While agreeing with this, as an “enlightened” (or I could say mature) woman who now feels okay about being real about my age – and a certain enlightenment or clarity comes to every woman over time about who she is and what she likes – I think older women as well as obviously younger women, whose sexual awareness is unfolding, are both worthy of celebration for separate but connected reasons.
Sexual awakening is a fluid thing for both women and men and there is a woman of the right age and related kind of beauty for any man and what he wishes to contribute to the sexual union of the moment (or not contribute – a man does not necessarily owe a sex worker anything other than money. Sex work is totally obligation-free). There is such charm in women who allow themselves to feel beautiful regardless of age and women of all ages can provide sexual excitement for men. Have we come to a place in society where we can find mature ladies with all their experiences sexy yet?
These are some excerpts from something I wrote as a guest blogpost for the fabulous Australian website, Scarlet Blue. Please click here to read all of it.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Ways to do sex work - part one

My new occasional series about selling sex happily coincides with the impending release of a film about cam models (ladies who interact with paying and non-paying internet customers via web cams). It is kind of like live porn, being largely user-directed and featuring a solitary actor (it is quite complicated to do it with more than one person as every person must be registered with the cam model site they are using). The film is called Cam Girlz and is to be released on Feb 14 2015. I have watched a pre-release because I am one of the kickstarter backers (as listed on their webpage under "ninjas") but I would recommend this film regardless because I love how it humanises the ladies who do this work in their full creative glory and gives a great overview of what is actually involved for anyone considering this kind of sex work.  I have dabbled in cam modelling myself (more about that later) so I know a wee bit about how to get started if it's your thing.  And this film fairly accurately shows what is involved on a regular basis for those who are successfully making a living from cam modelling.  If you would like a 50% promo discount code (expires 16 Feb 2015) to pre-order the film, please send me a text and I will happily supply it - I have six left to give away.

I really love this film because it is a celebration of women who know that men love to look. This film features cam models of many body shapes, skin tones and ages.  As one of the cam models says, "There's somebody for everybody's tastes."  The cam models know it and they love to tease.  One of the first cam models we meet is a married stay-at-home mother who wants to earn a decent amount so she doesn't have to work every hour that god sends to put food on the table.  A large-breasted lady who admits the only lover she has ever had is her husband - she wouldn't really seem out of place lovingly looking after the toddlers at your local church creche. But in front of her web cam, she comes into her own as a playful, teasing web goddess, flashing her generous assets and removing her bra when the time is right.  I assume the time is right when she has received the right amount of tips or tokens, depending on which cam model site she is with.

I'm not sure how far that particular cam model goes with her undressing or titillation, that is up to each cam model, and I have seen attractive young ladies who have a huge following on cam sites without even taking off their clothes, or even really talking dirty - all they are doing is sharing their lives and their selves with men who keep coming back.  No different from sex work as we know it in New Zealand where prostitution is 100% legal.  Some of my clients I consider dear friends, yet it's a friendship which comes with no obligation of loyalty or expectation of favours or even return visits.  Cam models form relationships with clients and they sometimes come back, while of course also being free to see others.  Some of my clients also offer other kind gestures such as tips or gifts.  This happens with cam models as well.  Web cam clients can tip offline and some compete to tip the most and get publicly acknowledged by having their internet handles written up on a big board behind the cam model's stage, or even on her body in marker or lipstick.

As a happy parallel, a real life client of mine actually has formed a nice friendship with a lady he supported while she worked as a cam model.  They have many things in common and have met several times in real life even though they still live in different countries.  She is now pursuing other interests, but if it wasn't for cam modelling she would not have met the lovely man with whom she has an ongoing, genuinely caring, relationship.

The film makes it look easy to be a cam model, while also hinting at the hard work behind the scenes establishing your brand and offering things to liven up your shows.  One lady is seen taking slips of paper from a lucky dip bag which will instruct her what to do next.  As well as that, most cam models are active on social media plus they make passive income from short, amateur videos or photo sets which they produce and sell on their websites.  These are also great things to give away, to the highest tipper of the night or to someone who tips above a certain amount, for example.  The work that goes into preparing these goodies is not often realised.

The ladies who do best are well resourced with their own material to share or sell as well as being totally present and available at a regular time online.  And here is the catch 22.  To do well and be well-promoted by the cam site you are with, you have to be engaged with your audience, because the more you are engaged and the more you get paid, the more the cam site will promote you.  For example one site gives their cam models a cam score based on their activity and sales (of tokens, which they convert to real money which they obviously pay you with).  The first week is crucial as you are given a highish cam score but it can drop if you do not do well and then you will no longer be promoted on their front page.  Obviously being promoted on their front page will get you a larger audience, which will help you to do well, and therefore cause you to continue being well-promoted by the cam site.

And that is where I failed.  I thought that I could be a cam model while I was "in between bookings" or waiting for the phone to ring when I was at the house from which I work as an escort, after all I was already dressed and in the mood.  But that did not work.  It turns out that I was busier as an escort than a cam model.  I would get back to my web cam from being Amber O'Hara the New Zealand sex worker to my cam model persona only to find my cam room empty.  No sooner would men from far off lands come into my cam room and we would just start getting down and dirty, then my phone would ring from a Christchurch real life sex-enjoyer and a real man would soon be knocking at my door to get down and dirty.  The twain can not meet unfortunately.  (You can't use cam modelling to promote your escorting work by mentioning it on your web cam or anything either - although that would be futile since generally cam models block their home countries.  Mentioning that you happen to be an escort will get you banned from the cam model site).

 To be a successful cam model, you need to be there and ready and know what you are going to be doing in your show.  Besides needing a great web camera, the best that money can buy, you also need great lights so your room does not look dark and dingy.  You also need to be prepared to show your face.  That's right, show yourself to the world, possibly at some stage in the nude or at least being rather salacious, where there is the possibility that someone may be screencasting your activity and that film could surface on any number of the free porn sites out there.  (Of course if your cam site owners catch them they will definitely take legal action, but you have to catch them first.  And the reason that the cam sites will take legal action is because when you join, the fine print can say that they own rights to all the footage and can reproduce it for promotional purposes or anything else if they so wish, so they take a dim view of anyone else trying to usurp this).  As I mentioned, you can block certain countries from being able to see you, but as a kiwi cam model friend of mine discovered, that does not always work, and anyway, geeks know how to access forbidden sites with proxies and who doesn't have access to their own geek in this day and age?

If you are thinking about doing it, you are probably wondering, what is the money like?  Of course, prostitution in New Zealand, even with our weaker dollar, makes it look pretty poor.  One lady in the film says that she made $500 on her first night.  That's ok money, but an independent New Zealand sex worker could probably make that fairly easily most nights, although that obviously involves meeting men and having actual sex with them.  However with cam work, there is no guarantee of $500 from cam work per day on a regular basis, unless you become one of the stars.  Having said that though, the actual cam work is not generally the only source of income for savvy cam models as I mentioned above.  And one of my camgirl friends has financed a boob job, travelled the world and still lives pretty well from what she earns as a cam model and selling related products.

The cam site I was with paid twice monthly into an online banking facility I signed up with.  Very convenient and simple.  They are a reputable site, which is essential, as when you sign up you have to verify your age and identity with a photo of yourself holding government issued identification, such as a passport or photo drivers licence.  Some ladies are simultaneously signed on with lots of different cam sites, but this is a risk that you are spreading yourself too thin and it's best to give one your full attention and establish yourself there.  You can always move to another one later.  Some cam sites take ages to process your application, but it turns out to be worth it in the end. 

If it is something you are interested in doing, I would recommend  watching lots of cam models and paying them fairly so you can join in with their conversations.  Tell them you are thinking of being a cam model and ask for advice.  If their room is quiet at that particular time they will be happy to help, it is human nature to give people a hand up, and some may even be willing to be a kind of mentor to you and even occasionally promote you via social media etc to help you get off the ground, as some other cam model may have previously done for them - the cam model community is very kind and supportive.  Once you decide to take it further, the next step is figuring out a niche you can fit into and setting up an online brand.  If your niche is as close to your personality as possible and what you are prepared to do, that is obviously best for you.

And that brings me back to the Cam Girlz film.  I was delighted with the way the cam models shared of their gifts and talents.  As one cam model says, "I've always had the tendency to try to make everything in life special.  And so I decided with my camming that I wanted everything I did, every second of what I did, to be something that someone would find interesting."  I guess you can only spank yourself so much before it becomes a bit boring (it does?) so it was great to see some of the cam models dancing, acting, singing, playing music, ventriliquising and miming as part of their shows.  So much creativity out there, it's great to see.

I can relate to that because I started sex work while I was heavily involved with developing another creative interest/talent of mine - it does suck how when you are beginning as any type of artist, you are poor as a church mouse, and in fact many of my sex worker friends from past and present are actors, designers, singers, artists and other types of musicians anywhere on the scale from amateur to well-known (in their field) professional.  Some of us, myself included, even get small royalties or other kinds of income on a semi-regular basis from our other creative work, and are even slightly world famous, but enough of us.  One thing that ladies who work in the sex industry have in common is that they are often quite intelligent, creative and gifted people, and the Cam Girlz film shows how this gets expressed on a regular basis.

"There is somethin' very Nashville about a naked titty on a guitar", said one cam model as she strummed a guitar in the nude.

I'm not sure if cam modelling is something I would do again, mainly due to the huge time commitment required.  It was fun and I made some great friends and contacts, but there sure is a lot of work involved.  If I ever had an aversion to having actual sex for money, I definitely think it would be a fun way to earn ok money while still being involved in the sex industry.  And that is the thing, even though you are not having sex for money, cam modelling is still not something that can be openly discussed or mentioned on your CV when applying for a straight job.  So I'll leave the last word on the topic to cam model Aella.

"I thought, what I'm giving up, which is basically society's blessing on my life, what I am getting in return is the absolute freedom I have now.  It's a no-brainer to me, it seems like the most logical thing that somebody can do, is sex work."

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Sex work, mental health and sex addiction

From the show The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze by Max Gimblett

I found it interesting when a sex worker I am acquainted with wrote that her father, on finding out she was a sex worker, enquired as to how she was going to safe guard her soul.  He could just as easily have asked how she was going to protect herself from the mental health issues which are sometimes thrown into the interesting petri-dish of the wider sex work environment.  While I do not intend to imply that sex work causes everyone to need straight jackets, it is a situation affecting a small percentage of sex workers that can not be denied.

Obviously I am no psychologist.  I have however, worked in the sex industry for a number of years and kept a keen interest in and care for sex work when not in the industry, as well as suffered from a "mental health issue" myself - for the longest of years it was me versus severe anxiety (and no, I am not exaggerating for the purposes of this post).  While anxiety is no longer the monkey on my back, I empathise with those still suffering from any mental health issue which life has thrust on them to deal with at any given time, particularly if they are also trying to make a living from sex work where the work may seem routine, but any spanner can be thrown into the works on any occasion.

I'm not sure if the Internet, where one can suffer at the hands of others and where one can also even cry out for help so publicly, is a good place for the vulnerable, which sex industry workers and some of their clients sometimes are.  Like everyone, occasionally I see online behaviour which is clearly not coming from a healthy place, and most certainly not leading to a healthy place either.  However, since everyone has access to the means to express themselves or interact with others in this great digital municipality, often there is nothing that can be done but stand back and watch events unfold, (or of course choose not to if it is too much to bear).  The anguish of others often seems to cause pleasure to others - shouldn't we all know better, if we have reached this stage called adulthood?

Some people can not cope with it and suicide can seem an attractive option, or even the only option or escape.  When a celebrity living in the southern hemisphere killed herself in 2014, many people blamed twitter, where she had become the object of attack by some people who enjoy that sort of thing.  Or maybe suicide was the only way she knew to stop a long conversation she had been having in her mind.  Pause for thought.

As with all walks of life though, there are some (I'm not sure of statistics) who are non-neurotypical while working in the sex industry.  The spectacle of everyday existence which includes constantly having to lie or cover our tracks or deal with being outed which could cause us to lose support from our loved ones does not help because society can not deal with the fact that this is valuable work and that we were born sexual in order to continue the human species and that we all "have needs", (or maybe I'm being too simple and this argument is flawed?)

A deeply religious close family member of mine, who has made money from canny investing and share trading, refuses to put any of his money into businesses which profit from alcohol or gambling because he believes that alcoholism and gambling addictions destroy people.  Naturally he has also never invested in anything sex industry related.  I am aware as a sex worker that there can sometimes be a trench between men wanting intimacy due to skin hunger issues and those dealing with and trying to bargain with sex addiction.

I wrote trench rather than fine line because as with alcohol, most can drink regularly and even get drunk frequently without being an alcoholic.  So it is with whatever sexual activity gets your rocks off, for example, seeing sex workers, watching porn, masturbating: most can do it often without it being an issue, for others, it crosses over into sex addiction.  The distinction is, according to a recovery programme, powerlessness over addictive sexual behavior to the degree that lives are unmanageable.  For this reason, while many think they can judge whether or not someone else has an addiction of any kind and proclaim that they need recovery, really only the subject can decide from within their own lives and experiences whether or not they are powerlessness over addictive behavior to the degree that their lives are unmanageable.

I was recently contacted by someone who is now in a twelve-step programme to recover from what he identifies as sex addiction plus a second addiction: to gambling.  A recent major binge splurge caused him to ask himself some hard questions.  He got in touch with me to tell me he was on the road to recovery, which I am very happy for him about, as well as taking a break from contact with sex industry participants and stopping seeing sex workers, but he wanted to keep in touch with me because of my own experience with recovery and twelve step programmes.  (I advised him to check with his sponsor first.  There is a saying: if you hang around at the barber's long enough, you'll get a haircut).

If sex addiction or any type of addiction is an issue for you or anyone you know, or if you are just interested in knowing more about solutions to any kind of addiction, I strongly recommend watching the film, Thanks for Sharing.  I have an enthusiasm for and interest in films and film making - mainly because of the way my brain enjoys and interprets the layers of a story.  I recommend a lot of films to people but mostly I know that others obviously will not have the same response to these films as I.  However, if you have ever doubted that sex addiction, or actually any addiction, is a thing and/or recovery is possible, watch the damn film!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Men love to look

How to hold the attention of men*

There comes an interesting time in the lives of young women when we realise the effect that our body has on men.  It could be when out of the corner of our eye, we see that male head is turned as we totter across the road in our first high heels, parenthetically wiggling our hips.  Or it could be when we notice that every boy we come across can not take his eyes from our white school blouse, and if we undo the top two buttons, they become completely transfixed.  A little flash of our blossoming bosom accompanied by a shy smile, and he's all ours, at least for that moment.

I remember as a fifteen year old that our weekend religious teacher made a new rule that we girls were to stop wearing tight clothing as it had been brought to her attention that the boys in attendance could not concentrate on the important Biblical teachings.  The good girls began to wear baggy, figure-hiding attire, and those of us who were slightly devilish were sure to also wear clothing in loose styles, just a size or two too small, which forced our clothing to cling in some places, accentuating what we badly wanted to be noticed for in our haste to grow up: a womanly body.  Even dowdy cardigans in dull colours fully buttoned could say one thing, "I'm a frumpy girl," while whispering an invitation to unwrap with ones imagination.

Before long we would engineer opportunities to be alone with boys, feeling each other up while mostly fully dressed, then, with limited time before adults returned, quickly removing at least some of our clothing and urgently going as far as we allowed ourselves to go with our explorations.  Innocent - who, me?

Amber O'Hara beginning to undress speedily

That was then.  I can't remember being especially modest or shy when naked but I expect I would have been.  Being fair-skinned I was always the girl with long red hair wearing a wide-brimmed hat and cool silk or cotton long-sleeved clothing to protect myself from nasties like sunstroke and sunburn anyway, so I've never really been one for getting around in skimpy shorts and tops.  (Is my envy of those, with skin coloured by the sun, visible?)

Before long though, delight in our bodies and related consequences can turn to worry and even a self-conscious disgust as clothing stops fitting us, fashions that always flattered us is no longer "on-trend" and confidence in our own personal style evaporates.  Lumps and bumps have appeared and glances stop coming our way - women become invisible.  So is it any wonder that in the book I mentioned in my last blog post, What Men Want by Bettina Arndt, the author talks in detail about women saying they don't want to be looked at when naked, not even by their own partners.

Yet, a lot of men love to look at naked women, and pornography still abounds.

I have a memory of a film clip about a woman who allows men to look up close at her cervix.  I thought that it must have been back in pre-internet days, and it was of an "art installation" of some sort, where a woman lay on her back with her legs over stirrups or something, and men lined up and were invited to take a small handheld torch or it could have been a lamp and one by one they were allowed to shine the light on and inspect her vulva.  Within days I was corrected, happily, and lead to the woman I had been thinking of.  The thing that I remembered most clearly though was that the queue was very long, the men seemed a little self-conscious, (they were, after all, being filmed while they viewed a stranger's lady parts) but that they all dutifully took their time to have a very thoughtful, good examination before the torch was passed on to the next in line.  Maybe it was the first time they got to see a woman in the flesh who unashamedly invited them to stare.  It was kind of a more restrained boobs on bikes without the cheering crowds but also being able to take a look up close and without any movement.

I also like to look.  I can relate to men finding it difficult to avert eyes at the moment of a flash, because bodies are fascinating.  It never ceases to amaze me the variety of vulvas that exist (and I'm only writing of those I have seen in the flesh).  Not to mention breasts and nipples.  There are areolas so pink that they almost blend into the surrounding flesh, dark ones, large pointy nipples, inverted nipples, small boyish ones, large areolas, small aereolas, puffy areolas, sagging bosoms, pert breasts, breasts that are enhanced and stay upright, pendulous breasts, teardrop shaped breasts, melon-like breasts etcetera.  And I haven't even started on derrières. Wouldn't it be fun to look at and shine a light on them all?

I guess what frightens some women is that their men will compare them to the known standard of perfection of the day, the one that is photoshopped in the media, and that probably doesn't really exist except in one or two percent of people whose bodies freakishly fit the ideal of any given era.  In the 1920s, to be beautiful you needed a flat-chested boyish body, in the 40s and 50s, you needed a small waist and comely buxom chest.  In the 80s, Elle McPherson was The Body: strong, athletic and confident.  

Nowadays nudity is available in free online pornography and men can look at every type of body at any time.  But is there so much nudity that it is not really meaningful or even sensual anymore?  In the real world, have women lost the art of the tease?  On visiting an escorts' directory online, is the sliding image bar just a series of bodies, no one any more outstanding than the other, rather, is it just a blur?  I don't believe that any of the above is really true.

Men love to look, and the difference between the bodies they love to look at is vast according to the abundance of niche porn sites and cam models and sex service providers which exist the world over.  The media or fashion industry may be trying to push a certain ideal, but the loins of men have their own responses.  Gay or straight, men love nudity.  Shall we show it to them?

The often-seen derrière of Amber O'Hara

* My gratitude to a wonderful client who sent me the top image on a treasured handmade card - I think you will agree it is perfect for this post.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Is your New Year's resolution to have more sex?

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut 

In 1999, Stanley Kubrick released his last filmEyes Wide Shut, which starred Kidman and Cruise, 'a Hollywood couple whose marriage was in trouble, about a New York couple whose marriage was in trouble.'  It was famous for an orgy scene, but in the subtext of the film, it's really about a couple whose eyes are shut to their own sexuality/the sexual reality within their relationship (or the husband is having some kind of bad dream to that effect).  It seems a little cruel, that under the circumstances (of their relationship about to break up), the lead actors were laid literally so bare.

A mismatch of libidos will often only rear its head as an issue after the honeymoon phase of a relationship is over. I suspect very few of us receive guidance on how to negotiate the ongoing sexual framework within a relationship and that many of us learn as we go. For any higher libido partners stuck in a sex-starved marriage (defined as a frequency of sex of less than one act of sex per month), I'm sure you will be wondering exactly what Alvy's problem is in the very short video below!

Bettina Arndt is an Australian sex commentator who has written several books that provide food for thought in this area. In her book, What Men Want, Arndt writes on not only how men intensely enjoy sex and usually feel they don't get enough, but also documents the misery many men feel when they are in sex-starved marriages and feel deprived of affection. As a counterpoint to the misery Ardnt documented by the affection deprived, a recent post by a client, provided anecdotal evidence on the improvement in the quality of my client's life when he re-introduced himself to the pleasures of the flesh. That post also provided links to research that supports the view that intimate physical contact is beneficial for mental and physical health.

I know from experience that sex in relationships can become pretty samey after time, and token fucks become tiresome, particularly if you already are tired.  Shortly after I became a mum in my 20s, our sex life pretty much dried up for a time.  Although I was willing almost all the time, there was just so much more to think about, like feeding a baby, washing, cleaning, working, and he was very busy with work/his sport.  We would snatch fucks where we could, in the middle of the day or night, but they were quickies, and usually without much passion or even interest.  Token fucks, as I said.

So it's obviously a bit of a dilemma - you start off as a hot, horny couple, but life gets in the way and things change. The frequency of sex decreases.  And so long as the desire for sex decreases at the same rate in both partners, all is well.

When the unexpected decline in sexual activity leads to frustration on the part of one partner, an interesting solution was discussed by Australian sex therapist and newspaper columnist Matty Silver. Matty wrote an article last year which began:
I am always amazed how often couples marry or settle down without first discussing what to expect from their relationship. Often couples don't talk about it because their expectations are based on hidden assumptions, formed on hopes and dreams rather than reality.

A few paragraphs later she says:
Even when they manage to discuss the above, one of the most important issues - how often they will have sex - is hardly ever discussed. Most couples believe they have the same sex drive when they get together; for new couples sex usually is the top priority. They can't take their hands off each other and have sex at any opportunity. 

Matty Silver wrote that in relationships, as sexual activity lessens, the one that is less interested controls the amount of sex on offer, which is exactly what I said in my blog post about the benefits for women of orgasms, (actually the post was how beneficial I believe orgasms are for women, yet we withhold sex from men). Men simply seem to not get enough sex, whereas women can often take it or leave it. A women in a relationship who is out of the habit of enjoying sex, can take it upon herself to reawaken her own sexuality on her own, with the help of therapists who identify as sex workers, Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross, who teach women how to have orgasms and enjoy sex more.

But what is the problem with women just fucking men for the sake of it, as a loving gesture, even when they are not always in the mood? Some women don't feel they need to have sex just to please their men, it feels degrading.*

Another issue, according to Bettina Arndt's book is that women feel a bit self-conscious about how their bodies are looking or whatever as life has got in the way of taking care of all that frivolous frippery. However we forget how much heterosexual men love women, naked women of all shapes and sizes to admire and touch and lie with and fuck. Some women don't want their men to look at themselves naked and neither do some women like men looking at other passing women even with their clothes on. So it goes without saying that some women would even disapprove of their men watching pornography. One woman, in Bettina Arndt's book, complained early in their marriage about her man watching "so much" porn. He told her he would be quite happy to give up his porn if she would let him be sexual with her whenever he felt like it. This helped her to get it and she never mentioned the porn again.

Matty Silver, at the end of her article, talks about a 2004 book by US author and marriage therapist Michele Weiner-Davis, The Sex-Starved Marriage which addresses every aspect of problems associated with mismatched sexual desire. On the topic of the lower-libidoed lover, she says

"This is not due to maliciousness or a desire for power or control; it just seems unimaginable to be sexual if one of the partners is not in the mood! There is an unspoken and often unconscious expectation that the partner with the higher libido should just accept the situation, should not complain and also remain monogamous".

Weiner-Davis states: "After decades of working with couples, I can attest that this is an unfair and unworkable arrangement."

She believes desire is a decision, you can't wait for it to come; you have to make it happen. Her now famous solution was to "Just Do it" - you may enjoy it in the end!” Michelle Weiner-Davis presented a TEDx talk on the “sex-starved marriage” in April, 2014. If you are in a sex-starved relationship, I highly recommend you watch this. Especially if you are lower libido partner, want your relationship to continue, and perhaps believe that you are entitled to be the gatekeeper to sex and the higher libido partner should just suck it up. Because expecting the higher libido partner to live with it often leads to relationship breakdown.

In Arndt's book The Sex Diaries, Arndt quotes a woman on a mothering website whose suggestion sounds very much like Weiner-Davis's idea: "Shag a little more than the low-libido partner would like and a little less than the high-libido partner would prefer and I swear to you, your marriage will improve in huge ways".

By the way, Matty Silver's article was called, "Should you have a sex contract?" If you've read this far and are interested in the idea that you or your partner would benefit from an increased frequency of sex, but, for what ever reason, the chances of having more sex within the relationship is non-existent, then be aware that many men in sex-starved marriages will very often look outside the relationship for sex. Because men often love and need sex more than women, sex workers exist. Seeing a sex worker can be sanctioned through a sex contract, or unsanctioned, where the sex-deprived partner actively seeks out third party companionship, often with sex workers. Allowing sex to be outsourced to a sex worker is a way that a couple can get more sex without the partner with less interest having to contribute directly.

As a sex worker myself, one thing I love about it, is that I feel I get the best from every man I see.  Maybe it's because we have a limited time together and we are there solely to fuck (without having babies, laundry, work, or just day-to-day life to worry about) or because my appearance and behaviour is designed to arouse or because he's paying me and wants to get value for money or because we haven't done it as many times as we would if we were partners so sex together feels new and exciting still or because he's grateful for my willing participation, it is an understatement to say that the sex with my clients is usually pretty good.  But that doesn't mean I want to steal someone else's man who comes to see me for sex, no matter how great it is.  (Ongoing sexual relations with a non-sex worker - otherwise known as an affair, on the other hand, could cause all amounts of trouble.) 

If you have come to terms with your need for more sex and you have a partner with whom you can broach the subject of more sex within your relationship, perhaps a sex contract is worth discussing.  If a wife or partner does not wish to provide sex as often as needed, a sex contract which includes permission for one partner to enjoy pornography or see a sex worker could be a win-win situation for both of you.  Or maybe as a couple you can see a sex worker together.  I have a sex worker friend here in the South Island of New Zealand who specialises in working with couples, and will guarantee that your love lives and sex lives will feel more enriched as a result.  Contact me, I am happy to pass on her details.

Whatever is decided, it's worthwhile making a decision to have more sex to keep skin hunger at bay.  If your New Year's resolution is to have more sex, maybe there is some food for thought here.

* Arndt, in the sex diaries, discusses the massive ideological roadblock that is at odds with compromising one's own wishes in order to accommodate a partner's wishes: Women's right to say "no" has been enshrined in our cultural history for nearly fifty years. It was one of the outstanding achievements of the women's movement to outlaw rape in marriages and teach women to resist unwanted advances. But it simply hasn't worked to have a couple's sex life hinge on the fragile, feeble female libido. The right to say "no" needs to give way to saying "yes" more often - providing both men and women end up enjoying the experience. The notion that it might be in women's best interest to stop rationing sex is sure to raise hackles, but this an issue that deserves serious attention.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sex and Skin Hunger

J W Waterhouse The Awakening of Adonis (detail)

Here is a guest post by a client talking about how sex workers have helped the issue of 'skin hunger' for him personally, following a discussion we had during our booking, which he has mentioned below.  I invited him to contribute to my blog after this discussion as I am always happy to hear of positive benefits which sex (and/or sex work) has for both men and women.

The answer to the question “If I died tomorrow, would I die a happy man” has a much different answer after my first months punting than my answer would have been immediately prior to starting my punting journey. Now I would die a much happier man. Compared to the relatively miserable, grumpy old man I had become, my mood is now significantly higher and seems to have been improving steadily over the course of my, so far, brief punting journey.

Towards the end of my first month's punting, during a session with a lovely red-headed lady from the South Island, I made a throw-away comment about my happiness levels having increased as a result of my foray into punting. The lady in question was interested in this comment and, during some slow, pleasurable moments, as we chatted and discussed the general topic, I became intrigued by the improvement in my general mood and happiness levels and, after the session had ended, went looking for possible explanations as to why a month's punting could lead to such an improvement in my mood.

The background to my punting is that I am a guy in my mid 50's, who was in a long term relationship for almost 30 years, until that relationship imploded roughly three years ago towards the end of 2011. When I started punting in late October 2014, I hadn't seen or touched a naked female in real life for roughly three years. And my long-term relationship hadn't been in great shape for 3 to 5 years prior to the split. The frequency of sex during those later years meant that my marriage could be defined as a sexless marriage. That is, having sex once a month or less. During the later years of my relationship, there had been huge frustration on my part, as the higher libido partner, with not only the lack of sex, but more so the lack of affection and cuddling.

When I returned to being a single man, for a lengthy period of time I wasn't that interested in pursuing relationships. Just as I am now. I don't want a relationship. A fuck buddy would be nice. But a partner is not on my horizon.

About two months ago I gave some thought to my dilemma of wanting to experience the delights of sex again, while not wanting to have the bother of a relationship. Purchasing sexual services from sex workers was not something I had ever really seriously contemplated, but as I gave the idea more thought decided that entering the world of punting was going to be the solution I would choose to solve my dilemma.

My first punt was a great experience. And, as my punting experience grew over my first month's punting (six punts with four women), I came to realize how skin hungry I had been. I found I absolutely loved drinking in the beauty of the naked female form and came to love being able to massage the beautiful women who allowed me to book time with them. Sure, the penetrative sex was great, but I was finding that, for me, the period leading up to sex where I could view and massage the naked female form was an intensely pleasurable time. There was even a moment in one booking when I was massaging a lovely lady for an extended period, that I wondered whether the lady in question may have been feeling a little guilty at being on the receiving end of a lengthy massage instead of either delivering the massage herself or moving the session on towards penetrative sex.

Subjectively, at the end of my first month's punting, I felt a lot better in myself than I had for a considerable period of time. Mind you, after such a long drought, perhaps having sex with four different ladies – with repeat visits to two of the ladies - in such a short period of time may have elevated the mood of any straight male.

As google helped me to look for information related to skin hunger, several links to work by Dr Kory Floyd gave me some pointers to possible explanations as to why satiating my skin hunger could lead to an improvement in my physical and mental health.

For example, in a piece for Psychology Today, Floyd wrote that there were lots of benefits from touching another person's skin besides the obvious like less loneliness and more happiness to lower stress levels, anxiety or mood disorders and susceptibility to depression. These findings don’t establish that skin hunger causes all the opposite negative conditions, only that people who feel highly affection-deprived are more likely than others to experience them. If you’re one of those people, though, these findings probably come as no surprise. Affectionate contact is so necessary for a healthy life that we suffer when we don’t get enough.

Floyd's piece ends with "Fortunately, skin hunger doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. Each of us has the capacity to get more affection in our lives." And for me, the way I am choosing to get more affection into my life is through the hire of escorts to provide a service that I believe results in physical and mental health benefits.

Looking back on on my first month's punting, I am glad I crossed that divide between punters and non-punters.

Summary – What does Floyd's research and communications mean to this newly minted punter?

Satiating skin hunger through consensual sex and naked cuddling or massage, even when those consensual sexual services have been paid for, has considerable mental and physical health benefits for me. Perhaps I am suffering from confirmation bias and only looking for research that supports my subjective experience. Even with that in mind, I feel much, much better mood wise at the end of my first month's punting than I did at the start. To my mind, Floyd's communications resonate and seem to provide a valid explanation for why I have an improved mood and am, in general, a lot happier in myself.

1) For those who like to consume information via youtube video, there is a 45 minute video of Kory Floyd discussing affection deprivation on youtube.

2) For anyone who is more interested in reading research papers, Kory Floyd has a paper titled “Relational and Health Correlates of Affection Deprivation” that is available for download. The paper's abstract reads:

“This paper articulates the construct of affection deprivation, the condition of wanting more tactile affectionate communication than one receives. Individual- and group-level variance on the construct is investigated and its social and health correlates are identified in a survey of 509 adults. Affection deprivation shows no correlation with age and no relationship with ethnicity, but men report significantly higher affection deprivation than women. Moreover, as affection exchange theory predicts, affection deprivation shows positive associations with loneliness, depression, stress, alexithymia, preoccupied and fearful avoidant attachment styles, and numbers of personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and secondary immune disorders. Affection deprivation shows negative associations with general health, happiness, social support, relationship satisfaction, and attachment security.”

3) My transition from non-punter to punter was much less stressful of a transition than I feared it would be. After having an upbringing where my mother managed to load me up with several large suitcases of luggage, I certainly never envisioned I would be able to get over those imbedded childhood memes that considered sex work unclean - I can still hear my mother's shrill voice across the years “.. she's just a slut.. a prostitute..”, along with my mother's face contorted in a look of contempt for the object of her derision. The fear of contempt can be a powerful thing.

4) If the only way to engage an escort's services was via a parlour or brothel, I'm not sure I would have become a punter. Being able to research online made the initial contact much easier, and visiting independent ladies means being able to avoid the embarrassment of seeing parlour receptionists and other punter. Overall I am very glad I have made the transition, and that New Zealand's legal environment allows punters to be able to purchase consensual sexual services to alleviate their affection deprivation without fear of criminal charges.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

So, you are the black sheep of the family...

Christmas is the time of year when we are confronted by where we came from - most of us, while not necessarily being physically present with our family members, at least make contact with them - and the realities of who they are (and maybe what they have always been like) becomes glaringly apparent. Families all have their quirky loved ones, and if your family happens to know you are a sex worker (as mine do), you may well be it.

A lovely story an ex-sex worker told me (she's now in her 70s) was how she announced to her parent after her first client about her fabulous new job: "Mother, all I have to do is make love to men!" Another sex worker I know of told her father who was initially concerned for how her soul was going to survive - he now leaves her notes telling her she is "such a fine daughter".

My own family is conservative and strictly religious and not without our own eccentricities, and that is before you even include me amongst them. Due to a number of siblings immigrating at the same time a few generations back, having large families who then also had large families, there are quite a few of us, news travels fast and it's impossible to keep a secret - not that everything we hear is ever believed. (Due to selective deafness and overactive imaginations, things do get misinterpreted sometimes). Mostly we keep in touch, even with distant relatives, and are proud of each others' achievements and certainly have rallied together during past difficulties, and for that I consider myself so lucky. So what, I'm a sex worker, my family still loves me.

I've never actually got to the bottom for certain of how my family found out I was a sex worker, but it happened a few years back that it became apparent that even some elderly relatives knew, judging by topics which were raised with me when we were alone. I had told a couple of my close female relatives who are around my age, but I suspect the rumor was widely spread when a senior loved one overheard me discussing some related issues with a non-family member and promptly passed it through the grapevine, getting quite the wrong end of the stick which I had a bit of fun with before coming clean. Luckily for me there were no great dramas.

Disclosing you are a sex worker yourself, however, is one way to get an audience with ears pricked up, as it were, as I found when I told my own offspring, and answered the many weird and wonderful questions that were thrown at me. Out of respect for my immediate family and their community of loved ones and to protect their ambitions of one sort or another and their chances for my loved ones to design their own futures without being affected by my past choices, I don't show my face in my advertising or allow myself to be officially out, but each to their own on that one, and that is my reasoning behind what I have decided. As for my offspring, it's up to them to tell whomever they want and I am happy to answer questions about sex work should such a need arise.

Sex work of course is considered by some not "right livelihood", (part of the Buddhist eightfold path) and that's what the issue is according to some, if you try narrowing it down. But we all have our opinions on what is right or ethical and I've had many discussions about this in the past, and what a funny old time Christmas is, for interesting family conversations of this sort.

For example, maybe a vegetarian does not think farmers keeping stock in captivity then killing them for human consumption is right livelihood, or, speaking of captivity, maybe when judges don't hand out fair jail terms it is not ethical, or for that matter lawyers who act for notorious criminals and help them get off "lightly", or corporate executives who make pots of dosh while their staff have to work every hour that god sends to pay the rent (living wage, anyone?) and speaking of rent, landowners who just keep snapping up property and bankers behind them lending money on equity while refusing loans for young couples just wanting to buy not too far from their workplaces, somewhere to raise their family and while I have my soap box out, does the media ever put the whole story across fairly? What about journalists, film-makers etc all but sucking up to the talent to get a story, then gleefully juxtaposing things to suit their purposes or slightly misrepresent?  Is it ethical that almost everything we read, listen to or watch from publicly-funded broadcasters have been edited according to someone's personal opinion of how events should be portrayed, which is subtly persuading the masses? And I haven't even started on the ethics of wanna-be politicians getting citizens to vote for them based on promises that are likely unable to be kept - if you were to sit down and be judgmental about the work some people do you could have a grand old time. Sure, these judgments on the ethics of the work of others will sound annoyingly naive to those working in these fields but so do the judgments of others on the ethics of sex work to me.

How people react to the news you are a sex worker varies depending on how open-minded they are and also it's a generational thing. The younger ones (and family genealogists) may think it's kind of cool, slightly subversive even, to have a family member who is a sex worker while the elderly relatives have their own take on the situation. Doing their best to be awfully sweet and understanding, they may let it be known that they are open-minded about this unspoken of situation and adore you a great deal - a conversation that would surely always be treasured. Their main concern however could be that if the Hilton-Von Dinklages* from the neighboring farm ever caught wind of it, they would prefer that their concoction of the most unlikely alibi-like explanation imaginable should be put forward. Yes, it often comes down to what others might think.

The coming out to the family or being outed to your family is such a big thing, a fear, for sex workers as I've touched on before. I have a friend whose mother has practically written her out of the will, and as a result, she has had to protect her own children from this private information (which in my opinion it would be premature to disclose to them at their young ages) by withholding access to her children from her parents. My hope is that time will heal this wound. Life is too short to hold prejudices related to sex against family members, surely there are worse things to be then an adult consenting to earn money by selling sex.

It can be scary to find out how non-sex workers view sex work, when you have been surrounded by other sex workers who are obviously okay with it, but as Popeye said "I yam what I yam" and life goes on. At the end of the day (forgive me for using this overused phrase designed to downplay arguments which could be raised by being followed with another cliche) sex work is only a job, and sex workers are only people who do it. Penises and vaginas, that's all.

* Name changed to the especially grandiose in order to protect the innocent.