Friday, 24 April 2015

Ways to do sex work - part two (touring)

Beautiful Kaikoura on the east coast of the South Island, view from the beach during a brief train stop

Touring sex workers are a not-so-modern phenomenon but since the Prostitution Reform Act (2003) in New Zealand we are able to tour and sell our services in a much more organised manner.

I personally love to tour: I love to explore my beautiful country, in which I was fortunate to be born and therefore have free range of within the law and can come and go from as I please. I also like to meet men in different parts of the country, in their own environment, and love to discuss their local situation and gather tidbits about certain predominant industries within the various regions I visit, a great way to increase my general knowledge and have first hand information when related news items are published.

And while you can't really lump a group of people together by race or region, I do notice similarities with men from the same area, probably coincidental, but maybe not: The laid-back, slightly romantic lads from the South Island's West Coast as a whole are vastly different from the oxymoronically laid-back dudes with precise requests in Palmerston North; Wellingtonians have similarities to Dunedinites in their effortless coolness (and their houses and geography are even similar) and fabulous organisation skills - in both of these places I'm normally pre-booked for most of the first day before I even arrive; the gents from Invercargill have their own unique kinks and are quite different with their telephone use from those who have set up their lives temporarily or permanently in gorgeous places like Blenheim or Queenstown, which, possibly like the lives of the inhabitants, are a bit unpredictable and last-minute.

Do I have a favourite place to visit?  Yes, and the ones I do not prefer, I do not visit again, with the exception of Invercargill and Greymouth, where I adore the men, but the length of time and effort I need to make to get there (yes, I've got lazy) make it unlikely I would visit again, unless I had a pre-paid, multiple hour pre-booking or two, then I would be in either of these places in a flash.

And I just hinted at why some sex workers choose not to tour - because it can be expensive, exhausting and there are no guarantees.  As well as that, there are other issues, such as finding accommodation - there are no comforts like those you have set up at home.  I always miss my own boudoir, with everything in its place, and my nice shower with a removal shower head for play and practicality.

But I get an itch to explore my little corner of the world and have pretty much worked out effective packing strategies (my packing list system should be patented), advertising strategies as well as strategies for deciding where to go and when.  For example, when there is a local event (food or wine or music festival or some kind of sporting event) advice is often given to tour to the town at that time as it will be full of potential clients.  Wrong.  Accommodation will be scarce and all the locals and visitors will be busy at the event and spending their money there as well.  Either go the day before it starts, when early visitors may be at a loss for things to do after settling in, or the locals have set everything up and now have some built-up tension of the sexual kind to deal with to prevent them giving every event-attendee the lecherous glad eye due to extreme horniness, or even better, the day or two afterwards, when the visitors have gone and the locals have money to spend on their pleasure after working hard at the event, oh, and again there may be the sexual tension factor which needs to be dealt with, if they have been too busy to get some intimacy elsewhere.

Unfortunately, not everyone is welcoming when sex workers come calling and this is why I'm offering some guidelines* to the novice touring sex worker.  There have been a couple of unintentional near-disasters recently which have now resulted in a previously working girl-friendly accommodation option to be lost.

So what to do when a town does not have known working girl friendly accommodation?

Sometimes when ladies do not have motels to stay at where they can be open about being a sex worker, they stay there sneakily anyway and have to hope that the motelier does not become suspicious with all the male visitors and kick the sex worker out. After the effort and expense it takes to get to a town, this would not be fun.

Alternatively, you can book by phone and be upfront about being a working girl, but more often than not, moteliers have heard horror stories about touring working girls and would be reluctant to allow you to work from their premises.

This is why it's really important to do the right thing by our accommodation providers, whether they are rooms let to you in houses with other independent working girls or motels who are ok with what you do. To keep on their good side, please consider these suggestions.

A huge advantage with renting a room in a house or motel that is working girl-friendly is that they will provide the sheets and towels which are an extra bulk to carry around and try to get laundered otherwise. If the accommodation provider doesn't launder the linen, eg in a private house, please allow time in between clients to keep on top of the laundry as no one has an infinite supply of linen and clients need fresh towels and sheets. This will save you embarrassment later in the day when you could run out of supplies.

Don't look the part. Don't arrive or leave in your work clothes, don't sit outside (yes, it's been done) and don't go to a visible-to-the-neighbours washing line or back yard area in your lingerie or work clothes or advertise by your appearance what you do. The motelier may know you're a working girl but they will not want the neighbours or other guests to know as this could lose them their good reputation and business. It is also an indiscretion that is unfair to visiting clients, who want it to be as unnoticeable as possible that they are visiting a sex worker.

Don't give out the address to every caller until they have made a firm booking, and make sure the directions are clear so clients don't knock on the doors of the  neighbours. Some sex workers give out the address in two parts, first directions to the area, then when they are there, they can text to get the room number or house number. When the second text has been sent, it gives the sex worker time to put on her shoes and wait near the door.  It is also a security measure. If clients do not turn up when they only have directions, it means they are disorganised or have had a change of heart - the standard "no show" - annoying, but no need to freak out as they do not know exactly where you are. However, if they don't turn up when they finally get the specific address, they were not intending to be there in the first place but they now have your address which is not ideal.  Working girls do not feel safe when men pretending to be clients, who turn out not to be, know where they are working from. Different ladies deal with this situation in different ways.

So a preventative measure out of respect for the non-touring ladies who work from the accommodation you are staying at is to not give out the address willy-nilly to every caller who says they might come and see you until the booking is well and truly confirmed, preferably with at least one phone call to weed out schoolboy pranksters, and then give only general directions before giving out the full address.

Allow 15 to 30 minutes at least between bookings so that clients don't bump into each other and to give you time to put the room and your appearance back in order (and take care of any laundry).  As touring ladies this small gap in visitors could also prevent neighbouring occupants from noticing that there are so many visitors.  Also be ready to answer the door as soon as the doorbell rings - it is not a good look for the neighbours to see a series of men waiting at the door nervously.  Bring your clients inside as soon as possible, hiding behind the door when you open it to let them in or show them out, so passersby do not see you in your work clothes.  Never leave clients waiting outside after they have rung the doorbell while you put on your shoes and fix up your make up.

Don't tell any non-client locals that the motel or house is being used by you as a sex worker. Even if the house has been a well-established brothel, and some people in the neighbourhood know about it, the ones that don't know don't need to know. They could be the trouble makers who disapprove of sex work and try to get the house shut down, ruining it for future touring sex workers, not to mention the ladies whose livelihood depends on having local accommodation available. You might think it's cool to be a sex worker, not everyone else does. Likewise, many moteliers are family people and do not want to be seen to condone sex work within their communities. Consider those who will remain (because they live here) after you've gone: be as private as possible so that local people don't gossip.

Don't court trouble. If you have troublesome acquaintances such as druggie friends, dubious boyfriends or party-loving mates or anyone who will be disruptive or noisy in the neighbourhood, use common sense and don't let them come into your working accommodation. This is not the time for partying - you are here to work. Their presence could cause an upset which could result in other professional sex workers being tarred with the trainwreck brush as well.

And speaking of drugs and excessive alcohol consumption, I make no secret of the fact that I haven't lived like a saint, so am in no position to be holier than thou.  However, my advice would be that if you are not ready to lay off or give up using completely, don't tour and take your crap to innocent communities.  Yes, I am in no position to judge anyone based on their weaknesses or difficult situations, and to an extent I believe in live and let live, we are all on our own walks through life and have a right to hold on to our own stories as we see fit and to sort them out and redesign our lives in our own time.  However, if it affects other sex workers and our reputation as a whole, expect to be called out on it.

This is one situation where I can easily see the wood and the trees, having been there and done that, and been part of all the bullshit.  Stay home until you can sort yourself out - this will take some time.  Sex workers are a community of loving and caring people who are happy to help others, but don't stretch their sympathy by taking them for fools.  Get honest, at least with yourself, and you will be amazed by the love and understanding you will receive.  (But that's another blog post.)

Touring sex workers coming in to towns where sex work is not ordinarily apparent are "ambassadors" of sorts for the whole industry so don't ruin it for the rest of us and allow largely false stereotypes to abound by having dramatic incidents while on tour.  Fortunately if a salesman was staying at a motel and something happens and the police become involved, all other salesmen would not be considered likely to behave that way. Unfortunately people do not hold sex workers in as high regard (that's saying something) and it is likely that from then on sex workers would be seen as too much hassle at best and downright dangerous at worst and would no longer have the opportunity to work from there.

Don't talk about your services on the phone outside where others can hear. If you smoke outside and your phone rings, put out your cigarette and go inside, shutting the door on the way in, to take the call. If you are swearing or talking about sex or sex work services on the phone or to anyone outside or as people arrive or leave, it's just not cool and the wrong passers-by could overhear more information than is good for them.  This could include children walking past and within earshot.

Don't smoke inside. Be respectful of property. Point out any accidental damage and offer to pay before you leave. I know of a touring lady whose client had the misfortune of breaking part of a bed and she passed on money he had left towards its repair. Impressive.

Give back locally, spend a little. I know we tour to make money, but the money you are being paid could otherwise be supporting local businesses. It's a nice gesture to buy locally while you are there to help their economy.

And on the subject of spending, pay for your accommodation as soon as you can. Do I need to add "don't steal"?  It seems I do, as I've heard reports of sex workers leaving without paying their motelier, which of course is stealing. We wouldn't want our clients to do that to us, so let's not do that to others.

Touring can be lots of fun, especially when we have great accommodation providers. Let's resolve to always do the right thing by them.

* While this post seems largely negative and admonitory, I am presently writing a short ebook which is a more comprehensive touring guidebook for sex workers.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Exit: Stage Left

There comes a time in a sex worker's life when, despite the lovely harem of men who are her willing clients, she sometimes thinks that she has had enough of fucking for money.  It may not be a feeling that comes on suddenly, like an epiphany, instead it may be a slowly evolving feeling of job dissatisfaction.  We all have off-days, but if the off-days are more than the on-days, it may be time to consider other options.

Please note - I MYSELF AM NOT YET RETIRING FROM SEX WORK!  However when people say things like "it can be hard to leave" or talk about how some sex workers, whoever they are, should leave, there is obviously more to consider, and often it does not happen overnight.

I have seen a few people leave sex work for good in the short time I have been back so I thought I would share some ideas and options for those wanting to put it all behind them, (off the top of my head - clearly I am not a careers advisor).

My previous exit from the industry came after a sudden event which made me feel that my life could have been taken from me.  I had had a couple of other scary events, but with the naivety of youth, had taken those pretty much on the chin, although I'd be lying if I pretended they did not affect my overall anxiety levels.  But with the one where I was literally in the presence of a mentally-unbalanced man who expressed an intention to do me harm, in fact to kill me, I had a bit of a wake-up call. I was not in a position financially to leave immediately but sex work was never the same for me or my clients after that.

As well as that I had other parallel issues, (addictions) that I knew had finally reached the end of the road for me, so I set about calling on my rainy day cash stash (money I kept at a safe deposit box at a bank) and gathering the rest of the funds needed to relocate back to New Zealand where the first port of call was an addiction recovery centre, following the suggestions of a good friend of mine, a sex worker who had had a disguised heroin habit for seven years, (in other words you couldn't tell from looking at her that she was an addict and functioned well as a high-class escort), who had managed to get clean (and is still clean).

After I returned to New Zealand, two other friends of mine died of heroin overdoses, both men who had nothing whatsoever to do with the sex industry other than being friends with sex workers - one a famous celebrity whose loss was publicly felt and the other one whose family refused to remove his body from the morgue so a working girl friend of mine paid for his cremation and related costs.  While I was not a partaker of heroin myself, my own chemical addiction issues were just as life-threatening.  My first attempts to get clean failed dismally, my last failure being especially spectacular, but I kept going back towards recovery and I'm happy to say that I have had over twenty years of "clean/sober days" since then, taking it one day at a time of course.

(I'm just writing this to suggest that some sex workers have other issues they need to take care of before they are ready to enter the straight world as a job-hunter.  While this stereotype is by no means relevant to everyone, it would be remiss of me to omit it from my particular story).

This time around I have a different exit strategy, bearing in mind that as a mature sex worker, I have a limited shelf life left for actual sex work anyway.  I still have another creative occupation, plus another actual job, but since the earthquakes in Christchurch, this has not given me an effective way to earn a living as it is sporadic.

Many full-service providers don't exit completely but head sideways towards sex work which does not include actual sex, that is, offering different specialist services such as sensual massage or domming.  Sensual massage is a great option and there are many ladies willing to share their skills as well as courses you can take.  The hourly rate is still great and while clients can look, the sensual masseuse controls the amount of touching or any extra services on offer. Although it is hard, physical work, sensual massage is a service many ladies choose because it is always in great demand.

As glamourously as it is portrayed, domming is certainly an experience of the extremes when it comes to the wide range of kinks out there.  I don't believe it is something that anyone can step into, even though many sex workers include mild domination as part of their service, as it is rich in opportunities for the theatrical, what fun.  Serious dominatrix work requires months of training and a secure understanding of the psychology of dominance and submission and there are a few excellent examples of dommes in New Zealand who are experienced in this.

A good friend of mine, who was a dominatrix in Melbourne for 15 years, told me she gave up domming though because it became too dark in her head, and also because she became sick of cleaning up after clients' ass-inserted implements, as she felt there was nothing domme about that.  When I asked her why she didn't get slaves to do it, she replied that cleanliness had to be of the most superior order, and slaves may not do it properly or may not put things back in the right place.  When it comes to being a dominatrix, one thing that is stressed is that there can be nothing slap dash about keeping the tools of the trade sterilised.  

However, if the stigma of the sex industry is something you are trying to escape from, sensual massage and domming are still under the same umbrella.

It's worth remembering that sex workers who are good at what they do are not lacking in transferable skills.  For example the hospitality industry uses similar skills, including the underrated gift of dealing with sudden upsets or client surprises while still smiling, and is easy to transition into without giving up the great income of sex work, as part-time positions are reasonably easy to come by.  Before long, extra practical skills can be earned, such as barista and bar skills, which can be moved to other hospitality positions elsewhere.  Other jobs which need great customer skills of this nature are in the real estate, sales and marketing industries, if that's your cup of tea.

Another thing you may need to consider, depending on what you wish to do, is obviously full-time study, to get qualifications of course as well as something to put on your CV to fill in a period of time.  When people ask what you are doing, saying you're a student is quite a respectable answer.  At the beginning, when your study timetable is lighter, you can still do sex work to get enough to live on with little advertising if you have regular clients.

Often until you've lived a little though, it's hard to know where your interests really lie, what to study and how you can really use your natural resources to make a difference in the world, your community, your family or even what makes your own spirit soar.  Someone I know spent years studying law, rose in the ranks to become a partner in a great law firm, before deciding that "being a lawyer" was not actually what he wanted to do.  If only he'd known.  Luckily he was able to salvage another great career with those qualifications.  If sciences are your thing and you like the hooker with a heart of gold aspect of sex work, maybe nursing would be an interesting step.  If you're a creative geeky sort, I know of a few working girls who have studied web design, although I have heard that the new frontier of IT is still quite male-dominated and not necessarily willing to include or employ women except on a token basis, (this is based on anecdotal observations by someone within the industry), although you can always work for yourself.

It's difficult to get ahead working for wages, and some people resent the renumeration they get for the effort they put into working to build someone else's empire, isn't that easy to complain about?  We each have skills, aptitudes and interests unique to us, and even if we are not sure about what we want to do, a business course (I think even technical institutes offer Bachelors in Business Studies) could be something to do which can be used in any business in future, your own or managing others'.

A book I recommend to anyone wanting to get out of sex work but not quite knowing what to do, is What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles.  There are also government funded organisations that can help with job-hunting, and according to the NZPC (another great resource of non-judgmental ex-sex workers who also have counsellors), sex workers leaving this career do not have to suffer through the normal stand-down period that WINZ impose for job-seekers voluntarily leaving a job and signing up for a benefit, given that due to emotional or safety issues, immediate departure from sex work may be essential.

The main issue I found difficult to deal with in the real world was the terrible money-management skills I had.  Although I had been brought up to be reasonably prudent with money, understanding well things like the magic of compound interest, my years of earning too much and not being able to do anything with it (due to sex work being illegal) caused real problems with my acquired champagne tastes once I was back on a beer budget (which is ironic, being a non-drinker).  This is where organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau, who offer non-judgmental budgeting services, are fantastic.  Ideally to plan a transition to the real world, services like these could help a working girl with a budget, advise on taking care of outstanding taxes if any are due, and secure an interest-earning nest egg to make transition to a non-sex working life easier.

Sometimes the transition to a new occupation takes some time as it does with any career change.  Luckily because sex work is legal here in New Zealand, there is no need to fear that any assistance from government departments which offer these kind of helpful services will negatively affect sex workers reaching out.  Perhaps other countries who want to stamp out sex work could take a gentler and more understanding approach rather than trying to enforce a blanket ban on something which is sometimes the only way people know of as far as how to make a living goes.

I wish anyone who no longer enjoys sex work the courage to leave and all the best with their new life.

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 (cam work)

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.