My career change had come just in the nick of time. My mother's brain surgery left her unable to work and had given my father the new role of full-time caregiver. Sex work brought along the luxuries of a high hourly wage and a flexible schedule that allowed me to visit regularly, take her to doctor's appointments, and help out financially on occasion.

I have a suspicion that I would have become a sex worker even without the circumstances of my mother's illness, though. I grew up idolizing historical figures like Mae West and Gypsy Rose Lee — outspoken women who used sexuality to leverage their careers. I saw that female sexuality was used to sell clothes, food, cars, and liquor, yet in the United States it is illegal to sell sex itself. That just didn't make sense to me.

I was also fascinated by human intimacy and desire. I went on a lot of OkCupid dates and had a lot of one-night stands in my exploration of my own sexual identity. When I moved to San Francisco, I discovered that I enjoyed and excelled at kinks and fetishes beyond my wildest dreams, and I was ravenous for more. By the time I began my career at the Lusty, I knew more about sexuality than your average 24-year-old. Eventually, being promiscuous no longer thrilled me. If I was going to have a just-for-fun one-time encounter with someone who was only mediocre at sex, I wanted to be compensated with more than just pizza and beer.

Despite my logical understanding that sex work could be an empowered choice, I was still afraid to make the jump from stripper to hooker. The first time I took an appointment, I was terrified that I wouldn't know what to do or that the client would be rough or mean. Instead, I intuitively knew exactly what to do, the client was attractive and kind, and I made more money in an hour than I ever had.

I lived in the inner Richmond, but to take appointments with clients I would commute across the bridge to a small apartment in the East Bay. The building was modern and secure, but the walk to and from the BART station always made me feel vulnerable. It only took about 10 minutes, some of which I often ran. I don't usually get scared when I walk around in the Bay Area; it's my home. But I was not used to carrying large sums of money around and it made me nervous. The idea of going to the police had also shifted for me. Being a sex worker could put me at risk for incarceration even if I was the victim of a crime. I tucked the money I had made for the day under the arches of my feet in my canvas tennis shoes. It made the shoes too tight and the walk to the train painful. I must have looked ridiculous: a freckle-faced girl with an overstuffed bag full of dildoes and cheap lingerie limping down the street at full speed. Riding back to the city on BART, I tried not to make eye contact with anyone for fear that my secret identity would be revealed. In hindsight, I'm sure I wasn't fooling anyone, since the riding crop I used for sessions was a bit too big for my bag and poked the people I stood next to when the train was crowded.

My paranoia was perhaps a bit overblown at first, but not unwarranted. Though I sometimes feared arrest or robbery, I rarely feared my clients. I've been fortunate enough to have largely positive experiences at work. The Bay Area is home to a diverse group of eccentric people with disposable incomes. My clients were often nerdy, and always interesting. From Google-busers to sensitive New Age guys from Marin, they were often surprisingly endearing. San Francisco offers a buffet of sexual explorations, from festive polyamorous play parties to elaborate professional dungeons. I've had the opportunity to explore those things, but many of my clients have not. Some of my clients are in relationships that do not allow them to explore their kinks, some have professional identities that make public exploration impossible, and some are simply curious and want to explore their desires with a professional before embarking on a journey on their own. My clients and I have a great deal in common. If my life had gone a different way and I had ended up in a more traditional lifestyle, I might be paying someone to tie me up and tickle me as well.

Not everyone I see is kinky, though. Some are looking for something as vanilla as a glass of wine and a heated conversation about the merits of Star Trek vs. Star Wars. The reasons they come see me are as varied as their desires. I'll say it: Many of my clients are married. Some of their spouses know that they see me, some of them don't. For the ones that don't, they see their time with me as something that enables them to stay in a marriage that, aside from a lack of intimacy, is successful. Unlike having an affair though, I will never text a client in the middle of the night when he is home with his family. I will never get upset when a client chooses to spend time with his family rather than with me. I would never expect or desire for my client to leave his wife to be with me. I am a professional, and I am pro-marriage. I intend my services to support the relationships that matter to my clients the most, not to destroy them.

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37 comments
Pamela Miramontes
Pamela Miramontes

I know this is off story, but do you recommend, any good resteraunts, close to Fisherman's Wraf, that are good for birthdays, sorry ?

Veronika Volok
Veronika Volok

Great article. Defiantly opened my mind and perception of sex workers

libertyfreedompatrio
libertyfreedompatrio

" I chose sex work for many reasons, but mainly because I enjoyed the work, I excelled at it, and it allowed me to live in the city that I love. I understood that choosing sex work made me vulnerable to criminalization and stigma, but seeing myself as an entrepreneur fulfilled me in a way work never had before."


An excellent collection of delusional rationalizations. I usually find narcissism hilarious, but this is just sad... 

ed.rippy
ed.rippy

Props to Siouxie for injecting some sanity into the mix. Props also on yr column, lk forward to it! Prop 35 definitely uses peoples' proper horror @ a really sick & twisted business (trafficking) to attack an entirely different business: willing sex work. Unfortunately its backers have succeeded in confusing the two for many people.

downtownbrown
downtownbrown

Wonder how her BF feels knowing he's exposed to all kinds of bugs including HPV (which she certainly carries and spreads) which can cause cancers in womyn and men.

Spider2
Spider2

I don't know what's more horrifying. That a young Gen-Y sexworker thinks she discovered "hidden kinks" in San Francisco that have been obvious and popular for decades, or that people are STILL commenting that sex work is somehow not real work, or the work of the emotionally damaged.


Come on world, you're changing much too slowly. 



Kestrel
Kestrel

Sorry, long rant. I had a lot of time to think on this. :)

I guarantee the troll is a religious nutjob. If she finds sex working so abhorrent then she should definitely never try sex working. But for religious people to demand their chosen morality should be inflicted upon all Americans is to indoctrinate a FREE society into their own perceived ideal way of life. Separate the church and state. Do not have abortions if you are against them.

Rape victims, women who cannot support themselves or are just teens, women who have done drugs during their pregnancies need to have this option. Why are the conservatives

trying to close abortion clinics and force women into having babies they cannot care for or ones who put out their babies in danger by living a reckless life or birth a baby with horrible health trauma and deformities? But they refuse to teach REAL sex ed, they refuse to make birth control pills an OTC drug though it's safer than Tylenol and they'll die before they make condoms free and available. So, have those babies, girls. We won't give you an ounce of help except we will pray for you. Prayers don't feed babies.

We enjoy our free society and the right to pursue happiness. Do not make your religious beliefs my American law. Do not begin 1.31 lives in a manner that they maybe cannot survive in.

You are a group of people who deny sex for fun. If sex is only for procreation, should infertile couples be required to get divorced? Are you a failure if you only have one or two kids? No. That's insane. We are a free nation. Sex workers may not be your cup of tea - personally, I couldn't do it - but you should allow them the freedom of choosing what to do with their own bodies. WE OWN OURSELVES. I don't believe in your god and refuse to worship him. I don't fear his wrath if some women support themselves this way and maybe support a few children they didn't abort but might have done so without the income that sex work provides.

You religious beliefs cannot become my national law.

Let's begin to make sex work a legitimate industry with health and safety standards, a database or licensing system that treats workers as employees and clients as, well, tax-paying clients. Instead of banishing women to the dark alley or making them fear bullshit trafficking laws, let's bring it out into the open and make it better.

Oh, and lazy? I think that's probably the last thing this writer is. She is aware of her sexual side, embraces it, gains pleasure from her work and makes a good income that would otherwise make her a retail worker needing food stamps. It's HER choice. Her clients are exercising THEIR choice. YOU can go and pray for them. The rest of us are trying to take away the stigma of this "oldest profession".

And if you think your god is against this and our nation must stand firm against this industry, how will you feel when Allah is the god in charge?

We don't have to personally be involved in their world but we do need to make sure that they can pursue whatever they want. It's a basic citizen right. And we are all citizens.

meatsack
meatsack

More power to the sex worker, it's a thankless occupation, a good article.


It's odd that Susie consulted Courtney/Trouble, as Courtney/Trouble is an unpleasant nut job.

Diana Pardini
Diana Pardini

Marine needs spellcheck so, so badly. It hurts.

Lala Bean
Lala Bean

If the strip clubs didn't take so much money from the girls, especially house keys.. Girls wouldn't feel the need to do extras. The term independent contractor means you can walk into work and leave whenever you want you are your own boss. The San Francisco strip clubs have some nerve telling you that you cannot leave. That is illegal. You are paying to work at their dirty ass venue: and yeah yeah so many people have them sacks work now it's just so cool. I'm a former sex worker except I was doing it legally in porn films as well as the ranches in Nevada. I pay taxes on that. I could write a book too but I figured it would all sound the same. The guys are come by are all overweight and have either too big of a penis or too small of a penis. Most of them smell that's why they come to the prostitute. Most of them are cheap. And a whole lot of celebrities. There's my book

ExecuteTamayoNow
ExecuteTamayoNow

It's not a profession.  Medicine, Science, business are professions.  You were showing your cootchie for cash.  There is a big difference. 

RJohn Xerxes
RJohn Xerxes

^^^ You might take your own advice and don't judge but accept that other opinion fully, please

Cassandra Luvv
Cassandra Luvv

^^^ To judge another, is to judge yourself. Unconditional love means to accept another fully without judgement. Stand in front of a mirror, look into your eyes, and say to yourself everything you wrote. Then experience what you feel fully.

whorelover
whorelover

Fantastic article! As someone who loves a sexworker and who has nearly been arrested for being a "pimp" because of it, it feels good to know that there are people like you out there actively working to make things better. You are awesome keep it up! 

Marine Macerot
Marine Macerot

go to school and go put your energy a real career.you are lazy.and stop dragging or keeping ostage fragile /co- depend boyfriend in your desease. and BTW:you are not selling intimacy to the married johns you provide your services to ,no ...you are just sexing them up.The men you serve are sick very sick.You need therapie ,you need to heal,go to "SAGE" it's an community that will provide you with the help you need. .you are worth more then the self inflicted abuse you put yourself through.this paper is well written but the content is pure sex traffic propaganda.she knows and we know it.you are a sad girl.

Federale
Federale topcommenter

What a revolutionary.  That is the way to epater le bourgeoisie.

meatsack
meatsack

@libertyfreedompatrio

What's delusional.  Everyone with a job is being used, I'm not saying that from a moronic SF progressive angle, just as a statement of fact.  If a person does sex work what's that to you. 

libertyfreedompatrio
libertyfreedompatrio

@downtownbrown  But venereal diseases are empowering to this "professional"! You know you've become a real SF entrepreneur when you contract herpes...

urbanlives
urbanlives

@Kestrel I am an atheist and have been since a child. I am pro abortion and OTC birth control. I am also the parent of 3 and having an industry that clothes itself as a profession when it consists of hourly hole rental is not the role model for children. It teaches girls that bodies are not for enjoying in athletics but for sexualizing and monetizing. It teaches boys to pay for the rent a hole dopamine rush. Giving people "choice" to sell flesh and condone this as benign freedom is, at the same time, denying them the freedom to see the other side: a hotbed of low self esteem riddled with essays like this to convince you they are grand entrepreneurs saving sad men, and a body with viruses that spread like wildfire and cause compromised immune systems overwhelmed with so many pathogens. The rent a hole industry is not freedom no matter how many sex workers would love to seduce  with words as well as shaved genitals.

bluechis
bluechis

@ExecuteTamayoNow    Medicine, science and business are industries IN which you can have a profession-like by being a nurse, researcher or accountant. Sex is also an industry, with publications, products, venues and tourism. Even if you reduce the author's work to "showing cootchie for cash" the longevity of her commitment and the skills required classifies it as a profession. And that is discounting her achievements as a sex-work author and sex-work podcast host. 

thatsenough
thatsenough

@ExecuteTamayoNow business can mean almost anything. For example an account execs main tasks include entertaining clients, sealing deals over drinks, making someone feel like the most important person of the room. basically sales. think about it for a second.

mrericsir
mrericsir topcommenter

Go back to the ugly little hole you came from and stay there, please.

Ralph93
Ralph93

Not everyone feels the way or experiences life the way you do. Not every sex worker is "damaged" and many non sex workers are. As long as a person is doing it out of choice and not coercion then there should be no problem.

 
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