Happy birthday, Jenna!
It’s the one year anniversary of my re-entry into the sex industry so I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on how I’ve got here and share my story. Sex workers are so often asked why we turned to this work and, while I feel it necessary to point out that I don’t imagine many plumbers or retail workers are asked the same question, I understand that it is an industry many people know nothing about and I’d prefer them be interested than pretend it doesn’t exist, so I’m happy to answer. Surely you’ve heard people say “no little girl says she wants to be a prostitute when she grows up”. Well, okay, true. I never said that. But as soon as I found out what prostitution was, I was interested. I never thought I would be thin or attractive enough to be paid for sex, and I had no idea we really had an industry in Australia, let alone a huge one, so I didn’t consider it an option. It was in 2012, after deciding I was wanting to leave the industry I was working in and taking a few financial hits in a row, that I happened upon a mention of ‘sugar baby’ websites while browsing reddit. I checked out Seeking Arrangement and showed it to my husband. A fair while later I thought it was worth trying at least, so I created an account. I was nervous as hell, but I met up with a guy for lunch. We got along quite well and moved things to his hotel room. It wasn’t an entirely unpleasant experience, but it was weird. He spent most of the time standing behind me, stroking my body and breathing heavily. But then he gave me some $50 notes. I left thinking “is it really that easy?!” I met a few other guys from that site and one said “you know you could be an escort if you wanted to?”. Of course I didn’t believe him, but he promised me there were all different shapes and sizes in the industry. That I didn’t need to have blonde hair and be a size 6 for people to pay me for sex. So he advised I get a new phone number and email and, with my permission, he wrote a review about me on a small review site and within a week it was full steam ahead. For a long time I would only see clients who regularly contributed to that review site. That was my screening process and it worked really well for me. I kept getting overwhelmed with the work though - my inbox was full every second day and I had guys berating me because I wasn’t able to find the time to fit them in. The first time I went to a sexual health clinic they asked me where I worked. I told them I just worked for myself, privately. The nurse told me that was incredibly dangerous, that I wasn’t being smart, and that I needed to find work in a brothel. I had always had such great experiences with my clients, but I knew in the back of my mind there was the possibility of something going wrong. So, after hearing that and finding it difficult to keep up with the demand for private work, I decided to make the ‘sensible decision’ and go to work at a brothel. I will never forgive that nurse for giving me such irresponsible advice. I only worked there for a few weeks. The hours were long - 10am-midnight without a break, back-to-back bookings all day long, a buzzer ringing if you were a second over time and so many awful clients. At least 60% of my clients would ask for bareback sex, and maybe half of those would continually ask in different ways and using different tactics throughout the session. I’d never had this issue working privately. One guy didn’t take no for an answer and that’s how I was raped in a brothel. Tears streaming down my face he told me I was amazing and he couldn’t wait to see me again. I genuinely believe he had no idea what he had done. That night I left the industry. I came home to my poor husband who had to pick up the pieces and come to terms with what had happened. The constant emails and posts asking where I was, when I would be back, the ‘please please please just see me this one time’ destroyed me. As someone who is at their most comfortable when pleasing others, it was devastating for me to think about how many men I was disappointing. I guess they thought I would take their contact as a compliment, but it just dug deeper into the wounds. I let my Jenna phone number lapse, I took my email account off my phone and my computer, and I moved on with my life. I ended up being away from the industry for almost 2 years when I realised how much I was missing it. I missed the financial security, of course. What I had saved up was gone, and we had gone back to living paycheck to paycheck. We’d done that before and we didn’t complain, but we had the knowledge that one unexpected bill was all it would take to put us in a really tricky position. More than that though, I missed the job itself. I missed meeting people from all different walks of life and learning about jobs and lifestyles I never even knew existed. I missed getting to know someone in an hour, naked and exposed. I missed feeling beautiful and confident. And I really missed the feeling of making someone feel desired, something everyone needs but is so often neglected. So I worked up the courage to tell my husband I wanted to give it a go again. He was understandably hesitant regarding my safety given past events but, being the extraordinary man he is, was supportive of my choices. I contacted a man I had met in my brief stint as a sugar baby. He knows a lot about the industry and I knew I could trust him. He pointed me towards a higher class venue where the women working there had a lot more options regarding who they saw and what they did. So on the 21st December 2016, I worked my first shift at this venue. It was indeed higher class than where I had worked previously. The facilities were really nice, the workers all spoke English, and if you didn’t want to meet a client, you didn’t. But the clients were exactly the same. My days working there were filled with requests for bareback sex. I woke up in the mornings preparing myself to spend a day finding different ways to say ‘no’. I would tell them not even my husband and I have sex without a condom and they wouldn’t believe me. I was disgusted and demoralised. In the meantime I had sent an email out to some of my old regulars telling them I was back in business. I’d started working privately again and started seeing respectful clients again. The hourly rate in this venue was more than my private hourly rate. For that they received a nude massage and a hand job, everything else was extra. My private clients were paying less and I was earning more, they were getting more for their money including a bed as opposed to a massage table, full service, the ability to stay for ‘about an hour’ not including showers as opposed to 59 minutes including showers, a worker who was refreshed and didn’t finish the previous booking 2 minutes earlier. Frankly, I felt like I was ripping them off in the brothel. So my stint at this second venue only lasted a few weeks longer than the first one, but it was what I needed to gain confidence again as a sex worker and get back into the industry. I’m not saying that private work is better than brothel work. What I’m saying is that private work is better than brothel work FOR ME. I’m glad I have learnt that about myself and I am grateful I have the choice. I started posting on Twitter and on a larger review forum, which were huge steps for me. In the past the only punters who had heard of me were from that smaller, respectful, highly moderated forum, and I was terrified of opening myself up to the public. I had advertised for a month once and instantly regretted it with the influx of enquiries. What I didn’t realise would happen by being a bit more public was getting to know other workers. Of course in the brothels I had met other women, but their beliefs regarding the industry didn’t align with mine and I never felt like I fit in at all. This year I have been able to join groups where we discuss things from the banal to the silly to the serious, and I have made what I would call friends in the industry for the first time. Keira Swanson has been such a supportive, accepting fellow worker and I am proud to have finally found someone I am proud to offer double bookings with. And the countless other women who I’ve been able to connect with have meant so much to me. I also have a male partner I can do MFM bookings with, something I had only ever dreamed of in the past! So for the last year I have worked as a private sex worker and I am so happy I made the choice to come back to the industry. This work makes me feel like I am helping people. I get up in the morning proud and excited to have a positive impact on my client’s lives. And sometimes I get to have really, REALLY good sex. I will never take the work for granted - I know from experience that it can disappear in an instant. It is an extraordinary job that can give me and the people I meet so much, but it also has the ability to take so much away from you. I continue to work my other jobs and I study, so that I have a steady income outside of this fickle industry. I’m so lucky that I have been able to do sex work consistently for a year. I hope that I can continue to do so for years to come, because it is a job that provides me with so much more than just an income. But I am also grateful that I have other options, because tomorrow I could be attacked again, or I could get very sick, or my husband could get sick, or my spinal injury could rear it’s ugly head as it tends to do on occasion. And so, if I do disappear for a while, please don’t harass me about it. Take the opportunity to get to know one of the other beautiful, compassionate, giving souls in the sex industry. They are some of the best people you’ll ever meet. I am proud of the work that I do. I work hard and I believe I am good at it. I know not every worker has the circumstances to be able to ‘come out of the closet’, but I am surrounded by supportive people and it is so important to me that sex work not be something that needs to be hidden, so as of 2018 I will be showing my face to do my tiny part for the industry. I have had many clients advise against this and I listened to them for a long time, but I’m going to listen to myself now instead. I’ve wanted to show my face for over 5 years now so I am going to. I am also altering my fee schedule after a lot of consideration. I have written previously about my reasoning for this, but I think that the new schedule reflects my work more accurately and I am so excited for what the next year brings for Jenna!