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Handling The Review Boards

ABC
This isn’t the best way to handle issues with review boards.

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

—Oscar Wilde

There is no human experience so intimate and personal that people won’t publicly dissect it. Childbirth. Funerals. Cancer treatments. And sex. I agree with much of what has already been said here on T&S about the problems inherent to some sex work review boards. The whole concept of reviewing an erotic encounter that one was a participant in is an odd idea; it’s like having like a theater critic be in the cast of the play. How can one ignore the fact that the critic played some part in how the show turned out? But, especially with experiences that touch on primal emotions, people search for ways to bring some intellectual analysis to what they are feeling—with mixed degrees of success. Some sex worker reviews are truthful, insightful, and useful: others are more like naked bathroom selfies of the reviewer, with all the perils inherent to that art.

I’ve been reviewed, as an escort and as a pro domme, on both escort boards and sites specifically about professional dominance. Some reviews were positive, some not so much. Of course I prefer the paeans to my beauty and skill—who doesn’t? But I’ve learned to not take any of them too seriously, because I got toughened up in an equally merciless school: reviews and comments on my writing.

Research Proves Men Come to Strip Clubs to Relax

Couch Dance, Philadelphia, PA, 2001, Juliana Beasley

This is the first review on Tits and Sassof an academic research article on stripping. Before I get to the review proper, I wanted to qualify this post with some thoughts on academia’s relationship to stripping. First off, in the spirit of showing all my cards, I used to do academic social science research. Secondly, I’m often skeptical of academic research and reporting on stripping and sex work because of researchers’ personal biases cleverly hidden in dense, gigantic vocabulary words. Furthermore, researchers rarely have direct, authentic experience in sex work and they end up appropriating sex worker interviewees’ experience for their own accreditation.

Though I think there is great potential for increasing knowledge by using an anthropological lens to study any subculture, I also think that when the outsider’s perspective is privileged over the insider’s lived experience, the subject being studied takes on the quality of a lab rat: voiceless. I don’t think all researchers need to experience what they study. The outsider’s perspective can be illuminating but it requires a relationship between the researcher and the researched based on respect and mutual gain. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to ascertain whether that was the case from only reading a study.

Confessions of a Professional Dater

The term “sex worker” usually makes me cringe. By most people’s standards, as an escort, I certainly fall into that occupational category. Living in a country where prostitution is illegal in all but a single state means that labeling myself a “sex worker” is hardly pragmatic. Besides, to call men like myself (straight male escorts) “sex workers” is almost insulting. How great would my life be if I could just sell sex? I have very few clients whose primary interest in retaining my services is sexual intercourse, or even sexual physical contact. Critics of the show I happen to be a part of have no frame of reference for what my profession entails. I will be the first to admit that the show, with eight 30-minute episodes per season, is not exactly made to be educational. Those critics have said repeatedly that women don’t have to pay to get laid. I have said repeatedly that they are correct, but that both women and men most definitely pay for “sex.”

I was raised on the Discovery Channel. Both of my parents were educators and naturally curious people. In my home growing up, there was no shortage of animals fucking on our TV screen. Those scenes were usually over in a matter of seconds, as compared to the sometimes hours of observation and analysis of the courtship rituals that led up to the act. It’s always been fascinating to me that although sexual intercourse among mammals is pretty much homogeneous, the courtship rituals and mating systems that get individuals to the act are incredibly diverse. That (entire process) is “sex.” Intercourse is by far the least interesting aspect. It’s a series of hip thrusts in a few positions. The mating game that happens before intercourse, on the other hand, is captivating. For us human animals living in the “modern world,” our mating game is the world of dating. I am a sex worker, but I am primarily a “professional dater.”

I’m Special, Baby: The Sex Worker Edition of #notallmen

Not all clients are totally predictable.
Not all clients are totally predictable. (image via twitter user @a_girl_irl)

Just as the rallying cry of men defending themselves from those mean, mean feminists seems to be, “Not ALL men!” so does the sex work client object to generalizations about him. In fact, the one thing all sex work clients have in common is that they all think they’re different, special, and  not like those other guys. So, when they throw out that tired line you’ve been hearing ever since you started working, they think they’re being clever. We asked escorts, street workers, strippers, pro-dommes, cam-people, and phone sex operators to get on Twitter on #notallclients and tell us all about it.

Is The Customer Always Right? On Professionalism and Boundaries, Part 1

summer-august-lazy-work-seasonal-ecards-someecardsBelow, four in-person sex working professionals discuss how to maintain boundaries while keeping clients happy, the most common problems that cause conflicts with customers, and what they think professionalism means in the context of a career plagued by stigma and illegality. Part two will be posted tomorrow. The women weighing in are Lori Adorable, Amanda Brooks1, Charlotte Shane, and Tizzy Wall.2

Charlotte: Sex work is very much my primary career, so I tend to think of it as I would any other personal service job, meaning I want a client to “get his money’s worth.” I want him to have the experience he wants to have. But I’ve also developed a pretty strong sense of boundaries over the years, and there are a lot of things I don’t allow and wouldn’t be willing to do no matter how much a client complains or cajoles. Do you think about your work in terms of satisfying the client? How do you negotiate that “the client is always right” mentality (yours or theirs!) with your own boundaries and preferred way of doing things?

Amanda: I’ve never felt I had to do anything the client or strip club customer wanted just because they were paying me. Quite the opposite. (I guess this means I have an “attitude”). However, I do feel they’re paying me to have a good time or have a need met. I consider it my job to give them my full attention and find a way to make them happy. I like making clients happy because it pleases me and offers personal satisfaction in my work. By “happy,” I don’t mean I do everything they’ve ever dreamed of. There’s always a middle ground.

Of course there have been times when I’ve shut off that inner voice and allowed a boundary to be pushed because of the money — but it always snaps back into place naturally, damn the consequences. I’m not someone who responds well to being told what to do or having my sense of privacy invaded. Add my stubborn refusal to fake it and it becomes a real mess, especially when I end up doing something I really don’t want (like have sex) just because I know it’s expected. Not to derail this into issues of consent; this is about personal satisfaction and playing a particular role that doesn’t fit me as well as it used to. As most service-industry workers probably feel, the less happy I am, the more I should be paid.