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Ask A Pro: Oral STIs and Throat Swab Protocol

Ask A Pro 1 is a our new column focusing on work and health, intended to share straightforward information about what you can do to keep yourself as safe as possible while on the job. Questions will be answered by sexual health expert Sarah Patterson, M.Ed. (See full bio below.) Questions you’d like to have answered can be sent to sarah.elspeth.patterson (at) gmail (dot) com, or to our info (at) titsandsass address. Full anonymity is guaranteed. 

Dear Ask A Pro,

I’ve been escorting for about six months and I usually don’t require that my clients wear condoms during blowjobs. I’m not having symptoms of anything, but I asked my gynecologist if I could do a test for oral STIs to be safe and she said I didn’t need it. She knows I’ve had some unprotected oral sex, but she doesn’t know about my job. I think she was trying to save me money but should I go back and tell her it’s important to me to get it? How at risk am I from giving bareback blowjobs anyway? I’ve heard that spitting isn’t much safer than swallowing but does that make a difference?

Sincerely,

Swab Seeker

The Name Game: Privacy in the Cyber Age

The pseudonym is perhaps one of the most titillating aspects of sex work. Non-sex workers are intrigued by the names we choose to define our personas; there are a million little devices to help them even create their own hypothetical sex worker name. Names can seem insignificant or interchangeable, but over time they become such an intensely personal, integral part of a worker’s identity. Sex work is already taboo, so picking a name has limitless bounds—we can come up with the most absurd, unconventional, socially unacceptable creation. No wonder civilians are so captivated; we get the opportunity to let our freak flag fly high and call it whatever the fuck we want.

It’s a common misconception that sex workers operate under different names because we’re ashamed of our work. The issue comes up even more as sex workers have carved out a space in the world of social media. Since many types of sex work are illegal, sex work (hell, even sex blogging) carries a huge stigma, and most of us would like to create a space where our clients can’t track down our parents or partners. Creating a fantasy is part of our job description; we may be a client’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl in the workplace, but that doesn’t mean we stop having private lives.

A Guide to Hustling on Craiglist Without the Personals

R.I.P. Craigslist Personals.

To the readers of this post, let me say first: I’m sorry, and I sympathize. I’m displaced and down in the trenches with you. I’m a ‘lower-end’ full-service and fetish worker. My way of life got taken down with the personals section of Craigslist. It’s the only platform I have ever used, and I’m taking my platform back. In order to help my fellow workers in the trenches and fight this censorship, please allow me to impart my tips and tricks on the loopholes of Craigslist.

One of the great things about this community of workers is our resilience and intelligence. The loopholes are always there, especially if you’ve got a sharp wit and way with words. I’ve been on the scene for seven years, and I’ve never met another fellow worker who was not also part entrepreneur and part lawyer. We are strong. We are powerful. We are a community. And Craigslist is no match for us.

The first major thing to remember about Craigslist is that the market is still there. Clients will always be there.

Dancing and Disability: A Workplace Primer

(Photo by Du R Maciel via Flickr)
(Photo by Du R Maciel via Flickr)

Disability is the reason that I’m no longer a dancer.  Occasionally, I’d fool myself and go back to work for a while, and then remember why I can’t do it anymore.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Dancing is hard on the body – and for my body, it’s particularly difficult.  I’m having a hell of a time with chronic pain, and as it stands right now, it’s painful when I walk or drive. Thinking I can dance an eight-hour shift these days is an exercise in self-delusion.

I’m Mel, formerly known as Valkyrie.  I started dancing when I was 20, and I retired this year.  I’m bipolar, and I’m also physically disabled.  I have a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS).  My joints are very easily dislocated, and I have issues with back and neck misalignment, dislocations, subluxations, moderate to severe chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.  Think major arthritis and a hand tremor, and that’s the reality of the body I’m living in.  I should mention that I am about to turn 31, and none of these conditions are readily apparent unless I talk about them, or unless I’m visibly wearing braces.  

Disability is pretty common in the sex work industryoverwhelmingly, invisible disability.  Many sex workers choose sex work because they can pick their own hours.  The ability to earn high amounts of money in a short period of time really helps conserve spoons/limited energy, which is particularly helpful when dealing with a painful condition.  Many dancers, models, cam girls, and full-service workers suffer from chronic pain or physical limitations.  Mental illness is also very common; I’ve personally run into people with PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, and at least one sociopath (who, lest you get the wrong idea, is a friend of mine and a wonderful person, all stereotypes to the contrary).  Mental illness can be disabling to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon circumstances.

I have some tips for those of us who are dealing with disability. Then I’ll be discussing disabled customers and how we can interact with them in a way that’s good for both them and us.

If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Keep Sittin’ On It: On Never Running Specials

We’ve survived August, which for many escorts is the slowest month of the year. Wealthy clients all seem to be either on family vacations, or else catching up with everything they missed at work because they just got back from family vacations. Clients on a budget are trying to get the kids to the beach and back to school or are cutting large tuition checks. Summer specials are popping up everywhere to help girls compete. Time to pull out the laptop and drop your rates til September.

Or, you know. Don’t.

Running a special can backfire and weaken your brand. Clients who usually see you at $300 an hour may begin waiting for your specials if you routinely drop to $250 any time your week looks slow. Clients who begin seeing you under a special rate may feel mistakenly entitled to continue seeing you at that rate for all of eternity. Clients who jump on specials tend to be bargain hunters looking to get the most bang out of their buck, and don’t stick around to become loyal, long term clients. And, perhaps most discouragingly, good clients who would see you at your full rate may wonder why you’re dropping it, and whether they should reconsider. Besides, who wants to do the same job, but for less money?

Of course, there are other options, and you don’t have to decide between moonlighting at Starbucks or jumping into The Race To The Cheapest Blow Job with every other girl in town. Before dropping your rates, consider trying to enhance your business instead.