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It’s A Good Idea To File Your Taxes

Schedule C and an example of a deductible expense.
Schedule C and an example of a deductible expense.

The filing deadline for your IRS tax return is Tuesday, April 18. You can file for an automatic extension with this form.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve read sex workers on Facebook and Twitter talking about the difficulties they had in getting an apartment, qualifying for a car loan, and signing up for health care because they didn’t have any proof of income. “I don’t get paychecks,” the sex worker might say (unless she is an employee), “So how can I prove how much money I make?” I read dancers telling other dancers to get a strip club manager to write a letter estimating what she makes in a week, and while that might work to buy a car at You Work—You Ride! it won’t help with big leasing companies or the bank.

What will help is having a copy of your tax return. Even before you file it, make a copy of your completed return to have on hand for any occasion that requires proof of income. It doesn’t have to be complicated; if you take a look at the Schedule C and panic at all the deduction categories, if you don’t save receipts for anything, if you haven’t filed in years, if you’ve never filed during your sex working career, just remember this: don’t panic. You can do this. All it is is counting money and adding and subtracting it.

Well. And paying it. That part is no fun. But if you’re filing as a self-employed person, you’re supposed to pay quarterly estimated taxes, which is somewhat better than paying one chunk in April, and hey, at least you don’t have to get depressed looking at a deduction on a paycheck every couple of weeks. OK, it’s unpleasant. There’s really nothing less fun to do with your money than send it to the IRS other than using it to pay for car repairs or dental work.

We are not accounting or tax professionals here at Tits and Sass but I, for one, am a career stripper who had her own tax missteps in the past (the part where I pretty much forgot to file the entire time I was in college) (and I was in college for a long time). If I could get straightened out, so can you. Let me be clear that I’m not urging anyone to pay taxes for any other reason than to make their own life easier. I do, however, want to emphasize how it can make your life easier:

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.

Some of My Best Moves Can Hurt You: Elle’s Martial Arts Training

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Would you know how to get out of this? Pictured: Elle and instructor Justin Norton

Foster Fitness is a humble little gym on SE Foster in Portland, OR. The atmosphere is chipper, the air perpetually sticky, and sometimes the young children of Troy, the owner, are toddling around. Foster offers a variety of martial arts classes: Jujitsu, Judo, Krav Maga, Karate, and my choice; Arnis (pronounced: Ar-niece). I like this place, but despite the dozen nearby adult businesses and dance clubs, I am the only female who trains there.

In only three years stripping, I’ve worked with hundreds of women. Recent statistics tell us that by the age of 18, one in four females and one in six males will have been sexually assaulted. And victimization statistics indicate that some individuals tend to be at a higher likelihood for victimization, meaning that they will experience assault more than once in their lifetime.

Why, then, am I the only woman in my class?

Surviving Long Appointments

For lots of money, I bet she could! (image by Anne Taintor)

We all say we want them, but do we really? Longer appointments—all day, overnights, weekends or more—can be great money, but they can also be really taxing on your soul. No matter how much you like your work, staying in character and putting your client’s needs before your own for a long period of time can make anyone go a little crazy.

Whether you’re a stripper who’s committed to a couple hours in the champagne room, a dominatrix with a super-devoted slave, or anyone else who’s found themselves committed to more than they thought they bargained for, here are some ideas for making it through with your sanity intact.

If you have some other tricks of the trade to share, please leave them in the comments section.

Saving Face

He was the perfect client. Well dressed and freshly showered, he brought me a small gift in which my precious dollar bills were discreetly enclosed, and our session finished before I was even fully undressed.

“How did you find me?” I asked him over cacio e peppe. I needed to recreate whatever marketing techniques scooped this guy for the rest of my career.

“I’ve been following your Twitter for years,” he replied.

My whore brain, which is really just a saloon girl holding an abacus after seven years of doing this job, quickly ran a rough estimation of every dollar I had lost by somehow failing to convince Mr. Right to get in touch sooner. He sensed the twinge of disappointment in my surprise. “Your photos are great!” he corrected, “I just…never understood the whole ‘hiding the face’ thing.”

My heart sank. There’s simply nothing that competes with the magnetism of the human gaze in a sea of faceless profiles, and it’s something I’ve heard from clients before. In sad contrast to a warm smile, my feeble Photoshop techniques for obscuring my identity can give my images the uncanny valley effect of an alien shapeshifter caught briefly between corporeal forms. While my areolas are available to the world in high resolution, my face is just something I can’t—or won’t—expose.

Industry professionals who do online advertising are noticing that an increasing number of their colleagues have forgone the usual online security measure of hiding identifying features like faces and tattoos, opting to share all of the above plus apartments, city views, and even cameos from their dogs. In a city of millions, I’ve unintentionally run into workers who I can identify only from their online profiles. This trend that unquestionably puts workers at greater risk is troubling for many. It’s a phenomenon that coincides with ever-more-restrictive criminal laws on prostitution, a lack of reliable advertising options, and an unrelenting global media culture that frames privacy as a puritanical, outdated value. Historically unprecedented invasions into our private lives are now commonplace and increasing, and the pressure to truly ‘bare it all’ in order to compete is palpable. The repercussions for sex workers, though, reach far beyond what regular civilians face.