So you think you want to do Sex Work…

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This may be something you’re contemplating right now, or it may be something that you’re already doing but are looking at taking it to the next level. The first question to ask yourself is why? Why sex work over any other job?

What I often see when I mentor people who think sex work is for them is a lot of misconceptions of what the industry is like and what being a sex worker actually is. They’ve usually read or seen on TV or films the “Happy Hooker Narrative”.

The Happy Hooker Narrative is pretty much the story of how sex work fulfils all your wildest dreams, that Happy Hookers sit around drinking champagne, collecting Louboutins, buying houses and never have to truly work a day in their lives as sex work is just so fulfilling.

The truth is I’ve never met a Happy Hooker in real life, and if we think about the industry’s chosen job title of “Sex Worker” that’s really giving it away, being a sex worker means work. Just like any other job, there will be amazing days, but there will also be days where you would rather do anything else.

Unlike other jobs, sex work is also a game changer career path. It’s a career that you could love and excel at reaching all your career and financial goals along the way. But sex work comes with its own price tag, and that’s stigma.

Over my 17 years in the industry I have seen first hand how society is changing, the level of stigma is starting to decrease. However, choosing a stigmatised profession means that you will cross over the threshold from society’s view of a respectful person to some level of an outcast.

Living a stigmatised life means our work can impact everything from our housing situations, our ability to attain mortgages and finance, careers, children and relationships. It can also influence how you see yourself, we call this internalised whorephobia, it’s when we think less of ourselves for being sex workers, and it can impact us in a wide variety of ways from us settling for less than ideal partners because that’s all we think we can achieve and we don’t want to be alone, to formulating complex double lives, to us taking it out on our peers through bullying called Lateral violence.

Take this time also to learn as much about the industry as possible. Read everything you can find on the internet, many sex workers have their own blogs. The last publication of “The Professional” a publication produced by SWOP NSW for sex workers by sex workers contains stories covering the Happy Hooker narrative. In contrast the book “Prostitution Narratives” available here contains stories from “Survivors”, Survivors are past sex workers who had horrible experiences within the Australian sex industry. It is important to read both sides to the sex work narrative, because most of us in the sex industry will have experiences that sit on both sides of the narratives so learn as much from as many different sex workers as possible.

Sex work is also a profession you can lose yourself in. I’ve seen so many enter into the industry with great aspirations only to end up 10 years later, with a lot of designer handbags, a 10 year resume gap and needing to create go fund me accounts to ask for donations to make their ends meet.

Which is why the next step is to ask yourself what do you want to get out of sex work?

For most, sex work is a way to meet financial goals, everything from buying a house, to paying our way through university but sex work can fulfil you in more ways than just financial goals. It can also become a cross-over career, there’s a few of us who’ve used sex work to become writers, media personalities, even sexologists. So really take time to think of your wish list and write it down. Sex work can also be a lifelong career.

There are no wrong or silly answers to the above questions and with hard work and determination it is possible to achieve everything from paying off debts to building a property portfolio. But the answers to these questions will be the foundation on which you will build your sex work business. These answers will impact everything from what part of the industry you will work in, to how you market yourself to your length of time in the industry.

For instance if you are seeking to pay off accumulated debt quickly and get back to life then you will be more suited to work that will protect your anonymity; so brothel or massage parlour work might be your best option as there is no need to put anything out there on the net about it.

Whereas if you’re seeking a cross-over career and want to be out and proud about sex work, then opting to choose a part of the industry where you will create a name for yourself such as porn, or full face showing independent sex work would be for you.

To recap, the first steps to starting or reconfiguring a successful sex work business are:

  1. Read everything you can find on the experiences of those within the industry, the survivors, the current workers, the happy hookers. All of these stories are valid and full of very useful insights.
  2. Ask yourself why sex work? What attracts you to the industry, what do you think you can get out of it? How much of the price tag are you willing to pay? Meaning how much are you willing to open yourself up to the impacts of stigma.
  3. The next question is what do you want out of your time in the industry. For many the answer is financial goals, but it can also be a break over career, or a life long career, or even as a process to heal yourself.
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