OPINION: Becoming a sex worker was the easiest thing I have ever done. I simply took out an ad on a website that offered sexual services by private escorts.
"I am 40 years old, offering a full service to men who prefer big girls," my ad read. "I am smart, funny and sexy. DD cup, 178cm tall. I have long brown hair, dark brown eyes and a pretty face. I am available on an out-call basis."
That was it. I was in business.
I had never imagined that I would end up working in the sex industry, but when my husband told me he wanted out after 15 years of marriage, I found myself having to make some tough decisions.
I did a budget, and while there was enough money to cover the mortgage and bills, there would be no money for food.
I could have returned to full-time work in my former profession, which would have seen me working up to 10 hours a day in a stressful role and seeing little of my children. Or I could think outside the square.
The idea to become a sex worker came from a conversation at a post-separation dinner party my girlfriends had thrown me. The conversation turned to sex work. We jokingly talked about how selling our bodies could be the answer to our various financial woes. I began to wonder if sex work could really be the answer to my problems. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to be a practical solution.
After placing the ad I had not expected such a quick response.
"Hi, I'm in town on business and I would love to see you," a voice at the other end of the phone said. "Are you available?"
My ex had the kids, so I told him I was.
I was immediately in a state of panic. I tried to calm down by telling myself that it was just sex. I'd had sex many times before - surely sex work was just the same?
I had to prepare. What to wear? I rummaged through my drawers to find some long-abandoned lingerie. I decided on a dress that was stylish and showed off my cleavage, but didn't scream "hooker".
As the hour for my first booking drew near, I showered, washed and conditioned my hair, and moisturised every inch of my body. I put on make-up, tied my hair into a slightly dishevelled bun and put on a few squirts of perfume. I was ready.
As I drove to the hotel my gut was churning. What if he was ugly? Or worse, what if he wasn't attracted to me?
As I walked through the foyer a single thought allowed me to make my way to the lift and down the hall: "I am about to join the world's oldest profession. Millions of women have done this before me. I am not alone."
With shaking hands I knocked on the door. A bald but not unattractive man in his early 50s answered. He smiled and let me in.
"Why don't we take care of the business side of things first," he said, handing me four $100 bills. I slipped the money into my purse and took off my shoes. There was a moment of discomfort before I walked towards him and said, "Let's get started, shall we?"
The sex was straightforward and lasted about 45 minutes. The rest of the booking was spent lying in bed talking. He was a lawyer in town to broker a deal and although he didn't mention it, I knew he was married.
He had paid for two hours, but I ended up staying for almost three. As I was driving home he sent me a text message: "Drive carefully and thanks for a wonderful night."
He had been the perfect client and the experience was a great way to get started in the industry. My clients are not all like him, although most of the men I see are also married. The story is always the same - their wives have lost interest in sex.
Not long after beginning my new career, I decided to work just one day a week on an in-call basis, meaning clients would come to me rather than me visiting them. I checked out a few hotels close to the city and found one with plenty of on-street parking and from which clients could come and go without raising the suspicions of reception staff.
The arrangement has worked well. I usually see four to six clients a day and make between $800 and $1200. Compared to my earnings from my former profession, about $250 a day, the money is good.
There are risks associated with sex work, but they can be minimised through being selective about clientele and always practising safe sex. I work alone and I know that makes me vulnerable, but by the time I have seen a client for the first time I often know quite a lot about him. You would be surprised how easy it is to find out about someone by Googling their first name and mobile phone number.
My closest girlfriends know what I do and they are supportive of the choices I have made. I know not everyone approves of sex work, but I am simply providing a service for which there will always be a demand, and at this stage of my life it allows me to have the perfect work and family balance.
- Sydney Morning Herald