Confessions of a sex worker
In her 17 years of sex work, Kellie McGuire can recall feeling unsafe just once, last year, when she arrived at an apartment and saw a gun on the kitchen bench. Rather than trying to flee instantly, she kept a cool head and managed to escape the situation unscathed.
She smiled, got on with the job, and made a swift exit when visitors turned up at his door.
She says that generally, her intuition keeps her safe.
"I'll literally get nauseous on my way to the booking, and I'll turn around and go home and that feeling will go away straight away," she says.
She carries a knife in her bag, both to cut the bondage ropes she sometimes uses with clients, and for self-defence. "It's there as a lifesaver, not a life-taker."
Kellie's introduction to the sex industry might've prepared her for the worst. At 15, after responding to an ad recruiting girls to perform topless massage, she says she was taken to a motel room and gang raped. The experience didn't deter her from pursuing sex work as a career.
"I always wanted to do something to do with being one-on-one with a person, with pleasing a person, with learning about how people's bodies and minds work as one and how everyone is the same yet different," she says.
Kellie lost her virginity at 12. She grew up in a country town with an alcoholic mother and abusive father. Moving to Melbourne as a teenager, she met her first husband at the age of 17. Unbeknownst to Kellie, her 45-year-old future husband, who she met in a club was a brothel owner, and within a couple of months, she was managing his parlour.
Kellie continued to work in and run brothels until 2007, when she switched to private escorting while raising her two young girls. She now has a roster of "regulars", as well as one-offs who ask Kellie to teach them a thing or two about how to please their partners.
Often, Kellie says, her clients' partners "just don't 'do anything' for them anymore - or they don't have sex with them at all," resulting in a loss of self-esteem. "I'm there to build them back up and tell them they are good enough."
She's friends with some of her clients. They'll go out for dinner and keep in touch via text messages and email. Some bookings are spent mostly talking or watching movies, fully clothed. "Some people just want company, and I don't think it's a sad thing," she says. "I think it's a really gutsy thing, because they're letting a stranger into their house. They don't know me, they don't know that I don't take drugs and do all that horrible stuff."
Condoms are non-negotiable, and always supplied by Kellie. She has a severe allergy to latex, and orders non-latex condoms in bulk from overseas. It's an allergy that has made her other work, running fetish and bondage nights, occasionally hazardous.
Earlier this year, she had an anaphylactic reaction when a latex-wearing guest came too close for comfort at one of her parties and narrowly avoided a trip to the hospital.
She also has arthritis and Scheuermann's disease, a painful skeletal disorder that limits her movement, for which she takes high doses of painkillers.
"The saddest thing for me lately was I wasn't able to hold my arms up long enough to brush my 13-year-old's hair when she needed me to," she says.
Her disabilities are not a major issue at work.
"My clients know I'm not a gymnast. I can turn up in runners and tracksuit and no makeup and they're more than happy because they just want to spend time with me as a person."
Sexually, not much is off limits, but Kellie generally doesn't like clients to touch her face, and will never go to sleep after a service. "I sleep next to my man," she says.
She's currently engaged to her fourth husband. A motorcycle accident has left him disabled so it is up to Kellie to provide for him, his 15-year-old son and her daughters, aged 13 and 9. They live on a big property on the outskirts of Melbourne, with 26 snakes, a dog, eight birds and four ponies.
Her elder daughter has autism and Aspergers. Kellie works from 6.30am to 1.30am seven days a week, running the house, managing her escort service, and organising fetish and swingers events.
When asked by strangers what she does for a living, Kellie is frank. "I tell them I'm a hooker."
Her youngest daughter doesn't know about the escorting, but her other kids do. "My eldest daughter was mostly worried about me not including my fiancé in my love life!"
Kellie says she has nothing to hide. "What you do does not make up who you are. Who you are is who you are. What you do is just a part of that."
Sydney Morning Herald