Most clients know the difference between the different modes of work for sex workers, but do they know the intricacies? Each of these ways to work likely offers a different experience to the client, and usually they come at different price points. Have a read through of the advantages and disadvantages of each; I hope this helps you to choose which experience you're most comfortable with!
Parlours, or brothels, are what most people think of when they think about prostitution. They're a building with lots of bedroom-type rooms where the magic happens, and an intro room where a client can meet all the lovely escorts he can choose from for the evening. The workers are there on shifts, usually of around 12 hours, and the establishment is open at least 18-20 hours out of 24. The remaining time is used for cleaning and sending the mountain of linen off to be washed. You might be surprised to know that some of the rooms in parlours are exceptionally fancy, some even include a spa.
As a client, you turn up, and you have a quick chat to reception. You'll be told the rate for a standard service, and generally what is included in this service; you'll be told that the parade of lovely escorts all have different services they can offer you at an extra charge, and you'll be asked for a general idea of what you're after (or if you're after a specific person) and how long you would like. The standard service is usually very much bare basics - we're talking only PIV sex and a covered blowjob - and they often have a "deluxe" service which includes a few extra things. Parlour workers make most of their money on extras, as the fee for the standard booking is usually spilt 50/50 with the house (or 60/40, or 70/30, with the majority going to the house). Extras are things like kissing, oral sex on the escort, or anal sex; a "girlfriend experience" or "pornstar experience" package will definitely cost you more than than standard rate.
A worker might choose a brothel to work in for heaps of reasons! You don't have to do your own advertising, you don't have to get clients through the door yourself, you usually don't have to provide your own photos, you don't have to build any kind of brand or maintain your own website, and you get to hang out with friends in the back room and get tips from people who are usually more experienced than you. It's also really nice to decompress straight away and brag about nice clients or rant about rude ones to people who you know will get you! The parlour environment is much less lonely than other modes of work.
Advantages of booking parlour workers:
An agency is basically a bunch of workers who are managed by an organisation that is effectively their booking agent, advertiser, driver, and room for rent all in one. Agencies will often have one or two apartments that they use for any incall bookings, but a lot of the time they're mostly outcall. Generally, agencies are registered businesses unless the state where they are operating has made them illegal. Disclaimer: I've never personally worked for an agency.
There is a slight subcategory for agencies, and I prefer to call that "managed escorts". These are workers who are managed by someone, but that someone doesn't make clear that they are managed. Where agencies will often have websites showing their selection of escorts and giving a phone number and email for contact, managed escorts appear to be private escorts and advertise in all the areas you might find privates. Their phone is handled by someone else, and their ads are usually put up by this manager as well, but the client isn't told that they're not speaking directly to the person they're booking. They can be managed by a "madam" or, I suppose, you might call them a "pimp"? But often, they're just another escort who is a bit more experienced. This particular subset of workers are often stereotyped quite heavily; sometimes fairly, and other times not.
Usually you contact an agency through the ad that they've put up in either the newspaper or online. More and more frequently, you contact agencies through ads for individual workers that they manage, whether they've made it known that the worker is part of an agency or not. If you're after a specific worker, you tell them so, and you arrange a time and date to see them, and specify whether you want to use the agency incall or you would like the worker to come to you. You are negotiating all of this with a booking agent, or sort of administration assistant I suppose - there is no direct contact with the worker you're booking until you meet them.
Workers choose this kind of work because it involves much less admin than if they were private, but offers more discretion than a parlour. The agency takes care of their ads, sometimes their photos, and always their phones, in exchange for a cut of their money. Not having to deal with the back and forth of client negotiations is often very relieving!
Advantages of booking an agency worker:
Private or Independent
An independent worker is one who works for themselves; they don't have a manager, but they sometimes have a personal assistant or booking assistant if they can afford one. They may work in a collective or co-op situation, in an apartment with one or two other workers for safety, or they may just work by themselves. Street based sex workers generally fall into this category unless they are managed by someone (what most would call a "pimp" - I really don't like that there's no alternative to this word for someone who manages another person but isn't an exploitative and abusive piece of trash), as even if you don't advertise online or in the newspaper, if you work by yourself, you are an independent sex worker. A big myth about independent sex workers is that we all make buckets of cash; this is definitely not true at all! You can't tell how well someone is doing by looking at their advertised rate, either. There are plenty of women I know who make a lot more than me, and their hourly is $200 less than mine (including one who makes double what I do, which is crazy, she works incredibly hard) - they just work a lot more frequently.
Typically, you will contact these workers through their advertising directly. Most use a phone number and prefer SMS, but some only take bookings via email, phone call, or a booking form. Their advertising will usually have every piece of information you need to know before making a booking, unless state legislature prohibits it (here is your regular reminder to look up what the laws are in your state). If they offer incalls, be mindful that the premises you are attending is likely to be their home; don't snoop in cupboards or act disrespectfully. They'll give you the address a few hours before you're due to arrive. They will usually have screening protocols, which means that because they work alone, before they are in a room alone with you, they will want some information about you; it is important that you comply with this. Street based sex workers are more likely to just have an area that they frequent where clients know to pick them up. You negotiate in the car or on the street before going somewhere more discreet to continue the booking. Occasionally they also have ads online - this is getting a lot more common with the insane proliferation of the internet.
Workers usually choose this modality of work so that they can dictate all of their terms, and they are in charge of where their money is spent on advertising. It gives them greater control over which clients they see, and direct contact with those clients. It also means they are not required to work shifts, and they have creative control over their online presence. For street based workers, they can choose which days to turn up in their spot, or choose not to. Street based work is very social, and many of the workers form close bonds with others who work in the same area; much less lonely than working by yourself.
Advantages of booking an independent:
You take mostly the same risks when you contact any kind of sex worker. Something I have always emphasised in my Twitter feed and in the answers to my anonymous questions is that you, the client, are responsible for your own sexual health, and the level of risk you are comfortable taking. There is not an increased chance of you catching chlamydia just because you see a street based worker over a $800/hr private worker - they're both roughly the same, and you are the one who can make the choice to use condoms if the escort suggests not to. This is why STI risk is not listed in any of the disadvantages section.
Making sweeping generalisations of the race of certain categories of escorts is unfortunate and untrue. I have brought up several clients of mine for saying things about "sneaky Asians". It is 100% your responsibility to do your own research on the person you intend to book, or the agency or brothel you plan to contact. If they seem to be a little dodgy, and the images either seem stolen or all look the same, you can make the choice not to see them, but do not make unfair racial remarks because you were not clever enough to listen to the top head, as opposed to the pants head. I am planning a blog on how to research your providers to give you a better idea of what to look for legitimate independent workers.
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