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Parlour, Agency, Private

What's the difference? A guide for clients.

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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.

A room at Melbourne brothel Le Boudoir. Click image for source.

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:

  • There will always be people on shift, so no matter what time you call up, you will find someone available (unless you try to call during the hours that they're closed).
  • You don't need to make a booking, you are actually allowed to just turn up!
  • Turning up with your friends is encouraged.
  • It is generally a more affordable experience than most others, mostly due to the breakdown of services, and the fact that in a collective, the workers don't have to do all the admin etc themselves.
  • For your safety and the safety of the employees, brothels usually have CCTV cameras over the reception area.
  • Many brothels have merchant services, so you can pay with card as well as cash. If they don't, they often have an ATM on site.
  • A lot of brothels upload their roster for the upcoming days, so you can see who is working before you plan to go.
  • There is no text message ping pong, and you won't be waiting on replies from anyone! You can turn up, and there will be a multitude of beautiful options for you to choose from.

Disadvantages of parlours:

  • Some gents don't enjoy the idea of sitting in an intro room with strangers who are all there for sex, and some think it is very indiscreet and they may run into people they know. You definitely don't have plausible deniability when you're sitting in a brothel!
  • One price point, and then extras - most brothels in an area will stick with that same rough price point, so you can't really find the same range of pricings that you will with private or managed workers.
  • Many brothels do not keep up to date pictures of their workers on their website, or they don't have pictures of them at all. They definitely don't usually have more than one picture of each worker. The good news is that you can track them down on Twitter or Instagram some of the time, but this is not linked on the brothel website.
  • In areas where brothels are illegal or heavily restricted, they can be subject to raids by police.
  • Some feel that the space makes for a nervous and impersonal booking, and they can't get into it - this is entirely personal preference.
  • Parlours are notorious for not being completely fair with their workers - the best example is given above with some having a really unfair split of fees. Some establishments are also run by criminal organisations like bikie gangs, and come with some obvious disadvantages associated with that. This doesn't reflect on the workers who choose to work there, it is more of a management issue.


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:

  • If your first choice isn't available, you don't have to start the booking process over, because it's all one point of contact.
  • Often agencies will have merchant facilities; I have heard of agency workers turning up with EFTPOS machines or a Square scanner. For those who don't like paying in cash or carrying it on them, or those that are rubbish at planning far enough ahead to get cash out, this is an excellent draw card.
  • They have workers who are available for nearly any time of day, so you can call up and they will be able to tell you which workers are available to send to you.
  • Agencies usually have a driver on staff, and this means you know that your worker is much safer than if she was relying on public transport.
  • You have a wide range of agencies to choose from if you're in a big city, which also means a large range of price points. Some cater to those on a strict budget, while others are for the client with a bit of cash to burn.
  • Usually, a more private space. Unless the agency incall is interconnected apartments, you have much more privacy than at a brothel.

Disadvantages of agencies:

  • Sometimes the cut that goes to the house isn't entirely fair, just like parlours.
  • A common tactic some agencies use is just sending literally any of their workers along to the booking, with no regard for the client's preference, knowing that it's likely he will just accept the person sent. This is horrid for the client and unsafe for the worker. In a similar vein, sometimes workers are not told what they are expected to do during the booking, and find out when they get there that they're expected to perform a service they don't offer. Clients are shocked to learn that what they've booked and paid for is not what they are going to be getting. Some unscrupulous agencies use this tactic because it's just so easy to get away with - you can't do it in a brothel where you have a direct line to management, and as a private worker, your reputation is very much on the line if you try a bait and switch.
  • Many agencies or madams like to advertise their workers and pretend that they are independent workers. This is deceptive to a client who is booking someone private for their own reasons (discretion, preference, wanting to connect with the exact person over text/phone etc), and unfair if they are advertising in places that tout themselves as a place only for independent escorts - having access to a lot more capital than a one man show means they can more easily prioritise their own workers and get clients in the door, while independent workers cannot afford to stay on the top of listings as often as an agency-promoted worker. Obviously this doesn't really affect clients, except for the deception.
  • Agencies don't always keep many pictures or up to date pictures on their websites.
  • The business model of an agency or management makes it much easier to exploit workers, or run multiple international workers who are uneducated on safer sex practices. Whereas a brick and mortar establishment is very easy to surveil and raid, managers can appear and disappear quite easily, and agencies can simply choose not to make certain workers available to clients.

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:

  • Increased discretion. Fewer people will have your phone number and details, and you can research each person you plan on contacting in order to decide which you find most legitimate. In fact, you are 
  • strongly encouraged
  •  to research your escort before you commit.
  • A more private experience. You are getting the opposite to the general seating area at a brothel when you come to the apartment of a private worker.
  • Greater choice.
  •  Agencies and brothels each have a limited selection on the books.
  • You know all your money is going directly to the person who gave you a great experience, and not to a manager.
  • Generally, the person in the photos is the person you see at the door. Some workers obviously have older photos and their body has changed, but you will never get someone whose photos are of an entirely different human being.
  • They're more likely to have a social media presence you can get to know them through and engage with them before meeting. This is because it is becoming increasingly important for independent workers to use social media as a form of marketing, so it works to the advantage of the client.
  • Much 

longer bookings are available and encouraged! GFE is usually standard for those who aren't street based, so you can tailor your booking to your liking much more easily.

  • Disadvantages of independents:
  • You really have to make a good first impression, because you are talking directly to the person who will be seeing you. This means that they can turn you down if they think you're being rude. Really I see this as an advantage for independent workers, but there are many clients who see this as a disadvantage because either they're kind of shitty over text, or they come across poorly and aren't sure how to change that.
  • They're usually more expensive, but this is generally because it's more likely to be an all inclusive rate, and GFE is the standard rather than treated as an extra as in brothels. Also, they pay for all their own overheads and don't have access to a nice pool of capital like an establishment or agency does. Obviously this doesn't apply to street based workers - they have far fewer overheads, and usually cater to a market who values a less expensive experience.
  • You may not get an immediate reply, and they will not be available at all hours. Unlike places which have a staff, an independent worker only has themselves, and they must sleep/eat/look after their families or many pets. If you are contacting one at two in the morning, perhaps don't expect an immediate or polite response.
  • Screening and deposits. Many clients see this as a disadvantage, because they are under the impression that their details will be given away, or they are afraid for their privacy.

General Notes

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.

Do you have anything to add? Leave a comment or message me on Twitter!


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