Content notice: this post contains some details about an assault. If you would still like to read the post, simply skip the second section if mentions of assault cause problems for you.
"Why do you need my name/phone number/proof of ID?"
This is a constant, exhausting question for independent sex workers. There are so many things to unpack here, so bare with me. Firstly, because sex workers are disproportionately at risk for sexual assault and abuse, we take the time to screen our clients. How we do this is a closely guarded secret, because we would prefer that those clients who would wish to harm us don't find out and figure out how to get around it, but one way to ensure we can look up someone's history is to get their real name. This name also helps in the event that an assault does take place, because then we have something to take to the police.
We also do it because it's a surefire way to get rid of people who just want to waste our time.
Let me share an anecdote with you to illustrate this.
In January, I took a booking with a client who had none of the red flags one would normally expect from an abusive client (and that's the dangerous thing - most of them put up no red flags, and your escort spidey senses aren't triggered); in fact, he was educated, articulate, and communicated clearly about what he wanted for the session. I, stupidly, did not check his ID, and he gave me a fake name - but I didn't get a bad vibe, so I ran with it.
He had stated that he wanted a PSE session, and that he liked rougher sex - alright, fine, that's what is included. When he arrived at the booking, not only was he very nosy ("What's your day job? Whereabouts do you live?" - er, no), he also handed me the cash instead of placing it on the table, and insisted that he'd already showered. I was a still kind of reeling from the impertinent questions, so I acquiesced, and he said we should "get straight into it". Before I knew it, I was having my boundaries pushed. You see, I'd told him not to leave marks on me, because I have a day job, a long term partner, and I'm a GFE provider with other clients. He started off hitting quite hard, and focused on the same spots on my butt. Further into the session, he began to hit my face.
I used the safe word to get him to ease off - he pulled my hair too hard, choked too hard, and was leaning on my broken finger - and he would comply, but then he'd "punish" me for using the safe word, which meant I did not feel safe enough to use it, and he got away with doing things to me that I did not consent to.
Afterwards, I was left with a black eye, a bruised jaw, broken blood vessels in my eyes (from the choking), chunks of my hair missing, a sore scalp for three days, pain when swallowing for two days, and bruises on several parts of my body. I also had to cancel bookings for that week, which lost me income. Why didn't I just boot him out of my room? I didn't feel safe enough to be impolite to him before he left, I just wanted him gone; I was in shock.
And now, because I don't have his name, I can't report him to the police, and he is free to go ahead and use a different fake name on other girls.
Now let's debunk all the rubbish excuses I get.
- "But Sienna, I'm a good guy!" - how do I know that? How do I know you from any other average bloke out there? You're no one to me when you initially text, and if I took the time to get to know every man who messaged me, I'd never make any money. I'm also not interested in dating you, so why would I invest that much time and emotional labour? Not to mention, how many people turn out to be abusive after you've gotten to know them?
- "I have a wife/a career that can't find out!" - I don't want to out you, you peanut. If I did that, I wouldn't have any work. If you don't get paid, I don't get paid. If your wife finds out about me, I don't get a return customer. Do you think you're the first married man I've seen? Do you honestly think that you're the first man with a job that I've seen? I'm based in Canberra. My client base includes everyone from embassy staff to government officials to tradies to retail managers. It is highly unlikely that your career is something new and special that I would think to jeopardise for no good reason.
- "You use a fake name!" - yes, I do. Is your job one that society looks down upon as immoral and dirty? Does your job attract the kind of people who would forego social boundaries and attempt to turn up at your house? Do you have to lie to parents, friends, and future employers about your job? If the answer to these questions is "no", then congratulations! The answer to all of those questions is "yes" for a sex worker. That is why I use a fake name. Your reason for using a fake name is that you don't want to be outed, but I pointed out above already that any legitimate sex worker in the industry will not bother to do that, because no clients = no income.
- "How can I be sure that you will keep my information safe?" - I'll let you in on a little secret: after we are done with the booking, we basically forget about you. You are, statistically, unremarkable as a person to a sex worker. She's seen 100 copies of you before, either in bookings or during the enquiry process. She doesn't really care about your information, except to keep it safe because she is a professional, and having it leak would be detrimental to her business. What a sex worker does care about, however, is her own information, and not having any of that leak out; so you can be sure that she's keeping your info behind the tight walls of her own security. We're pretty tech savvy.
"Why do you need my hotel booking details?"
The other thing I ask for is proof of address/proof of hotel booking, and I get a lot of whiny excuses for this as well. The whining is especially annoying in this case, because it's really obvious why I need those things - I need to know that you're really at the hotel/address you claim to be at, and you're not wasting my time or trying to get me alone and vulnerable somewhere so you can follow me home or something equally sinister. I've heard many firsthand accounts of sex workers who were asked to go to an address, and were then asked to get in a car - hell no! If I turn up to the hotel and have to wait in the lobby for an extended period of time because you are never going to show up, that also puts me in danger.
"Why don't you show your face?"
I get a lot of this one, since people say they are unsure if they like what I look like if they can't have a picture. I understand, this is a very appearance oriented profession. You want to hire a worker who you will be attracted to, which is why most of us put a lot of effort into keeping our photos up to date and being presentable at bookings. For sex workers, showing their face is a very personal choice; some don't mind and leave it uncovered, but some, like myself, have other concerns that affect the ability to do that, such as:
- Not being "out" to their family or friends, and the possibility of having them discover the images of them online.
- Having a partner whose career prospects may be affected, or children.
- Having a day job that may be averse to employing someone who does sex work on the side, or having future employment prospects that are not sex worker friendly.
- Having a job that requires a security clearance or working with children check in a state that does not look favourably upon sex work.
- Living and working in a state where sex work is illegal (South Australia, see here).