He invited me to his apartment; afterward, he told me he was an escort. Then we sat on his couch in silence: me glancing up at the ceiling, him looking at me while holding a package for which he’d just signed.
“Oh,” I said, “an escort.”
He was staring at me as if I might drop onto him a spontaneous critique about his life that would demand (before his rebuttal), first, his own quiet self-analysis.
“No, it’s cool,” he said, “and the money’s f&%king great.”
I wasn’t shocked. A bit nicked, maybe. Like when shaving and the razor suddenly cuts skin. I looked at him and thought, okay, good for you.
Yet, still, there was a part of me thinking, people really pay YOU—for THAT. Cynical, yes. But we’d hung out before, and I liked him. It’s just that . . . if you’ve had sex with a dude, and afterward he up and told you he had sex with other people (but those other people paid him) regardless of how open-minded, how with-it, you thought you were, naturally, your mind might U-turn and come up with some wild s#@t; like, hold up, I’m not your practice F&%k, am I?
“Well, what’s being an ‘escort’ like?” I asked.
He slid off the couch and sat on the floor. He waved me over. “Come sit down here with me,” he said.
I sat beside him. I didn’t know what to expect. He sighed. The mood got serious; heavier, but not dismal. Then he started talking.
He said the work was easy, and he averaged a couple thousand dollars per week. Most of that money from regular clients. He told me his job was to satisfy the client, to make the client feel good.
The thing that surprised him most, he said, might also surprise me: A lot of clients only wanted to talk. That’s it.
And on his own personal time, he sometimes called or texted clients because he thought they might be lonely. Other times he might mail them an actual card, run an errand, or offer to accompany them to a doctor’s appointment (none of that for money) more because, he said, it’s the human thing to do.
“I guess you can call me a hooker with a heart.”
He never divulged explicit, sexual details; instead, he explained how he’d worked his way through college—twice—in the end earning a Master’s degree. And that for the next phase of his life he planned to relax. To travel the world.
He seemed like, someone who’d not only made peace with his job but, who’d also discovered (surprisingly—even to himself) that outside judgments needn’t define the gratification a person received from work; instead, it’s the worker who assigned value to the work and who quantified his own satisfaction. He’d gained freedom: the freedom that people, whom are shackled to a bosses’ schedule, fantasize self-employed people have. A certain, god-of-one’s own-doings, freedom.
We talked for hours. Afterward, I decided my previous opinions about sex work deserved re-examining, and I suffered those opinions to scrutiny. As a result, I’ve expanded my understanding of sex work, sex workers, and sex itself.
My newest opinions on sex work and sex workers have made me think of sex as the guarantor, whom by design, transcends a sole guarantee of offspring (genetic heirs) and further serve as a recreation that elevates the body, mind and soul’s ability to rise to sheer pleasure.
In my opinion, sex work’s a legitimate means to this pleasure. I arrive at this opinion if I ask myself these questions (and challenge others to ask themselves): On one side, can one support sex workers’ rights to engage in their profession without patronizing sex work; conversely, on the other side, if one decides to reject those arguments favoring sex workers’ rights, can one oppose sex work without despite and diminishing sex workers to, say, criminal-minded deviants glorifying a fringe ‘profession’? If yes—and you’ve chosen a side—then, ultimately, how does one argue and defend one’s opinion if a consequence of committing wholly to either side possibly means one relinquishes objectivity?
My answer: it requires that one sacrifice any instinct to dismiss sex work and one consciously elevates a conversation involving sex work to a level where only a thoughtful, actively-engaged dialogue survives and defines the discourse. This is paramount to any deeper, yet arguably more difficult to arrive at (but more nuanced), understanding of sex work.
This deeper understanding is a signal one has abandoned denial and accepts that some people are going to feed their sexual appetites, via a sex worker, until one of the following happens: humans ‘devolve’ into a monolithic people who pity desires while willfully ignorant of carnal knowledge, or—someone creates an app people can literally F&%k.