I’ve been thinking for awhile about whether or not to write this post. My Victorian sense of propriety and pride urged me to forego the idea as tantamount to showing someone how the sausage is made, when what all of us ladies really want to exemplify to our clients is an elegant, impeccably groomed and ornamented presentation of womanhood at the height of all its glory and sensuality. We want to be objects of desire, not—well, burdens to our friends who also happen to be clients.
Because that’s how I think of my regulars: people I met through this work who have since come to be people I can confide in and genuinely enjoy being around. Often, I commit the business faux pas of not even remembering to find the donation until they have left, let alone count it, because these encounters are so genuine and pleasurable that the money is nowhere near as interesting as connecting souls for a brief minute in time.
However, times are hard.
I already pulled back the curtain of the sausage factory (ok, the humor of that metaphor just hit; forgive me) earlier this week when I tweeted that my ad budget increased 860% from 2017 to over $10,400 in 2018. What I didn’t specify is that these are not big, fancy, flashy, ritzy ads—they’re the bare minimum I need to get enough new inquiries to stay afloat in a bear market where supply seems to be well outstripping demand. (This is not based on broad, generalizable data—it reflects my own experience and people I’ve spoken to here in Boston.)
But there is one, extremely important point that is getting lost in this conversation: Namely, gratitude.
Ask anyone from any part of the ho rainbow if s/he/they made it through the aftermath of FOSTA with their life relatively intact, and I’d bet you my best pair of thigh-highs they’ll all say one word: regulars.
regular[reg-yuh-ler], adjective: A hobbyist who visits their ATF(s) at least once every 2 months for 6+ months in a row.
If you are a gent who sees your sex worker(s) of choice on a regular basis, you might not have any idea of the impact of that loyalty and steadfastness. You might not know, for example, that on many occasions you may have been the person who kept the heat from being turned off, or whose donation was the difference between having a home and being evicted for nonpayment of rent. You are, in fact, the backbone of the industry, its saving grace, its foundational element, and patrons of its very survival.
For this, in my humble opinion, you are owed an ENORMOUS debt of gratitude.
Not that we don’t work hard. Not that sex work isn’t work. Not that we don’t earn every penny. And, especially, not that I can speak for anyone besides myself, beyond the observation that the refrain of “I’m surviving because of my regulars” is something I have heard from everyone I have spoken to since this particular murderous, misogynistic, cruel, and desperately ignorant pestilence began its reign of terror on our community.
As I sit here in bed at 5:46 in the morning, unable to sleep because of financial stress and the more-or-less emotionally crippling daily rigmarole of shitty text messages, people who won’t be screened, people who want to correspond or talk on the phone extensively without ever committing to an appointment, fielding tediously repetitive complaints about my donations being “exorbitant”—as I spend multiple days in a row on any given week at my elegant pied á terre in Waltham so I can be “available now,” while my cats back home protest my absence, expressing their increasing exasperation with my criminal negligence of their emotional needs in a Roman-coliseum-style desecration of small rodent life…
One by one, I think we are coming to the inconvenient—and rather crushing—conclusion that our business models are simply not viable—that our very way of life is no longer possible—without you. And perhaps not even then.
We take care of each other. Your fidelity, not just to us as individuals, but to the act of resistance that is continuing to participate in this industry despite the taboos and laws and loud-mouthed and well-funded evangelical religious nuts and even nuttier 2nd-wave feminists does not go unnoticed. I want everyone to know that.
Yours in appreciation and verbosity,
Disclaimer: This post is primarily about the regular clients of female escorts in the Boston area and does not attempt to portray the even more devastating impact that FOSTA has had on at-risk and already marginalized communities. This is a topic that many others have written about at length (some of them even got it right). I think about the homicides, attacks, rapes, suicides, mental breakdowns, food instability, inability to provide for one’s children and oneself, predatory pimps, increased police presence and abuse, and myriad other consequences of FOSTA every day. But I feel that this subject is also important to put out there, while also acknowledging that I don’t for a minute claim to describe all the experiences of all sex workers.