Sex Work is Work....But What Exactly Do Providers Do?
Updated: Jun 17, 2022
Some of us call ourselves providers, but what exactly is it that we are providing? What is the work? How is it work? Despite what broader society may claim we offer much more beyond the realm of the physical. With the right connection seeing a sex worker can be therapeutic, at times even life altering, and as much as we get blamed for destroying relationships I know I have personally strengthened the relationships of couples who have hired me. While hiring us can be powerful in many ways it should not be mistaken for therapy, we are not trained to work with mental health struggles and offer support in the ways a mental health professional can. Still, we offer an important service. I’d argue that some of what we do is vital to the fabric of society. At the end of the day, there is a reason this is one of the oldest professions that we know of. People need us because of what we offer. In this blog post I will share aspects of the work that I enjoy along with a breakdown of what this job actually entails.
Even when I consider the multitude of ups and downs of navigating this industry I love being a sex worker. In fact, the only aspects I don’t enjoy are entirely related to the amount of barriers I face due to stigma and whorephobia. As always, what I am sharing is solely based on my own experience, I do not speak for all sex workers. Due to this being my blog and not an academic piece I am not going to include the nuances of what it means to choose sex work within a hyper-capitalistic society, but as far as ‘choice’ goes in current society, I definitely chose this job. In choosing to become a sex worker I made the choice to embrace the power I held within me as a woman who was frequently desired, courted, and objectified whilst profiting off of the multitude of ways patriarchy objectified me. I don’t care what anyone says making money off of the ways society attempts to oppress you is brilliant.
I take pride in all aspects of working as Adriana, but one of my favorite components has to be harnessing my eroticism in order to immerse my clients into another world. Let me be fully transparent here…There’s something deeply erotic that I get in return as well. Thinking about getting the CEO, founder, or celebrity your friends gush about and admire to get on their hands and knees while you have them beg to touch you. Some of those images are seared into my mind, a reminder of my own feminine power and the realms I have created for those who have asked me to. For a few hours, a night, a couple of days there is only play, escape, lust. Nothing else matters except the present.
When the booking is over we say our goodbyes and go back to our respective lives until the next booking. Sometimes I see clients on the news, run into them at events, giving talks. I get a kick out of knowing at some point I was the object of their desire and the person offering them the reprieve they needed. I never approach clients in public, at most I’ll allow a smirk to flash across my face as I remember shared meals, stolen kisses, or the way they looked between my legs. Our worlds may run parallel to one another, but outside of bookings they never cross. As open and honest as I am about certain aspects of myself and my life I am incredibly private of who it is I see. I respect the privacy and anonymity of my clients tremendously. So, if you are someone who has hired me and you happen to read this rest assured our shared moments and your identity are secrets I will take with me to the grave. That’s an important part of the job. And that brings me to the initial point I brought up: What is it exactly that makes sex work, work? What do providers really provide?
While I have worked in several branches of the industry I have the most experience working as an independent provider and as such that is what I will be addressing. To start off launching as an independent provider requires an immense amount of work up front before we even begin to see financial gains. I'd also like to name that part of the reason many of us charge such high hourly rates is because we are running a business where much of the labor falls outside of our in person appointments. Because broader society genuinely seems to lack an understanding around the types of labor we do I think it may be best to break our work down into three groups;
1. Direct client work, 2. Running our business, 3. Personal upkeep.
Bookings: Direct Client Work
This is the aspect most folks think of when they think of our work, however most of the understanding of the work seems to come to a halt at the physical aspect of our jobs. There is so much more that happens beyond that. Here are a few examples of what we do in sessions:
Offer touch to those who may be desiring affection or intimacy for one reason or another. (ex: supporting clients through divorce, death of a partner, recovery from a potentially fatal disease, disability that made it more difficult for clients to find intimacy in traditional dating, scheduling that makes it difficult to find a consistent partner, etc)
Create safety and guidance for those who may want practice or are trying to move through nerves around intimacy (ex: struggles with sexual 'dysfunction', social anxiety, uncertainty around what may feel good)
Provide a space to explore fantasies free of judgment (there is still so much shame around sex/play/desire, we encourage clients to bring their authentic selves to the experience so that we can fulfill a fantasy)
Curate levity and fun for those who may be in need of respite (ex: single parents who don’t have time to date, CEOs who are burntout and looking for a break, couples who want to spice things up or deepen their connection via play)
Learn about the interests of our regulars so that we may be better conversationalists or perhaps engage in their hobbies should they want that.
Lend an empathetic ear and shoulder to cry on for those who may be going through difficult moments in their lives.
Give clients a place to release whatever they may be holding physically and/or emotionally. Most providers I know will take it (within reason, consent matters) and make sure clients leave feeling lighter and more able to integrate back into their day to day life.
Entrepreneurship: The Business Side of Things
a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
Create websites, most of us do this from scratch, some out source and hire someone
Annual photoshoots (the average seems to be 2-3 a year). This means planning our own location, looks, and of course modeling for the shoots (I thought modeling would be cake until I did my first shoot – it is no joke!). In my experience photographers run anywhere from $300-$2000, then add on wardrobe purchases, and location costs. This part adds up and takes a lot of planning.
Manage our own socials for marketing (this includes professional photos, selfies, interacting with potential clients/community, showing off aspects of our personality and/or brand)
Put up ads! Finding the right platforms to advertise is a gamble and most advertising sites cost a few hundred a month to advertise.
Admin (emails, updating ads, screening, keeping up with scheduling)
Creating itineraries for longer dates who want a more immersive experience
Networking! Finding duo partners and creating community is absolutely a part of this job.
Starting our own business/hiring accountants because taxes taxes taxes (despite what society wants you to think, many of us do pay taxes)
The Look and Brand: Personal Upkeep
This looks different for every provider and varies greatly based on brand and image so I will be making general statements. Some require more upkeep for their brands others require less – but all sex workers are doing this form of labor to a certain extent.
Maintaining a certain standard/look when it comes to hair, nails, lashes, makeup.
Following certain diets/meal plans to make sure we look like our photos and stay in shape
Follow exercise regimens because stamina and flexibility matter
Keep wardrobe/lingerie/statement pieces updated
Invest in skin care and/or plastic surgery
Tattoo removal or the addition of (again, pending on the brand image)
If any hobby is part of our brand (dance, yoga, cooking, art, etc) we must invest in it consistently.
Bearing all the above in mind I know I still missed a few things, but the point I'm trying to make is that we do a lot more than show up to a booking and just 'lay there'. We are offering something important and necessary whether it is one booking with someone or twenty bookings with a regular. We offer safety, fantasy, play, care, release - companionship. And while I’ve said that booking a sex worker is not therapy, it can be therapeutic. Imagine how much worse things would be if folks in positions of power couldn’t hire sex workers? Where would some of these folks direct that libidinal energy? Where would they find the release, fantasy, and comfort they need before heading out to meetings around policy change, pitching a new start up, deciding where to invest and allocate funds, go back to the monotony of day to day struggles? To be clear, I'm aware that the world is absolutely a dumpster fire right now, I’m not dismissing that, and still I believe that the world would be worse off without sex workers. Now this is not to be confused with the narrative of hiring sex workers to mistreat us instead of those viewed in their full humanity. We are people, not objects, not punching bags. Consent matters. Our humanity matters. Sex workers are deserving of so much more respect than we are given by those who do not understand our work.
Respect us. Respect the work that we do.
Sex work is work.