Things Gay Sex Workers Want You to Know

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Sex work is just one of countless ways to make money and, depending on who you ask, one of the oldest professions in human history. Today, a massive social stigma blankets sex work and casts it in shame — usually from the same people who most enjoy our services and have the most to lose if their private pursuits were exposed

We offer something good, even lifesaving. My friend — I’ll call him Dave — told me in the gym a few weeks ago that he helped a 60-year-old man enjoy gay sex for the first time. The man reached out to him, told him he was a virgin to gay sex, and asked for help. When it happened, my friend described the experience as one of the most powerful of his life. He helped someone enjoy this beautiful thing — something many of us take for granted — for the first time after a lifetime of holding back, refraining.

Stories like this happen all the time, in hotel rooms across the country. Here are some things gay sex workers would like you to know.

1. Pay upfront.

It’s my job to tell clients my policy — I require payment up front. It’s also my job to request payment upon meeting them.

Usually this is easy to remember, but two months ago I slipped up. After three hours together, my client paid me for one. He told me he believed we had agreed to an hour (we hadn’t) and thought the rest was free because “we had a connection.”

This connection story is a common bullshit excuse to not pay someone — to cheat hard workers out of money. I always get uncomfortable when the word gets brought up. More on that later.

“Sorry,” he said, “I feel like an asshole.” When I asked if he could pay a partial amount of the sum I was owed, he said, “I don’t have it. Money’s tight right now.” I grabbed my stuff and left, furious at myself for forgetting.

2. Hourly rate is not negotiable.

I have worked without an account on any site or app for some time — until just last year. You can do good work this way, but sites help. They make it easier and safer for us and our clients.

One benefit of having an account or profile somewhere: You can often display your rate. If you find a companion or escort online, read their profile in full before messaging. If the rate is displayed, understand that it’s nonnegotiable.

3. We don’t give birthday discounts.

People, come on. This isn’t Applebee’s.

4. There is no universal rate. Be clear on the rate before discussing anything further.

If a rate isn’t displayed, ask him. That is perfectly acceptable as a first message.

5. Politeness really goes a long way.

Aggressive, rude, crass, insulting messages will likely be ignored, regardless of how much cash you have to drop. Overly forward or assuming messages are simply rude. Don’t start dialogue with someone you think is sexy or interesting on a bad foot.

6. Don’t talk about someone’s business in public.

Doctors don’t like discussing your issues outside the office. They may still be friendly, but it’s irritating. Similarly, I and most escorts would rather you message us through our primary mode of contact, which in 2018 is likely through our preferred digital platform.

I’ve met clients through polite exchanges at Starbucks, at bars, at house parties, and so on. But after small talk, I always ask them to please message me through my online profile, and I provide them with the URL. Or I give them my email and suggest we message later.

7. If you see someone on social media who you know is a porn star or escort, but the name you know them by is not the name displayed, don’t message them there.

It’s easy to find someone’s personal Facebook. Don’t message him there — stick to his escort profile.

8. Be forthcoming if you’re looking for something specific.

If you want a specific experience, don’t beat around the bush. While I’m happy to talk to anyone about what they’re interested in and flesh out a plan, there is a point when I give up.

9. Privacy is just as important to us as it is to you.

Respect our discretion. Many of us have families, partners, relatives, kids, and jobs outside escorting.

10. Don’t assume “sex people” are promiscuous in real life.

I’m a sex person. I talk about it, enjoy it, advocate for it, defend it, study it, and value it in my personal life. I appreciate sex as academic study, sex as protest, sex as art. By all accounts, I am very promiscuous.

But that is my personal choice, and in this area I don’t consider myself the guidebook by which you should measure all gay escorts. I know many traditional, even conservative, sex workers, escorts, companions, and porn stars — guys who practice the “one boyfriend at a time” thing. Don’t assume our work denotes our personal beliefs or sex practices.

11. Leave a good review if you had a good time.

Good reviews help. People read them. I must remind you here that escorts and companions are only paid for time, nothing more. What you choose to do in that time is a consensual agreement between two adults.

12. Referrals are appreciated.

I’m a fan of referrals.

“Hey, I know someone who I think would be interested in hiring you. Can I give him your number?” When that question is asked, how I answer depends on my history with the person asking — how much I trust him. I might say, “No, please send him to my site, which has my contact info,” or, “Sure, go ahead. Thanks!”

13. Yes, there are referral fees.

Escorts tend to know other escorts. If you ask someone you’ve hired to refer you to someone else you might be interested in hiring, he may ask for a referral fee.

14. Don’t add people without asking.

The same common courtesy you practice with any kind of work meeting or appointment (when in doubt, think of how you reserve time with your favorite, high-demand barber). If someone else is joining in and you tell him this at the last minute (or cancel at the last minute or simply don’t show), you will get seen as an unreliable or untrustworthy client, and I rarely give untrustworthy clients second chances.

15. You will need to put down a deposit for an overnight or for travel plans.

Not every escort requires this, but they should. It’s good policy. The fact is, people flake out. If you’re going to schedule an overnight or require him to travel, that’s time he reserves for you — time he’s taken from other potential clients. If you flake out or cancel at the last minute, he might not be able to fill that time with work. For this reason, many guys ask for a nonrefundable up-front deposit that will be added to the full amount once you meet.

16. Yes, you must cover travel expenses.

We know travel expenses are significant — that’s why many of us post our travel schedule somewhere. Your favorite porn star or escort might be in your city soon, and might have some availability when he’s there. If you don’t see a schedule posted, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask if he’ll be in your area anytime soon. If he’s not, you can ask if he’s willing to travel — as long as you cover the travel expenses.

17. Don’t assume anyone’s drug policy.

Many escorts are sober. Others prefer not to meet high or drunk clients, for various reasons. Don’t assume he’s going to be fine with drugs. Ask.

18. Don’t assume anyone’s condom policy.

Again, services are for time only — but a responsible escort will bring condoms, no matter what.

19. Don’t ask about your “connection.”

“Connection” is a hair-raising, prickly word. We may have an authentic connection — we may truly enjoy spending time with each other, and I hope we do — but this is work.

I want to believe that I foster good connections with my clients — along with, well, everyone in my life. I also have really good connections with my doctor and the gentleman who cuts my hair, and the fact that I pay these men to do their jobs doesn’t undermine the friendship I have with them. Nor, I must stress, does my friendship with them provide a reason why I shouldn’t pay them, or pay them less. We don’t give freebies to people we like. If anything, we tip them extra.

The worst conversation you can start with a sex worker goes something like this: “Hey, are you getting anything out of this, or is this just work for you?” I love talking to new people, learning about them, helping them, caring for them, and offering what I can to make them feel better. In various capacities I teach, coach, comfort, console, and mend. What I do is valuable — all the more because of the stigma attached — and I don’t do it for free.

20. Not every escort is deceitful or “just tells you what you want to hear.”

A disheartening experience: You meet someone new, someone nice, and once you start talking about yourself and say what you do, he says, “Hey, just to be clear, I’m not looking for anything more than casual friendship.” He thinks you’re being nice because you’re hoping to get money out of him, hoping he’ll hire you. Not every conversation is an audition for work — not every chat a physical therapist has is a sly search for a client.

21. Regulars are preferred over first-timers, so if you have fun with someone, hire them again.

I prefer going to the same barber, the same dentist, the same doctor. I like what they do, their quality of service, and so on. Same applies with escorts.

22. We have lives outside this.

Many of us do other things for work. I do. Many of us have hobbies, degrees we’re working toward, day jobs, and other pursuits. Many of us have relationships that are important.

What that means for you: If we’re going through something or aren’t able to respond right away, as with any job, it means life is calling, and we’re simply busy. We’re not available at all hours of the day or night.

23. Don’t touch us or grab us — in public or private — without permission.

We’re not yours to grab — or anyone’s. This is assault.

24. Don’t make aggressive sexual advances in public or private, thinking we’ll be OK with it because of what we do.

This is harassment.

25. We’re not all in “bad spots.”

Telling straight people you escort generally elicits a worried look: “Are … are you OK?”

Telling queer friends: “Yas! Make that money, bitch.”

There’s a common belief that you must be in a bad spot — drug problem, homeless, or otherwise out of options — to be doing this. While that is certainly true for countless queer people, including trans and queer people of color, and trans and queer youth, not everyone turns to escorting as a last resort. Life is expensive. Some extra money hurts no one.

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