It’s 11pm, and the phone rings. It's not unusual for people to be calling this late. In fact, this is quite early. I pick it up: “Hey, how can I help?” He asks for Anna and asks if she's available for a one-hour booking at midnight. I assure him that she is, and that all up, it’ll be $250 – more if he wants extras. I rattle off the extras to him: “Dirty talk, cum on body, cum in mouth [with a condom on] and girlfriend experience are all an extra $50, anal is an extra $200.” He asks for girlfriend experience (GFE) and assures me he will be there at 12am. I hang up and yell out, “Jasmine, I’ve got a booking!” It’s just another night being an escort in Auckland City.
I got into the sex industry in November last year. My former best friend got me into it, and as shocked as I was that I knew someone who worked in the sex industry, I was also very intrigued. People paying me to have sex with them? Sign me up! After a couple of meetings with Jasmine, we were in the apartment she works from and she was asking me to strip down so we could take photos. It didn’t take long to get bookings. My prices were higher than some of those advertised, but my photos were good, I was great at what I did and I knew how to be sexy with clients.
I’ll never forget my first booking. He booked me for half an hour and paid for GFE on top, a total of $250. He showered, jumped into bed beside me and away we went. Twenty minutes later he came, he wanted to cuddle, so we just lay there while he asked me questions about myself. Part of being in the sex industry is looking after yourself, so of course I couldn't tell him the truth. I quickly learnt that it's easier to keep the same story. I told them of Anna, the girl from Hamilton, here to study law but working as an escort to pay rent. When they ask why I work here, I’ll smile and tell them, “I like the sex”.
Of course, there are many risks associated with working as an escort: STDs and pregnancy being two of the main ones. We have a multitude of protective barriers set up to minimise the chance of these occurring. In June of 2003, New Zealand decriminalised sex work and with this came an array of laws regarding the safety of workers. For example, it is illegal to engage in sex without protection, whether that be oral, anal or vaginal sex. Oral sex with a vagina must be done with a dental dam, and with a penis, all kinds of sex must be done with a condom. Failure to do so incurs $10,000 fine for the manager and a $2,000 fine for the worker. Due to this, most managers will supply the protection needed, as well as lube and baby oil. Each girl also had to make a personal decision as to whether they would go on hormonal birth control or not, and most of us did, just to be safe.
Despite the risks, I didn’t just stay with Jasmine. I also worked in two other places, but none of them were as good. The second place I worked at was on Anzac Ave with this man called Michael. He was very much borderline abusive. One night, after he yelled at me while my client was in the shower getting ready for a booking, I decided I was leaving and never saw Michael again. I heard later from other working girls that he most definitely should be avoided at all costs.
The next place I worked was in Ellerslie, just off the main road. That place was by far the wildest. There were about 15 girls who worked there, but we would take turns coming in whenever we wanted shifts. This house most certainly prioritised partying over making money. I was only in the industry so that I could make cash quickly, and while I’m sure that other girls had the same idea as I did, it quickly turned into nights of partying, rather than focusing on the money.
I was told when entering that it’s fundamental to come into the sex industry with a goal of how much money you want to save and a timeframe of how long you’ll be working for. “Without turning to alcohol and drugs,” my managers told me, “most girls have a year, tops. After that they lose their minds.” I shortly left Ellerslie and went back to my first manager, Jasmine. It was here that I had some of the strangest bookings. One man came to see me and started crying because he missed his girlfriend, who had broken up with him days prior to seeing me. Another client I had was a police officer who only wanted a sensual massage (with massages we oil the client with baby oil and use our body parts to massage. We then give them a blowjob while they wear a condom). He finished early and we spent the remaining time talking about abortion laws in New Zealand and the Me Too movement. My funniest client was also the youngest client I’ve ever had. This man must have been about 19 or 20, and I was just about to give him a blowjob when he asked me, “So, maybe we could do this outside of here? Like a friends-with-benefits thing?” I laughed so hard he went soft, and needless to say he didn’t come back.
Being in the sex industry was a very tiresome time. There were so many things to learn, like acronyms (GFE, COB, CIM, DFK, meaning girlfriend experience, cum on body, cum in mouth, deep French kissing), how to make them cum in the shortest amount of time possible (my best time, from the time my client got in the shower to the time he came was in SIX MINUTES FLAT). The other thing we learn is how to not kill them when they say something rude or disrespectful.
There are naturally a tonne of late nights and times that I wouldn’t get home until three, four, or five in the morning. Sometimes I wouldn’t have any bookings at all, and I would have to stay overnight so I could bus home in the morning, because I couldn’t afford to Uber. But sometimes I made $600 in one night and I got to leave at midnight. Every night was different. My best financial night was when I was seeing an Auckland Council worker. He paid for an hour session, which is a flat fee of $250, but he was so strung out on cocaine that he couldn’t get hard. We kissed for a bit but we spent the majority of the time talking. He then paid for an extra 20 minutes, which was an extra $150, of just talking, and then gave me a $75 tip. After taking off 30 percent of the flat rates (which is given to the manager to pay for the cost of the apartment we work from, power/water bills, laundry, sex equipment etc and does not include tips or any extras), I went home with $300 from the one client. Not a bad night at all.
But it wasn’t always good experiences. The first time I saw a man wearing a wedding ring I burst into tears. I raged and swore at my manager for hours after he had left: “He didn’t even have enough decency to take off his fucking wedding ring!”
But I learnt while working that it's so much better for a client to come and see me once a week rather than engage in an emotional attachment with someone else. Escorts and their clients do not have an emotional bond – we are there for the money, the client is there for an array of reasons, mostly for sex or for company. One man told me that he came because his life was so centred around his wife and children, he just wanted something for himself. It did make me sad, but I also understood that he needed to be selfish.
Working in the sex industry was both a great and horrific time. I loved the pillow talk, making people feel special and less alone. I had some regulars who would come see me every so often and I got on very well with the girls I worked with, but it was taking a toll on my mental health dramatically. I was taking the insults from men to heart and I constantly degraded myself for being a sex worker, despite the fact it is an emotionally and physically taxing, legitimate job. It was a client that pushed me to leave, in the worst way. He started choking me, again without my permission, so I pushed him off me, refunded his money and left. Once I got home I self-harmed, knowing that if I did self-harm I wouldn’t be able to work, and messaged my manager telling her that I was unable to work as I was injured. I never went back.
Despite everything, it's not all bad. You’ll get great money, wild work stories and a very flexible job choice – as unconventional as it is. Sex workers are not dirty or gross, they’re just people wanting a different lifestyle. I promise, it's more common than you’d think. One of my old managers also worked at Animates, some of the girls I worked with study law at Auckland Uni, some of the girls I see on campus. We share a secret smile with each other, paying tribute to all the nights we’ve spent laughing and talking and sharing tales about our lives: the lives of escorts.
Anyone wanting to get into the sex industry, either as a worker or a brothel operator, should first contact the New Zealand Prostitute Collective. Their physical location is 3/2 Canada St, Central Business District, Auckland or phone them on 09 366 6106.If you or anyone you know needs help, here are some people you can contact. For all emergencies call 111; Community Mental Health Urgent Response team: 0800 800 717; Central Auckland crisis team: 0800 800 717; North Shore crisis team: 09 487 1414; South Auckland crisis team: 0800 775 222; West Auckland crisis team: 09 822 8500; Lifeline, 24-hour telephone counselling service: 09 522 2999 or 0800 543 354; for support from a trained counsellor at any time free call or text 1737; Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO); Healthline: 0800 611 116; Samaritans: 0800 726 666.