So, here's my question: When does something like this become an obsession? I have no illusions about a future for us, but what the hell am I supposed to do about these feelings?
"Guys have become smitten with me," says Amy--"Vancouver's Sweetest Peach," and a professional escort for the last three years. "A client I'd been seeing for quite some time recently became very attached to me. There was no way we could be together, so I cut him off. I sent him a 'Dear John' letter. It was for his own good."
So, in Amy's professional opinion, what should you do about the escort you're smitten with?
"Odds are 100-to-one against this leading to anything. But he should tell the girl how he feels. She'll probably tell him this is just business for her, or say she's already involved with someone. But he's got nothing to lose by telling her."
Amy was too polite to say anything about your age or your mental state at the time you visited Vancouver, so I will: You're 46, just coming out of a long-term relationship, and the escort you hired was half your age. You probably weren't in your right mind when you met her, and if you harbor fantasies about this 23-year-old falling in love with you, you're still not in your right mind. By all means, call her and tell her how you feel, but don't expect a confession of love from her in return.
Ironically, while it's rare for escorts to become smitten with clients, Amy told me it has happened to her. "I was having strong feelings about a client of mine, I really liked him." What did she do? "We stopped seeing each other for business and let things become more personal." This former client is now her... boyfriend. Amy didn't want her story to fill you with false hopes, but she did want to wish you luck. "And tell him to let me know this girl's name. Maybe I know her and I can give him some better advice." You can reach Amy via her website, www.sweetpeach.com.
I have been trying to find information on starting an escort service, but haven't been able to find any in the library or on the Internet. I have many questions, like: Is it legal? Do I need a business license? How much money do I need to start the business up?
"Sure, escort agencies are legal," says Jimi Sweet, webmaster of Streetlife.com, "the #1 web site for homeboys, ruffnecks, and their admirers." Sweet is a former escort himself, and on his website he provides contact and rate info for male escorts in New York City. "Escort services are perfectly legal, so long as you're not selling sex. The escort agency I worked for sold only 'time.' What happened during that time was up to the person buying the time and the person whose time was purchased."
To start your own escort agency, Jimi told me, you'll need some men or women willing to work for you, plus a business telephone, and somewhere you can interview potential escorts. "You'll also need photographs (preferably nude) of your models to show customers. Then you'll need enough money to place print or classified ads in your local papers. Then run your escort agency like a legitimate business," Jimi said. "That means getting a business license, keeping records, receipts, and employee identification on file, and paying your taxes."
The hardest part of running an escort agency these days is finding escorts. "Expect a high turnover," warned Jimi. "Many escorts nowadays prefer to be self-employed rather than turning up to 50 percent of their earnings over to an agency. You'll have to provide some special service to your escorts in exchange for your commission."
I'm a 29-year-old woman and a journalist in my country, Italy. Years ago, I was a high-priced escort for six months. I quit the job because I found it disgusting. Then I worked my ass off through college as a stripper, which I kind of enjoyed. After that, I worked for one year as a dominatrix in an SM dungeon in Rome, which I also kind of enjoyed.
Now I'm leading a "normal" life, surrounded by straight and respectable friends and colleagues. They don't know my past. I have to shut my mouth during many conversations about sex or the sex business. Outing myself might have a dreadful effect on my career. Not everyone is as open-minded as they claim, especially in my country. It's not that I'm ashamed of my past, but keeping half of my persona hidden makes me feel like I've done something bad.
Should I keep quiet and play the yuppie journalist? Should I speak openly and risk getting fired? Should I speak only to my gay friends about this? I wish I had a role model, but I don't. Should I visit a shrink?
"I don't think she needs a shrink," said Mistress Matisse, Savage Love's regular SM/pro-dom consultant. "She seems pretty unconflicted about her history as a sex worker." Mistress Matisse says you should only tell friends you really trust about your past. "Make sure they will respect your confidence--and by the way, just because someone is queer is no guarantee they'll be cool about you having been a call girl/stripper."
Mistress Matisse doesn't recommend coming out at work or to your family. "Unfortunately, her fears are not unrealistic, even in a country that elected a porn star to Parliament. If she thinks her family would freak, she shouldn't tell them. With friends, test the waters. Tell them you're researching a story on sex workers and see how they respond. With lovers, tell them only if you think the relationship is really going somewhere."
But even in situations where you can't come out about your past, you don't have to bite your tongue. "If someone says something you don't agree with about sex, tell a little bit about your sexual experiences without mentioning the context. If they ask you for details, smile mysteriously and refuse to say more. Ditto the sex business--air your opinions without telling how you came by them."
There are plenty of role models out there for sex workers. Mistress Matisse suggests you pick up a copy of Sex Work, edited by Frederique Delacoste and Priscilla Alexander. It's a book of essays by sex workers and in the back there's a list of sex workers' support/political organizations all over the world. Also, check out the website of the Prostitutes Education Network at www.bayswan.org/penet.html.
"Many sex worker activists are intelligent, educated women who have gone on from sex work to other careers," said Mistress Matisse. "They are her role models. And if she gets connected with other workers, she can tell her stories to people who'll get the punch lines."
Mistress Matisse can be reached via her website, www.mistressmatisse.com.