London. London was a very strange town to find work in. Luckily I wasn’t desperate for money but I thought it would be interesting to check out the sex work scene, mainly so I could say I had done it.
Even though it was equally as illegal to be a sex worker as it was in Sydney, it was much harder to find a position as they didn’t seem to have any brothels or massage parlours as such (that I could find, although I wasn’t looking that hard). Obviously it was far too dangerous to work on the street so I wouldn’t even consider that.
I found a strange position as a hostess. I can’t remember how I found it, but I got myself tarted up one night and headed over there. It was on the ground floor of a large building full of round dining room tables like a restaurant, but with no tablecloths or tableware. I think it was across the road from the Ritz Hotel, which was very glamourous, but this glorified dining room was not glamourous at all. In fact it reeked of desperation. I vaguely remember that there were other floors associated with this establishment, but I stayed one night on the ground floor then realised it was a total lost cause after just one night.
There must have been about 50 round tables with 8 young women, all dressed to the nines, seated around each one. They barely spoke to each other as we were all competing with each other, so most looked pretty grim. There was one woman at my table who did respond to my efforts to start a conversation, and she had been doing this for a week and was yet to make any money out of it. She had actually lost money, as she had had to pay for a babysitter, not to mention her bus fare there and back.
The idea was that gentlemen would enter the “club”, choose a table to sit at, (totally spoilt for choice, as I said there were about 50 tables, and as soon as a man entered we would all sit up straight and get rid of our bitchy resting faces, and some women would start licking their lips seductively), and one of the women at the table he chose to sit at, would talk him into buying her a drink, at ridiculously inflated prices might I add. Out of that drink price, the woman would receive a very small cut, that was it, that was her pay, perhaps enough to pay for her bus fare home again. The prostitution part was all very dire – I guess if you could manage to get the man to take you somewhere for sex, you would get to keep all that money. But naturally the bar owner was not too keen for you to remove the man from the bar too soon. That was the theory. The reality though, was that, for the two or three hours I sat there slowly dying of boredom, about three men entered the room and getting them to even sit at my table over the other side of the room, let alone buying drinks or paying me for sex, was about as likely as winning lotto without a ticket. I’d never experienced sex work as being this tragic before, but that was England for you.
The next place I stumbled upon and managed to work at, was a tiny, poky little bar in a little street off Oxford Street, which I think was a regular pub but it had several middle aged hostesses who hung around every night. They all resembled that barmaid with big blonde hair from Coronation Street in the 90s, Bette someone, and then there was me, who, in comparison, was an innocent abroad. Married men would come in after work, and they would retreat with their chosen girls down to the booths. There seemed to be a lot of laughing and jollity coming down from that area, and I realised why when once I walked down to the loo past the booths and saw one of the ladies giving a man a blow job. That explained why they never left the premises with them. There was also a stripper who came in one night a week, and she got paid in tips. She was a beautiful transexual from Devon, who had a really sexy accent. Everyone loved her. However, when I’d started there the Eastern European lady who ran the bar had not fully explained how the selling of sex services actually worked, it was as if I was feeling my way around in the dark.
So I would go there for a few nights and never get picked as the men who frequented the bar already had their girls and then one night, just as I’d decided I wouldn’t be back as this was not sex work as I knew it, the lady behind the bar took pity on me and arranged for someone to come in and “pick” me. We had a few drinks together and then he decided to take me to a hotel to have sex, and the Eastern European lady told me it would be fine. I didn’t think there was anything suspicious about us going to a hotel together, after all, in Sydney I’d been on outcalls to all the 5 star hotels, not that this one was anywhere near a 5 star. I didn’t look especially conspicuous as a sex worker, but within 5 minutes of getting in to the room, there was a knock on the door and it was a policeman. The hotel reception had called the cops to report that I was a sex worker – what a darn nerve after the nice man had just paid for a room. When we heard the policeman say the British equivalent of “Open up it’s the police!” my client told me to leave it to him to explain the situation. He told the policeman that he had met me, and I was a nice girl from New Zealand, and we’d decided to spend the night together. The policeman couldn’t actually argue with that, after all the man was only about 15 years older than me, and it was no crime to have a quick bonk.
So that’s why working in the bar was so weird. We weren’t actually “prostitutes” because it was not safe to be so, apart from me, who naively was more up front about it – what the other ladies made of that I have no idea, although they were awfully sweet to me (at least to my face). They were more like “mistresses” who got paid. It reminded me a bit of when I was first introduced to sex work, I haven’t blogged about it yet, but it came before the summer of fucking my clients to Lou Reed’s music to drown out the noises, where sex workers in that particular scene were very protective of their regular clients who they slept with for the whole night when they were in town. In the bar, it also seemed that most of the ladies had one client a night exclusively, and sometimes only one client, exclusively, as if she was his mistress, I think the Eastern European barmaid knew what to do if one of their other clients showed up on the same night. But they did get paid “in kind”. I can remember one lady talking about another friend in that line of work and a client she had been seeing bought her a Mercedes convertible. Not sure if it was actually hers though or just hers to use. But I preferred cold, hard cash and more of a finite parameter (time, sex acts etc) around sex work as I was partly using this money to live off.
Eventually, I don’t know how, I acquired a couple of other lovely and generous clients who came in to see me and take me away, (I never did sit in the booths down the back of the bar) including a very nice and rather well-to-do man who would take me to his office in Kensington and let me drink his old and expensive bottles of port, before we had sex (at his office). He also took me to some nice restaurants occasionally and once we went to one in Park Lane (think of the game, Monopoly) or was it Mayfair and I tried frog’s legs. He had a vague connection with royalty, or perhaps he had a title or something, but it was something impressive to a young girl from New Zealand.
Another notable happening was when one night the owner of the bar, a flashy real estate investor who was a London East Ender living in Florida, America for half of the year, was back in London and he took me out on the town. We went to a play, and on to a famous nightclub called Stringfellows, where he seemed to know everyone and they treated him like he was very important, and I stayed by his side like a meek little pet poodle. But I can remember blushing bright red when he told a bunch of people that we were about to go home and have sex, I felt like such a bimbo. However, for that he paid me in pound notes very generously.