Touring sex workers are a not-so-modern phenomenon but since the Prostitution Reform Act (2003) in New Zealand we are able to tour and sell our services in a much more organised manner.
I personally love to tour: I love to explore my beautiful country, in which I was fortunate to be born and therefore have free range of within the law and can come and go from as I please. I also like to meet men in different parts of the country, in their own environment, and love to discuss their local situation and gather tidbits about certain predominant industries within the various regions I visit, a great way to increase my general knowledge and have first hand information when related news items are published.
And while you can’t really lump a group of people together by race or region, I do notice similarities with men from the same area, probably coincidental, but maybe not: The laid-back, slightly romantic lads from the South Island’s West Coast as a whole are vastly different from the oxymoronically laid-back dudes with precise requests in Palmerston North; Wellingtonians have similarities to Dunedinites in their effortless coolness (and their houses and geography are even similar) and fabulous organisation skills – in both of these places I’m normally pre-booked for most of the first day before I even arrive; the gents from Invercargill have their own unique kinks and are quite different with their telephone use from those who have set up their lives temporarily or permanently in gorgeous places like Blenheim or Queenstown, which, possibly like the lives of the inhabitants, are a bit unpredictable and last-minute.
Do I have a favourite place to visit? Yes, and the ones I do not prefer, I do not visit again, with the exception of Invercargill and Greymouth, where I adore the men, but the length of time and effort I need to make to get there (yes, I’ve got lazy) make it unlikely I would visit again, unless I had a pre-paid, multiple hour pre-booking or two, then I would be in either of these places in a flash.
And I just hinted at why some sex workers choose not to tour – because it can be expensive, exhausting and there are no guarantees. As well as that, there are other issues, such as finding accommodation – there are no comforts like those you have set up at home. I always miss my own boudoir, with everything in its place, and my nice shower with a removal shower head for play and practicality.
But I get an itch to explore my little corner of the world and have pretty much worked out effective packing strategies (my packing list system should be patented), advertising strategies as well as strategies for deciding where to go and when. For example, when there is a local event (food or wine or music festival or some kind of sporting event) advice is often given to tour to the town at that time as it will be full of potential clients. Wrong. Accommodation will be scarce and all the locals and visitors will be busy at the event and spending their money there as well. Either go the day before it starts, when early visitors may be at a loss for things to do after settling in, or the locals have set everything up and now have some built-up tension of the sexual kind to deal with to prevent them giving every event-attendee the lecherous glad eye due to extreme horniness, or even better, the day or two afterwards, when the visitors have gone and the locals have money to spend on their pleasure after working hard at the event, oh, and again there may be the sexual tension factor which needs to be dealt with, if they have been too busy to get some intimacy elsewhere.
Unfortunately, not everyone is welcoming when sex workers come calling and this is why I’m offering some guidelines* to the novice touring sex worker. There have been a couple of unintentional near-disasters recently which have now resulted in a previously working girl-friendly accommodation option to be lost.
So what to do when a town does not have known working girl friendly accommodation?
Sometimes when ladies do not have motels to stay at where they can be open about being a sex worker, they stay there sneakily anyway and have to hope that the motelier does not become suspicious with all the male visitors and kick the sex worker out. After the effort and expense it takes to get to a town, this would not be fun.
Alternatively, you can book by phone and be upfront about being a working girl, but more often than not, moteliers have heard horror stories about touring working girls and would be reluctant to allow you to work from their premises.
This is why it’s really important to do the right thing by our accommodation providers, whether they are rooms let to you in houses with other independent working girls or motels who are ok with what you do. To keep on their good side, please consider these suggestions.
A huge advantage with renting a room in a house or motel that is working girl-friendly is that they will provide the sheets and towels which are an extra bulk to carry around and try to get laundered otherwise. If the accommodation provider doesn’t launder the linen, eg in a private house, please allow time in between clients to keep on top of the laundry as no one has an infinite supply of linen and clients need fresh towels and sheets. This will save you embarrassment later in the day when you could run out of supplies.
Don’t look the part. Don’t arrive or leave in your work clothes, don’t sit outside (yes, it’s been done) and don’t go to a visible-to-the-neighbours washing line or back yard area in your lingerie or work clothes or advertise by your appearance what you do. The motelier may know you’re a working girl but they will not want the neighbours or other guests to know as this could lose them their good reputation and business. It is also an indiscretion that is unfair to visiting clients, who want it to be as unnoticeable as possible that they are visiting a sex worker.
Don’t give out the address to every caller until they have made a firm booking, and make sure the directions are clear so clients don’t knock on the doors of the neighbours. Some sex workers give out the address in two parts, first directions to the area, then when they are there, they can text to get the room number or house number. When the second text has been sent, it gives the sex worker time to put on her shoes and wait near the door. It is also a security measure. If clients do not turn up when they only have directions, it means they are disorganised or have had a change of heart – the standard “no show” – annoying, but no need to freak out as they do not know exactly where you are. However, if they don’t turn up when they finally get the specific address, they were not intending to be there in the first place but they now have your address which is not ideal. Working girls do not feel safe when men pretending to be clients, who turn out not to be, know where they are working from. Different ladies deal with this situation in different ways.
So a preventative measure out of respect for the non-touring ladies who work from the accommodation you are staying at is to not give out the address willy-nilly to every caller who says they might come and see you until the booking is well and truly confirmed, preferably with at least one phone call to weed out schoolboy pranksters, and then give only general directions before giving out the full address.
Allow 15 to 30 minutes at least between bookings so that clients don’t bump into each other and to give you time to put the room and your appearance back in order (and take care of any laundry). As touring ladies this small gap in visitors could also prevent neighbouring occupants from noticing that there are so many visitors. Also be ready to answer the door as soon as the doorbell rings – it is not a good look for the neighbours to see a series of men waiting at the door nervously. Bring your clients inside as soon as possible, hiding behind the door when you open it to let them in or show them out, so passersby do not see you in your work clothes. Never leave clients waiting outside after they have rung the doorbell while you put on your shoes and fix up your make up.
Don’t tell any non-client locals that the motel or house is being used by you as a sex worker. Even if the house has been a well-established brothel, and some people in the neighbourhood know about it, the ones that don’t know don’t need to know. They could be the trouble makers who disapprove of sex work and try to get the house shut down, ruining it for future touring sex workers, not to mention the ladies whose livelihood depends on having local accommodation available. You might think it’s cool to be a sex worker, not everyone else does. Likewise, many moteliers are family people and do not want to be seen to condone sex work within their communities. Consider those who will remain (because they live here) after you’ve gone: be as private as possible so that local people don’t gossip.
Don’t court trouble. If you have troublesome acquaintances such as druggie friends, dubious boyfriends or party-loving mates or anyone who will be disruptive or noisy in the neighbourhood, use common sense and don’t let them come into your working accommodation. This is not the time for partying – you are here to work. Their presence could cause an upset which could result in other professional sex workers being tarred with the trainwreck brush as well.
And speaking of drugs and excessive alcohol consumption, I make no secret of the fact that I haven’t lived like a saint, so am in no position to be holier than thou. However, my advice would be that if you are not ready to lay off or give up using completely, don’t tour and take your crap to innocent communities. Yes, I am in no position to judge anyone based on their weaknesses or difficult situations, and to an extent I believe in live and let live, we are all on our own walks through life and have a right to hold on to our own stories as we see fit and to sort them out and redesign our lives in our own time. However, if it affects other sex workers and our reputation as a whole, expect to be called out on it.
This is one situation where I can easily see the wood and the trees, having been there and done that, and been part of all the bullshit. Stay home until you can sort yourself out – this will take some time. Sex workers are a community of loving and caring people who are happy to help others, but don’t stretch their sympathy by taking them for fools. Get honest, at least with yourself, and you will be amazed by the love and understanding you will receive. (But that’s another blog post.)
Touring sex workers coming in to towns where sex work is not ordinarily apparent are “ambassadors” of sorts for the whole industry so don’t ruin it for the rest of us and allow largely false stereotypes to abound by having dramatic incidents while on tour. Fortunately if a salesman was staying at a motel and something happens and the police become involved, all other salesmen would not be considered likely to behave that way. Unfortunately people do not hold sex workers in as high regard (that’s saying something) and it is likely that from then on sex workers would be seen as too much hassle at best and downright dangerous at worst and would no longer have the opportunity to work from there.
Don’t talk about your services on the phone outside where others can hear. If you smoke outside and your phone rings, put out your cigarette and go inside, shutting the door on the way in, to take the call. If you are swearing or talking about sex or sex work services on the phone or to anyone outside or as people arrive or leave, it’s just not cool and the wrong passers-by could overhear more information than is good for them. This could include children walking past and within earshot.
Don’t smoke inside. Be respectful of property. Point out any accidental damage and offer to pay before you leave. I know of a touring lady whose client had the misfortune of breaking part of a bed and she passed on money he had left towards its repair. Impressive.
Give back locally, spend a little. I know we tour to make money, but the money you are being paid could otherwise be supporting local businesses. It’s a nice gesture to buy locally while you are there to help their economy.
And on the subject of spending, pay for your accommodation as soon as you can. Do I need to add “don’t steal”? It seems I do, as I’ve heard reports of sex workers leaving without paying their motelier, which of course is stealing. We wouldn’t want our clients to do that to us, so let’s not do that to others.
Touring can be lots of fun, especially when we have great accommodation providers. Let’s resolve to always do the right thing by them.
* While this post seems largely negative and admonitory, I am presently writing a short ebook which is a more comprehensive touring guidebook for sex workers.