Hylas and the Nymphs is a 1896 oil painting by John William Waterhouse.
So I’m well and truly back into sex work, although with later hours than I have ever worked due to other things I am doing in my life – so I am truly a “lady of the night”. This has brought with it a different clientele depending on the hour and a slightly improved knowing of what is likely to be a waste of my time and/or lead to trouble.
It is so nice to have connected with friends old and new, local ladies who quietly go about their work with minimal fanfare, accommodating the local gents who know what they like and like what they know. These are the ladies who regularly serve at the sexwork coalface bringing an affection and enthusiasm to their work as they would any other job, not for reviews or accolades but because it is just what they do.
It is a better living than is made by most, but not the spectacular, glittering numbers of days gone by however it is enough to make it still worthwhile. In my blog post about cam work, cam model Aella said “I thought, what I’m giving up, which is basically society’s blessing on my life, what I am getting in return is the absolute freedom I have now. It’s a no-brainer to me, it seems like the most logical thing that somebody can do, is sex work” and that is the deal that you make with society and simply have to come to terms with it.
In the 80s I watched the best depiction of day-to-day sex work I’ve ever seen – it was 1986 film by respected, feminist director Lizzie Borden called Working Girls. I feel for a “fictional” account, it portrays pretty accurately the glamour-free side of being a working girl with a bit of working girl back story, even while set in Manhattan in the 1980s where of course sex work is illegal.
It has been difficult to find this film in video stores (Aro Video have it in VHS) or to purchase online but I found it on YouTube so if you have a few hours it is worth watching.
Sadly the depiction of clients is not entirely complimentary but I bet every experienced working girl has come across every single of the client stereotypes in the film – my complaint would be that there were not nearly enough of the positive ones: from those who give meaning to the work we do by the clear satisfaction received, to the ones who make the job downright pleasurable.
In the film, the Madam was also not much of a likable character – an ex-working girl who lorded it over her working girl staff with her expensive purchases and manipulated them to keep making money for her by pushing them to see clients when they were well past it.
However as the owner of the brothel, her own vulnerabilities were also clear: the necessity to appease angry clients so her illegal brothel would not have to deal with the backlash as well as being desperate to retain her staff.
Back in the day we really did dress so conservatively while doing sex work and because we all knew the regular clients, at least to say hello to, just like in the film, you could easily be called in for a double with someone else’s client during a booking. (And hardly anyone did anal).
But back to the present: as a working girl, I have received such a warm welcome on my return from clients and ladies alike which I would like to acknowledge with gratitude.
We are a special group, positioned outside the norm with our secret activities and it brings a bond of caring and understanding like no other. Yes, there are varying degrees of bad things that happen and bad men and women we come across but mostly it is good in legal sexwork. Over the last few weeks in particular I have seen this for myself and it makes me very happy to have met so many wonderful ladies and dudes within this and because of this industry.
Thank you, everyone and I am so glad to be back – for the next couple of months at least.
*From Wikipedia: Hylas and the Nymphs depicts a moment from the Greek and Roman legend of the tragic youth Hylas, based on accounts by Ovid and other ancient writers, in which the enraptured Hylas is abducted by Naiads (female water nymphs) while seeking drinking water. The painting has been interpreted as a metaphor for dangerous female sexuality, and warning against nymphomania.