introduction, sex workers

An Overview of the Contemporary Sex Industry

contemporaryThe sex industry is a diverse profession.  Although there is often a focus upon sex workers who offer full service (intercourse) with clients, the industry also includes dominatrixes, strippers, porn stars, phone sex operators, camgirls (online video performance), and sensual massage practitioners (a massage with a handjob and/or blowjob finish).  For the purpose of my blog, I will focus upon sex workers who engage in full service because it is the avenue of sex work to which I am most experienced.  Within the full-service market, the main players are: street sex workers, massage parlours, escort agencies, and independent sex workers.

STREET SEX WORKERS:  Street sex workers tend to work in areas referred to as “track.”  In many cities, there is both high track and low track.  High track is the neighbourhood of high-end street sex workers whereas low track is (often) the home of the survival sex trade.  On high track, sex workers are often trained by a pimp to offer safer services because pimps understand that diseases mean taking time off work.  The advantages of high track include a safer health environment whereas disadvantages are sex worker disputes which often result in violence as well as pimp influence, including fiscal control, and potential violence.  On low track, many sex workers are compelled to engage in higher risk services from fiscal necessity.  There is a high degree of health risk as well as the potential for violence from clients or sex worker disputes.

When I first began in the industry years ago, street sex work was more common but, with the rise of the internet, much of the sex industry has moved indoors.  Now, many former high track girls work independently; however, low track girls often do not have that luxury.  As such, many street sex workers are the most marginalized individuals in the sex industry.

MASSAGE PARLOURS:  Massage parlours offer incalls.  Depending upon the individual municipality, massage parlours can be prolific and/or rare.  Generally speaking, however, massage parlours are less numerous than they used to be because the sex industry has transitioned towards more independent sex workers.  For sex workers, the benefits of working in a massage parlour include: an established client base, advertising being taken care of by the parlour, a safer work environment, and the ability to work with other sex workers which is educational to nascent sex workers.  The disadvantages of working in a massage parlour include: sex worker bullying, coercive and/or controlling managers and owners, and the fiscal cost of splitting earnings with the parlour.

ESCORT AGENCIES:  Escort agencies offer outcalls to hotels and residences.  Advantages are similar to massage parlours:  an established client base and advertising which is often taken care of by the agency.  Disadvantages include: sex worker bullying, splitting earnings with the agency, and coercive/controlling managers and owners.  Because escort agencies are the gatekeepers of client inquiries, the agency often decides who to send out on individual calls which has the potential to result in unfair favouritism and/or pressure for sex workers to tip the booking girls to get calls.  In some agencies, and I have personally experienced this, management pressures sex workers to go out on calls even if your gut instinct tells you that something is off with the client.  If you refuse then, oftentimes, the repercussion is fewer calls being sent your way.

INDEPENDENT SEX WORKERS:  Independent sex workers may offer both incalls or outcalls.  Advantages of working independently include:  being your own boss, more freedom and choice, the ability to set your own rates/time schedule, and the opportunity to work from home.  The biggest disadvantage to working independently is the potential threat of violence by working alone.  However, it should be noted, that this threat can be mitigated by asking for a reference from another sex worker to vouch for the gentlemanly behaviour of a potential client.

Another disadvantage of independent sex work is the pressure from some clients to engage in higher risk services.  Because independent sex workers must maintain a positive image in the online world, there is constant pressure from many clients on escort review boards (a sex industry version of Yelp) for sex workers to offer services without protection.  In the contemporary sex industry, many sex workers offer condomless blowjobs as a direct consequence of client pressure.  As such, although independent sex work offers more freedom and choice, many of these same choices are influenced by the opinions of clients on review boards.


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