There are two, major assumptions people have when they discover you work as a legal prostitute. On one end of the spectrum, they think you have the most rockin’ job in the world—like some kind of giant, erotic vacation. On the other end, they hazard that your soul is empty, your mind numb, and your ability to feel, romantically and sexually, depleted.
What these people don’t understand is that being a prostitute is, after all, just another job, and a demanding one, at that. In the sense that you’re on call, it’s like being a doctor. I don’t freelance, so I’m not picking and choosing which clients to see or when to see them. I work at a brothel, so the clients come to see me when they want me. During the hours that I’m there, I’m fair game, and may have to attend to any number of “emergency” erectile situations (if we’re sticking with the doctor analogy).
That means that whenever a customer (a “John,” as you’ve surely heard them called) flips through the book with all of us working girls’ pictures in it when he arrives at the brothel and decides he likes me best, I have to drop whatever I’m doing to glue on my fake eyelashes (well, those are likely already on), swipe on some ruby lipstick, and spray some…well, no need to get rid of all the mystery.
When I put on that lipstick, heels, and lingerie, I’m also putting on my personality for the duration of the trick. No longer am I Kendra, a young woman trying to pay off student debt for her seemingly useless degree in art history—I’m Gemma, the kind of woman who’s always down for one more drink, one more mechanical bull ride, and one more round in the sack. Gemma looooves the size and shape of your penis, and she’ll tell it whatever it needs to hear to stay erect and achieve a climax as soon as humanly possible—depending on the gig, that is. If they’re paying by the hour, as opposed to a flat rate, Gemma can go real slow…
Another aspect of working in a brothel that’s just like any other job—and that might not have occurred to you—is the inevitability of lame co-workers. Just how Ted in the cubicle next to you doesn’t seem to bathe and always leans in way too close when he asks to borrow your tape five times a day (by the way, Ted is likely my client), I have a Nell who seems like she soaks daily in a tub of perfume, and she always laughs too loudly at our house mom’s jokes (sucking up to the boss) while turning around and acting the absolute bitch to everyone else.
Of course, some of my co-workers are lovely, and the good ones are how I get through the day. But my co-workers aren’t the only ones who help me with that. In fact, this may sound crazy, but a knitting circle—in other words, a group of religious grandmothers who like to knit together—come visit us every Sunday. They bring with them new scarves to keep us warm in the winter (though we work indoors, we do have to walk to and from work) and sometimes even freshly baked oatmeal cookies. Maybe they’re there to try and save us from going to hell, but they’ve become my friends in the eight months since I started working at the brothel. Mostly, I like what I do. I don’t love it (how many people can truly say that they love their jobs?), but I don’t hate it. I hate some days, I hate some clients, but ultimately, I’m just trying to pay next month’s rent. If some sweet, old ladies with knitting needles want to offer moral support while I do it, even better. – Kendra Klark