review: legal tender

I’ve finally gotten all my stuff out of storage. The greatest joy has been unpacking my books. Legal Tender was bought in Vegas a few months before I set off traveling. It sat in my “read” pile until it was boxed up. Now that I’m working through my unread books, here it is.

First, my disclaimer. I’m personally prejudiced against the whole idea of brothels as practiced in the US. Giving 50% of my money from every booking to someone just for the privilege of renting a one-star hotel room doesn’t sit well with me. Being told what to do doesn’t work for me either (ask any former boyfriend about that). I’m a control-freak about my working environment and brothels go out of their way to wrest control from the girls working there. Then there’s the whole being-an-employee-without-the-legal-benefits, i.e. Nevada brothel-style “independent-contractor” status that’s accorded to the working girls. If I’m going to work within a heavily-regulated legal system then I want my legal benefits retained. The book looks at a lockdown brothel, so that’s what I’m going to be discussing here.

Rebuttal to my disclaimer is that I personally know several girls who have worked as indies and in Nevada brothels who thoroughly enjoyed their brothel experiences (though most still dislike the flouting of legal employee status and most were in non-lockdown brothels). They were happy with the money they made, happy with their working environments, happy with the brothel customers and overall have a positive impression of working within the strict bounds of their chosen brothels. I do not know any who worked in the brothel I did and had a positive experience. There is that.

I picked up my copy of Legal Tender when I attended a presentation given by the author Laraine Russo Harper. I said nothing, clapped at the end and purchased my book. I disagreed with a lot of what she said but I hadn’t read her book yet. So now I have.

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longer tweeting

I came up with this idea months ago, which is why it’s appearing here in my usual timely manner.

While I was traveling, I Tweeted quite a bit, sometimes more than others. A lot of those Tweets were more notes to myself about that specific moment in time. So for fun, I’m going to share some of these Tweets here and the little stories behind them. Not sure what I’m going to call this series yet. This is more just expanded notes for myself and for a few people who have asked a lot of questions about “the little differences” I found when I traveled.


Created 2010-12-30 02:58:56 -0500
I don’t save client numbers on my phone. But if yours is saved, it will contain “Wanker” in your name and there’s a reason I don’t respond.

Though this was shortly before I returned to the US, I started using the term “wanker” with complete familiarity soon after arriving in London. I also quickly learned how to save numbers into my world-phone. Though I do not save client numbers in the US because I don’t post my number, my work in rest of the world operates differently. Good clients sometimes were saved (upon request) with first name and initial. Wankers got designated by their special way of being annoying. So in every country, I’d have a list like:
Wanker Married (an Aussie bloke who texted me for sexy pix while sitting on the couch with his wife)
Wanker Anal (another Aussie bloke who failed to understand some basic concepts about anatomy, consent and women)
Wanker Timewaster 1, etc. (I usually had to number these wankers)
Wanker Beer (English guy who spent a lot of texts trying to haggle down my rate because he didn’t want sex, then proposed that we meet in a pub to drink beer, got offended when I declined and ranted about my materialism and greed)
Wanker Rich (well-off Singaporean who seemed to just want a party companion and would make appointments just to cancel at the last minute)
Wanker John (no defining feature to his wankery, so was stuck just using the name he gave)

…and so on and so forth. (I have a whole number of saved wanker SMS conversations, debating whether or not to post it.)

Anyway, creating phone wanker lists is apparently something every escort does in every country. Which is why we like phones with room for a gigantic number of saved contacts.

dec 17 in hk

Today I’m spending the day with Zi Teng in Hong Kong. This is a pre-scheduled post, I likely won’t write about today’s events for a while (as usual).

Today is December 17, The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW). For the history behind this relatively-new memorial day, please go to the official Dec 17 website, part of SWOP-USA.

I’ve written about Dec 17 here (my fave) and here. I’ve written about the shame, silence and death foisted upon American sex workers without our consent. Deborah Palfrey was a Dec 17 memorial victim and perfect example of how shame kills. I’ve written about survivors (that piece is offline right now) and some other scattered thoughts around Dec 17.

It’s just a calendar date, but the real meaning behind it is never too far from the front of anyone’s mind. Not if you’re a sex worker. Especially not if you’re in a criminalized country. Within the first five minutes of telling my mother I had decided to become an escort, she was predicting my death (actually, she predicted my dead body being found in a ditch, not the moment of death). I say this not to make fun of my mother — because I’m not — but that violence against sex workers is so endemic that it’s as an enduring stereotype as high heels and short skirts. This desperately needs to change. No sex worker I know considers violence part of the job description.

Sex worker deaths aren’t something that “happens”, it’s something that someone does.

my advancing decrepitude

As some of you noticed (thank you!), I just turned 35. If you haven’t noticed, well, now you know. I didn’t think much of it, actually. Was just surprised the date rolled around so fast, October 2009 was really only like 2 months ago, right??? (My mom, always good for a thought, cheerfully reminded me that I’m halfway to 70. I’ll have to put that in my ad text.)

What I didn’t expect was the little “ouch” of putting that extra year into my ads. Unlike many and unlike what I used to do, I don’t lie about my age right now. I certainly could — I could easily get away with 8-10yrs younger. But why? I don’t fake orgasms, I am how old I am. I really don’t have a lot of choice in the matter (I’m either this old or I’m dead).

I experienced ageism back when I was a young and tender 33. At the advanced age of 35 I think people are just throwing their hands into the air and giving up (I found an escort today who won’t exchange links with anyone over 33). In Asia where everyone looks very young and the most common escorts are young, it can be difficult to be honest about age (very difficult to be okay being an XXL in local clothing sizes, which translates into a US size 6-8, depending.)

There have been potential clients who have passed me up because I’ve gone around the sun too many times. Then there are younger guys who seem to expect me to literally be a cougar: pin them to the bed, open my claws and have my way with them (this is my style about as often as the planets align). I present myself honestly on my website and ads, yet guys are still often surprised by me one way or another. I look just like my photos, except that I’m not as tanned right now (the French Riviera was good for that, if nothing else).

I’m not a MILF — I have no children. I’m not a cougar — I feel I’m just barely out of girlhood, really. I’m just 35. That’s all. It’s how old I happen to be.

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floating blossom

Mizu shobai. The water trade. It is a constant stream, ebbing and flowing.

I’ve spent nights in ridiculously expensive suites in some of the best hotels in the world and bug-infested little rooms (hotels can offer more kinds of bugs than just cockroaches, BTW). One morning I checked out of my hotel with my bank account severely overdrawn and no place to go, that night I had a nice room paid for 3 nights and was $1000 to the good. I’ve been ripped off. I’ve been shorted. I’ve been tipped with lots of extra money and beautiful gifts. I’ve worked in situations and at rates most of my friends would never deign to do. I’ve worked in situations and at rates many envy.

The water trade. Continually ebbing and flowing.

I’ve had sex with soldiers, farmers, fellow adventurers and executives. I’ve had no sex with clients — very often. Men have cried, laughed, loved with me. I’ve had days where every single client screwed me into the mattress (God bless Australia). I have “done it for the money” because I disliked the client so much (this is very rare). I’ve fallen in love, knowing I will never see them again (this happens more often than the disliking bit). I’ve been bored, annoyed, drained, turned into a purring puddle of goo, energized, refreshed, happy. “Happy” is my most common reaction.

The water trade. It ebbs and flows.

I had a private incall for a while. I’ve done outcall-only. I often work out of my living space when on the road (hotel rooms). I have no actual home right now. I have 1 big bag, 1 purse, 1 netbook (and am now memory-stick free!). I’ve been wearing the basically the same clothes/shoes for well over a year (yes, I wash). My non-work wardrobe is centered around t-shirts/shorts/flip flops. I try not to spend more than $20 on a non-work clothing item because I just care that much.

Ebbs and flows.

I could’ve stayed home, re-built my escort business in 2008 and made a lot of money. I know the business, I know how to do it. I watch the girls who have read my books, I see their success. There but for the desire to re-follow that path goes I. I’ve made and spent my money. I have found and lost love. I’ve gone to a number of places, stayed in hotel rooms and seen nothing. I’ve seen beauty of great significance to me, I carry it with me until my memory fades. I don’t take a lot of photos, considering. I’ve stopped planning my life.

Ebb and flow.

We are all connected. The more I learn, the simpler and more infinite everything becomes.

Mizu shobai.

We are composed of over 60% water. The earth’s surface is 75% covered in water. The search for life in space begins with the search for water. We can be born in water. We quickly die without water. It is basic to our lives.

Sex is just as essential. It is the very concept of life. As one of my friends puts it, every single one of us is a “walking orgasm.”

Prostitution is as common as rain, a puddle, a river, a waterfall, an ocean. It comes in every imaginable form, some obvious and some not; some forms beautiful and some not. It is everywhere, limited only by the constraints of that situation.

A constant stream. It ebbs and flows, carrying the blossoms floating on the surface.