Burnout. Every career has its version and sex work probably has higher rates because the work is so much more personal, because sex workers shoulder such a huge portion of the work individually. A stripper cannot outsource her work and make a living. An escort can outsource some of her administrative work, but has to make more money in order to pay for that luxury. We cannot clone our selves to go meet clients. Scaling up or out is impossible. At best, we can make and sell content for passive income, or raise our rates. We still have to do the actual work though, whether writing, photographing, interacting, and showing up.
This is a novella-length essay of my journey into and out of burnout. I’m still in the process but am through the worst and on my way out. Take what you find valuable, if anything, and I sincerely hope it helps you. This is not a “poor Amanda” essay, some of these issues have been self-caused and it has taken solid moments of clarity to realize this. Avoid my mistakes and do better.
There are many ways to organize this and I felt chronologically would be best for you. It’s not how the feelings and experiences are organized in my head, but you don’t live in my head. I’ve done my best to make the steps of the journey clear to both of us.
Writing this has been therapeutic and dredged up a lot of mud. It’s taking time for the mud to settle but I’m okay with that. This has been so intense that I’ve come to many new realizations just from writing it out.
I got the idea to do this from Twitter and the support to do this from Twitter. Much gratitude to my followers for the support because I would never have done this on my own, as I stopped journaling a few years ago. Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for telling me it would be good to write this out.
It has been good. Valuable.
To answer one of the obvious questions right up front: I’m averse to therapists due to some negative experiences with them early on. Finding a therapist as a sex worker is also quite difficult, moreso when you move around all over the globe. I have a therapist now but most of the heavy lifting has been done by me, over time; or interactions with others. I’m fine with that, I’m very much a DIY girl. It just means the process has been slower than it could have been. If you feel want a therapist, find one. A good one will benefit you greatly and you won’t suffer as long. Reducing your suffering is always a good idea.
It’s great if you have a friend who has experienced many of the things you have, or someone who is just willing to listen. It is helpful. But after a while, it isn’t fair to them to keep dumping all this negative on them. Nor do they have a magic wand to change your life. If they care about you, they will worry and feel bad they can’t help you. After a certain point, you must seek out professional help in whatever capacity you determine is best. After a certain point, you will have to be the one to change, your friend can’t change you or your life for you. Professionals can help start that process better than your friend. Let your friendships remain as friendships, not free therapy. (Argue with me if you must, I don’t feel it’s fair to use people you call friends as constant dumping grounds for negativity. It’s a sign you or your life needs outside help and change. Let your friends be your cheerleaders instead of your dumping ground or therapist.)
And I’m also on medication. I will discuss that as it arrives in my timeline. The right medication helps, the wrong one does not. I started on medication with a prescription from a regular doctor. If you have a trusted doctor but no therapist, it’s a place to start. Anyone who cares and is knowledgeable about the tools of medicine, that you trust, can help. Don’t be afraid to ask if you trust them.
Journaling, which I stopped doing as I was going through the worst, would have been helpful. Writing works for me as a conversation with myself and I can have honest realizations from it. Cheap therapy. If writing helps you in this way, try to find the energy to do it. Easy to say, hard to do–I know that well.
Venting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. It can become a self-reinforcing loop. After a certain point, I believe changing one’s circumstances is the only way to break the burnout.
Exercise helps, even if it’s just an hour walking on the treadmill at the hotel gym. Strolling through a park, maybe feeding the birds, is pure me-time. It can help clear your head or think of a new way around an issue. Try to view exercise as good your body and mind, not as a weight-loss vehicle you should be doing. (Too many shoulds don’t help burnout.)
Finding the time and energy to exercise is the difficult part. Burnout is nothing if not a massive energy-drain. In the very worst part of it, I could barely get out of bed. It wasn’t depression, per se, I could find the energy for things I enjoyed but I never had the time for pleasure. I was burned all the way out.
Onto my journey…
2000: So It Begins
After I was drugged and sexually assaulted in a strip club, I viewed the work through very different eyes. It was a hideous spiral of depression and feeling worthless for the next two years until I became an escort. I hated the club every night, I made far less money, I found far more assholes than nice guys, I wanted to kill everyone. I was so angry. I was drinking more at the club than was good for me.
Towards the end of my time, I would sit in the club and fantasize about coming in with a machine gun and killing every man in the club, even the fucking DJ. I was clenching my teeth so hard at night I was ruining my molars and destroying the insides of my cheeks.
One night I caught myself having this fantasy and suddenly realized “I’m burned out. So this is what burnout is.” This was about six months before I changed jobs. It was the beginning of awareness that I needed to change, for my own good. I felt like I might go insane if I stayed.
In other words, I was burned out for 18 months before I realized I was burned out. Thoughts of violence are not normal, they’re a sign I wanted out that I blithely ignored. It can take a long time for me to realize things, my mind has to sit me down and point it out in huge letters. I still haven’t solved this problem, as you’ll see.
2002-2004: My Golden Age
For a while, escort work was the savior I’d never dreamed I would find. This was a truly golden period in my life. I’d never been so happy, so (internally) peaceful. I learned to enjoy food and put on real weight for the first time in my life. (A whole entire 15lbs later, a hobbyist remarked how “fat” I’d gotten. He was in danger of losing his legs to diabetes and probably tipped the scales around 400lbs because of course this was the type who would make such remarks.)
I had known I wanted to stay in sex work a little longer before I joined the “real world” and wanted to try escorting. I did and found it worked very well for me. Being willing to experiment with your work is key. I have a little less flexibility now that I’m older and more knowledgable and also more set in what I like and don’t like. I’m trying to be open-minded about potential work, though, even when it’s a whole new field for me. Knowing what’s not working means you must change what you do, no matter what.
Burnout was a thing that had happened because stripping is not the right job for me, it is not the right fit. I found the right fit with escorting and was very, very happy.
I had problems here and there during this period. That’s life. Those problems weren’t burnout, though. Even when touring extensively, I was simply physically tired, a little drained. A little time off and I was ready to go again.
Even when relationships ended, I was fine. I was on my own, making decent money, did whatever I wanted to do.
2008: Escort Burnout Phase 1
I’d returned to escort work after a failed relationship and tried to do the high-end thing. It didn’t go that well because a) it was in Vegas b) it was 2008 c) it wasn’t really me, I was just trying to fit in with my friends and d) I didn’t market myself enough, mainly because I really didn’t fit the persona I’d created.
After my brothel experience, I created an hourly girl who did just fine. I had minimal living expenses and a couple of appointments/week was enough to give me a comfortable lifestyle. (I’d created my rates so one dinner appointment covered my rent, and I always got at least one/month, usually more.) The problem was I became very bored. To solve that minor symptom of burnout I started sex working the world.
In retrospect, I feel that boredom was the beginning of a phase of burnout. I found stripping to be mind-numbingly boring, even when it went well. Escort work is the same for me. Boring, though not nearly as boring as stripping. Stripping is the most boring job I’ve ever had.
Part of the boredom stems from the repetitive nature of both jobs, part of it from the utter lack of any genuine mental challenge. I have finally finally acknowledged (during the writing of this essay) I need more mental stimulation than I have found in sex work. Trying to be the highest-paid or most-unique isn’t the type of challenge I look for. I do like learning new things and creating, and I’m getting back to that.
2009-2013: Racing Burnout Across the Globe
Living in Singapore was a blast, until it wasn’t. I was bored and started to feel unhappy. I’d had my fill of Chinese culture’s ageism, racism, sexism and materialism. I wore a blonde wig to be Amanda and was quite tired of that too; I liked my own hair, just wasn’t willing to kill it with chemicals to be blonde. So I went back to the US.
I worked openly as Amanda and charged high-end rates, perhaps a little too high for my market (part of that was a whole bunch of shoulds making my decisions for me). Or perhaps Amanda is just intimidating as fuck.
I wasn’t happy with the clients I got because the experiences weren’t what I was truly seeking. What was I seeking? I don’t know. I thought I knew at the time, in retrospect I clearly did not. I thought I had everything answered when a seemingly rich man offered to be my sugar daddy and buy me a house. He’d already bought me a car when he crashed the plane we were in. (I’ve covered that whole surreal shitshow here and here.)
Struggling to get my brain back and dealing with enormous pain everyday solved any burnout issues I was having, that’s for sure. When the situation became dangerous and Jill and I decided to leave the country, I retired Amanda forever, with great relief.
Amanda the escort just doesn’t work for me anymore.
Burnout is perhaps a little bit of a first-world problem. Being in a survival situation changes perspective and goals enough that it’s a complete non-issue. Or that’s what I tell myself.
When I began escorting as Betsy (without the Wetsy) in 2014, I soon created a motivational mantra to struggle through the pain and exhaustion:
This really is exactly what I’d say to myself to prop myself up to see yet another client or get up after a few hours of sleep to get ready to see a client. Would you say that to a friend you cared about? Would they find that motivational or would they not speak to you again? Think about what you tell yourself. What I tell myself is a problem I’ve not yet solved, I’m working on it and likely will be my whole life.
I made very good money. A bad day was only making $1000. My best day as hourly Betsy I made over 5k off of two clients. During one twelve-day tour I made well into the five figures, during a month everyone else was complaining about it being dead. (That tour was a month before I fell apart in 2017 and it certainly contributed.)
I had priced myself a little lower than I knew I could charge to entice business, and due to fears that I wouldn’t be marketable if I charged what I wanted. I wanted to be a bargain to maximize my earnings. It worked, I was making a healthy six figures every year. The volume was at max level (cranked to 11). I could not make any more without seeing even more clients. Seeing more clients meant I would never sleep or eat. As it was, I could go through an entire tour without actually eating a meal. I worked myself so hard I would go without food, other than tea, for up to 72hrs on a regular basis, energy bars were a luxury only if I met certain standards in order to have one.
In 2015 I raised my rates by $100 across the board and made even more money, the volume turned down a tiny bit, the clients were a marginally better vintage.
And I hated most of them. I have PTSD from the Pigshit. One of those things is that I will never, ever be able to like old white men. It’s just not going to happen in my lifetime. And I react very strongly when I see one who reminds me of Pig. I hate clients who are Pig-like (in their energy or attitude). I loathe them touching me. The attendant psyche issues of having to deal with them has contributed a lot to my burnout. Commonly-accepted wisdom is that old white men have the most money but they are the ones I hate the most. This alone dissuaded me from raising my rates for the longest time. I am deeply afraid of meeting more Pigs, even though I react to them with anger and loathing on the surface.
This is still a work issue I struggle with. I flirt with ways of weeding out old, white men but am too financially afraid to draw a hard line. I happily refuse to see any self-identified hobbyist, and that helps a lot. I prefer really guys 25-45, but they usually aren’t rich. A deep-seated aversion to old white men is a very tough issue to have in escort work.
In early 2016, a client sexually assaulted me. There was no drugging and fortunately I avoided physical force. The threat of violence was enough for me to be compliant. And I drank hard and fast as soon as I got back to my hotel to try to wipe my memory; of him, my terror, my disgust, the completely dehumanizing way he treated me.
Other than making me sick for a week, the alcohol memory-wipe did not work. So now I had PTSD from this assault, on top my other, older PTSD. My health issues started to snowball from that epic drunk.
Watching Westworld was the start of my recognition of my burnout. It’s from Westworld that I acknowledged to myself I really do have PTSD, despite being told this by several people, including my regular doctor.
The character of Dolores in the 2016 first season is a study of classic PTSD. Everything that Dolores experiences is PTSD: the flashbacks, the constant disorientation, the abnormal reactions, the slow waking to the horror that is her existence.
I was addicted to the show from the first episode and since I traveled so much, I was always in hotels with HBO every Sunday. Midway through the first season I realized that Dolores has PTSD and I realized that I have what she has. I completely identified with her and she helped me navigate the edge of my PTSD. Her awakening became mine and her murderous season finale had me crying and cheering, breathless. I wanted to awaken and free myself. It’s not quite as easy as picking up a gun though, and took much longer than that short first season.
During 2016 and 2017, I started drinking more with clients, and more on my off-time. It wasn’t good for my body at all but it certainly made work more tolerable. Since 2018, that’s faded to almost nothing, though I have a regular who likes me to have drinks with him. I prefer to not drink on my own time, my body is happier for it and so am I.
In 2016 I made the decision to stop seeing Indian clients and that helped weed out a large number of clients who triggered my various PTSD issues. I stupidly made said decision public in 2017 on Twitter. I lost Twitter followers who thought I was a terrible racist, I gained followers who thought I was a terrible racist, and then lost followers when the racist ones realized I wasn’t racist enough for them.
If you believe that I’m Hitler because I ignore emails from horny Indian guys then you may as well click elsewhere while making sure to never, ever ignore a horny Indian guy to make up for the awfulness of my not fucking all horny Indian dudes. I’ve had plenty enough hatred and bullying over a decision I made for my mental health, thank you very much.
The stress was enormous. Jill had continual, serious health issues. I was not prepared to care for her at the level that was needed; I think we’d both underestimated what she’d need and I overestimated my abilities. I had not truly planned on being a caretaker or fully realized what it actually entailed.
I lived in another country, but worked in the US. I was perpetually jet-lagged from 2014-2018.
The last place I lived before returning to the US was a very nice place. I surprised a neighbor one day because they hadn’t realized I’d been living there. I’d moved in five months prior but had been home for a total of about four weeks during that time.
There was the continual stress of working in a criminalized field. The general stress of not sleeping in my own bed. The disorientation I had when I woke up in the middle of the night spilled into the daytime as well. I rarely actually knew where I was. I had flashbacks. (I learned what they were in 2017 during a conversation with Jill, I had not known I was experiencing them, I just considered them “memory ghosts”, much like Dolores experiences in Westworld.) I worked on disassociating with clients to the point where I started having success. I did not want to be there and finally my mind started being compliant and not making me be there.
I woke myself screaming more often than not. When I was home, I was screaming every night. These aren’t nightmares so much as just heavily emotional dreams and they build to the point where I’m screaming from fear and terror. And then I wake up and realize all the noise I’m making and wish I could just die from embarrassment.
The stress was a physical weight sometimes, I could feel it crushing me, as though I were deep-sea diving, going deeper and deeper, the weight of the water around me crushing me to nothing. Sometimes it was hard to breathe, the weight was so crushing. My natural reaction was to push against this weight, try to push it off me, try to swim up, but there was never anything tangible to push against and the crushing feeling continued.
During 2012/13 and my rounds with doctors, one prescribed Lexapro for six months to stabilize me. It worked and in mid-2014, feeling I needed the energy boost, I started taking it again. I started upping the dosage as I got more tired, as I had more PTSD symptoms. It did not seem to be working but who to tell? Where I lived I got it OTC. I didn’t want to experiment with other medications without a doctor’s supervision.
Healing from the brain injury of the plane-crash was a slow process, and in 2016 I suffered a mild concussion and whiplash (and PTSD flare) when a commercial flight had serious bumpiness over some mountains. It was so bad that a passenger hit her head on the overhead bin (from her seat) and was throwing up from it. It was quite bumpy.
But I still saw clients on that tour.
2017: The Bottom
And then there was the tour where I just unraveled and had to stop.
Everything had continued just like 2016. I’d raised my time minimum from 1hr to 1.5hrs, but my rates stayed the same. The volume turned down only slightly and I was still seeing plenty of grandfathered hourly clients. I was seeing lots of 1hr regulars and most new guys would choose the 2hr option. I’d been requiring deposits since 2016 or 2015 but that barely slowed things down. I was spending more on hotels and travel expenses than many people earned in a year, was at the highest member levels of hotels and airlines, and yet I still had profit.
I’d made it my goal to clean up my credit report to get a travel rewards card, which I finally did. This included paying off my student loans, which was a nice thing to do for myself.
More and more though, that “profit” was getting spent on doctor’s appointments and tests. Things continued to go wrong in my body, and there were things going wrong that didn’t seem to show up on any tests. I walked around angered at the world, when I wasn’t holding back tears from nowhere.
Before my awareness that I really, truly was burned out, I just thought the problem was me. Or that all my clients were just awful and the world of men sucks. You cannot start working on a problem if you don’t realize the problem exists. My burnout symptoms don’t exactly match the usual list of sex worker burnout, not with all the violent thoughts and nit-picking going on.
I hated seeing clients so much that I’d keep a running tally in my head for each client of every tiny little thing they’d do that annoyed me, starting from their first email to walking in the door to walking back out.
This is not healthy, for them or me. It’s an awful way to keep myself present during an appointment. It would turn into a loop that would replay in my head continually the entire appointment, and I’d add new things they’d do to that loop. It’s negative in the extreme and I couldn’t stop, couldn’t not tear them apart in my head over every little deviation from what I wanted from them.
They did nothing wrong, in actuality, other than not be perfect. The average client of mine is a perfectly decent client that I would recommend to other ladies without hesitation and I’m sure are considered decent clients by those ladies. They simply got on my last little nerve and with burnout, I had no nerves left.
It took until this year for me to catch myself doing this and be aware of it and try to stop it. It has become so ingrained in how I experience clients that it takes mental effort to not do it.
About the only healthy thing in my burnout is that most of my anger and frustration was directed outwards instead of inwards, for the first time in my life. Pig was the start of me focusing my rage outwards, which is actually healthy. Getting to a life where I have less rage is far healthier, obviously.
I returned to a town where I’d had a bad client about six months before. The bad client didn’t do anything overt, per se, but he triggered my PTSD very badly (both the sexual assault PTSD and Pigshit PTSD). He dehumanized me and wanted me to be a silent doll. It may not sound like much on paper; to me, it was huge, bigger than I even thought at the time.
I knew to avoid that client. I made an appointment with a returning client, whom I’d seen right after the bad one, according to my schedule notes. When the good client walked in the door the second time I didn’t remember him at all. He was nice, and had booked 3hrs and brought an expensive gift from my wishlist but…the whole entire time I was just blank inside because I didn’t remember him in any way. I was amazed at this mental block I’d encountered. How could I not remember him? I remember everyone, even guys I stripped for.
And then, in the middle of it, my mind then shut down completely. We had progressed to me giving him a blowjob, we were done and then it happened.
My mind went blank and shut down. Not a thought in my head.
I was so very, very tired. Exhausted. I could not perform the emotional labor I was supposed to. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t even talk to him. I reached for my professionalism and there was nothing there. It was gone. There was nothing there. Nothing anywhere inside me. I was nothing.
All I was was tired beyond belief and alone in a hotel room with a man who was as unfamiliar as the surface of the moon. I had no fear, no emotion of any kind, just an awareness of how truly awkward this was and how exhausted I was.
He himself was not a lively, outgoing type so we just kind of sat there staring at each other while my mind stopped working. I had not a single word I could think of to say. I didn’t want to even try. I knew I should be panicked at this but that feeling was far away and I did not care. I didn’t care about a thing. I was so tired. I was so very, very done, and that was the moment my mind decided to make it super-obvious to me.
After a few minutes of silent staring, he said he thought he’d go and he dressed and left. I vaguely felt like I should feel bad but I didn’t even feel that. Just sweet relief that he was finally gone (we had stumbled through about half the time he’d paid for). I was finally forced to confront that I was burnt to a crisp. Nothing left but smoking ruins. No jokes, this was completely real and true and no hiding it.
I texted Jill and she agreed I was done. I canceled the next part of my tour and changed travel plans and such. I had one guy booked for a dinner that evening and I wanted to cancel but my survival instinct kicked in and told me to do it and get the money and stop being a damn delicate spoiled baby. So I napped until it was time to drag my ass to the bathroom to get ready for the evening, which included drinking tea around 6pm (normally that would keep me awake most of the night).
That guy turned out to be fairly nice and bought a bottle of champagne with dinner. I had my fill so that I could be talkative and do my part. When we got back to the room, he held me close and made the mistake of scratching my head and I fell asleep. Nothing happened and he left, confused and disappointed. I felt kind of like a rip-off but also I didn’t care because I knew the sex would have been bad and I didn’t feel like trying to compensate for his ego. He got all of my time and energy at that moment. He got what he paid for, IMO. It’s not his fault that I had nothing left to give, was a barrel scraped clean; he was a decent enough client.
I went home and slept for long stretches. I slept best during the day, there was usually less screaming involved. Jill and I decided to move back to the US. The Pig-related danger seemed to be over. My physical and mental health was hanging by a thread, her physical health needed the care of her regular doctors.
There was some light at the end of 2017. There was an email from a guy who wanted to see me in a city I regularly toured. I’d ignored his email while touring–I didn’t have it in me to process his message. At home I read it and found him engaging. I wrote back and told him when I’d be back in the area. One email led to another and suddenly we’re texting each other 24/7 (almost literally).
By the time we met a month later, I was in love and so nervous waiting for him at the door that I was sweating (I never get nervous before meeting clients). He was equally smitten with me, and equally nervous. Our first meeting was earth-shattering. It really was.
He helped bring me back to life in a real way that Dolores could not. No, he does not have a magic penis (almost, but not quite). He’s married with children and will continue to be married with children. However, he is completely unafraid of me in every way. He showed me I was lovable, even when I thought I was worn away to nothing. He was impressed by Amanda, turned on by Betsy, and loved me, with all artifice gone. He made me feel human again, alive. He helped me remember what it was to have actual goals, and a desire to explore, and to achieve something besides booking another client. When all hope for anything good in my life was gone, he appeared.
He says I’ve done the same for him in certain ways in his life. Maybe. We’re still friends, BTW. He’s very, very special. He’s my Bear.
2018: Changing, Saving Myself
The stress of the international move, and buying furniture and setting up a home in the US was more stress I could do without and I ended up with a small pulmonary embolism. My body put me on solid bed rest for three months. I dragged ass through a tour to make enough money to go home and rest. I was so tired, so exhausted, I thought I would never get enough sleep again. When I was awake, I had no desire to do anything but play games on my iPad, my mind did not want anything to do with thinking complex thoughts, or learning anything new.
My doctor tested me for more problems, though his feeling was simply that stress was taking its toll and I was paying for the effects of years of stress that I’d been holding off with my mule-headed stubbornness. The price was being paid, at last, as I slowly relaxed and allowed my body to fail.
My work suffered because I didn’t want to tour anymore and I am in an incall-city and I didn’t maintain an incall. Also, I just didn’t fucking care. As long as I made enough to pay the bills…that was enough for now. Sure, I wanted to make more but I hated the work, the clients, the touring.
I started seeing a psychiatrist in early 2018 and we both agreed Lexpro wasn’t working, that it might even be making my symptoms worse. But before she started throwing random pills down my throat, she had me a take a gene test that would identify my reactions to to certain medications. The test results indicated that Lexapro was not a good fit for how I processed medication and that Effexor was. She gave me a schedule to wean me off the Lexapro and onto the Effexor with minimal problems. The regimen worked and I transitioned fairly smoothly. The best part was I suddenly dropped weight!
I paid out of pocket, but the company was willing to put me on a payment plan and I paid for the $1600 test over the period of 12 months. So that was good too.
The Effexor is certainly working well, the effects became obvious in a couple of months, I was far calmer, I felt and functioned better overall. My PTSD symptoms have diminished a lot, though I’m still triggerable. The Lexapro was far more stimulating than I needed and was making everything worse. Knowing how your brain and liver processes medication is very important for accurate treatment. I’m very glad the test exists because it cut the experimental phase of treatment to almost nothing after I took the test. I know I used to hate the idea that I need to take a pill every day for the rest of the my life, it’s helped so much though.
Please note: though I use the brand names of these medications for your understanding, due to costs I only buy generic versions. For something like Effexor, the difference is $40 out of pocket for a month vs $200+.
My psychiatrist is aware of my history with sex work, with Pig, with my family. I’m officially diagnosed with PTSD (big surprise there). I’m apparently so fucking delicate that when talking about escort social media, she informed me that, in certain respects, viewing other escort’s social media, especially certain types of media, was triggering me.
Wherein I Complain Muchly About Social Media
Social media marketing for escorts has become an insidious burden. If you’re like me, and don’t want your entire life to revolve around your escort work, then social media is a huge drain and drag. Betsy has had to stop following a lot of ladies because it was killing me: the trips, the presents, the gym-time! I can’t compete and even thinking about trying is demoralizing. Their goals are not mine. I needed my own space in which to realize: I do not want to own the most high-end clothes. I want nice clothes, pretty clothes, but I find that off the rack, at whatever shop I find the pieces in. I’m no more a label-snob than I’ve ever been (except for lingerie).
As an example, one successful escort Betsy follows and admires (but have muted), claimed that she was making so much money because a) she priced herself at bargain rates for her city, which is true and b) she has some decent arrangements. So what am I doing wrong? Betsy was priced at bargain rates, similar to this escort (before I raised mine twice), and all it did was burn me the fuck out with men I got tired of having to deal with. How is she not burned out while claiming to make three times what I did? She must be working around the clock to maintain her income yet…isn’t burned out??
And arrangements? How is she making more with those than less? Guys always want to make arrangements to save money, not spend money. She has gifts of persuasion I clearly lack. (Not a surprise, I’m pure blunt force trauma when it comes to persuasion.)
She shows off designer gifts all the time; but my experience with men at the mid-range rates is that they don’t give these gifts. Or at least not to me. There’s such a huge distance between her and my experiences, though of course we’re not the same person. For starters, she looks like a model and I do not. She’s in a major city and I’m not. She doesn’t require deposits and I do. The easy answer is she’s lying through her teeth but…I am not convinced she is. The mystery of the math not adding up has driven me batshit with unworthiness for the past couple years.
See where this leads? It’s not healthy for me. More escort social media marketing is not what I want to do, though I know I fucking have to nowadays. I have started blogging again, writing is my preferred medium and I think this will work well for me. I’ve always liked men who are readers over any other kind. (Amanda’s Twitter is generally fun for me, Betsy’s social media has lost any fun it once had.)
Back to 2018
The very best thing about 2018 is that I met a guy. A client, yes, but not a regular client-type. We hit it off and things have gone very, very well. He is not married with children and we’re planning a future together. My Bear paved the way to meet him, Bear’s helped me far more than he knows.
This is not something that can be planned or should be forced. Both of these men are gifts in my life. Gifts I did not look for, did not expect, never thought would happen for me. Life has done a pretty good job of beating any optimism out of me. I’m grateful beyond words they’re in my life. They’ve made me a better person, made my life a better place.
My boyfriend has certainly helped in the burnout because we feel we have a future together, a future without escort work, with other things instead. A future of matched needs and wants. Often, he’s more mature than I am even though he’s younger! I could not find a more level-headed man and he’s so much what I need right now and for the future.
I’m really hoping writing about this doesn’t jinx it. I also hope this doesn’t come across as advice: “Find a man to complete your life.” Hardly. I do best when I have a good partner and I haven’t had a truly equal partner in a decade. There’s no way that I know of to make something like this happen. It just happens. I was aware enough to see the potential, and able to act like a human being and grow our connection. If I’d met him at a different point in the past few years, I probably wouldn’t have a relationship with him right now. Like I said, Bear did that for me. I’ll never forget it.
Another piece of the puzzle: I got some pets in 2018. I won’t go into a lot of detail here but they’ve been a wonderful answer. Travel and allergies have kept me from having pets during the worst years but now I’m traveling a lot less and found a fairly non-allergenic pet. They bring such happiness into my life. I’ve always loved animals and have missed having an animal companion since I started traveling the world. Animals complete me in a way humans cannot. I may do animal-related stuff in my future life, I may not. That’s still an open question for now and depends on several variables (my hope is it works out in favor of animals).
2019: A New Perspective
I raised my rates in January to a low 4 figure/2hr minimum. That has turned the volume down to nearly nothing (a little too low) but while I’ve liked most of the new clients well enough, they’re still too much like my older, cheaper ones so I feel I need to raise my rates even more. There’s not enough change in my clientele to make it truly worth my while, to be not-boring. I can understand why the most expensive providers charge what they do, though I’m not at all in that market. I’ve certainly priced myself out of my local hourly market, that’s for sure.
But of course, I have all the insecurities everyone has when contemplating really changing up their business. I’m too fat, too old, I don’t have a fancy wardrobe, etc. I’m laying the groundwork to do it, though. It’s what I want. Of course I want to make more money, who doesn’t? It’s not all about money though.
I know what I’m capable of offering when I hit it off with a client. I’m far beyond what most clients expect and I have been artificially stifling myself for probably my whole career. Hence, the constant discontent in the background (or not-so-background). This does me and my clients no favors. Being too humble and self-effacing is not the way to make one’s best life, or make work enjoyable.
In this world, money is the great equalizer. I would like it to not be so, but it is. It’s a truth that cannot be ignored.
For example, I saw an Indian client at my new rates and he was lovely. I’d happily see him again. Non-triggering in every way, and someone I’d enjoy spending more time with, whether at dinner or privately. He paid one of my higher rate options without a qualm. Money is the great equalizer.
Not only have I clearly undervalued myself, I have tried to avoid believing that money makes the man. It does not, not in a holistic, real-life sense. But but but…My experiments over time have proved it does make the man more tolerable, at least in this business. Ignoring this fact is ignoring one of the basic truths of this not-at-all politically-correct business.
The high-priced escorts who tout how “inclusive” they are know this, they just don’t say it because the pitchforks will come for them. Disabled, smelly guys on fixed incomes can’t afford them. Old, decrepit guys on fixed incomes can’t afford them. The awful Indians I refused to see aren’t willing to pay high-end rates. The “inclusiveness” on high-end escorts’ websites is never challenged by their clientele because they would never deign to seeing someone that mid-range Betsy has seen, been triggered by, and been burned out by because Betsy needed to make money to survive, because Betsy wasn’t daring to charge enough to weed them out. (Been wanting to say that for years.)
Money makes all the difference in how you’re treated and who is able to see you. Do not pretend otherwise.
If I feel like I’m being truly, fully compensated for my time and energy, I’m much happier. I’m also going to be less stressed when I’m seeing men who contribute significant chunks of money to my life, men who contribute so much that I don’t have to rush to the next man and his contribution. Men who are taking care of me while I’m taking care of them. That’s the fair and equal exchange I need right now.
The time I need to recharge can only be bought for me by clients who spend more money on me, allowing me to see fewer clients. It’s simple math, really.
Sure I’d like exotic trips and high-end clothing but that’s my social media envy speaking. Ideally, I would be able to afford my own trips and actually enjoy them without having to deal with a damn clingy, needy client or having to work myself to death to afford the trip, and never get to leave the hotel room.
Burnout: The Realization
Now that we’re all caught up and the stage is set, my most recent tour spawned a few Tweets, which made me ask about interest in a burnout essay and here we are. This tour was a revelation and has given me a leap forward in perspective about my burnout. Well, and a lot of other things too. It has all come together in the space of days, the clarity coming fast and hard, staggering in breadth and intensity.
I returned to a city that I’ve toured frequently over the years, where I have many regulars. The tour was so successful that I did the math several times, and counted my money even more times because I couldn’t believe the numbers. Though psychologically difficult for me, I ended the tour on a high note.
I realized I can financially fire all my old hourly regulars. When doing the math, I removed those paying by the hour and found I would still have had a successful tour.
I thought they were a safety net, but in fact they’re a chain that leads to a post set in the ground.
One regular whom I’ve seen every single tour for the past couple years missed me this time and I’m so thrilled. I’m so happy at never having to see him again that it’s shocking to realize how much I fooled myself into believing I liked seeing him. But I don’t. Among my regulars, he triggers me the most since the sexual assault in 2016. When I made my list of clients I would fire, he was at the top of the list, no question. I’ve been internally celebrating my firing of him for a week now. (I haven’t actually fired him yet but it’s coming with the next tour to his city.)
I want clients who will pay my new minimums, the majority of whom are non-triggering. Some of my regulars already do, and I think I know which ones will once prompted to. Others will not and I will happily send them on with a warm good-bye. They cannot possibly argue that I haven’t been very fair with them as my rates have gone up.
Clients lose nothing but money if they have to pay higher rates to see me. I still lose everything I always lose with every appointment, along with the knowledge I should be making more, and silent, internal irritation they’re not paying more. Their expectation seems to be they shouldn’t have to pay more, the implication behind that being they don’t think I’m worth the raises I’ve given myself. A few have asked with every rate raise if they are grandfathered or if they should go. Are these clients I should be keeping? No, I feel safe in telling them to go. The ones who annoy me the most, whom I dislike every second I’m with them, are the ones paying the least.
I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise, really. I’m a hooker. I’m money-activated.
I will be very, very nice in said firing, however, because they have faithfully returned to me over the years.
Everything I have come to hate in my burnout is everything they are. I don’t hate them as people, not when they’ve hung around this long and we’ve gotten to know each other. I hate them as clients, however. I hate them touching me. They are not what I want. They all trigger me in various ways. They have made this job so difficult for me, contributed far more to my burnout than to my bank account. Right now, keeping it together is more important to me than making a huge profit margin. Paying my basic bills and having the energy to move forward in other areas of life is what I want now.
I make less than half of what I used to, but my spending has adjusted and I’m fine with staying at home and not traveling, and not even eating out that much. I would like to make more but am only willing to sacrifice so much of my energy to do so. Ideally, I’d do day-trips, FMTYs that bring me back home to my bed every night. Or if not that night, certainly the next morning. (FMTY=Fly Me To You)
The clients currently grandfathered aren’t operating on the same level I am and never were. I need skilled, aware, experienced men; in their lives, the world, their work, sex, women. That’s a tall order because I’m an exceptional woman, even among escorts. I need exceptional clients. They’re tough to find.
I want clients who are my equals or better, not those with whom I have to contort myself to “please” or not frighten. I wish to no longer have to stoop to their level. I’m tired of stooping. I’m tired of making half-hearted attempts to pretend that this gross old man in terrible condition with zero charm or sex skills has made me come. It’s demeaning like nothing else in the work because of course someone like that isn’t capable of sexually pleasing me once, much less actually satisfying.
The truth: if you’re not sexually skilled, with a big dick, and in good shape–you’re not going to get me off. I’m a woman in her prime and I can take a whole lot of good dick. What burns me out and wears me down is trying to pretend that all this substandard dick is good. It’s not. Is not, has not been, never will be.
I’m so sick of the concept of faking it to prop up fragile male egos that walking around in public, I spot a client or hobbyist type that I know would be like this in bed and I want to go punch him in the face and balls. (By the way, did you know I’m burned out?)
The problem of faking is one that’s bothered me for a decade now that I still haven’t been able to properly solve. If I don’t fake it clients are hurt and don’t come back (or worse, they come back but I have to take care of their hurt little feelings). If I fake it I want to kill myself from the self-loathing of such a blatant, stupid, personal lie. I seriously do not like faking it. I just don’t and never have.
For me, this is best. Jill and I were forced to live together back in the US but she’s moved out in 2019 and it’s made a huge, positive difference for me. I like my space, enjoy separating work/computer and my bed.
This is no dig at her. Circumstances were what they were and I knew from the start I’d prefer my own space. It took until this year to happen. It’s certainly helped. I prefer to live alone. Some people do. If you’re someone who heals best with alone-time, this is going to help your burnout enormously.
Amanda 2019 and Onward
All of my burnout included a hard denial of my problems being that serious. It’s not that I lack self-reflection, I have plenty of that, I have spent the majority of my life in my own head. Part of it is that I’m Amanda Brooks and I’m supposed to be an escort for life and I’m supposed to love escorting. Turns out neither of those are true anymore and it’s been a struggle to come to terms with it, accept that I can change my mind, that the world won’t collapse because Amanda says she doesn’t want to be an escort anymore. I’m letting external factors control me instead of my instincts telling me what’s best for me.
I’ve been aware of phone sex forever but never felt I was suited for it. I had a couple consultations with Yevgeniya in 2015 or 2016 but the way she worked didn’t suit me and seemed like a full-time job with a hell of a lot of emotional labor. I didn’t want to do more work for less money. That’s backwards thinking for a hooker. (I’m aware how ironic that statement is coming after my discussion of grandfathering. Like I said, it’s taken me a while to figure some things out.)
I read Amberly Rothfield’s book for the first time within the past year, and then again and again. The way she described her work seemed more doable, more in reach for me, we share a similar, practical mindset to our work.
And then I finally realized–just be…Amanda!
There’s a text from months ago I’ve saved where I’m telling my boyfriend that I should lean into being the therapist I am, somehow. I don’t have the training or credentials so I’m not pretending I am one. But this is what I’ve done best for 20 years: listen, and talk to people who have problems. When I’m not burnt to a cinder, I’m a funny, empathetic person with a well-trained memory for people.
It took me up until about a month ago to realize that NiteFlirt isn’t going to kick me off if I don’t do traditional phone sex. You can get that from anyone. I’m no good at dirty talk. I am very good at conversation, however. Real conversation.
So that’s what I’m going to do: be Amanda at her most talky. (If you don’t like that, don’t contact me! It’s a very simple choice.) It pleases me to offer this to anyone of any gender, unlike escort work, because it doesn’t involve my body and sexuality and all attendant issues. It also pleases me greatly, as an escort, to finally get to charge for pen-pals!!! Amanda isn’t going to cam much. I plan on charging $50-$100/minute for cam. It’s going to be me, dressed as though I’m meeting you for dinner. We can both have beverages (send me the money beforehand for a bottle of good champagne!), we’ll sit and chat and it will be like a dinner appointment with me. It ends with our clothes still on. I have zero intention of doing sex on camera. If you want to hang with me, full face, live, you’re going to pay through the nose for it. I assume no one will take me up on the offer so that’s safely out of the way. Everything else I offer/plan to offer is reasonably priced, though those rates may adjust upwards, depending on my energy levels and volume. I plan on offering phone calls, texting, and emails. I’ll do some audio recordings and maybe some content (actual content, like PDFs). Though I use old escorting photos for my advertising, I am not selling any photos. I do not have those rights. I do not plan on taking/selling selfies. I’d like to build some passive income from this venture.
My consult with Amberly gave me a number of solid ideas. I imagine I’ll be consulting with her again once things get going, to fine-tune what I’m doing, and for more ideas. She’s an excellent source of everything: straight consulting, feedback, ideas, and sweet, caring support.
I’ve been Amanda For Free for many years now. It’s about damn time I turned a profit again. I’m still a sex worker, after all. I don’t feel it’s safe for Amanda to meet clients in person anymore, for a number of reasons.
This solves that problem very nicely and completely legally. I really do enjoy the connection this work can foster, which is why Amanda the therapist is where I really shine. I’m finally putting that into action instead of running away from it, pretending I’m not all that. Yes, I really am all that. I’m just very over the part of adding sex to the mix because bad sex really ruins everything for me.
So far, I find NiteFlirt a somewhat-limiting platform with horrific coding issues. It’s the easiest platform for newbies, though.
For now, I’m making my way through it and learning it. Then I’ll move onto some more independent offerings that will let me charge ridiculous prices for things like a Skype cocktail chat. You can find my full profile here, and my Niteflirt profile here. I also made a profile on Fiverr though I’m not yet approved. I want to see how I do as an Agony Aunt on there. I’ve also read it’s a platform I could sell my books through, which would be cool. More passive income!
[Strikethroughs added 5/20 because Amanda found out she really doesn’t want to talk anyone in a work context again ever. Amanda is done. You can certainly still give Amanda money through the above links, Amanda insists on it. Betsy is still working but Besty and Amanda are two different personas.)
Betsy 2019 and Onward
This one is a little bit harder to figure out because Betsy still needs to work to pay the bills and my severe burnout makes that difficult on every level (just read the paragraph above). Honestly, I’d like her to get to the point of charging a minimum 2-3k just to meet for a couple hours. I don’t know that she’ll get there because she’s not a young model and doesn’t live in NYC. I could slap that rate up, I know, but I think it would turn the volume down to nothing and my current lifestyle, modest as it is, is not ready for that.
That rate isn’t being tossed out for snob appeal. It’s being tossed out as what I think would be truly satisfying to be paid for meeting with a client at a minimum. I want to feel taken care of, fairly compensated, and relaxed. I certainly don’t see myself stacking appointments like I have done at mid-range rates. That’s the beauty of the higher rates. The same work, only done much better, for men who might actually appreciate it.
I know I have to get back to social media with Betsy, she’s been on a break too long. See where that leads. I’ll probably raise my minimum a little more before the end of the year. I’d like to get FMTY appointments. I can handle that travel and the fact that it’s non-touring travel, with limited client-time.
I really don’t know what all I’m going to change with Betsy, except for raising her rates and continuing to refine her marketing. When I get clients who really understand me, they’re great. The problem is Betsy seems to best attract broke guys. I’d like her personality to be attractive to men with money to spend.
The changes I plan for Betsy should end up being positive. The guys who like Betsy will really like Betsy even more because Betsy’s about to be in a much better mood.
I created Betsy to get away from the baggage of Amanda Brooks in clients’ minds (because Amanda scares men), yet I carried over a lot of Amanda baggage myself. I carried a lot of shoulds because Amanda is the escort of escorts and she should be doing some things and should not be doing other things. Amanda kept Betsy from growing organically, as non-Amanda escorts normally do with their work. This is a problem I’m still working on solving. I feel it’s a unique problem to have and not a welcome one. I’ve struggled with the issue of where Amanda fits in my life for a decade now.
For those who want to guess who Betsy is, please don’t. Do other things with your time. Let Betsy work in peace. And for God’s sake, don’t harass any poor escort who actually is going by the name of Betsy.
Me, 2019 and Onward
I’ve spent a large part of this past year taking online career quizzes and coming up with the same answers (working with animals, as I’ve always wanted to do, is always in the top 3).
The one true answer came a couple months ago when my boyfriend wanted to go to Barnes & Noble to look for a specific book. When we walked in, the only section in the store I had any interest in perusing was the Writing section. I browed the magazines, then worked to find the hidden Writing section. He bought me two books, one of them the DIY MFA, which I plan on cracking this fall or winter.
That moment of clarity, walking in through the doors of the Barnes & Noble, is what I live for now. I walked in, and all I cared about going to check out was the Writing section because all I really wanted to do was write. It was just there, right at the front of my brain, with a deep yearning to sit down and start.
I haven’t taken a career quiz since.
I’m trying to listen more to the messages my mind sends me. Burnout has blunted my awareness skills. It’s been hard to get those messages through the fog of exhaustion, the fear of not making enough money (never enough, never enough), the smoke from the flames of what was once my love for this job.
It’s only been in the past year that I realized one thing I’m sorely lacking in this job is creativity. Writing ad copy that’s going to be stolen as soon as I post it isn’t creative enough. Lying to clients is not creative. Taking pictures for social media is a little creative, but not enough because I’m not on there as a photographer, I’m on there as Betsy. Creating helpful content for other escorts that’s going to get stolen or used without attribution isn’t fulfilling in the least.
For a creative soul, someone who used to always have an outlet (drawing, playing the piano, photography), this business is a barren wasteland. I love working with my hands and I have a project in mind. It’s not going to happen until I move on from this due to the time and immersion required, but I love imagining the exact steps, the finished product. It gets me excited. I won’t be stuck behind a desk, won’t be stuck having my energy drained by hundreds of clients; I’ll be making art once again, doing exactly what I want to do, the way I want to do it, for reasons that suit me.
Fortunately though, years of watching high-end escorts market themselves has given me an excellent marketing plan in order to sell my art at a high price.
Doing other art-adjacent projects has been fun and satisfying enough but…they aren’t the real deal. I cannot wait for the real deal. It’s coming. I’ve starved that part of my brain so much it’s withered and damn near gone. I’m trying to feed it though, get it muscled and sleek and productive again.
Part of my burnout has been this awful creative-death by-slow-starvation that started once I graduated college. Writing books isn’t the same, doesn’t feed this exact part. Creating with my hands is the only thing that feeds this part. Now that I’m aware of this basic truth about myself, I can do something about it. It only took over 20fuckingyears and going through hell to figure it out.
The writing and art will be under other names. I think it’s best that way. Betsy is going to ride off into the sunset as soon as is feasible. Amanda may not last even as long as Betsy, or may last longer. We shall see, I don’t know. I still don’t plan my life any more than I did when I was 35.
I thought I’d be a sex worker my whole life. I won’t be. I know that now. And it’s okay. I have zero issues being honest with others and I already know I’ll never stifle myself for others again. Sex work will always be a part of my life, it’s soon to be something that I did as opposed to something I am doing.
The desire to do this work forever is gone. There are other things I want to do, that I think I can. I want to try. I know I have many excellent business skills to carry me forward. Working for someone else is never going to be my way. Maybe not a sex worker forever, but definitely an independent forever!
A note about my usage of the term “survival sex work”
I’m aware that the term refers to people in more dire situations than I was. I considered myself only a step above that. One thing goes wrong, I’m in the streets in another country. Or I move back to the US and am in the streets, hiding.
My sense of my work was tainted with fear and need because I had only myself to rely on, there was no one else who would help me and any little thing would destroy my precarious position. I was working to survive a threat. I was working because there was no other solution to the situation, no other way I could get what I needed at the time. I was working because I knew Jill needed to be able to depend on me. I knew I did not want to go into sex work again, I really didn’t. Not working was not an option at that time.
So no, this is not survival sex work as it is defined. I used the thought in relation to myself to keep myself going, to keep flogging forward through all of it.
I do not feel in a survival position now, even though sex work is my main income and it’s slow for me right now. I need money to survive, though I don’t psyche myself up with my mantra anymore. I do the work because it’s good money when it happens. I would rather do other work though, and when the time comes that I close Betsy’s site down, I will do it happily, and not miss a single client. This would not have been true at any other point in my life.
I’m in a different mindset now, without fear, without extreme need, back to only taking care of myself again. My life is not hugely stressful right now. I’m living in a nice place, I have pets, my Bear, and someone with whom I have a future. It’s nice.
Nice is plenty good enough for me, more than I thought I’d ever be given again.
six months later, January 2020
Stumbled across the work of Rachel Rabbit White and was struck by several things, most especially because she’s a kindred spirit. Here’s a person who also realized one of the solutions to burnout is a return to art (poetry, in her case), at a hugely advanced rate compared to myself. It apparently only took her a few years of work/touring to reach her conclusions, not a couple decades.
Her thoughts on work, money, and capitalism are worthwhile reads. So are her thoughts on men, particularly men with money. She was/is a high-end escort in NYC, arguably one of the top escorts. (I have a friend who tries, through her exasperation, to mentor me as a high-end escort, but I’ll never be breezy again in my life. I can never make a careless, carefree Tweet; joke about luxuries. That ability was lost before I ever recognized its existence. I am charging more, but my charm has got to be my humble reality spun as sweet Americana, I have nothing else with which to charm. Not that I plan on being long here anyway.)
All of which Rachel covers in much more eloquent terms. Her Brooklyn Rail and The Believer interviews cover the fact that sex work is dull, even at the highest levels. That money is wasted on the stupid (and old, IMO). That society messages girls to be mothers and then men come to suck the mothering out of us. She struggles with the word and concept of authenticity in current times. She also knows that money is only worthwhile to spend on someone you love, a fact I discovered long ago when having money but no one to truly lavish. She, too, wastes money replicating her high-end experiences with her loved ones.
She does and doesn’t want to be angry but then, I’m older than she is. My anger is infinite and evergreen. My best hope is that it helps create some great art, at some point.
Best of all, she has done fundraising (via book launch parties) for Whose Corner Is It Anyway?, the org I think is doing the most meaningful work right now.
Most of all, burnout affects us all, no matter your working style. The joy of sex work only lasts for so long for some of us, and may last even less long for the artistically-inclined. So many artists have used sex work to fund their art, through the ages. However, I think there was real personal freedom in sex work a couple hundred years ago that doesn’t seem to exist now. Is it because of the advent of instant technology? That society at large is more hedonistic and courtesans lose their edge? That modern society is far more of a trap for everyone and everything quantified and collated to within an inch of existence?
I don’t know. Things I think about as I move ahead to other places and start the process of leaving this behind.