On my agency’s website site it reads, “Making the choice to become an escort is difficult.” It seems that the changes in the world recently have made the definition of a “difficult” decision nebulous. Most of the major decisions I’ve made have been difficult. Moving to Ireland was a difficult decision. Giving up any dreams of becoming a doctor was a difficult decision. When I chose to resign myself to a completely mediocre life, the only respite from which would be earning a significant amount of money quickly, it was probably the hardest decision of all.
It seems that in most people’s minds there are two stereotypical arcs for the hooker narrative. One can either be a broken drug addict, or spoiled brat who refuses to work for a living. Escorting is not without its clichés. In fact it seems even cliché that there are so many clichés associated with it. We’re all on drugs, we’re all hypersexual, and we all want to be saved by Richard Gere’s limo. One expectation I encounter to the point of exhaustion is the idea that I’ve gone through some secret hooker sex training to make myself and my partner swing from the chandelier, so to speak. Clients expect me to have some special prostitute ESP that lets me read their minds when they communicate nothing of their wants and desires.
We’ve come up with these narratives because the decision to become an escort is complicated. Stereotypes are so much easier and faster than considering the problems of women and particularly the disadvantages for people of my generation. To the Baby Boomers that either roll their eyes or raise their eyebrows when I say my generation is at a disadvantage, all I can say is this: We. Will. Not. Have. What. You. Had. Every generation before mine was defined by being better than the one who came before. The luckiest of us will break even. There’s nothing left for us. What could I possibly work for that would be mine?
When my first call came in from the agency, my only feeling was exhaustion. My day job is mind numbingly boring. In a 109-year-old converted textile factory on King Street West, my company is one hundred young people with headphones on doing something that will never matter to anyone. Somehow, sitting in a downtown loft staring at Reddit all day becomes excessively fatiguing. My job is essentially waiting for eight hours in what I call the Internet Depository. I kill time idly for approximately 7.5 hours and change the spacing on bullet points for the remaining half hour. My team is myself and seven unfriendly computer programmers. I’m a writer, but my boss has never been a writer nor an editor nor anything else related to software documentation before becoming a documentation manager. Her refusal to understand abstract concepts without a diagram, written explanation and interpretative dance to illustrate them would be inspiring if it wasn’t so depressing. Only fashion comes close in and inflated sense of importance to the software industry.
Keep in mind, I’m not trying to optimize iTunes here, nor am I trying to document the new amazing abilities of Photoshop. I document high end accounting software that isn’t even available to private customers. If you work at KPMG, you might have used it. If you need to manage your bills, don’t use our stuff, use QuickBooks. On essentially a daily basis I need to ask someone, “Are you saying something about software I don’t understand, or are you saying something about accounting that I don’t understand?” The chance that anyone will read what I write during my day is so minute, I can only try not to think about, lest I run out of the building in hysterics.
The silver lining to all of this however, is that my company is deeply entrenched in the philosophy that “looking busy is more important than being busy.” If I am out on a call until 2 am, I can come into work the next day and be a complete zombie and no one will notice. It’s a boring job that pays poorly and I’m doing better than most of my peers to have it.
That day of my first call, I booked home on my bicycle since my appointment was for 6:30. I jumped into the shower and put on my best lace bra and panty set. Stockings have become kind of my trademarks since then, but that call was the first time I tried them.
I met my first dubious concierge that day. I had to sign into the building saying I was visiting Daniel Johnston. Any error in the spelling or the suite number of the condo would be enough to kick me out. The space for my name requested a last name. I was caught off guard. Bianca… Beauregard, I wrote, pleased with my improvisation.
My heartbeat finally started to pound once the elevator doors closed. This was really happening. I was really going to be this person. But I was also going to walk out of the condo $200 richer, $200 against my debt. Anyone in debt knows how it controls your life. It’s the abusive boyfriend who never lets you forget he still lives a 20-minute drive away. Until you actually eradicate it, you’ll never be truly free.
A young, chubby man answered the door. “Hi my name’s…” he paused, thinking, “Mark. Nice to meet you.” Now I was definitely out of my depth. I wasn’t expecting such blatant lying from a client so soon. Dude, I just signed into your condo; I know your name. Are you seriously giving me a fake name, Samuel Clemens? Am I supposed to call you Mark for the rest of the call? It was an initial weirdness that was difficult to shake.
He offered me a glass of red wine and asked me where I was from and I told him that I was born in Waterloo. I only realized the genius of this later. No one ever needs to go to Waterloo and even if someone attended the university there, he or she probably knows nothing about the town. I told him that I went to grad school in Paris, which except for the culture, food, ambiance, fashion, history, architecture and standard of living is essentially a dead ringer for Dublin. I tried to keep the conversation on my fake life, my fake name and my fake history. My one slip up was asking Daniel/Mark what he did.
“I was a hedge fund manager on Bay Street. Now I work for myself.”
I could feel the anger welling up inside me. The blame and spite and jealousy. I wanted scream at him. I saw him as personally responsible for this huge mess we were all in. It was him who create my debt, and it was him who drove everything into the ground. Him and people like him. I was so angry and full of rage that I said the only thing I could say.
“Oh, that must be nice.”
I transferred all of my anger to the sex. Everything hedge fund managers and cavalier financiers had done to us, I wanted to do to him. When his bloated sweaty body finally came up for air he stared into my eyes and breathed, “We have to do this again sometime.”
I think Gen Y has a “hopeful cynicism.” Our world is boiling, our economy is ruined, and every system that keeps us alive and functioning exists to perpetuate hopelessness. We went to college, in droves more than our parents, but the light at the end of the tunnel snuffed out pretty quickly. Will things be different once we’re running them? I hope so, but I wouldn’t say for sure. We’ve been given this huge mess caused by our parents, and not even a “good luck” on the clean-up effort. When solving problems, Canadian parliament refuses to agree not to scream epithets like banshees at each other in the House of Commons.
Being twenty-five in the world today is frustrating. Maybe it was frustrating to be twenty-five, twenty-five years ago, too, but I can’t speak to that. Every day we’re bombarded with messages of how far down the totem pole young people are. If it wasn’t frustrating enough to watch the older generation continue to ruin everything we wanted, most of us don’t even let ourselves consider what will be left for our children.
So becoming an escort was a difficult decision. As difficult as any. The line of women who have had sex for money and those who hadn’t existed in my mind and I crossed it. I made money by having sex and put almost every penny on the debt I accrued in university. It was a terrible cliché, but I didn’t fit into the mould of broken drug addict or overindulgent slut.
Are there drugs in prostitution? Of course there are. What a stupid question. One of my drivers usually talks about the time he worked for an agency called “Richard’s Affordable” where the girls were paid in meth. That is a fact, at least according to my driver.
I work seventy hours a week between my tech job and escorting. My downtime can’t exist in real time, so it has to happen in occasional short chemical bursts. One fellow girl at my agency lives next to the bar we buy cocaine from. I probably drink more now than I would if I wasn’t an escort. I would say it’s not a problem, but that’s the first thing people with drug and alcohol problems say. It’ll ring hollow when I say I don’t have a problem, so I will say that I have a network of people who would refuse to be supportive and enable any drug problem and kick my ass to snap out of it. So I don’t have a problem. Work is my addiction. Work, sex, money and exhaustion are my drugs of choice and those are easy enough to get.
Am I a spoiled brat who doesn’t want to work? That is harder to answer. I recall a painfully, almost comically boring upbringing in Whitby, Ontario. This is the seventh level of suburban hell, where no crime will ever happen. Crime will never occur in Whitby, because that would make it at least interesting. Whitby is where young, urban singles’ dreams go to die. Once you’ve moved to Whitby, you get a short unattractive haircut, buy a minivan, become inexplicably terrified of black people and discontinue all enriching hobbies and interests. You won’t need them there. I’ve never gone hungry our without clothes or shelter.
But I do want. I want a house and a car and a good career and to keep my head above water. But is anything I want anything more than what my parents’ generation wanted? Or anything more than they actually had? Is what I want even anything more than what I was told I would have? And, after all this, Baby Boomers say we have an entitlement complex? Fuck. That.