Hobbyist, john, punter. These are words that are synonymous with client when talking about sex work: those who create demand. Personally, I never identified with these labels, seeing as My involvement in the field has always been from the other side. Working in the supply side of erotic services, I’m what you would call a provider. I love the double entendre of this term provider: first it describes Me as a controller of a desired resource; second, it highlights My abilities as a wage-earner, bread-winner, pants-wearer—someone who supports a family or person. Here, I am My own sugar daddy and you better believe I keep Baby’s sugar bowl filled….
Having circulated in this ecosystem for the past 6 years, I’ve done a lot of on the job training learning how to establish and maintain boundaries. This is emotional labor that involves figuring out how to tease out the nuances of people’s desires, how to manage their physical and emotional expectations, how to best coordinate with stunt cocks and guest stars to realize an elaborate overnight role play scene. I exercise a great deal of control over bodies in My professional life—but really, most of the work I do is affective, emotional, internal, invisible.
There is a lot of space-holding in what I do, making room within Myself in order to act as a channel for the desires of a person I just met, or barely know. In order to successfully embody the object of someone else’s desire, I place My own erotic wants to the side. Instead, other desires of Mine (for novelty, financial prosperity, self-possession, etc.) act as a temporary placeholder for My eros, erecting walls that act as container for someone else’s pleasure. This is what it means to be guarded, and this is how I assure My own safety before throwing open the doors.
But it’s not like I transform into a whole new person once I’m inside this armored vehicle–it’s more like I run Myself through a photo filter, one that highlights certain color ranges, mutes others, and applies a warm tint and moody vignette to the whole thing. It’s Me as Femme Fatale 2.0, optimized to perform a specific set of functions without being distracted by extraneous details that are irrelevant to the task at hand. In this mode, there is no room inside Me for self-doubt . Everything is aces and insecurity doesn’t exist–everything I do, say, and am is an expression of pure Goddess potentiality. I’ve learned so much looking and being looked at through this filter, and I continue to drag My arsenal–filled with the weapons and tactics I’ve collected as a sexual superhero–back into My secret headquarters AKA personal life. Still riding high on the coattails of My own caped catsuit, I’m grateful to have undergone the second puberty this job brought on.
Even being an unapologetic fan of sex worker perks, My first time on the other side was purely an accident. As a cis femme provider, I can count the number of women clients I’ve had on one hand. Sure I’ve been to plenty of strip clubs (male and female) and have even been pulled on stage (am I working for free?!), but those experiences have been all spectacle with no meat on the bone. No one says much about female johns, or lady sexpats in the media—in this context, pussy-havers are routinely painted as helpless victims of sex trafficking, addiction, or adultery. But what about the middle-class broads who work hard, save up their vacation days, and blow it out on secluded beaches with a set of pool boys? Even with a rudimentary Internet search, one can see that female sex tourism is alive and well. Anyone been to The Gambia recently? or Madagascar? Large sunburned white women hand-in-hand, cheek-to-cheek with smooth, young, oiled up brothers is what I’ve been hearing about…
For Me personally, it happened after a stressful conversation with my partner with whom I was travelling in Saigon AKA Ho Chi Minh City. Emotional and tense, I’m walking down the street when a young Vietnamese lady in a traditional-looking gown hands Me a menu that lists massage services. I take the slip of paper, walk a few more steps, but then quickly turn back once I do the math in my head and realize how low the prices were. She smiles and leads Me inside the nondescript storefront. Stepping into a lobby-ish area, I make eye contact with a couple of middle aged men who are putting on their shoes. It seems tidy and normal, so I select the 90 minute full body massage with hot stones and am given a Korean spa style outfit (i.e. frumpy Tshirt and with matching shorts) to change into. Stripping off my clothes behind the pink curtain of the makeshift dressing room, I wonder if I should keep My underwear on or take them off. Not the most modest, and a bit of a massage whore, I eventually decide to take them off. After all, compared to western-style massages where one gets on the table fully nude, I figure that removing all restrictive undergarments is the least I can do to help My masseur do their job smoothly.
I emerge from behind the pink curtain and am led into the massage room by a different lady wearing a electric blue mini skirt, tight white polo tee, and sparkly black wedge thongs. Different vibe from the lady out front I shrug, settling into a glorified recliner. There are several of these chairs in the room but I’m in the only occupant until a young man comes in a few minutes later. He’s slender and cute with a twink-like vibe. We can sort of communicate and he makes pleasant small talk as he soaks and rubs My feet. Mmmmmmy first time in Vietnam……Uh-huuuuuh, I’m here with my boyfriend, phhhhhpppp! I breathe out in response. Oh with your boyfriend? he repeats with a laugh, moving his hands up my leg.
In the beginning, I’m on My back. There’s a silky bean bag over my eyes and I notice that his fingers are slightly brushing up against my groin, making gentle contact with my lips each time he stroked my thigh. I wonder if he’s doing it intentionally, or if he’s just diligent like that. Physically it feels good…psychically, I start to feel confused, stressed. Like, should I alert him that he’s touching my pussy? Or does he know he’s doing it on purpose? Do I want him to stop? As far back as I can remember, the cultural messaging for girls is all about guarding your body, how No means no. Brainwashed, girls grow up to become women who have been programed believe that their bodies are something to be protected and guarded from the desire or others–not as desiring tools themselves. The progressive sounding PSAs that urge women to Respect Yourself! focus on women’s power to deflect, negate, reject—as if No is the most important word in our vocabulary. How about Yes! slower, faster, softer, and more?
As a provider, I don’t feel vulnerable to these cultural moreas when working, but hounding me when I’m the one being pleasured? Now that’s rich…after all, aren’t I the one paying for this experience? So then why does locating My own desire within it prove to be so elusive? Scripts about giving it away for free, or letting him get away with it run through My head. They run through My head even though as a sex worker myself, I know that that logic doesn’t hold. Imagine if our genders were switched: how many massage parlor girls do you think are giving strangers happy endings as a way to get their own rocks off?
Before he has me change positions, he tells me about how busy they were that day. I wonder silently if most of his clients are men or women. Are lady clients seen as a novelty? More work? A nice change of pace? He tells Me to flip over and now I’m on my tummy, with my face protruding down through the circular cutout on the head of the recliner. His smooth boyish fingers brush against My lips again, caressing the crease between My inner thigh and pelvis. Here’s the question that’s been echoing internally: Am I going to lay here silently and let whatever happens just happen to Me, or do I actively want this sensual add-on to the massage that I ordered? He mentions in passing that he is tired, sooooo tired, sooooo busy, tooooo much work. He’s giving me an out but I think I want to stay in.
Yes! slower, faster, more.
Newly committed to My own pleasure but doing my best to demonstrate empathy, I tell him with a giggle that he can massage Me more softly if that helps. His silent response brings me face-to-face with the fact that this experience is being created by and for Me, so my job here is to just be present enough to enjoy it. There’s more oil and warm towels, and hot stones on My back, there are hands going up My legs and fingers slipping into my cunt. I’m laughing silently into the recliner’s head-hole as he reaches around the s
ide and tweaks My left nipple. This young twink is doing a great job. I take long, deep breaths to quell My nervous/aroused/anticipating laughter and just sit in the pleasure of feeling slender fingers move in and out.
Looking back, I see that My masseuse was the perfect type of human to have this introductory experience with. Boyish and androgynous, I wasn’t sure if he is attracted to men or women or neither or both—but the potential that he wasn’t even interested in vagina owners outside of work made it much easier for Me to let my guard down. I imagine if instead, the person rubbing against my pussy were a big, masculine looking dude, I think I would have had more fear of being “taken advantage of”–though I’m not even sure what that would look like if I had been seeking an erotic service from the outset. Of all people, I should know what little incentive there is for providers to purposely traumatize their johns. After all, you don’t want to slaughter the cow on the first go if you’re trying to milk it for as long as you can…
More disturbingly and on the other side of the spectrum, I think I would have also had a hard time accepting erotic services had My masseur been a woman. Is she grossed out touching my vagina? Does she like women? Is she bored? Is her hand tired from fingering me? I see my own bias spinning out, creating a web that holds women static, flattening our compositions into a caricature of delicacy. Ironic since, as a provider, I hate when a client says things like I want YOU to have a good time or I want YOU to be turned on too. As if we’re pressed flowers that are protected from the outside world by the very pages that keep us two dimensional—how far does your fantasy have to extend into Me? Not only do I provide the service, but I also convince you of what an amazing experience I had providing you with said service? Thanks for the orientation to My own psyche, dick.
After stumbling out of the dressing room and leaving a disproportionately large tip for My impish provider, he waves Me out, Thank you, see you tomorrow! Sassy. Walking back towards My hotel, I realize I didn’t need to cum to get my money’s worth: the disorientation produced by truly being serviced for the first time was worth more than any orgasm. Having to negotiate with Myself to give Me permission to be pleasured threw into relief the pervasiveness of internalized forces that work to keep femme carnality locked down 24/7. As a sex-positive, sex-working, third-fourth-fifth wave feminist, it’s jarring to feel the inner constriction of my ability to enjoy sexual pleasure even when I’m asking for it, even when I’m paying for it.
Just as men explore strip clubs, escorts, KTV girls as a right of passage into young adulthood, I urge women to create the demand for their own form of erotic exploration. Pinch your pennies and pay for people to come to your house and clean it in the nude, lick your feet while eating your pussy, bring you groceries and then fuck you from behind. Who knows what kind of eroticism can exist in the world when the sexual creativity of ladies are nurtured and catered to? To find out, we will be launching our own investigation into the world of sexual services for women using our own bodies. Both domestically and abroad, we will be seeking pleasure and reporting on our experience in this ongoing series. If you have been a Lady John yourself and would like to share your experiences with Lady Scumbag, please feel free to get in contact. Thank you, see you tomorrow!