So last weekend, I discovered AdultWork.com and decided that some of the services advertised there were such that I was able to sell a similar service. I changed my profile from “Seeking Services” to “Offering Services”, built a new profile that advertised what I was selling, and clicked “update”.
Just like that, I became a sex worker. All I needed was some clients.
“Just like that” – not exactly. I thought carefully about the skills, experience and interests I have, what I was comfortable with doing and where my boundaries had to lie, even when money was at stake. I looked for others of my age and gender offering similar services and read their profiles. I found some similar themes that echoed closely how I saw the role of text chat sexworker.
An ex who is in fetish/glamour modelling (and who knows intimately my skills in the area) looked and said, “It sounds almost like a sex therapist service” which is precisely what I saw in other profiles, and what I knew I wanted to offer: I worked into my profile the three core aspects of person-centred counselling; empathy, presence (“attentive”, in my profile’s language), and “unconditional positive regard” (I didn’t use “regard”, but the meaning was the same). That the aim is to roleplay cybersex or cyberBDSM scenes still means that a person who feels their kinks are “dirty” or “wrong” needs to feel they will not be judged for what they want to roleplay, and this proved to be an attractor (just as similar language appears in other “offering” profiles).
But what of the work and its effects on me?
So far, I am not yet a paid sexworker. A week in, and I have not had a client decide to pay. This is slightly demoralising, when I sit for hours a day with the chat page open waiting for someone to appear. On the other hand, I can see the proportion of other people offering text chat services who have clients paying and it’s not high. Webcams, around a third of women at any time seem to have paying clients, going by their status shown on the search page. For women text chat, it’s closer to one in fifteen. It’s rare to see even one guy offering webchat services (cam or text) as being in paid chat. Some have reviews on their profiles, which shows they have had clients, so it’s not that there’s no market. Men just don’t sell as easily as women.
Nevertheless, I have had potential clients in my free preview chat. This has been a challenge. The challenge being that my natural instinct is just to talk to people, set them at ease, make friends. But as a professional, I need to get these people interested enough in what I am selling and encourage them to buy, without giving away so much that they get what they want for free. So the friendly exchange of “hi” and “how are you?” becomes the start of the sales pitch. I phrase my reply to imply (or state outright) that I’m ready for sexytimes, sexy talk, whatever they want to buy. With the recent high temperatures, there’s a ready-made double entendre in saying I’m feeling hot (and sticky/sweaty/sexy/excited/etc). Trying to figure out how much I can keep back without being too stand-offish that they lose interest in the idea, how much to show to get them eager for the full show. And most of them are probably not going to pay no matter what I do. It’s a subtle dance that I am not at all convinced I even know the basic steps to yet, let alone mastering it.
This adds up to a whole new respect for all sex workers, who have to understand this level of interaction and transaction regardless of what level they work at. I think of the times I used to buy webcam shows and how the ones I found most attractive (and therefore spent some money on) spent a bit of time relating to their clients before making the pitch to be take into private (i.e. paid) mode. I try to be the same with my potential clients. It is, no doubt, a skill that needs work (another reason why I am not too disappointed with my lack of pay so far).
The biggest effect by far has been the boost to my self-image and self-esteem. This works in a number of ways, and some of those have further effects, such as I am seriously considering offering an outcall service. Unlikely to be “full service” escort work, but I’m thinking proDom at least and possibly more.
This effect comes about because every potential client in my chat asked at some point, some variation of “do you do meets/outcalls/escort”? And at first, because I had never even considered it as a possibility, I said, “that’s not something I offer.” By midweek, that had changed to, “not at the moment, but maybe in the future” and that’s roughly where I’m at now. But now, I want to. I believe it’s possible that I am someone people would want to pay for. I tried to frame that last sentence without impications of “sexwork=selling yourself/your body”, because sexwork is selling a service not a person. But in terms of the positive self-regard, the change in self-perception that is a benefit of this whole enterprise so far, I actually have to phrase it that way. It’s the idea that I, and my body, are really worth buying, that restores my self-belief and self-confidence.
That ex whom I mentioned above, who went into fetish modelling, said something similar when I asked about her early experiences.
There’s more: at the time, I had only a couple of face shots on my profile. So a little part of me was saying, “they don’t know what I look like”, even though my profile advertises my chest size, dress size, waist size and so on: you read those figures, you know I’m fat, F.A.T FAT! But it doesn’t stop with that reasoning. The emotions seldom listen to careful reasoning, they want something a bit more direct.
As I said, initially I only had a couple of photos, neither of which was particulary set up with the idea of selling web sex. I reasoned that the more pictures I have, the better my chances and the more potential hooks for clients. So for a few nights I have been thinking about what shots I want for the site, and how to set them up with a self-timer digital camera, Preview on the Mac (or GIMP Image Editor on the Ubuntu-running netbook), and my own (lack of) photography skills. And then I’ve gone for it.
That means showing off my body.
It means seeing my body as beautiful.
As a body people would pay to have fuck them/to fuck.
And in order to sell, ultimately, you have to believe in what you are selling. You have to believe that people want it and are willing, nay, eager, to pay for it. That goes for sex work as much as any other kind of business. So in choosing to offer the services I do, I put myself in a space where I am portraying myself this way. I choose to see myself as not merely “I suppose some people will want me in spite of XYZ”, but a direct, “People want me”.
This is significant. It’s a leap forwards in my self-image, to look at these pictures of myself and say, “Phwoar, yeah!” When I can look at a full-length nude of my body and my biggest worry is “my cock isn’t erect, you can barely see it,” (somehow fiddling with the settings, angle, timer and shutter release on the camera wasn’t sexy enough to keep me hard – and the 10second delay wasn’t long enough to induce the requisite arousal before the flash went off!) then that’s saying in a way my emotional brain understands, “I’m gorgeous”. It even says that having an erection would have fixed the problem, so the overall emotional scorecard says I’m awesome.
Right now, I get excited when I here the ping that says a (potential) client has entered the room. I want to get into a proper scene and earn money from it. And, ultimately, that means that when a new client arrives I’m not lying when I say I’m “hot and (insert adjective here)”.
Who knows how I’ll feel in another week, month or year’s time. There’s a lot of horrible that could happen. But so far, this has been a good move.