(My brief, half-hearted exploration of a career in sex work via Craigslist.)
Ever since I was a young girl, back when Sesame Street wasn’t ironic and Tom Cruise wasn’t batshit insane, I have always thought that there was something that I could fall back on professionally. In part it was the film Risky Business, in part it was the seemingly flippant disregard of the Dinkens’ administration coupled with my father’s complete inability to drive outside of Nassau County without hitting 42nd Street. Sex work seemed like the safety net if the whole being a ballerina-milkman-astronaut thing didn’t work out for me.
Yes. I was That Girl in elementary school who walked around holding her dress up simply because it made the mothers of the normal girls cluck their tongues. When puberty arrived and I discovered that it was entirely possible for menstruation to hit even if the tits didn’t come I figured that my life as a woman of the night might be more difficult but still not altogether impossible. I could walk in heels. I was good at talking to people. I had at least three possible names that I could call myself (Bubbles, Bianca, and Asti-Spumante which, as a Long Island teenager, sounded exotic) and I had three people I could call if I got thrown in jail.
Of course then I started having a social life in college and read a few books on feminism and, well, you know. Got a real job and stopped thinking that sex work could be a decent mode d’emploi if I didn’t score the gig as a screenwriter. Read scary statistics on sites like Prostitution Research and Education. Went to some Riot Grrl meetings in Alphabet City. Honed my filing skills. Grew up and eventually moved to the west coast, thinking that a secretary in New York is the same as a secretary in Stumptown.
Then I read about Portland and unionized prostitutes. Then I got fired. Now I’m thinking, you know, that I totally could make a decent Bianca. And there must be a market for sexually ambiguous, androgynous girls with shitty tattoos who break into hives when nervous.
I know, I know. Mom, don’t worry. I’m not really serious. Yet.
As with all things I think about but usually don’t wind up doing (selling my bike, buying a turntable, losing my dog indefinitely*) I turn to the one place all of us can go for guidance and illumination. Craigslist.
Upon first click to the “erotic” services offered section I can already tell what will impede my erotic professional life: basic typing skills. I regard emoticons as why terrorism happens. And all caps have no excuse unless you’ve dropped beer on your keyboard, and even then, get that shit fixed. Call it a response to an elitist education system but I scoff at shorthand. (No, you cannot has cheezburger.)
I am not “gorgeouse,” blonde, Asian, or barely legal. I am feeling slightly uncomfortable so much as viewing this webpage. But I figure starvation feels even more uncomfortable, as would flying back to New York with my nose stuffed from crying. Not to mention waking up to my mother cooking me eggs and smiling at my failure. She’s kept my room in a state of preservation that rivals prehistoric insects trapped in amber, just waiting…waiting…waiting for this moment. If being a “tasty, sweet bad girl bent over at 90 degrees waiting 4u” will help me to avoid such embarrassment, then so be it. Yes, I regard living with my mother as more humiliating than sex work. May I never have children of my own.
Rubdowns…ahem…seem like they could be a sensible way to make your own hours and do something that can somehow or another be translated loosely into helping people, albeit in a way that’s non-taxable. Going rates apparently vary from “300 kisses an hour, 200 kisses for half hour” to “Donations 110 – incall and outcall.”
But most of these girls (and boys) look fuckin’ beat, more bags under their eyes O’Hare airport, faces that say more forlorn than horny. It makes me feel bad. Surely there has to be a reason why they chose to go into adult entertainment, and what can be referred to as very physical therapy? I know – all of them worked for internet start-up companies!
I suppose I could give admin work another whirl, or maybe waiting tables. I might be clumsy but it feels like the occupational hazards of serving food even when awkward and scatterbrained aren‘t nearly as potentially life-altering as those I could encounter if I tried to sell my body. Besides, unlike posting a Surly Long Haul trucker or a lost dog ad, in order to pimp out my treasure box I need to set up a Craigslist account. That, similar to graduate school, feels like a little too much commitment right now.
* (My freakishly talented boyfriend posted this ad after my dog ran off. Due to his blinding talent with words, and Craigslist’s insane viral capabilities that are more astounding than Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, she was returned within twenty-four hours. Thank you, Craigslist, thank you, boyfriend.)