A caveat for Aussie sex workers reading this: I don’t consider myself a touring escort. I’m not even a very experienced traveller – I have a tendency to turn up days late for flights and to misplace my boarding pass somewhere between the check-in desk and the boarding gate. Visiting new places is a thrill for me though, and moving into sex work has given me a lot of opportunities to get out of town and have small adventures. Some escorts tour continuously and do very well, while others do it occasionally to raise profits – being the ‘new guy/girl’ in town can be great for business. I tour to escape the city, meet new people and enjoy a change of routine.
My crash-course in touring came about when a friend of mine needed a ride to Wagga Wagga to work for a week before she and her partner went on holidays. A consummate traveller, she managed to fit more towels and drop sheets in my hatchback than I ever thought possible! We arrived early afternoon, checking in to our motel separately to be as discreet as possible. (Pro tip: in Wagga, when you resemble a member of My Chemical Romance and your travelling companion has bright pink hair and a nose ring, discretion is not really an option.) Her clients would later inform her that we had chosen to stay at the least-sex-worker friendly motel in town and in hindsight it was a miracle that we managed to avoid a fuss.
She started taking calls and booking clients immediately but the local paper had messed up the publication date of my ad, so I had to wait a day before the clients began to show up. I find country men fascinating – the culture is so different to what I’m used to! I met a lot of older men who worked as truckies or labourers, and one or two younger ones that just wanted to try something different. I was also treated to a romantic red-wine-drinking date in my motel room by a gentleman with more wit and class than many men I’ve met in big cities.
Financially, the tour was a flop but it was a great learning experience. Now when I travel I harass newspaper advertising departments to make sure my ads dates are correct – ask for a confirmation and proof via email if you can! I can’t sew my own drop sheets, but I have spare towels – if discretion is an issue, asking for extra towels can be a big tip-off to hotel staff that you are working (if you must, try the maids before you call reception.) I’ve also been advised by the more experienced to use a non-work phone number to book hotels, and pay in cash if you can – at least until you know you’re welcome there.
The best advice I’ve got is: be informed! Check out laws online if you’re crossing state borders, as the rules for sex work vary enormously. In some states you need a license number and aren’t supposed to work from hotels, and in others you run a high risk of being evicted if you’re open about your activities. Call a sex worker organisation for that state before travelling, they can advise you on the law and give you the heads-up about any ugly mugs you need to watch out for.
Touring can be profitable but it’s hard to predict how much you will make if you haven’t visited that location before. It’s stressful if you don’t get enough work to cover your costs, or too many cancellations – some escorts advertise ahead of time and take deposits to avoid this scenario.
I find flying interstate the most exciting type of travel – mostly due to issues that you normal people don’t have to worry about, like getting too drunk in the airport bar and accidentally trying to get onto the wrong plane. There are other more realistic concerns that you should keep in mind though! If you’re flying it’s a good idea to divide your work gear between two bags, or make sure you have some tools of the trade in your carry-on luggage. I once flew to Darwin with a connecting flight in Alice Springs and Jetstar managed to misplace my checked luggage – I was left without lingerie, makeup or safe sex supplies for my first booking. Fortunately I had enough time to visit the grocery store, and the client graciously accepted my attire – a metal band t-shirt, cut-off denim shorts and no underwear!
I now fly with my favourite gear in my carry-on, because I’m nervous about losing it. An unlooked-for side effect of this is the thrill of travelling with a bag full of dildos: I’m a bit of an exhibitionist so I’m secretly looking forward to the day when the security screening staff mistake my one of my vibrators for an enormous, silicone-covered explosive device. Travel is all about adventure after all, and touring is most enjoyable when you come home with some good stories to tell! Or, at a close second, a decent profit.
This article was originally published in the Professional, 2013. Visit SWOP NSW for more information.