“Why do escorts charge so much?”
It was an innocent question, but I felt defensive immediately. “Are you saying I’m not worth the money?” I wanted to reply. Instead, I bit my tongue. I didn’t want to ruin the mood.
We were lying in bed together at four in the afternoon and the sun was streaming through the windows of our hotel room. Two half-drunk glasses of champagne sat on the bedside table. I felt relaxed, as one often does after a play session. It was a bad time to raise the question of money. Hadn’t he just had a great time? Surely, he should be happy about the session he’d just invested in? But instead of taking offence, I looked closer. I saw the worry-lines at the corners of his mouth. My client wasn’t questioning our time together; he was concerned about whether he could afford the next encounter.
In a country where the minimum wage is twenty bucks an hour, I understand that escort rates might seem expensive. It’s one of the reasons I started sex work in the first place: I wanted a high hourly rate of pay so that I’d have time to concentrate on other projects. Sex work appeals for many reasons, and one of those is its ability to make cash quickly. But there is more to the story than simply ‘making bank’.
Firstly, there’s something you need to know. Sex workers aren’t always ‘expensive’ … and ‘expensive’ doesn’t equal ‘better’.
Independent escorts are pretty much able to set their own rates. Prices start around $200 per hour and go as high as $1000 per hour, for those workers who have special services or international fame. But if escorting rates don’t appeal then it’s worth considering other types of sex work. Brothels, for example, charge a fixed rate when you visit their premises (with some additional costs for certain services). Brothels are often (but not always) priced lower than most of the escorts you see online, making them a great option for the budget-conscious. When a potential client says, ‘I can’t afford your rates’, I often suggest they seek out such a lower-priced option.
Furthermore, price doesn’t necessarily relate to value. There are sex workers charging all sorts of rates and working in all sorts of situations, for a variety of reasons; you can’t make any assumptions about the quality of the experience on price alone.
I say this because there are sometimes negative judgements made about workers who charge lower rates … it’s often assumed that folks who don’t charge as much are in some way inferior to those who do. I can assure you, a dollar value does not define the worth of a person, or their work … I know plenty of guys who have met their perfect match during a half-hour brothel visit, as well as those who have found someone amazing for a $4000 overnight booking.
Your experience will depend on many other factors, such as the person’s way of doing business, the location of the session, whether you ‘click’, and how well you treat them. I don’t recommend seeing ‘expensive escorts’ because they’re ‘better’. Price is not the most important consideration.
Regardless of the above considerations, the clients I see are the ones who have chosen to pay my rate rather than someone else’s. So, when they ask me “Why are escorts so expensive?” I feel they’re really saying, “How can you justify charging so much per hour?”
Here are some reasons why I choose to charge what I do.
- I might not work as much as you think. A lot of clients assume I’m totally rolling in cash. I actually have a very modest income – I do, on average, one or two jobs a week. If those jobs are only an hour, then I only make about a thousand bucks a week (before expenses). That’s a below-average income. All escorts have quiet times of year … or we might accept fewer bookings due to work, family commitments or other life circumstances. Those jobs we do take need to cover our living expenses.
- You’re paying for invisible ’emotional labour’. Having sex for an hour might not sound like hard work – it’s just recreation, right? In truth, there is a lot of emotional work that goes into each end every encounter. When I see a client, it’s my job to make sure they feel comfortable, welcome, and listened to. I need to pay attention all the time to ensure they’re enjoying themselves. I need to listen to their problems and support them if they’re having a tough time. This work is called ’emotional labour’, and it’s the most significant aspect of the job. When you spend time with a skilled escort, you feel as though the booking is completely effortless – behind the scenes, a lot of emotional effort is going on to ensure that things go smoothly.
- I work hard outside your booking time. I post ads, communicate with clients, plan sessions, write blogs, keep up with Twitter … all these tasks take up many unpaid hours of my day. In addition to this, I receive a lot of ‘timewaster’ inquiries – emails and text messages from people who never follow through with bookings. Dealing with these folk is time-consuming. I have to get through the ‘dud’ inquiries to find the good ones … so when you see me, you’re also paying for the time I spent on all the people I had to decline before I could accept your booking.
- You’re paying for us to deal with society’s crap around sex work. People talk trash about sex workers all the time – it’s called ‘whorephobia’. We are often discriminated against when it comes to getting loans from the bank, purchasing insurance … not to mention how difficult it is to start conversations at dinner parties. Society’s attitude towards sex workers means that we’re at a higher risk of bad treatment from both clients and members of the public. In any job where there is increased risk or hardship, that person will be paid extra for the inconvenience (firefighters and fly-in-fly-out workers are good examples.) When we set our rate of pay, we are factoring in all those issues, which may persist for years after we’ve actually stopped working.
- Operating costs are higher than you think. Advertising costs money. So do photo shoots, lingerie, shoes, makeup, hair, transport, health checks and phone bills. All these sounds like regular, everyday expenses, but to an escort they are absolute necessities. Some expenses, such as lingerie, can climb into the thousands of dollars, depending on the requirements of our clientele.
- It’s my body (and mind), and I get to set my own price. sex work involves a lot of intimate physical and emotional contact. Any work that involves intimacy or physical touch incurs higher costs, because this takes effort to negotiate (and because my body is worth it, goddamnit!) Every escort should be able to set a rate of pay that suits them best for the work they do. Being sexually intimate with people is a very personal thing. We deserve to have the final say, when it comes to our experience and our bodies.
For those who struggle with the financial aspect of seeing escorts, here’s my advice. A date with an escort is supposed to be special … and something that’s special is worth paying for. Find someone who charges an affordable rate … there are wonderful people working at all price points.
… or, if seeing someone ‘expensive’ makes you feel like you’re spoiling yourself, go for it. Just understand that the expense is part of the fun. Saving up first makes the experience special.