Monday, January 07, 2008

Links, schedules and random remarks

I’m going to try to remember to talk about my schedule for the week here every Monday. This week, I still have Tuesday free, and I have some time on Friday before 4:30 pm. Drop me a note as soon as you can if you’d like to get time with me either of those days.

Also, there was some talk of me going out of town this month – that’s been postponed. So I’m around all of January. My time goes fast, so carpe diem.

Thanks to everyone who made Mark Yu’s visit here such a success!

I do indeed have a Sweeney Todd poster promised to me, so thank you, everyone who emailed about that.

Interesting link: This is a well-written and very informative post about how straight men should act at sex parties, and it's good every sex party, it seems like some guy messes up and pisses off some woman. In most cases, he is a perfectly nice and not at all creepy fellow who just screwed up slightly while following his instincts. Men of the naughty party world: I’m here to tell you that when it comes to sex and play parties, your instincts are wrong.”

I found out recently that some sex-negative bloggers refer to me, pejoratively, as “that yuppie mistress”. I am vastly, but vastly, amused by this. Perhaps I'll start using it as advertising text. Yuppie, huh? Well, I’m not old, I do live in an urban area, and yes, I am a professional…dominatrix. However, I’m guessing they’re referring more to the fact that I own a house, drive a nice car and buy new clothes. Oh, and that I’m happy. In certain circles, to be both emotionally and financially stable obviously means you’re a shallow sellout. You should be poor, and tortured with angst! To which I say: I can’t be a sellout, because I never bought in to your philosophy or your politics. And it isn't like you'd ever approve of me even if I was poor and unhappy, because my sexuality is just way too wrong for you. So keep your approval, I don't care about it. Now pardon me while I go shop for a BMW.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Screening Escort Clients

A friend of mine, who has just recently begun working for an escort service, is toying with the idea of going solo and booking her own calls, and she’s asked me for advice on how to do so safely. In my time as an escort, I worked for two cool women who ran good services. But I also worked as an independent escort. And my safety-screening process now is not substantially different, since I still spend time alone with my clients.

I think working for yourself is the best way. Granted, you need to be a reasonably intelligent and well-organized person to book and keep track of appointments. (Or else you need to be really hot in bed, so that clients forgive you for being flaky and keep calling you anyway. This second category accounts for a large number of indy escorts.)

But more important than time-management is learning to observe and analyze people's behavior quickly, in order to determine who you should see and who you should not. This is what I am most frequently asked for advice about, and it's the hardest thing for me to teach.

It is common, now, for an escort to require a referral from another working girl before seeing a new client, and I sometimes use that system myself. At least here in Seattle, that method works rather well. Most established working girls are good about answering such requests from another woman, and I have not heard of any cases here where a reliable escort gave a thumbs-up to a guy who then turned violent on another woman.

However, I have booked plenty of perfectly nice guys – many of whom are still clients of mine - on nothing but gut instinct. It’s an eclectic skill: there are so many tiny clues and tricks and tells, all of which I have learned over time, and whenever I pick up the published phone line all that information is running through my head, below my level of conscious thought. It’s like the book “Blink” -I get a snippet of information and make a quick judgment about the situation. And while I have probably excluded some nice guys, I have never had a client harm me or threaten to harm me, and that’s what we’re going for here.

So, how to screen: some off-the-cuff thoughts…

Read this: Yes, No, Maybe.

Next, search for “ring ring” and “beep” on this blog and read all the phone call and message posts. They’ll give you an idea of what a bad caller sounds like.

A good caller:

  • Talks to you in a way you’re comfortable with. That’s a really subjective thing, so you have to figure out for yourself what type of client makes you comfortable. It’s likely to be someone from a similar culture and background to you. It's just harder to quickly assess the meaning of someone's behavior if they're from a vastly different world than yours. That’s why men from other countries – like, say, New York – often throw me a bit on the phone. A man with an unfamiliar manner is going to have to work a bit harder to demonstrate to me that he shares my sex-work values: safety, discretion, mutual respect.
  • Acts as if he has a life. Be careful of anyone who says something like, “I can come over anytime, anytime at all.” A guy you want has other stuff going on in his world. He also should act as if he's interested in safeguarding himself, like he has something to lose. A guy who tells you his full name, address, phone number, ect, in the first three minutes of conversation? That’s odd behavior and highly suspect.
  • Realizes that yes, you’re another human being in the world, and that he’s negotiating an intimate rendezvous with you, not reserving a table at a restaurant. If he’s expecting to call a stranger and get an appointment in a hundred words or less, this is not a guy you want, because he’s not considering how you might feel about anything.
  • Is willing to accept that he may not get exactly what he wants, exactly when he wants it. Children throw tantrums when they hear, “No, not right now”, or even simply, “No.” A grown-up who does this is not a client you want.
  • Evinces a sense of humor. This is the most flexible requirement – callers are often a bit nervous, which can squelch humor. But it does make the sessions nicer.

Read, if you haven’t already, The Gift Of Fear. That’s a requirement. I have also read dozens and dozens of books about behavioral analysis and found them helpful. Go search through Amazon for “how to spot a liar” – there’s a lot there. Some are better than others, but information is never a waste.

Other advice on booking your own calls: Don’t go out too late. It’s not like ladies don’t ever get hassled or assaulted in the afternoon. But there’s something in the phrase “nothing good happens after midnight” when it comes to one-on-one sex work. The later at night an appointment with a stranger begins, the higher the chances of it going sideways. I might make an exception for a really upscale hotel. It’s unlikely – although definitely not impossible – that you’d get seriously physically assaulted in The Four Seasons. But I have known ladies who have had (non-consensual) wrestling matches in five-star hotel suites, and you still run the risk of the drunk/stoned client who is a huge pain in the ass and/or who stiffs you. Be careful here.

If the caller says something like, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you,” that’s bad. That’s very bad. Do not see anyone who says something like that. Dangerous guys will very often telegraph their intentions in this way, so if you pay attention, it’s not so hard to weed out the problem people.

The majority of the bad client stories I have heard began with the line, “So there was this guy, and I knew there was something kinda wrong with him, but I really needed the money, so I went…” No. No. Do not do that. First, as an independent sex worker, it is essential that you plan ahead and don't get into a situation where you feel desperate for cash, because desperate people make very bad judgments. And second, you must listen, listen, listen to that voice in your gut that says, “No.” It must be the highest authority, and if it says don’t go, you don’t go, and that’s it.

There’s a line I use in talking about this with the other women I’ve mentored. One time I wrote it out in block letters on a piece of masking tape, and stuck it on a pal’s (land-line) phone. The line is “The Phone Will Always Ring Again.” That means, this is not the last client in the world. Don’t get panicky and take the gig because you think you won’t get another. There are a lot of horny men in the world, god bless them, and if you’re putting it out there that you’re available for them, they’ll find you, trust me. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” Well, screen like you don’t need the money.

So I'm talking about safety because there are bad people in the world. But most of the guys who call you are not serial killers - far from it. On the contrary, I think most of the time if you respect your client, then your client will respect you. I have known some women who hated doing sex work and hated the clients, and they all thought they acted their part so well that the clients never knew. Ha. Meryl Streep those girls were not. They fairly radiated rage, and the clients sensed it and were brusque and resentful in return. This is not to say that it’s a girl’s own fault if a client treats her badly. But the last rule of screening is: if you think you’re going to hate the guy, don’t go, even if he looks great on paper. You can’t possibly have even a neutral experience in that mindset. Listen to the guy, listen to your gut, and then do what’s right.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Anyone seen one of these posters for sale around town? Drop me a note and tell me where, please, because I want one...

Also: Are you in Dublin, Ireland and looking for polyamory resources? A reader of mine there has started a meetup, which I think is very bold and cool of him. Go here and read all about it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A few more remarks about the NYE party…

It’s odd how one gets used to things. We had sixty-five people at the party, and several folks remarked on how it seemed so markedly less insane than the last one. I felt a difference myself. Fewer than twenty people can noticeably tip the balance, it seems. I am the one who’s really the head-count police – Max has a higher tolerance for crowds than I do. But I told him we could invite, say, five more people next time, for a total of seventy, and see how that felt. Always trying to find the sweet spot.

Still, even with our friend Chris and his lovely sweetheart D there to help us, it was pretty much an all-day thing getting the house and the food and such ready, and then Puck and I spent some time getting our girly on. Max had to snap a picture of us primping.

One of the toys at the party : my fucking machine. It was made for me my by the secondary partner I had before I started dating Monk. His name is Mike, and he’s a metal artist, and I love his work. So this is not just any fucking machine. This, my friends, is a one-of-a-kind piece of sexual art.

I brought my lovely fucking machine home from my dungeon for the party, because a certain cute girl had expressed a wish to try it out. And then we put her in the little cage in the dungeon so she couldn’t change her mind, heh.

Here’s a photo taken right after the fact, when Puck decided to climb up on the cage and congratulate that brave cute girl on her voyage. Yes, photos exist of the event in progress, but there are some not-publishable faces in those pictures. But do note the tiny blue Pocket-Rocket vibrator on the white towel there. Cute.

And I just love how the machine is poised behind Puck, as if to say, “Hey, there’s another girl! I can go again, really!” We tried to get a boy to do it, too, but they all got shy.

Max also did some holiday decorations on Puck – bells, held on by needles. He kept taking Puck by the arms and shaking her to make her jingle. It was charming, even when Puck’s eyes started to cross a bit.

People kept kidding me that I wasn’t drunk enough, which is just so odd, given that we are not a heavy-drinking group. Two of the people teasing me about this are NA/AA people, for heaven’s sake! Sometimes I think I make a good story about something on the blog, and it sort of takes on a life of it’s own in real time, even among people who know me. Behold the power of publishing. I did enjoy some very lovely champagne, though.

And now I think I’m getting settled into 2008. It looks to be an interesting year…

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

So, a lovely time was had by all on New Years Eve at my house. Perhaps some more pictures tomorrow, but we have to have the traditional NYE “naked people in a cage” photo, so here it is…

Amusing note: I have no idea whose shoe that is. It does not belong to any of the ladies in the picture, though. We have a silly number of cages in the house for two people who don't have a particular fetish for them. (That number would be three, for the record.) I don't think I've ever actually used one of our cages in a scene. But Max uses them some - and they do get lots of play at parties. (Especially when we put a fucking machine next to one of them... But, sorry, that's not my story to tell.)
It was about 5am by time everyone cleared out, and Puck and Max and I fell into bed, drunk slightly with wine and mostly with exhaustion. It was rather late in the day when we woke up again, as you may well imagine. We spent some of the first day of 2008 socializing with our overnight guests, and then we went and saw Sweeney Todd. Yes, I’d already seen it with Monk, but as he often remarks, that’s part of being poly: seeing all the good movies at least twice.
Also: thank you to the friend who sent us some very lovely red wine. It was much enjoyed, and we did put some aside for a more private occasion.
Now I have to finish a column and get back to my holiday-neglected life.