Friday, April 30, 2004

My Least Favorite Phone Call

Ring ring!
Me: Hello?
Caller: (very irate-sounding female voice) Who is this?

Oh shit. I really, really hate it when this happens.

Me: Who's calling, please?
Caller: No, tell me who this is, right now!
Me: (in my very haughtiest tone) I think you must have the wrong number. Goodbye.

She'll call back, though. Ten seconds later -

Ring ring!
Me: Hello?
Caller: Look, I found this phone number on my boyfriend's cell phone and I want to know who this is!
Me: I have no idea who you are or what you're talking about –
Caller: (interrupts) His name is Joe Blow – do you know him? Is he seeing you?

I don't recognize the name, or the number she's calling from, thank god. I'm glad it's not one of my regular boys. It's probably some poor guy who's curious enough to call me, but who got nervous and hung up when I answered. I get a lot of that. But my number got saved in his outgoing-calls log, and she's checking up on him.

Me: (slowly) I don't know who you are, I don't know your boyfriend, and I want you to stop calling me.
Caller: Why is your number on his phone! I want to know who this is!

Jesus Christ, she's positively shrieking into the phone. I hold it away from my head to keep my eardrums from being shattered. According to Caller ID, this call is coming from an area code in another state. That's a good thing: if this woman was local she'd probably start stalking me or something, the way she's going on.

I know other sex workers also get these type of phone calls. Several of them have techniques they swear by for dealing with it. One of them claims to be an insurance agent, another one pretends to work for a car dealership. If this was a call about a client I knew, I'd be more apt to start spinning some kind of folksy, non-threatening yarn, based on trivia I'd picked up about the guy. "Oh, a girlfriend of mine works with Joe down at the real estate office, and she gave me his number. My husband and I are thinking about buying a timeshare in Mexico, and she said ya'll had one. We just wanted to ask – have ya'll had any problems drinking the water down there? Because those salesmen, they won't tell you about stuff like that, and we don't want to be – you know – having a problem, especially with the kids and all…I'd left Joe a message and he must have tried to call me back."
But with nothing to build on, trying to concoct a plausible story seems like a real long shot. Besides, I hate lying. The minute you lie to someone, you become emotionally involved with them, and I don't want to get involved with either one of these people.

She continues to harangue me without seeming to draw breath, bouncing back and for the between demands for my identity and telling me what a low-life piece of scum her beloved boyfriend is. After about sixty seconds she notices that I've stopped speaking.

Caller: Hello? Hello?

I say nothing.

Caller: I know you're there! Tell me who this is!

I still say nothing. It seems like the best solution. If I hang up, she'll just call back. I could let it go to voicemail, but that'll give her more information than I want her to have – like my name, for starters.
This woman sounds rather young - not as savvy as other suspicious lovers who've called me. I remember one woman who called and asked, "Do you do incall or outcall?"
Her flat, hard tone of voice tipped me off. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about."
She wasn't fooled. "I know what you are. If I find your phone number on my phone bill again, I'll call the police and report you."
Report me for what? I thought. Being attractive to your partner? Lady, if you think the police don't know about me, you're crazy. They know about everybody. We have ads in the paper, for god's sake.

It's not that I can't feel some sympathy for a woman who, underneath the bluster, is scared. I do. But I don't break up couples. None of my clients who have wives/girlfriends has ever left their partner for me, and none ever will, because I wouldn't allow any of them to become emotionally involved with me to the extent where that would seem like a reasonable idea. I am not the problem in someone else's relationship, and I'm not willing to take the blame for someone else's fears, be they based on reality or imagination. If you're angry with your lover, yell at him, not me.

Are they cheating? Is it infidelity even if one doesn't have sex? I don't know. I know these boys are keeping their time with me a secret. They tell me their partners don't share their interest in BDSM, but they feel it's better to stay in the relationship, and satisfy their desire for kink elsewhere. I'm polyamorous, so I understand that while their partners don't fulfill this particular need, that doesn't mean they don't love them and want to be with them. I wish they felt they could be honest, but I have to respect their choices regardless. Who am I to judge? I haven't been hitched to someone for twenty-plus years, with kids and a mortgage and 401K and a shitload of shared history, both good and bad. I have no idea what I'd do in their circumstances. I'll leave the slick superficial snap-judgments to Dr. Phil.

This caller, though, is sounding more like a candidate for Jerry Springer. I lay the phone down on my desk and listen as her voice, rendered tolerable by distance, clicks and hisses on. Gradually it stops. The display switches from "End" to "Menu", indicating she's hung up. I wait to see if she'll call back.

She doesn't. Thank god. I pick up the phone and save the number into my phone book as: IRATEGF.
But the phone beeps admonishingly at me.
Christ. Okay, let's try IRATEGF2.
If only it were just that easy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

A Near Goddess Experience

You know you're a seasoned professional when conversations like this don't throw you.

Ring ring!
Me: Hello?
Caller: Namaste, Beautiful Goddess.

I am deeply suspicious. I've taken yoga classes, so I know what "nah-mah-stay" means. But you see, gentlemen, when a potential new client calls me and we talk, what I'm doing is assessing him to see if he's going to fit smoothly into my system. So when I pick up the phone, and I expect the person on the other end to say hello, and instead they give me a Hindu greeting...Well, it makes me wonder in what other ways this person might not be what I expect – or want. The lesson is: do not strive to be unusual in your initial approach to professional ladies like myself. At this stage of the game, your manner should indicate to us that you will be a reassuringly familiar experience. Wait until later to start being unique.

Me: Namaste. Can I help you?
Caller: I have been reading your column and mediating about you for some time, Oh Goddess, and I wish to come to you so that our souls can be one.

Hmmnn, I don't recall "soul uniting" being on my published list of kinky specialties. I don't think this one's going to be a keeper. However, we'll keep an open mind about this for a little while longer. One would hate to throw out the pervert with the bathwater over what might be a purely semantic issue.

Me: Well, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that. My name is Mistress Matisse. I'm a dominatrix. Is that what you're looking for?
Caller: You are the earthly embodiment of The Supreme Goddess. I wish to serve you.
Me: O-kay…So, if I saw you, exactly how is it that you would serve me?
Caller: I would anoint your feet and kiss them clean, Oh Goddess.
Me: That sounds nice. What else?
Caller: I wish to enter into a sacred space with you, Oh Goddess, and be purified by your whip. And then, when I have proved myself worthy, I beseech you to allow our souls to join together in ecstasy.

I consider what he's said. This "Goddess" thing he's into is not my usual style, but I might be able to work with it. There's that bit about souls joining together in ecstasy, though – that's worth clarifying.

Me: You do realize I am not a full-service escort, don't you?
Caller: Yes, Oh Goddess, you who are the source of all power, I know that I am but an unworthy slave who must never raise his eyes above your divine feet.

Well, he's going to have to raise his eyes above my feet at some point, or he may fall down my stairs.

Me: What's your name?
Caller: Clifford, Oh Goddess.

I have to hold the phone away for a moment because I'm giggling. Clifford? I mean, it's a perfectly nice name, I just would have expected something like – Ayodhya. Or Jafar. Something a bit more in keeping with this half-Eastern-spirituality, half-Goddess-worship kink he's got going on. But no matter.

Me: So, Clifford, you do know that my fee is $250 dollars for a one-hour session?

There's a pause. Oh, see, here it comes, I thought.

Caller: My Goddess, I wish to offer you tribute, but I am very poor.

Figures the religious type would be broke, doesn't it? This guy's problem is that he doesn't have his own television show. He's not the first one to call me and plead poverty in the hopes of a discount. However, these kinds of charitable donations are not tax-deductible.

Me: (in a pleasant but unencouraging tone) Oh, that's too bad.
Caller: Oh my Goddess? Your slave would ask you a question.
Me: Go ahead.
Caller: Does the Goddess permit her slaves to make their tribute by credit card?

I toy with telling him he could offer me cattle and casks of wine, just to see what he'd say, but he shows every sign of being dead serious about this Goddess thing, so I skip it. The last thing I need is some guy showing up on my doorstep with a heifer and a couple of cases of chardonnay.

Me: No, the Goddess requires cash.
Caller: Oh Gracious Goddess, would you be willing so allow your slave to visit you for a lessor tribute?

Part of me is strongly tempted to blast him with some Goddess-y indignation. "Offer ME lessor tribute, will you, puny mortal! For that, you shall be chained to a rock so that crows can pluck out your liver! Mwah ha ha ha haaa!"
Jesus, this schtick of his is infectious. Stay focused, Matisse.

Me: No, Clifford, I can't do that, I'm afraid.
Caller: (makes sound of distress) Oh Beautiful Goddess, I am forced to delay my visit to pay you homage.
Me: That's a shame. Well, Clifford, call me back when you're ready
Caller: Oh Goddess, may I meditate about you in the meantime?

Meditate, huh? I've never heard it called that before.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Not that it'll have any impact on US obscenity trials, but still, it's nice to see that someone's being reasonable about such things.
Canadian BDSM videomaker Steve Sweet is off the obscenity hook…

Hmmmnn, maybe I should be marketing my video more heavily in Canada.

Monday, April 26, 2004

(Note: In this essay, I am absolutely not talking about any of my very dear personal friends and acquaintances.)

News Flash: I'm Not A Guy

Now, don't get me wrong. I like women. (Why, I'm one myself.) But there's a certain breed of woman who really gets on my nerves, and it's because she treats me like a guy. By that I mean, she flirts with me like she would a guy, and she expects me to respond to her like a man would.

I remember one encounter I had with such a woman. She was a stranger to me, but it was obvious she was a sex bomb among the Y-chromosome crowd. We were having a casual chat at a party when she confided in me about her newfound interest in BDSM – specifically, BDSM with women. Hmmnn, I wonder why you're telling me this? Whoops, strike that. I know why you're telling me this.

It would have been difficult not to know. She was doing the whole routine: staring into my face and batting her eyes, trailing her finger around the (low) neckline of her blouse, running her hands up and down the sides of her body, and of course, the hair toss. When she talked, she spoke in husky tones and larded her remarks with double-entendres, and when I talked, she hung on my words and laughed immoderately at the faintest suggestion of wit in my remarks. She was damn good at it, I have to give her that. It was a picture-perfect example of a heterosexual mating call.

Only one problem: I'm not a heterosexual. More specifically, I'm not a heterosexual man. But clearly Ms. Sex Bomb expected me to respond like one, i.e., to jump at the chance to have intimate access to admittedly pretty body. I'm sure she was frustrated and confused when I excused myself and went to talk to someone else, but it seemed unkind to let her go with her come-hither poses and gestures when they left me cold.

(When I think about it, it doesn't seem very flattering for a man to be treated like a Pavlovian dog who'll drool at the first tinkle of a pretty woman's bell. It's certainly not a universal male response. But a lot of them do seem to fall right into it, as anyone who's ever been in a strip club can testify to. The power of testosterone, I suppose.)

I admit to a brief flash of temptation with Ms. Sex Bomb – but I doubt it would have been the kind of scene she was thinking about.

You see, I did a scene when I was quite young, and rather raw, that made a lasting impression on me. It was between me and two extremely hot lesbian women – one butch, and one femme. It was our first scene together - they would go on to become my Master and Mistress. (Oh yes, I've been there.)

I was quite attracted to them and I had been doing my damnedest to flatter and beguile them since we'd met. They were both very appealing – but the femme was an absolute knockout, with big green eyes, thick red hair and a finely boned face. On the night of our date, I remember looking at her and thinking, This is the first time I've ever been with a woman who, may, actually, be more beautiful than I am.

And she must have read my mind, because she leaned forward to where I was on my knees in front of her, grabbed a handful of my hair at the nape of the neck and held my face close to hers. "Now listen to me," she said. "Let's get one thing straight. I know that you're used to getting your way with butches and with boys just because you're a hot babe. But those games don't work with me, so don't go shaking your ass or pouting your lips or batting your big brown eyes at me. I know all the tricks – I do them myself. I know exactly what they mean, and they don't mean shit. So don't go there."

And I thought, "Holy shit, she's on to me. Oh, fuck, am I in trouble." Looking back, I'm sure I was exactly as unsubtle in my flirtations with them as Ms. Sex Bomb was with me. It wouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to see that I was very accustomed to manipulating people with my looks and charm. I learned a lesson that night: don't kid a kidder. And don't vamp a vamp.

I've given her speech a few times myself since then, to pretty, flirty women I was holding by the scruff of the neck. They all gave me back a wide-eyed stare of alarm – which is exactly what I wanted. And for the women I've chosen to be with, that warning was enough. They dropped the schtick.

But when I considered doing a scene with Ms. Sex Bomb, I thought: Even calling her on the act wouldn't be enough – she's a hard case. I'd have to go further. I could wash off her makeup, scrap back her hair, and make her wear a baggy, ugly smock – that might snap her out of that "sexy-babe" attitude. And who knows, maybe once I stripped away all those calculated poses and sexy lines, I might actually get to someone more real, someone who could truly interest me.

Or maybe not. I walked away.