Meet The Graduate Sex Workers
The Debrief: 38% of British sex workers that have university degrees - so Georgia LA heads out to meet the graduate escorts
‘It’s weird because in my personal life, I’ve never had a one-night stand. I’ve never felt comfortable going home with a stranger I’ve met at a club or the SU. Escorting was my alter ego, my Sasha Fierce. It was exciting. It’s so different to that cheap and cheerful students’ lifestyle. It was a little peek into an exclusive world.’
Did you know that 38% of British sex workers have university degrees? When I heard this, I decided that I wanted to talk to some of the girls in the UK sex industry who had choices. Who hadn’t had their passports nicked, but still chose to entertain men for cash on their Fridays instead of partying with their mates or gritting their teeth and getting a bar job.
After many an unreturned email, I find Peter, the friendliest middle-class, suburban dad of a ‘pimp’ – well, apart from the bit when he smilingly threatened to ruin my career if I printed anything he didn’t see first – who obviously struggles with being labelled the ‘p’ word.
We meet at a member’s club along with his drop-dead gorgeous assistant, who says she’s an advisor to the girls. I quickly discover that his company has shareholders, uses SEO and charges an average of £400 an hour for the girls – he takes 30%. Peter evidently decides I’m harmless/scared enough of him, so he let me meet some of them.
First I met Amy*, Peter’s aforementioned ‘assistant’. She’s a former escort, who now works full-time in clinical science, and acts as a confidant for new recruits and is an advisor to Peter on the side. She was dressed smart casual: skinny jeans; mid-heeled, knee-high boots; and a formal but sexy loose white shirt that gave just a suggestion of a tiny waist and ample chest. Pale dewy skin, minimal make-up and auburn hair hanging in waves – I’d expected an Amy Childs type in a tight dress, but instead got a Karen Elson as an English rose.
I couldn’t imagine she’d ever hung out anywhere that wasn’t glamorous and professional. Bar a northern twang (she wouldn’t tell me where she was from), I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d gone to school with Emma Watson and they were still best mates, or she’d been an extra in a Burberry ad. But prostitute? Never.
‘Doing what I did was such a confidence boost. Especially when you have people that want to see you again, it’s like, they want you. I think it’s helped with my people skills as well, definitely. Plus, I’ve made loads of contacts,’ she says.
Amy became an escort after a screw up at the Student Loan Company: they’d transferred her too much and then there was no more coming in to pay her standing orders. ‘I thought OK, I have to make about three grand in two months. And I just thought... why not? I did watch Diary of a Call Girl before I started! I only thought I’d do it for about 12 weeks, but ended up doing it for two years.
‘I was curious about everything. How did it work? Heels or flats? After my first time, I realised: always carry heels in your bag. There’s nothing more nerve wracking than ‘clip-clop, clip-clop’ through a hotel lobby.’
So what was the dress code? ‘You want to be approachable, sweet and someone you can sit and have a conversation with. I’d never dress like I was going to a club, and I ditched the hair extensions and fake tan. It just gets off everywhere.
‘When you start doing it regularly, drinking Champagne with interesting gentlemen from all over the world, who have all these stories, it’s somewhat intimate but more fun. Then two days later, it’s someone else. I think the fact you see so many different people keeps it so you don’t get too attached to one.
‘I did hear about a girl in another agency who got married though. She’d been seeing this guy for 18 months exclusively, then they went off on their own. It always makes me look twice at men with younger women...’
Next up was shy Caitlyn*. A psychology graduate from Sussex university, she was in her ambiguous ‘mid-twenties’ and had been working in the industry for a few years. Petite with straight brown hair, she has a hint of alternative about her (was that an old face piercing I spied?) and I sensed her black ensemble – leggings, ankle boots and blouse was a conservative choice.
Unsure where a future career would take her, she enjoyed the sex, the cash and how her job gave her more time for reading, exercise and painting, alongside her part-time office admin job.
‘I knew some people who did it and I fancied something different. My first guy was such a long time ago I can’t even remember now! He was nice, I was nervous. I remember thinking, “This is gonna be difficult”, but I met him and he was a gent.
‘It was easy. I remember thinking, “Wow, why didn’t I do this sooner?” I found it was rewarding and fun to do, I enjoy it a lot. Most of the clients are nice, normal guys, and it’s something I feel comfortable doing.’
I feel a bit sorry for her when she talked about keeping her life a secret from her mates – which includes a ‘non-serious’ boyfriend of a few months. ‘It is difficult to accept. I’m normally just a bit vague. People don’t ask – it’s not like they missed you. It would be nice if I could talk about what I do over dinner though.’
And I wondered if men’s embarrassment at paying for sex meant girls like Caitlyn had to carry the shame.
Caitlyn felt familiar, she was about my age and easily could’ve been a friend’s housemate from uni. Although I believed she was cool with the physical aspects of the job, it was a bit weird when she told me her favourite part was ‘when you’ve finished and you feel like they’re satisfied.’ I felt that rather than being a sex traffic victim, she was just a victim of a quarter life crisis.
It’s worth mentioning that Peter was present throughout the interviews, and when he goes to take a call or to the toilet, I push for the worst bits of the job. The girls’ greatest concern seemed to be family and friends finding out, rather than troubles with the law or worries about future relationships. In fact, they seem to have more sympathy with their clients.
‘They want a bit of company sometimes, attention, maybe. They all have their own reasons,’ Caitlyn said when asked why these ‘nice, normal guys’ hired her.
‘They always say: “These poor girls”,’ adds Amy, ‘but I’m telling you now these girls know exactly what they’re doing, it’s all about them. Behind every strong man is a greater woman.’
At which point Peter joins us and adds: ‘Behind every strong woman is a pathetic man!’
You might also be interested in:
Follow Georgia on Twitter @georgia_la
Picture: Eylul Aslan
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating