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"I'm 90% sure I want to get into sex work"

Posted in: Ask Our Expert
By GayNZ.com - 13th December 2008

19-year-old student Ax is considering becoming a sex worker. We sought advice for him from a gay counselor and a coordinator at the NZ Prostitutes Collective.

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Dear GayNZ.com,

Hi. I'm an average to good looking gay 19-y-o student and I'm 90 percent sure I want to get into sex-work to help pay my scary study bills next year.

I just wanted to ask if there are any drawbacks to doing sex-work? And how do people get started? How much to charge, and how do you organise the deal?

Thanks and I apologise if this question is not appropriate.

Ax.

Advice from Bill Logan:

Well you say that you are 90 percent sure you want to get into sex work, so I guess the real question is: What is the other ten percent all about?

The prerequisites for being a healthy sexworker, mentally and physically, are feeling good about yourself and your body, and having clear plans to continue to look after yourself. It might not work so well if you have negative feelings about yourself, your body or your sexuality, or about sex as a recreational activity.

I asked a friend who when he was a student worked as a sex worker for a while, and he said he had no regrets, but he gave a really interesting piece of advice. He said you need to be able to be open with your closest friends about taking up this line of work, and if you think you can't be open with them, that might mean it's something that's not right for you.

I have known some long-term sex workers who have found that the sparkle goes out of their own intimate personal sex lives, but other people say it has no impact, or even that it gives them experience which enriches their personal sex lives.... all of which only means that it is important to be mindful of any changes.

And try not to get financially trapped in sex work--have a pre-planned exit route.

Advice from Calum Bennachie, PUMP (male sex worker project) Co-ordinator at the NZ Prostitutes Collective:

Entering sex work is a decision that some do make. Others believe that any form of sex work is immoral, or that it is not a choice and any person entering sex work who thinks it is a choice is "deluded". Nevertheless, many people who do enter the sex industry state they freely made the choice to do so, and that it has empowered them.

People enter the industry for a variety of reasons. People I've spoken to have said that it is for the money, it's a challenge ("Can I do this?"), testing the waters, confirming their sexuality, etc. Abel, Fitzgerald and Brunton (2007), interviewing 772 female, male and transgender sex workers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hawkes Bay and Nelson areas, found that the main reasons people started working in the sex industry were to get money and to pay household bills, etc, though around 46% of guys interviewed said it was to help them explore their sexuality. Only 24% stated it was to provide money for study. They also found that most people stay an average of 3-4 years in the industry.

While some people claim to make heaps working as a sex worker, others are more honest, and say that the money is not all that good. As an example, in the 1980s guys were charging around $120-$150 for a 1 hour job. Now it can be around $140-$160 for a 1 hour job, so there has not been a large rise in the rate of payment. While $160 may seem like a lot, you have to realise you may only get (or only be able to do) one job a day. You may only get one job every two days ... or less. It all depends on how you advertise, and how often you advertise. How many clients are around- and how horny they are.

Clients could be of any shape, size and age. They could be the (moderately) hot builder down the road a few years older than you, or it could be someone older than your grandfather. It could be someone with a hot bod, or it could be someone who makes doughnuts their major food group and has a body to match the shape of their food. It could be someone who is a real turn on for you, or someone who turns you off completely.

In most centres, you can advertise by going into a newspaper office and placing an advert in the adult entertainment columns. You will need to take photographic ID with you, but you can generally cover up your name. They like to see that to ensure that you are over 18. It is illegal for a client to pay a sex worker who is under 18, and it is illegal for a brothel operator to hire a person under 18 to work as a sex worker. The young person, however, is not committing a crime (unless they are using fake ID).

It is a legal requirement that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure that condoms are used for both oral and anal sex. A client who ripped a condom off was fined $700 for doing so. The maximum fine is $2000. Getting an STI is not fun, and getting oral gonnorhoea or catching syphilis because you gave a client head without a condom is not worth it. And getting warts in the mouth is really gross. There are a variety of bug uglies you can catch, so always wrap up well, and keep a latex barrier between you and the client at all times.

It would be far easier to discuss the other issues you raise in person. Someone can go through the issues with you, and answer any other questions you my have as they arise. You can drop into any NZPC community base that is close to you. We have community bases in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch also have free, confidential, anonymous sexual health clinics on site at least one afternoon a week. We supply new workers with a new workers kit, which includes a booklet offering advice ad information, SIREN magazine, condoms, and water based lube. We also supply condoms and water based lube at low cost. Contact details for each base are on our web site: http://www.nzpc.org.nz/


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GayNZ.com - 13th December 2008