When you date people for an hour at a time, for $300 an hour, can you really be happy dating a hipster who won’t even buy you a drink?
Rain Morgan

4 Apr 2018 - 12:58 PM  UPDATED 4 Apr 2018 - 1:02 PM

Going on a first date is always kind of awkward. There are those moments of silence, where you are trying to find something to bond over. All those questions you have to answer about your life in the name of “getting to know each other”.

It’s awkward for everyone, but it’s especially tricky when you are a sex worker.

As an escort, I ‘date’ people for money, and it’s great. I love my job. But it makes civilian dating incredibly difficult.

The “when to disclose” moment is always hard to navigate. Do you tell them before you meet, do you tell them after you meet? Do you casually drop it into conversation, or make it seem like you are telling a big secret?

Unfortunately, we still live in a society where sex work is stigmatised, and it makes disclosing feel like walking a tightrope. You never know the response you might get. I’ve told dates I’m an escort, and been upfront about wanting to date rather than just hook-up, only to have my date fetishise my job and be inappropriately sexual. We are more than our professions, and everyone wants to be loved.

A lecture and a laugh - Queenie Bon Bon on sex work and performance art
Catch Queenie Bon Bon at the Adelaide Fringe Festival opening weekend, Fri 16 Feb and Sat 17 Feb, Nexus Arts Gallery, Adelaide.

At other times, clients have become hurt or offended to learn that I am romantically unavailable. It’s an interesting dichotomy sex workers live in. Clients don’t want us to be offended by their possible wives at home, but are intensely displeased when we are “off the market,” because they don’t want to spend time with another man’s “property”.

Still, when you have clients wishing to spoil you with weekends at Crown apartments, or whisking you away for overseas trips, it’s hard to be excited by a civilian date down at the pub where your date insists on splitting the bill.

It can seem more appealing to date my respectful clients than the kind of guys, or women, you meet on Tinder. No awkward discussion about being poly, as I am poly, or about boundaries and “what are we”, as the boundary lines are already set.

But in reality, dating a client is also not workable. While some workers date clients, many believe that it’s not appropriate as it crosses a boundary. When with clients, it is the escort’s job to create a fantasy. When a client develops feelings for a sex worker, then, it’s hard to know whether they are in love with the person or the fantasy.

Sex work and the law - it's complicated
There's no straightforward answer when it comes to the question of paid sex and the law.

During my time in the industry, I’ve sometimes found myself slipping into treating my civilian dates like I’m with a client. I flutter my eyelashes, I make sure I am super interested in their discussion on the new Star Wars movie or Socrates, and I spin that fantasy.

It can be hard to turn that off, when on or off the job. My brand as an escort is about being myself, quirky and awkward at times, but honest. That’s a part of myself that I am off the clock and on, and it can muddle the waters of what persona I am presenting when on civilian dates.

When people ask me if I’m single, I say yes, as I am. But I date men for an hour or so, at $300 an hour. I’m their lover, their girlfriend, their fantasy, for the hour. I build a connection with them, and then I walk out of their lives.

Am I really single, when you can date me for a small sum and then we walk our separate ways?

Certainly, dating is a complex monster. Whether you do it for an hour or a lifetime.

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