Saturday, October 19, 2019

Meet Madison Winter: Girl-Next-Door Escort

By Peter Berton

Toronto premium escort Madison Winter (www.madisonwinterto.com) is renowned for her beauty, brains, and business sense. 


She is a success story (my words, not hers) who is willing to share her story and personal experiences with the Naked Truth’s blog.

Peter Berton: How did you get in escorting, and why?

Madison Winter: As many people know, before escorting I worked full time in corporate asset management. At the time, while I loved aspects of what I did such as creating relationships, networking, and sales, I didn't love other aspects; like the long hours, fluorescent lights/cubicle environment, and everyone's favourite -- office politics.

It didn't even occur to me that escorting, or the world of companionship, even existed until stumbling across movies and TV programs including Sugar Babies and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

I've always lived alone and, for the most part, enjoyed the single girl lifestyle. While most of the media portrayals of escorts are sad and relatively dark, that wasn't how I perceived it. Watching these shows all I saw was financial freedom, independence, and sexy adventures.

As it turns out, I was correct.

Almost immediately upon dabbling in the industry, I quit my job, built a professional website, hired a stellar accountant, and never looked back.
 


Peter Berton: What your first escort experience was like?

Madison Winter: I still know and keep in contact with my very first client! He is a soft-spoken, quite good looking (in my opinion), mid-forties gent with an Australian accent. The physical and emotional attraction was mutual, and it didn't feel like "work" in any sense.

This particular client was familiar with seeing escorts -- he was always conscious of the time, my boundaries, and made an effort to be considerate and respectful. We both immediately clicked and spent numerous wonderful dates together.

I'm extremely lucky in the sense that he set a standard. I had no idea men could be so lovely.

Peter Berton: How has your career evolved over time?


Madison Winter: Evolve it has! In numerous ways, I've had to adapt to the varying supply/demand of my time. I've learned of peak and not-so-peak calendar periods, and make an attempt to structure time off around that.

Additionally, altering my rate structure and fees relatively regularly has helped me to mitigate demand and balance it with my own personal burnout.

When I began my career, I met with most clientele for short durations; an hour here, an hour there. Often at times, I saw numerous clients a day.

As I get older, I'm learning that I can't accept every request, and have to structurally organize downtime in my calendar. Now, I strategically promote dates of longer durations and focus on the quality of our interaction, rather than the quantity of clientele. 




Peter Berton: What you have learned about marketing/protecting yourself in the escort industry?

Madison Winter: I take a relatively unusual approach to marketing in the sense that I'm completely transparent online.

I utilize social media almost to an extreme and post almost everything that occurs in my daily life, on numerous platforms. I'm always conscious not to reveal details that would put my safety at risk, but still maintain a relatively open-book marketing policy.

It's time-consuming, but it's free, and I believe brings in a more suitable  client for me.

When I first began my career, I truly believed that respect from my peers and clients would come if I appeared to be a "luxury" provider. The jury's still out on what that means, but essentially, I'd organize photoshoots wearing beautiful dresses, designer shoes, and try to appear more ethereal and feminine.

Over time, and after many mismatched dates where I couldn't meet the expectations I'd set about myself, I learned to market myself more truthfully.

Now, I refer to myself as the "girl next door." I'm into rock music. I'm into ripped jeans. I'm probably going to curse.

I became unapologetic and honest about the kind of girl you'd be meeting, and it worked.

Peter Berton: What are your thoughts on current client attitudes and trends; including the impact of cybersex on client behaviours?



Madison Winter: You know, I have mixed feelings about this one.

On one hand, I see trends towards longer engagements, more social interaction and relationship-based dates, and on the other, I see a rise in porn's influence in PSE style requests, particularly from the younger clientele.

Over the course of my career, and my friends’ careers, we've seen a shift from single hour bookings to multi-day bookings where we truly connect with our date and establish this long term relationship. I can't help but wonder if that's due to our branding and the growth that's occurred within it over the years -- or because client attitudes are shifting.

Simultaneously, sexual content is everywhere. It's in our media, and for free on just about any platform imaginable.

I find that some clients -- in my experience the men under 35 -- seem to visit with a preconceived screenplay for specifically how the date's going to go down. They'll arrive with a checklist, and it's more about the sexual act and agenda than the entirety of the experience.

I don't believe one is good and the other is inherently bad, or vice-versa;  but it seems to come at both extremes. I suppose as a provider, it's our job to either become a chameleon and cater to both, or choose whichever niche you enjoy most.

Peter Berton: What are your words of wisdom for other SPs (especially newbies),  and your plans for the future?

Madison Winter: This is going to sound cliche, and super bumper-stickeresque, but please -- BE YOURSELF.

That is the single most valuable piece of advice I could give any fellow provider. It's the thing that revamped and revitalized my business.

Too often, we compare ourselves with others; especially given the rise of marketing and interaction on social media. However, it's easy to forget that we all have different strengths, weaknesses, things that we enjoy and don't enjoy.

There is no 'right' way to escort. The industry is vast and complex. So market yourself AS yourself (to the extent of your comfort, of course) and choose a clientele and business plan that suits your personality.

It's the easiest way, I've found, to enjoy your work more and reduce emotional burnout. 


About the Author

Winner of the NakedTruth.ca award for Favourite Adult Journalist, Peter Berton has written for Adult Video News, Klixxx, XBIZ, Xtra, and YNOT.com. He likes to interview sex workers to tap into their vast knowledge about human nature, business marketing, work/life balance and succeeding as entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Client Perspective: It's More Than Just...

By Mike Gale
“I’m very fortunate that I have a sex worker in my life.”

Chances are pretty good that you haven’t heard that confession too often - but I just made it.

The reason I’m so fortunate to have a sex worker in my life is very simple – she was there to help me through a very difficult time.

I always thought I was very good at dealing with stress – it was part of my work environment and when my wife battled cancer I surprised myself and found strength I never knew I had. But she lost.

It’s been 5 years since my wife passed away – the love of my life – 25 incredible years of marriage – the bar was set so high. Friends have tried setting me up, and I appreciate their efforts very much, but I am very content living a single life.

Now I’m not about to be turned out to pasture - I still have a pulse and a very active lifestyle.

One day I noticed an ad on a website and it piqued my interest so I took the first step.

Always believing in the old adage “nothing ventured, nothing gained."

What started as a two-hour massage appointment grew into several more sessions.

Over time a relationship began to develop. A level of trust was built along with mutual respect and boundaries.

We’ve opened up about our lives. I’ve witnessed what an incredibly dedicated mother she is - proudly sharing photos of her children. 


Her business savvy would be welcomed in any corporate boardroom...and the passion she puts into a project that she’s developing is inspiring.

Earlier this year I received news that cancer had reared its ugly face again.

My brother's doctor didn’t pull any punches – Bowel Cancer -  maybe two months to live.

I stood strong for my wife; this time, however, my knees buckled.

It would only seem logical that I would talk to a close friend about this new stress I was under. But I didn’t. My sex worker friend was the first person I told.

Naturally people would find it very strange that I would confide such tragic news to someone I had only met a few months earlier. 


But it was the simple moments of being in her presence and speaking without the need to always touch that helped me deal with the stress.

Intimate connections can be formed in many different ways, but at the center remains a meaningful friendship.

I treasure my close friends, I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by them. 


But I’ve found over the years there can be real value in the words that come from someone new…they see the situation through their eyes, they have no baggage, and they have no strings attached to the words they speak. Something that is most appreciated in difficult times.

In fact, it was just a few words that she said which really helped turn things around for me. Would those same words have come from a close friend?

I’ve asked myself that question and the simple answer is “NO."

I’ve never tried to figure out why certain people walk through our lives when they do. Some pass through quickly, others stay...regardless, each one leaves an imprint on our lives.

Is every relationship we encounter conventional? Do they have to be?

Honestly, life would be pretty boring if they were.

I’ve traveled the world for 21 years and yet I know she’s experienced more than I am. 


I’ve never known the cold shoulder from someone once they’ve discovered your profession..and I’ve never been put in a position of having children unable to play with their friends because your line of work didn’t fit the “norm."

Yet through it all, she remains gentle and compassionate.

I don’t view this relationship any different from the ones I already have. My friends know that if they needed anything I would be there...and I would do the same for her.

Regardless of her profession she deserves to be treated equally - - and I do...because as the title says:

“It’s More than Just...”

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Profile: Emma Alexandra’s Insights on Sex Work

By Peter Berton

There are those who do sex work for a few months, and then there are those who enjoy a profitable long-term career as a high-end service provider (SP).

Emma Alexandra (www.emmaalexandrapage.com) definitely fits into the second category. 


Although she started escorting to make ends meet, Emma soon found that she had a knack for the profession and stuck with it as a money-making venture. (The fact that she loves sex didn’t hurt.)

Years later, Emma Alexandra remains an extremely popular SP. Although she is based in Montreal, Emma’s client base encompasses the world.

The Naked Truth’s Peter Berton caught up with Emma recently, to learn what she’s learned over a long, successful career.




Peter Berton: Why did you decide to become an escort?

Emma Alexander: I mostly got into escorting because I had one of those deadbeat ex-husbands.  Really I didn't know much about it.

I saw an ad in the paper looking for ladies. I thought, “why not try it?” After all, I love sex and meeting new people. Why not get paid to do what you love? We all want a job we love, don’t we?

Peter Berton: So what was your first experience with a client like?

Emma Alexander:
I was lucky: It was also the guy's first experience, so we just made out like old lovers. I will admit I was as nervous as hell, but in the end, it was great.

Peter Berton: How has your career as an escort evolved over time?

Emma Alexander:  I went from working for an agency to an independent in a matter of months. Once I learned the ropes, I jumped right into being an indy.

I travelled a lot. Really it was for other things, but someone suggested working in their city. I thought, “what the hell! Let’s do this!” So off I went on an exciting adventure to a new city and country and city. These days, I tour lots of places.

Peter Berton: How do you market yourself, to stand out among the competition?



Emma Alexander: Marketing myself was and is easy – just being myself and being good at what I do.

Peter Berton: You have raised a family while being an SP. How have you balanced kids and career?

Emma Alexander: My sons have always been great. Once they were old enough, I told them what I do; not the acts, of course, but being a companion.

I think they’ve learned a lot from me about how to treat a lady. They're very nice young men. I'm a proud mother.

Peter Berton: What is your funniest SP story?

Emma Alexander: On a date with a fireman, I had my place set out to be all romantic; candles lit, music, the whole thing.

He decided to do a striptease for me. Well, his shirt hit the candles and all hell broke loose!

Thank God we saw the smoke. It was funny watching him -- naked – putting out the fire and shutting off the fire detector!

Peter Berton: Wow! So what are your thoughts on current client attitudes and trends; including the impact of cybersex on client behaviours?

Emma Alexander: Men nowadays aren’t like they used to be. There used to be so many gentlemen. Now there's a lot of “hey, what's up? You available?”
 

I can't be bothered with that bullshit, You want to spend quality time with me? Form a complete sentence!

Peter Berton: To finish off, would you have words of wisdom for other SPs  –  especially newbies?

Emma Alexander: Save, save, save. You're only young once!


About the Author



Winner of the NakedTruth.ca award for Favourite Adult Journalist, Peter Berton has written for Adult Video News, Klixxx, XBIZ, Xtra, and YNOT.com. He likes to interview sex workers to tap into their vast knowledge about human nature, business marketing, work/life balance and succeeding as entrepreneurs.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Ultimate Business Resource for Sex Workers is Almost Here!

By Annie Temple

We are getting close to rolling out the Beta version of The *new* Naked Truth website!


After announcing our plans for the new site a few weeks ago, we received a lot of interest and support!

Thank you!

As expected, there were questions and concerns.

This week's blog post is in response to those questions and concerns.

When the new site goes live, the following information will be in effect. 

For more context, I will repeat some info from our announcement here:


The Naked Truth is owned and operated by sex workers.

We are activists on the forefront of sex worker actions. 

We are tired of others making money off our backs, while being constantly turned down for funding.

Our years of activism, research, program creation / coordination / implementation, and our lived experience have led us to seek solutions to our challenges.

The Naked Truth (Revision 69, as I like to call it) will be the manifestation of our collective vision as a community.

It is based on the work we, as individuals and groups, have done over the past several years and the concerns you have shared.

What you are about to witness is history in the making!

Thanks to our amazing website designer...


  • The *NEW* Naked Truth will offer you affordable advertising for your services and a profile to use in your promotions.
  • The classifieds section will also allow sex workers and allies to share things like work-spaces for rent and SW friendly businesses.
  • We will have an internal system for screening clients and opportunities for you to recommend and report clients using our system.
  • We will also have an automated system for reporting bad experiences, with an easy search function, available only to sex workers.
  • We will provide essential online training for sex workers earning members "certifications" that will let clients know we are safe and professional.
  • We are already working with police and other outside agencies to recognize the certifications of our members.
  • Our goal is to lower and potentially end the enforcement of Canada's deadly laws around sex work.
The *NEW* Naked Truth will be a central resource that encompasses the above "most accessed and sought" resources for sex workers.


  • Our Partner Organization is the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities. Together, we are a resource for any Canadian sex worker to contact for support. We will do our best to connect SW's with resources they need and offer unlimited guidance for anyone seeking membership or certification on our site.
  • We will provide a safe forum for SW's to have respectful discussions. Bullying will not be tolerated.
  • Our Adult Classifieds will be the most affordable on the internet and we will provide opportunities for sex workers to get credits they can put towards ads, as well.
  • We will have a secret client alert available only to sex workers who are certified or vouched for by someone who is certified.

To read the full announcement, click here.


Thank you to those who bravely challenged our plans and asked important questions about what we're doing!

Please read through this post and send us MORE questions and concerns, if you have any!

We will do our best to respond to you quickly and it will help us develop our FAQ page.

We need your help to ensure the new Naked Truth is inclusive, safe, and easy to use.

Our vision is to become The Ultimate Business Resource for Sex Workers in Canada!

Our mission is:
  • to provide sex-worker-driven, accessible resources, tools, and supports that prioritize health, safety, ethical business practices, and training for sex workers and our clients;
  • and to promote a voluntary system of self-regulation in the Canadian sex industry.


A lot of you had questions about the certification process and about how we are engaging police with our efforts.

Read on to learn more about our plans...

What does it mean to Get Certified?



Trade Secrets Certification:

  • Brings occupational health and safety to our industry;
  • Gives us access to health and safety resources, should we need them;
  • Shows us how we can prevent some of the risks associated with our industry;
  • Protects sex workers, the places where where we work, and clients from the blanket enforcement actions of the past. (We have already been working hard and will continue to build awareness among police and municipal licensing staff about the Trade Secrets Certification program);
  • Ensures businesses and sex workers know how to work in an ethical, healthy, and safe manner;
  • Ensures sex workers are legal age to work in the sex industry;
  • Gives clients a way to demonstrate that they are safe and respectful when booking for the first time;
  • Teaches clients about the industry and how they can participate in the industry effectively and respectfully.


Why Get Certified?



There are many reasons to get your Trade Secrets Certification.



The Bigger Picture...

  • Self-regulation of our own industry
  • Essential health and safety education for new sex workers and a great refresher for veterans
  • Easier for sex workers to screen clients
  • Easier for clients to screen sex workers
  • Legitimizes our businesses in the eyes of outside agencies
  • Increases our health and safety knowledge and enables us to share our expertise
  • Enables third-party investigation of complaints and third-party advocacy on behalf of sex workers and clients without disclosing identities



Access to The Naked Truth Benefits...
  • $50 credit to put towards your ad(s) when you get certified
  • Access to private, certified-member only forums
  • Access to private, certified-member only client screening tools
  • Ability to “Recommend” other certified sex workers and clients
  • Referral credit of $25 to put towards your ad(s) whenever you refer someone to get certified
  • Every time you upgrade an ad, it will automatically appear in the “Certified” listings – a separate page where clients can browse for sex workers who are Trade Secrets Certified
  • Complaints about certified members will be investigated and may result in suspension and/or termination of certification ensuring the integrity of the program



Other reasons...

  • We will be fine-tuning and improving our certification process over time based on feedback from you.
  • We will work to ensure clients are aware of the benefits of seeing a Certified Provider and to increase your earning potential. 
  • Our ongoing ad campaign to raise awareness of The Naked Truth and what getting certified means will build trust and integrity in our industry.
  • Certification is also for business owners. Many business operators are ethical and could benefit from being certified. 
  • Clients will know you are safe and sex workers who are looking for a safe place to work will know too.

Do I have to be Certified to use this site or place an ad?

You do NOT have to be certified to use this site! But it will help others know you are safe and trained. And it will enable sex workers to earn credits to put towards ads and upgrades.

How hard is it to become certified?

We are endeavoring to make certification as low barrier as possible. 

It is completely free and we offer unlimited support. 

SW's will be verified through being vouched for by SW orgs, other certified sw's, and an option to submit ID if they have no access to someone to vouch for them. ID info will be deleted immediately.

Our goal is to ensure that no one is excluded. 

There will be varying costs including credits for signing up and getting certified.

We're looking at "subsidizing" ads for members in crisis. 

If you experience any issues or challenges during certification, please let us know! 

That is how we learn and improve. 

Feedback from you and others will help us to resolve those issues.

How much personal info from Sex Workers do you require?

For most sex workers, they will simply need a sex worker organization or another certified sex worker to vouch for them. 

For others, ID can be submitted, or we can conduct a Skype chat, something to verify their age and involvement in sex work. 

ID will be deleted immediately upon verification and never stored. 


How exactly you are ‘working with’ law enforcement? 


Police are not involved in any aspect of the site or certification. 
We only want them to acknowledge and respect certified workers; think twice about how they respond to complaints when they know a business owner is certified. 


No one's info is being given to police, it's the opposite...
TNT would know you are of age, and that is the end of it. 
Susan Davis has been working with police towards non-enforcement for over 10 years on the VPD committee, Living in Community, and the City of Vancouver Task Force.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) have agreed to recognize the certificate as proof sex workers are of legal age to work in the industry.


This is particularly good for indoor brothel and parlour workers who are often asked to present their ID when police attend to investigate complaints. This way they would not have to show ID. 
 
The certificate would be enough to prove they are of age to engage in sex work. 

No real names would need to be shown to police and for migrant sex workers, their immigration status or status as a foreign national would be protected.



Currently we are able to call the Vancouver police and talk with them about concerns or questions and they are forthcoming. 
They support the certification program we are implementing and there is hope that we can make the same kinds of inroads with other police departments in BC.



The goal is a safer industry with less enforcement and more self regulation. 

Something like this can't happen overnight and it needs widespread efforts, not the efforts of one small group. 

This is certainly a lofty dream, but we believe in it and we're going to give it a shot. 



The City of Vancouver has also agreed to recognize the certification as meeting business license requirements.
 
We hope to educate city inspectors to prevent malicious complaints and interruption in work of indoor work spaces.


How much access do the police have? 

The police have no access. Even if we are subpoenaed to submit our info, identity information will have been destroyed, protecting our members from being outed.


Were marginalised groups of sex workers consulted in this process?

We've worked with marginalized sex workers including POC, indigenous, male, trans, indoor, outdoor, and different genres. 

These plans have been under development for 10 years.
 

And we will continue to improve the site for all members based on feedback we receive from you.



Well, there you have it!

What are we missing?

What other questions or concerns do you have?!

Your feedback is invaluable.

We look forward to hearing from you!
About the Author
 

Annie Temple has been a sex worker and activist since 1997, but she's been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded NakedTruth.ca to support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry. 

 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Ten Culture Shock Challenges I've Faced Squaring Up

By Annie Temple 

(Trigger Warning: stigma, discrimination, slut shaming, bullying, sexual harassment)


In the sex industry, there is no such thing as a taboo subject. In the square world, political correctness rules the day.

In the sex industry, oddity and originality are special talents. In the square world, uniqueness is vilified.

In the sex industry, sexuality is fluid and celebrated. In the square world, sexuality is shamed and criminalized.

In the sex industry, women make just as much money as men, if not more. In the square world, women fight to be part of the old boy's club.


The Cultural Divide

I became an adult entertainer at the age of 23 – almost half my life ago.

Since then, I have left and returned to the industry many times.

I left for pregnancy, university, a boyfriend. I left so I could put my kids to bed at night. I left to be a Support Worker; a Marketing Manager; a Project Coordinator.

But I always returned...because the adult entertainment industry is good to me.


Whenever I've been in trouble, it was adult industry people who helped me – usually by giving me jobs. And thanks to those jobs, I have never been desperate.

I have never been desperate, but I have been terrified.

Terrified to square up in the “real world.” Terrified to say or do the wrong thing. Terrified for good reason!


Because once you've worked in adult entertainment, the real world is a scary place. It is a place of walls and shame.

Coming from a world of candidness and exposure, culture shock is inevitable.

We may live in the same neighbourhoods and shop in the same grocery stores.

Our kids go to the same schools and play in the same leagues.

But adult entertainers and "civilians" (square folks) live in two completely different worlds.

Squaring up is no easy feat, for many reasons.

The following are ten culture shock challenges I've experienced while attempting to leave the sex industry.


Ten “Culture Shock” Challenges I've Faced Squaring Up

1. Terrifying anxiety

When my oldest daughter was a baby, I found that exotic dancing wasn't ideal for me.

I wanted to be home every night to put my baby to bed, but strip clubs are busiest at night. Some are only open in the evenings.

So, I made a goal to get a square 9-5 job.

I did a bunch of assessments and signed up to get my Public Relations diploma. 

It was a two year program and I was approved for funding that covered all my expenses except during summer break between the second and third semesters.

Instructors gave us leads on jobs in the Public Relations industry for rookies...er, I mean students...over the summer. 

I applied for these square jobs and hoped for a 9-5 position that would pay enough for me to make ends meet over the summer.

In the meantime, I booked a few weeks of stripping. The rent wouldn't pay itself, after all.

My first week back dancing, I got called for an interview. The office address they gave me was in Richmond. 

This was perfect, as I was working nearby at the Fraser Arms in Marpole.

The DJ and other dancers cooperated with me enthusiastically to change the schedule, so I could go to the interview between shows. 

But as my day progressed, I developed more and more anxiety.

Every face in the audience was the face of the man who might interview me. 

Was he sitting right here in the club? Had he seen me on stage? Would that help or hinder my chances of getting a job? 

Would I even want a job from a man who'd seen me dance? How might he use it against me?

I worried I had too much makeup on. 

The interviewee before me, a girl from my class, had been late. So my interview was pushed back. I worried I wouldn't make it back in time for my next show. (They fine us for that.)

By the time I got into the interview, I was a hot mess. 

Needless to say, I didn't get that job. They hired the girl who was late for her interview instead.

The worst part is that I'd worried for nothing. 

The interviewer was not a customer from the audience. It was a woman who probably thought I was wearing too much makeup.

Oh well. Her loss.


2. Holes in my resume

I'm lucky because I worked in square jobs for years before I became a stripper. 

I'd been a waitress, sandwich artist, newspaper folder, drive thru cashier, fast food counter person, leather jacket saleswoman, laser tag manager, among other things.

Many dancers I've known didn't work in any other jobs before dancing. That definitely adds to culture shock when trying to square up.

Still, there were long gaps in my resume every time I decided to go straight. 

And each time I was faced with a decision – to include my exotic dance background on my resume or fudge my timeline a little.

When I graduated with my Public Relations diploma, I became a “Consultant” in all my resume gaps.

I included many of my assignments from school in my portfolio which enabled me to list The Kidney Foundation and other reputable organizations as clients.


Instructors from my courses hired me for small contracts to write press releases, articles, and pitch media outlets on stories.

I began using my training to advocate for sex industry workers rights. 

My website, The Naked Truth, was already well established. 

But now the media was contacting me regularly for interviews.

Once again, the adult entertainment industry saved me. 

It gave me skills and experience beyond what I could have gotten as a rookie in a square job.
 
I was inundated with media requests and dealt with a media crisis when the Breast Cancer Society of Canada refused a donation from our stripathon fundraiser.

Letters to the editors of several newspapers gushed in supporting us.

I handled the crisis so well, we had many other charities who had refused our donation in the past scrambling to differentiate themselves from the BCSC.

I was becoming a pro.

However, when I applied for a job at a non-profit organization that serves foster children, I decided to keep my sex industry experience on the down low.


With a little bit of imagination, I was able to make my work history look very impressive. 

All the gaps were filled with “Media Consultant” work. I was good to go.

If only the Executive Director who interviewed me wasn't so cunning.

She asked very good questions testing my knowledge and abilities. 

But she didn't want general answers. She wanted true life examples.

Well, my heart started racing as I realized I was cornered. 

I had to come up with a lie fast or admit my sex work experience. I took a deep breath and spilled the beans...


“I used to be an exotic dancer which led to doing advocacy for sex industry workers...”

All my best examples came from my advocacy work for which I had never been paid a cent.

At the end of the interview, she told me she'd call in a few days and let me know if I was hired. I walked out having no idea what she thought of me.

But a few days later...she hired me.

Peeler power for the win!


3. Getting caught


I wasn't trying to hide my sex industry work experience. 

I'd appeared on a talk show using my stage name, but my face was clear as day. I was me.

Everything was going great at my internship at a local university. 

After getting my diploma, I was hired for a six month contract. 

All of my new co-workers assured me that I'd get hired on permanently.

“They always hire the people they like,” I was told.

But everything changed when a woman from administration saw a re-run of the talk show I appeared on.

She spread the news to all the university staff. 

Then she waited two days before she approached me, which I can only imagine was on the advice of a compassionate coworker.

I barely knew her. We said hi as we passed each other's desks, but that's about it.

“Did you used to be a stripper?” she asked innocently.

My heart jumped but I had no shame. “Yes,” I replied, wondering how this would play out.

“I saw you last night on the Fanny Kiefer Show,” she said.

I didn't know how to respond, so I smiled and nodded while she exclaimed how she thought it was me but my stage name had confused her.

When she left my desk, I went outside for air. Tears prickled my eyes. I knew this was not good. My ho senses were tingling. 

Sure enough, the temperature at work dropped considerably.

People who previously smiled and chatted with me became cold and wouldn't look me in the eye. 

They walked right past me, pretending not to see me. No more lunch invitations. I was an outcast.

There were no more assurances that I would be hired on permanently. 

Now people said things like, “Well, I know they're scaling back due to budget concerns.”

My boss, who knew I was a former stripper and that I'd appeared on the talk show because I'd had to book time off work to do it, had no idea that I'd become the butt of everyone's joke until one day the joke became malicious.

I'd worked from home for a few days due to sickness and had just returned that morning. 

I was working on an article at my cubicle when my boss approached my desk. He was about to tell me something when he noticed my name plate.

It was a plastic, re-usable name plate. My boss had simply printed my name and position onto a piece of paper and slid it into the slot.

But while I was away, someone had tampered with it. It no longer said “Trina Ricketts, Media and Public Relations.” It now said:




My boss was flustered. He said someone must have changed it as a joke. But no one ever came forward laughing about the name plate joke.

No one said sorry. No one ever mentioned it to me.

I was caught, my past exposed. Someone decided that my experience as a stripper made me deserving of ridicule.

I don't know why it hurt so much. Why should I care?

I know I'm a kind and caring person with a lot to offer any company I work for. 

And yet, I was broken up about it.

In retrospect, I'm glad they didn't hire me after my contract ended.

Those people were assholes and the job itself was extremely boring.

But my boss was awesome. He couldn't hire me permanently so he sent me contract work whenever possible.

That was the beginning of my paid consulting career. And he was a great work reference for my future endeavors.

I still have that name plate to remind me that no matter how “normal” adult entertainment culture is to me, I'm still an outcast in the real world.


4. I don't take any shit

How do people get on in life without telling assholes off?!

I really struggle with this.


In the adult entertainment industry, I can tell anyone off that I want anytime.

My co-workers, my agents, even my customers. 

If they cross the line, I can stand up for myself without being fired.

Telling my agents off might result in a few weeks without work, but generally it's a good thing because it shows them I'm not their bitch.

Fast forward to civilian life and here I must bite my tongue.

It's unprofessional to tell a colleague off no matter how ignorant she is and I'll lose my job for standing up to a boss or customer.

In the real world, it takes so much effort for me to NOT stand up for myself, that I will usually end up in tears. It's gotta come out one way or another.

I became so used to having the freedom to defend myself in the workplace that swallowing my retort in the square world is painful.

I've taken to studying how my civilian coworkers do it. 

Some of them cry, like me. Some of them say they just let it bounce off them. 

But when I try that, it bounces off me and wants to punch the rude prick in the face.

I'm doing my best and I think I'm getting the swing of it, but I have to say this is one of those culture shock issues that I struggle with deeply.

It's also the reason I've changed jobs a lot. 

If someone is treating me in a way that I am barely stifling a reaction, it's time for a new job. I don't want to burn any bridges, after all.

And I know it's just a matter of time before I say what I really think. *shrugs*


5. Ostracizing my children

What happens when you cross a stripper and a mother? You get an ostracized child!

It's not right, but it's true that adult entertainers are stereotyped as bad parents.

When moms at my daughter's school learned that I was a stripper, those playdates suddenly dried up. 

There were a few last minute cancellations, then no more playdates.


We moved and were given another chance at a new school. 

So, I taught my children about stigma and stereotyping.

I told them they could talk about the stripper pole in the house or about my experience in the adult entertainment industry if they wanted – but there might be consequences if they do.


“Your friends might tell their parents; and then their parents might say you can't be friends.”

My kids have thus far been very mature about the whole thing. 

They, like me, think the close-mindedness of most civilians is laughable and ignorant.

For the most part, my children don't mention the sex industry to their friends. 

But there have been instances where someone is trash-talking strippers that my kids felt obliged to defend the industry.

My kids know I am a loving, responsible mother. 

 I am present. I am health conscious. I listen to them and I teach them life skills. I am the most important person in the world to them. 

Other people's misguided beliefs don't change how my children see me.

There will always be a few who cannot get beyond the idea that I am a pervert and low-life. 

But most people accept me and my children. 

The ones that don't...well, they aren't the kind of people we want in our lives anyhow.


6. Potty Mouth

Whoops, I dropped the F bomb. Whoops, I did it again. 

Uh oh, I said cock instead of penis. Doh, I shouldn't be talking about penises.

Shit, I shouldn't have joked about that guy's bulge. That bum sex joke was probably not appropriate either.  

Shit, I need to stop saying shit!

Surprisingly, I find that most of the civilians I meet feel just as suffocated by real world expectations and the unspoken rules of the moral majority as I do.

Most civilians would love to be able to talk freely without censure. They'd like to be their true selves without apology.

They'd be thrilled to tell people off when it is deserved and hold nothing back when discussing a topic they are passionate about.

But they do hold back because being frank and forthright is not socially acceptable in the real world.

Certain topics are an absolute no-no. 

No sex talk. No bodily fluids talk. No talking about your wage. No religion, politics, or activism talk. Sex jokes can land you in deep trouble.

Tip-toe around all that shit if you want to be safe.

As a person coming from an open, honest culture like the sex industry – I have a very hard time behaving in a socially acceptable manner. 

It is a constant effort to stop myself before I speak.

Adult entertainment is one of those mind-blowing cultures that has the power to erase all previously held beliefs.

That's why sex industry workers are usually critical thinkers. We've learned that not everything we're told is true.

Like the stereotype of the weak, degraded sex worker, for instance...say what?! 

Every sex worker I know is a strong, empowered, determined entrepreneur.

Or the stereotype that all sex workers are drug addicts...WRONG AGAIN.

But if someone were to tell me a stereotype that all sex workers have potty mouths...

...well, I can't really argue with that. In our culture, the F word is a most common adjective.


7. Sexual Harassment

There are two scenarios for this particular culture shock challenge. 

The one where I am sexually harassed and the one where I am accused of sexual harassment.

Both occasions occurred during my time in college studying for my Public Relations Diploma.

Many of the courses I took were combined classes of PR students and Journalism students.

I made friends with some of the budding journalists, including one woman who asked if she could write an article about my PR efforts for sex worker rights for the college paper.

Around this time, I was still hiding my real name in the media.

I went by my stage name, Annie Temple, for this and many other interviews I participated in.

A few weeks before the interview came out in the college paper, I met the head of Marketing for the college at an event I attended through my internship.

My boss introduced me as Trina Ricketts, a student in the PR program. 

The Marketing dude from my college was very polite but dismissive. I shrugged my shoulders and went on with my life.

The schmuck didn't remember my real name, but he remembered my face.

When he picked up the college newspaper a couple weeks later to see my smiling face inside the front page, he recognized me.

He emailed me.




I got excited. I didn't want my diploma to lead nowhere – or straight back to dancing, for that matter. 

The point of going to school was to find a 9-5 job so I could put my kids to bed at night.

I painstakingly fixed up my resume. The jerkass kept the ruse up a little longer with some emails going back and forth. 

Finally, I suspected he was yanking my chain.

Sure enough, when I confronted him there was no position available. 

I guess he thought he could get off on some email exchanges by using his position and power to lure me in.

I guess he thought I was an easy target because I was a stripper.

I guess he was right.

My complaint to the college wasn't taken seriously at all. 

They told me the emails seemed harmless and innocent. They didn't consider his behaviour inappropriate.

I didn't pursue it, even though I wasn't the first or only woman he'd sexually harassed at the school. I learned of at least two others.

The guy was a douchebag but I didn't have the energy to be skewered as a sexual deviant in a hopeless fight with the college.

The sexual harassment challenge also works in the opposite direction. Only, in my case, it really was harmless and innocent.

In my culture it's okay to tell a women that her boobs look fabulous in her low-cut shirt. 

In the real world, at college, I found out the hard way that's a no-no.
 
I can't describe the shame and humiliation I felt when I was pulled into an instructor's office and told my comment was sexually inappropriate.

I considered myself a feminist. 

How could I be a sexual harasser of women too?

I feel the need here to say that this particular instructor was guilty of some pretty serious inappropriate behaviour herself.

She was having a relationship with one of the students in our class. A student who didn't like me. The same student who overheard my comment and reported me to the self-same instructor.

The woman whose boobs I complimented said she wasn't offended at all.

But whether I deserved a sexual harassment warning or not, this experience is an extreme example of the culture shock I have experienced leaving the adult entertainment industry.

Boobs are a favourite topic in my culture. In the real world, boobs are totally off limits.

Lesson learned!


8. Low Pay

The biggest reason we find it difficult to leave the adult entertainment industry and also the biggest reason we often go back is because of the money.

It's not just better pay than most square jobs. It's also more money in less hours. 

More flexibility. We can take time off when we want. We can take working vacations almost anywhere in the world.

If I need money today, I can pick up work tonight. If I need money this week, I can pick up work tomorrow.

I remember that summer between semesters when I got turned down for the square job in Public Relations, I decided to try waitressing for the summer.

That lasted less than a week. The hourly pay was minimum wage. The tips were negligible.

I had to pour ketchup from one bottle into another every shift.

That job sucked the life out of me. I felt like I had sold my soul.

I was the Slop Slut. At least, that's how I felt. It was degrading.

The other staff weren't very friendly. I didn't like taking orders. I certainly didn't like slopping ketchup into bottles.

After adding up numbers for the few shifts I'd worked, I realized I wouldn't be able to afford rent and groceries.

Needless to say, I quit and went back to dancing. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I was home.


9. Expert "Flirt"

I make eye contact when I talk to people. I know exactly when to break out my secret weapon: a big, broad, twinkling smile.

I laugh at the right moments. Talk conspiratorially. I make people feel like they are interesting and funny – and they usually are.

People shine most when they are focused on in a caring and interested way. I am an expert at making people shine.

In the sex industry, all customers are equal. It doesn't matter who is better looking or what kind of job they do. 

If they are respectful and financially attentive, they get our respect and attention.

Habits are hard to break. In the real world, we (adult entertainers) don't cease being masterful conversationalists.

We don't cease treating people equally regardless of their quirks and eccentricities.

But I've come to learn that in the square world, my behaviour is considered flirting.

I am indiscriminate with my “flirting.” It does not matter your gender. I am "flirting" with you.

I'm not trying to pick you up. I have no ulterior motives. 

In fact, in my culture (of adult entertainment), we are much more up front if we are trying to pick someone up. 

We come right out and say “You're sexy. What are you doing later?”

Not so in the real world. Here, I am considered to be flirting if I feign interest in any way. 

Being nice can even be considered flirting.

You can see how this becomes a problem for those of us coming from the sex industry.

In the square world, being forthright and confident makes me an expert flirt. And there is a lot of silent pressure to “tone it down.”

But why should I? This is me. I am an outgoing person who enjoys seeing people's true selves shine through. What is so wrong with that?

As Marianne Williamson famously said:


“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The moral of this story is: Be like sex workers. Go ahead, you have my permission. ;)


10. Slut-Shaming


I am a confident, happy woman who likes to dress nice and look good. I guess that makes me a slut because, in the square world, women often slut-shame me.

Maybe it's something about the way I carry myself. I do have good posture.
 
It could also be my candidness. I don't generally volunteer the information unless it is relevant to the discussion at hand. 

But I decided a long time ago that I wouldn't allow stigma to shame me into a double life.

For that reason, I make a point of not hiding my experience in the adult entertainment industry. 

And for the most part, this works for me. People accept me and treat me the same as if they did not know.

But sometimes...and when it happens, it's a woman 99% of the time...sometimes, my sex industry work experience makes me the enemy.

These women who hate me always call themselves "feminists" despite that they themselves are oppressing women in the name of feminism.

They call themselves victims of the patriarchy but they blame me for their victimization. 

They trash-talk me. They accuse me of diminishing women's rights and perpetuating rape culture.

They do all of this because they are insecure about their own bodies and they want to make me as ashamed as they are. 

They are miserable and they want confident, happy, self-secure women to be miserable too.

I feel sorry for them because they can't see their own beauty. They don't own and wield their power for good. 

Their lovers suffer for their insecurities. They think we should all hide our bodies like good little girls.

This is the dichotomy of "bad girls" vs "good girls." Guess which one I am.

It happened to me at a square job a few years back. 

A woman I was in regular communication with because of our respective roles slut-shamed me behind my back. 

I didn't find out about it until a couple weeks later.

All that time I had been my usual outgoing and friendly self with her. She had been sweet as pie to my face.

This woman's trash-talking about me didn't threaten my job. But it hurt none-the-less.

It reminded me that I was an outcast trying to fit into a rigid, judgmental world.

It reminded me that #cultureshock isn't just something you experience when you immerse yourself in a new culture. 

It continues to surprise you even when you think you've got it all figured out.

People wonder why we usually go back to adult entertainment many times throughout our lives.

It is for the money, but it's also because no one else understands us. 

We can be ourselves with each other – no worries about our potty mouths or whether our colleagues think we're hitting on their lovers.

Adult entertainers are also great conversationalists.

I can't tell you how many times I've really connected with someone, only to find out later that they are a current or former sex worker.

I've learned to trust my ho-dar. It hasn't been wrong yet.

These are my people. We share a wickedly, awesome culture. And the square world better watch out...because we're infiltrating.

But seriously, I know where I belong. 

The culture that lives in my heart is the sex industry culture, because despite our fake names, it is here that I have found the most authentic people.

No matter how much time I spend pretending to be a civilian in the real world, I will always be a ho in my heart.

And proud of it. 

I've been back in the biz doing massages now for almost year and it's wonderful to be home again. xoxo


About the Author

Annie Temple has been a sex worker and activist since 1997, but she's been a rebel all her life. In 2000, she founded NakedTruth.ca to support other entertainers by reducing isolation, educating about health and safety, sharing information about gigs, challenging stereotypes, teaching etiquette to customers, and organizing in-person events for charity and to promote ethical businesses in the industry.  
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