SUBMITTED BY $PREAD MAGAZINE: I’m officially over “high class escort” hysteria.
I get it, we all get it: these women charge a lot per hour, therefore they must be the best looking, and the best lay, and their sexy, glamorous lifestyle makes them seem more on par with celebrities than it does other sex workers. Except for the fact that those assumptions often aren’t even true. And, sadly, “high class” callgirls are the only sex workers allowed a voice in the media, the only group to whom they will regularly give a platform. Not only is this particular brand of sex worker visibility criminally exclusive, but it’s perpetuating a series of ugly stereotypes, even when the callgirls in question are being contracted to allegedly dispel myths about their work, as is the case with this Salon “Ask A Callgirl” feature. Asking questions like “what about Belle can you relate to” doesn’t actually address any of the problems inherent in the media’s understanding of a “high class escort.”
First, let’s stop with the “upscale” and “high class” nonsense. Using those terms as a descriptor for sex workers is classist and inaccurate. Just come out and say “expensive.” Would anyone actually call “Kirsten” from the Spitzer scandal “high class”? I have nothing but love for the girl, and I wish we lived in a world where she could have been spared the entirely unethical “outing” by the media, but she’s preparing to do a reality show on E!. She stole or at the very least used someone else’s driver’s license to appear on Girls Gone Wild. She’s entirely entitled to do what she wants, but she’s not a poster child for elegant behavior. Class and expense should not be confused. (Do we have to read some Edith Wharton novels together and discuss the garish excesses of the nouveau riche to prove this point?) And why is anyone using a euphemistic term for a sex worker’s price in the first place? There are plenty of other aspects of escorting you’ll want to save the euphemisms for.
Next, for all the laypeople reading this, I want to assure you that many expensive escorts do not look like supermodels. They have shapely bodies, well-groomed hair, freshly done nails, nice clothes, and, like most fashion models, they’re probably white. But they might not be girls you’d even look at twice on the street. I’m not saying they’re not beautiful. I’m saying that what our society recognizes as being quantifiable, financially reward-able beauty doesn’t really apply here. It’s the wrong rubric for judging price when it comes to all sex workers, not just the expensive ones. Please, trust someone who knows. I could ask the pricey escorts I know to line up among women who charge half as much, and you wouldn’t be able to parse who’s who. With that said, let’s also not forget that many of the women making hundreds of dollars an hour are working with agents who take a considerable cut. The escort is still making bank, especially when you factor in tips and gifts, but if she’s working for an agency, only half of that fee is going towards maintaining her glamorous lifestyle. The other half is for the glamorous madam.
And the misconceptions don’t end there. The obvious media assumption is that girls who charge the most per hour make the most money, although I’ve had several “high class escort” friends comment that their route is not the way to make the most money, and if they wanted to make more they would charge less. Charge less? Yes! Let me school those of you who don’t know on why that is.
Women who charge hundreds of dollars per hour—at least, the independent ones—often don’t do this as a full-time job. They might be seeing clients only once every two weeks, or even once a month. It’s like a gym owner charging $400 an hour for a her private training sessions. She’s not charging that because there are people lined up around the block clamoring to cough up $1200 a week to do some bicep curls. She’s doing that because she doesn’t want to spend most of her week training people, and when she does, she wants it to be damn well worth her time.
Here’s a fact: the less an escort charges, the more people she can see. If she lowers her rate by just $50, suddenly dozens of men who thought they couldn’t afford her before will be ready to book an appointment. Some women don’t want that—they want their prices to be a means of screening. And they don’t want to see multiple men in a week, or a day. But other women just want to keep up the volume, because they know that there’s money in volume. If Escort A charges $500 an hour and sees only one person a day for two hours, while Escort B charges $250 an hour and sees four people, it’s true that they’ve made the same amount of money at the end of the day. But guess who’s more likely to have four more people ready to see her tomorrow, and who may be waiting three days for her next date?How many people have a regular $500 of discretionary income? How many people have $250?
Understand that I’m not impugning anyone’s appearance or financial success. I know there are escorts who were models, look like models, are prettier than models. And I know there are women who charge a lot and are in high demand. But I want to do away with “high class escort” in it’s current incarnation, to do away with the package of assumptions of which it’s composed. In the end, it’s just another way to minimize sex worker voices and to erase the complexity from a tangled profession. It’s just another way to misrepresent us and the work we do.