INTERVIEW # 4
MARSHA - SEX WORKER, FEMALE
I was born in Africa, but lived in England before coming to Australia twenty years ago. I had a good childhood and never went without. I was always very strong willed and I had my own view of things but my life at home was strict. My parents were conservative in their younger years. I had to stick to a routine. As a teenager, if I wasn’t home by midnight I would get whacked. It was 'yes sir' to my dad – no bull****ing around with him. My parents brought us up the old school way, with manners.
In England I went to a private Catholic school and have always been a believer. (My father was Catholic and made sure I prayed). My parents split up when I was seventeen – my mother remained alone for the rest of her years, but my father remarried and he and wife new wife are still together. I always thought my parents should divorce because they were just so miserable as a couple. They used to fight and carry on and my Mum used to say she was 'too good' for my dad… and she probably was. My mother came from a really upper–class family, so she is quite up herself and snooty. My dad was more working class and, I think, my mum always knew they were not really right for each other. That’s what cracked them in the end. My mum refused to fit in with my dad and his lifestyle. It was lucky that it happened when we were all a bit older, around high school age. We knew what was really going on, there wasn’t any hiding it from us, so they didn’t hide it from each other.
I lived in Sydney for eighteen years, but I have been in Queensland for nearly three. For fifteen of those years in Sydney I worked in a professional capacity, in administration, as a Personal Assistant for multi-national companies. I moved to the coast and it was very hard to find work. I've had a modeling background – swimwear, lingerie, active wear, nude modeling – which led me to work in the sex industry. I did some modeling in magazines and they paid six hundred and fifty dollars for a full page. I did four magazines, so I earned up to seventeen hundred dollars. I still get requests to do photo shoots every now and again. Really, work only comes in the summer because it’s warmer… out on the beach, in the garden… and then the temperature starts cooling down, so the work slows down.
I left Sydney …which was my biggest mistake. I guess I was looking for greener pastures in Queensland, but I shot myself in the foot. In Sydney, I had been renting this place that had four bedrooms and two bathrooms, it was lovely. After my partner and I split up, I didn’t need all the rooms and I was thinking the grass would be greener in Queensland, so I moved there. The stock markets crashed, and I lost my job two weeks before Christmas. The wheels all fell off, so to speak. My brother was sending me money and I found it very hard to get a job … it was dreadful (this was when I first moved and was living in Brisbane). I had two dogs. It cost me ten thousand dollars to move them from Sydney to Brisbane. I found myself very lonely. Even though I had friends, they all had kids and had a completely different life to mine. I hated Brisbane… and not having work. I was so depressed it wasn't funny.
I met up with some Sydney friends and they saw my situation and suggested I move to the Gold Coast. I wanted to be near the ocean – I had liked living close to the ocean in Sydney. They explained I had to make a decision about my dogs as its all units on the Coast. I couldn’t believe that I had to give my dogs away. God it almost killed me. It was the most distressing experience to go through…to give up my dogs. I had those dogs for ten years, but I had to make a decision. I was going no–where fast anyway. At first, I stayed with a chap and his wife for a while until I found a place to rent.
I moved into a unit and did a bit of waitressing; I thought what the hell am I doing this for? I am not getting any younger. My pride was in the toilet but I just had to survive. I tried to live with a few flat mates to begin with, but that was a nightmare. There were no girls, just blokes, and they were just too much... I was going nowhere. There aren’t any jobs here on the Gold Coast, the wage rate is around eighteen dollars an hour and that’s just bull. You need to be in hospitality or tourism to be making lots of money, but they’re also struggling at the moment. Businesses are going down all around us – shops are closing their doors. The tourists’ numbers are down compared to last year. People are trying to keep their heads above water.
I find a lot of locales that I've met here have no substance to them. It’s something that irritates me. I went to my girlfriends' house for the first time in two years and I thought, oh my God, what a change in attitude. I would never tell her that I'm working in the sex industry. It’s just something that I have to grin and bear.
Don’t get me wrong, I have met some great clients, very intelligent, very funny, but lots of the people who call are not really genuine. They make an enquiry, I give them a response and they don’t follow up. Only thirty per cent of the clients that ring up are genuine customers – that’s the truth of the matter. Then I get all the idiots ringing up after midnight, when it says on my web page, ten till ten. They call at one or two in the morning asking if I’m available, so now I turn my phone on 'silent' when I'm in bed.
I am not earning a lot of money in the sex industry, and it is not good for my self -esteem. Some time I lay in bed at night thinking, you’ve got an education…this is just not you. Oh and the shame, the shame. I have to keep a strong mind and just focus on earning the money. I’m surviving…just. Sometimes I have a good week when it’s' all happening', and then suddenly I can have a week or two of nothing – like when its Easter or Christmas – it’s very quiet and the pay is low. I have been doing this job for just over a year now. If I had the chance to do it again, I wouldn’t. I miss my old routine, I miss my life, and I miss the respect, the self-respect. I am an educated woman, who is only doing this sex work because I have to.
Working in the industry is not as glamorous as people think it is. I know a girl who rents a room in Brisbane – she works for a guy and he sends the clients to her. She has no choice who she services. The guy is a pimp, and he does very well himself. He tried to bring me on board, but I declined. He takes a percentage of what she makes. Working from Wednesday lunch time until Friday morning, one client every hour. One client will come to do anal sex (but he will pay five hundred dollars to do it), then she gets another one for an hour session who wants whatever. She has no control on who is calling, whereas I have that choice. I pick who I want and scan them all. She checks out Friday mornings, is back in on Wednesdays, and makes two and a half to three thousand a week, depending on how many clients she sees in that time. She has a fiancé, but he doesn’t know what she's up to. She's living a double life. I figure that he thinks she’s a stripper or something. She’s only twenty–two, she loves him but, hey... it does catch up with you somewhere along the line. I just couldn’t do that – I am struggling enough with my self-esteem.
There was one sweet guy who took me overseas with him for two weeks to San Francisco in February. Yes I have been spoiled a bit. Often I do ‘out calls’ were I go to dinner with a client. There is also another guy who asked me to go to Sydney to live with him. He is a great guy, I love him to death, but I am not ready to run off into the sunset with anyone right now. We’re just good friends… sometimes he comes around and we catch up for lunch. I have made quite a few good friends out of working in the industry, I will say that. The clients that I have connected with know that I am a smart cookie, that my only goal is not just to work in the sex industry. Some of the clients have really helped me.
There was a bucks' party on the Sunshine Coast that I did one Saturday night, it was ****. The girl I worked with was a bit disheveled. She didn’t really quite have a grasp on the self-grooming part of the industry. We two were the only ones that would take the job and we had to drive for miles. The guys were all nice to begin with but they were drinking very heavily. Thank God we were only there between six and nine o’ clock. They started to take photographs, which was something I didn’t want because I was topless and could be recognised from their photos. I became upset and told them I was going. We both earned one hundred and fifty dollars for a three hour job, which was bull s**t. It just wasn’t worth it, especially when you think of how much petrol we spent in our cars to get there and back. The guys were so rude about it… arrogant. They didn’t care how far we had to travel; they had no respect, and it just made me more annoyed. I said to them, 'you’re lucky we came for the job, because no–one else wanted to. So suck on that lemon, cheeky bastards!' Fifty dollars an hour… come on.
Another job was really good but they were using enhancement drugs that kept them awake, so they just drank all night and slept through the day. We all had our own rooms to stay in. Mind you, they helped clean up the next day, before everybody checked out. These boys were Gold Coast boys and they were fantastic. One of the guys gave me a one hundred and fifty dollar tip. It was so lovely, and I even caught a lift back with them the next day. I didn’t have to catch any trains. I went to this job with a different girl, a tiny little thing. She had these big performer glasses – they were her whole look. She had the smallest figure with black curly hair…she was beautiful. But she was also a very clever lovely young woman….not tacky or skanky looking.
I won’t be doing this forever, trust me. I'm only doing it for a period of time. Anyway that’s my story. I will ride it out until I can make a plan to leave Queensland. I have to go back to Sydney. Being here…it’s driving me crazy. I have to get back to the land of the living.
I sit here watching TV all day, waiting for a phone–call that might not come. It’s all too much for my self-esteem. I have to get cracking with my decisions, make my future brighter. I don’t have a partner, it’s not like I have two incomes coming in. At the end of day I don’t want to continue working in the sex industry, but I also don’t want to be out of a job. I would love to go back to Sydney. When I worked in Sydney, there was so much work. I will have to go and check the place out first and make sure I have a job, then organise my transport – but when that’s going to happen remains to be seen. I think I’ll wait until winter is over first.
If I were to say anything to the public about working in the industry it would be to never judge a book by its cover. Groups of guys walk around lonely at night and so they think, oh we’ll just go get some slut for an hour, or they go to bars and expect us to walk around topless and serve them food and alcohol while they lap it all up. What they don’t realise is I’m actually smarter than all of them put together. So I say never judge a book by its cover. Also I just think in general you should always treat people they way you want them to treat you. I haven't made friends with other girls working in the industry, so I can’t really share my experiences with a girlfriend. I have a lot of guy friends that know about it, but no girl has made me feel I can tell them.
The web site that I had put my faith in, to get me work, 'died' last year. Luckily I had modeling work all through autumn, and in winter I took three months off. Working in the sex industry was stuffing with my head. I kept saying to myself 'I’m a prostitute, I’m a prostitute.' I couldn’t get my head around it. I started pumping up my resume to find a new job but I went back into the industry after the three months. After the break I had a new focus, like come on, you can do this, just grin and bear it.
I have to have morning notice for an afternoon appointment and an afternoon notice for an evening one, so I can prepare. It’s not like I can just drop everything and go straight away – notice is important to me. I like to know when I sit down to rest that I don’t have an unexpected appointment. I charge one hundred dollars if the client comes to me, for the hour, but if I travel out to do a job, its five hundred…that's my selling price. If I’m on an overnight job, I charge fifteen hundred dollars. It’s a lot of money if I earn that in a week, but I don’t often receive that many client calls. I can get three bookings in a week, and then, the next week, only one massage booking, which is eighty dollars for half an hour. But if they want oral relief I charge one hundred and twenty dollars. I have busy weeks and slack ones– it’s so bloody inconsistent, it’s not funny. I get loads of inquiries but no bookings, it’s frustrating. One week it’s all on, then the next week, nothing. When you work in the sex industry you just don’t know what’s around the corner.
I don’t worry about my safety too much. I am OK there. I work alone, but I judge people when they call, as I charge top dollar. I find out where the hotel is and I have a decent conversation with the client beforehand. I ask the guy to describe himself to me; sometimes we exchange photos on the internet. Most of the clients are between thirty–five and fifty–five. They are mostly business men, nice chaps. I have been on a fair few overnighters, they’re the best – go out to dinner, judge their character…better than just turning up at the hotel …and the clients like to see what I'm like as well. So yeah, the overnights are usually successful. I just don’t get that many of them. If I could get just two overnights a week, I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. .. go out on a dinner date, pack a little bag, and there is no pressure. I can relax and have a really good time.
I have made a really good friend of a client; he is a body guard for some celebrity and lives in Los Angeles. I caught up with him a couple of weeks ago, and he was just awesome, so we are going to catch up again before he goes back overseas. I’m sure he’ll be a regular customer. You just know when you click with someone, you know you’ve satisfied them, and we just hit it off.
I can honestly say there was only one guy that I didn’t ask to come back when he tried to ring me again, because I thought he wasn’t clean. I would have liked him to have had a shower beforehand, but he came straight from work... after all, it was only for half an hour. He came to the door and I looked at him and thought, ewww, oh no, you’re definitely not coming back. He was the only horror story; otherwise, all the other clients have been gentlemen.
I made a poor decision by leaving Sydney and coming to a place where there was no work. I struggled, and became really depressed. You know how you beat yourself up? I had it all, but look at me now. I am so disappointed in myself. I have been on the coast now for three years and I haven’t achieved a thing. The sex industry – you can’t be sure of anybody or anything, because it’s the unknown. There are all sorts of people doing all sorts of things out there. You have the kinky side, you have the other more private side, and then you have the dirty side. I don’t care what anyone says, this industry messes with your head, when you know you can be doing better with your life. If it’s the only thing you know, of course you’re going to laugh and say it's great, because you have nothing else to compare it to.
I would love to go back to Sydney soon, make sure I have a job, but when that’s going to happen remains to be seen. As I said before, I’ll wait until winters over first. Anyway, I have to keep a strong mind. You have to do what you have to do, just maintain focus on knowing what you’re doing, but also what you have to do in order to move on.
I look toward the future and think of the positives of my past; like I said... I have met some nice people BUY