The Life & Times of a Melbourne Sex Worker
“I had a conversation with my Dad when I was a little girl, he said that there was nothing wrong with prostitutes and that I should have respect for them,” she explains with a roll of her big, blue eyes and her arms crossed against the table she is sitting at, “but he only told me this because I knew that he had cheated on my Mother with them and was only defending his actions.”
Tayla has worked in the sex industry now since she was eighteen years old on-and-off, now she is 25.
Tayla’s close friend was already working as a stripper at a Sydney club and she became curious about the entire sex industry.
She attributes her sexual curiosity and her lack of self-confidence to her delving in to the business with the help of her friend
“I don’t think any prostitute goes in to this industry thinking that they are going to stay forever, it’s usually just to make a bit of money and then leave and go back to ‘the real world’,” she shrugs. “I just felt like working in a strip club would be the perfect place for me to go to help me become more confident in my own skin, and it seemed to work.”
She started off dancing at the same club as her friend and the industry became almost instantly seductive with a high income coming in that not a lot of other eighteen year-olds would be used to seeing.
She tells of how the love for the money in the job led her down a path of partying with easy access to drugs any time she wanted. There was a natural progression from dancing, to peep-shows, pleasure massages before working as a prostitute in a brothel.
Tayla gives an honest account of her first experience having intercourse with a client. She explains about how she was consumed by an exhilarating mix of fear, excitement and nervousness.
“I got referred this client who openly enjoyed ‘breaking new girls in’,” she tells me, making air quotes above her head. “He was pleasant and excited to be the first male that I slept with in this industry. It was fine; he wasn’t really gentle with me, but he wasn’t overly rough or anything…”
Away from work, Tayla makes it no secret that she enjoys her own company very much. She has a cat that she adores and talks about a lot and can’t wait to get home to. She describes herself as a home-body but also as someone who likes to surround herself with those in her life of whom she loves.
Do those people know about her job?
“Yeah, the people who I love and care about know what I do and they don’t make any judgments on me just the same way I wouldn’t for their own lifestyle choices. I’m sure it’s not the career path they’d have chosen for me, but they love me and support me no matter what.”
Despite calling herself a homebody, Tayla has a very adaptable character, she comes across bright and social and very sweet and is apparently known by her clients for those qualities.
She believes that one of her best qualities is the fact that she doesn’t pass judgment on anyone. Perhaps this is a good thing, considering some of the odd requests and situations that have occurred in her job.
“We have this one guy who is known around Melbourne as ‘slug man’,” she explains, hiding a little smile, anxious to share the details, “and he likes to watch us step on them; once with a heel on, then another with our stockings on and then lastly, barefooted. He isn’t even interested in having sex.”
Tayla also tells of a well-known sports star who is known for defecating on a bed while the sex worker is showering as the appointment is finishing. She tells these stories with good nature and light-laughter, careful not to give any names or compromise anyone’s privacy.
Even though she admits she finds it easy to detach herself from sex as a job and sex in a relationship, she says often she feels the strain on that detachment, but on those days, she chooses not to work. She advises that any sex worker who can’t make that detachment should not be in the industry.
But why would one choose this industry?
“Because it’s easy,” she says nonchalantly.
She thinks for a moment, “well… most days at least, especially if you have my type of personality where you can distinguish the difference between personal life and work life.”
Tayla gives off the impression that she has given all this a lot of thought in the past.
“You know, I think ‘Daddy-issues’ are probably a very big reason why me and a lot of other girls end up in this industry, I see in other girls that they almost disrespect themselves because they aren’t respected by the man that should love them the most in their lives; their Dads… and while those reasons may be why I started, they are definitely not the reasons as to why I’m still here,” she admits very openly, making no apology for her vulnerability.
One can’t help but to wonder though, isn’t there anything else she would rather be doing?
“Yes, of course. I don’t want to be in this job any more than a garbage man wants to be at his job, but we do it and get on with it. It’s just that in my industry it’s easier to make a significant amount of money very, very quickly,” she explains, “and money is exactly why I am still here, I hope that when I have a more stable lifestyle I will be able to do something else with my life and work a regular job like everyone else. I honestly don’t think a lot of girls who work in this industry do it for the love of the job.”
Sex worker and Scarlet Alliance member, Melanie of Sydney disagrees. “I feel that my job is the best in the world!” she says enthusiastically, “I get to make people happy and I enjoy making people happy.”
Melanie is happily married to an English immigrant and is interested in educating people about the sex industry to destroy the stigmas and taboos that exist. She is open and honest with every person that she comes in to contact with about her job and admits that the only two people who have ever acted negatively were family members of whom she no longer has contact.
She says that clients are from all backgrounds.
“Often clients are in to anal stimulation and ask, ‘Am I weird for that?’ but they’re not, it’s actually pretty common, it’s just that it’s classified as taboo.”
Tayla agrees, citing anal sex play a great shame for a lot of clients. She says that the client base is ever-changing. “We get young, old, disabled, good-looking, bad-looking, in-between, the kind of people you would expect and a lot of people that you definitely would not.”
Receptionist Toni from Melbourne brothel, At The Top Of The Town says that their client base is also always changing and that the hostess staff are more casual and fleeting than the receptionist or other staff. She explains that there are a few safety issues that arise within Melbourne brothels as the Victorian legislation prevents the advertisement of jobs which makes it difficult to legally hire security guards.
Tayla attested to this, recalling a few rowdy clients, but her main safety concern while working in a brothel was the clients that would try to remove condoms without her realising. “The second I would turn my back, they would try to pull it off and hope that I wouldn’t notice. I’ve just learned to double check.”
Tayla earns around $400 per night on an average night, and on a good night she says that she earns anything up to $1500 and for now, that is enough to keep her in the industry.
“In 5 years from now I hope that I will have a family; or at least married to my partner with a baby on the way. I just want my life to be more steady, stable and happy with a nice, normal job,” she pauses and adds, “without financial strains.”
Considering that further for a few more moments, she gives a smile and shrugs, “Isn’t that just what every ‘normal’ person wants?”
WRITTEN BY JESSICA TENI