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What do you see (when you look at me)

People ask me what I do all the time. It’s a staple conversation in our culture. I could say writer or photographer, and I do, but when it’s specific to why I travel so much, there’s only one answer: “I’m a prostitute.” I suppose I could lie and say I’m in sales or a consultant, but why would I do that if the only goal would be to increase the person’s comfort level or to avoid the moment of silence as they contemplate if they heard me correctly? I’ve always lived an open life. I’m not crawling under a rock at forty five. Granted, this truth telling is often followed up by questions, which may have been avoided by a simpler answer. The truth is, I’m happy to answer inquires. Perhaps I can dispel a few myths, or change common perceptions. But here’s the amusing thing: I don’t look like a hooker—at least not what most people perceive working girls to look like. Sure, I could fit the bill if I put some effort into it, but most times, especially while I’m traveling, I look like an average woman. More than that, I probably look like a woman who gives zero shits about her appearance. Being comfortable is my number one priority. And I’m comfortable in Chuck Taylor’s, T-shirt, and jeans with the top button undone. The times I attempt to look pretty don’t seem to last because my skin swallows foundation (including heavy duty professional shit), so no matter if I look like a beauty queen when I leave the house, I’ll be a raggamuffin in no time. Not to mention my age. I don’t get Botox or nearly as many facials or chemical peels as I’d like (none to date, actually, but I think it’s time), so while people don’t peg me for my actual age, I’m clearly no Kappa Kappa Gamma.

So there we are: I just divulged something to a stranger that they probably don’t often hear in their daily lives, and while I’m sure a million things are going through their minds (like how much I charge), I’ve found that as of late, I’ve been following this reveal with a justification: “I clean up nice” or “I know I don’t necessarily look like one right now” with a wink and a smile. Why am I doing this? I’m a tad self-deprecating in my writing, but it’s done with humor and a jab at human nature. I’m not a put myself down type of person, which is why this recent verbal addendum surprises me. I need to knock it off. It’s not the self-possessed image I like to exude. Telling a perfect stranger that I’m a prostitute, doing drugs in the airplane bathroom and ordering doubles is acceptable; a chink in my self-esteem armor is unnecessary.

Part of the reason why I’m upfront is because I want folks to see that call girls run the gamut and could very well be sitting next to you at the library—or in first class. I think it’s critical to understand that in my industry (while based on looks at its core) being a super model is not the most important aspect. Don’t get me wrong, physical attraction is necessary, but as I’ve written before, hooking is so much more than a pretty face and a killer body. In order to maintain regular clients and longevity, it’s essential to be tolerant and able to make the best out of some truly unique and obscene situations. Certain personality traits are imperative in order to succeed as a hooker. Succeed as a hooker; never thought I’d write that line. But it’s one hundred percent true. And that’s why beauty is secondary when understanding the bottom line. At the very least, it shares top billing with the aforementioned. Here’s the thing I find interesting: I’ve been at this a long time and I never used to add that bit when I told people. Why now? I guess it’s an age thing. I don’t think the mass population envisions a woman my age when conjuring up an image of a prostitute. Add to this that I rarely field the question while I’m in the middle of work, so they’re most likely catching me in a frumpy moment. If I’m out running errands or at a bar writing, I can look positively homeless. What, I’m supposed to walk around in a yellow bandeau dress and stilettos? You couldn’t pay me...oh wait.

It’s the age old not judging a book by its cover, or rather, not seeing the person by their cover. The visual clues as to what a person does for a living or what they’ve gone through are rarely there. You won’t know if they have a foot fetish or work at the county jail. Oftentimes the visual clues we see on the outside are way off. Take a person with tattoos, for example, you might think they are a badass (or whatever), but any jackhole can buy a tattoo. True, I may not be your average working girl—although I’m not sure there is an average in my field. There are so many of us now: in countless forms and variations, and from all walks of life. Honestly, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a common denominator amongst prostitutes these days (besides wanting money). It’s also safe to say that most call girls don’t go around announcing it—I’m some kind of special.

The crazy thing is, I haven’t regretted telling a soul. Including the nun I sat next to on a flight once. She was lovely, and we had an illuminating conversation resulting in her wanting to buy my book. No one elected me to be the educator or ambassador of prostitutes, and the ensuing exchange often disrupts my writing/reading time, but if I can open minds and hearts, then I’m a happy hooker.

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