Q&A with Lara, Part 2

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Q: If someone comes onto you in a bar or wherever, is it appropriate for you to tell him what you do or give him your website details? Or do you prefer to keep it all separate?

A: This is a question of much debate and personal preference. I myself have done both.

I’ve been asked for business cards, except I don’t have any (I really must get some made up). I’ve then been asked for my contact details and I’ve given them, in the right setting.

Sometimes, telling a potential suitor in a bar that you’re a sex worker can be enough to make them turn and run the other way, if that’s the effect you’re after. At one stage I was running into a man at a beach I go to frequently, and he was making comments about my appearance and laying his towel down near me, closer and closer each time. I wasn’t interested in meeting anyone at that time. I was trying to enjoy my solo time (as evidenced by my book and ear phones). Eventually he asked me what I did, I told him, he looked shocked, asked plenty of questions – and then I never saw him again. For me, if I can’t be who I am and someone is going to judge me based on my occupation, then that person is not going to fit into my life anyway, so in some ways it’s good to know early on.

It’s an each way bet though – alternatively, some men are fascinated or think that you will be easy to get into bed. Interestingly, on my personal time, I am a lot harder to get into bed than an average woman. So that theory is not correct in my case.

The other side of this is that some ladies like to keep worlds from colliding. This can also be a case-by-case thing. Some of my friends know, some don’t. My sister knows, but we rarely talk about it. I suspect my mother may have cottoned on, but we never talk about it at all. It’s not a subject I would ever consider discussing with my father, ever. So, for me, it depends on who I am with at the time, what environment I’m in, as well as who I’m speaking to. Being something that elicits strong opinion and negative judgment means that I am cautious as to whether I decide to disclose my occupation or not. And, there are times when you just can’t be bothered with the discussion that follows the term “sex worker”. Whether it’s fascination (morbid or otherwise), shock, or someone in saviour mode, or in a moral panic, sometimes you just want to gloss over the occupational conversation and blend in with the crowd.

Q: Have you ever been “outed”?

A: Yes. More than once. It’s not a pleasant experience. Funnily enough, it mostly has happened in the more distant past when I was terrified of people knowing.

Once, I was at a lunch with a relatively new friend of mine and his (extended) family. He announced it to the entire table. That was really something. Let’s just say they weren’t exactly impressed, and I wasn’t exactly comfortable.

More traumatically, years ago, I was once almost outed to my mother. This was a horrible day for me. Without rambling on and getting too depressing, I was at court seeking an AVO against my ex-partner. He brought his police officer friend with him to the third and final hearing (he’d not bothered to show up to the other two) and announced to the prosecutor that he would be telling the court that I was a prostitute, not to be trusted, and that his cop friend (who actually knew all the reasons I was seeking the AVO) would back this up. My mother had come with me to court that day. I was so upset at the thought that this would be announced in court – a place where I was already so intimidated and frightened – but in front of my mother? It was almost too much to bear, and the ultimate way for him to hurt me. I was very young, and still getting my bearings having ended the relationship, and didn’t have the strong sense of identity and confidence I do now, so it was terrifying. Luckily, the prosecutor was fantastically sympathetic and squirreled me away from mum to tell me that she wasn’t about to let him get away with any of that and that she would make sure mum and I could stay out of the court room. As it turned out, the magistrate was similarly disinterested and told him to keep his nasty little mouth shut. So, I managed to escape that one.

There have been other times too, a couple of men I dated who told all their friends (but didn’t tell me until I’d already met all the friends), and a couple of girlfriends who told various people they knew. This sometimes ends up in what I like to call The Circus Sideshow Effect at social gatherings, where I am the Sideshow Attraction and everyone else gazes at me with deep curiosity (or fascination or pity) and asks endless questions, effectively taking over the entire get together. Fun!

And, there have been threats to out me, by spurned lovers, banned clients and other weird, mean people.

My stance on this? Go for your life, do your best. I am proud of who I am, I’m proud of what I do and what I have achieved and the decisions I’ve made. I will absolutely not be held hostage by anyone, ever. I won’t be threatened. I may not like the situation, but I’d be more than happy to cop it on the chin than live in fear of rubbish like that. I’d get a loudspeaker first, and traverse Sydney wearing a sandwich board emblazoned with my website address.

But that’s me. Others feel differently. One thing that is absolutely essential to know – never, ever reveal someone else’s status as a sex worker to anyone. It’s not your place and is incredibly poor form. Unfortunately the “I know a sex worker!” thing can be almost irresistible for some people to keep to themselves. Some see it as gossip; some feel like they’re edgy and cool to know an escort. Some see that a worker is “out” and think it must be ok for everyone to know anyway; some have fallen out with the worker and want to spread juicy stories to get revenge. Regardless, you must never do this. Rise above the temptation and be awesome, thoughtful, and kind. It is up to the individual worker to make his or her own choices around disclosure.

I hope you’ve enjoyed Q&A Part Two As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on one or both topics!

And, as from Part One : Do you have a question about the industry, but you’ve never known who to ask about it? A question about sex? About the ladies? Or about me? If you have a question for me, or a question related to one of the questions above, don’t be shy to ask it. I would love to attempt to answer it for you.

Lara xxx

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