Day Jobs And Evening Jobs

Contrary to popular belief, prostitutes are not in the least recognisable when off-duty. Anyone who thinks otherwise should watch them arriving at a brothel in their “civilian” gear. Some students who moonlight in brothels might wear sexy clothing to the university library, others might wear jeans and jumpers. It would be unsafe to assume that the prettiest girl, in the most provocative clothes, on the metro is a courtesan; but it would be equally unsafe to assume that the ordinary-looking single mother sitting next to her, with a child on her lap, is not one. This very invisibility has been upsetting to some cultures, which have taken steps to make sex workers visible again, even when they didn’t want to be.

In the second place, it is a false assumption and an ignorant preconception that the world divides simply between prostitutes and non-prostitutes as two exclusive and ironclad categories. If we ignore the grey area of gold-diggers, professional girlfriends, women who sleep their way to the top and so forth, and restrict ourselves to the classic case of a woman who goes to a particular place in order to have sex with complete strangers for cash on the barrel, then it is still the case that the majority of prostitutes – at least when natives of Western Europe – are short-timers and/or part-timers. The notion of a woman who does nothing else but hook until she dies of violence, an overdose or hypothermia applies only to the bottom stratum of the profession, to poor women trafficked to richer countries and unable to break out and return, and to the United States.

The non-punting public is, of course, much less aware of all the courtesans who have day jobs: they do not know about the Romanian divorcée who comes west to amass the seed capital to start her own business, or the British law student who works two days a week at the brothel instead of taking out student loans, or the Australian girl who does escort work through the London winter to finance the summer travels of her three-year Walkabout, or the airline stewardess who can be counted on to “party” with the oil sheikhs, or the Swiss tourist guide who can offer her clients an extra service, or the Spanish Guardia Civil officer who moonlights to supplement her salary. In one English city investigators found that a majority of the workers in the licensed saunas were university students. It goes without saying that students who finance their courses by part-time employment in massage parlours are unlikely to continue there after their degrees have landed them a good job; although should they fall into debt or need some quick money subsequently, the threshold for returning to work for a few more months will be lower for them than for a non-initiate of The Life.

One consequence of this pattern is that the number of women who have sold sex at one time or another is many times higher than the number of women presently engaged in doing so. For every girl that you find working in the licensed English sauna at any given moment, there are several whose shift is tomorrow or the day after, several more who are on call to handle peaks in demand, and more again who have paid off their debt or bought their car or whatever else they needed to do, and so have dropped out. The ratio between girls who are working at the establishment today, and girls who have worked there at one time or another this year – and avoiding double-counting between establishments – is probably at least one to ten, perhaps even one to twenty. From this it follows that if you take the number of girls working in the saunas at any given moment, you can multiply by ten or twenty to get the total figure with such employment experience. The extreme case is surely Thailand, where it has been estimated that 98% of the female population – that is, everyone except the aristocracy – has sold sexual services at one time or another. Clearly they are not all doing it right at this very moment, or there would be no women visible in normal employment, but that is as far as it goes.

It is not difficult, therefore, to envisage ten per cent of the British female population of a suitable appearance having had this kind of employment experience at some time in their lives, if only for a few weeks; and it has been suggested that in certain university departments that attract students with a unusual devotion to pelf, such as business studies and the law, half the alumni could put the licensed sauna on their CV. Not that they will, of course. Even so, the notion that none of these women are or will become ordinary “respectable” members of the community is ridiculous – as is the notion that the community is likely to find out.

It follows, at least in Europe, that everyone knows an ex-prostitute or two or ten, and if asked to guess who they are, would probably get it wrong. Given the number of law students on the game, there is a greater-than-zero chance that it is their own solicitor or counsel; and that this is the only way for the client to fuck the lawyer. Moreover, since lawyers often grow up to be judges and politicians, we may be seeing ex-hookers on the Bench or in the Cabinet. Bring it on, say I.

Posted on February 22, 2012 at 12:47 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE NAME OF THE GAME, Belles Du Jour

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