Diary of a Sex Worker: Learning a Thing or Two From Emma
If you question whether sex workers can enjoy what they do, or whether they can be empowered or think for themselves, Emma has a lot to teach you. A free spirit, political activist and lifelong learner, she enjoys the adventure and playfulness that sex work offers and uses her relationship with clients to teach them about causes she cares about.
Emma began her sex work career waitressing at a strip club, which led to a diverse array of gigs, including bartending, housekeeping in sexy garb, performing at a clothing-optional resort, sugaring, domming and escorting. She lives in San Diego but frequently travels the West Coast and beyond, and currently earns a living primarily sugaring and escorting.
Even though Emma is in high demand, she has a busy life outside of her everyday work—she loves volunteering for political causes and taking courses. She dreams of one day starting a business, going to law school, or even running for office, and particularly aspires to make a difference in the area of sustainability.
After meeting serendipitously at a dance event, she and I exchanged emails about her work and what she's learned from it.
How did you first get into sex work?
I can remember playing on phone sex chat lines before it was really appropriate or legal to do so. I have always been intensely curious about sexuality and the taboo. When I first learned what a prostitute was, I remember thinking that it sounded like a fun career. I used to read blogs of escorts and fantasize about living such a lifestyle.
Waitressing at a strip club was my first foray into adult work. It was a super fun work environment, and I liked the flirtatious nature of the job. But the misogynist management was never great, and they kept the AC cranking to freezing to keep our nipples hard. I couldn't see myself as a stripper at the time because I thought I was incapable of faking it. Eventually, I discovered my ability to find the good in people, and that I have diverse attractions.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I feel at home in the adult industry and always saw it as something I wanted to try. I enjoy forming mutually rewarding alternative relationships with clients and friends. When I worked at the adult resort, I got to see an abundance of relationships with longevity because there was trust and openness. Every day was a celebration of sexuality and freedom. We played silly and sexy games all day, lots of naked volleyball and themed lingerie parties each night, with sensual entertainment and dancing. Our job was to encourage our guests to play.
I enjoy getting to see a side of people that they don't often reveal. I enjoy giving people a sense of freedom and joy. I love making pleasure my business. And I love to spread my revolutionary ideas around to people with power.
What kinds of desires do your clients reveal to you?
I have met generous men (and couples) in many cities around the world, utilizing various websites. It does vary as far as what different people are looking for, but I find that most do want some level of emotional connection. I prefer seeing someone on a regular basis, but I am open to almost any dynamic, provided I am being respected and well taken care of. I've done some very entertaining cuckolding scenarios: role-play, private videos, in-person and even publicly. Small penis humiliation became a common request for a period of time, and, of course, the foot fetish. One of the most unique kinks I dabbled in was trampling.
It's been great to embrace my power and decisiveness through female domination, but I have found most aspiring submissives to be less respectful of my time and energy than the other men I meet. The work I love most is the capsule of intimacy of a FMTY (fly me to you) escorting date. After screening and coordinating travel, I fly out to a client and spend a few days or more in a wonderful hotel, taking time to get to know each other.
Did you have any previous misconceptions about sex work that had to be challenged before you did it yourself?
When I worked in strip clubs, I thought it took a certain type of person to be super flirtatious and successful. Over time, I learned that like any other skill, it just takes interest, dedication and practice. I don't think my personality changed as much as I became more confident to reveal the parts of myself that had been suppressed over time. I had been told by a teacher that I was showing too much shoulder in a boat neck top, and by my parents that certain clothing looked slutty. As I unlearned the whorephobic programming that permeated my childhood, I became free to express my full self and shed all guilt about my sexuality.
What has surprised you about sex work? How is it different from what you expected?
I think the only thing that has surprised me has been the broadness of human sexuality. "What is sex?" is a question that can never be pinned down because it is so many things to so many people. There will always be new surprises.
What have you learned about people and sex through your work?
Through my time becoming physically intimate with a high number of people, it has become apparent that men are not driven by the desire to have intercourse alone. Their need to connect on a deeper level has been made very clear to me. Even someone who goes straight to it from the beginning of the appointment always ends up wanting aftercare and to talk and get to know one another. Intimacy is at the core of what I do, more so than sex itself.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
No day looks the same, and my schedule is always fluctuating. Sometimes, I have clients in the morning or early afternoon, but usually, I do have the morning to myself. I like to wander into my yard and pick some fruit to eat for breakfast. I have given up on my garden until I design a way to automate it because I am traveling so often. I always have various streams of communication to tend to, and that can take up many morning hours. Since I am totally independent, admin and client communication account for much of what I actually do. But I appreciate having full control and the ability to connect so personally.
If I can, I go for a rollerblade, some yoga, and/or a short run by the beach. Lunch with a friend/sugar daddy happens frequently, sometimes as a first meeting to assess our connection, or sometimes with someone I see frequently. Vegan dinners that lead to bedroom time are also common. I love exposing my clients and friends to vegan food when they aren't full-time vegans. They are usually surprised by how good it is.
In-calls do happen frequently, in which case I book a hotel in accordance with those bookings. I have certain trusted places that I like in San Diego and L.A., but for new cities, I will spend time figuring out where to stay. I check in early and set certain things up for my appointments to create a relaxing mood. Occasionally, I come home late, but I don't often spend the night with anyone, though it does happen every now and then. Even during a FMTY, I usually have my own room. I see my friends when I can, and I have attempted to date, but my personal love life has been pretty sporadic.
Is there anything you don't like about your work?
There are plenty of creeps who come along and try to slither into my life. But my screening has gotten more stringent and my intuition more sharp. Other than that, the only shitty thing for me is how it does make it more difficult to find a romantic partner. When I find someone I'm interested in, I prefer to tell them what I do straight away so I know they are good with it. But I still managed to date someone for six months, having been fully transparent from day one, before he threw what I do in my face. I think he had his own insecurities he was trying to mask, but it was still very hurtful. So, finding a match who is totally supportive of me doing sex work definitely adds another layer of difficulty, but I've always been a weirdo anyway. It weeds out jealousy issues that would become a problem for my polyamorous self regardless.
What do you wish that other people understood about sex work?
I wish people comprehended that sex workers practice safer sex than average adults. We get tested frequently and are much more aware about sexual health and safety.
How would you like to see laws and policies around sex work change?
I am an advocate for full decriminalization of sex work: removal of all laws that make it illegal on the end of the provider and client. I am not 100 percent sure how I feel about legislation regarding third parties. There are many specifics to decide upon, like what a regulated market would look like. STD/STI testing is always a part of that discussion, but I want it to be made free, private, and easily available to all people over 16.