Harlotry: The First Time Someone Paid Me For Sex

Last week, we introduced you to Cate, a writer and former sex worker. This week, she shares the story of her first time with a client.

Despite all my fears and mistakes, my first time as an actual prostitute went very smoothly. While I wasn’t exactly expecting it to be horrific, I also wasn’t expecting the charmingly awkward experience it turned out to be.

I started off with the mistake of riding my bike to the call. It was late June in Chicago and was therefore hot enough that it was nearly impossible to ride a bike for more than a few blocks while remaining fresh as a daisy. By the time I got to my first client’s apartment, I was a sweaty mess. I sat down on the steps of his nice building and tried to fan myself with the book that I’d brought for some reason. Perhaps as a security blanket.

There wasn’t anyone around, but I felt incredibly conspicuous sitting on a tattered messenger bag in front of this nice apartment building in my ripped fishnets, ragged miniskirt, and steel toed boots smoking cigarettes and fanning myself with a copy of whatever Russian novel I was reading at the time. I knew I didn’t look like most people’s idea of a prostitute, but I also knew that it was painfully obvious I didn’t live there. I tried to focus on my imminent work, but that only sent me into a panic: I was about to go upstairs and have sex with a man whose name I had already forgotten but this wasn’t a party, I wasn’t even slightly drunk, it was the middle of the afternoon, and I was going to get paid for it. The very idea was absurd.

When I finally gave up on fanning myself and stood, I was shocked that I was able to walk. My legs felt like Jell-O and I sort of floated into the lobby. Before I punched in the code the guy had emailed me, I tried looking up his name in the directory, hoping that perhaps his first name would be listed. It wasn’t, there was only a last name that was as bland and average as I was sure his first name had been, Chris or Ted or John or something. I decided that I would avoid the subject of a name unless explicitly asked, and dialed the number.

Share This Post:
    • Beth

      Please, please stop already.

      • MM

        Seriously? I think this series is interesting and pretty well written. I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

      • Goldie

        Just stop reading. Go away. I’m fascinated.

      • anya

        yea i actually found this to be really interesting and lot different than what most people think goes on. its very humanizing, i like how she described her intense nervousness

      • Alexis H

        No kidding, this is one of the best, most intriguing series on here. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

      • Anne

        Please, please shut up already.
        I am loving this.

    • Amy

      I am super digging this series. I recently encountered a prostitute (my bf’s grandpa was just finishing up when we stopped by to visit. Pro-tip: call first from now on). He actually made her dinner afterwards and we all just chatted casually, she was a model and had sex a couple times a month with the same (4) men for extra cash. It didn’t sound like she considered herself a whore… it was merely something she did… on the side.

    • Noora

      I LOVE your series :) It is really very interesting. Looking forward to next week’s instalment!

    • Jon

      can’t wait for the inevitable anal request! :)

      • Cate

        Those are so boring that they don’t really warrant a full article. Since I was independent, I could set my own prices. I charged an extra two hundred dollars for anal and it was so much more that no-one ever took me up on it. I got a lot of ‘HOW much? Never mind.’ emails.
        It was sort of a shame, because $500 is a lot of money, but also not a shame because anal is really intimate and I wasn’t too enthused about sharing that with a client, hence the high price tag.

      • Jon

        where do your clients spray their solution? i’m sure you get a ton of guys wanting to go all over your face and your mouth. do you usually charge extra because that seems almost as intimate as anal if you ask me..

        fyi, i so would have shelled out an extra 200. you seem legit like that.

    • sfs

      The only thing more disgraceful than paying someone for sex is accepting payment for sex. And you’re not even intelligent enough to be ashamed of yourself. Nice.

      • Lo

        That’s the most disgraceful thing? I can think of enough worse things to fill a ballad.

      • Jennifer Wright

        What about accepting payment for, say, killing anything? I suppose there are scales. I mean, I would certainly kill a cockroach for almost no money. $3? I’d say that’s my price. Everything else I’d have to haggle over.

        But that’s for individual cockroaches, I wouldn’t kill say, a Fear Factor style infestation for $3.

      • Cate

        I would say that imposing one’s own morals upon someone else is more disgraceful than accepting money for anything, including sex or violence.

        Also, Jennifer, I think you’re selling yourself short. Cockroaches can be really hard to kill sometimes. I think $5 per cockroach is a better rate.

      • Natalie

        I’ve just realized that all those years of killing spiders for my roommates, I could’ve made some serious cash. Damn it! And I say $5 per killing unpleasant things should be the standard rate.

      • AM

        @ sfs

        But why is it disgraceful or something to be ashamed of?

      • PaulMurrayCbr

        Isn’t that a Monty Python quote? Oh wait – I think it was Oscar Wilde. Same diff.

    • Scarlett

      I love this series. It’s really interesting and of course, enlightening. If you’re against the sex work industry, you should look the other way. There’s too much happening in the world to focus on something that bothers you. Move along.

      • Cam Cox

        Well said and so great to see a well written non sensationalised account of sex work as being exactly what it is – sex work

    • Sugar

      That sounds so horrifying. Absolutely horrifying.

      I want more.

    • IJ

      Incredible article! I really hope you found your own Richard Gere. hehe :)

      • Cate

        God no, Richard Gere was a huge asshole in that movie. I found someone better.

      • Jennifer Wright


        We’re going to continue using Pretty Woman imagery because everyone recognizes it, and it is the universally understood cave symbol for “friendly prostitute” but read the original script, because it gets weird.

        Here: http://www.awesomefilm.com/script/Pretty-Woman-($3,000).pdf

        Of course you can do better than the Richard Gere character. He was originally intended to be a sociopath.

      • Cate

        I have read it. I have read it and wished that it was used in the actual movie. Although I think it’s pretty unrealistic that Vivian would reject all that money, I hate the Captain Save-a-Ho formula and I think that in the existing version they kept too much of the Richard Gere character’s original sociopathy while still trying to present him as warm and cuddly.

      • Jen

        Captian Save-a-Ho! Priceless.

    • Sam

      I could feel the awkwardness as I read this. Love it.

    • Byron

      Awesome, if not perfect literature:
      “The fact that I was now officially a whore didn’t really sink in until I was unlocking my bike. It was a lot like losing my virginity, or turning eighteen, in that I didn’t feel any different. I was just acutely aware that I was suddenly somehow different. It had been so easy, so unscary, so very much not like anything I had been led to believe about prostitution.

      I couldn’t help but wonder why everyone wasn’t a whore.”

    • CP911

      Firstly, I am really enjoying this series.

      I’m wondering if you’ve read Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho and if so, how you feel about Maria’s story in relation to your own life?

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Mandy

      A brilliant writer with what could be an endless supply of fascinating articles. Thanks for sharing!

    • Eddie

      Ever seen American Psycho? The talk of Genesis would have unnerved me…

    • t

      Some guy out there is a lucky guy :)

    • t

      Some guy out there is a lucky guy :)