Harlotry: On The Time A Client Outed Me As A Prostitute… To My Mom

To my great surprise, my mother did not seem terribly shocked by any of it (in hindsight, it must have been fairly obvious as I amassed increasingly valuable possessions and had abruptly stopped asking for money). While she wasn’t happy by any stretch of the imagination, she didn’t fly into a rage, burst into tears, or otherwise react hysterically. Of course she was concerned about my safety–and upset that I had given out our shared home telephone number to a client–but when I outlined my security measures to her, she was genuinely impressed.

Neither I nor my mother have a very clear memory of that conversation. We were both in such shock, not only that my profession had come to light but also at the way in which I’d been exposed. Even the fact that my mother and I were able to have such a calm and level-headed conversation about the situation was stunning since, at the time, it was difficult for us to settle who would do the dishes without bickering.

I remember that morning the way I remember peculiar dreams; it’s more a series of feelings and images than a coherent event. I remember my mother’s voice waking me, her expression a mix of concern, irritation and perplexity, my panic at the prospect of a potentially crazy client knowing too much about my real life, her initial look of incredulity when I told her what I was doing and why, and my relief at her ultimate ambivalence.

When I asked my mother about her memory of what happened in hopes she would recall more clearly, she found that the same was true for her. It’s strange, sharing this non-dream dream with her. While both she and I know that my being outed by a creepy client was a real thing that actually happened, the details slip through our fingers. The whole affair seems like something close to magic, partly because I am still completely astounded by my mother’s measured reaction.

Share This Post:
    • Amanda Chatel

      I heart this series so hard!

      • Cate

        That means a lot coming from you. I love your stories.

    • Janna

      I love these articles! Just like the new “Blue” webseries with Julia Stiles (<3) I like it for the lack of preaching and the honest-sounding and very relatable stories and thoughts.

      • Cate

        Julia Stiles has a web series where she is a sex worker?! I am so there.

    • MM

      This series is great.

    • Julia

      Please, please write a book. Your writing style, your story, the personality that shines through are all so endearing and enthralling. It’s so interesting to read this from a first person view that isn’t entirely drowned in guilt or framed as a “cautionary tale.”

      Also, let’s be friends? :D

      • Cate

        I have friends who also say I should write a book, but geez, this is the first place I’ve ever even been published. I am in no way ready to commit to anything as big and scary as a book, I don’t even know how I would publish it!

        But thank you? Compliments make me nervous, but I appreciate them all the same.

    • alexandra

      No judgment on any involved party but… what the fuck your mom didn’t stop you when she found out? I don’t think mine would have ever let me leave the house again. From earlier articles it sounds like you may have lived outside of the US– were you living somewhere where sex work was legal? If so, your mother’s reaction would make more sense to me.

      • Cate

        There was less than a month left before my eighteenth birthday, at which point she wouldn’t really have any say over what I did or did not do. Even aside from that, my mother has always been unusually permissive, raising both my sister and me with a kind of, ‘I’ll tell you the risks, but if you want to go ahead and take the chance it’s your funeral’ mentality. My dad was the taskmaster, my mother just says ‘I told you so’ a lot. She would help me pick up the pieces of any disasters I met with, but she never, ever made decisions for me.
        I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life, so prostitution was totally illegal, although I was still treading the line between legal and illegal sex work. My mother, though, definitely sees a great distinction between illegal and immoral behaviour. As I said in the column, she isn’t pro sex work, but she doesn’t think it’s immoral, just stupid.

      • Psych Student

        I like that your mom seemed more concerned with your safety than the legality. My wife worked as a Pro Domme for a while and I supported her entirely (I thought, and still think it’s super hot, plus, I got to help sometimes!) I told her that she was free to drift into illegal activites as long as she’s safe, doesn’t get caught, and tells me about it (freakin’ hot!) :)

    • Karen

      I love reading these! Keep them coming :)

    • Dani

      Oh Grant, Grant, Grant. I would have blown poor Grants spot completely up. I currently work in a “field” where I have to deal with gentlemen like this all of the time. You definitely have to let them know who’s boss, otherwise they will try you in more ways than one. I think its great the way that you and your mom were able to handle it. My mom was similar, growing up in the 60′s and 70′s she approaches it with a feminist flair. She is the total opposite of judgemental about what I do, which makes life a tad bit easier when you don’t have to lie to everyone in your family.

      • Dj

        If you aren’t ashamed than why lie ? How are things supposed to ever change ?

    • Brendan

      Not a regular Gloss reader (but I might start now!); your sister is actually a friend of mine and pointed me to your article. Love it! Here’s what I told your sister (after which she suggested I post this in a comment):

      “I would love to meet your sister, she just sounds fabulous. (P.S. Give her a big thank you from me for helping to spread the perspectives of sex workers. I’m so tired of paternalistic social workers speaking for all prostitutes, hookers, whores, trollops, etc.)”

      To elaborate: clearly there are many cases of sex slavery, and this needs to be fought. But equating sex slavery with ALL sex work is not only inaccurate but demeaning and ignorant, both to clients AND to workers. Hearing someone preach on the immorality of sex work because of “how degrading it is to women” (because, of course, only women do sex work!) is so Puritanical as to be almost plagiarized from every line of dialogue spoken by Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter.

      So, in short: write on, sister, violate them Victorian sensibilities!


      A Sex Work Sympathizer

      • Cate

        Pleased to meet you, Brendan. I’ve heard a lot about you from Rach.
        There is so much I could say to this, but I’m just going to go with WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE IN THE WORLD THINK LIKE THIS?! Especially the part where you point out that not all sex workers are women, something that doesn’t get said nearly enough. Ignoring such a large part of the sex worker population does no favors to anyone.

      • Psych Student

        Very well said!

    • A Jaret

      First time I’m reading these blogs, whatever they are.. and i love it!
      Its different, nothing in my norm, but I respect it. Its what you pick to do, and btw, you write so well! You go girl, more power to you for being you and not explaining why to the world.