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

Grant never tried to exact any harm on myself or my family. He continued to call for several weeks, including one time when my sister answered the phone and was subjected to an incredibly creepy interrogation of her own. Soon after, the calls stopped and Grant’s emails became fewer and farther between.

While things might have been different if he had been a little more imbalanced, as things turned out I am in some strange way grateful to him. Without Grant, my mother might never have learned that I was a sex worker (I would have died before I gave up such information willingly) and I would have continued to live a double life, hiding my work from the parent I was closest to. One thing that made my experiments with the sex industry so much easier was the fact that I had people in my life who knew what I did and didn’t judge me for it.

My mother’s view of the sex industry is as dim as ever. When I texted her to verify that this was true, she responded with a diatribe about how all sex work was an automatic dead-end that provided no opportunities for personal growth and could very well ruin the life of anyone who pursued it, but followed said diatribe with an assurance that she has come to understand and accept that sex work–and my affinity for and love of it–is part of who I am.

I’m sure that Grant has no idea where his creepiness led, but every time I have a frank discussion about sex work with my mother, I almost want to say a little ‘thank you’ inside my head to him for bringing it about.

Cathryn Berarovich is a former sex worker and current writer. She’ll share her stories each week on TheGloss.

(Still from Pretty Women by Touchstone Pictures)

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.