Cathryn Berarovich is something of a renaissance sex worker; she’s currently employed as a stripper (and writer) but has held numerous interesting jobs in the industry. Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.
Sex work is, at its root, an incredibly elaborate game of pretend. Talking a man into an appointment or a lap dance or anything, really, requires me, the sex worker, to find a lot of different ways to say things like, “Let’s pretend I’m not completely out of your league” or, “Let’s pretend I’m not working right now” or, “Let’s pretend I’m actually interested in how distressed you are by the state of your life.” All your life you’re told that people will like you just as long as you keep being yourself, but while that isn’t really true all the time, it especially isn’t true in sex work.
In order to be a successful sex worker, most girls have to put on a pretty extreme persona. There are, I’m sure, those few, those proud, those totally not awkward ladies who actually do find the lives of office workers interesting and who are good at forgetting they are working, even while they are working. I’ve never met one of these magical unicorns but I’m sure they’re either amazing at their jobs or terrible at them.
Most sex workers are not magical unicorn ladies. I am not a magical unicorn lady. I am, as I’ve said before, painfully awkward in person, and very, very low on patience with human failings such as boringness, or worse, simple douchbaggery. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m very good at masking my contempt and pretending to be full of social graces, I would be a complete failure as a sex worker. Fortunately I know how to hide all of these qualities and, if given a sufficient incentive I can be the sweetest, most amiable creature known to man. I accomplish this by essentially playing dumb and, to an extent, submissive and pliable.
“Oh my God,” I say, “I had no idea accounting/restaurant management/baggage handling/sugar sales/other boring job could be so fascinating! So what do you get up to in your free time? Oh, you hang out here and drink the cheap drinks and try to negotiate the dance prices? You don’t say!”