Harlotry: Why I Keep Returning To The Sex Industry

This stock photo communicates “MONEY” but also “SEX”

Cathryn Berarovich is something of a renaissance sex worker; she was until recently employed as a stripper but has held numerous interesting jobs in the industry (and she’s currently an excellent columnist on this very website). Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.

A lot of people have asked me why, if I love my career so much, I keep leaving it and then returning. The assumption is that if I love sex work so much, I’d never need a break, but that’s simply not true.

There are a lot of reasons why I keep leaving, the main one being that–although I do truly love my work–it can be incredibly exhausting. I am not the most social person, and something like sex work (requiring a great deal of human interaction) is a huge drain on my emotional and mental resources. I need a lot of space, and I am fortunate in that sex work allows me to earn enough money that I can take the space I need when I need it.

I’ve been a sex worker of some variety for nearly five years. In that time I’ve taken a prolonged leave of absence from the industry three different times and for three different reasons. After each of these vacations, I’ve followed the siren call of the industry and gone back. The bottom line is that I love my work truly, madly, and deeply, and while there have been jobs within the industry that I’ve hated–whether because the job itself is not a good fit for me, or because the working conditions themselves were hostile–I’ve never begun to comprehend how someone could hate the industry as a whole.

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    • Sean

      Thank you Cate, I think this article provides the bottom line critics of your series needed to hear…you return to employment in the sex work industry because you *enjoy it*.

      While I am indeed appalled by stories of young men and women forced worldwide into sex work, we must separate them from those who make the choice to do it, AND remember that if someone chooses to do it, it is their free choice regardless of their personal backgrounds. We cannot just assume those people are broken, or the classic “they do it because their daddy didn’t love them” bullshit.

      • Cate

        Most of the whores I know grew up in middle to upper-middle class homes and had loving parents. A lot of us are even out to our parents, and to make stupid assumptions about our mental health is just offensive.

    • Jade

      I love reading your column, I can’t wait for more funny stories now you’re getting back in the business!

      • Cate

        Well, the next story is very long and not terribly funny. After that though, boy do I ever have an epic one for you guys.

    • Natalie

      I was just wondering, do you have health insurance? I can’t imagine stripping or doming is easy on your body. What if you break something! This concerns me, since you are basically a freelancer (if you are doing the fetish/doming work) and I would hate to think of something happening and you not being able to cover the hospital costs.

      • Cate

        I’m lucky enough to have a mother who works for the city of Chicago, and because of that I am eligible to be on her health insurance until I turn twenty six. That’s only a little more than three years away, though, at which point I’m going to have to start shopping around for coverage. It’s going to be really fun, I’m sure, but you’re absolutely right that sex work can definitely be physically challenging. While I seem to be sturdier than a lot of girls, and I’ve never suffered from the knee, ankle, and back problems many sex workers encounter, I’m sure it’s also just a matter of time, particularly considering the fact that I already have mild scoliosis.

    • Maggie

      I hate to pry, but are you going to tell the story of why you were suspended? I know you mentioned “too many tasteless, violent jokes,” but that made me more curious!

    • http://SommelierinSneakers.blogspot.com/ SomminSneakers

      Love you- will be in town on Monday night for an industry(my new one) thing. Hope I can make time to meet you.

    • Dan


      Enjoy reading your column. Though I’ve wondered what your long term plans may be. Do you envision a place for yourself in the sex industry when you reach your late 30s or even later? Is it possible to make enough money to retire before then? Just wondering.