Cate is something of a renaissance sex worker and has held numerous interesting jobs in the adult industry. Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.
Everyone knows that a well-balanced market has a variety of levels of service and an equal variety of price points. The best analogy is restaurants: if you want to go out to eat in a major city, you’ll have a range of options. They will go from the cheap, family-owned hole-in-the-wall with the most amazing food you’ve ever tasted (and service to match) to the expensive steakhouse with a dress code and waitstaff who are so attentive you feel as if you’ve been transported to Downton Abbey. Somewhere along this continuum are also the cheap hole-in-the-wall places with awful food and worse service, as well as the expensive restaurants that still make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Downton Abbey, but more in the context of making you feel like you’re the chauffeur who married the youngest daughter. The same holds true for sex workers.
While I can’t speak to the experience of small town sex workers (though I’m sure they exist), I CAN speak to my experience as a mid- to high-range indoor whore in Chicago. I’m not going to share the exact dollar amount that it takes to get under my skirt, but I will say that it’s more than most girls charge, but less than plenty of other girls require. My rate allows me to work relatively infrequently while maintaining a fairly decent standard of living. This frees up a lot of time for volunteer work, self care, and the pursuit of various hobbies and interests, such as sewing, napping, and binge-watching shows on Netflix.
I’ve found that in general, higher-end work suits me best, but sometimes I just need a change and I’m not against taking a one week paycation for higher volume, lower rate work in other cities. I can come back with a few thousand dollars and go back to my usual routine of seeing clients infrequently and selectively. It doesn’t matter what I’m charging, though–I give all my clients the exact same level of service because I firmly believe that when it comes to both tacos and sex workers, more expensive is not always the same as better.
In Chicago, the rates for indoor workers who offer full service range from around $150 per hour to well into the high hundreds, probably even thousands. As far as I know, I’ve never met a woman who charges over $800, but at the same time most whores don’t exactly lead with “pleasure to meet you, I’m Cate, I’m a prostitute, and I charge X.” We all have different limits and preferences, of course, but as far as I can tell, those things aren’t really determined by rate so much as they’re determined by advertising platform.
The main advertising platforms in Chicago are Backpage, Eros, and The Erotic Review. Backpage is fairly straightforward; it is the equivalent of the Craigslist Erotic Services section. Ads are cheap and plentiful, and the rates are various, but on Backpage clients tend to expect more for less. Advertising on Backpage means clients calling up to ask for uncovered services when they only have $60. I suppose some women agree to this, otherwise the clients wouldn’t try it, and I don’t think women should be judged for it, but aside from the domination and fetish section, Backpage isn’t really for me. Eros is the advertising service I use most. There are various promotional options to give you more exposure, and rates tend to be on the higher side. The clients who look for girls on Eros tend, in my experience, to be somewhat more respectful than those on Backpage, and my photos look good with the color scheme.
This most important thing to remember in this discussion of rates is that the sex workers who choose to charge less, whether because they prefer higher volume or they believe (correctly or not) that their physicality is not such that they can command a higher rate, are in no way less than those of us who choose to charge more. Many people assume that lower rates mean less safety and more unprotected activities, while higher rates are some guarantee of discretion and proper protection, but that isn’t necessarily the case. There are plenty of sex workers who charge very low rates who are more conscientious about protection than those who charge higher rates, and vice versa. Lower rate workers are not all a bunch of junkies and crackheads, and higher rate workers are not all a bunch of drug-free saints.
It’s very frustrating to me to see people’s reactions change when they find out that I’m a “high end” hooker, that my hourly rate is the same as a lot of people’s rent. It is terribly upsetting to see how much more positive reactions to my work are when people realize my rates are on the high end, as if that somehow makes my work different or better than the labor performed by the women who work the strolls near my house. I’m sucking dick for money, the women who work in my neighborhood are sucking dick for money, the only real difference is that I charge more than them and advertise on the internet instead of on the street.
The discussion of rates may be important in that it helps to debunk a lot of myths, such as the belief that all indoor workers are charging thousands of dollars a night and rolling around in baths of Moët (that’s a terrible idea, guys. It’s basically inviting a yeast infection. Champagne is for drinking, not bathing) but beyond that it really holds little importance. I was raised to believe it is impolite to discuss money and while I think that can be taken too far, I do believe that focusing on rates damages us all and does little more than promote the toxic whorearchy that hurts us all.