For those who are living with disabilities, leading a full life is completely possible — sometimes there just needs to be a little (or a lot) of assistance. People who desire to have sex with a disability possess needs that are just as significant and valid as anybody else’s. Unfortunately, given the many stigmas regarding the disabled, people often assume that those who are different are unable to have sex or shouldn’t be allowed to. Fortunately, ex-madam Becky Adams of the United Kingdom is attempting to cater toward the needs of this very specific clientele.
After running an illegal escort agency for 20 years, Adams, 44, realized she would almost definitely be going to prison if she stuck around the business, so she sold her business in 2009 and fled to France until the hubbub died down. In 2010, she returned to her home in Buckinghamshire and wrote a memoir entitled, “Madam – Prostitutes, Punters and Puppets” all about her experiences in the business. The book wound up winning both the Brit Writers Award as well as an award from Outsiders, a organization that assists the disabled to live sexually fulfilled lives. So now, Adams uses her past experiences to pursue the same purpose as Outsiders — to help those with disabilities to satisfy the same sexual needs that nearly everybody else has.
Adams told ABC:
“You cannot stop a disabled person from having a normal life of having the same opportunities of an able-bodied person — it’s discrimination. So I am a facilitator working on behalf of the person to find a sex worker — and it’s completely legal. To refuse to do it is a breach of human rights. I act as their voice and limbs.”
As a result of her new calling, she has decided to invest $100,000 in a nonprofit brothel devoted entirely to people with disabilities — men and women, gay and straight — that will open in 2014. So far, she says she’s had “hundreds of requests” from individuals searching for reputable sex workers who will work around their disabilities and be sensitive towards them.
“There are people who have literally spent their whole lives in institutions who have never had physical contact with anyone other than a nurse or doctor. They have never been held at night by another naked person. And a person who cannot use his arms can’t relieve themselves. Literally, they have no way of sexual release, but they have all these sexual feelings.
“Remember, disabled people are the same as anyone else. If someone likes to cross-dress and they’d like to come along and put on a wig and dress and be a lady and sit in their wheelchair, they can do that. We’ll have makeup and fingernails to put on to be a transvestite.”
I have met several people with disabilities who have been or presently are in relationships, both serious and casual, that involve sex. Sadly, for many people, it’s outlandish to think of those who are not able-bodied being sexually active. This leads to even further stigma on the subject, with much of society imagining that all people with disabilities should have to stay back on the sidelines, away from “normal” human sexuality. Fortunately, organizations like Outsiders, people like Adams and even Hollywood films such as The Sessions, the 2012 film with Helen Hunt and John Hawkes based on the late paralyzed poet Mark O’Brien’s experiences with a sexual surrogate.
Of course, Adams is not without her critics (though I’m pretty sure you won’t find any facilitator of sex work who is). Reporter Angela Epstein called it “soft focus streetwalking,” but Adams insists that she interviews the workers thoroughly and readily defends her work’s purpose, stating that it can be incredibly difficult for her disabled clients to be sexually active. For example, if a person in a wheelchair approaches a sex worker, Adams says he may be met with disdain:
“She looks at him and is disgusted, and walks away or steals his money and runs off… And think about all those really amazing people who can’t communicate. Our escort agency phones ring all day and night every 30 seconds. If someone calls up and cannot talk, you put the phone down when you hear heavy breathing and think it’s a nuisance caller.”
Many people with disabilities are praising her actions, as well, including filmmaker Alexander Freeman, who has celebral palsy and states his desire for intimacy yet lack of experience.
“It’s not just the act, but to touch another person who feels you are attractive. If we are denied our right to sensuality, we are denied being human.”
I know not everyone is pro-sex work, but I am curious to know what everybody else thinks here. Is this amazing? Is it exploitative? Crazy? I’m pretty pro-sex work, particularly in cases where there’s so much transparency regarding the business practices and there’s a solid public image. Also, the idea of a “nonprofit brothel” is kind of fascinating, so I’m extremely interested in seeing where this goes.
Photos: Madam Becky Adams, The Sessions (2012)