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I was a prostitute for nine months at one of the longest-operating legal, licensed brothels in Nevada. Regulated brothels are legal in a few counties of Nevada — this one was about an hour outside Las Vegas.
The first thing I have to tell people is that I was not abused, I don’t drink or do drugs, and I don’t come from a troubled home — my parents just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. I became a working girl because I really love having sex and I like making money. This job allowed me to do both. And I never had to fake any orgasms — I’d just think of it as a human-sized dildo.
When I was 20, I started working as a dancer in a local Vegas strip club. I did that for two years, but the second summer was particularly slow — summers are “family time,” so fewer men go to strip clubs. Money was tight, so I started looking on the websites of some legal brothels whose names I remembered. I filled out an application. It was a lot like any other job application, with the exception of some questions, like hair color or height and weight, which would probably be considered discrimination elsewhere. Three weeks later, I heard back and they decided to take me on.
A lot of customers, especially return customers, would schedule and negotiate over email — we each had a profile on the brothel’s website, with photos and our email addresses. If a guy came in and he didn’t have a scheduled appointment, we’d have what’s called a “lineup” — someone would ring the bell and we would literally line up in the bar area and he’d take his pick. If that made the guy uncomfortable, we could do a more relaxed version, where we would chat him up in the bar and he’d take his pick.
I used to joke that we were like the car salesmen of the sex industry, because a huge part of the job is negotiation. We charge a very large premium, because, well, we’re running a legal business. It’s not all that hard to find a prostitute in Las Vegas to have sex with you for $200 a night, but you’d also be breaking the law. Our clients were a little different — these were guys willing to drive an hour each way.
Whether in person or over the phone, the whole session is pre-negotiated before anything happens. Basically, I’d ask the guy what he wanted to do, and we’d settle on a price. We worked as independent contractors, so we negotiated our own rates. For a “half and half” — which is a blow job and sex — I would charge around $300 to $600. For something more adventurous, like a shower or the use of a vibrator, it would be more. As a house policy, stemming from safety reasons, BDSM was only allowed if the girl played the dominant role, and it could only be light domination.
There were times I’d charge $800 for a half hour — like if a guy was a jerk, I’d certainly charge him more, because that means more effort on my part. If a guy was dirty or unkempt, I’d make him shower, and then usually charge him more. Physical stature matters too: If you’re 300-plus pounds, again, that means more work for me. If a guy was being a complete ass and I really wanted to get rid of him, I would quote him an exorbitant amount, like four figures just for regular sex, knowing he would likely say no and choose another girl. Or, if he said yes, at least I’d be making over a thousand dollars.
The only times I ever flat out said no was to anal sex, or not wearing a condom — because it’s the county law. When I first signed a contact, I actually had to sign a form saying I wouldn’t engage in anal sex. I asked the shift manager if this was a joke, and she gave me the most serious look I’d ever seen. One guy tried to start having sex without a condom, but I raised my voice and said I refused to break the law, and he agreed to use a condom. Of course, you never know exactly what happens behind closed doors, but my experience was always with a condom, and never anal.
I typically avoided kissing. That’s not a law, it’s just one of those old hooker adages: You don’t kiss the client.
On the other hand, there were guys who didn’t want to have sex at all. All the girls were pretty jealous of me this one time — there was this guy who came in, wearing a Marvel Comics T-shirt, and we were all chatting him up at the bar. I’m pretty into comics, so I started talking to him about The Avengers, and all the other girls pretty much realized this one was going to be mine. So as we start negotiating, he says, “I just want to give you a massage.” It turned out he was training to become a massage therapist in Vegas, and he didn’t know many people in the city, so he just wanted someone to practice on. He was so timid! He looked away when I took my bra off. We have a house minimum of $150, which is what I charged him. So yes, I got paid $150 to get an hour-long massage.
Another time, a guy told me all he wanted to do was play strip blackjack. I charged him $150 too.
Then there was one guy who came in and he was really shy, and the first thing he asked was whether I had any “outfits.” So I started pulling out some lingerie, but he stopped me to say, “I was wondering if you had any normal clothes.” I said I had jeans and a T-shirt, which he said as perfect. He admitted he hadn’t had much sex, and he really wanted to practice. I thought that was so cute, that he wanted to practice taking my clothes off. The inexperienced guys were always very sweet.
Most of my clients were middle-aged men. I did once have a 21-year-old virgin whose dad brought him out four days after his birthday. (You have to be 21, because there’s a bar on site.) And my oldest client was 72. He popped a Viagra right before. But I had everything from 40-year-old virgins to husbands looking for something different. I say the best thing for a guy in a long-term relationship to do is to go see a hooker. We’re not going to call him or follow him home. He won’t get us pregnant.
It varies widely, but I would say I got about two or three clients a day. Over Thanksgiving, I had 12 men in 49 hours. But three was a pretty good day.
I was never with a woman during my nine months. Couples came in pretty rarely, and when they did, they tended to want to be with an older woman. It was always the woman in the couple who chose who they’d be with.
When you’re working, it’s two weeks on, and then two weeks off. When you’re on, you live in the brothel and you only leave once a week for four hours, for a mandatory STD exam and a quick trip to the store to stock up on condoms and sex toys. When I was there, we had about 10 girls at a time. All the girls had their own permanent rooms, which was where you entertained clients, but also where you slept. We all decorated our rooms, so it did sort of feel like home. A good portion of the day was spent just sitting around, watching TV, and texting friends and family on our cell phones. But of course, you had to be ready 24/7, for whenever a customer might show up.
I was extremely organized with my expenses and taxes, as were many of the other girls. I learned to keep every single receipt, because I could write them off as work expenses. I saved receipts for manicures and condoms. I could justify that there was no way I would be using three packs of condoms a week in my personal life. And I always put away 30% of my earnings for taxes.
It’s corny, but I left because I met a guy during my time off. I told him about my profession up front, and he was OK with it to an extent, but as the relationship got more serious, we decided I should leave. I didn’t want to be away half the time. Now I’m working at the mall, making minimum wage. Getting a good, square job hasn’t been easy, given my previous profession, even though I do have other experience on my résumé — I worked retail and part-time as a government file clerk.
My family and friends didn’t all approve when I first started off as a working girl, but that hasn’t stopped me from talking about it. When I first told my mom, she smacked me and asked what happened to my intelligence. She’s not from the U.S., and she had this idea that you pay a hooker $20. But when I explained that it was all legal, and I was making hundreds if not thousands of dollars a day, she was more understanding.
I’d rather answer every stupid question than have a single person make an inaccurate assumption about me. I’ve never been ashamed of anything. When I don’t discuss it, it’s not because of shame, but rather out of respect for people who might not be comfortable with the discussion.
As told to Hillary Reinsberg.