The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
This is a new year. Which means a new diary for me. I’m still in the same job, and I admit the thrill of it has been getting a little stale for me. As you know, I signed up mid last year and has been at it ever since.
I don’t think I’ve ever really had a job like this before, where the highs are always … kind of sad. And the lows are always constant. I mean, I worked in a call centre before this job, and that was always depressing. The stories I heard then, are kind of similar to the ones I hear now, except these guys actually have money.
But that job was always consistent in how depressing it was.
It really goes up and down a lot. One day I might be in total control, and then the next day, I’m lying down face first and completely at the mercy of another.
I also don’t think I was ready for the therapy either. So many guys spill everything to me. They tell me some of the craziest stuff I’ve ever heard, and then there are the normal stuff about how much they love me, and how I’m different to all the other girls they’ve met.
I guess being naked and vulnerable in front of a stranger really opens you up.
At first, I was also scared. But after my first client, I slowly started to embrace it. I’m not the prettiest girl, or the skinniest, but people always say I got that “girl next door” look, and that my body is “comfortable, and soft”.
I guess you could say I’m like the softest pillow that moans when squeezed.
I’m complaining a lot aren’t I, diary? A lot of people would love to earn 90 thousand a year, and I know heaps of my girlfriends are working a lot harder than me, to earn a lot less.
Sometimes though, I get jealous. They can say what their job is so easily. I’m always dodging the question, and lying, pretending I work at retail and that my boss is a real dick, when really she doesn’t have one and is always looking out for me and the other girls.
I created 3 personas since I stated working, diary. Three! I got one where I’m a struggling retail worker at Sportsgirl, during hours I know my friends can’t see me at work.
Then there’s Eve. She’s the sweetest girl you’ll ever find in a brothel, and will make you feel like you’re making love to the softest cloud, and feel nostalgic for some crush you had in the past.
Finally, there’s me, here, in this diary, raw and unfiltered. I don’t hold anything back to you diary, because if I did, I’m scared I might lose myself.
I’m tired though, of lying to my friends. Of lying to potential boyfriends. I’m so scared everyone will judge me, really harshly for the job I have.
And yet … whenever I think about quitting, I look at my payslip, my apartment, all the things I’ve managed to get, all the stuff I wanted for so long, but now have … and I don’t really want to quit either.
I’m living a really good life with all the money I’m making. Plus I’ve met all the other girls now, girls just like me, who got attracted to the job because the money was good, and they heard from someone already working.
I just wished I didn’t feel so much shame.
What do you think diary? Do you think this shame will fade away? Do I just need to tough it out a bit longer?
Maybe one day, I’ll be able to tell my friends and family the truth. I don’t have my normal girlfriends over, because who would believe me, that I can have all this luxury, on a retail worker wage? What if they look into my wardrobe? There’s just too much lingerie and silk robes to explain away.
Unless of course I made up another story. But God, I am tired of making up more.
Do you want to hear a funny irony, diary?
I tried going on a date the other day. Just before new years, because it’s been more than 6 months since I tried dating. I tried out Tinder, and managed to get several likes. One them dm’ed me and I agreed to go out.
I put on my favourite dress, and he took me out for Spanish tapas.
I promised myself I would be honest if he asked me what I did for a living. I mean, he was a stranger, and I had nothing to lose. What was he going to do? I was tired about lying about myself. I had to stand up for myself somehow. Plus it wouldn’t be right for the guy if I lied from the beginning.
I was dead wrong of course. He walked out on me and I was forced to pick up the bill. He said he wanted a real girl to marry, not some, and I quote, “skank that opened up for dollars.”
That hurt me so much, because even though it was true, I mean … I am one, right, diary? I thought myself as something more than that. I thought back then, I was just providing a service, that the job wouldn’t really affect my personal life. That I can separate the two.
The funny irony, is that despite having more sex, more fun, and more guys than any of my girlfriends ever had, I’m still lonelier than they are.
Weird isn’t it, diary?
I would be really sad about this, if it weren’t for my other girlfriends. They’re the new ones that I invite to my house a lot. We’re all sisters. We’re the ones who have to fight against the stigma other women hold against us and the sexism that men harbour for us.
I won’t lie, diary, when I’m around them, I’m not as sour as I am here. I’m more fun. I laugh a little easier, because I’m around people the same as me.
I’m not really alone, as long as I got these girls. but I just wished I didn’t have to cut off all ties with my old life. I’m still so attached to my high school mates, the friends I made in uni and at my book club.
So many of my new friends, they were forced to abandon their old friends. They always tell me, that their old friends weren’t really friends because they couldn’t accept and love the new version of them. That being a prostitute, a sex worker is an empowering thing, and that anyone who can’t handle that, isn’t really their friend or ally.
I’m not sure I can really do that diary. I love my friends too much to just say that they’re assholes who won’t support my new career.
But yet I still feel like shit whenever I lie to them.
I guess, at the end of the day, I got to make a choice don’t I, diary?
Embrace the new me and try and reconcile the old me with it, or abandon all of this.
All of this reminds me, diary, of one client. He was the tenderest lover, all about trying to make me feel good and soft strokes down my back and waist. He was really slow, and unbelievably gentle and I swear we must have made slow love for half an hour.
He was so radically different to everyone I had before, who loved to smack my ass, and ram me furiously and be done in 5 minutes before rolling off me and I had to really reassure them that it was OK, that their performance was really amazing, baby.
This gentle guy had me booked for a full 2 hours and he made slow love to me twice, and I admit, it felt amazing, one of the only times where I actually came on the job.
But what struck me, was the conversation we had those two sessions. He told me that I reminded him on his first girlfriend who had died of cancer, and that while he was dating another girl, he had to come here and book me, after seeing me on a website that his friends had been sharing around in their discord chat.
He wanted me, because he felt it was the only way making peace with the ghosts in his past. He knew it wrong, because he was dating another girl, a girl he was really fond of, but he couldn’t shake me and his ex out of his mind. He said he was in love with his current girlfriend, but just could not resist.
He cried into my chest, and I cried with him. I didn’t know what else to say. What could I do in that situation, diary? When I saw him out, I knew he was going to tell his girlfriend about what happened between us. I could read his mind. He had that guilty but resolute expression that some men wear when they walk out of our brothel.
It was the face of men who had their cake, but knew they couldn’t eat it too and were now ready to atone for their mistakes. We rarely ever see those men come back. Out of all the clients type we have, those are the ones I feel most sorry for.
That gentle client chose to abandon the new life he had built, for one more taste of the past, through a surrogate that was me.
I wonder whether I’ll have the courage to make such a choice.
I guess that’s enough heaviness for tonight, diary. I better go have a shower and get ready for another night of work.
Write to you soon, diary.
I’ve always had a long obsession with working girls, even back when I was in high school, burning through crime novels. Something about how beautiful, yet sad and tragic these workers can be, always appealed to my empathy and sympathy.
They are one of the oldest and most stigmatised professions in the world, yet there is a unique strength and character to a lot of these women who work day in and out, trying to earn a living.
A lot of inspiration for this, came from The Girlfriend Experience, a film that I think is only enhanced by Soderbergh’s unique cinematography and direction, that always suited ground-level intimacy issues like prostitution. I love the unique lighting, the close ups and the fascinating ways he filmed the story. It’s not the best movie, but it’s definitely interesting, considering the main star’s fame as a porn actress and the subsequent TV series based off the film.
However, I also drew heavily on a fascinating series published by Lot’s Wife, The Secret Diary of a Melbourne Call Girl, as well as my own personal experience with brothels and sex workers, which included a tour of one of Melbourne’s brothels and many conversations I used to have over Tumblr, with a Melbourne sex worker who detailed her experiences and struggles.
I also wanted to practice writing as a female protagonist, as I feel a lot of my writing is very logical and too male driven. I tried to use softer language and get attuned to the emotions of what Eve was feeling.
I think I still got a long way to go.
Until the next one