Monthly Archives: January 2016

Interview: Daina, A Former Escort

Preamble

I’ve known Daina for a while. We met while playing a certain MMORPG and quickly hit it off after I recruited her for my guild. A charming conversationalist with opinions on a great deal of things, she would keep me up most nights, and we would just gab on about anything and everything until sunrise.

It came as some surprise to me that she formerly worked as an escort. I’ve known sex workers in the past, but none were from eastern Europe. We started talking about sex work, both her background as an escort, and my fall-back plans of pornography and prostitution. It’s something a lot of unemployed and underemployed women consider, especially when money is tight, so it’s often a very engaging topic.

Almost immediately after meeting her I proposed the idea of an interview and she agreed. The following is a modified transcript of that interview. Hopefully, you find it as engaging as I find her and it sheds light onto the experience of being an escort, the economics of sex work in Ukraine, and remains respectful to both the profession and its clients.

Because I never asked for the basic information in the interview, I’ll write the basics out here. Daina worked for a large escort company based in her home city of Kharkiv. She’s 27, cis, and holds an advanced University degree. She worked as a call centre employee after she stopped working as an escort.

The interview was conducted over the course of 2 hours on January 14th, 2016 via text. There were a few cuts made for information that was shared in confidence and not to be shared in the article. There were also readability changes made by the editor with the interviewee’s consent. The raw transcript will not be made available.

Interview

Elizabeth: How long were you an escort?

Daina: Around 4 years. To be precise: 3 years, 10 months.

Elizabeth: I didn’t know it was that long. Did you work for yourself at all in that period or was the work strictly done with a company?

Daina: Strictly with a company. I was afraid to start my own business of it. [I’d] rather have protection and a secure environment.

Elizabeth: Being a big company, they must have offered a good amount of protection. Was that the case?

Daina: Yes it is. Three to four security [members] at each apartment and a personal driver if client requests to come over or go somewhere. Personal driver waits for you outside at the place ur going into if it is by hour. If it is paid for day or night you can ask him to wait or let him go.

Elizabeth: That sounds like really tight security. Knowing that there was always muscle around, did it make you feel safer working as an escort?

Daina: Yes, especially in the first months.

Elizabeth: Did you ever have to rely on them? Was your safety ever threatened while working?

Daina: I can recall four or five times they had step in, but only one was a really serious case.

Elizabeth: Ah. I can understand if you don’t want me to prod, but may I ask what happened?

Daina: Client on xhimia (Bath Salts) which wouldn’t leave after his time was up. Started screaming, saying he didn’t even cum, that it was 20 minutes not a full hour. When I tried leave room and call for lady in charge grabbed me and tried force me into having sex. I recall my attitude wasn’t quite nice too. I simply hate xhimia and what it does to people. Lady in charge came check just few seconds later to remind me the hour was up and noticed client and called for security.

Elizabeth: That sounds like a dreadful experience.

Daina: Partially my fault as well. My attitude wasn’t professional at all. Kept nagging and stuff. He refused take a shower before we started. Kinda deserved what came to me

Elizabeth: I wouldn’t say that. In my opinion a client should be as professional as the escort. If he didn’t clean up before hand, that’s on him, but I digress.

Daina: There’s a certain way to talk. Lets just say I was in a grouchy mood and it was 5am. Just got woken up by the lady in charge.

Elizabeth: Apart from the dangerous, drug using clients, how was the work? What were you responsibilities to the company and the client?

Daina: Depends on the client choice and how much you can bend rules. Some clients just wanted company or drinking partners, some looking for sex only, and some rare people were looking for love or the rubbish “blah blah” they see in movies.

Elizabeth: The 80s movie cliché of the sex worker with a heart of gold?

Daina: Yea or a girl to save from escorting or “blah blah” which made me pretty sick.

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s such a strange narrative to have. What precious metal would you say your heart is?

Daina: I can’t be objective for that, you’d have to ask people around me, but I’m pretty sure it would be something close to gold.

Elizabeth: Having known you I’d probably agree, maybe Platinum. How much were you paid?

Daina: Depends. At first, when I was still new, 45% less than the last time I worked. Also depends on how many clients.

Elizabeth: That’s fair. Would you be able to guesstimate monthly income? Like on an average month how much would you be taking home?

Daina: On good months up to $350 – $400, which is really a lot in my country.

Elizabeth: That’s interesting. How much was your rent/food per month?

Daina: Spent around $140 – $180 a month and saved the rest. Well first I was a VIP (above average) because of my short height and my Arabic ethnicity.

Elizabeth: That’s actually a fairly really nice chunk of savings. In general what were the demographics of the clientèle? (age, ethnicity, poor/rich, etc.)

Daina: Most client either were either rich or foreigners. Foreigners were mostly young, around early 20s. Since Ukraine is mostly known being a huge university [destination] for foreigners, some cities stack up 28k foreign students.

Elizabeth: Was it easy dealing with clients, given the nature of the business?

Daina: Most of time yes, but it was harder with client who were looking for BDSM and extreme stuff

Elizabeth: Ah. I could imagine. That’s more of a speciality thing, isn’t it?

Daina: Yes i did my share of extreme BDSM, but i found my most comfortable space in swingers/couples.

Elizabeth: So you were often employed by couples?

Daina: Not a lot. Most of time I was escorting people to parties or foreign student sex. Foreign students for sure made 70% of my clients during all my escorting days. To them $50-80 a hour is a joke and the most expensive are $80-120 an hour. The cheapest were $15-30 an hour.

Elizabeth: Wow, ordering a pizza costs more over here. Does it ever get boring?

Daina: Boring? How?

Elizabeth: I mean, the sex. There’s this narrative that a lot of people have that sex as work could make sex boring.

Daina: Yes it does. Standard sex, regular foreplay, at a certain point you’re just like laying down on your back, letting him stick his penis and faking joy.

Elizabeth: Did the boring-ness of standard sex make the fetish work more appealing? Enjoyable?

Daina: Yes it did.

Elizabeth: What tips would you have for other women considering sex work?

Daina: Know your employer and its reputation. Have clients shower before sex even if he said he did, condoms at all times, have that water that make dick slip in easily (Don’t know name in English), be creative and most of all do not agree with every type of sex. Set your limits.

Elizabeth: Moving forward, how do we (as a society) promote safe sex work? How do we make sex work sustainable? Change societal opinions?

Daina: Unfortunately we can’t, but safer sex work comes when people realize we are not simply whores. Just like them we need money to live on and that some of us have already received university degrees. Personally I majored in economics, I’m a pro accountant which is equivalent to Economic Engineer. Five years of university. And I know others who had same or better degrees.

Elizabeth: Some of my friends over here have similar qualifications. But yes, I fully agree with you, it must be treated as a valid profession. That was my last question, thank you.

Daina: Hahaha you didn’t even bother ask what I learned from escorting or how it changed my personality.

Elizabeth: I had intended to ask: How did you experience working as an escort change your personality, your opinions, and your character? We were running a bit long on time.

Daina: It ain’t all bad, you know, it forged my personality and made me discover aspects of my self to be true and honest with my soul. Never make me believe in a mist and that some things just happen good or bad. That’s a fitting ending.

From the Editors: Happy New Year

Well that was a hell of a month. Honestly, this is the first time the holidays have ever worn me out in this way, I was totally unprepared. I had planned on writing something for Inatri about my own struggles with unemployment and my impending financial doom, but the season took it’s toll and I didn’t have the strength to deal with writing about something so personal. Because of this, Inatri released no articles in December; we went completely dark.

That’s not like us, honestly. We have been pretty good about releasing even a small thing. Ah well, c’est la vie. Because of my own guilt regarding the silence, and my own inability to produce anything remotely legible without breaking down, I want to discuss both some of what happened and some of the plans we have for the new year.

Holiday Blues

As I alluded to before, December was a tough time for the Inatri staff. I succumbed to my own debilitating depression but didn’t really tell anyone. Instead, I decided to work harder at a hobby job that I picked up in November. This meant I was sleeping, at most, 5 hours a day, while eating barely anything and totally being unresponsive on Twitter and Skype. I find it hard to notice these destructive personality traits until it’s taken its toll and I find myself constantly hungry and having mid day naps. Coupled with the holidays themselves, my mental health was pretty garbage.

Since being laid off I’ve made barely any money. In all honesty, I don’t even pay myself for writing. I naively expected we’d be making some money at this point or I would have found another job. I’ve had some interviews and some interest in my resume but being as awkwardly and visibly trans as I am makes it hard to pass the first interview stage. I don’t interview well to begin with so having that extra little pressure of presenting as femme and knowing you’re being judged on your appearance completely fucks me over. I honestly didn’t care about this until my Employment Insurance ran out in late November, ever since then it’s been cycles of depression and panic. I will probably expand upon this in an upcoming piece.

As for duckie, they’ve been having health issues, however, I don’t feel like it’s appropriate for me to discuss their problems publicly.

New Year, New Site

Even though we were having issues, that didn’t inhibit our ambitions. First off, expect a site redesign before the end of the month. Neither of us are too pleased with the current look and layout of the site. WordPress is also a total nuisance sometimes in the most annoying of ways. Hell, we can’t even get scheduled posts to work, that’s how completely borked it is.

As for articles, we’re looking for freelance writers. I have gotten 3 pitches, and I am pursuing all of them, while duckie is pursuing a couple others. The topics covered are diverse from accessibility to mental health to human sexuality. That said, if you have a pitch for an article please send it to [email protected].

In terms of what I want to write, I’d love to do a direct follow up to my article on masturbation since it was so heavily focused on CAMAB penis havers. I’m a bit shy when it comes to finding interview subjects so I pulled from a pool of people I know and posted to my twitter, which means I got respondents that are very similar to me. Even if I never do a direct follow up with CAFAB folks or CAMAB individuals with neo-vaginas, I’d love to do similar interview pieces. There’s a lot of discussion to be had about the intersection of identity and sexuality, and thus I’d love to interview some non-trans, individuals who don’t present as cis. Particularly fembois, cis-identified crossdressers, and CAMAB individuals who identify as sissy. That said, I don’t want to limit myself to just those ideas. If you know anyone who would like to be interviewed to discuss their sexuality, or their identity, drop me a line.

Finally, I plan on either continuing or rewriting my piece about being trans and unemployed as it will become increasingly relevant in the coming months. I’m hemorrhaging money from my savings and that’s incredibly scary to me, so it’ll be cathartic at least to write a piece about the rollercoaster of emotions I’m currently experiencing.

Looking forward to 2015 2016

Inatri has been on the web for a year. We have a lot to show for it in terms of content, but not as much as I hoped would be there by the end of 2015. Provided we’re still able to, we’re going to be pushing harder this year. Hopefully with some more finance, some more support, and a few good freelance writers, we can make 2016 the year 2015 was supposed to be for Inatri.