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Life Of A Call Girl - Fantasy Vs. Reality

Published January 6, 2012

Life of a Call Girl: Fantasy vs. Reality

“You make it fun and do a dance at the end when you count the money.”

In the final weeks of 2011, I delved once more into the secretive world of the UK sex industry.

This time my focus wasn’t on men who pay for sex, but the women who supply it. So I reached out to hundreds of British escorts with one request: tell me about your life.

And—on the condition that their words remain anonymous—they did.

In October of 2011, I launched this blog with Dirty Words: A Probing Analysis of 5000 Call Girl Reviews. The meat of the article came from a textual analysis I carried out on over a million words, which were extracted from masses of ‘field reports’—reviews of female escorts, written by the men who pay to have sex with them. My intention was to find out something about the mind of the average punter by poring over the words he unconsciously chose to use in his recounting of paid-for sexual experiences.

It turned out that while his individual word choices were interesting (slim, nice and blonde were most popular for describing the girls), they were nothing compared to the reviews as a whole. The punters’ field reports were amazingly detailed, often bizarre, never degrading, and—at times—surprisingly funny.

The response to Dirty Words and the infographic that accompanied it was great. A lot of people seemed to enjoy the excerpts from field reports that I included in the article, while others said they appreciated the fact that I didn’t overtly judge the punters for their actions.
Of course, I was curious to find out how the piece would be received by the punters themselves, the men who had unwittingly supplied the words that formed the heart of the study. So I used Google Analytics to check the traffic sources for the article. About five separate discussions had started on punters’ forums—so naturally I signed up for them to take a look. One forum contained a particularly lively debate on the article, with several people impressed and complimentary about what I’d done and said:

But I got the impression from other comments that a few punters and girls weren’t such big fans.

Anyway, most people seemed to like the piece and I think it provided a small glimpse into the sex industry from a punter’s perspective. It wasn’t long after I posted the first article, however, that I was again thinking about the controversial world of the call girl, except this time it was the call girls’ point of view I wondered about, instead of the punters’. I’d seen how the men describe the women in their reviews, but, if asked, how would the average escort describe her paying customers?

A hundred questions about the escort way of life sprang to mind. How did they get into the business? Which are their favourite sex acts? Do they lie about their age, or to their friends and family about what they do? What is the craziest thing a client has requested? I wanted to strip fantasy from reality and find out what it’s really like to be a courtesan, an escort, a working girl, a prostitute…

Making Contact

There are roughly three kinds of ‘working girl’ in the UK. The first can be found on the street. She is the classic prostitute: a night-worker, selling sex to men who pass in cars and on foot. She has low prices and high risks. The next works in a parlour or brothel alongside other women and she does ‘incalls’—men visit her place of work and she provides them with a massage and a happy ending of one flavour or another. The last is the escort. She mostly does incalls but in her case the men flock to her apartment to indulge in pre-booked sessions of varying durations. The escort will either belong to an agency, which advertises her services, sends clients her way, and takes a cut of the money, or she’ll run everything herself—as an independent.

It was the independent UK escorts I decided I’d contact, for two reasons. My hunch was that I wouldn’t have much luck asking agencies to pass on my request to their catalogue of courtesans. I thought it would be better to bypass the middleman and reach out directly to the women I wanted to contact. The other reason was one of convenience. I knew that only a certain percentage of women I contacted would end up contributing to my research, so it was vital I get in touch with as many as possible—hundreds, in fact. I found three massive directories of independent UK escorts and set about harvesting their contact details. This is a good way of acquiring email addresses, but it isn’t strictly legal or respectable. In fact. it’s tantamount to spamming, but I couldn’t think of any other option. I’d be as polite as possible in my email, make it clear that my intentions were strictly honourable, and hope for the best.

It was while collecting the details of thousands of women listed in the online directories that another idea occurred to me. Every one of these escorts had written a 100-word description of herself and her services for potential clients to peruse. There were 1,207 women. That equalled over 120,000 words I could analyze in the same way as the million I’d used in my first study, Dirty Words. I could therefore compare the words escorts use to describe themselves to the words punters use to describe them in their reviews, which I’d already discovered through my first investigation. Would the women emphasize the same traits men so often mention, like being slim and blonde? Would the women’s most mentioned height, bra size and dress size match the men’s? I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance to find out. I’d analyze the 1,207 self-written escort adverts while waiting for the responses to my spam email—I mean, my polite request for the ladies’ valuable input.

The email I sent out explained and linked to my original piece on the punters and outlined what I hoped to achieve with the follow-up. At the end I gave a link to the survey, which I hosted on my site and protected with a password, which was also supplied in the email (it was fidelio). The last thing I wanted was for the survey to be completed by anyone other than the escorts.

I spent a long time putting together the survey’s questions. I wanted to make sure I didn’t guide the respondents into answering in ways that might be pre-empted by my expectations or prejudices. To get around this, lots of totally open-ended questions were included. Others were multiple choice, but I think the most important ones provided a blank slate for the women’s answers. Here are the questions I asked.


And here’s what happened with the email and survey over the following couple of weeks.


The Results

While less than 5% of the women I emailed ended up completing the survey, the thirty who did do it gave more detailed, frank answers than I could ever have hoped for. Honesty was flooding into my inbox and it was illuminating.

I started by building up a basic profile of the women who responded.

While the responses trickled in, I’d also entered into email conversations with a few of the women. A couple wanted to know how much they would be paid for completing the survey (and promptly bid me farewell when I told them nothing), and one—the first woman to email me back, in fact—had a complaint to make about my use of the word girl in the survey’s questions.

“…using terms that individuals or groups use to self-describe when you do not belong to those groups is generally viewed as less than desirable behaviour (‘queer’ and ‘nigger’ being good examples). I suppose if many of us weren’t old enough to be your mother it would maybe be less jarring too…”

Indeed, several of the women who responded to the survey were old enough to be my mother, but there was also a small handful who could be my little sister—the youngest was 20, a student, and had only been in the business for 3 months. This was the first sign of many that amongst the escort population there is huge variation to be found, not just in age, but in every aspect of their lives, life stories and opinions.

My job as a writer is to find an interesting thread and tease is out. Uncover the ‘story’ and focus a light on it so that readers know what they’re looking at and maybe even what they should think. Admittedly some of the survey’s questions were included on the off chance that they’d produce such a juicy morsel for readers to chew on. For instance, the question of how old the respondent was when she lost her virginity. The average could go either way. If it came out as shockingly young, then perhaps women who are sexualised early in life are more likely to become call girls. If it was surprisingly old, maybe women who start their sex lives later feel more inclined to be sexually adventurous. The actual average from the survey results? 16.5 years old—just 6 months under the national average for women. A negligible difference. That became the running theme when I continued to sort through the responses. Where I expected to find controversy, there was none (29 of the 30 women entered into the job by choice), and where I anticipated a mundane answer I got shocked practically into silence (just wait until you see the list of ‘most bizarre sex acts requested’).

A full list of averages taken from the survey, as well as many of the women’s open-ended answers, can be seen in the (huge) infographic at the end of this article. Here, though, is a brief overview of what the women had to say on all of the most pertinent topics raised in the survey. I’ll also include some of the results from the analysis I ran on the escorts’ 1,207 adverts.

Personal stats

In Dirty Words, I found out that the average escort, according the things the punters most frequently made reference to in their field reports, was a size 8, 5’6”, blonde, with 34D breasts. The survey, however, changed the shape of that average a little—the average dress size given by the women was 12. Also, the majority had a variation of brown hair, not blonde. The height remained the same at 5’6” and the bra size was only one cup size smaller than ‘advertised’, at 34C. What’s quite interesting is that in their adverts, the average bra size mentioned is identical to what most men give in their reviews—both 34D. It seems like this might be a sort of ideal, in both the escorts’ minds and the men’s.

The majority (23/30) don’t use their real first names when they work, or advertise themselves using their actual ages—they shave off 3 years on average. 3.5 years was the average time a respondent has been in the business, while most plan to leave it in 2.5 years’ time.

Below is an image that shows the words the women used most often to describe themselves in their adverts alongside the words used by men to describe the escorts in their reviews.

As you can see, the average escort as described by punters is a slim, nice blonde. The average escort as described by the average escort is a sexy, sensual lady. The men mentioned the women’s hair, breasts and eyes the most, whereas the women mentioned their eyes, hair and smile. One difference in word rank that I think is especially interesting is that the guys’ number one word, slim, ranks way down at number 11 on the escorts’ list. The women’s list also contains many more adjectives relating to personality and intellect, like genuine and intelligent. And unlike the men, they don’t use the word nice to describe their attributes, preferring perfect and great instead.

The Work and Clients

On the days she works, the average escort sees two clients, for two hours and makes £290. She works a 10-hour week, which puts her yearly salary at about £50,000 (which I’m happy to say matches the prediction I made in Dirty Words). The question of how the women first entered the industry produced some very interesting answers. Quite a few responded to an advert put out by an agency after mulling over the idea for a while. One woman started after being offered (and accepting) £1,500 for a night of sex by a guy in a bar. A couple of the women had more depressing reasons, like needing to support a child during hard times, and being forced into prostitution whilst homeless as a kid. Billie Piper’s TV portrayal of ‘Belle de Jour’, the high-class escort-turned-author, was also mentioned as a direct inspiration for getting into the business. However, at least five of the women said in other answers that Piper’s depiction of life as an escort was wildly inaccurate.

“Some people seem to think it’s something out of “Pretty Woman”, others expect us to have pimps and/or be coerced in some way. The complete clowns think we do it because we love sex.”

When asked if there is an average ‘type’ of client, certain trends emerged from the women’s answers (the men tend be white and in their mid forties), whereas other common factors were downplayed. Instead, many of the women said the same thing: point to the guy in the street you’d least expect to be a punter—he probably punts.

They seem to come from all walks of life and are all ages. My youngest regular is 18 and the oldest is 78.

In fact the ‘point out a punter’ game was something the second youngest respondent told me about by email. She said she sometimes plays it with her boyfriend. They point out guys in turn and guess if they pay for sex. When I read that she had a boyfriend, I immediately wondered how he felt about her job, so I sent her a list of questions I’d like to ask him. It turned out she couldn’t pass them along, because he doesn’t know about what she does. She keeps it a secret from him.

The women described the average client’s attitude towards sex as primarily being respectful, nervous and eager. I got the impression from the way the escorts spoke about their clients that they do respect the men who pay them for sex, but it’s mostly a professional type of respect, much like the kind any seller would have for a buyer. This sentiment shone through in the women’s answers to two questions in particular: Would you consider being friends with a client? Most would, but only select clients. And Would you ever consider dating a client? 77% said no, they wouldn’t. Only 4 of the 30 had dated a punter. Whether this is because escorts tend to see their clients as being undesirable in some way is anyone’s guess. It could just be that, like in the rest of life, you don’t mix business with pleasure. Clients are clients.

When I asked why they think the men choose to pay to have sex with them, their responses were mixed but did contain one theme in particular: the men don’t get the sex and intimacy they desire elsewhere, or simply prefer it without the other ‘baggage’ of a relationship.

Who was it who said ‘they pay us to go away’? We’re their parallel universe, providing a bit of escapism.

One respondent had an exceptionally succinct summary of her clients’ motivations for using her services.

Because they require an uncomplicated emotionally detached sexual service as opposed to an affair. This allows them to cognitively justify the act of adultery and therefore alleviates feelings of guilt and betrayal.

The Sex

When analyzing the 5,000 field reports for Dirty Words it became obvious that there are three main things a punter considers when deciding whether or not an escort is worth recommending and returning to: her looks, her sexual skills, and her attitude. The last of those three, her attitude, is the glue that binds the other two together. The more enthusiastic and ‘into it’ the woman appears to be, the better. This makes complete sense when you consider that the most popular type of sex men buy from escorts is the ‘girlfriend experience’, which includes a sense of sexual closeness and intimacy you’d more expect from a girlfriend than a porn star or hooker. So, in reality, how do the women really feel about the act that defines their jobs? Is their enthusiasm a charade? Are their orgasms faked? And do their favourite sex acts match their clients’?

The answer to that last question is ‘sort of, but not entirely’. The majority of the escorts like vaginal sex and fellatio without a condom, which match the clients’ top two favourite sex acts. The clients’ 8th favourite act out of 16 was anal sex, which ranked as the escorts’ number one least favourite. I asked the women what factors they consider when certain sex acts, like anal sex and ‘cum on face’ are listed on their sites as being at their ‘discretion’. The main response was the clients’ hygiene, followed by how turned on they feel at the time.

I was really interested to see what the responses would be for ‘How often do you genuinely feel turned on?’ and ‘How often do you fake orgasm?’, but they turned out to be anything but clear cut. 13 of the 30 women ‘sometimes’ genuinely climax and a similar number reported ‘sometimes’ feeling turned on. The rest of the women’s answers were spread across the other options pretty equally. It seems, as in standard sexual relationships, variation abounds.

Two other I relished the chance to hear answered were:

– What is the most unusual sex act a client has requested that you’ve performed?
– What is the most unusual requested sex act that you’ve declined?

Billie Piper’s portrayal of Belle de Jour in Secret Diary of a Call Girl shows her indulging a host of bizarre and baffling sexual fetishes on behalf of her paying clients, but some of the things the escorts listed in their answers to the above two questions blew the script writers’ ideas out of the water. I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you all of the most shocking (check the infographic for those), but here are a few of the more ‘colourful’ ones.

“Squashing his unsuspecting wife.”  Declined.

“A client wanted me to lick his nipples for an hour.”  Accepted.

“Put live frogs in my underwear and squash them.”  Declined.

“Anal fisting.” “Ball bashing.” “Licking a guy’s anus.”  All Accepted.

“Babysitting him while he pretended to be my child.”  Declined.

“I had a client that used to hire a ballet studio, bring his own tutu, ballet shoes etc and I was the ballet mistress putting him through his positions and paces to the ‘Flight of the bumble bee’.”  Accepted.

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