I never expected to work for an escort service, never mind enjoy it. But it’s not what you think. After seven years in journalism, I came across a job listing on Facebook for a social media/marketing manager at an anonymous agency. I was intrigued, assuming the gig was related to sexology (the study of human sexuality) because it had been posted by a sexologist friend of mine. I sent in my resumé.
Three weeks later, I met with Warren*, a 30-something web designer from the company—which turned out to be a high-end escort service. Over coffee, we talked about my sex-related work experience (in a previous job, I’d organized sexuality workshops for cancer survivors), and Warren told me about the position’s sole responsibility: to keep the agency on the first page of Google search results for “Toronto escort services,” largely through posting racy blog entries. He was impressed with my writing, and, after more conversation, he offered me the job and told me to name my price. I took a deep breath, then cited six figures. “That’s nothing,” he said with a laugh. Still, I needed more time to think.
Sex has always intrigued me. not necessarily the act, but the process of seduction—and how it can be used to make people buy stuff. During university, I studied sensuality in French culture, which encourages indulging the senses with perfume, wine, gastronomy. The art of seduction is central to how the French interact.
I’m also no stranger to infidelity. My mom cheated when I was young, resulting in a drawn-out divorce. After I married, at 23, I discovered my husband and I weren’t sexually compatible. So I had my own affair and, eventually, my own divorce. As a result, I don’t automatically dismiss the value of an escort agency; there are surely cases where discretion might be better than the alternative.
However, it was the salary, which would triple my income, that factored the most in my decision. I come from a wealthy family, but after university, I wanted to support myself—largely because I was tired of being teased about living off my parents. And so I started paying my own way, but just barely. Some months my family still had to cover a few of my bills, and I hated that.
After two weeks spent mulling over the offer, I accepted the job. Soon after, I met the agency’s owner, Christopher*, and his wife, Alice*, for lunch. He was exquisitely dressed and well-spoken, a full-time lawyer who runs the service on the side. Over quinoa salads, he began citing industry acronyms—BBBJ, BBBJTCIM, BBBJTCnQnS—until Alice interrupted to point out that I probably had no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t. These were codes for different sexual activities: BB stood for bareback (no condom), while the rest was code for the service (BJTCIM: blow job to completion in mouth). He told me that his escorts are there by choice and perform only acts they say they’re comfortable with (their boundaries are implied to clients at the time of booking). Most are students, most have six-year exit strategies (often in the form of degrees or investments), and all are given financial-planning assistance. I left lunch feeling assured that the agency—which employs 60 escorts and charges a flat rate of $4,000 per “date,” regardless of service—was one of the better ones. I started work two days later.
In my new life, a driver in a black limo meets me at the entrance to my condo building every morning, a skinny vanilla latte waiting for me in the back-seat cup holder. Then I’m driven to the office, which is listed under a vague-sounding incorporated name, in a generic tower in the Financial District.
At that hour, there are few people around—mainly our reception staff, who take reservations and are on call should an escort phone in from a job. (In the year I’ve spent there, only two girls have bailed on dates: One realized she knew the client socially; another didn’t want to work in her own neighbourhood.) I immediately begin blogging. I typically write six posts a day—client testimonials, escort profiles and items on new sex-related workshops, toys or books—posing as an escort and using an alias. I get material for my posts from interviewing escorts about their work and clients about their experiences. I tackle it like a journalist would, starting out with non-intimidating questions.
The profiles are highly fictional, right down to their ages—our escorts are typically 23 to 30, but we advertise them as 19 to 22—sexual fantasies and desired partners (always our target demographic): Barely 19, Paris is our newest darling … Some of her clients so far have been bankers and other high earners in their mid-30s … She enjoys spending time with men who have a sense of adventure, and likes a strong man’s touch.
Posts always contain key search words (“Toronto escorts,” “threesome,” “anal,” “classy”), are linked to social media (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Tumblr) and lead to the agency’s reservation page. I need to keep my writing hot and sexy, yet legal. For instance, I can usually get away with “Sexy Jessica is patiently waiting …” but not “Sexy Jessica is patiently waiting for you.” If a site like Facebook, for instance, feels we’re soliciting or publishing pornography, it will suspend our page without specifying which post was offside. Then it can take weeks for me to comb through the site and delete any questionable material before the page can be restored. This can happen at any time, so I’m on call 24-7 and can never turn off my phone or leave the house without my laptop. As well, if Christopher discovers we’ve slipped down in the search results, he calls me and I have to start blogging immediately. In the past year, I’ve missed out on my father’s retirement party, my best friend’s daughter’s first birthday and countless cottage weekends. I also don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like with my 10-year-old daughter. She often acts out, but whether this is due to my hours or just typical tween behaviour, I don’t know.
The escorts, who receive a 60 percent cut of the agency’s rate, tell me what they think I want to hear: that they’re sexually adventurous, that they enjoy fulfilling clients’ fantasies and that they have no trouble separating sex from love. (A few have admitted they stopped seeing certain men because they started developing feelings.) One, a brunette ScarJo look-a-like, told me she hopes a client falls in love with her so she can maintain her standard of living once she leaves the industry. Others complain that the job is a deal breaker for real-life romance.
Men use our agency for bachelor parties, entertaining bigwigs and garden-variety infidelity. They rave about the raw, passionate, “spontaneous” sex they have with our escorts: the anal they don’t get at home, sharing a woman with another man, even things as basic as using handcuffs. They talk about simultaneous orgasms and how turned on their partners are. I do think the clients are a bit deluded in believing the escorts always fully enjoy these encounters.
Then there are the guys who just want someone to have drinks with. (I find these the saddest.) The agency also has celebrity clients and supplies girls for a weekend of TIFF partying or flies them to musicians on tour.
Keeping my job a secret is hard. Last summer, my daughter told me she knew what I did for a living because she had seen me working on the site. I ended up telling her that I’m employed by a dating agency. I use the same white lie with my parents and most of my circle, and don’t give out a lot of other details.
Two close friends know the truth, as well as the sexologist through whom I found the job, and my boyfriend, Mark*. Originally, I told him I was a freelance writer, but eventually I came clean. Mark is very entrepreneurial, and his response was completely in character: “We should start an escort agency!”
(Absolutely not. Running a business that exists on the blurred lines of the law is lucrative but exhausting.) What I’ve learned about men through my job is largely stereotypical:
—The majority of our clients are married, but desire more sexual variety.
—As for “type,” most seem to want the girl-next-door who’s crazy in bed.
—It’s often about living out fantasies: hot, dirty, no-strings-attached sex with a stranger, without fear of being judged.
—They also crave the adrenaline that brings them into the moment, which goes along with the escort experience.
While it’s true you can’t recreate the illicit thrill of paying for sex, seeing men convinced that the encounters they’ve just booked with their credit cards are casual and unscripted suggests a pretty low suspension of disbelief for whatever theatre you might want to cook up.
I now know that every man’s hot and dirty is different; figuring it out can take some digging. In my own relationship, I’m always exploring new techniques. (Need inspiration? Try a sex workshop—for Torontonians, I recommend those at Good for Her—or a racy read, such as Hot Sex Tips, Tricks, and Licks: Sizzling Touch and Tongue Techniques for Amazing Orgasms by Jessica O’Reilly.)
But perhaps the most useful thing I’ve learned is that thinking about sex is the best aphrodisiac. After talking and writing about it all day, I feel like I’ve had eight-plus hours of foreplay.
That isn’t to say my job hasn’t complicated my relationship—for one, it gave Mark the impression that I’m open-minded when it comes to him being with other women. I’m not, but without asking, he slept around. What I do for a living doesn’t say anything about my expectations in a relationship, which can be a hard concept to grasp. Following my marital infidelity, I realized how much I had hurt people who loved me. I never want to do that again.
I now have a one-year gap in my journalism resumé, and I don’t intend to be stuck here. Yet, like everyone else at the agency, I love the lifestyle it pays for. I’ll probably burn out before I leave, but I don’t think I’ll regret this job. After all, knowledge—in this case of the nitty-gritty of human nature—is power.