TV & Movies

Amber Rose, a Montreal-Based Sex Worker, Shares her Story

Inspired by the new VICE documentary The New Era of Canadian Sex Work, we invited three Canadian sex workers to share what their jobs are really like

montreal based sex worker

Amber Rose (Photo courtesy of Amber Rose)

Amber Rose, 24, Montreal

Years active in sex work: 4 years.

Type of sex work practiced: Cam model, escort.

I work for: Myself as an independent.

I work that way because: It gives me the freedom to chose when I work, where I work, who I see, who I don’t see, and is altogether a safer option for myself as I have the only say in who I meet and what my boundaries are.

I identify as a: Full-service sex worker, or escort.

I got into sex work because: It works very well with my personality and the qualities of work that I enjoy, such as working with people, helping people, etc. I’ve always been a very sexual person, so sex work appealed to me and somehow felt like a good fit with who I am.

How I got into sex work: I started camming a few years ago. When I was in college, I stumbled upon an article about it online and it sounded fun so I signed up and gave it a go. I tried it on and off for a few years, but it was not for me, as I don’t enjoy how impersonal it felt. I got into escorting a little over a year ago with a friend when my retail job was causing me serious burnout and I was miserable. On a whim, we emailed an agency and started the next day. The rest is history!

Related: New VICE Doc Examines the Lives of Sex Workers

My first client experience was: Not a very good one. It was a client that I later found out had been banned from many other women for pressuring them for unsafe services, yet the agency booker sent him anyways knowing this. I was scared and nervous. He didn’t seem happy and tried to pressure me as well. It wasn’t horrible—definitely not bad enough to turn me off the job entirely.

What surprised me most about sex work was: How normal everything was. From the way media portrays sex work you expect for the men to be disgusting and creepy, and the women to be hooked on drugs and not doing well in life. This was not the case at all, and I think that’s what made me start to love this profession. The men are completely normal, and the majority are respectful, fun and personable, and the women are some of the most intelligent, down-to-earth, organized individuals I’ve met in my life. It came as a welcome shock to have my prior judgments squashed by the actual reality I was working in.

I love sex work because: There is too much for me to actually list! This job, while not perfect, is the best I have ever had. I get to meet wonderful people, have great experiences, I get to explore my own sexuality in a way I wasn’t able to before, I am finally able to be out of debt and live a stress-free life. As an independent, I have the freedom to work whenever I want and have my schedule as flexible as I need it to be, allowing me to spend more time with friends and family, or just with myself, while not having to worry about how to make rent, pay my bills, or even just have enough money to buy food. I get to have lots of physical intimacy, and while it isn’t all great, the majority of it is pretty good sex, which makes up for me being single. I also have Borderline Personality Disorder and lots of anxiety, so being around people for too long in a day can cause me some issues, and there’s some days when I can’t bring myself to leave my house or talk to people, and this profession allows me the freedom to take care of my mental health, which I wasn’t able to do when working six days a week, eight-plus hours a day, and the constant stress of your job being at risk if you need to take a day off.

Related: G, a Toronto-Based Sex Worker, Shares Her Story

My schedule is: On average, I work 15 to 30 hours per week, but that includes the time spent on advertising, managing websites, answering phones, getting ready for bookings, travelling, etc. On average, I see three to eight clients per week.

My clients are: It depends on which city I’m in, but I find the average is 25 to 45 years old. They’re generally attractive in some way or another; and mostly work in IT, or are engineers, government workers or they own their own businesses. They’re usually very nice, respectful, and clean. A good portion of them are either very friendly and easy to chat with, or very nervous and it takes some time for them to unwind. I don’t ask about their relationship status, and it’s not really my place to do so, but the older ones seem to be either married or married to their jobs.

My favourite on-the-job fashion item is: My leopard-print silk chemise! I bought it when I first started and I love it to death! It’s from La Senza, and it gives me a very sexy, retro Hollywood glam feel.

The most rewarding part of my job is: Seeing how happy people are when they leave, and how much I’ve brightened up their day (or week).

The most challenging part of my job is: How emotionally draining it can be sometimes, spending hours with the same person, and you have to be the best you you can be, since you’re there to fulfill a fantasy.

The skills you need to be successful at sex work are: Patience, organization, being able to work well with people, secretarial skills (such as answering phone, organizing schedules, etc.), marketing skills, and being good with finances. You also need to be friendly and open-minded.

The biggest misconception about sex work is: Well, there are many big misconceptions about sex work, but some of the most harmful ones include that no sex worker enjoys this type of work, that all are looking for way out, that the majority of sex workers are exploited or trafficked (sex work and human trafficking are not the same thing), that it’s degrading and demeaning work, that it’s “not a real job.” Every sex worker is an individual and complex, and their reasons for being in this industry are all different, so lumping everyone into the same category is dangerous. People should educate themselves and do proper research before listening to the harmful misconceptions about sex work being thrown into the world.

Related: Eden, an Ottawa-Based Sex Worker, Shares her Story

The funniest thing that ever happened to me on the job is: Oh, boy, there’s been too many to list! During a duo with another lady all three of us broke the bed, including the wooden slats underneath! The client had to come back with power tools to help repair it the next day!

My biggest professional triumph is: Getting my life out of a rut and back on track to the future I had always wanted for myself. And getting myself out of debt after being in it for so long.

I am great at my job because: I genuinely love what I do, and I love the time I spend with the people I meet. Also, because I’m very good at sex and am extremely determined to please my partners, I’m friendly, understanding, open-minded and non-judgmental.

I felt unsafe on the job when: I worked for an agency and they would put me in potentially dangerous situations, such as sending me alone to mens’ private residences, and sending men back to me who I had asked be banned for various reasons, including being aggressive. They would discuss things with the men that I had no idea about, and the men would show up expecting what was discussed and get upset at me when I refused. I’ve never felt unsafe on the job since being an independent.

The #1 thing people would be surprised to know about sex work is: How similar it is to other professions. Sex work and other service and retail jobs are eerily alike.

How I handle telling my loved ones: Most of my friends and family know about it, and I will usually be upfront when people ask what I do. My extended family doesn’t know, and my parents would prefer to keep it that way because they are mostly religious and conservative, and would probably not react well to the news. I usually try to size up a person before I tell them, and if they seem the type to judge or be weird or critical about it, I will just avoid the subject or make something up. I’ve found it upsetting when I see my extended family asking my brother so many questions about his life, but I have to just give a quick blurb and then be quiet so they don’t catch on. It hurts a bit, almost as though you’re being swept under the rug.

Dating while doing sex work is: Pretty much useless and extremely frustrating to say the least, especially with online dating. I used to tell potential dates before we met in person, so they could decided if it was something they were comfortable with, but then most would jump to the conclusion that I was trying to hustle them as a client, which was upsetting, especially after getting to know someone. Then I tried putting my job in my profile outright, and that just lead to more weird people contacting me, or potentially good people just starting a conversation about my job and sex work, as if there isn’t other topics of conversation that could have been better to start with.

My favourite sex worker portrayal in pop culture is: Belle in the British show The Secret Diary of a Call Girl. One of the most accurate representations of escorting—and Billie Piper is a great actress!

My least favourite sex worker portrayal in pop culture is: Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. That movie is all wrong on so many levels, and the whole “we need to be saved by a white knight” schtick is dated and needs to go, and it also makes many clients think we want to date them. We can save ourselves, thank you very much.

What I would like more people to know about sex work is: How necessary it is for so many people. Sex work gives an individual so much flexibility in their lives, and there are so many people who, for many various reasons, can’t keep a regular job or don’t have the time or ability to do so, whether it’s a disability, mental illness, children, school, lack of school, criminal record, etc. Sex work provides a living to so many people who need it, and degrading what they do puts their whole well being at risk.

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