Photo by Riccardo Ulpts

On being a sex worker

Breaking the silence and stigma surrounding “the oldest profession in the world,” Lydia Bee dishes the ins and outs of her work as an escort.

I’m in my late twenties. I live with my roommate in an apartment that has big windows, a fireplace, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms—not the sort of place I can afford with my mid-level office job. I am also a high-class hooker.

I have been working as an escort for six months, not because I have to, but because I more than double my monthly salary working two nights a week for two hours. If I didn’t escort, I would still make my rent, but any surprise expense would be a problem. With my escort job, I can live very comfortably and even save a bit. 

I live in Germany and what I do is perfectly legal. I pay taxes, I have a permit, but my work is still probably the most harshly judged profession in the world.

When you say you’re a prostitute, you quickly become “just a prostitute” – and I am much more than that.

Sure, I’m a prostitute, but I am also the first person to help you onto the bus if you have a stroller. I gave the old lady who lives next door flowers for Christmas because I thought she seemed lonely. She sent me a lovely card the next day. 

I’m a prostitute, but I’m a girl who loves her parents, who stays up all night talking to her sister on the phone, who loves her friends, and whose idea of a perfect date isn’t what I do when I escort. With clients, I usually have champagne in a fancy restaurant, but I would much prefer a guy who asks me to go for a day or two of hiking—bonus points if we sleep in a tent.

I knew I loved sex the first time I tried it. I also knew that I wanted to experience all the feelings you can have from sex. I initiated losing my virginity and it happened in my bed, in my bedroom, at my parents’ house when I was 16. We had sex three times that afternoon and I still wanted more. 

As I got older, I had several partners, all while reading everything I could find on sex. I was always careful to be safe, but I was also always curious about new sensations.

I thought about escorting for years, but it seemed like a very big decision to make. Once you do it, you can’t undo it. I ended up sending an application to an escort agency after a friend encouraged me to. I just had to answer some basic questions and send some photos to make sure I fit the profile. They called the next day and started me immediately. I thought it was perfect: I can do something I love and get paid very well for it.

My clients are usually rich businessmen in their thirties and forties. I’m not going to lie—I see a lot of wedding rings and I hear a lot of stories about marriages with no intimacy and dead beds. I have realized these men’s fantasies and fetishes. But most of my time with clients is spent talking—sometimes, all they want to do is talk. 

I’ve had them tell me about deep and hurtful experiences, and then I’ve held them while they cried. My friend who is a psychiatrist has said that she and I kind of have the same job. I suppose there is something comforting about opening your heart to someone you will never meet again. My job is simply to leave them feeling good about themselves.

Before I became a prostitute, I never understood why some of them don’t kiss clients. As I got into the profession, I started to see why. It’s hugely intimate and probably the thing I’m most uncomfortable with doing. Penetrative sex is fine, though I prefer positions like doggy or being on top with clients because it limits the points of physical contact. 

It seems strange that a kiss can feel more intimate than penetration, but it’s true. When you kiss someone, you taste and smell them. You feel their breath on your face. Penetrative sex, when done in the positions I mentioned, can feel less intimate than a handshake.

The position I really don’t like with clients—and usually avoid—is missionary. Your faces are close together and you smell the other person so clearly. You feel them breathing and the way their heart races before they orgasm, then becomes heavy and slow after they come. These things make the missionary position my favorite when I am with a man I care for, and for the same reasons, it’s unbearable with clients. 

Oral sex is also very intimate and uncomfortable, again because of how clearly you feel his reactions and because of smell. The scent of a man’s crotch can be incredibly arousing when you find him attractive and it’s equally revolting when you don’t.

The most important thing to me is keeping a clear separation between business and pleasure. Sex with clients is mechanical, not intimate, and I don’t orgasm despite the fact that they all get an A for effort (and I often fake an orgasm to give them the credit due). 

When I have sex outside of work, for my own pleasure, I love being kissed, giving oral sex, and being close. I make sure to tell my partners these differences so that they know the sex I have with clients and the sex I have with them are like night and day.

I escort because it gives me a financial edge and it makes me independent. It has also made me understand that just because something isn’t right for everyone, doesn’t make it the wrong decision for others. I am a feminist and a sex worker because you really can be both. 

Of course, you can only do my line of work as long as your youth will let you, but where my life takes me after escorting, I don’t know. My plan right now is to buy an apartment and make the most of this experience. Then, maybe I’ll meet a man who wants to take me hiking.

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