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Tess Ryan answers your questions

By johnboy 25 August 2008 170

[First filed: August 22, 2008 @ 15:26]

Last week we called for questions to put to Tess Ryan, an escort and sew sex worker.

Tess has answered the chosen questions in record time and we therefore present the answers to you below. [Possibly NSFW]

1. What’s the story behind the Web standards compliance stuff? Does she run Linux?

When you design and implement a site using hand written code instead of software like Dreamweaver or Frontpage, there is satisfaction in achieving clean, elegant code and a pure css layout.

It’s guaranteed that if you design a site with clean standard code then it will work in all the browsers except IE. Then you have to hack apart your beautiful code into spaghetti because Microsquash has never bothered updating IE to correctly render standard css.

This image explains it nicely:
http://www.vilain.com/web-design.html

I’m afraid I’m not hardcore enough to run Linux, I’m on a Mac. My geekiness is only about mid-level, so I can grep on the command line but I don’t use Pine or Mutt and I don’t have my head around OOP (yet).

I do have a bit of an issue with Microsquash. Any company whose products are so faulty when delivered to the consumer deserves no respect. Besides, Bill Gates has no style.

So I don’t use any Microsquash products, and I do use and support open source whenever possible.

2. Do you have any advice you would give to other girls considering the work?

Obviously people do tend to think about it carefully before entering the industry, but I would advise contacting your local sex worker organisation for a chat about it as well. There is a list of SWOs on the Scarlet Alliance website (http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/), and the ones that are peer based (have current or past sex workers as their staff) are very good as they can speak from experience and do not judge.

They can provide information about working safely, sexual health and other issues related to working in the industry. They will also be able to provide all the safe sex products and work supplies that aren’t necessarily available in the chemist.

3. How did you get into the industry?

At the time I was working as a waitress, which I found depressing and exhausting. It’s a hard job and people are often dismissive and impolite to waitresses, it left me with a lot of respect for anyone who can do it long term. I was sharing a house with a single mother and she decided to go out to work in Fyshwick. Of course when she got back from her first shift I was burning with curiosity.

I’d often thought of working in the industry, but there’s so many myths and not much information out there. I’d known one girl who had been a sex worker, but I hadn’t asked many questions, and everyone was so nasty to her about it that I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with the stigma for something that might be rather unpleasant.

So my flatmate answered all my questions. Yes, we do use condoms for everything. No, you don’t have to do everything they ask for and if you do extras you charge for them. No, you don’t have to look like a supermodel. Yes, you can refuse clients. All in all it sounded quite civilised and totally unlike my visions of saloons with corseted women draped over poker playing gunslingers. Funny that.

So I went out and did my first shift absolutely terrified, with no idea what to do with a client. Despite the mechanics involved, sex isn’t the main skill you need as a sex worker. I was so nervous that I didn’t do a single job that night. The following night I made more money than I’d make in a week doing waitressing and felt less tired by the end of it so I quit my straight job.

There’s a great deal I could say about those first months, and the years since for that matter, but I suspect that most people wouldn’t believe it and it would sound an awful lot like proselytising. Suffice to say that my experience in the industry and its influence on my life choices has been positive and empowering. I wouldn’t change a thing.

4. What is your typical stereotype client?

There isn’t one. Just as you can’t tell who is a sex worker when you’re walking down the street, you can’t tell who would be a client either.

Clients can be between 18 and 80 (or older). They work as builders and apprentices, lawyers and doctors, salesmen and CEOs. They are police officers and fire fighters and defence personnel. They are young, old, disabled, rich, poor and everything in between.

There is no typical. Someone once asked a similar question, which was: ‘Is there a type of guy that would never visit a sex worker?’ No, I don’t think there is a type. There would no doubt be some individuals who would not for various reasons, there is no ‘type’ who would or would not visit.

5. Do you believe that the current Prostitution Act and associated regulations are appropriate for the Industry? If you could make any changes to the current legislation, what would those changes be?

Overall the ACT Prostitution Act is fairly good, there are some things that I think are unnecessary which comes down to the idea that the industry needs to be tightly regulated. For example the legislation states that you have to use condoms. Workers are using condoms because they have a high level of education around sexual health issues, not because of the legislation. In states where there is no legal requirement for condoms workers are still using them, so what need is there to regulate condom use, and how would they find out and prosecute if two people willingly broke that law? I think the argument that unnecessary and unenforceable legislation detracts from the dignity of the law is particularly relevant in this context.

There is a perception that the industry must be heavily regulated or there will be all sorts of terrible outcomes, even though the evidence suggests otherwise, and that perception is reflected in the ACT legislation.

I could go into detail about the things I’d like to see changed, but that would turn this into a five page article.

6. Pretty Woman, Klute or Belle de Jour?

Good grief, is there any choice here really? I’ve rarely been as impressed with an actress playing a sex worker as I was with Jane Fonda. I remember reading that she spent time with some workers before filming, although I don’t know if that’s true. Donald Sutherland as eye candy didn’t hurt either.

Actually I haven’t seen the BBC’s Belle series but her books were a bit of a pretentious wank, weren’t they? There are far better books out there from industry people, I usually recommend:
— In My Skin – Kate Holden, by an Australian worker in Melbourne. It’s pretty gritty, fabulous and honest.
— There’s a Bear in There – Merridy Eastman, by an actress who receptioned in a brothel in Sydney, it really shows the funny side of the industry.
— Callgirl: Confessions of a Double Life – Jeannette Angell, An American academic who started escorting, it shows that sex work may be very different in America, but it’s the same too.

7. What would constitute a bad day of work? Would a bad day see you upset or distressed at home in your free time, or do you try and clearly delineate things?

Obviously a bad day at work will involve unpleasant experiences with clients, so I’ll talk mostly about that.

Sometimes you see clients have bad manners, who don’t understand you’re running a business and think that they can turn up late and it doesn’t matter, or try to haggle over the rates after they’ve arrived. There are ones who try to go through your drawers when you aren’t looking or ‘souvenir’ something of yours when they leave. Ones who try to argue that because sex workers have low STI rates they feel safe that they won’t catch anything from us and therefore don’t need to use condoms. Never mind that the problem is we don’t want to catch things from them, especially from the ones who don’t like using condoms.

The worst though are the ones who leave you feeling drained. Some don’t speak or react at all, you have no idea how the service progressing from their side and you’re flat out entertaining them with no feedback or interaction. Others go into a monologue for hours on end without drawing breath while you sit there listening attentively and again have no chance to interact. Bookings like that are as dull as dishwater and you just feel exhausted.

A long, tiring day with irritating things happening will have an effect on anyone but there are few things a good book and a long bath won’t fix.

8. Describe a good day.

Seeing interesting clients who have a sense of humour.

People who are relaxed, comfortable in themselves and easy to spend time with are a joy to meet. They aren’t self conscious, nor do you have to worry about tripping over their ego getting into bed. A series of bookings with either regular or new clients like that is a very good day and leaves me feeling energetic and happy.

If clients choose to tell me about their job or some other aspect of their experience I’m unfamiliar with I tend to ask a lot of questions, and get to find out about a lot of things that people don’t usually bother talking about. If a builder is willing to tell me how to tile my shower, or a doctor is willing to explain why skipping a pill can cause ovulation, then I’m all ears.

All knowledge is worth having. There are an infinite number of things other people know and I don’t, so why waste an opportunity?

9. Given that you have more experience with more people than 99% of the population what do you find that most people do “wrong” during sex?

They are too self-conscious.

Sex should be about relaxing and feeling good. A lot of men are too worried about how long they’re having sex for, what positions they should be doing, their penis size, and what they look like. I think porn probably has a lot to do with this. People watch porn and think that’s normal sex. It isn’t normal sex any more than movies are about normal life, it’s just entertainment. It’s about camera angles and positions, and because porn tends to go for a while, the sex takes a lot longer and there is more repetitive pumping than in real life.

Let it go. Real sex is more fun than that. Having a great time for 3 minutes in missionary is ok, and surely preferable to spending thirty minutes going through the Karma Sutra while thinking about taxes so you don’t orgasm too quickly and wondering if your leg is in the right position.

10. Eventually wrinkles will appear, while some things will sag and others stretch. What kind of post-industrial plan do you have?

One thing I’ve learned in the industry is that society is more concerned about looks than individuals are. Age, weight, personality, hair colour, bust size, ass size or whatever, there is always work. There are always clients who think you are just right. Women of all ages (and sizes and other variations) are amazing, interesting, beautiful, sexual and sensual creatures. So are men for that matter. Thank goodness there is just as much variety in people’s taste as there is in people. I know women in their fifties and even sixties who are still working and doing just fine.

I may exit the industry at some stage, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps never, but it won’t be because of age or sagging. There are a number of other jobs I could be doing now for similar money, but they don’t appeal to me much at this time. The movie ‘Office Space’ pretty well sums up my views on straight jobs. No offence meant to the people in straight jobs of course. 😉

What’s Your opinion?


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doves2 1:01 am 03 Sep 09

A sex worker is about her being your own person, not relying on a man, also if a professional woman has not reached the top of her profession at age twenty six, she never will break the glass ceiling, a sex worker will, most women are under paid compaired to a man doing the same job

johnboy 4:40 pm 27 Sep 08

But we all love a good re-animation…

Peachy 4:30 pm 27 Sep 08

Peachy said :

I’m new to the forum so please bear with me if my opinions aren’t very coherent yet (any advice is welcome):

Apart from the fact that I need to pay attention to dates and realise that this thread has been dead for a month…oops! 😛

Peachy 4:26 pm 27 Sep 08

I’m new to the forum so please bear with me if my opinions aren’t very coherent yet (any advice is welcome):

As a female that loves sex with many partners, I’ve been interested in prostitution for a long time. Getting paid to do what I love seems to be the next logical step.

Firstly – Thank you Tess for answering many questions that I wanted to ask you after stumbling across your website a few months ago. Also thank you for doing it in such a public forum and allowing it to generate debate.

Secondly – There seems to be this belief that by talking about sex work, you’ll convince women who would never consider joining the industry to join because it just sounds so good! Not many women I know would consider doing sex work for various reasons (yes I have asked them). The ones that have considered it have arrived to that thought by themselves, because of who they are and the fact that they enjoy sex.

In fact, the debate over why women become sex workers seems to miss one integral notion: That these women do it because they enjoy it. While the money is great compared to other jobs (hours worked vs. pay) not many women would willingly go into this career unless they enjoyed sex. When you consider this, it no longer becomes an issue about being an item, bought or sold. If they are happy doing it, and they feel empowered by the fact that they can do something they love as a career then who are we to judge? In any other career, if someone we know was unhappy, we’d tell them ‘change to something you enjoy, follow your bliss’. Why should sex work be treated differently?

Thirdly – In regards to the comment about prostitution breaking up a marriage. I used to also be concerned about the concept of being ‘the other woman’ until I read a blog by a former prostitute the other day. She made the point that many of the men she sees love their wives and their kids and have sex with their wives, but sometimes search for sex that’s a bit different. Rather than leaving their wives or starting an affair which is much more likely to put their marriage in jeopardy, they seek a professional who won’t interfere with their personal life. You may or may not agree with this concept, but it is a different viewpoint to think about.

Fourthly – There was a comment in the thread (couldn’t find it for the life of me) about Tess Ryan have done well by not getting an STI yet. I spend a lot of my time on adult chat sites (due to my aforementioned love of hot sex). It terrifies me how many men and women don’t use protection. I have been asked by many guys to do away with it and several of them told me that they never use protection and that they’ve never been tested, often because they are sure that they’d know if their partner had something.

There seems to be this belief that sex workers are somehow dirty and disease ridden. In fact, as Tess said, they are much better educated about safe sex and take it very seriously. Danger from STI’s is more likely from that random you pick up at the club while too drunk to work a condom. Take a look at Tess’s site and count how many times she makes a point that safe sex is not negotiable and then say again, sarcastically, how ‘clever’ she is for not getting an STI.

Cameron 9:58 am 27 Aug 08

Deb Foskey was free to do so and in fact did for a very long time. People were justifiably concerned that she was taking up a valuable public housing slot when she was in fact not at all in need of it. She made a political decision, not a feminist one.

The fact that there are single teenage mums with 6 kids is an indication that they are free to choose their lifestyle. This is an unfortunate situation and it is often to the detriment of the children. For the most part our social security system and society is there to provide some measure of support.

I don’t think comparing the suffragettes and the right to vote to prostitutes and women’s equality is an accurate comparison either.

No one is suggesting male-led feminism. People are suggesting that feminism based on personal moral objections isn’t feminism at all – it is more a case of one person trying to press their moral values on another.

sepi 8:40 pm 26 Aug 08

And on the male led feminism – what a great plan.
If only the suffragettes had thought of that, women would have got the vote much sooner.

Who should we get on board – DJ, who thinks 80% of women are incompetent at work? Or JB who thinks if only women improved their negotiation skills and gave up having babies things would all fall into place? Or just one of the many guys who feel that a woman’s right to choose prostitution is paramount?

deezagood 7:49 pm 26 Aug 08

Free to choose, but without hurting anyone else in the process.

sepi 7:28 pm 26 Aug 08

I still think it’s a stupid phrase.

If you want legality:

Why wasn’t Deb Foskey ‘free to choose’ to stay in her govvie house?

Why aren’t single teenage mums of 6 kids ‘free to choose’ their lifestyle?

Is anything legal a woman chooses to do an example of modern feminism?

Davo111 5:32 pm 26 Aug 08

p1 said :

I do love the fact that the website question headlines before any of the “adult” related ones.

To be honest – I looked at it as an ice-breaker.

sepi said :

It is a stupid phrase – why is Tess ‘free to choose prostitution’ but Ivan Milat not free to choose murder????

/facepalm

fnaah 5:31 pm 26 Aug 08

I’m only responsible for the last one, the first four were supposed to be italicised. I suspect WordPress automagically closed my tag for me at the first CRLF.

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