Plans change. My last Asian trip is this week: Hong Kong to spend Dec 17 with Zi Teng. Then back to Singapore. Then back to Dallas in early 2011. I imagine I’ll stay put for a while, then get bored and light out again. I’ve missed Texas since 2004. The pull for home has become stronger this fall. So I’m taking the hint.
In the meantime, it means I’m re-entering the Dallas market. This has been interesting. I’ve always kept up with a few cities (mostly through Eros, also through a few discussion boards). Deciding on my rates hasn’t been too agonizing. Writing my ad text (and re-writing parts of my work-site) is. How the hell do I explain myself to someone who doesn’t know me? It’s different than advertising in other countries. Dallas is my home. The US market functions on some different ideas than the rest of the world.
I’m beginning to feel rather unusual. Fortunately, this is a job where one can be as unusual as one wants to be. Though whenever guys complain about my rates, I’m always tempted to tell them to go find some other globe-traveling escort/author/activist whose rates they like better and see her. Okay, sometimes I have a little attitude.
But…I am finding myself increasingly difficult to categorize. I’m perfectly aware of the escort hierarchy (and yes, it exists all over the world). I don’t feel like I fit anywhere anymore, mostly because my attitude toward the work has changed so much and I’ve stopped buying into the hierarchy.
I have repeatedly considered marketing myself to the US high-end but honestly, the necessary level of snob-appeal is just too much friggin’ work. I could go back to the mid-range hourly route in the US but really don’t wish to subject myself to hobbyists and reviews and all that crap all over again. I’m over-qualified for what many men expect out of regular hourly escorts (US and worldwide). I have dabbled in a few things that plenty of other escorts (and more than a few clients) would turn their nose up at. At one time, I would’ve too. Thankfully, I’ve matured. So I’ll probably stay where I am, the zone of eccentrics with a bit of money. (Yes, I do think a lot of my clients are eccentric if they choose me over the more-standard fare available. I like eccentric, probably because I am too.)
More and more I just see it all as a continuum. Every sex worker I’ve met feels they brings value to their clients, offers the same type of humanitarian service. One could argue there are matters of degree (perhaps like the differences between McDonald’s and Guy Savoy), but those degrees blur because both the clients and the sex workers move all over the spectrum at any given time. One man may behave differently with different sex workers based on personal chemistry — likewise the sex worker. I’s like watching a school of anchovies move through the water.
At the same time, don’t ever think I’m hung up on myself (despite this public navel-gazing). I know what I’m capable of and how very, very, very few men ever tap into all of it. If anything, I hate feeling disappointed and under-stimulated when I leave a client. I actually like being positively-challenged (I don’t like assholes or want dangerous clients).
It’s not really about the money, despite the jokes I publicly make. I like making enough money to be able to pursue my other interests. I like paying my bills and living my life. I prefer making money to not making money. Otherwise, I’m not hung up on my rates. I can’t be. It’s simply an entry fee for the client. It’s not a statement that I’m worth more or less than anyone else, though it’s certainly a statement on what I feel my time/energy is worth. If I agree to see someone, then I agree to that particular exchange and I’m good with it. I expect to be treated well — within the bounds of what they consider is well. I’m putting more and more into the hands of the clients. It’s been interesting.
Granted, because of what I charge, I get a certain level of clientele in any given situation. That has flexed too, because I’ve put myself in various situations. Sometimes those experiments have been a success, sometimes not. The point of success rarely had to do with the pile (or not) of bills in my hand but whether I was personally satisfied with what had transpired, if I had gained anything other than some money for that time out of my life. If I gained nothing and made no money, then it was an utter waste and something I don’t like.
The funny thing I’ve noticed is that the more I put into it, the more I get back. The giving of the self has to be done with care though. I’m becoming more and more aware of each person’s limits and I’m perfectly aware when I push past their comfort zone. That’s also interesting though sometimes hard to do with being public as well.
I really do consider myself a professional mind reader. If you don’t know what you want from me I don’t either and we both have a bad time. That’s the challenge and fun for me. There are times when I just can’t provide what they want — either because it’s just not in me or I just don’t feel like it. I do indeed judge: if the client isn’t worthy of what they’re asking, they aren’t going to get it. I love it all as long as the man treats me like a human. It really doesn’t matter too much to me if he simply wants to have sex the whole time or talk or whatever. As long as he does everything with respect, I’m good. None of this has to be any more complicated than that. I’m working at making it less complicated every way I can (though I still make potential clients jump through a few hoops — I’m just like that).
Sometimes I laugh because I can tell a potential client has passed me over because he thinks I’m too open, honest and simple to be interesting in person. I’m all of those things, though when I meet clients they realize there is a lot behind the openness they’ll never get to touch. I don’t need to create mystery via a website only to disappoint in person. It works the other way around for me.
my marketing — or lack of it
Which brings me around to the marketing side. Though I wrote the book on escort marketing, my own advertising/marketing has been bland (other than self-creating email spats with advertisers who annoy me). I think I do all right since I generally get the clients I want (i.e. men I like). But…I do wonder how to best categorize/brand myself. Calling myself an international blonde escort doesn’t really convey imaginative spark.
Judging by client reactions I’m not what they expect when I walk in the door, even though I feel I describe myself well on my work-site and ads. Perhaps they don’t read. More likely they don’t believe any of it since my colleagues just pile on the bull (especially my international colleagues). Still, perhaps I should tweak my marketing to be a little more accurate and little less (pleasantly) surprising.
I’ve looked at several rather common designators escorts use. You’ll never hear me call myself:
Elite Not ever sure what exactly this refers to, but I’m fairly sure I’m not it. You just can’t be elite if you grew up in East Texas. (Same goes for VIP.)
Exclusive Tube sock jokes aside, I’m not sure what exclusive implies. I see as many or as few clients as I feel like and that’s my business — no one else’s. I don’t run in social circles that get me behind the velvet ropes at swanky clubs — sorry. I don’t restrict my clientele by any standard other than age and apparent IQ. I don’t think I’m exclusive in any way. In fact, I go out of my way to be as inclusive as possible while maintaining my sanity and safety. (I’ve yet to see an escort tout her inclusivity. Hmm…)
Personal concierge As my travels have made abundantly clear, I can’t plan. I can often suggest ideas but if you want actual planning, you’re probably better off letting your hamster take care of the arrangements.
Courtesan Depends on your definition, but no, I don’t think I am one, nor will ever refer to myself that way. I’ve been eating at hawker stands way too much to qualify. I’m pretty much stuck speaking (very good) English, I stopped following fashion long ago (I’ve settled for having good taste instead) and I don’t read Proust. That, and the word is so overused as to be meaningless.
Muse Nope, I’m not a muse. My clients aren’t artists and therefore I do nothing to inspire or improve the lot of artists.
Geisha I’m not Japanese and I haven’t been trained in traditional Japanese arts since my youth. Having witnessed some of the grace that cultured Asian women can possess — I’m not a geisha.
Sacred Whore While my working philosophy isn’t too far off from those who call themselves Sacred Whores, I’m not granola enough to say it with a straight face. I like the power and pride of this term; however a lot of the people who use it buy into the sex work hierarchy and look down upon the non-sacred whores running around. If you’re a truly a sacred whore — you know better than that.
What I’m fairly sure I am:
Companion Yes, very much so.
Escort Yes, most certainly.
Sex worker By any definition, yes.
Hooker In some of my moods, I am. Other times, not so much. Generally I prefer to self-label with this one (i.e., don’t take it upon yourself to call me a hooker unless you know me well).
Upscale A meaningless word, but I might actually be. Though if you’re paying my rates, there are certain things one naturally expects anyway. I hate stating the obvious.
So is my issue that I’m just playing it way too straight? I lack a working imagination? My desire for understatement is detrimental to making money? The more I read escort ads/websites, the stronger my desire to cut through the crap and be completely straightforward (my work-site is even more minimal than this site). My escort-overload-backlash for honesty and simplicity is biting me in the butt, I think. Men are trained to read the bullshit. I think many, many men mistake understatement for something it is not. Of course, one could easily argue that it’s all in my writing skills and I won’t disagree.
It’s rather like the cobbler’s children having no shoes, right? Or that I’m simply to close to it all to be objective. I often wonder if I have such problems applying my own concepts, how do my poor readers fare? Or I wonder if it’s simply the case of writing about one’s self in such a way is awkward. I remember the struggle to write my first-ever ad. It took days of writing/re-writing (and it still sucked) because I just could not write about myself. Even attempting it in third-person didn’t help. It’s funny how stuck I am with my own ad. Just how do I explain myself to someone who has simply clicked on my thumbnail because he liked it? (Poor guy, I pity him already.)
The body of this post was written a year ago, though I know full well it has flavours of two of my recent posts. These are things that I have spent way too much time thinking about. Oh, and my work-site has SEO that includes terms like “VIP” and “upscale” because, apparently, it just helps. Sigh.