During my time as a sex and relationship writer, and as the editor for the Lifestyle website iVoyeur, I have been able to meet numerous personalities and sex celebrities on the small and large scale. One blogger I am quite fond of—who I serendipitously met through a friend of mine who fancied her—is Brothel Babe, an ambitious young artist who works as a legal prostitute in a Nevada brothel. On her blog, she writes openly under her pseudonym about her life as a sex worker, the difficulty of keeping her secret, her job-related relationship woes, and pithy tidbits about her day-to-day travails, which would be the perfect fodder for a sexy cable television show. I have always been personally curious about what it’s like to be a woman who has sex for money—I mean who hasn’t had a secret fantasy about being a high class call girl?—and to find out what it’s like behind the doors of a house of ill repute. I recently interviewed my virtual pal and fellow sexy scribe Brothel Babe to discuss how working girls stay safe, the pluses and minuses of working in a “house,” in addition to a bunch of questions I’ve been dying to ask her for some time now.
So, without revealing too much about your past or your real identity, can you tell me why you chose to pursue a profession in the sex industry? What was it about working in a legal brothel that originally piqued your interest?
Brothel Babe: Lets get out the basics: I was never abused by anyone, I didn’t grow up living a hard life. My parents never went through an ugly divorce. I never had a boyfriend who hit me. I grew up in a loving home with creative and vibrant people.
Now lets get to the core of the matter: I got to a point where I felt like I was “cursed.” That curse was getting hit on—a lot. I was at a point in my work pursuits where all I wanted to do was work with people I looked up to, except their dicks kept getting in the way. They wanted sex, and when I said “no” they were complete assholes to me. There were places I enjoyed going that I literally started avoiding because I didn’t know how to deal with those assholes.
I looked up an escort agency online and was about to head off to Boston to work for an upper class agency when my brother (who I tell everything to) informed me that brothels are legal in Nevada. He gave me the name of a brothel there, I emailed their manager, and one-week later I was on my way to turn my “curse” into a blessing.
You’ve made mention that you are looking to publish a book all about your adventures at your chosen profession. How much of what you do is for the purpose of research, and how much is just general curiosity?
BB: The greatest “mystery” about the brothel lifestyle to me, is that to those of us who are in it there is little mystery. We’re so much clearer about our wants than most women I meet outside of here. Nearly every woman I speak with is incredibly clear on her reasons as to why she is working here. She has a purpose. She has a goal. She sets out to do these things by working in a brothel. She accomplishes these things.
If a woman’s story is really interesting, I’ll dig deeper and ask more questions. I’ll often ask a co-worker if I can write about it. Sometimes they ask for anonymity. Some I have even emailed questions about working in a brothel and they have let me put it in my blog. I hear some crazy stuff that you know from how they tell it is true. Like a girl who hit the streets at age thirteen and cross-dressing trannies took care of her till she got older, or somebody who gets raped and drugged by the Hollywood elite. A lot of shit happens to these girls.
Here we know we are safe. We know we are taken care of. My real research will come in time when I start traveling to brothels in other parts of the world. I have plans to head to Amsterdam to see the biggest and oldest brothels, and my list of brothels I’d like to explore grows every few months or so.
Do you find that you’ve been empowered by your job? And if so, in what way?
BB: Having seen at least a couple thousand men pass through the brothel doors in the years that I’ve worked here, you develop an instant sense of knowing who wants to fuck you, who will pay a lot to fuck you, and who needs emotional nurturing. That is a priceless skill to have. I’d say the most valuable skill I’ve learned is being able to instantly identify a “no bullshit guy” or whether he’s a “full of shit guy.”
Before I started this job, I had no clue as to who was “full of it” or not, and I think I got taken advantage of often for that reason. Applying the bullshit detector to my daily life has been extremely empowering. I wish all women could possess this skill, as they could spare themselves many a bad one-night stand, or a mediocre relationship.
I know that you make great attempts to keep your true identity under wraps. What has been the response from your friends and acquaintances that have found out about your job? How do people usually act when you’ve been publically “outed”?
BB: I went through a big phase where I told a lot of people. Close friends, randoms in bars, people I wanted to date. Telling your guy or girl friends usually leads to a lot of questions. Some think it’s “fucking awesome” and some are surprised. Nobody has ever given me a disgusting face. Not once. Acquaintances and randoms just act surprised, mostly.
I will say that the nature of how I socialize has changed. I don’t hang out with any “loose canons” any more. Now, I can usually be found in a small, protected social circle. I have a circle of friends who all know, and a small circle of friends who don’t know. With those who know, it is treated much like an inside joke. I hang out with those people because I can trust that they would never publicly embarrass me. They protect me.
I guess you could say that I protect the circle that doesn’t know. I try to keep those social circles separate. It’s sort of my refuge to have those friends who don’t know me as Brothel Babe. I feel like I can be myself to some extent, but I can never let down my guard like I can with the friends who know about my job.
I know one or two people in my hometown who insist on telling everyone, whenever my name comes up, that I’m a legal prostitute. I have a very loyal group of friends, who take great care to tell me, “oh hey, this person brought up how you were a prostitute to me at lunch today. I pretended like I didn’t know.”
I also have an archenemy on the Internet who seems determined to out my real identity. Strangely enough, a lot of people think I’m her, and vice versa. She thinks I’m a fraud. Oh well.
You write at length about the difficulty of being able to maintain a romantic relationship on your blog. What have been the hardest hurdles for you to overcome with partnerships? What advice would you give other people who have risqué jobs but still want a steady relationship?
BB: It’s taken me a year at least to learn that I shouldn’t tell my friends exactly when I go to work in a brothel. It puts a weight in the air that weighs me down. I don’t need people checking up on me to make sure I’m OK. There was a guy I started dating while holding this job who knew about my job from day one, but it was a month or two of us dating before I actually went to Nevada. When I left he fell apart and so did the budding relationship. I don’t think even he knew that he would take it that hard.
That was the worst. Going from talking to someone every day to literally having this great new relationship fall apart in a matter of 48 hours. It broke me bad. I tend to think that serious relationships are best to be avoided. If you’re choosing to work in a brothel it’s because there is something in your life you are pursuing that is more important than your relationship. You have to accept that no man is going to be able to predict how they will react when they find out you are a prostitute. You can’t predict the outcome, and neither can he. No matter how much he says he can handle it, you really don’t know until you get there.
My advice? If you meet a guy you think you could get serious with keep him on the hook but don’t ask questions. Go on dates. Be mysterious. Be busy. Be seemingly unavailable. It makes you more attractive, and you can take your time to figure out whether or not he’s worth your trouble. If you meet some liberal dude who’s gonna be okay with your job, chances are, you will know right away.
What are some weird things that you encounter in the brothel on a daily basis?
BB: Chihuahuas and kittens running around, vibrators out in plain sight, or people walking back and forth with sheets—and I am talking about sheets that have jiz on them. Girls in thong teddies with their asses hanging out and fishnet tights in all styles. Nervous men. Daily plays of “I Am Not A Whore” on the jukebox. Pole dancing for breakfast. Good cop/bad cop. I could go on for days.
Can you give me an idea of what your day-to-day life is like? What time do customers begin to arrive? Are you on-call most of the day and night? Or are there different shifts? Typically how many people do you see a day?
BB: My shift is typically spent in the bar, or in my room, and when the bell rings we all line up. At some brothels you are required to hang out in the bar and socialize. At others you can go back to your room, so long as you make it out for line up. Shifts are 12 hours, sometimes 14 hours on weekends. At some places, you can have your own day off. Closer to Vegas, you get one “out day” where you can go out for four hours to run errands, and that’s it. The rest of the time, you’re in “pussy prison” format—meaning no ins or outs. Since I am closer to Reno, and things are less strict, I’m able to have my car and go places if I want. At some brothels you will draw for your shift every week and some girls will trade shifts with each other. At my home brothel, I just tell them what shift I want and the manager decides whether it’s OK or not.
You can see anywhere from zero to ten people a day. You might talk with more than that, but they don’t end up buying. A brothel is like any sales job—there’s dead days, busy days, in-between days. I don’t have a vagina made of steel, so I tend to max out earlier than some of the veterans. There was only one time when I took things too far. That Push Pop in the freezer? Guess where it went.
What have you learned from your time at the brothel?
BB: With the advent of Facebook and whatnot, you really can’t go back to “life before being a prostitute” unless you want to work hard to completely make over your social life and get an entirely new set of friends. Surprisingly, this is not that hard to do.
I just got tired of sex being such an active part of conversation. When you get down to the core of me, I’m actually more conservative than a lot of people my age. I don’t like to purge details about my personal relationships, and I don’t like to talk openly about my sex life. It’s incredibly isolating when people treat you as if working in a brothel is some huge roadblock that prevents you from living your life, like I’m a sex slave. There’s no way they could ever understand the level of respect we receive from the staff that works in a brothel.
I am a valued employee. My needs are met. If I need an hour of sleep because I stayed up late with a client, they will allow it. If I am feeling sick and need to see a doctor, I’m allowed to be late for my shift. If I bullshit them, they put me in my place and they address the issue, but this doesn’t mean I am fired on the spot. They allow room for error in ways other businesses do not.
I have a chef to cook me good food every day. Even if I didn’t make any money that day, there is still food on my table and a roof over my head. Here, the opportunity to make money exists 24/7. You can work extra hours if you want. You can dedicate yourself and reach your goals sooner than you could at any other job. This is why I am here.
What is the hierarchy or power structure like within the brothel? Is there a level of status or prestige that comes with seniority?
BB: If you are a bad person, there is an incredible sense of teamwork on driving out bad people who do not belong in this industry. If you don’t belong here, letters get written, phone calls get made, and the girls call the owners till the “bad person” gets fired.
There are girls who are idolized to some degree. Girls who have perfect figures, or this sexy allure to them when they walk. This sexiness has been earned. These girls possess a glow about them because they are the top bookers and their confidence shows. If you’ve been there longer, there is some seniority, but mainly your worth is determined by how good of a salesperson you are and whether you are working hard or are goofing off on your shift. Seniority comes from hard work, not tenure.
How often do you get tested for STDs? Do you ever get freaked out that your customers could give you something? How do make sure to keep yourself safe?
BB: I get tested once a week. With more in-depth testing happening once a month, and an even more in-depth test happening once a year.
For your own protection, you must personally inspect every penis under good lighting before the client pays you and before the penis goes inside of you. Condoms are required by law, even for blow jobs. If you stay safe, and you inspect every customer, the odds of contracting an STD are incredibly low. Of course I get paranoid when I get an ingrown hair and I worry it’s herpes or something. I’ve honestly had more problems from my regular sex life than I have had from my sex life here. I self medicate and I’ve been known to stock some extra treatments for yeast infections. Some girls have bought kits off of me before. Really though, the trick to safety is condoms, lots of condoms.
Do you have repeat customers? What happens if you have a customer you catch a bad vibe from? Have you ever said “no” to a potential john?
BB: Repeat customers can be fun when you know how it’s going to go—especially if they have a funny thing about them such as a quirky accent or fun demeanor. I avoid people I catch a bad vibe from. I’ve said “no” probably more than I have said “yes.”
Do your parents know what you do?
BB: Yes, they do, and they’re cool with it. They just don’t want some of my immediate family to know. My mom talks about it. I’ve worked other jobs in between working in a brothel, and my mom tells me she’s proud of me when I do that other stuff.
How long do you plan on working at a legal brothel? What is your next move career-wise?
BB: I’ve always been one to have some zany business ideas. I think I can get out of this business before I turn thirty. Next move is launching a couple business ideas and oddly, putting more trust in other people than I ever have before.
Do you have a special persona that you conjure for your customers? Or do you act and sell yourself for who you are?
BB: I’ve been known to dumb it down a little, or flirt a little more, or speak some Spanish, or French. I’ve also been known to play the therapist a lot. All I’m selling is various shades of myself. I figure you can’t come up with it unless it’s already in you somewhere. Most girls become more extreme versions of themselves and will crank up the charm and crank up the sexy. I tend to do this less than some girls, I think.
Do you have any recent work horror stories?
BB: My recurring nightmare scenario, which has thankfully never happened, is where somebody I know from real life comes into the brothel and sees me and probably I’m wearing some thong with my ass hanging out. That to me would be a nightmare. However, that’s never happened. Usually the biggest horror is that the cook made fish and the kitchen smells, or we’re all out of Frosted Mini Wheats.
Have you ever caught feelings for a customer?
BB: Once I hit on a guy because I thought he was cute and I got his number and we went on a real-life date. He turned out to be the dullest tool in the shed. Then my feelings for him quickly went away. I’ve never really felt a “love connection” happen in a brothel. I think the whole Pretty Woman scenario is so cliché that it’s never happened to me.
What are some arguments you can make for and against working in a legal brothel?
BB: I would only make an argument for working in a brothel if you have a strong enough personality for this business. You have to be so psychologically strong to work here and to maintain your sense of self in the real world while doing this job. A regular, everyday woman does not belong here. Only the strongest do.
I don’t think this is the kind of job somebody should go for when they are wandering about life, unless their plan is to save some money until they figure out what they want. If you can manage to work two regular jobs, or a job that will give you over-time, I’d tell you to go do that before you come here. If you can manage working at a restaurant, or bartending, I’d encourage you to work there. If there is specialized training of any kind that you could go to school for, and you could get a loan, and that stuff interests you, I’d say definitely take that opportunity before you come to work at a brothel.
If you have a summer off and you’re a student and you want to make a few grand to put away, then it could be a good idea. But, if you choose to walk down this road, be careful about your lies. If you have a Facebook page that you frequently update, don’t say you are going to Hawaii. Your friends will want to see pictures of you drinking a Mai Tai in a bikini, and you won’t be able to give them one, and then you’ll be caught. Find an alibi, someone who will lie for you and cover for you. Just don’t be stupid about covering your tracks. If you’re a horrible liar, it will never ever work. I’m the best example of that.