The Ex-Files: The Dating Site Disaster

Andreas Kock's stalker fashion editorial.

Photo by Andreas Kock

At this point in our collective dating lives, I imagine we’ve all accumulated enough horror stories about ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends to fill a two-volume novel. Whether it’s the psycho stalker, the asshole who locks you—and your stuff—out of the apartment, or the blackmailer who posts naked photos of you on all of their social networking channels, there’s nothing worse than a butt-hurt former lover with an axe to grind. Luckily, I have had the pleasure of keeping most of my exes as friends. Some of which I still email with, joke with about old times over the phone, or share the occasional happy hour libation. I’ve only had one ex who really lost the script after our breakup and behaved so badly I had to change my phone number—twice.

Back in 2005, I was a full-time student and struggling freelancer who had no time to socialize and even less time to date. I was tired of using the same circle of friends as a conduit for romance, so in a bold attempt to rekindle my love mojo, I signed up for an online dating site. And not one with the “measure your long-term compatibility” bullshit. No, this was the era of Nerve.com, the notorious online dating destination known for its hot hipster singles, most of them looking for no-strings romps. Perfect. After I created my profile, added a coquettish picture, and filled out the requisite information with as much humor as I could muster while writing back-to-back papers on Spenser and eight record reviews for the music mag, I sat back and waited for the eligible man-dolescents to start lining up. And virtually line up they did! I was literally going out four nights a week on dates thanks to my Nerve profile.

Max was a seemingly normal guy—at least for my standards. I had gone out with about everyone in San Francisco, most of them were way out of my age range (Electra complex, anyone?) had major issues, and only wanted me because I was 25 and a not-so reformed party girl-cum-student. Max and I liked the same obscure indie bands, he had a deep voice, and an adventurous nature that was refreshing after all of the aloof and “over it” scenesters I used to roll around on unmade beds with. And just like that, it went from a casual phone call to pint-sized margaritas at Casanova to a marathon make out session in the dark corner of the bar while the DJ played obscure ’70s rock and Northern Soul. Coincidentally, I had a date scheduled with the DJ the very next night. It’s safe to say that date never happened.

I never wanted a boyfriend. Or, I guess I should rephrase that. I never wanted him as my boyfriend. But our chemistry was right on—well, that’s an understatement. I realize that I was completely hornswaggled into a relationship because of our incredible sex life. That coupled with the fact that summer was drawing to a foggy close with the fall semester looming like a dark cloud in the distance. So there I was, suckered into a union with a guy who looked like a deranged monkey when he smiled and used improper grammar. But he knew how to satisfy me physically, and that was my weakness.

 

So I quickly went from fun, flirty, and single to attached and confused about how I got there in the first place. But I was blinded by lust, and he kept me content by buying me pretty things, like naughty Wolford stockings, Led Zeppelin records, and expensive bottles of Pinot Noir. I was hooked on being worshipped, but this was far from the basis of a stable relationship. Looking at this time retrospectively, I also recognize that I spent very little of this period sober (I said not-so reformed party girl, remember?), and what we had in common was our consumption of top-shelf spirits, premium cocaine, and the mother of all drugs—sex. The more time that went on, the more I began to realize that our relationship was founded upon our sexual chemistry—it was a temporary fix, a moment in time, and somehow it managed to last three years. By the beginning of our second year, I started to have serious doubts. I slept with two men behind his back and fantasized about breaking up with him every single day as I rode the train to my cushy magazine job. Between his lack of ambition and his hopeless devotion towards me, I lost respect for him and with that my sex-drive. Without the lusty haze keeping us glued together, I knew that the end was imminent. I also knew that, because Max was so addicted to me, this breakup wouldn’t be an easy one. So I put it off eight long months.

With the realization that it was time to break it off with Max, I also recognized that I had gotten too comfortable in my current life and surroundings. It was time to shake things up. I did the most extreme thing I could think of. I decided to move from San Francisco to New York City with no plan in mind and no place to live. So with idealized visions of city life dancing in my head, I broke the news to Max. I told him that breaking up was the best thing I could do for him, and that it would light the fire under his ass to make him figure out what he wanted out of life. Because worshipping me had become a full-time gig. He sat in my room and cried and cried, wondering why I wasn’t upset about losing him. I walked him out, as he staggered to his car he looked at me like a puppy through the cage at the pound and I knew I was doing the right thing. As my astrologer so aptly put it, “Pity is not love. Let him go.” And so off he went into the damp Bay Area night.

But of course that wasn’t the last I’d see of him. He wrote me numerous love letters, painted me things that were symbolic of our relationship, and he broke into my house in an attempt to talk to me. That was the first time I changed my phone number. Frightened as I was, I knew he was just maddened by love and needed some time and space to heal. Or so I thought. As my plane touched down at JFK there was now a whole country between us. I began my life on the East Coast, and quickly forged a new relationship with a man I had been pining over for three years. Who would have thought that Max was living mere blocks away from my sublet in Brooklyn? Not heeding the wise words of my sage astrologer, I felt bad for the guy and emailed him back on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. That’s how I quickly learned that he too was living in Clinton Hill and fled California shortly after I broke up with him. “It was mere coincidence, right?” I wondered as I met him for lunch at the small café around the corner.

 

 

 

 

 

One lunch date seemed to rekindle a tentative friendship, which gave way to the dysfunctional dynamic of our recently terminated union. He took me out to dinners in the West Village when I had no money, or bought me glasses of wine when I had a hard day scouring the job boards. Soon I realized that it was like we were dating again—but without any of the lust to cloud my judgment. It became obvious to me that I really didn’t like him enough to be friends. And not to mention I had a new boyfriend that I was quickly falling in love with. The whole thing was flawed from the get-go. Again, my sympathy for him overruled my rational thought. The whole ambiguous friendship thing came to a head one night when he came over to my West Village apartment to use my Internet before I went off to meet my beau. As I emerged from the steamy bathroom I could tell the energy had shifted. Something was different. I asked Max what was wrong and he admitted to reading my emails while I was in the shower and came to the conclusion that I had no interest in ever getting back with him. I screamed at him, shocked by his idiocy and his disrespectful snooping and told him I never wanted him to contact me ever again. That was the second time I changed my number. That was also the second time he tried to break into my apartment.

That’s when the emails started. According to Max, I owed him money for the time he generously took me out to dinner when I was unemployed. I knew he was fishing for drama, finding some way to be able to write me off and call me a bitch. Fortunately, my boyfriend wasn’t having it. He emailed Max and told him that if he really wanted his money back, he would come and meet up with him in place of me. That settled the issue, and my boyfriend and I were back to domestic bliss while Max silently fumed in a dark apartment in Williamsburg. That was the end of the saga. Until two-years—and two awkward serendipitous street run-ins later—I got an email from my friend Kate.

“Hey, long time no see,” it read. “I wanted to ask you about your friend that’s on OKCupid. You’re in his photo. My friend is supposed to go out on a date with him and I figured I’d ask you about him. Is he a nice guy?” As I read the email I had a sinking suspicion that it was an old photo of Max and I. Probably the uber-flattering photo taken at my 27th birthday party. I emailed Kate, and she confirmed my suspicions. It was him—and me—in that profile photo. Not only that, the photo was at least four years old. I don’t even have that haircut anymore! It dawned on me how incredibly creepy this was on a multitude of levels—to use your ex-girlfriend as a “look I’m not crazy” device on a dating site, or even worse, to feature an out-of-date photo that neither reflects your current post-20s physique or your post-20s hairline. But as they say, how you find them is how you keep them. I met Max online, so in a strange way it’s pretty fitting that I would end up on his profile as a way to lure in a new wave of dates, our fate strangely entwined in the ether of the Internet.

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Oversexed: Is the Modern Woman’s Amped Up Sex Drive Emasculating Men?

Rebecca Chandler shot by Robert Harper for ThePop.com

I attended a stylish rooftop soiree this past Saturday in the East Village. The Champagne was flowing—or overflowing I should say—and attractive singles danced and mingled with the monolithic Manhattan skyline in the background. It was my good friend’s birthday party, but I didn’t know any of the attendees. Instead of being a silent wallflower I poured myself a big glass of Pinot Noir and began striking up conversations with the partygoers. As usual, I subconsciously shifted the talk to relationships and sex. I was struck by how many women on this one Manhattan rooftop were bragging about their insatiable sexual appetites and how most men—both young and old—couldn’t keep up with them. Many complained about men frequently not being able to perform, or just not being in the mood and I was left wondering whether this generation of women are turning men off because of their empowered sense of sexuality.

For us women, is knowing what you want—and how to get it—emasculating our men and, as a result, diminishing their sex drives? Are we shifting the power so much that the men no longer know how to harness their power in the bedroom? I pondered over these questions on my breezy cab ride home over the Manhattan Bridge, praying that my red wine buzz wouldn’t manifest as a hangover the next morning.

With the increasing amount of power women have in the workplace, in contemporary politics, and many other facets of society and culture, it appears as though the influence of the strong female is wiping out the virility and potency of the male psyche—libido and all. There have been plenty of occasions that my boyfriend has complained about me being aggressive and “too independent,” insisting that I should respect the delicate balance of the masculine and feminine energies in our household and relationship. Being the neo-feminist that I am, at first I was pissed he broke things down like that, but I realized without the distinct gender roles that have been carved out for us by the media, our upbringing, and societal influence, many men don’t know how to operate or function correctly, especially when it comes to love and sex. Plainly stated: with the shift in the gender dynamic men don’t understand their new role and where they fit in—or how to fuck you.

Rebecca Chandler shot by Robert Harper for ThePop.com.

It’s a sad fact, but so much of who we are is a product of our upbringing and a reaction to our parent’s values. Unless your boyfriend grew up in a progressive household with parents that deemphasized the traditional roles of men and women, it’s likely that he was reinforced to see his role as the provider, the family figurehead, and the sexual aggressor. That’s not to say that he won’t appreciate you initiating sexually and feel thankful for having a partner that is as equally engaged in bringing the fire into the boudoir. But, he probably believes that there is a clear-cut male and female role within the lines of your relationship. Although these are archaic notions that are painfully outdated, once these definitions become hazy, his sexual role comes into question along with his sense of power.

Intoxicated by feeling free, beautiful, and successful, many women are looking to translate this energy into time spent between the sheets, only to be greeted by a less-than-interested man. As frustrating as this may be, we can’t expect our guys to just drop everything and update their operating systems to accommodate our amped up sex drives. This would require reprogramming many years of societal conditioning, and a complete ego overhaul. Instead, use your newfound power for good. Rather than pleading for him to have sex with you constantly, spend time pleasing your partner, indulging him in his fantasies, and trying out some steamy moves geared towards his climax. Also, take your pleasure into your own hands—literally. There’s no harm in channeling your monumental sex drive through self-love. Not only do you know how to get yourself going better than any lover, there is an array of affordable and exciting toys on the market to help you get to your sensual destination.

And, finally, try and communicate your feelings—and your urges—to your dude instead of pressuring him to pleasure you in an aggressive way. If you’re just trying to “put the pussy on him” every chance you can—like those unsatisfied rooftop partiers who found their partners unable to handle their advances—it’s a sure bet that your assertive tactics are a turnoff simply because they force him out of the dominant or “masculine” role. Because it’s this kind of gender shape shifting that is creating tension in the first place, try to make your point in a way that won’t be threatening and make him feel further emasculated. A male ego is a delicate thing, so instead of mentioning his sexual inadequacy, try to build him up by explaining how much he turns you on—because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a little flattery. Transport him back into a position of feigned power by hinting at your growing need for more sex, but by giving him the “authority” to decide when it can happen. Just let him know you need it more. By not forcefully making your point and carefully treading on this difficult subject matter—and hornswaggling him into thinking this was all his idea—the gender dynamic will shift on its own and, as a result, you will find that you will get what you want.

Betony Vernon and the Slow Sex Movement

Photo Courtesy of Ali Mahdavi.

As modern men and women, juggling careers, relationships, the fall-out from the recent financial crisis, and a bustling social life, it’s sometimes hard to devote time to nurturing yourself sexually. Sure, we’re all familiar with the quick bang, or the sex-laden morning shower, but how much time do we really spend pleasing ourselves, and our partners, without the distractions of our tech-obsessed existence?

It is this type of “fast sex” that sex educator and erotic jewelry designer Betony Vernon abhors. On a balmy Wednesday night, myself and thirty other lovely ladies (and two brave men) attended Vernon’s much-hyped sexual salon “The Art of Sexual Ceremony” at the exclusive venue Mister H, housed in the new Mondrian Hotel in SoHo. As we sipped on high-end cocktails, the beautifully statuesque Vernon enlightened us on the importance of taking back and owning our pleasure. By breaking down what she calls the “pleasure taboo,” Vernon believes that we can enrich our sex lives and as a result be happier people.

“Have you ever noticed how people walk down the street?” Vernon explained while fingering a leather crop. “We live in a stiff-hipped society. People walk around life with their sexual energies blocked.” Her solution? Treat the art of lovemaking as a sacred act, and embrace a slow, sensuous road to pleasure.

A former high-end jewelry designer, Betony Vernon was ousted from the fashion world after taking her erotic accessories to the mainstream market place. She now lives, breathes, and explores ways to enhance and educate people about the inherent joy of coupling, and encourages people to abolish categories in an effort to broaden sexual horizons. Employing philosophies of transcendentalism, tantra, and early Greco-Roman views on sensuality, Vernon pontificates on ways to prolong pleasure in a practical and user-friendly way.

In an effort to move away from the contemporary notion of what she calls “masculinized pleasure,” or the idea that the end of the sexual act is signified by ejaculation or orgasm, Vernon stressed the need to enliven the other parts of the body and to not place so much emphasis solely on the genital region.  To “masculinize” your sex, is to only work a small fraction of your potential, and according to Vernon the average sexual act in America last a mere three to fifteen minutes.

Photo courtesy of Michael James O'Brien.

While our overworked and undersexed society is a full of frustration and a general lack of sexual fulfillment, the Sexual Ceremony is a way to extend the time that we spend with our partner prolonging the pursuit of pleasure. Vernon insists that we must reprioritize our lives to leave more room for sensuality and satisfaction, and to move away from the type of “fast sex” that most of us are currently engaging in. And how can we make this transition? Accouterments that help to heighten and extend the lovemaking process—something that Vernon goes into great about in her upcoming debut book The Boudoir Bible due for release in 2012.

Another point, which Vernon stresses adamantly between delicate sips of Champagne, is the importance of breaking down the myths and misconceptions that affect our pleasure. One major example of this is pornography, with she says is the “worst teacher” when it comes to honing your sexual skill set and learning to please your partner. Vernon went on to explain what is called the “hysterical arch,” a term coined by the legendary sexologist Wilhelm Reich used to describe that iconic image of a woman arching her back in ecstasy commonly depicted in porn. This position may be aesthetically pleasing to men, but it actually cuts off blood from the pleasure center, hinders correct breathing, and inhibits sexual response. Instead of playing into some sexual role perpetuated by the male-dominated adult industry, Vernon advises that women should make sure to be comfortable, receptive, and ready to explore your pleasure and your lover’s pleasure openly.

As the evening comes to a close, Vernon leaves her salon attendees with one last point about the all-important Sexual Ceremony. “To gradually build tension, you have the body turned on so much that it becomes something that expands,” she explains about the importance of stretching out the pleasure process. “The arousal now will not be localized to the genitals and will move beyond to the whole body, which will leave you trembling.” I think we could all use a little bit of that.

For more information about Betony Vernon, check out her website.

Behind the Brothel Doors: An Interview with Blogger Brothel Babe

Two ladies in the hallway of the infamous Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

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.

brothel, bunny ranch, sex for money, legal prostitues

The all-important line-up at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

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.

brothel, legal prostitute, bunny ranch, sex worker, belle du jour,

A Moonlite Bunny Ranch worker putting on her makeup.

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.

Photo Lust: Witchy Women

I am loving this witchy editorial shot by photog Tim Bret Day. Part Salem Witch Trial, part rock n’ roll, and heavy on the sex appeal, this shot really embodies the juxtaposition of darkness and light, the contrast of masculine and feminine, and the fascination-repulsion contradiction of sex in modern American culture. What are your thoughts?

Highways and Bi-Ways, Part II

It might be a common stereotype that many women (and men, too) discover different facets of their sexuality while attending college, but the campus environment seems to harbor a palpable undercurrent of sensual energy. The different sexes experience this differently: Men are fascinated by the amount of hot and willing chicks, while women are enticed by the freedom of living and loving away from the constraints of their hometown and normal social environment. In my case, I was feeling a newfound sexual freedom that was further enhanced by a Female Sexuality class I signed up for. I wasn’t exactly sure what was in store for me when I arrived the first day to the non-descript classroom in the General Studies building, but the first thing I noticed was a petite Latina named Lupe* with a radiance that made me temporarily immobilized.

As we all gathered into the classroom I realized that I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, and I felt my cheeks burn with innocent embarrassment. In passing, I noticed a tiny rainbow pin affixed to her backpack, so I was left with the impression that she preferred women over men. As the semester progressed, and the small group of female students got to know each other on an intimate level, I got to know Lupe, who wasn’t just incredibly attractive, but was also smart and funny with an intoxicating laugh and a sardonic sense of humor. I guess you could say that she held my attention and interest all semester long. I would constantly daydream about her during class; imagining what it would feel like to touch her soft breasts, first delicately cupping them with my hands and then teasingly stroking her nipples with the tips of my fingers. I would vividly imagine working my way slowly down her curvy, petite body to place my eager hand between her thighs, only to watch her close her eyes and utter a breathy moan.

My Female Sexuality class had developed a strong bond, the kind that was forged by bearing our innermost secrets and our sometimes-rocky sexual pasts. We all cried as one or more of us recounted stories of being mistreated by men, or congratulated each other when we would have a sexual triumph, or when we collectively as a class found our elusive G-spots. As the term came to a close, we geared up for the big end of the year party where our group would meet the other Female Sexuality classes for an anything-goes soiree that was notorious for its racy Spin the Bottle games. It was a tradition that at the end of the semester all of the classmates had to reveal if they had a secret crush on a fellow student. I was a little nervous about the possibility of coming out to Lupe, but for some reason it felt right.

We had a pre-party at Lupe’s small apartment off-campus. As we sipped our drinks from red plastic cups and made jubilant small talk, the conversation quickly shifted to sex—as it so often does—and the topic of our secret crushes. As my classmates continued their candid discussions, I leaned over to Lupe, who was cradling a cup in her hands and nonchalantly leaning in the kitchen doorway. I softly whispered in her ear, “I have a crush on you,” and she looked at me and smiled and answered, “I know.” She put down her cup and stealthily touched my left breast that was subtly peaking out of my ’70s halter dress, oblivious to the others in the room. I looked at her intently as I felt the surge of arousal.

As we assembled the group to make our move over the party, Lupe and I walked together lagging behind the rest of the group. While the class headed briskly to the house party in the December frost, Lupe grabbed me and playfully threw me against the wall of an apartment complex and began furiously kissing me. She leaned her body onto mine and pushed her ample breasts onto me. Defenseless and shocked by Lupe’s boldness, I completely gave over to her advances, uttering slow moans as the curve of her body merged with mine. Out in the open for all to see, Lupe and I hungrily kissed each other until a group of male students caught wind of our heavy petting. In a barrage of hoots and hollers, and misogynistic banter, Lupe and I composed ourselves and made our way to the party. I was dizzy and my lips felt swollen in a good way.

At the time, I was hung up on a much older portrait photographer and poster artist who lived close to campus. I had plans to meet him after the holiday party and Lupe told me she would walk with because it was on her way home. With a bottle of Vanilla Stoli in tow, we tipsily made our way to Justin’s apartment, stealing passionate kisses along the way. “I made a promise to myself to never go for straight girls,” she slurred, “but for you, I’ll make an exception. I have a feeling you’re going to break my heart, girl.” At his door we said our farewells and I watched her walk away. I entered his apartment and took off my dress. As he began to touch me in the spacious living room his top-floor apartment my mind wandered. The entire time I thought of her.

Soon after Justin stopped talking to me. It was obvious that, to him, I was just a young party girl who would be easy to use for sex. In the midst of my rejection haze I called Lupe to see if she wanted to get a drink with me. She was underage at the time, so I snuck her into a dark corner of a nice wine bar. We laughed over too many dark rum-infused daiquiris, and I decided to drive her home so I wouldn’t indulge in any more. Double-parked outside of her apartment, it was obvious neither of us wanted to leave. She invited me in and I accepted the offer without a second thought. Once inside the apartment I kissed her and we quickly moved to the bed. I took the lead at first, as I hoisted myself on top of her, my face completely immersed in her full breasts. My kisses moved down her body; slowing mimicking the arch of her stomach, and down to her hips. I lightly bit the inside of her thighs, looking back up at her from between her legs to see that she was hypnotized by my touch. Her body rocked and undulated as I pleased her fully, her moans growing louder, her seductive murmurs transitioning into dirty talk.

“I’m going to make you forget about Justin,” she said once I came back up for air. Lupe delivered on her promise, her intuitive touch sent shivers down my body, my legs shaking in ecstasy. I woke up the next morning with a love hangover. I kissed her as I left and walked to my car. As I turned around to look at her I knew it would be the last time I’d ever see her. She never did call me again—although I was her straight girl exception, she knew that it would never work. I often think about Lupe and the brief time we spent together, and I wonder if she ever thinks of me.

Photo Inspiration

At my day job, I stumbled upon this lovely photo by BT Charles. I love the retro 1940s appeal and the grainy black and white quality that makes it somehow appear less racy. Enjoy!