It’s all the same – it’s just the numbers that differ.
Hair -straight and smooth. Make up -smokey to highlight my eyes. Corset – tightened to accentuate my bust and compliment the loose dress I’m wearing over it.
I’ve lowered the lights and given them a warm, orange hue. The curtains are drawn, and doors shut for maximum privacy. I like to do this loud, so let’s try not to disturb the neighbours. Slowly, I walk forward, reach out my hand, and grasp the long, hard instrument in front me and bring it to my mouth….and begin to introduce myself to the crowd.
‘Being an escort, I’m more used to performing in front of an audience of one. Maybe two on a special occasion, so a whole room of you is a little overwhelming!’
I worked as a sex worker for 7 years, and having made the rather shaky transition into stand-up comedy, I’ve realised there’s actually a lot of similarities. I’m not sure if many comics would thank me for the comparison – after all, I’m still not sure if I’m seen as a comedian who just so happened to have an interesting job, or an escort who – according to a recent listing (not even a review, an un-researched listing by someone who had never seen my show) – is just ‘cashing in’. Anyone in their first few years of comedy will tell you there is no such thing as ‘Cashing In’. If I was trying to cash anything in, I’d have stayed on the game. Earning £2000 a night is certainly a lot more appealing than petrol costs and a pint, I can guarantee that.
Ok, so money is not a similarity, but what is?
Today, in a spurt of New Years Resolve, I’ve been trying to set up shows for throughout the year. I have to find the right location – make sure it will accommodate my needs and be something I can afford. I have to submit a description, photographs (for web and print), give them a little Photoshop magic, create/update websites, proof read, set up phone/email contact details, and then pimp myself out to as many listing sites as possible.
I might be wrong, but there are very few careers I could have had for the last 7 years where I would have learnt to do ALL that. But those are the same administrative tasks an independent working girl can expect to be doing on a regular basis. A good hooker is a marketing genius.
When I was merely dabbling in prostitution, I realised the first thing I needed was photographs. Good ones. And a website to put them on. I could either pay through the nose for both, or do it myself. So I sat with some web building software, and read the help section and whatever supporting forums I could to learn how to get it to do what I wanted it to. My first photographs were done by another escort who had taken a photography course, and had set up a studio in her boudoir to avoid having the privilege of paying a photographer to shoot her in – necessarily – comprising positions, and then keep the pictures and the rights to them afterwards.
So now, I can create a comedy website within a few hours, and call her to take pictures of me ‘being an escort, but funny.’ And she’ll know precisely what I mean.
Then I take them home, and have to make them print worthy. Make them a little lighter on Photoshop, trim out the odd plug socket and wandering cat from the edge of frame. Resize them, make them the right DPI, possibly watermark them, create thumbnails, save them in several formats, and in various sizes. Mspaint, Photoshop, and – of course – Gimp, are totally my bitches.
And soon it comes to the advertising. On any listing site, I have to get maximum attention in the shortest description possible. Whether you’re selling tickets or sex, you still need to show off your USP in the first line. What makes me better than the next one? Why choose me and not the cheaper/thinner/more well-known option? Long, rambling descriptions aren’t going to help. You need an air of mystery, excitement and temptation to get them to come and see you. You can give a free sample (i.e, blogs/twitter/facebook) so that people can see you’re human and get a little taste of your personality, but you should always make sure you get the money first before you show ‘em the goods.
So I have my site, pictures, and details on websites. But what if the punter still isn’t sure? They want to see you in real life, make sure they know what they’re getting for their money.
Believe it or not, there’s still ways you can do this in both worlds. In escorting, I used to go to ‘parties’. Delightful, hedonistic afternoons where a group of Working Girls would get together to entertain a small gathering of gentlemen. You’d get paid a little less, but it often lead to chaps wishing to see you in person afterwards. In comedy, I spend hours on the North Circular, trudge through rain, squeeze on the tube, and rush through train stations in order to do a 5 minute spot at comedy clubs so I can sell my wares. They might not have known they wanted to see you before they arrived, but when they see what you’ve got on offer, they sign up for a whole hour with you.
So you’re there. In front of these people who have spent their hard-earned money on you. It’s still not over.
Reviews can make or break anyone, and in the world of escorting there is no escape. You never know who your audience is – they could be ultra-pedantic and pick up on one tiny thing that was out of place. Or they can be very kind and encourage more people to see you. You are always at the punters mercy.
Don’t take that with a sinister edge. I get asked a lot about my security. In 7 years of escorting, I was never threatened, robbed, or found myself in any danger. In 7 months of comedy, I had two iphones nicked from my bag when I was on stage, venues and promoters not paying my pitiful fee, and several packing tickets – which I’m categorising as Daylight Robbery.
So, if you’re thinking of spending the evening enjoying humour or a hooker, just remember – a lot of work goes in to making you smile.