Interview with Laura Lee, a Scottish sex worker
How long have you been in the sex work industry, and how did you start?
I started quite early at the age of 19. I was going through university and wanted to complete my degree debt free. So while some of my friends were working several nights a week in restaurants and bars, I took the unorthodox decision to become the Saturday girl at a local massage parlour. Overall it's been about twenty years but with long breaks along the way. There's an old saying, "Escorts never really retire, they just take long holidays," and I think that's probably true.
How many clients do you see in an average month?
That's very difficult to quantify. Some cities I visit are busier than others and some clients book me for rather long periods of time, so it's hard to say.
How do you handle the business side of your job?
I'm an astute businesswoman and very much in control of my schedule. I have an accountant who does my returns for me and a webmaster and lawyer, too. I devise my own trips and advertising.
Where do you go on your trips, and how do you plan them?
Like any other business, I go where demand is greatest. I have built up a client portfolio of regular dates who will come and see me when I come to town, others will fly me out on a one to one basis. This year I hope to spread my wings and visit the US and maybe Australia, too. Generally I visit London, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Inverness.
What would cause you to reject a client?
I insist on three things - cleanliness, respect, and discretion. If any one of those terms are breached then it's "No."
What do you include in your repertoire?
I think my success comes from the variety I offer. I specialise in hardcore domination and I also do a lot of fetish work, so I spend a lot of time covered in custard. It's fun. Aside from the standard "girlfriend experience" date which I also offer, I work with disabled and terminally ill men too.
You are currently working on your second degree. What have you studied? Would you consider leaving the escort business for another career?
My first degree was in law and I am now studying psychology. It is my intention to leave the industry within the next few years. Happily, I have an offer of a PHD and it is my intention to practice as a psychologist.
You also work with disabled clients. What inspired or encouraged you to work with these men, who probably appreciate you the most?
My journey with working with the disabled began many years ago in Ireland. There was a gentleman who used to come to the parlour where I worked and he suffered from mouth cancer, about which very little was known at the time. He had a large part of his cheek removed meaning that from the side he looked like a sinister grinning skeleton. A lot of the ladies I worked with were afraid of him, but he was a gentle soul and very non demanding. I loved spending time with him and making him feel good about himself.
When I moved to the UK, I was thrilled to discover that there is a website dedicated to helping disabled clients to meet escorts, run by the TLC Trust. I joined and continue to meet disabled and even terminally ill clients. It's one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.
Describe your favorite client, or your “dream client.”
I wouldn't say I have a favourite client; that wouldn't be fair. They're all deliciously different in their own way. A dream client for me is one with a wicked sense of humour who enjoys a pillow fight at 3 AM. He also takes the time to find out what makes me tick and pushes my buttons. If he enjoys karaoke as much as the opera and can be very diverse in what we do, that's even better.
Prostitution is depicted as an incredibly dangerous job for women. How do you protect yourself?
Prostitution is not in itself inherently dangerous. What is dangerous are the nonsensical laws around it. Here in the UK, it is perfectly legal for me to work and advertise but I am not permitted to work with another lady in an apartment for safety. Legally, that's termed a brothel. The government will deem both escorts vulnerable victims and yet prosecute both for "pimping" from each other. No other industry I can think of compels a woman to work on her own and it's not acceptable. It sends out a message to would-be attackers that we are vulnerable and alone. I carry personal attack alarms although have never had to use them. We also have a buddy scheme where another escort always knows where you are and will expect you to check in by phone.
Crucially, we have the Ugly Mugs scheme which operates a central warning system. If a client is reported as problematic, a warning will go out to all local sex workers and that has prevented many crimes being committed. Ugly Mugs also assists sex workers in reporting crimes to the police, which can be a traumatic and frightening experience. Their value really can not be over stated.
Every career has its downside. What are some of the negative aspects of sex work?
The biggest downside is the stigma; it's still very big here. We are working hard to try and reduce that because stigma can kill, it's very dangerous. Sex workers have taken their own lives rather than face their families having been discovered.
You also campaign for sex workers’ rights. What are some things that you are working to change in the sex industry?
More than anything else I am working towards decriminalisation, to repeal the laws and allow us to work together in safety. I also wish to see the reintroduction of tolerance zones for street sex workers, which has been shown to be an outstanding success in Liverpool. There the police treat crimes against sex workers as hate crimes and the success rate in convictions against perpetrators has increased by a massive 80%.
Your wardrobe must be the envy of every woman in Scotland. How much do you spend on lingerie and sex toys?
To be honest, most of my toys and lingerie were gifts from clients. I'm really very lucky to have some lovely guys in my little black book.
What is one thing you’ve never done sexually that you really want to do?
There isn't much I haven't done so that's a difficult question! I've recently discovered my submissive side, so I'm having fun with that.
What advice do you have for other sex workers? And what advice do you have for people hiring an escort?
For other sex workers, especially new ladies, I always send them to the excellent Saafe website, which stands for support and advice for escorts. There they will find a plethora of information on everything from advertising to paying tax to keeping their sexual health tip top. I always say the two most important attributes are a sense of humour and a finely honed "spidey sense." If something doesn't feel right, don't do it. Consult with a more experienced sex worker or just say no. Finally, prepare for the worst. If a newspaper gets hold of you, or a member of your family finds your website, be ready. Make sure you are paying your taxes and dotting those i's.
For prospective clients, I would say - do your homework. Read reviews, check availability, and the lady's preferred contact method. And get in that shower!
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I am a perpetual student (working on degree number two at the moment), animal lover, passionate sex workers’ rights campaigner and an award winning blogger too. Quite a lot to juggle, isn’t it? The good news is I am also a highly rated part time call girl and like nothing more than to roll around in custard or handcuff you to a radiator. (As an ex-model, I know that there’s not much one can’t achieve in death defying heels.) Find me at LovelyLauraLee.co.uk