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      My Hooker-Cation in Palm Springs

      July 10, 2012

      By Robin Hustle

      Photo and drawings by Robin Hustle.

      When a john emailed me plane tickets to Palm Springs this winter, I felt like I'd climbed another rung on the golden ladder of prostitution. Then it settled in that I'd be spending the oversexed weekend taking my brutal morning shits mere feet away from a man I hardly knew. And, I would need to be ultra-sneaky about shaving my face. Nevertheless, I was being offered $2,000 in the middle of January to spend a couple of days tied to a bed, with the occasional break to swim in an outdoor pool. So I threw my ropes and ratty swimsuit in a bag and took off in pursuit of the good life.

      Everyone asks prostitutes how we separate our working sex lives from our nonworking sex lives and avoid getting emotionally involved with clients. It's a pointless line of questioning, because for most of us, these are nonissues. We do put in a fair amount of work to help our clients work through these distinctions, though; we make them feel like they're getting the "real thing" (i.e., not paying for it), while ensuring their understanding that the interaction has a beginning (money on the table, or more precisely, the screening process before we even meet) and an end. The end, more than sex, is often what they really pay us for. However, they are not professionals in this matter and need some guidance at times to know where their life with us cuts off and the rest begins.

      Before Palm Springs, Roger had already been my primary source of income for a month while he worked on a film shoot in Chicago. We hadn't discussed it on the phone, but the twinkle in his eyes when I first walked into his hotel room told me that this was a man who'd have me on my knees with my hands behind my back in no time. Conveniently, my own sexual proclivities lie on the brutal side. Most clients are more concerned with my pleasure than their own­—rather, my pleasure is their pleasure—though they express this by franticly fumbling around with their hands or stubbly faces, and while we all still get what we want out of the situation, it's always nice to run into a client whose tastes match my own. The downside to this is that it softens the distinction in a client's mind about what this is all about. Toward the end of our first four-hour session, Roger said, "You like this so much that you'd probably still be here if I wasn't paying you." You cannot humor them in this regard. Instead, you find a delicate way of explaining that you are enjoying yourself, but you wouldn't be here if they weren't paying you. No matter how well you do this, if they've breached this line in their heads they will feel slighted and that you're lying to them now or you're faking it. The client who makes this kind of remark is asking for an opportunity to resent you.

      During one of the Chicago sessions, Roger decided to pull out his laptop to show me some pictures of his pets. This was basically an excuse to say, "Oh, don't look at those pictures of my wife and kids," and then proceed to show me pictures of his wife and kids. While this presented a fascinating opportunity for me, it was yet another break from the nature of our relationship. Clients want our approval. They want us to tell them that what they're doing isn't wrong. As it happens, I don't think it's wrong—I don't think monogamy works, and dishonesty sucks but better to cheat with an escort than to have an affair—and it's obviously not in my interest to tell them not to hire me. For the sake of their own psychologies, though, it's important to reassure them. Roger, like many others, also needed my approval regarding his intellect, gustatory preferences, and professional exploits; the key is to demonstrate your own intelligence and tastes to the point that your approval is meaningful, while making sure you never come across as more well read or knowledgeable than they are. This is a game that straight women play all the time; with me, it's strictly business. Wow, I'd love to learn all about this obscure wine!

      In Chicago, Roger's resentment was subtle but mounting. In Palm Springs, he let it all out. Not all the time, of course. A client with a hard cock is a cocksure client. A man who knows how to get what he wants, etc. A middle-aged man in the best of health gets a little worn out after six hours straight, though, and eventually he'd be spent. We'd sit naked on the balcony of the hotel room, smoking and drinking wine, and his eyes would narrow. He'd get quiet, tighten his body in a way that said, "How dare you come between me and my family, and charge me for it, too."

      I am well accustomed to being a scapegoat. I played this role so often that I developed a permanent edge of paranoia that expects it to be thrust on me. While I'm generally a master of allergic to bullshit-coping strategies, I've gotten worse at this one over time, mainly because you can't out-logic someone who's determined to lay their troubles on your back. Roger's resentment was silent, physical, and all the more difficult to allay. When I couldn't handle his ice stare any longer, I asked him, uhhh, how he was feeling about all this.

      "If I could put you in a cab to the airport right now, I would."

      He acknowledged that the feeling was likely temporary, but "normalcy" only returned after a $700 dinner later that night, thanks in part to the warmth and charm of our Jamaican waitress. For the rest of the weekend, his sexual aggression took on a truly aggressive undertone. Contrary to what might be assumed about a submissive prostitute, I don't get slapped around to work out my demons, I get slapped around to get off, and being dominated by a man who actually dislikes you while he's doing it really gets under your skin.

      Because the universe likes it when your emotional and physical states match up, I caught the most brutal cold I've had in my life. On my last night in Palm Springs, I woke up every twenty minutes drenched in snot, handfuls of snot spread around on the hotel room pillow. We parted amicably enough on the surface—with mutual resentment between us. The flight home made me sicker still and I ended up completely losing my voice for nearly two months; incapable of turning tricks in silence, the weekend's financial boon ended up leaving me broke as fuck.

      I'd tried another foray into über-prostitution once time before, being "kept" by a client who paid for my entire life just to see me once a week for a few years, and that too had dissolved into a puddle of resentment and distaste. I am now determined to keep my professional encounters as they should be, as they were for my first seven years in the business—over as quickly as possible after everyone gets off. Not because I can't handle a more complicated arrangement; because they can't.

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