Christmas is not commonly associated with sex. That’s probably because it’s just not a very sexy time of year, like Halloween, or those first heady days of summer when the world rediscovers “shorts”. However, if your job is sex work, our Lord and Saviour’s big day can sometimes mean just another day in the office.
Considering the coronavirus pandemic has by no means put a halt to sex work, there’s no reason to believe that this year will be any different. In fact, the festive period can be a particularly busy time for some in the industry. Many escort agencies and massage parlours specifically advertise the fact they have bookings available on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which begs the question: besides the 9 percent of Brits who don’t celebrate the holiday, who is paying for sex on Christmas Day?
Lizzy, an escort from Southampton, says there are three main categories of clients who pay for her services on the 25th. The first: as expected, people who choose not to celebrate Christmas for one reason or another. “They booked on the day and were just happy to find someone who was working, although a few of us were,” she says of her past Christmas Day clients.
The second: people who simply get stressed out by the occasion and use sex as a coping mechanism. “I got the impression they were looking to blow off steam and just didn’t know how else to do it,” says Lizzy.
The final category: those who desperately want to celebrate the occasion, but have no one to spend it with. This constitutes a substantial slice of the population. Around 200,000 elderly people were estimated to have spent last Christmas by themselves. Another study – while admittedly based on table bookings at a hotel group’s restaurants – found that a fifth of UK adults spend Christmas Day either alone or with only one other person.
Lizzy says clients who fall into this category often brought her gifts and spent a lot of their time talking to her, seemingly to replicate what most people do with their families on Christmas Day. “I didn’t ask what they were doing for the rest of the day, because I didn’t want to embarrass or upset them, because they were clearly lonely,” she says.
Loneliness also seems to be the main driving force for those who have booked in with Clare, an escort who saw a number of clients on Christmas Day last year. She tells me they were looking to feel wanted and appreciated. “I’d discussed Christmas with two of my regulars,” she says. “These two live alone and have no family around, and wanted some female company.”
Webcam model Peter shares a similar sentiment, saying, “Many that use web cam sites are lonely – I think loneliness plays a big part in visitors to these sites in general.” He adds that the clients he interacts with on the 25th are pretty much the same as those he gets the rest of the year.
Sixteen percent of people report feeling lonelier at Christmas than other times of year – and, from webcam models to escorts, sex workers have long reported that clients come to them as much for conversation as they do for physical contact, looking to find an emotional connection they can’t elsewhere. So really, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that sex workers are just as busy during the festive season as they are any other time of year.