Before the pandemic, Laura Nusser would step into Mankato, Minnesota homes, set down her cleaning supplies, and strip until fully naked. Then, she would go about cleaning while her customers watched.
Nusser is one of several cleaners across the U.S. and Canada who normally make a small fortune cleaning homes buck naked. She offers three service tiers: regular maid services ($60 per hour), topless housekeeping ($90 per hour), and nude cleaning ($200 for one hour or $150 per hour for several). The premise is simple. Nusser cleans houses—scrubs floors, washes dishes, dusts—in her birthday suit, while her clients watch. No touching allowed.
“The clients can touch themselves, they can be naked, but no touching between us,” Nusser said. “Sometimes, they just want to sit and talk while I’m doing dishes—talk about life—because they might be lonely.”
But the pandemic has derailed her work. Public health recommendations aimed at preventing COVID-19 outbreaks urge people to stay at home and avoid close physical interactions with others. Considering Nusser has to visit several private homes to make a living, she said it doesn’t make sense to work right now because she’d “feel super guilty if I got one of my older clients sick.”
“What if someone died?” Nusser said.
Nusser, who used to—and sometimes still does—strip, views nude cleaning as a form of sex work-lite. No sex is involved, but the exchange often involves eroticism for money, and it’s less physically demanding than stripping.
Almost all in-person sex work had to stop during the pandemic, with escorts, body rub parlour employees, strippers, and more taking steep economic hits. Nusser’s situation was no different, but a tax return and employment insurance have kept her financially afloat.
Now, Nusser has hundreds of texts, Snapchat messages, and Facebook messages from clients asking when she’ll be able to clean again.
“My area is reopening in mid-July, so I'll start offering services again then,” Nusser said, adding that her friends can join her business after pandemic restrictions lift if they want, even if they’re stripping again.
Nusser first started her business, Fantasy Maid Services, in 2017 after a man offered her $100 for a picture of her boobs online. She was sitting at home, scrolling through the Plenty Of Fish dating app for kicks, when the stranger reached out. “I was like, whatever, that’s funny,” Nusser said.
When the stranger didn’t hear back, he upped his offer from $100 to $500.
“I’d get 500 bucks?! It’s just boobs!” Nusser said. “I was like, ‘Is it illegal?’ So I started looking into it and found topless cleaning services across the U.S.”
After conferring with detectives and researching Minessota sex work laws to make sure nude cleaning was legal, Nusser started her business. Pre-pandemic, she was seeing anywhere from three to five clients per week.
Men—ranging from corporate to “rough around the edges”—are Nusser’s biggest sources of income. Women rarely call Fantasy Maid Services, but sometimes, Nusser gets the odd request, like from a guy who wanted her to clean for a woman who was dying from cancer.
“She likes Britney Spears and I look kind of like Britney Spears, so he wanted me to do a Britney Spears impersonation,” Nusser said.
Men clean in the nude for money too.
Noah, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, was running a one-man nude cleaning enterprise in Barrie, Ontario pre-pandemic. For Noah, who has a full-time job in the Canadian military, the work isn’t related to sex; he does it for “the freedom.” The 49-year-old, who spoke with VICE before COVID-19 hit Canada, typically scrubs floors and vacuums nude for $20 to $60 per hour, depending on the job and size of house. Some regulars tip him with freshly baked pastries and lasagnas.
“Oh! To walk into a woman’s home and clean everything for her. She gets to sit down with her feet up and relax,” Noah said. “Same with gentlemen and couples. It’s the enjoyment and intimacy of being there.”
Most of Noah’s clients are women or gay gentlemen, he said, primarily in their 30s, 40s, or 50s. “I don’t get a lot of blue collar people, though, just a lot of white collar,” Noah said.
Nude cleaning has a dark side, though.
Nusser frequently fields requests from men who refuse to take “no” for an answer when they offer to pay for sex. That’s why she sets up her appointments via text message—she wants a paper trail detailing all of her interactions with clients.
“Like 99 percent of the time I will schedule an appointment through texting or through an email, where I can have proof that shows I said, ‘no,’” Nusser said.
“Then, if I get (to a client’s house) and a guy tries something, I can successfully call the police,” Nusser said. “Otherwise, that’s just my word against his.”
Nusser also brings a girlfriend to most of her appointments because she feels safer in a pair. The woman doing the cleaning takes 50 percent, while the “bodyguard” gets 25 percent. The remaining 25 percent goes to Nusser’s company.
Nusser will also have to start taking additional precautions to ensure she and her friends don’t get sick as the pandemic rages on.
“I do plan on going back to work soon, and there's a lot of messages I have to respond to,” Nusser said. “I just don't want to be spreading this stuff, so I’ll develop some safety measures like screening clients for (COVID-19) symptoms.”
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