The Client Sex Workers Warn Each Other About
In a new memoir, Andrea Werhun opens up about how johns are blacklisted.
Photos by Nicole Bazuin
He had a routine. I would arrive at his Lakeshore condo and leave my name with the concierge. Once or twice, when prompted, I’d respond “Andrea” before the twinge of hot shame made me hurl “I mean Mary Ann!” from my mouth, smiling to cover up the gaff, hoping with all hope that the concierge would smile back in some form of mutual understanding—that yes, Walter Wack was a profligate john and I was only one of many working girls there to drop their names, real or fake, at his desk. And most of the time, the concierge who sat behind that desk, bored out of his skull, beholden to surveillance footage of the lobby and the parking garage, did indeed smile back. We’re just making money, right?
Up the elevator to the fifth floor, I would knock at Walter’s door, though it was already ajar. I would hear a voice yell from a bathroom sizzling with the sound of a hot shower, “Come in! I’ll be just a minute!” Entering the carpeted unit, I would be greeted at my feet by the saddest little dog in the world. Lazily she’d approach the stranger entering her domain— “Hi puppy!” I’d squeal—and just as lazily, without ever coming close enough for me to pet her, turn around and slowly walk away. To the left I beheld the bachelor’s kitchen, filthy and neglected, with discarded take-out in the sink stacked ten or twelve boxes high. To the right was Walter Wack’s bedroom, a CD of moody electronic music beckoning to me from a small boombox on the floor—I always seemed to enter on track 4. A fan of $20s would be splayed on the fleece brown throw, which was itself neatly tucked into the corners of the king size bed. Alone in his dim room, a lit lamp and burning candle on the nightstand, I would undress to my lingerie, apply lubrication, and wait, always a little too long, in a seductive pose on his bed.
Walter Wack would nonchalantly emerge from the bathroom in a white terrycloth robe with a pack of cigarettes, lighter, and glass of rum and coke in hand. He would then, without acknowledging me, place his belongings on the nightstand and lay on the bed, lighting a cigarette. “Kiss me,” he’d say. I found Walter Wack conventionally handsome. He was fit, in his mid-thirties, and contrary to the stereotype unfairly affixed to Asian men, his cock was huge—tight and tense like a taut rope. In his stoic, detached, and slightly deranged manner, he called me by phrases repeated every visit: his beautiful little girl, his sexy little slut, his hot little piece of ass. Like the compliments and the entrance ritual, the sex too followed a script. Predictably we would kiss, I would blow, he would plow, and he would come. There was strange comfort in the pattern.
One of his preferred positions had me on my back, thighs tucked into my chest, prone and vulnerable like a fuck box. My hips always hurt after our sessions, but I made concessions for my most regular client. One evening, on our way to our respective appointments in the car, a co-whore named Sarah brought up Walter Wack.
“He’s so rough with me,” she laughed.
“Yeah,” I said, “He does this thing where he crunches me up and it really hurts my hips.”
“Yeah, well,” she said again with a laugh, “He fists me. And he’s rough.”
“Okay, he’s definitely never fisted me—”
“And he calls me a dirty, stinky cumbucket, trash whore—you name it! Weird guy.”
“He’s only ever called me nice things,” I said, barely believing it.
“Well, I guess he likes you. He’s mean to me, but he’s psycho, like really messed in the head. So, whatever. And he does the same thing every time!”
“Yes! It’s like he follows a script!” I said, having not considered the possibility that each girl played a different role.
Sheepishly I asked, “Do you feel like he’s abusing you?”
“Nah,” she said. “He’s just being Walter. But I think I need to take a break from him.”
I reflected on her words. I knew my own limits: unsolicited fisting combined with a barrage of insults is not something I would tolerate. Without a doubt, I gave the image of Mr. Wack—unreachable and sullen in his white robe with a fag hanging from his full lips—a suspicious side-eye in my mind. I no longer trusted the ritual. I knew, too, that a client’s roughness routinely operated within the framework of consent. But I had never known Walter Wack to ask—it would betray the script. I worried for the beautiful, bubbly, and funny Sarah, that he’d hurt her without either of them acknowledging it.
A few months into his stint as my most regular client, he did something he’d never done: he booked me twice in one night. I saw him first and I saw him last, the bookends of three appointments tightly packed in between. Five appointments in one night. It was a lot of cock, but a lot more cash: $800, give or take tip. I didn’t want to make a habit of it, but damn that money looked good to me. I showed up at 2:00 AM for the hour, tired and not terribly in the mood for hip-hurting contortionism. A little mish and doggy would have been more my speed.
We fucked according to the script, never deviating; as always, it was painful. I tried my absolute darndest to be a “trooper” and to see the job out for as long as I could. The thought of going off-script made me feel both guilty and nervous.
“Walter,” I said, finally breaking character. “You’re my fifth appointment of the night. It kind of hurts.”
I saw the flames lick and whip inside his eyes. Betrayal, anger, disgust. Still thrusting, in a voice both harsh and quiet, Walter said:
“That just makes me want to fuck you harder.”
And so he did. Relentlessly and with unseen fierceness, he pounded my painfully contorted body as hard as ever. Whether it was fear or guilt or shame or duty that kept me there, I don’t know, but I stayed, getting him back in tiny ways. I dug my nails into his back, I let my moans fall to teeth gritting and silence. I looked at the clock—which I never did on principle for fear of offending a client—with ten more minutes left. Ten more minutes of this. I could get up—but I didn’t know what to say or how to leave. He called me all the names he’d called Sarah, and the worst part was that I could feel his hatred in every single uttered word. I couldn’t believe it. Walter had turned on his sweet little girl. All of a sudden I was a no-good piece of shit slut that no one would ever love.
When the psycho finally came and the deed was done, I rushed to my feet in tears and ran to the bathroom. Crying and shaking, I sent a text to my ex, with whom I was still romantically involved. I wrote, “Are you still awake? Something bad happened to me.” He promptly responded, “Too tired to talk. Trying to sleep.”
My heart sunk, unsure of what was worse: being raped by a nutcase or being betrayed by someone I thought was my friend. I showered, cleaned up as best I could, and ran from Walter Wack’s condo into my madam’s car. She listened empathetically, anger rising in her voice. “You never have to see him again,” she said, comforting me. He had been officially blacklisted. For me, anyway. Not for the other girls.
Everything I knew about rape culture told me prostitutes get raped because they put themselves in sexually vulnerable situations for money. Rapists can’t help themselves around easy prey. So, by putting myself in a vulnerable position, it was my fault Walter Wack raped me. I did it to myself, and what’s worse is that I did it for money. Raped for pay, my sanity is questioned—not that of the rapist, who really, when you think about it, is only doing his socially-sanctioned duty. Baby Mary Ann didn’t know. She didn’t know what to do, what to say, how to react, how to leave, and I forgive her. It was not your fault, young one, that some psychopath exploited you. No one deserves to be raped. No one. Not a sex worker, nor a civilian. No one. No one.
I heard months later that Walter called for me not only every day, but multiple times a day. When my madam finally bit the bullet and told him, “Do you realize what you did to her? You hurt her, Walter,” he claimed he thought it was an act. That I was simply “playing along.” Yet another tragic actress who played her role until she couldn’t. A ho gone rogue.
A year after the event, I received a text about a pick up. The Lakeshore condo drop-off address looked familiar. Every moving part inside me ground to a halt. I called the new phone girl who had booked the appointment. “Is the call for Walter Wack?” I asked, to which she replied in the affirmative. I was staunch in my position. I would not go. He was blacklisted—until a recent crashing of agency servers apparently reset each escort’s personal info, including her blacklist.
“You know, it’s funny,” she said, “I’ve worked for tons of Toronto agencies and this guy is blacklisted from nearly every single one of them.”
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s a predator. A complete fucking creep.”
“That’s what they tell me!” she laughed.
I didn’t find it very funny.
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