With the rise in living cost and the inflation on tuition fees, more and more students are forced to work in order to succeed. The balance between studying, socialising and employment is something that a number of students struggle with, often explained as a venn diagram meme. Because of this, a job with irregular working hours and flexible employment can be tempting. A seemingly high rate of pay and a job which fits the stereotypical view of sexually driven student makes working in the sex industry a viable option. Often stigmatised as dangerous, drug-fueled and illegal, on the surface the sex industry seems like a desperate attempt to afford to live. However, research has shown this is not the case. According to The Student Sex Worker Project students engaged in sex worker predominately feel safe and happy with their job, as well as feeling able to leave when they want to.
The Student Sex Worker Project also reported that approximately 1 in 5 students have seriously considered working in either direct physical contact with clients or indirectly through media outlets such as porn, telephone and web camera. The three year research project, led by the University of Swansea went into detailed research to find out why students were choosing to engage in. It was also found that approximately 5% of the student population have worked in the industry. But what does this mean for the predicted 1,750 students at UCLan who may seek employment by exchange sexual services?
Pluto spoke to a number of current students who work in different areas of the industry. Their accounts will give you a genuine and unapologetic insight into what it is like for them. As a word of warning, these accounts are of a graphic nature and feature accounts of sexual assault, violence and rape.
Student ‘P’ – Nude Model
“I used to have my own blog where I’d take requests for nude pictures and gifs. Sometimes I’d just post my own photos because I thought they looked pretty. I had a little donation tab on the blog if any body wanted to but I didn’t make much. I don’t really know how I got into it, I think I’d just been interested in nude photography and I had a few friends who had similar blogs. I was going through a rough patch and the positive attention made me feel better. I feel like during this time I got closer to my friends who did the same thing as me. We’d share tips and photos before posting them. I’m still friends with some of them today.
One thing that wasn’t so good was when my brother stalked me online. He found my blog and told my parents. I was still living at home at the time and my parents threatened to cut me off and kick me out.
If anyone was to ask me for advice on how to work as a nude model my advice would be that confidence is key. Consider becoming part of an organised nude cam site as although there are charges, the payment system is more secure and your identity is protected. I want people to remember that sex work is work. Your job is no less valid than any other.”
Student ‘A’ – Cam Porn.
“It started as a joke between myself and my boyfriend that if we’d ever get strapped for cash we’d do it and we laughed about it then as we were struggling more and more for cash we looked into it.
We looked around and we’d been told the website we ended up using was pretty good.
Eventually we talked about it and decided we’d sign up and we set some ground rules on how to make it work within our relationship. The main one was that neither of us should feel uncomfortable and if one of us did we’d stop no matter what. I think I was the reluctant one at first, I wasn’t very keen on the idea because you don’t know who is watching but we were getting desperate for cash and since we set ground rules I decided I’d give it a go.
I’m not going to lie there wasn’t an overall positive experience to it. A problem with using the site we used was that people paid you with tokens, and with the exchange rate people were quite frugal with them. To try and counteract this we’d set token goals for certain things to try and make it somewhat worth while but even then we struggled to make much money. You often hear stories about how people make a lot of money for doing these things and for some people that’s true but I often found, on this site, it was those willing to do anything. And somethings we weren’t prepared to do. Despite this we were fairly popular on the site we had some loyal followers and when we did a show we’d usually end up featuring on the home page because we had high viewership. But most of these people were free loaders watching for what others had paid for. We tried a private show once but it was very weird, probably because she was a woman and we were two guys, but whatever got us paid. I think the most negative point was when someone offered to pay us £2000 and travel and accommodation to go to London for a threesome. We seriously considered it but we held off saying yes until we talked to him some more. I’m glad we didn’t say yes after talking for a bit longer he said he wanted to hit one of us over the head and have sex with us whilst unconscious. The £2000 didn’t seem worth it then. All we kept thinking was this guy could seriously murder us if he’s saying that to us. In the end we quit, we decided the money wasn’t enough for what we were doing and decided that it’d be better to struggle financially, especially as there was one or two becoming a bit obsessed, which creeped us out somewhat.
My advice to anyone going into the industry whatever area it would be would be to make sure that they’ve completely thought it through and to set ground rules for themselves. Even if someone else is paying it is still their body and they can still say no. I’d also tell them to talk to someone they trust about it, I was lucky because I did it with my partner, but a lot of people do it alone; so if they are presented with a bad situation then they need someone to fall back on.”
Student ‘R’ – Exoctic Dancer
“I got into stripping purely out of curiosity, I’d never been in a strip club before and a I knew a few strippers. Obviously the money was appealing as it’s pretty well known students are always skint as I was. However, once I tried it and enjoyed it so much I just never left. I have had a lot of positive experiences through working as a stripper. For one it has boosted my confidence insanely and I’ve met some girls who are now my best friends. I’ve made some really good money which has paid me through my masters degree. I’ve also been approached about a lot of modelling work, all of which I’ve turned down but it could potentially open doors for people.
We did however once have a group of men come in on a stag do. Things got a little rowdy and bottles were being thrown. They did a lot of damage to the club, luckily nobody was hurt because the security were so quick to react but it was very scary. It made the papers and the main person is now in prison. As a dancer you will need tough skin. People will judge you, people will say things, customers and ‘friends’, it’s not a lifestyle everyone will understand. While people think we make insane money, we don’t, we just make enough to not worry at the end of each month, we make what everyone should do. It’s not for everyone but there’s no harm in giving it a go. I feel I have to hide where I work from the university, and worry that one day someone will find out and I will loose my place here. I’m still unsure about what would happen and even clarification on this would be good enough for me.
I don’t like people who judge strippers, while i understand they will people seem to think we’re something we are not. We don’t offer ‘extras’ that is highly illegal. I work on a controlled club that is heavily supervised by the council, we have strict rules on contact. We can’t meet customers afterwards. I purely dance for them, I go home alone and carry on my normal life. People are so deluded about what goes on in a strip club and mine in particular is such a nice environment to be in its a lot less seedy than most Preston nightclubs.”
Student ‘J’ – Outcall Escort
“I’ve always been sexually promiscuous and often felt like I have not had an emotional connection to the people I was having one night stands with. I often thought about how it would be better if I charged, and one day I bit the bullet and contacted an agency, I’ve now been working for the same company for the past three years. Working in such intense contact with the clients has it’s positives and negatives. I love the interacting with different people which is good because I will meet probably 8 new people a week. However, my lack of emotional connection with people has decreased since I started work and although I try and keep work out of my personal life I struggle to maintain close relationships with people.
The money I can make is fantastic, I once made £1100 (before tax) in one shift. However there is no guarantee of work and there are some nights where I don’t make anything. Safety is a massive issue for me. I have been raped twice, violently assaulted once and at least twice a night I have to remind people not to break the rules. The clients assumed that once they hand over the money that they own you. It seems beyond people that the laws of consent still apply even after a transaction. I can never go to the police for fear of being reprimanded myself. Although what I am doing isn’t technically illegal, escorts have been known to be arrested for random offences such as disturbance of peace. I feel that the biggest reason I have been working in the industry so long is the fact that I work for an agency. They are my safety net for when things go wrong and always know where I am. They also protect my identity from people who might try and contact me outside of work.
I am very honest with my friends as to what I do, I feel this keeps me sane as I don’t have to hide as much and I have emotional support for when things do go wrong. However, I still have to be careful as to who I tell as I know some of my best friends are completely against the industry. People think I am crazy to still continue after all the issues I have had, however I enjoy my work and I am good at it.
You wouldn’t tell someone not to work in a supermarket because it was once robbed.”