Most of what you know about prostitution you (presumably) gleaned from pop culture -- crime movies and TV shows and Grand Theft Auto, all of which portray the illegal, back-alley trade. Girls with pimps and crippling addictions, climbing into cars with strangers. But prostitution is legal in many parts of the world and in one U.S. state (Nevada). There you find brothels like the Bunny Ranch, where I worked.
Maybe you're thinking "How?" or "Why?" or "What?" or "Whyyyyyyy???" but this time with a whiny, judgmental inflection in your voice. Well, I'm Ms. White, and I'll tell you everything you need to know about legal whoredom.
(Cosmo lied to you about sex. Read our De-Textbook and learn just how.)
#5. You Get Thrown Right Into It
Zubin Shroff/Digital Vision/Getty Images
TV set me on the road to prostitution. OK, that isn't exactly true. But I did watch the HBO show Cathouse when I was a kid. It portrayed life at the Bunny Ranch, where I eventually applied for a job on a dare, as girls often do. Six months later, they asked me to fly in and start work. Not "apply," mind you. They weren't calling me down for a job interview. The email was asking me to start -- in a week.
Fortunately, I started in the post-HBO era.
This was a huge shock, because the one thing I remembered from the show was the interviews: New girls had to deep-throat a banana or pass some other sort of test to prove they were ready. But in reality, you're just thrown into it. There's no training, no "Introduction to Hooking" course. You just ... start.
So, my very first client spent about $1,000 for a half hour of my time (no, the Bunny Ranch is not cheap). He was an older gentleman, probably in his 60s, and it was pretty much a straight-up half-oral, half-sex encounter, which is a popular choice. Before him, my first actual client, I didn't know if I was going to be able to deal with it. Then it was done, the world didn't end, and I knew I could do the job. It takes longer to learn how to be a waitress at Olive Garden.
There was no swell of dramatic music and no little "Lifetime" logo at the bottom corner.
The next thing you learn about being a professional prostitute is that even working at a legal brothel, you get a lot of interaction with law enforcement. When you start you have to register with the police, which involves taking a questionnaire that makes sure you've never been an illegal prostitute (this is that rare career where experience in the industry actually disqualifies you). And then there are weekly STD tests, where a doctor goes through a queue of vaginas with the emotional investment and precision of a factory robot. You can get used to anything if you see enough of it.
"What I wouldn't give for a big ol' hairy man ass."
Speaking of which ...
#4. You Have to Learn How to Dick Check
As a new hooker, the closest thing I had to training was from my Bunny Sister. She gave me advice on how to negotiate and taught me the least sexy skill involved in being a legal whore: the dick check.
Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty
Nevada, ladies and gentlemen.
As soon as you've met your client and agreed on a price, you have to take him back into your room and carry out an inspection. You tell the guy to drop his pants, and then you hunker down there and inspect some genitals. Some girls keep a light by the bed to make it easier, but I rarely felt like more light would have helped matters.
What are you looking for? Bumps, sores, bleeding wounds, literal spiders -- all the kinds of stuff you don't want to think about immediately before sex. Yet there you are, prodding some wang and dreaming up Seussian names for all the STDs it might carry.
Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
"Blue pills for herpes! Red pills for the clap! Pills for Crumpunktering Pinkertumb Staph!"
The best tip I ever got was to turn the dick check into a sexy little prelude to the real action with a hot towel massage to the guy's junk. You get cleaner dicks, and happier clients. You can take that tidbit back to the bedroom with you, ladies.
#3. The Most Important Skills Are Negotiation and Self-Esteem
Sometimes a client will come in and not have a clear idea of what he wants. In that case, the girls on duty will get in a line-up and let the client pick. I got picked the first time I ever went out, and initially I took it as a compliment -- but then I learned many of the regulars go straight for the new girls. First-timers don't know how to haggle, and haggling is the most important skill for a professional prostitute.
Just one of the many similarities between prostitutes and spice merchants.
I was always scared to ask for big money, because honestly ... I know me, and I just feel like a regular girl. I'm not some kind of supernaturally good lover or anything. I was one of the bigger girls there, and I'd wonder, "How can I ask for the same amount of money as all my skinny-ass co-workers?"
In that way, prostitution was actually good for my self-esteem. I came into the business with a lot of body-image issues, and previous webcam work only made those worse. You think cat-calling construction workers are bad? Look at the shit men on the Internet post when they've seen a part of your naked body. But the guys at the brothel were always very complimentary, and clearly happy to be with me. It illustrated the large gap between "how women look in magazines" and "what guys actually want."
Image Source/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Like that hair isn't a pain in the ass for everyone.
I had a friend who did really well. She was, like, 10 to 12 years younger than I am and would consistently book huge amounts. I finally asked her how she did it, and she told me, "You have to go in there and believe you're worth it." And while I'm not sure if I ever got to that point, I at least learned how to fake it.