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Anonymous stories of San Franciscans
NIGHTWORK | MASSAGE ESCORT
I scrubbed myself in the shower for hours. The hot water ran out, and the cold drops just added to the pain. “I’m dirty, and no amount of soap can clean me.” That’s how I felt every night I came home after a client. I don’t recall how it all started or why. All I knew was that if I didn’t listen, there would be unbearable pain for me and those I cared about. I was very young, physically and mentally. He had me in the palm of his hand, to mold, to manipulate and to control from the get-go. He showed me love and took it away anytime he needed to, like some kind of spell over me. He was my first lover, and before meeting him, I didn’t know what love was. “I found you a client” was how he’d greet me in the morning. He would throw a wooden hanger at my slumbering body from across the room to wake me while he sat comfortably in front of his computer screen. “Get showered. You need to do this massage in an hour. He wants you naked, and let him play with your cock, but don’t let him do anything more than that. $80.” I’m not sure how he convinced me to do this. All I remember is that we needed it. I was trying to put my life in order, he didn’t have a job, and I could not get one after the market crashed. He said I’d do it because I loved him and I did anything he said. He was right. You are probably asking why would anyone get themselves in to this and what kind of miserable life does one have to have in order to subject himself to such a situation. The truth is, my childhood wasn’t any better. Abuse was the norm, a childhood deprived of attention, love, and affection. I was worthless… I was gay and disgusted everyone in my family. “At least now there’s someone who loves me and takes care of me.” I would come home after a job well done, caressing a man three times my age. Smelling of lotion and sweat, I would walk three miles home admiring the mountains surrounding me with $100 in my pocket. My “John” was generous. He really liked me, so he tipped me an extra $20. He said before I left, “Do not give it to your boyfriend…” But I did. I always did. I would walk in the gate, hand him the cash, and go straight to the shower where I scrubbed and scrubbed. I could hear my boyfriend screaming words outside the bathroom. He was breaking stuff all over the house because of the extra $20. “You’re a cheating whore. You gave him your ass for $20 bucks!” Over and over, he’d scream. He’d smell of booze, and it was only noon. I was starving but decided to stay in our room, where I could sleep quietly. I tried to console him and let him know I didn’t do anything more than what he had arranged. He sobbed and said, “It’s difficult for me to see you go through this… I should be providing for you… I love you, and it hurts” — he made me feel sorry for him and his hardships.
I would apologize for some reason, and he’d go back to the computer looking for the next client. From time to time, I was awoken by a punch to my stomach, usually when he would get an email from a client thanking me for my visit, talking up how much they enjoyed my touch and my supple, young body. I never spoke to any of the men online. I never arranged anything or discussed what/when/how much. The conversations happening between the client and me were always handled by my lover. The only time I spoke with them was in person, with just a hint of what was discussed. I would assume the role he put me in and play along. Oftentimes the flirtation via email was a result of my boyfriend’s flirtatious response, which somehow made me guilty of enjoying the job, which warranted a punch in the stomach, if not a punch in the face. The beating was getting worse as the sexual requests got more serious. Money was flowing in, and I never saw a dime. At some point, I lost myself. I was no longer the sweet boy I once was… and I started realizing that what I had wasn’t love. It was fear. His threats started getting more extreme.
Danger to my family was now on the table, exposure, shame, and arrests were touted in front of me every time I refused to do as I was told. He would hit himself from time to time and take photos of it as proof of spousal abuse in case he needed to call the police if I disobeyed. He had a game plan. He had a lot of time to think about the steps to control someone. I couldn’t see a way out. I didn’t want to disappoint him by not following orders, and at the same time, I didn’t want to go home and come clean to my family… so I let it continue for months. “Get your ass clean. You’re gonna get fucked tonight.” I was terrified. Up to this point, I had only given that part of me to two people: a boy I met during high school and him, my abusive partner in crime. I also knew that even though he said this was what he wanted, he was testing me… more mind games to control me. He cried aloud that he was destroyed by what he was making me do.
“I don’t have to do this, you know. We will be fine,” I said while holding him. He said this would be the last time. After this, we would have saved enough money to start anew. That night I got in a cab to go to the client’s house. I was nervous as usual but unaffected by what I had to do—after all, I’d done jobs so many times. But that time was different. That night I was giving a big part of me. It hurt… it was taken by force… I didn’t know how to act like I was enjoying myself like I usually had to do, but it didn’t matter. The John enjoyed it much better because I didn’t enjoy a minute of it. After he was done and I’d put my clothes back on, I started shaking. He gestured to show he’d left the money on top of the dresser and asked me to leave quietly. I sat on the sidewalk waiting for my cab back home. It was a very cold night with the moon shining brightly on top of me. I was glad it was the last time… My lover had told me so.
I got home and couldn’t get in. The double lock was on the door. It was 3 in the morning. My boyfriend opened the door after half an hour of me knocking, asked for the money, and shut the door on me. I could hear him through the walls screaming alone, yelling at me for what I had done, how much I’d enjoyed every inch, how I didn’t love him and was only with him so I could sleep with other people for money… Nothing made sense. I pleaded for him to let me in; I promised to be good and do anything he asked. He did let me in… just to beat the crap out of me. His knuckles bled while my face turned blue. He gathered a plastic bag of my things, threw it outside, and pushed me out the door. I was exhausted, hungry, bloody, and broke with nowhere to go, no friends to speak to, and a family hundreds of miles away. I had a choice to make: stay and try to make it work or take a chance and head anywhere else. The night turned into morning as I walked aimlessly through the street. I left everything behind. I never spoke of what happened and pretended it didn’t hurt. I channeled my pain toward art and slowly built a better life from one side-job to another… never mentioning to anyone what had happened. I’d sit and cry whenever I was alone, feeling defeated, and tell myself that things could be worse. It could all be worse.
NIGHTWORK | STREET WALKER
One of these days, I hope to get out of it. But, unfortunately, I have a family to feed. I didn’t have a chance to go to school like you all, and I don’t have any other skills. It’s really scary out there. There are a lot of freaks at night, and you just don’t know what you’re gonna get from night to night. It’s not an easy job, and I don’t work for a pimp or nobody, so I have to hustle if I want to have food on the table for my family. It’s really nice once in a while. I meet a nice guy who’ll give me a little something extra, and I won’t have to go out for a night, so I can spend more time with my kids. My kids, you know... They don’t know what their mom’s up to at night. They’re just innocent little angels. I try to get a regular job and be a waitress or something, but it’s hard to get a real job with my past arrests. I’m stuck walking the streets. I’m stuck, and I don’t know how to have a better life. I don’t care if people judge me. We do what we all got to do to survive, and I am trying my hardest. If I can do this like a stripper or something and make a living for my kids’ future, that will be nice, but things aren’t simple... You know? At least the cops don’t bother me anymore. They got bigger fish to fry. I hope my son will have a good life and he can get me off the streets when I’m older. I’m tired of spending time with drunk assholes grabbing me and acting like they own me. It’s not a great life, I tell you.
NIGHTWORK | DOMINATRIX
Her name was Paige, and she was everything you’d imagine a dominatrix to be. She had a hard sophistication to her that’s unmistakable. I met her years ago while doing an article for a friend’s blog about powerful women. I had just moved from the Midwest to San Francisco weeks before and was so thrilled by the opportunity to talk about something that you’d never hear about back home. I was a goth as a teen. I always found pleasure in pain. This assignment was perfect for me. I grew up in a fucked-up household. Rebellion was innate. I was an alcoholic at 16 and dabbled in dangerous drugs shortly after that. Life wasn’t heading in the right direction, and I knew I had to make a change. I knew life was going to get better when I moved to SF.
Six months after trying to find a job and barely making minimum wage as a restaurant hostess, I was going back to my old ways and felt more lost than ever. That was until I joined Madam Paige and her house of dominance. You would never guess that this kind of thing happens right in the city. Amid rows of Victorian houses as colorful as the next is a home of lascivious acts reserved for the very adventurous. As sexual as it may seem, it was like any normal job. My name was Allesa, and I lived to give discipline. This lifestyle afforded me to leave my dark past behind. I learned to control my weakness and focus my anger into the job. I never drank or did drugs when I was inside the world of Madame Paige. The job was pretty normal. I’d ride Muni to her unassuming home and do my part with cleaning and maintaining the house of Paige. In the mornings, I would put on gloves to sanitize the rooms, clean out the garbage can, and do laundry. In the afternoon, I would check my requests and take reservations—basic stuff like gagging, whipping, ball-and-heel play. I never had to do anything I didn’t want to, and Madame Paige made sure all the girls were in check. Some of us did more than others. Piss play, scat... strap-on action like the men wanted. It was all very professional with the right amount of mystique. I never wondered what drove the men to want the things they did. I was focused on my role and the benefits it afforded me to enjoy... Like being able to afford my rent and eating regularly. Life was great, and no one knew what I was doing. It was a secret I had to keep so as not to be judged by society, making a living any way I can. To this day, I wish I could do it again. I miss the thrill of it all, but love came into my life, and I just knew it all had to end. I’m forever grateful for the experience and the lessons this chapter in my life taught me, and I will forever cherish Madame Paige. Hopefully, some day, I can bring out that whip and once again be a dominatrix.