I watched an interview with director Guillermo del Toro the other day and listening to his description of what it takes to be a director resonated with me as a sex worker.
You can see the interview here:
It may seem like a strange comparison, but I think that his first point is spot on – you have to be both resilient and fragile.
In the case of directing film and television a director has to be able to deal with the business of making a film – wrangling crew and equipment, dealing with producers etc. For sex workers, we need to do the job of making the booking happen for our client – organising hotels, travel, safer sex material like condoms and lube, our clothing, hygiene, regular STI testing. The list goes on. There are lots of practicalities, large and small, that we have to stay on top of, all to make sure that when the moment arrives that we meet our clients that we can – as del Toro puts it – “be fragile”.
For a director that means being able to work with their actors (and crew), be sensitive to their needs and to the story. To empathise and to give them what they need to be able to give their best performance.
For a sex worker, we need to be emotionally available, receptive, and responsive to our client’s needs. Some people need their sex worker to be kind and compassionate. To listen and empathise, to be gentle and caring. Others need us to challenge and excite. And many variations between.
We live and work in a strange place of real emotions and responses in a setting where we are being paid for our time. There are inherent contradictions in that situation, but it can’t be faked – especially for a male sex worker for women. This may in part be the reason that there are so few of us that are able to do the job at all, let alone stay in the industry in the long term.
Women want sex just as much as men, so there is plenty of demand for my time and my colleges in the industry. As men we may be good at doing the “resilient” part – but it’s the “fragile” moments that we need to be ready to give to the women who book our services. It’s the fragile moments that make the experience real.