Harm reduction, not abolition – is the moral and humane thing to do

This article is a little different to my usual writing. I have been in an introspective and philosophical mood in recent times and when I heard the news that California had recently refused to implement new rules that would reduce adult films shot in that state to little more than this:naked-gun-safe-sex

I felt compelled to write about it. While it may not directly touch on what I do as a male escort, I hope that on reading it people will understand the broader point and how it relates to sex work – and in fact pretty much all of our lives.


The Californian Occupational Safety and Healthy Standards Board recently failed to pass new regulations that would force porn performers to use condoms, dental dams, and even goggles to protect them from the risk of sexually transmitted infections while making films and images about sex.

It was a win for that most elusive of beasts: common sense and incidentally for the concept of “harm reduction”. Even if only marginally (the board failed to achieve a four to one majority by just one vote).

The adult film industry in California already has a system for ensuring the health and safety of its performers. It is called PASS (Performer Availability Screening Service) and is administered by the Free Speech Coalition. It provides bi-weekly STI testing for performers, the results of which are held in a secure, private database, and allow producers and agents to see the availability of performers (but nothing detailed about their health information). It also provides performers with access to both testing, and – in the case of an infection being detected – support and treatment services.

It’s a good system. From what information I can find online, it works. Under that system there hasn’t been a case of HIV transmission on the set of an adult film in California in over 10 years (2004 was the last recorded time in California, which prompted the shift to bi-weekly testing with higher sensitivity testing methods).

There was an on-set transmission of HIV between to male performers in Nevada in 2014, however it appears that it happened under less stringent testing standards – which really just re-inforces the point. PASS works, less rigorous testing does not.

So what has all of this got to do with sex work and my blog? The short answer is: the PASS system is a good demonstration of sensible, tolerant attitudes toward dealing with a real risk (STI transmission between performers).

It accepts that there is a risk and that it needs to be taken seriously, and it sets out to minimise that risk without creating unintended adverse side effects. This is classic “harm reduction”. Continue reading

We need to talk about Ashley

In amongst the outrage, fear, and moral grandstanding over the Ashley Madison user database leak I came across this article:

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/ashley-madison-hack-what-if-you-find-out-your-colleagues-on-the-list-20150820-gj3i4y.html

It is about the most sensible and humane piece of journalism that I have ever read. In answer to the question: “should I look up the database to see if X is on it” the author just say “no, leave it alone”. There is wisdom here.

Women come to me for many reasons, some, because they cannot get the sexual satisfaction that they desire in their lives from their partners. Some do it with the partners knowledge and permission. Some do not.

But “cheating” isn’t the problem here. “Cheating”, with all of its derogatory overtones is what happens when we live in a society that is dysfunctional in how it handles sex and relationships. Why do people “cheat”? Some because they can. Some because they feel that they have no other option.

What we need to do as a society is collectively “grow up”. In an ideal world, there would be no need for a service like mine. But the truth is that there is no genuine attempt to teach children, teenagers, and young adults how to develop and maintain functional relationships, let alone give people space and acceptance as they work out what their sexuality is and what they need in their lives. We can’t even allow – in this country – that two people of the same sex can have a genuine functional relationship.

We are trapped in a social narrative that starts with fairy tales and “ends” with white weddings. Then we have to live the rest of our lives trying to live up to this impossibly high standard of happiness and reliance on one other person. In short, it’s impossible for most people. Just look at divorce rates. And just because people are still married doesn’t mean that they are happy and fulfilled, or wouldn’t like something more or different.

Which brings us full circle to Ashley Madison. It’s time that we left our moral outrage at the door. Recognised that people and relationships are complex, that judging others by our own morality is wrong and destructive, and that we need a new order in our lives that prioritises real human needs and wants, rather than religious dogma and social etiquette that is demonstratively harmful.

Recognising same sex marriage would be a good start, but a rethink of even the concept of marriage would be even better.

John.

Amnesty International votes to adopt policy to protect rights of sex workers

Following on from yesterday’s post about the NSW inquiry we (my industry) had a very exciting piece of news last night.  Amnesty International has voted YES to accept a policy that it has developed to protect the human rights of sex workers.  You can read about it here:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/08/global-movement-votes-to-adopt-policy-to-protect-human-rights-of-sex-workers/

This is a significant step forward for destigmatisation of our industry and the people who work in it.  It also paves the way for more sensible and informed conversations about the problems of our industry and how to fix them.

It is very timely given the inquiry happening here in NSW and will hopefully go some way to protecting the liberal, tolerant, and effective laws that we have in our state.

John

Being who you are can be very hard

I saw an article today in the local paper that caused me to want to write something. You can see the article here:

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/how-one-man-thinks-he-can-change-the-samesex-marriage-debate-in-10-minutes-20150721-gigw8w.html

In summary, the gentleman who is the subject of the article is gay. He grew up in a small town, with (one can imagine) little or no support, and the horrible prospect of homophobic reprisals against him if he came out to friends and family. He survived though, and ultimately his story is helping others and even influencing politicians.

What resonated with me though in this article is the fear and pain that Lachlan felt because he was different. Different to his friends and family. Different to the social stereotypes that society and the media propagate. Different to what he thought he should be.

This last item is perhaps the most insidious. It’s one thing to defend yourself when you have confidence in who and what you are. It’s another thing entirely when you can’t even trust yourself. So this is my topic for this post: understanding and trusting ourselves.

As you know I work as a male escort for women. I came to this work for a number of reasons, but perhaps the key reason is that I love sex and (if I may say so), I am good at it. I like having lots of sex. And I like having sex with more than one person. As a male escort this benefits everyone. As a person in a “regular” job and a monogamous relationship (which was me for most of my adult life) it left me feeling a little like Lachlan. I didn’t fit in to that society. I didn’t fit in to that world. I was ashamed that I loved sex, because society told me that really loving sex wasn’t ok, oh and it probably meant that I was a pervert too.

The truth though was and is for me, for other men, and also for women that many, many of us love sex. We love it a lot. We want to have it. We are sick of being told that we can’t, or it’s not right, or it’s not normal, or it’s bad. These things are untrue. They are figments of the imagination of a demented society that tries to deform people’s minds and sexualities, be they gay, straight, lesbian, bi, queer, asexual etc.

You do not need to doubt yourself. You do not need to be ashamed that you like sex and want to have it – no matter how vanilla or chandelier swinging kinky. It is one of the great pleasures of my work to see a woman who comes to me knowing what she wants, but barely able to ask for it, blossom into a person who knows and trusts her body and her sexuality. One of my clients has gone on to become an award winning maker of feminist porn. Others have found relationships that fulfill their sexual needs. Some have overcome their personal fears and inhibitions to be able to enjoy sex in a way that they couldn’t in the past.

I don’t claim credit for these transformations. I am simply part of the journey that these women took to being able to own their sexuality, no matter what it’s form.  This is something that we should all be able to do and should be supported in doing.

John.

 

The mons pubis

Every year (or is that week?) there’s a new “fashion thing”, usually it’s just something superficial like g-string whale tails that at the end of the day don’t mean a thing, but occasionally it’s something like the “thigh gap”, or in this case:

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/were-doing-this-to-ourselves-ladies-20150222-13kfj3.html

… it’s having a flat mons pubis.  I think that the linked article pretty much says it all, but I want to go a little deeper on one point.  That is: the fat pad on top of a woman’s pubic bone that gives the mons pubis its shape is there for a reason.  It’s a bumper bar.  Seriously.

It’s job is to make sex more comfortable for you and your partner.  If your partner is a guy, then chances are that he doesn’t have the same level of padding on the front of his pelvis as you do.  So a shapely and well padded mons pubis is a real asset for both of you.

It could be compared to the fat pad in your heels.  They are an entirely brilliant piece of evolution that makes walking possible by cushioning the heel bone as your foot comes down with each step.  No-one would ever consider trying to make their heels skinny, so why would you want the same for your mons pubis?  It makes no sense, except to make women insecure about themselves and rush to the nearest plastic surgeon, diet, or gym.

I said this many years ago about labiaplasty (the practice of trimming a woman’s inner labia so that they don’t protrude beyond her outer labia): if you are worried about how your mons pubis looks (that it’s “too fat”, not flat enough etc) and want to change it through surgery or something, then come and see me first.  I will be happy to show you what real men (not the cruel judgmental types who don’t deserve to be in your life, let alone your bed) think of a beautiful curved mons pubis.  If you are still unhappy, then I will give you your money back.

Seriously, give me an hour of your time and I will change how your see your body and yourself.

John.

Debunking the myths of sex work – from the Sydney Morning Herald

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Daily Life column has an article about sex work today.  You can see it here.

http://www.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/debunking-the-myths-of-sex-work-20130429-2iodn.html

I think that the article is a reasonalbe and sensible wrap up of sex work.  In summary “sex workers are people too, so why not be nice to them”.  Ok, that might be a little glib, but you take my point I hope.

For the first time every I have managed to get a comment published.  I was prompted to firstly by the question raised in the article of whether male sex workers (like myself) and their clients have a different experience of the industry and the general “shaming” that goes on against sex workers.

What has delighted me constantly over the years that I have worked as an escort is the huge amount of support that I have had from both clients and from the few people in my life who I have told about what I do.

So here’s my point, amplified by the many mindless comments on the artile linked above that dismiss prostitution out of hand: being able to come to someone like me for companionship, intimacy, and sex is a vital option for both men and women to have in our society.  Why?  Because all too often the nature of our society doesn’t provide those things for people.  Perhaps they have been in an abusive relationship (emotionally, or physically) and need someone they can absolutely trust to help them repair their self-esteem, or accept intimacy again, or have a disability that prevents them from forming a conventional relationship in the first place.  Or perhaps they just want and need physical company right now, but don’t have a socially acceptable relationship to provide it.

The reasons are many and varied, but you can be absolutely sure that when people start making blanket statements about prostitution being bad/demeaning/imoral etc that the person has never worked in the industry, and probably never actually needed the services themselves (“need” being distinct here from just having indulged).

This isn’t to say that a person has to have a specific need to use my services.  But it begs the question of why can’t we treat sex as something fun to do?  People in relationships have sex for fun all the time, so why shouldn’t someone who isn’t in a relationship choose to buy sex for fun?

At the end of the day I like seeing discussion of sexuality in the media.  It may attract the trolls and nutters to denounce it as evil, but every article raises questions and gets people thinking and talking about the issues.  Which has to be a good thing.

John.

The beauty of breasts

It will come as no surprise I am sure to hear that I like (love) women’s breasts.  They are fabulous.  Large or small, they all have their own charm.

I came across an article today in Fairfax’s Daily Life site about breasts and thought it worth sharing.  You can see the original article here:

http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/real-life/why-are-we-so-embarrassed-about-breasts-20130206-2dxa3.html

The author of the article (who wrote/edited a book about breasts to support breast cancer research after having cancer herself) found herself troubled by just how prudish our society (western society) is about breasts.  Most significantly the way that womens’ breasts are treated as sexual where as mens’ are not.

Ultimately it’s just one more arbitrary thing in our culture.  Some people develop fetishes for feet, or hands, or being sat on, or … just about anything you can think of.  Our society has create a general fetish for womens’ breasts, but not mens’.  There is plenty to say here about double standards and the objectification of women.

What I would like to say is – given that our society in general has this fetish and it’s not going away any time soon – the best thing that we can all do is learn to enjoy what we have to the full.  Many men don’t appreciate the pleasure that a women can get from having her breasts touched and stimulated.  Also, many women don’t appreciate how enjoyable it can be for them either.  There are so many ways to do it, from massaging the whole breast with fingers and hand, to exquisite nipple play with lips, fingers, or toys.

So, while we wait for equality in bare breasted to happen, lets explore the pleasure to be had from this collective fetish and re-discover breast play as part of a fulfilling sex life!

John

Some good reasons to hire an independent escort (and not go through an agency)

Since becoming a male escort for women I have always worked independently.  I have never worked for an agency and have never wanted to – I feel that if I was part of an agency that it would be impossible for me to provide the service that I want to give  (caring, tailored to each client, and as good as I can make it).  But I haven’t objected to the idea of agencies in the past.  After all, an agency should know their workers, be able to match a man to a client, take the “leg work” out of finding someone suitable for you.

But in reality this may not be the case at all.

I received an email from a long term client of mine the other day that she wants me to share with other women considering hiring a male escort – in the hope that others can avoid her disappointment.

Recently I was unavailable, so she hired a male escort via an agency in Sydney (I don’t know which one).  Below are her words about her experience …

“I recently booked an escort through a local agency. I rang around to inquire who was particularly skilled with oral sex, and one agency recommended a particular escort very highly, so I booked him for one hour. They said that the cost was $350 per hour but that I had to pay his cab fare which was an additional $50. I suggested I pick him up from the city but they said that wasn’t allowed. I asked if I could email him or talk on the phone first, and they said that no contact was allowed prior to the date, so I asked the woman at reception to tell me about him. She told me he had been working for a year, had regular clients most nights, and that he was successful in theatre but did this on the side for cash as he was so good at it. It was like drawing blood from a stone. She wouldn’t tell me more. She kept saying that he was fine and I’d like him. I felt really awkward about having this man over knowing so little, for so much money (of which he only gets half). I also didn’t like that I had to go through this woman. I prefer to deal with people directly, and it felt like she was his wife or something, and I had to get past her.

So when he turned up, it became clear immediately that everything the woman at the agency had told me was a lie. First, he drove in his own car, and had never been informed that he had to take a cab–he said he always drove himself. He’d been working part time for six months, not a year. He had no regular clients, and was a stagehand, one night a week, hardly big in the theatre industry.

I paid him, because he’d come all that way. He had to ring this woman when he arrived, and then again exactly on the hour. I felt rushed. There was no time to chat or get to know each other. We literally had 60 minutes, since I didn’t want to spend an additional $300 for the second hour not knowing anything about him in advance. So we quickly got undressed. He was not particularly fit, and not well endowed.  His body type wasn’t anything like I had been lead to expect (including heaps of body hair and lots of piercings).

Oral sex was ok, but not the amazing experience I’d been promised. He couldn’t maintain an erection very long in the condom. His phone buzzed to remind him the hour was up, then he rang the agency and left. I felt cheated. I mean, it was sort of like ordering pizza, there was nothing personal about it.

Fortunately I have John Oh. Everything about him is different. I could email, ring, skype, whatever, as much as I wanted before the date. In fact, I never felt like I needed to become best friends with the escort I was booking, but just felt entitled to some basic personal communication to know what the man is like. It’s reassuring. I got that with John. And he is exactly what he says–no deception.

His skills are undeniable. From oral sex, to just touching, and intercourse, he does it all with expertise, and can have sex as many times as I wanted. There is just no bullshit, and frankly, I’ve got a busy life. I don’t have time or money to try out all the men out there for their skills, and go through some woman at an agency who feeds me lies. I would never try an agency again, I would only ever go for independent escorts (and in Sydney I would only ever choose John Oh).”

I have never been critical of agencies before (despite hearing a similar story a couple of years ago from a couple who booked a date with me for their first threesome, then with an agency worker a few weeks later).  I have always thought “live and let live”.  But having heard this I think that it is time to take a stand for all of us independent escorts (male and female).

Hire one of us, don’t go to an agency.

It’s a simple as this: when you choose an independent escort you can have a very good idea of what you are getting (good or bad) and you can easily avoid an escort who isn’t suited to you.  Go to an agency and you are at the mercy of people who quite possibly just don’t care if you get what you paid (lots!) for.

John.

P.S. it’s worth mentioning that I am not criticising escorts who work for agencies (there will be good and bad workers regardless of whether they are independent or not).  What I object to here is the behaviour of the people who run the agencies.

Women expect too much from men in bed?

Given my line of work, I really shouldn’t be so surprised to see this article in the Herald today …

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/why-women-expect-too-much-from-men-in-bed-20121114-29cgb.html

We live in a world where men and women seem to be constantly at war over our respective sexualities.  And there is no end in sight.

Articles like the one linked above demonstrate the simplistic views that many people hold.  And then try to foist on the rest of us.

Life is never simple, but if we are prepared to engage with our partner (male or female), understand what they want and need, and put in some effort to give it to them, then we may find that we get more back than we expected.

So lots of women loved Fifty Shades of Grey and it inspired them to start asking their partners for more in the bedroom?  I say that’s a good thing and something to be celebrated, not a cause for complaint.

John.

101 Vaginas – a pictorial project to change perceptions

I came across an interesting project today on the Pozible crowd source funding website.

About the project: What is 101 Vagina?

Please see the main project website here: http://101vagina.com

“101 Vagina is about breaking down the taboos and shame around our bodies in general and vaginas in particular, to celebrate diversity and generate dialogue.

It will be a coffee table photo book with 101 black & white photos and an accompanying message from or about the woman’s vagina.”

—-

Ok, firstly, I am not going to take them to task (too much) about the name.  Really, it should be 101 Vulvas, since thats what they are talking about.  It seems to be a very common misconception.  A woman’s external genitals is called her vulva.  The vagina is all internal.

While I am all for breaking taboos and setting people straight on what a “normal” pussy can look like, I am also big on getting the terminology right!

Still, this strikes me as a good project.  Something to strike a blow against the airbrushed anonymity of how pussies have been made to look thanks to John Howard and his ilk passing laws preventing a woman’s inner labia being shown in R18+ rated material sold in this country.

This kind political and moralistic insanity has resulted in countless women undergoing unnecessary surgery to have the size of their inner labia reduced because they have been made to feel insecure about the way that their pussy looks.

I have written about this issue before here, but I love the idea of this book and now that I have a coffee table (!) I most definitely want to have this book on it.

I have pledged $100 to the production of the book, so fingers crossed that it hits its target!

John

What is 101 Vagina?

Please see the main project website here: http://101vagina.com

101 Vagina is about breaking down the taboos and shame around our bodies in general and vaginas in particular, to celebrate diversity and generate dialogue.

It will be a coffee table photo book with 101 black & white photos and an accompanying message from or about the woman’s vagina.