A study into women who buy sex – please help!

In recent times the global battle over peoples’ right to sell and buy sex has come to the shores of Australia. It’s been a difficult time for sex workers (male, female, and trans alike) in Australia. The media has mostly ignored us, preferring to print splashy pieces about “sex trafficking” and abuse from a vocal minority, rather than having an adult conversation about the realities of sex work, why we workers do it, why clients buy it, and what the harms and benefits are.

A big part of the picture of sew work that is missing is the story of women who buy sex (or might want to buy sex). The moral panic is always framed as “abusive men using womens’ bodies” – an untruth of it’s own – but it also (ironically) silences the voices of women who buy sex.

Part of the battle to debunk the moral outrage being spread in Australia by organisations like Collective Shout (who are vehemently opposed to sex work in any form) is hard data. To this end, if you have ever paid for sex, I would invite you to participate in this University of New South Wales study into women who buy sex. You can find more information and a link to participate here:

https://csrh.arts.unsw.edu.au/research/join-a-study/

Or you can email Hillary Caldwell directly: h.caldwell@student.unsw.edu.au

The only way to make good decisions about our society is to have good science, based on real data – something that this study will help provide.

As a sex worker who loves and values his job and – more importantly – sees the value of sex work to both provider and client, I would like to request anyone visiting here who buys sex to take part in this study. Yes it’s an imposition and it’s personal. But it’s necessary!

There is a high likelihood that NSW, one of only two places in the world where sex work is fully decriminalised will introduce a system of licensing in the near future as was done in Victoria and Queensland. And that’s a slipper slope, because the people who oppose us want sex work abolished, not regulated, or licensed, abolished entirely.

If you value being able to freely and legally buy the services of me and my colleagues, then we need – as a community – to take action to protect sex work from people who set their morality and opinions about sex and sex work above the truth, the evidence, and the greater good.

John.

The future is brighter than you imagine

Many women come to me in their forties and fifties, recently separated from a partner, or husband of many years.  They are looking for an experience to let them know that they can still have sex.  Can still enjoy it.  Can still engage with their bodies and feel pleasure and passion.

I have talked about these issues before, but at the end of the day my words are just that – a promise only – much better to hear from a woman who has traveled this path, had a date with me, then gone on to reshape her life and her sexuality in the form that she wants it.

I will let her words speak for themselves.

Screenshot_2016-04-20-22-31-41

What I do isn’t magic. But compassion and intimacy can allow us all to get back in touch with the person who we want to be, and to reawaken our sexuality.

If that is something that you would like to experience, then feel free to send me an email, or text, any time.

John.

Data mining and learning new tricks

Mastercard have been mining the data and come to a disturbing conclusion: people are buying memorable experiences, rather than goods in the post GFC world.

By Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Mina da passagemUploaded by Markos90, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19967318

By Leandro Neumann Ciuffo from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Mina da passagemUploaded by Markos90, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19967318

Aside: whenever someone talks about corporations data mining, it makes me think of this – thank you Scott Adams!

Anyway, that’s great if you are in the “memorable experience” business like me, but I guess that it sucks if you sell things for a living, or are part of the supply chain for making and selling things. As a one time industrial designer, I am feeling just a little bit smug about my career change!

It does however make me just a little bit hopeful for humanity to hear this news from Mastercard. Checking off “See the Eiffel Tower” on one’s bucket list may not lead to enlightenment exactly, but it’s definitely better than just buying more “things” to fill up the cupboards with.

At the end of the day, it is experiences that make our lives rich and open our eyes to possibilities that we would not otherwise have considered. This is especially true of our sexuality. Even my society spend a lot of time and effort trying to prevent people from having and enjoying sex. But, I know absolutely that it’s never too late to learn. Be it mathematics, cooking, music, or sex. We all have the ability to make ourselves better. It just takes the right moment and the right teacher. And as adults, we have a lifetime of experience and maturity behind us to make good use of the things we learn.

If you have never had an orgasm. Or you have difficulty reaching orgasm reliably. If you want to broaden your understanding of sex and what it can be. Or perhaps explore your kinky side. Then drop me an email, or a text and tell me what you would like to learn. It would be my pleasure to be your teacher.

John.

Pawn Sacrifice

I just watched the movie Pawn Sacrifice – a brief history of the life of chess grand master and world champion Bobby Fischer. It’s a lot less dry than one might think at first glance. Fischer was arguably the finest chess player ever, twice defeating the Russian grand master and world champion Boris Spassky. Fischer was also mentally unstable and increasingly paranoid. Something that would lead him to retire from public life and competitive chess at the age of 32.

It was strongly implied in the film that Fischer was used as a political tool by the US government against the Soviet Union in the middle of the cold war. The defeat of the best Russian chess players of the era by a boy from Brooklyn was a huge blow to Soviet pride I am sure.

Sadly for Fischer his mental health issues and antisemitism eventually bought him into conflict with his own government. His unofficial rematch with Spassky in 1992 lead to his US passport being canceled. Eventually Iceland offered Fischer asylum in 2005 and he died there in 2008.

The movie paints him as eccentric, irrational, paranoid, and truly a genius. It didn’t show the side of him that many people claim was kind and compassionate.

Earlier in the movie the comment is made that there are about 318 billion ways that the first four moves of any game can be played. That is a vast phase space to even try to consider, and it makes the game of chess effectively endlessly variable – to the average human mind like me anyway.

However, at the end of the movie, having beaten Spassky, Fischer makes the comment of chess:

“It’s almost all theory and memorisation. People think [that] there’s all these options, but there’s usually one right move. Of course in the end there’s no place to go”.

It’s unlikely that these are Fischer’s own words, but it’s a poignant moment and the artistic license seems fair. While there may be 318 billion options, most of them are to be ignored or dismissed outright, much reducing the phase space that a genius like Fischer would ever need to consider when playing.

At the end of the day, this is much life for the average person. We live in a world vastly more complex than an eight by eight board with 32 pieces on it. However the choices that we have available to us at any one time are always limited to a relatively small number of options. What our politicians and leaders do every day effects this range of options.

When a politician or a religious leader stands up in front of our nation and tells us that same sex marriage is unnatural and harmful (as they seem to be doing regularly in recent times), they reduce the possible phase space for a happy life for people who don’t identify as male or female and heterosexual. For many (especially young) people in the LGBTQI community they reduce it to nothing, leading to a life of bullying, harassment, exclusion, and for some, suicide.

Viewed from this (mathematical) perspective – an envelop of options or choices that can lead to happiness – “morality” as defined by our society and especially religion begins to look cruel and needlessly limiting.

Fischer perhaps saw a truth in the world. To defeat Spassky in the fourth game of the match in Iceland in 1972 (according to the movie), he took Spassky outside of the chess game phase space that his opponent expected him to play within (and had studied and knew). When he did that Spassky was lost and unable to respond effectively. And Fischer won.

When people tell us that enjoying our sexuality is wrong, or dirty, or bad they are limiting our opportunities for a happy life – limiting the phase space of our happiness and well being. When we fail to educate children properly about sex and sexuality and give them the chance to develop in a safe and non-judgmental environment, we are limiting their chances for a happy and fulfilling life.

I recently talked with someone who described how she has dealt with the subject of sex with her daughter who is almost a teenager. What I heard was the exact opposite of what most people seem to experience. That was a parent who never hid, or denied sex, who didn’t make a big deal out of it, but provided reliable information when her daughter was ready for and wanted to hear it. It was one of the best pieces of parenting I have ever come across.

In doing so I imagined the phase space representing the possible futures of that child opening up, blossoming, becoming richer with potential and pleasure and pruned of danger, of pain, of suffering – not entirely safe and secure of course, but she now has the tools and knowledge to avoid the worst pitfalls perhaps.

Nothing we do can keep children – or anyone – entirely from harm, but when we educate, when we put aside dogma and prejudice, we give people the opportunity to make better choices in their lives and allow them to avoid the bad ones.

John.

Pain and pleasure

Contrary to what the title might suggest, this isn’t a post about BDSM or Fifty Shades of Grey.

It’s about life and how we exist in the world as human beings, as social creatures. And how we experience a world where all too often the things that really matter are lost to the things that are expected of us.

I had an experience recently that was the catalyst for me writing this post. I have lived with “a bad back” since I was 15 years old and it’s been a problem that has gradually gotten worse over that time. Recently my GP recommended that I have a CT scan guided injection of cortisone in my lower back to help reduce inflammation and make me more mobile. I had never had such a thing and in spite of my innate mistrust of needles, I went to the radiology clinic and had the injection.

It was – to say the least – a profoundly traumatic experience. Very painful, downright scary really, but worst of all, it was an experience that was disconnected from the rest of humanity – and this compounded the unpleasantness significantly. The staff who performed the procedure were competent and perfectly nice, but the experience was exceptionally isolating physically and mentally. Laying on the bed of a CT scanner, unable to see anything, and not being told much of what was going on was hard. The accumulated effects of isolation and the very real pain of my back, the needle and the injection actually brought me to tears toward the end of the procedure.

The radiographer, seeing this (I assume), put her hand on my arm to comfort me. Until that point I didn’t really appreciate just how alone I felt. The simple action of a comforting hand on my arm was almost overwhelming. A visceral flood of emotion that nearly carried me away.

I believe that in that brief period I had an experience that is similar to that of many of the women who come to me. Deprived of touch, of human compassion, and living with emotional and sometimes physical isolation, it can be a profoundly moving experience to have someone do something as simple a be nice to you. It’s little wonder that like me, some people end up in tears when they come to see me – which is always, to my mind a sign of progress and a good thing, even if they may feel embarrassed.

Perhaps the first thing to note is that it is very, very difficult to understand another person’s pain, be it physical, or emotional. If you haven’t been there – and recently – you can only guess. We have evolved the ability to forget just how bad pain can be for good reason – remembering all of our pain vividly would be crippling.

But empathy combined with the shadow of our own experiences is a powerful social took. It allows us to value someone else’s suffering even if we can’t quantify it exactly ourselves. Unfortunately not everyone empathises well – witness much of modern politics.

Being on the receiving end of a lack of empathy, from wider society, friends and family, or a partner can be profoundly isolating and damaging. I see it too often in my work, but I do like the fact that I am in a position to give women a non-judgmental environment where they can be themselves without fear and start to take back their lives.

I’m likely to need more cortisone injections in the future, and I am most definitely profoundly grateful for what modern medicine can do for us. But I think that a little more attention paid to the human aspect of the treatment would have given a better result. Likewise, I would like to see our society spend less effort and time on the material and invest more of itself in the social and the compassionate.

John.

Sex and mathematics are hard

If you were like me growing up, then the subject of mathematics at school was hard. Dare I say even impenetrable.

I wanted to like maths. I wanted (desperately) to be good at it. But the simple fact was that while many of my fellow students worked hard and learned the material and got good marks, I simply couldn’t – my brain refused to understand. Maths used in physics was no problem for me (oddly). if you needed to calculate vectors, acceleration, or the voltage drop over a circuit, then no problem. I could do all of that. Or write an essay on Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, or a 20,000 word creative piece. But maths simply eluded me. To this day, I don’t know why.

It’s become an item of almost faith in our society that “children learn far more easily than adults”, we hear that their brains are like sponges, able to soak up much more new information than adults, and learn much better. This may be true, but I think that it leads to a kind of over-reaction, whereby we assume that as adults, things that we couldn’t learn as children are going to remain forever impossible.

This is simply wrong. You only need to look at mature age students in higher education. My mother (at age forty something) studied horticulture and received high distinctions across the board – much better than the average young adult in her course.

The point is that things that once may have stumped us don’t have to stay out of reach as adults. I recently decided that I wanted to understand calculus. I took to Google and found a slew of “introduction to calculus” pages. And guess what? Grasping the fundamentals was simple. I mean really simple. Something that felt impenetrable as a teenager made perfect sense to me – granted, I did have to go back and refresh my algebra knowledge, but that turned out to be a simple enough task as well. Now – amazingly – I understand and can use calculus. I even signed up for a mathematics newsletter that I stumbled across during my research and the first issue I received today taught me something new and even gave me a chance to have some minor insights of my own about numbers. Hurray for adult learning!

Of course we learn all the time as adults, we often just don’t see it as “education”, rather we treat it as just part of our work.

Sex of course never gets a look in when it comes to learning. It’s not taught in school. It’s not taught at work (well for most of us). In fact, it’s never taught at all. It’s something that you might go and learn about on your own, or perhaps, if you are lucky, then you will get to explore with a partner.

For most of us though, it’s sink or swim, pick a few things up here and there, watch some porn, read some articles in magazines. Hardly a rigorous process and one that is as likely to mislead as it is to inform. And of course it is compounded by the comfort of finding out what “works” for us, then never taking the opportunity to learn new ways of experiencing sexual pleasure.

So what does it all mean? It means a few things to me – firstly: your pleasure and knowledge of sex is in your own hands. No-one is going to teach you, so you need to find out how to make it good yourself. Secondly: it’s actually good and important to be sexually knowledgeable. The more you know about sex and sexuality the more chance you have of enjoying it and being able to give your partner pleasure, and being safe.

Lastly: knowledge is power! I now know how to solve certain mathematical problems that once eluded me entirely – and I also know how to reliably give almost any woman an orgasm.

John.

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

Performance anxiety – it’s not just for men

Today I read an article in the local paper written by sexual health therapist Matty Silver. You can see it here.

It’s a good article focused on male sexual performance – or lack there of. It’s something that rarely if ever sees the light of day in the media. After all much of the time the media wants to paint men as either macho machines, or one dimension slaves to their penis, so talking about men feeling intimidated by, or unequipped for a healthy sex life rather breaks the stereotype du jour.

In reality men have their own issues around sex. Plenty of them. Personally I fought premature ejaculation for many, many years. I was lucky to come across a book by Canadian doctor Sy Silverberg. Along with some assistance from a kind partner, it changed my sex life forever, and allowed me to enjoy sex in a way that I had never been able to before.

All in all, I think that this article is a step in the right direction – it demonstrates that we are all complex, emotional, and more or less fragile beings. Something that should be respected.

What jarred for me though was the second last sentence:

Women don’t need to perform – they can just lie down and don’t need to do much – they can even fake an orgasm!

I understand what Matty Silver was trying to say with this, yes, there is a very obvious difference between men and women, women don’t need to get an erection to participate in sex, yes they can “just be there”.

But really?  An otherwise sensitive article that accepts that stereotypes about male sexuality are damaging then goes and drops another unhealthy stereotype on women. It seems wrong.

Not all women can just “lie back and let it happen”. Nor should they. And it’s a bad message for anyone with a platform like a major newspaper to be sending.

What I would rather see is the acceptance that women and men both can have performance anxiety. It may not be so clearly evident in a woman as in a man, but for a caring lover it should still be obvious through body language, through lack of vaginal lubrication, and lack of relaxation. These are all things any partner who cares to look for them can see.

I often meet women who come to me because they need a chance to explore their sexuality and build their confidence in themselves and their body and their ability to enjoy sex in a non-stressful, non-judgmental situation. It is something that I can offer, being an escort that (to many people’s surprise) women often can’t get in a relationship.

This really is the problem though, for both men and women, often regardless of age. We are never given the opportunity by life to develop the skills and confidence with our bodies that we need to have a healthy sex life. I do what I can through the services that I offer, but really there needs to be a community wide change in attitude to sex, sexuality, and relationship.

Personally I think that it is time for these issues to be given as much attention and priority in our society as learning maths and (in Australia) English.

John.

Oh Joy and John Oh on vaginismus

My favourite sex blog Oh Joy Sex Toy has a fabulous article today about vaginismus. What is it you ask? Sounds painful right? Well yes. It can be. But I won’t go into detail. Read the post for an excellent description of this entirely fixable problem of painful vaginal penetration:

http://www.ohjoysextoy.com/vaginismus/

What I wanted to say on the subject is that it is one close to my heart. Over the years of me working as a male escort I have been contacted by a number of women who had vaginismus and were looking for a safe, professional way to treat their condition. Some had spent time working with a therapist, doctor, or physio prior to contacting me, others had not.

The Oh Joy article has it right though, vaginismus is usually a mental condition with a physical symptom. So the first thing to do is talk. Try to understand its origin. After that, progressive gentle stretching exercises that allow you to retrain the automatic muscle spasm that is vaginismus are the key. This can be done using medical dilators that get progressively larger, or something as simple as a partner’s finger (and eventually fingers).

Some women would rather have the assistance of another person (such as myself) to work through the physical stretching exercise. I usually recommend that we arrange a number of short (one to one and a half hour) sessions to work slowly and allow you to relax progressively to the point where full penetration is possible.

For some women just one session can be enough. For others it may take several. But the important thing is that no matter how bad your vaginismus is it can be fixed! See your gynecologist and they can start you on the right path. If you would like the help of a professional with the actual exercises and to allow you to even try sex when you are ready with the safety of someone that understands your situation and the need for care and patience, then please feel free to contact me.

John.