Hello, my name is Scarlet Harlot, and I am an escort. What I do would probably shock a lot of people since I’m an Asian girl, living in a very conservative community, and I’m doing sex work primarily as a means to an end — paying my own way through university.

My parents don’t know and my boyfriend doesn’t know, and I’m truly proud to call myself a fledgling whore – I’ll be turning 21 in a few months and this is only my first year in the sex industry. I started in November 2015.

Why, you’re surely wondering, did I decide to do this? For the money, and also the time and the flexibility of the escort lifestyle. I did consider other options before I started but I decided I really needed the money for my education since my parents were not going to pay for me; they decided to get a divorce and cut me off completely after they went their separate ways. That’s irresponsible and, in my opinion, plain bad parenting. Right now, I see my mother maybe once a week when we feel like enduring one another and I see my father maybe twice a year, grudgingly.

That’s how I’m playing the cards I’ve been dealt with, for better or worse. I was cast adrift and had to fend for myself. As Aurora Snow once wrote so accurately, about her own life as a porn star: “When parents send their children into the world with hopes and dreams, about the last thing they want for them is the life of a professional fornicator. Yet sometimes, that’s exactly what happens.”

However, it was easier than I’d expected. I found an ad online asking for girls interested in becoming escorts, sent in my details and they contacted me. Not long after I started, my agent commented that he thought I was a “natural” and I think that’s quite accurate — I wasn’t nervous or scared when I joined the agency, and even found that it was the perfect outlet for me, actually. It solved my money problems while giving me a platform to explore my own sexuality. (I don’t work with an agency now, I’m independent and like it better that way.)

I’ve always been sexually adventurous, without really knowing why. I still can’t explain it. Even today, when I wake up every morning, the first thing I automatically do is reach between my legs. My hand reaches for my vagina the way smokers reach for that first cigarette in the morning, a vital compulsive activity, something you have to do to kickstart the day. In fact, I openly tell people: “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I just have sex. My only drug of choice is sex.”

So, yes, this is the perfect profession for me. But does the social stigma bother me? I’d be lying if I said it does not. Of course, it does. And the way I deal with it is by creating an “account” for myself – like a social media account, of myself as a sex worker, so that people who aren’t in the sex industry can’t contact me. I have a separate email account for my sex work and separate phones for my work life and my personal life.
The only problem with this is that I have no choice but to lead a double life. And that’s why I have chosen to write this column, to offer my views on what it’s like to have this double life, that of an ordinary girl-next-door college student by day and a sex worker by night. It’s like being two different people, with two different perspectives on life.

It’s about the need to maintain a façade – a public image of yourself as a “nice” girl when, deep down inside, I have sexual urges I have to try so hard to control when I am not with my clients, the kind of urges many people wouldn’t approve of (often because they don’t dare to admit to them). I also know that because of this, my being a sex worker will change me. I willingly admit this, but it’s something many girls new to the business are in denial of. They think they’ll do it for a short time and make their money and leave, but once you start you’ll find it won’t be so easy.

Seriously, I would ask them, how can selling your body not change you? Of course it will. In my case, I know it already has. Here’s a simple example – how do you have a normal relationship when you do this for a living? I had a close shave recently when my boyfriend saw some messages on my phone from a client, and I had to lie my way out of that one. How does that not mess with your head?

And then there are the clients who are what we girls call “relaters” – the one who like to ask personal questions in the hope that they can get to know you better when, really, they just want more intimacy for the same price. They want what’s called “the girlfriend experience.” They’re an occupational hazard, the clients that many of us find the most annoying, but I have no problem with them. My strategy is simple. I’ve become very good at fabricating tall tales to make them happy.

It works like a charm because firstly, it immediately lessens any irritation I might have — because I then turn it into fun for myself — and, secondly, and more importantly, you don’t lose them as clients. Only a bad or inexperienced escort will tell off a client and say silly things like: “No, I can’t fall in love with you.” Never, never do that! Always think: “So you want a story? I’ll give you a story!” And I’m really, really good at telling stories – the kind that will work to hasten your happy ending!

At the end of the day (or night, in my case), you have to be at peace with what you do, and somehow find (and maintain) your own self-respect. In the immortal words of Jonathan Swift, “May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you and heaven accept you.”
As ironic as that might sound, I find that’s possible — even when you’re a sex worker. By offering myself to others for their pleasure, I am also finding pleasure in exploring my own needs. And I’m learning to love myself.