Sex work has been around for thousands of years, yet it's still one of the most misunderstood lines of work. Although global human rights group Amnesty International plans to help decriminalize it, there's still a long way to go to erase the stigmas and crime that do happen within the profession that cloud the fact the many who work in the industry really do want to be there.
Sarah Greenmore is one of them. She works at one of the U.S.' few legal brothels, called the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, in Carson City, Nev. To shed light on some misconceptions about her job of choice, and just answer the public's burning questions, she participated in a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) forum.
Tons of questions were submitted, but we picked a few of the most important ones along with Greenmore's answers.
Check out her intro video then read on:
What's the most tiring part of this kind of job?
"I think the questions tour groups can ask can be really tiring/dehumanizing, we're sex workers and we're also real people. Having incredibly personal questions like 'Have you ever been raped? Is that why you're here?' 'When your looks fade and you get old, what are you going to do then?' asked on a daily basis can wear you down!"
What is the one request you will not do at the ranch?
"Bareback. Condoms are required by law, 100%."
Why don't you allow clients to perform oral sex on you?
"You can spread STDs through oral sex. Also, bacterial infections. I'm just not into it really."
Do many virgins who are trying to have sex for the first time go to brothels or is that a myth?
"Yes, we get many virgins :)"
Do you get, um, sore? I think I would.
"Yes. I use lube that has Hyaluronan in it which helps repair skin cells. :) Its Pjur Med Repair Glide."
I'm curious about the application/selection process for working at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch (or any brothel, really) — do you have to be recommended for it and/or have previously worked in the industry?
"You have to pass a background check with the Sherrif's office. You cannot be a felon to work legally. You pass the STD check, and then every. single. week. for the next however long you work here.
You pretty much just apply online, and if they like your look, you can accepted. They don't cover your travel costs or your start up fees. You gotta have, on the low end, $500 to start between licensing, STD costs, condoms, lubes, toiletries, drivers fees to the offices etc if you didn't bring a car. That's not including your airfare, lingerie, heels, makeup, etc.
No experience necessary. :)"
Have you ever had any female clients?
"Yes, indeed! We don't get many, as women are much less likely to purchase sexual services/engage in the sex industry as consumers than men, but we do get them :) They're not always looking for sex, they just want to be intimate or have fun."
How many clients is a typical work night for you?
"There's no typical! Sometimes its 0, I think the most I had in a day was 7."
What's your yearly take home? Best year? Worst year? How much time off do you take each year?
"I used to work a month on and a month off and go back home to Portland. I'm now living in Nevada so I'm working 5-7 days a week.
I see that this is the highest rated question, so I'll give you guys ONE juicy detail. I worked 13 days in July and made 9,700 before taxes*"
What is the average career length in the legal sex work industry?
"I've seen girls last a few days. There are women who have been working for ten, fifteen, twenty years. I know a lot of women in Bunny Ranch who have been there for 4-8 years."
What do you do when customers are really bad looking? How do you do it?
"People are always really curious about this. Its not hard, this is my job. This client is paying to have my company. Its not about my pleasure, its about his. His attractiveness isn't quantifiable to the level of service I'm going to provide him. Making people feel good is my job, first and foremost."
Would you say that you have a deeper ability to see past appearance as a result of this?
"I would say so! I think you learn to look past looks as you mature. I've had some very attractive clients who were absolutely the worst, they feel entitled because they've been treated well by society. That's not how it works here. :p"
Why/how did you choose this career path?
"I worked in the beauty/spa industry before this, and it wasn't paying what I needed to support my lifestyle. I have done sex work on the side for many years (webcamming, porn, panty selling) to suppliment my income. Being innately sexual and being myself/my sexual persona is far more gratifying than feeling like someone's servant at a day spa.
I decided I would rather do the part time job I enjoy as a full time job instead. I decided to work at the brothels in Nevada as it is something unique, I like the community aspect of the brothel and although I feel it is over regulated, I like the safety as well."
What are some of the burdensome/ annoying regulations?
"Weekly STD testing is my main one. Its shown in Australia that sex workers there had a lower STD rate than the general population. I think it reinforces the stigma that we're dirty and spread disease. There hasn't been a case of HIV reported in the brothels in Nevada since regulation started in 1972. I've worked here over a year and never caught anything, neither has anyone I've talked to."
How do you ring up sex acts?
"We negotiate that in the room, then we simply write down an amount of time of our time cards."
I am physically disabled and have greatly considered setting up an appointment there. Is it very common for disabled people to do so?
We're really willing to work with people! We do have many physically impaired clients or clients with caretakers as well.
Can the average Joe really afford to take in the actives though?
"We have activities for every budget."
Are you considered an independent contractor, thus responsible for your own retirement savings and tax reporting, etc... ?"
"Yes, all the working girls in Nevada are IC status. We do our own taxes as 1099. We are responsible for all our own taxes, credit, retirement, etc."
Is there a rewards program?
"Haha, some of the ladies do have punchcards! no joke."
Do you have regular clients? And if so is there one that you can't stand?
"Yes, I do have regular clients and thankfully I'm blessed I enjoy all their company :)"
Can you take me through a normal days work at the brothel?
"Sure! I work at 12 hr shift, so I'm technically on 4 pm - 4 am on weekdays, 4-6 am on Friday/Saturday.
I generally wake up around 9:30 am, head to our private gym on site. We have a personal trainer 5 x a week that works with us there, but I prefer to workout alone.
11:30, I'm showering and getting ready. Shaving, lotion, self tanner, dancing around in my panties, makeup, hair, false eyelashes, etc.
1 pm - I'm generally ready for the "floor", there is a doorbell that rings through the house when clients walk in to greet us. We all lineup and introduce ourselves. The client picks one (or two or three ;]) ladies and we take him on a tour, talk to him about his desires, negotiate a price, and book an appointment.
So from 1 PM - 4 AM I'm going to lineups, hanging out with clients, taking a nap, hanging out with my coworkers, eating lunch/dinner, etc.
4 AM - Bed time! Take off the makeup, put ear plugs in, browse reddit for too long, eventually pass out."
How long do you think or plan on staying in the business?
"I plan on doing this for some time. I love my job. I want to go back to school to study human sexuality, psychology, sociology, couples counseling, sexual health. I would love to have Dan Savage's job. I've done radio and podcast interviews, webcast interviews, I love to talk and spread information. Like this AMA! My dream job would be to teach people how to be better people, better lovers, etc."
And lastly how many women in this industry are in it because they want to be? Are most of your co-workers there on there own accord? BTW: I totally respect your-line of work and i'm fully for legalization of sex-workers for the safety of clients and workers alike.
"All the women in the brothels in Nevada are there on their own accord, completely. I cannot speak for the industry outside of it. Most sex workers are not trafficked, they are trying to support themselves in a business that they feel fits their needs best.
Push for decriminalization. Legalization only works for a small majority of workers and leaves out those who are most in need of legal protection.
Transgender women cannot work at the brothels. People with felonies can't. It takes lot of money to work here to start, and it can be likely you don't make a lot. You have to have a certain look about you, that takes time and money and grooming skills that aren't accessible to the poor/working poor. People with mental or physical disabilities turn to sex work because it allows them the freedom to chose their own schedule. At the brothel you're on shift 12-14 hours and that would be nearly impossible for someone who might normally only see one client a week working independently.
Sex work is an option for a lot of people whom don't have access to traditional means of employment. Making it 'legitimate' takes away a lot of that access from those who need it most."