[I did a little research on university students working as escorts a while back. My findings were pretty interesting. Have a look see:]
Making the Grade
Khasandra is a 22-year-old student. She is from Argentina and her olive skin is highlighted by the sexy black thong she wears on a webpage advertising her slender body and shapely breasts. She says her eyes are hazel but a browser would have to take her word for it because her face is blurred to protect her privacy.
Khasandra is not her real name.
The University of Toronto sociology student has two semesters left before she obtains her Bachelor of Arts degree. In order to pay for it, the 5’8”, 125-pound model is an escort. She takes out calls only, refusing to stay at any hotel that is not “major”, but she is “open-minded to requests”.
For the past two years, Khasandra has been going on “dates” with men. She makes thousands of dollars on a good week. One man paid for an entire month’s vacation in Europe with Khasandra. As a result, the young woman deposited almost thirty thousand dollars into her bank account.
The money, she says, pays for an education she would otherwise not be able to obtain. But when she graduates, Khasandra says she will get a real job. In the meantime, she says, “It’s not so hard to study when your job is not so hard.”
Khasandra is just one of many students who have turned to the sex industry to support their education. These young Canadians, predominantly women, are being attracted to an industry that insures big profits, fast.
Escort agencies are welcoming them with open arms. In some instances they are beckoning to them, advertising – students wanted. With student escorts, agencies can push their women as sophisticated and intelligent.
Select Company Escorts in Toronto has made a category especially for students. Their website boasts, “Since we attract so many students, we felt they should be showcased on a separate site, hence Select Students, a site that represents all the hard working College, University, and Graduate students that are a part of the Select team. So enjoy the time spent with the Selected Student of your choice… Maybe for a change, she could teach you a thing or two.”
A poster found on campus at the University of Calgary attempted to recruit students into the escorting business. It read, “Looking for reliable, friendly, open-minded, attractive females between 18-25. Easy work, flexible hours, make great $$$.”
When Jennifer Ludbrook, a writer for the Gauntlet News, a campus paper, contacted the escort agency responsible for recruiting students, they gave her a job description. “What you do is see men and spend about half an hour to an hour with them in their private place of residence. But to be honest, most of [the clients] will be expecting sex from you, which means you probably will have intercourse, with the use of a condom, of course.”
Khasandra recommends escorting to students who need the money. But she offers some advice, “get in and get out. Work independently. Get a bodyguard. Be selective. Learn to say no. Don’t do any drugs. Don’t be explicit on the phone. Work short hours. Get tipped more. Save. Get your RRSP’s. Travel. And take care of yourself.”
Khasandra doesn’t have many complaints about the business. She says someone tried to rob her once but was unsuccessful. She does say however that she is “unable to have a relationship with a guy due to nature of the job.” She says maybe it would be bad if she was addicted to drugs, but she’s not.
Chloe, also not her real name, answered an ad like the one posted at U of C for an escort agency. She had been a college student studying arts, but left that life and moved from Southern Ontario to Victoria. In Victoria she got pregnant and soon fought to support herself and her daughter on welfare. She would work for minimum wage but then she couldn’t afford to pay the babysitter.
When she answered the ad for the escort agency, she knew that sex was involved. She says escort agencies are 100% about sex.
She went in because the agency was run by a woman. “Owned by a woman, how bad could it be?” she thought.
That day she was hired. The next day she was put on the schedule and she turned her first trick. The trick was a professor at the University of Victoria and five years later, while Chloe is out of the business, she knows that the professor is still at the university.
The men are white-collar men that attend escort agencies, she says. You have to have a disposable income to afford a girl at $200 an hour. Most are educated, most are polite and have manners and most, Chloe estimates 80%, are married.
Chloe began by giving massages. There were different rates for different services. She then began to do out calls.
Men would call and she would meet them at hotels downtown. Sometimes they would want her to go to their house, which she never wanted to do, but the woman who ran the agency had a policy – “no refusing calls.” And the woman who ran the agency has a business degree. A former student herself, she now goes by the nickname – tyrant.
Chloe hated going to strange men’s houses. “You never knew if the guy was going to have a hidden camera and then next week there you are, all over the Internet,” she says. And even if Chloe found the guy repulsive on the phone, or even if she got a bad feeling about him and worried about her safety, no was not an option.
Men would also come to see the girls at the agency. This would lead to what is known as “cattle calls”. The women would put on their lingerie and parade in front of the men so they could pick the girl of their choice.
“You would parade in front of this total stranger trick guy, who you had no respect for at all,” says Chloe who remembers thinking, “you’re just a trick that’s what you are and I could care less what you think of me because I think you’re shit too.”
But Chloe says when you go into the room you play the game. “Because you want to get as much money out of him as possible,” she says.
“Hi my name is Chloe and la la la. You’re just so the actress when you are doing it. Guys are just so gullible it’s hilarious. I mean how many guys do you see in a week but they still like to think they are the only one.”
“I got all the boob guys,” says Chloe, who knows her large breasts appealed to certain men.
But after four years Chloe says, “I was at to the point where if one more guy touched my nipples I thought I was going to rip his hand off.”
“You know you’re lying there with this stupid smile on your face like you’re enjoying this and it’s just a big joke. It’s actually like – just get this guy off me. And everyone feels like that. You’re just counting the money in your head, thinking what bills can I pay tomorrow.”
In her thirties, Chloe found she was getting too old for the business. One of the reasons escort agencies target students is because of their youth. “I couldn’t compete with a 21-year-old,” says Chloe. “Guys want them young, young, young, young, young. And it’s disgusting. Guys would call and say who’s the youngest girl you’ve got working there and you’re thinking, you pedophile. When you’re 50 and she’s 21, what do you have in common? Nothing. Nothing.”
“She’s 21, ya idiot. Wake up. She’s going out to the bar with her friends after this to hang out with hot guys. You’re her dad’s age,” she says.
Maya, 26, has been escorting for the past year and a half. Also using a pseudonym, she is an honours technology major at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Her tuition is higher than average but as an escort Maya says she can afford it, along with her Mercedes, Prada shoes and Chanel handbag.
A friend recommended escorting to Maya after she had been robbed by an ex boyfriend and found she could not afford to go to school without finding money, quickly. On her first night, she was sent to a motel by an agency and made $500.
Now, Maya escorts a few times a week but she says she has priorities and number one is school. “I do not work everyday or week,” she says. “And when I have midterms, papers or finals, I do not work at all.”
Maya applies the skills of a student to do research into keeping herself safe. She checks and double checks names and phone numbers to make sure the men who call her are being honest.
“I visit (clients) in their hotel rooms. I have their full names. They have to show identification to get the room. I have already spoken to them at work or verified through (the phone directory) that they are who they say they are. I always leave the information of where I am going with a close friend and check in when I arrive and when I leave. My verifying who they are, scares off the potential freaks and those who are left, appreciate my need for safety and respect me for that.”
Maya also has a lawyer.
Chasing money can get a girl in trouble she says. And she advises escorts to only work to fulfill specific needs. “Have a goal, like I want to make enough money to go to school, or buy a car or both, then (get) out.”
Some of Maya’s friends and family know about her after school job. Some don’t. Maya stops escorting when she is dating someone but she says she doesn’t date very often.
“I do not care what anyone thinks,” she says. “My tuition alone is $8000 a semester, not to mention textbooks. I am doing what I got to do to get where I want to be and you can’t judge me for that.”
Reflecting on her days as an escort, Chloe remembers other students she worked with in Victoria. One has finished her teaching degree, another is in dental school, a third was a student at York University in Toronto, but she dropped out because she became severely addicted to drugs.
Chloe gets very frustrated when she thinks of how society treats women in the sex industry. “It really kills me because there’s so much attention put on to the women in the trade – who are these women, these whores and it goes on and on,” she says. “But nobody stops to question, who are these guys? Why doesn’t anyone think about that? They are the ones supporting this billion dollar industry.”
Sgt. Paul Martin, media relation’s officer for the London Ontario Police says, “I think [escorting] is an issue in any community regardless of the size. It’s going to be comparable to population. I mean you go into a community of say a thousand and probably there is going to be some place operating.”
And it’s not illegal to be an escort unless you are soliciting sex, says Martin. “With prostitution they’re the ones approaching. They’re propositioning for the purposes of prostitution. Whereas you have the escort services and it’s the customer calling them. It’s up to someone to give [the escorts] a call. It’s not like your telemarketer that calls you on a Sunday at dinnertime.”
When Chloe first got involved in escorting she remembers thinking to herself “why not get paid when I’ve been giving it away for free for years.”
Dolina Smith, president of Canadians Addressing Sexual Exploitation, says many sex trade workers have that attitude. “Many women think I’m going to use men, I’m going to get all the money I can,” she says. This often leads to the inability to have relationships with men during and after a woman works as an escort.
“Would you ever trust men?” she asks. “Will (former escorts) ever be able to be able to be in a loving, lasting relationship?” “Will they be able to be STD free?” “Will they come out of it feeling good about themselves?”
Smith finds it shocking that an educated woman would enter into the sex trade. “(Educated women) have the power to change the sexual culture. They give men power by becoming sexual objects,” she says. “There has to be other ways to pay your way through university. What do you put on your resume?” she asks, when your job experience consists of providing sexual services.
Escorting is just glorified prostitution, says Smith. “Let’s face it. You’re selling your body. That’s not glamorous. Most often it leads to a life of drugs and disappointment.”
In a world where women are struggling to be equal with men, Smith wonders why women would exploit themselves – why they would use their bodies to make ends meet, instead of their minds.
Karen Dennis, in charge of public education for PEERS, Public Education, Empowerment and Resource Society, in Victoria, says that her organization has seen an increase of 30% in the sex industry over the past few years.
She says many people don’t realize that almost 90% of the sex trade is made up of escorts.
“Women are feeling that it’s their only option. They aren’t eligible for a lot of other resources, especially if they are single women wanting an education.”
But Dennis says there are many risks involved. “Isolation for sure,” she says. “You’re leading a double life, and that can be very strenuous. And of course violence is always a huge risk factor, bad dates.”
Former escorts go through similar posttraumatic stresses as war vets, says Dennis, who believes the emotional and mental anguish can be devastating.
“The price you pay on the inside is normally pretty huge and as much money as you might make in the short term, it doesn’t last forever.”
A report done by PEERS, based on interviews with 160 women in the sex trade in Victoria, found that over half the women suffered from depression. A pamphlet provided to escorts states: “Fact – Statistics in B.C. prove that a prostitute is 120 times more likely to be murdered than any other adult female.” Drug addiction is also a huge problem. Once women become addicted to drugs, that becomes their main priority, says Chloe who has seen many women become slaves to substances.
Chloe is happy that she managed to get out of the business. She loves being able to walk down the street and when someone asks her what she does for a living, she can tell them. She now devotes her time helping women who also want out. She runs an internship program at PEERS that educates and trains escorts for other jobs.
She says the escorts she helps do not have the privilege of a university education.
Her recent group of interns are now being placed in new jobs. She says that out of the ten of them, all have struggled with addictions.
Making minimum wage for a while won’t be easy, she says, but “growing old in the sex trade is just really sad.”