One night, in the first raw days after a long term relationship breakdown. I was that client. The type of client whom you might need a minute to sit in your car quietly for a minute after seeing, so you don’t take their shit home with you. The kind with substantial emotional needs.

In my head, the only salve I felt that could soothe my pain was a quick, hard fuck with someone I would be safe with. Someone who wouldn’t bother me with text messages afterward or ask any questions. Someone who would keep it in the vault if I started having a teary mid-orgasm. I put the shoe on the other foot. I booked an escort.

I’d wanted to do this for a long time, but I never thought it would be under circumstances of sadness or urgent need. In my booking fantasy, I’d imagined being spanked over the knee of a beautiful dominatrix to celebrate a vague future birthday. Not meeting a local dude last minute with puffy eyes in my pyjamas. 

In hindsight, that night I was in no condition to interact with anyone. But my need was so great. I know myself. Penetrative sex was the only thing that would dull my pain. I needed to be forcibly released. The service the escort I booked gave me that night was so compassionate that I felt humbled. The truth is that sex workers do good work. Humane, honest work that helps other people. Seeing it from the other side showed me the weight of its value through fresh eyes.

He didn’t take it personally when I asked him not to kiss me. He was patient when I was so prescriptive it was bordering on rude and reductive. Using him to get myself off in 5 minutes flat then pushing him away. He saw my pain and he helped me. Stayed with me on the bed while the tears welled up in my eyes, asked me gentle questions to free them onto my cheeks so I could breathe properly again. 

The space between us was big enough to feel safe, small enough to let me know I was not alone. He held that space for me, soothing words slow and calm. The panic left me and I smiled a little. My eyes stopped darting around the room, I saw him. His kindness made me feel light again and I was so grateful. We talked about work, about people and life. Suddenly my world was feeling a little more stable. A physical release and a friendly chat. This is the therapy our clients pay for. It’s expensive but it really works. I totally get it.

When I was ready to be alone I asked him to go. He pulled on the soft cotton t-shirt I’d requested he wear, smiling down at me.

You have a lovely energy when you’re relaxed. Despite my sadness I laughed out loud.

As opposed to when you first came in. Sorry for being that client.

He laughed too, mock-hiding behind his hands.

 I was like; Don’t hurt me, pretty lady!

I gave him a big hug.

 I knew that he was feeling happy that he was leaving me in better condition than he found me.

It’s nice to be able to help another human, and boy, he really helped me that night.

Ever since that evening, when a client tells me they feel better after seeing me, I understand what they mean. I’ve really been there.


— Photography by Emma Salmon – The Blacklight Sydney —