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October 22nd, 2008

Review: Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire

Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire

In addition to sending me Sex and Bacon, Seal Press also send me Sarah Katherine Lewis’ first book Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire to review.

Indecent was an enjoyable read. There were many times I had to put the book down momentarily because I was laughing so hard. But now that I’ve sat on it I have to give this book a mixed review.

Though her stories deal with sex work I haven’t done I still related to her quite a bit. I’ve had clients treat me like scum because I’m a sex worker just as she writes about. I’ve smacked a client who tried to feel me up just as she has. While non sex workers may still laugh at her stories it’s the industry workers who will enjoy the little details-the nervousness of a worker to share a regular with a new girl, the various wig and make up tricks alternative chicks do to give them the appearance of a “normal” girl.

My favorite chapter was Toxic. She writes about a client Steve who she calls a Relator. Lewis explains the term:
“A Relater was a customer who wasn’t satisfied with getting the service he’d paid for as quickly and efficiently as possible-a Relater needed to believe he was actually making a human connection, that his provider actually liked him and found him charming.”

During the handjob session Steve asks her leading questions about her childhood. This shows his true fantasy-finding a women whose only a sex worker because she was sexually abused as a child. Lewis creates such an absurd tale of ritualistic abuse I was crying from laughing so hard.

I’d never heard of the Relater term before but I’m familiar with the type. I’ve had many phone calls where the client wanted to ask about my past or wanted to “get to know me as a real person”. The catch is they don’t really want to know the real me. These types lead the call, dropping hints on who they want you to pretend to be. Once they feel connected enough they often want your secret fantasy to be exactly like theirs. This may sound annoying but in fact these men are easy calls. Often they’ll talk for hours to establish the special connection. I wrote about one of these types in A Stellar First Call.

Lewis admits to having a love/hate relationship with the adult industry. Her client stories, while funny, show her anger at her work. She gives the impression that sex work was lucrative for her but I kept wondering if the work was good for her overall. She describes the violent fantasies she has about her clients, often daydreaming during the session.

“As I ran my hands over the knobs of Steve’s spine, I imagined myself stabbing him in the back. For maximum damage I’d have to work the knife in between the bumps of his spinal column, prying them apart and attacking the meat underneath. A sturdy serrated hunting blade could be pulled back, tearing flesh on the backstroke, before being viciously shoved in again and twisted. I could almost feel his spinal cartilage popping under my fist as I slammed the knife home-could almost hear the whistle of his collapsing lungs.”

Wow. I’ve never fantasized about killing a client. Now in personal sessions I do size up the client and room immediately. I compose a backup plan on how to defend myself if the client were to get violent. But that’s just common sense for sex workers. Fantasizing about maiming and killing clients? That seems unhealthy to me in any job, unless you’re a sniper or something.

Can I recommend this book? Like I said with her book Sex and Bacon “Yes but with reservations”. The book often reads like a fun bitch session about clients. Lewis is skilled when writing about the quirks of the industry-men who lick the peep show glass after the previous client came on it, the clients who pass noxious farts during sessions, the strong connection fellow sex workers have towards each other.

If you’re not a sex worker you may not like this book. It gives the impression that most, if not all, sex workers hate their work, hate their clients and it’s only the love of money that keeps them coming back for more. While this is true for some it is not the complete story of sex work.

Then again, can one book or one sex worker perspective ever tell the complete story? I’ve had days where I love my work and I’ve had days where I’ve wanted to smash my phone. Lewis seems to see most of her experiences in a negative light.

The majority of Indecent focuses on the negative, unpleasant parts of sex work. And that’s fine since that’s a valid experience. My problem with Lewis’ work is she takes her experiences and projects them onto sex work as a whole. I’d like to thank reader Iamcuriousblue for pointing me to Lewis’ original introduction to this book. Here’s a snip:

“I have snorkeled through shit for money, and what I’ve learned is this: it’s not trangressive to work in the sex industry. It’s not sexy, nor is it somehow “empowering,” unless you’re a grievously damaged bitch who got fucked by her daddy at age five, and who now has to re-enact that same power imbalance over and over again with customers in order to re-cast her victimization as control.”

This is the side of Lewis’ writing that irks me over and over again. You know what? I find sex work pretty empowering. But I’m neither a grievously damaged bitch nor did I get fucked by my daddy. Before PSO work I was pretty hard up. I hitchhiked to work because I couldn’t afford to get my car fixed. I played the which bill can I put off another month game. I ate crappy Ramen noodles and generic Kraft macaroni and cheese. These days I’m not rich but I can afford to shop at the health food store and buy organic groceries. I can take my car in to get fixed. I can finally help others by giving to charity. That feels pretty damn empowering to me. If it weren’t for sex work I wouldn’t be where I am today and for that I am grateful.

That said, I still enjoyed Lewis’ client stories. But her negative attitude and frequent implications that all sex work is bad make me ultimately disappointed in the book.

Posted by Vixen in Reviews, Sex Workers

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 9:30 pm and is filed under Reviews, Sex Workers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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