A question that is often asked of the community by clients is ‘what do I do when I see you in public?’, and honestly the answer is not the same for all of us, and all I can do is answer for myself.
In short, if you see me around, please leave me alone.
It is often criticised as an unfriendly attitude, but it has nothing to do with being unfriendly. It’s really about allowing myself to be Not-Asha once in a while. In today’s environment for private sex workers, it is really quite all consuming to be Asha. Between extensive social media, my phone, and running the business, I am Asha much more often than I am anything else, and when I’m out and about, I’m enjoying being in the world as just myself, without her.
Not long ago I received a txt message from someone I hadn’t met, saying he had seen me at the supermarket he works at. It was my local supermarket, and it appears he had been watching me do my shopping. While I don’t think it was the man’s intention to be creepy, all I could think of was how I had been sweaty and in my ratty activewear that day, and a potential client had been watching me like that as I went about my life, in non-Asha appearance. It made me feel self conscious and as if my down time had been invaded. Not knowing who it is, I now wonder if I’m being watched every time I shop at that store. As someone with a regular exercise regime, and who would prefer not to wear makeup and look escort-ready every time I leave the house to go to Pilates or do my shopping, it leaves me feeling edgy when people let me know they’re watching me.
I walk everywhere and am distinctive, I am totally aware that clients, or ‘fans’ might see me around. But by making me aware of it, the feeling of being watched makes it harder for me to switch off and relax in my down time. I intuitively now walk around with my ‘blinkers on’, trying not to make eye contact with men, in case they’re a client or they know who I am and see eye contact as an invitation.
I met a new client recently, who told me that he had seen me at the airport. He said that he’d said ‘Hi’, but that I had ignored him and seemed a bit snobby. Truth is, I actually didn’t notice him. I probably had my ‘blinkers on’ and a head full of tour thoughts (as I usually do at the airport). But it annoys me to think that someone I hadn’t met before would think it appropriate to approach me at all. If I had noticed him that day trying to say Hi, he would have received nothing but a look of confusion and possible annoyance (after all, I had no clue who he was then).
I have been followed before - I was in a department store with my ex husband, and a client (a well known pain in the ass too) put his hood up (makes you look more dodgy, not less!) and was popping his head around corners saying my work name and asking to book me. My husband was nearby with my stepson, so to say I was furious with this behaviour would be an understatement. You just never know if I am actually alone, and even if I am, just leave me in peace.
I’m not a snob, I’ll exchange a knowing smile if I recognise someone (though, we all look different in the light of day!), but time alone in my thoughts, being myself, enjoying my walk or my supermarket shopping is appreciated. I do not want to know that I’m being watched, and if you would like to talk, please book me. I will be much more friendly and attractive when I see you in session. The sex industry is different to other industries - social media presence as an escort is marketing, it is not a desire for ‘fame’ - I do not seek nor do I want it. The pay-for-sex industry is underground - a secret, and respect does need to be paid to the nature of that. That includes talking to other sex workers about seeing me around and what I was doing etc (also happens).
As part of our work, we afford you discretion. An alternative to a messy affair or leading someone on, we leave you alone. I am not going to badger you for extra curricular communications or meetings. I do not cold call, and should you be irresponsible on your end and your wife calls me, I deny all knowledge. I will never approach clients in public, or ask intrusive questions. Simply put, I do my job. But discretion works both ways, and just because someone shows full face in their photos, it is not an invitation to be approached if recognised. While the most important people know what I do for a living, on the whole, I keep it to myself to acquaintances and the general community, because stigma is a bitch and I simply can’t be bothered with it. Approaching me, asides from being inappropriate in regard to boundaries, could ‘out’ me to acquaintances who I’d rather not know, and subject me to stigma, hatred or just awkwardness. It could also out me to you, if people with me call me by my own name in front of you, and I care a lot about my privacy. To put me in that position just because you’re excited to recognise me is hugely unfair. I’m not a celebrity, not someone for whom you’d want an autograph, I’m just a sex worker going about her life in private.
Asha is such a big part of me, a fun, sexy side of me who I love, but it is not all of me, nor all of my life, and the parts left that are private, I really treasure. I don’t want to be snapped back into work mode while enjoying my brunch or when I am out with my friends - those things are my ‘me time’, and we all need it. It is not about you, or my feeling towards you, but entirely about a degree of separation that I need to balance a complex and secret lifestyle. I know there are sex workers in the world who are 100% their sex work identity and welcome ‘fans’ approaching them, but they are few and far between, and I’m just not one of them. I need the freedom to be all the parts of myself, and that requires a degree of respect from those who know me only as Asha.