BY Hugh Ryan
October 14 2009 10:35 AM ET
Name: Strap-On Jo
What’s the experience like as a queer woman working with a mostly straight male clientele? There’s been an anthropological aspect to it. In order to have my marketing materials be effective, I’ve needed to understand how straight guys think about the experience. When they go to my website, it’s this huge revelation of, “Oh, my goodness! She understands.” And that’s what brings them to me.
How many clients do you see a week? It depends on whether I’m traveling or not. I don’t work a huge amount when I’m home in Boston. When I’m traveling, the max I can see is four new clients in a day. If some are repeats, I can do about six, but four is my max, not because of time or physical energy, but emotional energy. It takes a lot of emotional energy to connect with each person and create a safe, warm, comfortable environment for them, because my whole -- for lack of a better word -- shtick is creating a safe space in which to explore anal sex with their own ass.
Are you out about being a sex worker? I’m out to my family about being a sex worker, just not what kind of sex work. Their big thing is that they’re worried about me being arrested or injured or attacked and hurt. In terms of how I conduct what I do, I actually expose myself to zero STD risk. I wear latex gloves, latex shorts underneath my harness, so there’s no skin contact even in the general genital area -- that’s not just the actual genitals. I don’t engage in any oral anything. So as a result, I’m really not just low-risk, I’m no STD risk. And for me that’s what makes me comfortable with what I do. I respect people who choose or don’t have a choice to expose themselves to low-risk activity -- or even high-risk activities, if that’s their choice or nonchoice in what they’re doing. But my circumstances are that I have the freedom -- the privilege -- to be able to do zero-STD-risk sex work.
Has the economy affected your job? Without a doubt. Prior to the drop, I was making enough that I was able to set aside money for savings. Since the change, I’ve cut costs in terms of my travel -- I take the bus instead of driving and parking in midtown. I’m seeing fewer people. Also, whenever anyone complains about my rate I automatically drop $50 off of it. It’s like a coupon. I’m actually applying what I learned as an economics major at MIT in terms of price discrimination, to capture all the excess demand in the market. I also have a master's degree in social research methods, which is how I did the research that determined the shape and form of my marketing materials, and decided to target the specific market I’ve targeted.
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