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Nov 13, 2012

No more vanilla: how the internet killed the call girl

Porn is everywhere on the internet, giving people access to all sorts of different fetishes. Annika Cleeve, a sex worker with 18 years experience, says this is having a marked effect on people's sexpectations.

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I started working in the sex industry in the early ’80s, at age 15, and retired in the early 2000s. During that time I have seen many changes, some good and some bad — namely changes to welfare policy, gender roles, public perceptions of sexuality and sex workers. The most glaring change has been what I refer to as client sexpectations.

I like to draw the analogy of ice cream for sexual mores. In the 1980s, clients were vanilla in their requests and expectations. Occasionally they would want a few toppings, here and there, perhaps some nuts or sprinkles, maybe hot fudge to tickle the taste buds. But in general most gentlemen preferred the standard flavours: caramel, strawberry or vanilla.

From the late ’90s on, pornography became a free click away. LubeTube is free and available 24/7, a veritable Baskins and Robins of sexual availability. It was not just the access that changed during my working life but the content itself dramatically altered.

Vanilla had become a foreign flavour. In the same vein, why would I go out for ice cream when I have a freezer full of the stuff? It used to be that clients sought sex workers for what they couldn’t get at home, or couldn’t be bothered chasing.

Porn no longer has a loose story seductive story attached — pool boy seduced by hot house wife or delivery men assisting a frustrated lonely house-sitter — now it is just straight up hardcore. Videos that commence upon penetration and only last seven minutes. Apparently seduction is passé. Eroticism has been exchanged for sexual aggression, evident in the language as well as the lack of scenario.

Over the years I saw this first-hand, the changing proclivities of the young buck. In the ’80s he was out to please himself, come the ’90s he was desperate to please me and by the 2000s, if he visited at all, he was determined to dominate with a firm hand.

Modern porn feeds a totally unrealistic idea of what women enjoy sexually. As I say in my book: It is $10 extra for lessons, young man. Because the amount of young men who came in wanting to replicate the latest movie they saw drove me insane. They truly believe that there should be no difference from porn stars to the girls they meet locally, all women are the same with their clothes off.

Normal has shifted, as it did years ago thanks to Kinsey, but I will argue that we have shifted from vanilla desires towards a much darker flavour. Dare I say 50 Shades darker?

The internet killed the sex worker. The 2012 reality is that they don’t need to learn from your local sex worker or older woman the ABCs of sex. All that’s needed is to type their chosen peccadillo into a dating website search engine and find a sexual partner who will fit their momentary desires. Gone are the days of phoning twenty sex workers to see who offers this service and at what exorbitant rate she will charge. Or even worse still, having to wear a condom and dental dam.

Erotic fiction is currently the highest selling genre, but it used to be Mills & Boon. Now it has to be beatings, bondage and sex toys to grab the reader. The storyline is irrelevant or implausible (20-year-old virgin, super good looking billionaire).

As a former sex worker, if Christian Grey had walked into my establishment I would tell him to take his misogynistic routine elsewhere. That 50 Shades of Grey is such a good seller is not an indication that the modern woman craves a good beating and a dominant man. If Grey was a part-time brick layer living in the western suburbs, with an ex-wife and two children, would you still date him? Would the book be as popular?

It used to be that anonymous sex would cost you. Someone once said: “you don’t pay a sex worker for sex, you pay her to leave straight afterwards.”

In the second decade of the 21st century anonymous sex has become abundant. Thousands of websites and apps are available for free. There seems to be no end to the number of sites beckoning horny punters with the promise of casual sexual encounters with like-minded people. These sites offer what no sex worker can offer: mutual arousal.

Clients who visit a sex worker are under no delusion that their desire is mirrored. But when they click on “horny housewife seeks anonymous sex”, there is a sense the service is equally appreciated and needed. The rendezvous suits all parties, it’s a symbiotic relationship.

In the past the client/sex worker relationship was also symbiotic, he needed sex and I needed cash, no ego stroking, just physical relief. But in this brave new world there is a rush obtained in the knowledge that cash is no longer required.

This anonymous vixen is just like me, she too wants sex without entanglement. This is in stark contrast to the reality that the mattress actress craves my cash and not my masterful, horizontal calisthenics.

I am glad that I retired when I did, when a profit could still be made from chocolate chip, cookies and cream, and rocky road. God help the girls out there plying their trade in the era of double scoop with a smattering of abuse on top, please.

*Annika Cleeve’s book The Mattress Actress details her life as a sex worker and is available through Momentum Publishing

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