Strip Clubs, Brothels & Beyond: My Love/Hate Relationship with “Working”

When you’re a sex worker, people often ask: But do you like it? As if everyone is expected to like every aspect of their job. Lola, an escort and stripper, details the ups and down of the job—both on and off the pole.

Melbourne, Australia

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the name Lola. I always thought it would be the name of my future daughter. Fast-forward to one month after my 18th birthday and Lola is my new name at a very rundown erotic massage parlor. It was my name at a brothel and is currently my name at a strip club somewhere in Melbourne, Australia.

I have thrown myself around facets of the sex industry for the last three years. A cycle of: love it, hate it, love it, hate it, leave, return, try something else. Repeat. It’s incredibly difficult to leave, even with a day job and 2/3rds of a bachelor degree in progress.

The most common questions people throw at me are:

  1. How did you get into this?
  2. What is your weirdest client?
  3. Do you like it?

I wanted financial independence from my controlling mother at age 18, and my close friend and ex housemate suggested working at a massage parlor during the day. I bought a blue mesh one-piece bodysuit and some $20 stripper heels and dived into a world that I wasn’t prepared for. And got a lot of UTI’s from the spa’s (so gross to reflect on). I moved out of home and acquired an equally controlling boyfriend who wouldn’t let me work in the industry, and so I lied to him about where I was working so I could pay my rent. The day after we broke up I had an interview at a strip club, which was always the more glamorous sex work option, in my opinion. I did that until I experienced serious burnout and ended up in a brothel temporarily. And from there, it’s been a cycle between any viable option. I’ve been payed $60 to be abrasively penetrated by a bikie for every second of our half hour session, and I’ve been payed $3,000 to be penetrated for like sixty seconds by a sugar daddy.

I wish I kept more notes from when I first started. Today, I write down all the weird shit idiot men tell me in my phone. Some of my favorite quotes (strip club, 2015-2016) include “If you were my girlfriend I would never cheat on you,” “When I’m away at war I will think of you and smile” and “Being in jail was easier than this lap dance, that’s how badly I wish I could fuck you.”

There was once a guy with a foot fetish who told me he could read my mind, and would I be interested in a hypnosis session. My current main regular client begs me to bite and lick him all over his body and tells me what a “dirty, naughty girl” I am and spends all of our time together telling me fantasy scenarios where I’m wearing tight jeans and sucking his dick without a condom. For every weird guy I can’t remember I’m sure there’s a compartment in my brain that will one day explode from keeping it all locked away.

Do I like it? Hmm. When clients ask, yes, I love it because I love being naked. And over the last three years my response has gotten less enthusiastic. I love my job when I love it. Typically I like it the most when I am really embodying my strip club alter ego, getting booked for hours to just talk, practising pole and somewhat thriving in the “glamorous” conceptual pit that is the strip club.

Typically I like it the least when I am being payed to have sex. I don’t judge anyone else for it at all—that’s just my experience. And I truly can’t judge, since I always fall back to it. I’m jealous of anyone who can do it for years on end. Sometimes it’s bearable, very occasionally it’s enjoyable. I actually came from oral sex for the second time in my life in a brothel. But I’ve lost relationships with partners and family members over this job. I’ve lost a lot of self-confidence and self esteem. I burn out very easily. I have a guilty complex in my head and a ton of issues to work through. On the bright side, I’ve almost recovered from a five year long eating disorder and completely stopped self harming since entering the industry, and I am forever grateful for that. And sure, I’ve bought designer clothes, acrylic nail refills every two weeks and a lot of drugs over the past three years, but I still don’t feel like I have enough to show for it all. I feel all my highest highs and lowest lows in this industry.

But money talks and my rent is due monthly. I won’t name my future daughter Lola anymore, but I know Lola is far from retirement.



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