An Insider’s Guide to the Sex Industry
Wednesday 15th February, an eager crowd packed into the Fringe Bar to watch five strangers share their experiences about the sex industry. Both the love and hate of the job, as well as unveiling the ‘beast’ that the media gorges on. Raw and unrehearsed, the following hour was filled with laughter, tears and even stunned silence. The naked truth was laid bare about an industry stained with stigma, and that’s rarely openly talked about. Were these people brave or were they compelled by their compassion for a misunderstood industry?
Either you’re a drug dependent whore fucking to get your next fix, or you live the high life, earning thousands and being flown around the world as a gluttonous rich man’s private mistress
An hour was not merely long enough to portray the vast spectrum of the sex industry, nor the issues faced by those working in it. But HELL they made damn sure to pack in all they could for those 60 minutes! Sexuality, disability, work/life balance, drugs and alcohol, dangers of the job, rape, fetish, empowerment, self-esteem, choice, physical and mental effects, validation, sexual surrogacy, and the positives were all explored.
One by one a story was told. Their hands shook, their voices quivered, and their eyes winced underneath the glaring stage lights. The people before us were not actors; they were “raw and exposed” real people sharing glimpses of the sex industry only a few encounter. The sex industry is very often portrayed with only two brushes. Either you’re a drug dependent whore fucking to get your next fix, or you live the high life, earning thousands and being flown around the world as a gluttonous rich man’s private mistress. Paying for it could easily be twisted by the media or anyone against the sex industry, into a stage show glimpse into the weird and wonderfully seedy life of sex work, a gawk at the minorities, the transgendered man, the overtly gay and the artistically inked, and most likely used against us. But this was the opportunity to see sex workers outside of a stereotyped light, as one performer stated: “I’m a whore and a slut and you don’t see my softer side”.
Paying for it touched not only on the stereotypical negatives that make the industry so fascinating to outsiders but the issues faced by workers that are only shared by other workers. Due to the stigma associated many sex workers have no one to confide in. No space to vent. Their life is a secret. Because of this secret, a second personality often arises, one which is equipped to handle clients oozes sex appeal, is witty and street-smart and comes out whenever you need them, like on stage under blinding lights.
Amongst the group were two people who perhaps may not be instantly associated with the industry they work. Both challenged the stereotypes of what a whore, hooker, escort, or prostitute is. One, a sex surrogate who brought the audience close to tears discussing the emotional connections one builds with their clients, the delicate balance between the surrogate-client relationship and the inevitable bond from being so close. The second highlighted how the sex industry facilitates the irregular work-life balance of those with disabilities or illness, who may otherwise would not be part of a workforce. The industry gives them flexibility and for the most part, control; even if they have been deemed a fetish, “being weird validates the satiation”.
Paying for it, a 1 hour, no holds barred view of an industry that is both a tameable beast and unforgiving monster. The show aimed to “inform, educate [and] entertain you” and certainly left no nerve untouched.
For another wonderful review of this amazing show, written by Theatre Review please follow this link; Paying for it: An Insiders Guide to the NZ Sex Industry