Hello, my name is Zelda, like the princess in the video game and also, more aspirationally, like the 1900s American socialite and novelist.
I have been a sex worker for slightly over two years, before that my primary ‘knowledge’ of the industry came from trashy television portrayals of ‘hookers’ as alcoholic, drug-addicted, traumatised women who needed ‘rescuing’, ‘punishing’ or a combination of the two.
I was therefore extremely surprised when I stumbled upon the Funhouse website and even more so when I began working as a full service sex worker without so much as a heavy lemsip dependency.
I came from a family of doctors, lawyers and scholars who were all terribly suspicious of sex and promiscuity.
I was 22 years old, had recently finished an honours degree and enjoyed painting, reading, cross-stitching and watching cartoons.
Although I enjoyed sex, I wasn’t really sure that I was good at it and I certainly had never felt ‘sexy’, in fact, beyond a vague notion that I should reclaim my sexuality and body, I didn’t really know what attracted me to the idea of becoming a Sex Worker.
I recall that I discovered Funhouse during a sexually frustrated night of intensive googling.
I didn’t feel at all similar to the perfect-seeming women on the site, but some curious, tenacious part of me told me I should ring Mary.
I was sure that I wouldn’t get the job; with my pouchy little belly, long, awkward limbs and all together too pointy features, I imagined my application may seem like some sort of ill-judged joke.
Then I met Mary.
And all of my nervous, excited energy came out at once, in tangled, clumsy sentences, with such fever that I dribbled on myself.
I was not sexy.
I was my awkward, curious, bumbling self.
And I belonged at Funhouse.
Entering the premises, I wondered if Mary had somehow made a mistake; everything was beautiful and crisp and clean and warm.
How could I belong in such an elegant and luxurious place? What If I broke something? What if I wasn’t sexy enough and my clients demanded a refund? What if I was just terrible at sex?
But Mary answered even my most foolish and embarrassing questions with humour and patience and the other girls made me feel included and exciting and attractive.
I had expected cattiness and competition…I had not expected to feel as though I belonged.
Not me, someone who up to now hadn’t felt as though I belonged anywhere.
I belonged at Funhouse.
The next day I saw my first client.
I managed not to trip on my heels and remembered my new name.
Everything happened absurdly fast.
Conversation was easy and sex was easy too; I was surprised by how normal I felt afterwards.
I kept waiting to feel bad or weird or ‘used’; but I didn’t.
The more clients I saw, the more empowered and in control of my body, boundaries and sexuality I felt.
If I felt tired or not in the mood to work, I would take time off; I learned to base my availability on my libido and trust my body.
I only saw clients who I felt comfortable with and, with Mary’s support, began to tailor my advertising to those whose company I most enjoyed.
Due to illness I was rather in debt when I began escorting, suddenly having real money and being able to prioritise my mental health and happiness over work was my new reality.
Sex in my personal life got better; After becoming a sex worker who is very well paid, having bad sex in real life seemed like an accountant doing taxes for fun.
I got to know my body, what I liked, what my limitations and boundaries are and how to assert them.
I always felt safe and backed up by Mary and the girls and I was surprised by how little I had to change my persona to be ‘Zelda’; I didn’t have to try to be sexy or glamorous or like a girl in porn, I was my ridiculous, mischievous, absurd self.
Sex Work helped me become confident, assertive and happy by giving me the means and flexibility to live my life on my own terms and become mentally and physically well.
It has been one of the best things I have ever done.
I don’t think everybody SHOULD be a sex worker, but if you try it and it works for you then it is kinda brilliant.
And brilliant is a good start.