I had a lot of anxiety, so alcohol was great to kill that. Looking back, I can see a lot of it was created by the escorting. I was paranoid about who knew, who didn't.
I guess I cared a lot about what people thought of me. Around this time, I finally told my sister I was an escort. Then you started never wanting to do anything. You spend so much energy being social with clients, you're emotionally exhausted.
You've got 10 different relationships on the go at once. I was more uptight and more stubborn. My sister pointed out I'd got a lot more vain. I'd become so particular about my look. My hair. Going to the gym. Eating certain things. I decided to give up escorting again and move to Melbourne to be around good friends and family. I got a job at a gym reception, thinking I'd get back into the training side.
I lived the "normal" life for eight months but it didn't make me happy. I thought if I was unhappy with escorting and unhappy without escorting, I might as well take the freedom, the travel and the money of the sex work. It paid off. For some reason, I started making a lot more money again in Melbourne.
There was a lot of work travelling to Perth for the fly-in, fly-out workers. One of my regulars was a Buddhist monk but he clearly wasn't so good at banishing his earthly desires; he got so clingy and weird I had to let him go. A client took me to London for a week and it made me wonder if I could make it there. So, after a booming year in Melbourne, I moved to the UK. That was a hard market. Some very attractive people move to London.
I was competing against guys with perfect six-packs, giant penises: I managed to survive. In London, I decided to wean myself off the antidepressants I'd been on for a couple of years. I shouldn't have done that. My symptoms came back even worse. I drank a lot. Drugs were a lot easier to get hold of. I did more cocaine and ecstasy.
I turned 30 and my mental health fell apart. I was suicidal. I never planned to be doing this work at I fled home to Adelaide to visit my mum and while staying at a friend's house, drinking, the night thoughts got me. I was old, had no career, nothing to show for it.
So when my friend and her kids were sound asleep, I decided it was time to die. I had a bottle of Valium I'd bought on the way home in Thailand. I went rummaging through my gear but I'd hidden the tablets because I hadn't wanted my friend's kids finding them, and now I couldn't find them. I pulled my stuff apart but they were nowhere to be found.
There was nothing to do but sleep. I woke up the next day pretty scared. That was last year. I've never escorted again. I worked in a hotel in south-east Asia for five months and that was good to have to get up each morning to go to work, but also to see how happy people can be with no material wealth. I could never return to escorting. I would not want people to see me on some website, seven years after I was that new boy on the scene, still trying to turn tricks. That in itself would make me want to kill myself. I'm back in Sydney working a normal job.
It's like I'm starting a whole new life. I'm looking for true love, but I haven't been in a real relationship for eight or nine years. I'm so used to being on my own, I don't even know how to be in a relationship. I've started feeling better mentally. I'm on a new antidepressant. I'm starting to make friends again. Real, proper friendships. You can never get too close to people when you're escorting because you're always lying about something. I never felt good about that.
With a lot of clients, I was able to go somewhere else in my mind, to picture them being someone else. That was all part of switching off my emotions, building solid walls, which I guess was detrimental to my life in the real world. It's definitely done some damage. Can I get my personality back? I do feel that there's a big chunk of me missing.
I enjoyed people putting a price tag on me. Does that mean I'm less of a person? I couldn't even look at an escorting website now. That would trigger me. Not just because they're young and fabulous, but because it would take me back to those big highs: I'm carrying a big stack of cash.
I'm going to fancy hotels and restaurants.
I'm going to the opera in Barcelona. In fact, the whole process of being an escort is rather tedious. You have to sit around a lot waiting for bookings. Each morning I log on to the escort websites I use, then wait. Then at about 11 a. I get up and go to the gym. The busiest time for escorts is Sunday evening. Hiring an escort is their way of coping with having spent the rest of the weekend in Ikea.
You can make a lot of money if you work hard. London is full of people with cash to burn. Some regular clients give you presents and bonuses. They take you on holiday. Those ones can be a bit needy.
I doubt Keith Vaz was that sort. But he did conform to another stereotype: Roger Scruton. John Connolly.
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Now, when you go out to the gay bars, people hardly ever talk to each other. The existence of the apps disincentivizes people from going for more high-stakes romantic opportunities. Heck, for that matter, you might not ask someone out in a bar, because the apps just feel easier. In the absence of clear norms, people just have to wing it.
Which does not bode well for a process that requires radical authenticity. Most people I spoke with reported getting some kind of rude or harassing messages, some more severe than others. There are some matches that immediately after the ice is broken ask me [about that].
The harassment is of course the fault of the people doing the harassing. The apps show people their options, connect them, and then the rest is up to them, for better or worse. It turns out, humans are hard. Humans are hard. So dating is hard. And a common complaint about dating, app-facilitated or otherwise, is that people are just too busy to deal with it. I think it feels historically new. There's this sense of time being scarce. So you won't have to waste time. Or was the problem something else altogether?
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This was especially true of white users and women users. The only groups not to be categorically discriminated against were white men and Asian women.
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