Writer and sex educator Lux Alptraum will be walking through each episode of Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience for Vulture, gauging how closely it approximates what it’s like to be a sex worker, in a series of essays and interviews. Here, she breaks down episodes eight and nine (check out her pieces on episode one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven). Follow along, and read our Girlfriend Experience recaps here.
The eighth and ninth episodes of The Girlfriend Experience edge away from stories of sex work, focusing far more on Christine’s straight life, and the increasingly complex conspiracy brewing over at Kirkland & Allen. The sole client to make an appearance in these episodes is Jack, Christine’s regular-turned-stalker, who first accosts her in the parking lot outside her law school, then later appears, headless and voice modulated, in a sex tape that gets leaked to the entire law firm (as well as Christine’s family). Jack becomes the center of a deeply uncomfortable story line about the dangers of being sexual as a professional woman. (I would have dismissed this leaked sex-tape plot point as unbelievable had a friend not informed me of a similar sex-tape leak that took place at the New York office of law firm Kirkland & Ellis. Sometimes truth is as strange as fiction?)
I decided to learn a little bit more about what it’s like to juggle a straight job with escort work, and turned to Kendra, a full-time sex worker who began escorting while working at a straight job. We chatted about the challenges of juggling office work with sex work, dealing with co-workers threatening to out you, and being slut-shamed at the office.
What’s it like to escort while also working a straight job?
It's not easy working a straight job while escorting. You're always juggling the two worlds. You're working Monday through Friday and sometimes sneaking out for lunch appointments, and have to book all your evenings and weekends, so you have no time to yourself. I did sex work for four years like this, then finally quit my day job and went into sex work full time, which is really more like 20 hours a week, and I make way more money.
I found working the day job more degrading than sucking dick — the middle-school mentality of mean girl co-workers, fielding customer complaints, having to kiss ass, the boring drudgery of paperwork. Thank goodness I had interesting things to do after work! I felt guilty sneaking my sex work admin stuff in throughout the day — there's a lot of admin work that goes along with sex work! Emailing, scheduling, logistics.
Is there paranoia around getting found out? Why or why not?
I was adamant about keeping my day job separate from my whore job, but the head of the mean-girl clique found out about my sex website and spread it around the office, hoping to have people turn on me. She wanted to shame me.
As soon as I found out, I confronted her and sat down with her in a conference room and asked her why she cared about my life outside the office. She was shocked to be confronted — it completely caught her off guard. My heart was racing like crazy, but I spoke to her matter-of-factly and refused to allow her to shame me. She said her concern was that day-job clients would find out about my sex persona and it would hurt the company. I assured her that in the four years I was there, I had only been discovered once by a day-job client, and he told me he greatly admired my attitude and freedom. Anyway, by directly handling the situation myself and with maturity, I was able to defuse it, and it didn't get worse.
The show’s never entirely clear about how much of Christine’s drama is self-manufactured, and it’s unclear whether she may have released this sex tape herself. It seems strange to me that she’d be courting this kind of drama and attention — not to mention calling attention to her illegal side business.
She does seem like a sociopath or [like she has] some personality disorder.
Any other thoughts about the show?
That walk of shame [in “Blindsided”] — I feel bad for her. The last time I was successfully slut-shamed was in April 2010, when I was fired from my job when they discovered my sex blog. That was mortifying. My boss said, "What were you thinking putting that out there? You're like a 14-year-old!"
I'm completely confused as to why she wasn't immediately escorted out by security after the sex video was released to the office. She's just hanging around? Her bosses have no power? Why are they sitting around discussing it? A young woman would be thrown under the bus in this situation, end of story. Not very realistic. She should have left the building long before her panic attack. [It was] painful to watch.