Media, Memoirs, Sex Education, Uncategorized

NYWF – Newcastle 2-5th October 2014

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I’m fortunate to be an artist at the National Young Writers Festival held in Newcastle from the 2nd-5th October 2014. In between my events, including Confession Booth, Fucking While Feminist panel and readings on What’s love got to do with it? I’ll also be atennding a myriad of events and possibly taking the sly booking for select gentlemen. For bookings, email gracebellavue@gmail.com.

See you all there!

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Uncategorized

20 Things They’ll Never Tell You About Being a Sex Worker.

So I was inspired by this post – ’50 Things they never tell you about being a chef’ and figured I’d do something similar.

Sex work is an amazing journey and one I’ve been on for almost nine years. It can be rough, brutal, inspiring, easy, transformative, heart-breaking and simultaneously empowering and disempowering in the same breath. I’ve worked in agencies and gained my own personal agency as a woman and sex worker. I’ve worked in brothels and also run my own business where I am in complete control over my branding, marketing and clientele.

I get emails frequently from women and men curious about entering the sex industry and often wonder whether they can hack it in the long term mentally, emotionally and physically. Being on the forefront of humanity and entering and being entered by other people on a primal level can take it’s toll. It also has its downsides as anything does. You can’t have the champagne and the hotel suites without a few hiccups or practicalities along the way.

20 Things You’ll Never Hear About Being a Professional Sex Worker

  1. You’ll develop either a depressed or super human immune system. From kissing to swapping spit, touching genitals, pre-cum, cum, girl squirt, fingers in orifices and people touching you – you come in contact directly with a huge range of people from all walks of life. Be prepared to get hooker flu or ride out the winter season safely assured you’re probably immune to all the current viral strands. This doesn’t make you immune to STI’s though. You’ll learn your body IS your business, so the safest sex you can provide whilst keeping your economic goals in mind is healthier for you and the community. You’ll either develop an external outside of work bareback/cum fetish or be so paranoid fucking someone without a condom that you’ll take 50m of plastic wrap where ever you go.
  2. Your social life will suffer. Two options. You’re too stressed keeping a massive secret from your friends, family, partner and community to really engage because you’re worrying your secret will get out. If you are open, you’ll be paraded around a party as “Look! My Friend is a Hooker!”. Suddenly your night off is spent answering 100,000 inane and ignorant questions that are deeply offensive and personal. Cosimawhore said it best.
  3. Your personal relationships will suffer. Either you’re in the “too hard” basket or someone is just wanting a free fuck, or you’re so exhausted that a little bit of alone time is more satisfying.
  4. If you’re working privately, sex work can be very alienating. You’re 24/7 in hotels and apartments or strange clubs either waiting or doing admin or seeing clients. Touring can be isolating. You’ll be grateful for the interstate and international contacts of sex workers when you get cabin fever, or friends. Don’t shit on the sex worker community, they will be your lifesaver when you least expect it.
  5. If you’re working in a brothel – be prepared for some of the most competitive and catty environments you’ve ever encountered. Whilst most are good, sex workers are tough and astute creatures, and you will be sussed out. When in, they’re the most amazing community on earth. When you’re arrogant, self entitled, undercut or steal other workers clientele in addition to creating a negative working environment, you will be targeted. Also, don’t underestimate jealousy.
  6. You’ll develop a foul mouth and an ability to get offended at nothing.
  7. Get ready to earn nothing. Sometimes for weeks and months at a time. Even if you’re at the top. People imagine the sex industry to be this never ending pot of gold. It isn’t. You have to fight for your clientele and earn the right to keep them. You’re also a subcontractor or business owner. There is no guaranteed income.  You can go to a brothel or strip club and hang around for 12 hours and earn NOTHING because you didn’t get a job. You don’t get paid for turning up, advertising, answering your own phones, soliciting. The only time you get paid is when a client hands you the money.
  8. There is no annual leave, no holidays, no sick leave. If you’re sick, you’re relying on whatever acorns you have squirrelled away. Your body is your business and there’s no boss to cover your arse if it fails.
  9. Sex will invade your life, your talk and your mannerisms. If you’re not physically fucking, you’re often booking or talking about appointments. You’re researching. Connecting with industry peers on advocacy or security or advancement. Counter that with the million questions from the public if you’re willing to have a public sex worker profile. It will drive you loopy.
  10. Be prepared to be rejected, constantly. Especially in brothel/agency scenarios where you’re in a line up or being picked from a bunch. You’ll get dissected online and offline on every inch of your body from your feet to your hair to the size of your body, breasts, genitalia and facial features. Suck it up princess/prince, if you cry you’ll have puffy eyes and then you’ll really earn no money.
  11. You will set and break and reset and break again every sexual boundary you ever considered. You’ll set personal and work sexual, emotional and mental boundaries. You’ll get bored or have a glut in work and quietly cross them too for the money.
  12. The hours. If you’re in a brothel/agency you’re looking at 8-12hr shifts with no guarantee of money. If you’re private and setting your own hours, you may find yourself attached to a phone/email/online and spending insane amounts of time for every booking. If you’re touring, you may find yourself never seeing daylight for days or weeks until you’ve got enough cash to fly home or make the rent.
  13. The dollar fee you set privately is often not what ends up in your pocket at the end of the day. If working for someone else, it’s often split. If you’re private, you still have to pay out advertising, clothing, supplies, phones, internet, drivers, security, rental (hotels and private) plus tax.
  14. If you’re not careful, the erratic hours can play havok on your diet, body, sleep patterns, energetic and drug/alcohol intake – often to your own detriment mentally and physically.
  15. If the work stress isn’t enough, people will blame any mental health issues on your job. Psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors will project their own sex industry judgements upon you so that work is the issue, but the myriad of problems you face as a complex human being outside of work is irrelevant. Obviously sex work is the problem. Be prepared for people implanting false memories of sexual abuse, over complicating family relationships and heightening or rehashing any child or adult trauma. YOU ARE THE VICTIM. You don’t know your own mind obviously do you? If this is the case, feel free to have an epiphany and ride off into the sunset in a different gig with new sex of complexities.
  16. Remember the pet you had when you were a kid that you tugged, half buried, wrapped up, carted everywhere, accidentally squished? That’s you but with adult human beings and it’s your body they’re playing with clumsily. Be prepared to be scratched, bitten, tugged, pounded, clawed at, sucked at and slobbered over.
  17. Be prepared to develop as a professional sex worker from point 16 into being a professional sex educator. Three (or one) strike rules apply. It’s not a matter of aggressively saying no, which can escalate a situation. You will have to educate strangers about your own body, their own and how to manage other peoples bodies in a non-harmful way.
  18. You will at some point in the current global political climate of sex work, be an illegal worker. You have no rights. Get used to screening, aliases, vulnerability and corrupt political systems. If you just decided to work a “normal” job for lower pay, you’re fine obviously. As we all know, sex work isn’t work.
  19. You will be a target for media and police if you’re not media/legally savvy, have contacts or you’re dead. In their eyes you’re just a prostitute, stripper, porn actor/actress or deviant whose systematic cultural abuse and targeting is entirely defined by your choice to work in this environment. Obviously it isn’t their fault working conditions are subpar and sex worker stakeholders in policy making are the minority, whatever you did or whoever you are outside of that moment as a victim of crime you will be defined by your sex work choices.
  20. It’s one of the most incredible and rewarding jobs in the world when you keep yourself, your clientele and your working environment healthy. When you’re allowed the freedom of decriminalisation and recourse to access services like any other worker. It will change your life and it’s one of the few jobs that will make or break you. If you survive, you’ve learnt a skill that will outlast any deconstruction of civilisation.

Still want to be a sex worker?

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Activism, Industry Voices, Media, Politics, Uncategorized

SA sex workers call for new laws to make it clear they’re not criminals

“GRACE Bellavue had only slept with two boys in her whole life the day she walked into an Adelaide brothel, aged 17, and had sex with 13 men in one night.

Fresh out of school, she had landed the job just hours before, after an interview in which she’d naively turned up in a business suit and presented her resume, along with a fake ID. Clocking on for her first shift with her hair and make-up done, and wearing an outfit she’d bought especially for the occasion, the wide-eyed teen hoped to emulate the glamorous characters in her mum’s erotic novels, or the adult films she secretly loved watching. She tried to act sexy, alluring, confident: every man’s fantasy. In fact, she was terrified. “I had this black Supre dress on, because I thought I had to wear something ‘skanky’, something ‘hookery’,” she laughs, taking a drag on her cigarette as she recalls the memory.

“I had these black velvet pumps on that I’d gotten from Betts and Betts at Marion. I think I was wearing the one decent bra I had at the time — you know the one sexy bra you had when you were a teenager? Some black lace thing. I must have just looked like fresh meat.” Nine years later, sitting in a trendy North Adelaide pub in a fitted black dress and jacket with her long, dark hair twisted into a tight bun, the 26-year-old looks like any other office worker on her lunch break.”

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Memoirs

Tomorrow.

The beds shuffle and slide as interchangeable as my access to self agency. One ward becomes another until the elusive long sleep turns into a plastic mattress in a holding cell. Inevitably it is irrelevant. Get better they say but their words belies the environment. The clip of the metal buckle closing across wrists, ankles, arms. How much for the girl in the window sir? The one with the oil spill pupils. Soon they say. Soon we’ll let you go. Tomorrow they say, a tomorrow that turns into a today that turns into a litany of false promises.

I wish I’d pissed the bed. Not to lie in my own urine but to give them something, anything to show my defiance of tomorrow. The questions are regurgitated. Are you agitated? I just laugh. My mouth still tastes the acidity of the washing powder that tinged the security guards suit I bit. Fucking bitch he cried whilst I ran just another metre on my fractured foot he’d crushed with his boot towards doors that would never open to tomorrow.

My new today is twisted blinds, flaking two way windows and muted birds I glimpse daily picking at something, anything to consume. Another ward and another day yet still no tomorrow.

They say tomorrow has a routine yet todays is tedious. Tomorrow, my tomorrow, is not their tomorrow. I walk slowly on the side of my foot for the breakfast, lunch, dinner and the meds. There are cookoos here but the walls are strangely absent of time. The world continues without me, I remember they have tomorrows whilst I am left with a shell of a day.

He claps and wanders incessantly with his ghost of a warden tracing his movements. Salvos suited his claps mark the meals louder than the nurses calls. We pass in the hallway and he fingers my sweater and rests his hand upon my shoulder. I ask him how long his tomorrow has been and he tells me three months and claps thrice. His brown eyes look at mine as if to say he already knows his tomorrow will never come.

The questions are repetitive. They ask why but if I knew why I’d tell them. Chase the long sleep. All I chased was seizures, a mask of my own vomit and blankets of warm urine.
“Do you want to die?”. Not particularly. It’s an ethereal game of hide and seek, balancing on that razors edge seeing how much my body can sustain. How close can you get to the sky without descent? The answer is in my subconscious and sleep is the only doorway.

He’s the youngest, bar me. We crouch behind a fire hydrant and suck cigarettes in a quiet camaraderie. He pulls down his hoodie and slips the headphones from his ears. Placing his hand in his pocket he looks up at me. Fingers contain wooden beads strung in a loop with a cross on the end. He slips it over my thumb. I stroke the beads slowly. Ten. He pauses. “A priest gave it to me, for protection.” It sits awkwardly on my thumb. His forefingers stroke the healing scars across the head and heart lines on my hand.
“Who is the priest?” I ask.
“I am the priest.” I hope my tomorrow comes in ten days. Before he leaves he hands me a tiny silver token to protect me further. His tomorrow is court.

Sleep is elusive as my bed mate talks in her sleep. She talks of her children, of petty money, of swindling husbands in between moans and sobs of frustration. I wish I could hand her back her tomorrow and agency but my words will be useless in the dark as her tomorrow hasn’t come for six months so I leave her to fart in her sleep.

Everyone in here has their tomorrows in their arteries. Some have halted their today by mainlining into their bodies. Others are strung in an endless loop of paper cups and plastic dispensaries so their blood runs thicker or thinner so their minds run faster or slower. Some slice and cut until their veins sit inside out, where they feel as if they are meant to be.

Her hand is swathed deeply in fresh bandages and she fumbles with the butter portion. I reach over and open it for her. “What happened?” I ask her. She looks at me, eyeing my intention. I had none albiet curiosity. “I put a kitchen knife straight through my hand.” I just nod. “It’s infected now see, my hand is in necrosis.” Unlike some of the others, she does not want a tomorrow now. Her children flit in and out during visiting hours but I see a relief when she gives them back. I imagine and wonder whether she traced the bones and tendons to find that millimetre gap so it would slide through cleanly. I barely see her after that as she retreats to lay in bed. I think she lies just thinking of today without the burden of tomorrow.

The algae green of his old weatherproof jacket twitches almost as much as the Parkinson’s narrates the gait of his constant loop. Up one hallway, down another, alongside the building. His beard almost touches his chest and his feet are as brown as the tobacco stains on his fingers. Bemused I watch him roll a cigarette. I offer him a tailor. He declines. The wind rushes between us and the trees continue to shake the dead leaves from the living with no thought of tomorrows.

It’s a cold spring. The season of rebirth is still filled with rain and icy winds. Summer is late. We all half heartedly pick at plates in the dining hall, only few words spoken. We’re all solitary in our search for respite, an answer or a semblance of normality. I think we have all realised winter is not going to end this spring.

“You got ACDC on that music thing sister?” The blackfella asks. I shake my head. “What about rap music?” I nod. He flips to NWA. “FUCK DA POLICE” he laughs. “Tried to get some weed in here sister, but the nurses stole my pockets.”
“Get your mate to bring you in some baked goods.” He laughs and shows me his new-old shoes. “They’re alright eh? Haven’t had new shoes in a while.”
“You voluntary?” I shake my head. “Could’ve come to the park sister.”
I am remined of the tedium and the invisible line I cannot walk beyond.

Finally I am called into an office and they tell me I am sane and can have my tomorrow, tomorrow.

There is a woman, tall and gaunt that walks the wards at night. Overcome with her insomnia she knocks and raps on every door. It’s two in the morning and she pauses at my entrance. Peering in she sees me writing.
“You’re going tomorrow?”.
“I am.”
“Where are you going?”

I don’t have an answer for her, maybe tomorrow has it.

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Uncategorized

“How do I end this?” – A piece of writing from a trans sex worker.

The lovely lady in question allowed me to publish this on her behalf.

The Transsexual Stereotype

I do kind of feel like I’m fitting some kind of “true transsexual” stereotype by getting SRS and getting it so soon. And it’s true that I am getting it to “be a real woman”. And I feel guilty about this. I am a real woman and I feel guilty that I would say otherwise and compromise my identity and by extension other trans female identities.

I always thought SRS would be the last thing I got. That I would be a more modern transsexual woman, sporting a girlcock underneath the femme business suit and subverting genital biological essentialism. But nope. I am just reaffirming it.

Penile Privileges
As I have discovered this year, having a penis and looking like a girl (and there is a reason I say girl here and not woman), can be an incredible money-making asset. Transsexual porn is widely known and hence men have grown to increasingly sexualize us but at the same time our occurence in nature is minute. This means the supply and demand curve is in our favor. As a transsexual sex worker there is a lot of money to be made.

My only regret is that I didn’t make more money. Instead I divided my time between my girlfriend and work and put up with diminishing returns by not touring. If the relationship had a happy ending then this might have been ok. Instead I have the history of 6mths of an unhappy relationship AND dysphoria, when I could have just had the dysphoria by itself and for a lesser period of time due to the lucrative income skyrocketing me to surgery. I would have been miserable, but I was miserable anyway.
Another bonus of having a penis is that it makes for tactile sensations whilst penetrating. It’s ideal for penetrative sex with another woman. I’m also very forutnate in that I am in the minority of trans women who have lower than detectable levels of testosterone, yet can get it up on command.

Unfortunately, PIV sex with another woman triggers me. It still feels good but it feels bad. I also get very jealous (I would rather switch roles!) and penile stimulation doesn’t feel anywhere as near as good to compensate; it’s as if my penis has been injected with local aneasthetic.

In short, my penis is pretty useless at it’s job of giving me pleasure, but it is a lucrative little organ.

Socially Triggered Dysphoria
I have well meaning cis friends and acquaintances who do trigger me, but by far the main source of my distress is my job.

I think I could be a cis sex worker and be content doing so. Trans sex work is just a constant assault on my identity. On busy days the money feels so good and sometimes I will even end the night smiling. But more often than not I will finish the night feeling soulless and empty. It’s not the sex. It’s what my clients say…
• “I have never been with a tranny before”
• “I have never been with a shemale before”
• “I have never been with a man before”
• “I have a girlfriend but she is a real woman”
• “So when are you getting the operation to become a woman?”
• “Yeah it’s not my first time, I saw this other tranny a few months ago and he was really good”
• Just checking but, you are a bloke right? Like, you still have a penis?

The first time it happens I am angry… By the umpteenth time it happens, I don’t feel like a woman anymore. And it is the worst feeling. Because when I don’t feel like a woman, I feel dead. An empty shell. With no purpose, no strength, no willpower, no drive, no personality. Just a husk.

I go through jobs on autopilot, but clients do pick up on the mood. The sessions are short and unsatisfying and they often put their feelings of discomfort (a direct result of my poor quality of work) down to transsexual women just not being as good as the real thing.
Sometimes I have the strength in me to fight it. But aggression isn’t conducive to work either. The only option is to repress and grit my teeth.

This needs to end. I can’t do this indefinitely. I’m worry that the soulless emptiness will dominate me forever until I die. I worry that eventually I will just accept my fate as being a “tranny” and not a woman and lose myself and my very essence of being. It’s like pre transition all over again.

How do I end this?
I could go with my original plan and get FFS etc and then get a straight job. But I won’t have a fallback plan and that pesky girl penis is still a liability. Or I could get SRS. It’s the last remaining solid bit of evidence that I’m trans. And once it is gone it doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I’m not outed (and I’m pretty sure I can bluff anyone who does suspect) my identity will be sacrosanct. I can try putting my degree to good use. Or I can continue sex work. I may have to endure being an ugly butch girl (not that they are mutually inclusive) but at least I will be a girl.

Furthermore, disclosure will no longer plague me. I can go out to gay or straight bars and flirt and dance as much as I like, comfortably knowing that I have nothing to worry about if a stray hand goes down there… As opposed to crying myself to sleep after a night out.

Perceived Biologically-derived Dysphoria
I have issues with having a penis. Sometimes it feels okay, but these occasions are rare. More often than not I find my hand gravitating between my legs and gripping my cock as if to crush it out of existence. It’s completely subconscious and has been going on ever since I can remember. In fact there are photos of me when I was 4 years old with my with one hand in my pants and another in my nose. I’m not sure what the significance of the nose-picking was but when I look at it, the feelings associated with that dick-death-grip are visceral. It’s like a hardware incompatibility. It’s just not meant to be.
I kind of wish it was. It would make my life easier.

As for vaginas, they seem incredibly appealing and I am incredibly jealous of individuals who have them. I have no justification other than the thought of one feels natural. This of course is in direct conflict with patriarchal discourse which is inherently phallocentric and sees vaginas as nothing more than fuckholes. To the patriarchy I say this: fuck you and fuck your phallus, I will gladly trade mine in for a “fuck-hole”, because no matter how disgusting it is seen, no matter how crude or inferior, to me the ugliest and worst vagina in the world is still superior to the biggest, hardest cock in existence. I’m sorry but vaginas are just better.

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Uncategorized

The ghosts in the room.

Grief is something I quite frequently come across in my work amongst the myriad of clients I see. For some it is a past grief, others an incredibly painful recent grief. For others it’s the sharing of a slow death of their loved one due to terminal disease.

The needs and expectations of these clients are incredibly intimate, filled with guilt and requiring a large degree of my compassion and empathy. The wine infused “quick fuck” or porn star style sex isn’t what they need.

They need my ears more than they need my arse, they need my gentleness rather than they need my passion, and they need my empathy more than they need my technical skill.

I often get the sense that there is a “Ghost in the Room”. It is often a subterranean psychological presence for both of us in the booking – Deeply ingrained memories of the touch and caress of the departed or departing loved ones echo in the way we interact with each other.

I watch him awkwardly undress. At twenty-eight the fitness of youth has half turned to softness across the arms and chest. Beautiful eyes are paired with hesitant hands that shake as he removes his various articles of clothing. Half masked by the stench of bars and scotch, he mumbled an apology.

“I’m sorry, I haven’t done this in a while. Let alone with a hook-I mean prostitute. Sorry.”

“It’s all good. Would you like a hand?

As I walk over to him I see the tremor rise as his dutch courage starts to fall away. Joking with him as I remove a belt, fumble with a button, dis-engage a sock and carefully place a shoe under a chair. A jolt runs through me as I fell him slowly place a hand on my arse.

“You’re so soft.” I smile.
“It would be a bit awkward if my arse was calloused and hairy, no?”
He laughs and relaxes whilst his hand carefully starts moving across the curves of my body.
“Can I touch them?”

His eyes linger on my breasts and his palm hesitates. I nod. Sliding underneath the lingerie layers of lace and gauze he cups the underside of my breast, measuring their weight. Fingers flick across nipples.

I love watching their breathing intensify, the chest expand, pupils dilate. My hand rises to his jaw and caresses it, tracing along half grown stubble, my half parted lips circling around his ears and down his neck.

“Can I kiss you?”
“Of course you can.” He tasted half boozed tinged with the hint of cigarettes. His tongue started on my lips circulating before he bit my lip. I could taste his need in the back of my throat and my back arched as his dug his fingers in so hard I gasped.

There is an incredible sensuality that is created in those that have been deprived for so long. In his speech, movements and intentions there is an echo of the love that was there before. Your body listens, knows, responds, senses, acknowledges and understands that this is a dual layered encounter. Ultimately there is us and also her providing the bed on which we have to make a step forward.

The soup of emotion in which we swim is viscous with fear, guilt, loneliness, need and insecurity. Within him is the desire not to disrespect a living or dying partner. It’s an incredibly intimate sexual experience with a stranger.

To treat you as a service provider as any less than his wife, girlfriend or love that has passed only ultimately disrespects what went before you. To have anything less than that connection seems like a betrayal. Yet you cannot be another. You must begin to assert yourself and pick apart the threads.

We left the room and he asked if I could spend the night at his house. The silence in the taxi was followed with stumbling apologies over mess and pouring of bourbon in his townhouse. Leading me outside we began to laughing and joking as we occupied his courtyard, drink in hand, world contemplating.

“Would you like to come upstairs?” Barefooted I skipped up the stairs, pausing on the landing. I gazed the assorted instruments stranded near mixing equipment.
“You play guitar?”
“Not for a while.” He took my hand.
“Bedroom’s to the right.” The half-darkness concealed the dishevelled sheets and half empty glasses of bourbon scattered across the bedside tables.
“Sorry for the mess again.”
“All good – my room isn’t much better to be honest.”
“Lights on or off?”
“Honestly? Maybe off. I spend so much time having sex in broad daylight or high light, it almost feels naughty to have sex in the dark.”
“The idiosyncrasies of your job perhaps?”
“Perhaps.”
“Can I get you anything?” He hesitated.
“Come here.”
“Wait – you like showers?”
“I love showers. I could spend half my life with water cascading down my back. Only thing that makes me feel quiet I guess.”
“You are a fucking hundred million miles an hour you know that?”
“I know, but I feel calm inside If that makes any difference?”
“Eye of the storm? Sort of makes sense to us poor dumb bastards that get caught in the rain around you.” He was good at making me smile.
“Wait here.”

Spread-eagled amongst the sheets I contemplated the ceiling. What an unusual job I’d chosen for myself. Wanting, desiring to be so intimate with strangers on such a regular basis. Nothing else was as exciting, so exposing, so forming, so constantly life changing as this.

“Ready?” He came back in the room and stood in the doorway naked.
“You coming?” I slowly disentangled myself from the sheets.
“Give a girl a second.”
“Come on. I need to tell you something.” I followed him into the bathroom.

It was alit with hundreds of tea candles. Across the basin, the bath, around the shower screens.

“You like?”
“Yeah, it’s beautiful. Thankyou.” He smiled.
“Come here bubble butt.”

We entered the shower cubicle. His palms pushed against my belly forcing my back against the shower screen. I shuddered as the cold of the glass pressed against my arse. My nipples hardened.

“Hey, step back OK?” His palms guided me slowly to a corner, his left hand pulling back to play with the water temperature.
“I don’t want you to burn yourself.”

I am in an industry in which I am an object. I’m a fuckable hole and something to be degraded, debated and bantered about amongst men. Yet these constant, continuous moments of consideration, care and respect between two adults is the reality in which I inhibit. Perhaps it is not men that is the problem, but the forced behaviour in groups of men which is the problem we all debate.

The water cascaded down upon us as we enacted yet another slow, sensual, timeless exploratory consideration of each other’s bodies in the warmth of the illuminated bathroom.

My hands toyed with the shower caddy as I fingered some body shop products, strawberry shower gel and a female razor. Contemplated playing with him, hands slick with products.

“I must admit, I noticed you have unusual beauty products for a male.”
“It’s hers.”
“Who is she?”
“Katie, I loved her.” He crumpled a little.
“She, is, an ex?
“She died. Some cunt of a fucking doctor gave her the wrong fucking drugs and they reacted. One minute we were in love – twenty four hours later she was dead.”
“How long ago?”
“Almost eighteen months. I haven’t been with anyone since.”
“Do you miss her?”
“So fucking much it hurts.” His back slid against the tiled wall until he was squatting in the shower. I followed him with the line of my body. Back braced I spread my legs. Identical twins physically, I laid my hand on his thigh.
“Come here.” His body found its’ way between my legs. Back against breasts, head against shoulder, both dripping wet.

“I know some pussies wrote some lyrics about crying in the rain, but I’m glad you can’t see it.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t feel it.” I pulled the wet strands of hair across his forehead. I feel so much like my mother in these situations. Touch. Caress. Console.
“Are those products still hers?”
“Yeah, I can’t get rid of them. I don’t know how to begin without her. I can’t talk about her to others because they tell me to let go. I can’t fuck anyone else because they aren’t her. Thank you – for giving me a genuine depth to something I don’t still understand.”
“I bet she was beautiful.”
“So incredibly beautiful.”

I sat like a mother for a few hours, as the raining of the shower turned into a hybrid mix of his tears and my empathy, and I just listened. I talk so much it is almost cathartic to often share so much pain with a stranger, for once I can be silent and truly learn. As a woman, it is in these moments I feel truly in tune with the generational compassion that flows with the women in my family.

He’s not the only one. There’s a multitude of clients I’ve crossed paths with in my lifetime with similar stories. Some are fucking away the grief of love from divorce or a break up. Others are supporting a partner through a terminal disease.

They are often the most guilt ridden – health issues have removed the possibility of intimacy in a relationship full of love. From a psychological perspective these males have become the bearers of responsibility both financially, mentally and emotionally within the family unit whilst other pillars are crumbling. Momentary respite is paramount and healing.

There’s an infinite shades of grey in my work. I am often left with more questions than I am answers. But within the façade of my work – these private moments are what I truly love and gain the most worth from my work.

For all the ghosts in the room that have watched me, I hope I gave no disrespect.

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