‘This is my story. I’m not speaking as a representative of the industry.’
‘When I was younger and growing up in Portugal, I was slut-shamed because my sexuality has always been a big part of me. But in London I feel liberated. When I got here, I worked crazy hours in restaurants and pubs. I wanted to go out with my friends, so I decided to do webcam work.
I thought that I was alone. People don’t talk about sex work – it’s just not a conversation you have. I started escorting because it was something that I was extremely curious about, but it was also because I needed more human interaction. The first time I did it, I was very scared and confused. People tell you that being a prostitute is a bad thing and I grew up in a very Catholic family, so my morals were conflicted. But I still really wanted to do it! Afterwards I was even more confused because I didn’t really feel bad about it.
I promote myself as a girl next door. I wear very light make-up and flat shoes or Converse. I sometimes get requests for “something slutty”, but I don't have a problem with that – it can be fun to get out of my skin. When I meet someone for the first time, I don't know what they like so I just morph in the moment. It’s quite intuitive: I try to work out whether they want someone strong with political views, or someone more girlish. It can be a lot of fun to work with people’s desires, things that they think are too perverse to tell a partner. When clients ask to go bareback, I’m scared: there are certain positions where they could just take the condom off. If I feel like they're a risk, I won’t see them again – unless I need the money, which does happen.
I don’t understand the motivation behind the criminalisation of sex work. It feels childish, like a “yuk” thing. It’s a religious hangover: women have to be good and perfect and mothers and saints, so we can’t be dirty or sexual beings.
Decriminalisation is really important for us but it’s also really important for people who have been coerced or trafficked. Only then can you have a situation where people can ask for help without the fear of being prosecuted. People-trafficking and sex work should be seen as two separate issues: one is a crime and the other is just two adults consenting to have sex.
The sex-worker community in London is amazing, everyone is very supportive of each other. There are a lot of people who don’t want to identify as a sex worker because of the stigma. I have times when I feel really strong and can go out with my fist raised, but there are times when I can’t even go outside.’