It’s early in the afternoon on a weekday when there is a knock at her door.
She is expecting a man who could be as old as her father. She has already screened him over the phone to make sure she is comfortable with him. But this is not a typical blind date: this is a business transaction. She is an escort, and the man is her customer.
She is also a 28-year-old Portland State student, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her identity. She has been an escort since she was a 19-year-old living in Utah.
“I had been in a fight with parents and couch surfing for a month at friends places,” said the woman, who for the purpose of this article will be referred to by the pseudonym, “Amy.” “I had two weeks to stay where I had been and I had just taken a cut in my hours at my job. I had an old friend from high school call me up out of the blue earlier that year and told me of her adventures as an escort and that she made really good money.”
Another friend was also out of a job and in need of money, and the two decided to go in the escort business together. They drove to an agency in Salt Lake City, half an hour away from where they lived, and were hired.
“On our first appointment we played strip poker and smoked herb with the guy for a few hours and got paid really well for it, so we liked it right away,” Amy said.
Now living in Portland, Amy said she works independently and even has a few women who work for her.
Amy said she continues to work as an escort because of the sense of adventure and the freedom the money and flexible schedule. The money makes it possible for her to go to school without worrying about the financing that many students have to worry about.
“I have time to go to school and or explore just about anything I want to with this job with less pressure and more convenience,” Amy said. “There is no real requirement as an escort for the most part other than to show up and spend time with the guy for an hour.”
“I’ve not been in a long-term relationship with anyone in a long time, so I’ve found myself coming back to this job,” she added. “I feel that if I’m not in a serious relationship, which is not an aim, its kind of ideal for me until I figure out what I do want to do.”
Hundreds of escorts exist in the Portland area alone. Some work for escort services, some work independently. They attract clients through advertisements in the phonebook, local newspapers like Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury, and most lucratively, the internet.
Prostitution is illegal in Oregon. The law bans engaging “in sexual conduct or sexual contact for a fee,” but many escorts simply ignore it.
“There are laws, but not many escorts abide by them,” Amy said.
Oregon does legally allow escort services. Freedom of speech laws allow for activities such as live sex shows to take place as “free expression.” Since such shows can be defined as an act of expression rather than solicited sex, they do not fall under prostitution law, as long as a sexual act is not performed for money.
The range of “services” offered by escorts vary greatly depending on the individual. Some escorts stick to the legal side of the business, which typically involves attending formal events with the client or being a hired guest at a party. Many, however, offer services ranging from sensual massages to intercourse to the “girlfriend experience,” where the escort simulates social intimacy with the client in addition to performing sex acts.
Amy said she specializes in “FBSM” ?” full body sensual massage ?” a massage that includes stimulation of the client’s genitals. She said she works mostly in the daytime to increase the probability of a safe transaction.
Both escorts and potential clients use standardized abbreviations that describe various sexual acts to confirm what type of acts an individual escort will perform. For example, “FS” stands for “full service,” or vaginal intercourse.
The profession of escort, while lucrative for some, is not without an element of danger. In addition to the danger of contracting sexually transmitted infection, there is the threat physical violence perpetrated by clients. Amy said she has been lucky that she has not had any major incidents.
“Once along time ago a guy literally pushed me out of his house because he wanted me to get naked before he paid me and I said no and that it wasn’t happening like that,” she said. “I’ve found that over the years I’ve learned to eliminate the assholes pretty quick.”
Amy said that she does not plan on being an escort forever, though. In fact, she may have to change professions sooner than she planned. She is currently pregnant. The pregnancy did not result from her work as an escort.
She does not necessarily plan on dropping the escort business when the is baby born, but “I’m working on ‘Plan B’ as soon as possible,” she said.
Within the next few years, she hopes to complete her degree and be in a position to start something new that interests her.
“I feel I have great business, organizational and intuitive relation skills that could be applied well in many other areas of profession,” she said. “I plan to shift out of it and be completely out or done in the next five years – and be working doing something in a field that I find interesting.”