Photography and the business of sex ...

As told to Whoretography by Sex Worker Nikki Cox @NtyNikki

When I started in sex work in 1996 there were only 3 options for advertising: the local newspaper with a circulation of maybe 15,000, the city/state newspaper - in both of these we had to lie and advertise in the "massage" column and had to have a massage certificate that we had to show to place an ad and finally the yellow pages. A sex workers reach to clients was limited. It wasn't until 1998 that escort advertising had started to gain attention on the Internet when I was working in Los Angeles. And upon my return to Australia - I started a business to advertise escorts on the Internet but nobody wanted to advertise - citing the excuse that "no one will ever use the Internet to look for us" I couldn't keep the website & business running financially as I had staff to pay - so I closed it down

Within 2 years the Internet then was abloom with escort advertising sites. I was too early for such a business in Australia. Going from print media to digital media - sex workers had a much wider reach to clients in their city - state and country. We were now in the offices and the homes of clients - on their computer screens for them to look at and read about.

You could never place a photo in the newspaper so for these men to see us before they made an appointment took sex work to the next level. Years go by and sex workers go from having grainy digital photos taken by their boyfriend or friend to the era of professional photography and "branding" which at first worked awesomely! Clients ate it up and bookings went through the roof. But this era became out of control and clients - although enjoying access to so many "hot looking" sex workers - started to become disenchanted by the incredible amount of over photoshopped photos. They would be disappointed with the real person when they met them because they were not the fantasy girl in the luxury surrounding depicted in their photos - they were just ordinary women. Clients revolted and have reverted back to wanting real pics.

The demand for selfies and face photos became strong, which many sex worker found hard because they hide their face and identity from the public. Clients also wanted to read a bio that sounded humble and real not a marketing blurb about how perfect the sex worker is. Clients enjoy spending time with a real person when they know it's a real person and this is why social media rose to the top of sex worker marketing. Selfies are what clients love to see and having direct interaction on an individual basis.

Twitter has most definitely become the new red light district. A gathering of sex workers who meet, network and book clients through the platform. Clients can get to know the sex workers personality now via interactivity instead of just reading an ad. Photos are more often updated than that on an ad website because of technology - it's easier to take and upload to social media thanks to phone cameras and photo apps - it can all be done on one device. Some sex workers use video so that clients can see what they look like in action and in real life situations.

The downside of being so accessible is the impatience of the potential clients and current clients. They want a sex workers attention NOW & MORE of it. And if you aren't online to answer their messages & demands, they become abusive. Twitter is a media platform where you go from zero followers to 10,000 before you know it. And the pressure to "perform" on Twitter becomes intense. People expect you to be political. They expect you to be involved. They expect you to entertain them (for free). Twitter is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing if you carefully orchestrate access to yourself and plan what you say and what photos or videos you release. It's a curse of you jump in with both feet with no plan as you will find yourself rolling in the mud with the others who don't control their media.

In 2015 there are more stalkers and abusive clients than in 1996 and I believe this is due to too much accessibility. We are no longer cherished for sharing our bodies with them instead clients have an expectation of having full access to body, mind and spirit in any way they see fit. Sex workers have a much harder time keeping a client in check because of their sense of entitlement. Social media has become a place where people lose their sense of reality. They forget that they are dealing with real living breathing human beings behind the handles (even when they come face to face with that personality). There is not only abuse from potential clients who "need it now" online but also those who are against sex work and lobby for its dissolution, people who hate the fact that we exist.

People don't realise how fucking lonely sex work was prior to social media because most were born into the age where technology & social media is the norm as a young adult.

It breaks my heart to see all the hate online for sex work but what did I expect?

Evolution is the survival of the fittest. I'm still here because I've worked through the hardest of times plus I'm tough and smart. I am privileged to still be relevant. Despite all the negativity, where we are in this evolution of sex work - politically and technologically - is the best it's ever been and we should appreciate what we have so intensely.