A Bristol student quit her job at a call centre in favour of working at an erotic massage parlour — and now she says the sex industry “saved” her.
Camila (not her real name) now earns the equivalent of her old monthly salary in a week doing “full service” at the parlour, and wants to de-stigmatise sex work.
Although she worked at the centre for more than a year, it was affecting her mental health.
“I wanted to finish my studies and do something that made me feel happy – and that job didn’t anymore,” Bristol Live was informed by her.
“I think the [sex] industry has saved me. Sex work has changed my life for the best and I just want to educate people. I feel a lot happier in myself.”
She wanted a job with the flexibility to work around her studies and that would give her the freedom to be able to go travelling – something her call centre job didn’t give her.
“I get to choose the hours and days so I have total flexibility,” Camila explained.
“I was not pimped or exploited in any way. I am completely comfortable and safe where I am.
“I can earn the same amount in a week as I did in a month in the call centre.
“The job has given me a lot of confidence and it has taught me a lot about my body and what I enjoy and don’t enjoy.
“By doing this job, I am not hurting anyone. I feel happy and I feel safe, as well as getting a lot of freedom.
“I enjoy my job and I do get pleasure out of it sometimes. It is also enjoyable for the clients, which makes it feel good.”
The student said she had always felt curious about sex work.
She was bullied for her looks when she was younger, she added, and doing this job has given her self-esteem and self-confidence, together with allowing her to be open and experiment to see what she likes.
After finding the massage parlour job listing online, Camila had a trial day where she saw 11 clients who were all “lovely”.
“I was a bit nervous to start off with, I am not going to lie, but I was getting comfortable and I really enjoy it now,” she said.
“I feel really empowered by doing it. I get complimented left, right and centre – it is not just the clients, it is also the other girls. The girls in the industry are all so supportive of each other.”
With the age of clients ranging from 18 to their 80s, some customers just want some company and someone to talk to, Camila continued, while others may want to be massaged or be dominated, for instance.
She said: “If they want to spend money just because they are lonely or because they want to experience things and be more open, that is what they choose to do.
“We get some that are completely new and I have come across people that are really nervous. I always want to make sure they [her clients] are at ease and comfortable.”
Camila said she prefers working double shifts – 16 hours – and normally does a couple of weekdays around her studies, sometimes only seeing one or two clients per shift – but other times more than 10.
“For me, selling my body, it does not bother me. I know how to keep it separate,” she said.
“I had had multiple one night stands so I knew what to expect – I just do not get emotionally involved, for me it is just a job.
“I’d rather have it pay the bills than be in debt if it does.”
The most common booking is for 30 minutes while two hour bookings are very rare.
She added the amount of money she makes on a day varies hugely, adding the most she has ever earned in a day was £900 – but that there are other days where it could be just £40. The highest tip she has ever had was £100.
Camila said the massage parlour gets to keep 50% of the money, but any extras or tips are kept by the workers.
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Camila believes that a safe, comfortable work environment is essential. A massage parlour provides this for her and makes her feel cared for.
Camila said: “It makes me feel safe knowing that there is somebody there to look after me and the other girls.
“I know there is a darker side to it and I know what I have signed up for.
“Things like rape or sexual assault. I have been raped as well as sexually harassed and assaulted, but they were all outside work.”
Camila said that her job is not easy because she is constantly worried about a client becoming aggressive.
“I know that I am putting myself at risk,” She went on.
“I don’t know when a client comes through the door if they are going to be ok or if they are going to try to hurt me. If they are a regular, I feel more at ease.”
She said whenever there is an incident it always gets dealt with very quickly and police have only been to the massage parlour once during her time there.
Camila has a loving, stable relationship with her partner. They understand that she doesn’t get emotional with her clients.
Apart from their relationship, Camila keeps her work and profession secret. She doesn’t tell her family or close friends because of the stigma.
“It is not easy to have to hide myself away from everybody else – it is very difficult,” she said.
Camila is concerned about Bristol’s future strip clubs. There are currently two SEVs in Bristol. If Bristol City Council’s licensing board approves a proposal to revoke the licences for these venues, Camila will be forced to close them down.
Camila said closing down the strip clubs isn’t going to fix anything, adding it will just “push them underground” putting workers at more risk.
“If you are not comfortable with it [the sex industry], that is fine, that is your opinion – but do not let your opinion impact other people that are completely comfortable with their jobs.”