I needed to do something bold, something above and beyond the usual wallowing to help jump-start my healing and bridge the next phase in my life as an empowered, single woman. I wanted to regain my independence, my sense of agency, my sexual prowess. But I was nowhere near ready to get emotional with anyone—my heart felt closed off, like an old trunk someone had shoved in the attic with a dime-store padlock—so searching for my next great love was out of the question.
One-night stands were sometimes fun, but mostly they were sloppy attempts at physical satisfaction that left much to be desired, including a good night’s sleep in my own damn bed. Most sexual partners who didn’t even know my name were just in it for themselves. Who could blame them? I was doing the exact same thing. How can you have good sex if you’re not invested in maximising pleasure for your partner? Sex with love is the best kind of sex there is, but there was no way I could handle the love part of the equation while my heartache was so raw. And when the sex was halfway decent in a seemingly casual encounter, a barrage of texts generally followed, the now-relationship-seeking fling wanting to know when I was going to see them again. This girl was not having that.
If only I could find someone to have sex with where the other person was completely devoted to pleasuring me, but I didn’t have to deal with the emotional piece.
That’s when it hit me. I could hire a sex worker.
Why not, I thought? Men did it all the time.
Paid sex had to be the most strings-free option out there. Men even reported that hiring a sex worker was far less complicated than the entanglement of a one-night stand or casual sexual affair.
Besides, every time I opened the paper, I saw about a million ads for “busty blondes” and “sexy Asians DTF” and any number of pictures of sex workers scantily clad with acronyms that depicted their attributes and selling points with a handy phone number listed. I literally had to bypass all those ads to get to the content I was trying to read.
How hard could it be to hire a sex worker?
Pretty tough, it turns out.
I started doing some research, looking through backpage ads and ruling out contenders I wasn’t attracted to. I found half a dozen that I thought were pretty hot and made a date with myself one evening to ring a ding them.
I dialled the first number. The phone rang and a woman picked up. “Hello?” she said.
“Uh, yes, is this Brandi?”
“I’m interested in, I mean, I’m calling to see. Um, are you available tonight?” I fumbled.
“Honey, are you calling for your husband?” she asked, confusion coming through in her tone.
“No, I’m calling for me,” I said.
Click. Dial tone.
She hung up on me. I stared at the phone, thinking maybe it was just a bad connection. But then I went down the list to the next name, and then the next one and the next one and the next one and was met with the same cold shoulder. They were all suspicious to hear a female on the other end of the line.
“Are you a cop?” one woman asked, before hanging up on me.
I couldn’t believe it. I thought I must be a less threatening client than the johns they had to deal with on a regular basis. Yet here I was getting iced by women who were literally paid to do the opposite.
"I'm offering you business! I'm completely harmless!" I wanted to scream into the phone. I kept my decorum, though, or as much as one could muster while trying to hire someone to have sex with them. It was a special kind of rejection that stung pretty badly.
But a woman seeking a sex worker just wasn’t something they had ever encountered.
“I’ve never had a woman call me,” one woman who told me her name was Jessica said when she answered the phone. I braced for the click of her hanging up on me, but it didn’t come.
“Hello?” she said. “Are you there?”
“Are you free at 8?” I said.
I made plans to meet Jessica on a street corner in Queens, New York, later that night. I arrived nervous but ready. As I waited under the roar of the 7 train in a neighbourhood known for sex work, I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting away with something because I was a woman. I saw a police officer walk down the street across from me, scanning the scene for suspicious activities. He was ready to pounce on women in stilettos who had a ream of condoms poking out of their pocket, men circling nervously, but I slipped under the radar. Men probably have more to worry about than I do, I thought. I was an unassuming lesbian who looked like I was probably meeting a friend for tamales and beer.
Jessica showed up 20 minutes late. She looked like her picture in the ad: beautiful with an etched brown face and long, shapely legs. She smelled like sweet shampoo and too much perfume.
“Come with me,” she said, and she led me down the street and up the steps of an apartment building that was old, but well-maintained. We took the elevator up a couple of floors and she again led me down a winding hallway and through the door of an apartment that was dimly lit.
She asked me to get comfortable, pointing to a fluffy, queen-size bed in a quaintly decorated room. She had porn playing on the large flat-screen TV in the room, and she handed me a beer. She stepped out of the room and came back in a moment later with a lit joint, which she took a puff from and handed it to me.
“I’ve never had no girl call me before,” she said, sitting down next to me.
“We don’t have to do this if you don’t want,” I said, somehow becoming the more assured one of the two of us.
“No, it’s OK,” she said and pushed me back on the bed.
She helped me undress and pushed me on my stomach, massaging my back and then slipping her fingers into me and fucking me. At a certain point, her chiseled Dominican boyfriend made an appearance and I had sex with him, too.
Two orgasms later, I got dressed, thanked her, paid, and left.
There was no awkward conversation. No disingenuous pillow talk or reluctant phone number swap. There was no need to go home and “finish the job,” no need to worry about the implications of my entanglement. She would not call. But I could call her, for sex, without heartache, but with a guaranteed orgasm.
I was a satisfied customer.
As the cool evening air hit my face on my walk of shame home, I realised that I hadn't thought about my ex for the hour that I was in Jessica's company. The whole experience of paid sex was actually a lot more than just a transaction; it was a bold act that I committed on my own volition. It was the first time since the breakup, and maybe the first time in my life, that I felt a real sense of agency. It was something I never could have done if I were in a relationship. What other new and unpredictable adventures might I create for my newfound single self?
Hiring a sex worker was a small price to pay for my newfound freedom.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health