TWEED sex worker "Aria" admits she entered the industry because she was desperate for money.
But the 39-year-old mother of one says she has grown to love her job and wants to help shatter some of the negative stereotypes associated with the oldest profession.
ARIA: I'VE been an escort for a couple of years. I got into it for the money.
I was sick and tired of always scraping to make ends meet as a single mum.
But I've developed a love of the job. It can be glamorous and I get to meet people from all walks of life because I'm a real people person.
I get to travel occasionally, though not too much due to my son. And I also get to have a bit of an adventure.
I set my own working hours. It means I'm at home more for my son so I can enjoy my family life more.
I work at my apartment during school hours and also do out-calls.
I'm good at what I do and I can disconnect from my work after hours.
My clients have been mainly from Tweed Heads, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Shire and Lismore.
I also travel to Sydney to see clients who book me from my website. I started out working for a brothel for six months.
Having never been in the industry before, that was a huge fast-tracked learning curve.
A lot of it was negative though. I prefer working for myself.
I charge $300 an hour for a full service or $200 for half an hour but in Sydney you can fetch up to $850 an hour from high-rollers.
At the moment, because I'm still building my business back up after a 12 month break, I see an average of six clients a week. But ideally I'd like to be seeing a couple day.
My goal is to make $900 a day.
People worry about their security as a single operator but you just have to be really people-savvy.
Being at this age and having dealt with lots of different people, I'm good at screening potential clients on the phone.
I listen to their voice, and if I sense that person is going to be difficult I won't take them on.
I haven't had to reject many clients. Because of the professional way I market myself I tend to attract quality men.
I've had very respectful clients, genuinely nice people.
I make sure I'm absolutely preened 100%, including manicures, make-up and I dress very stylishly.
When I started working for myself I advertised in newspapers in Byron Shire, Lennox Head, Ballina and Lismore.
But in the last 12 months I've noticed no-one has any money in that area and they are constantly trying to talk you down in price.
Lismore in particular is really bad.
But in the last few months since I've been concentrating my advertising on the Gold Coast. I've probably had about two guys whinge about my price.
But when they've met me they go, "Ok I get it. You're really professional, you look beautiful, you look after yourself."
I make my clients feel pampered and special.
I'm very much into the art of touch and sensuality so my regulars are getting the whole treatment not just sex.
The biggest mistake I made was getting into a relationship with a client.
I ended up leaving the industry for a year due to his insistence even though that's how we met.
The relationship ended up in court. He turned out to be a controlling sociopath.
One of the downsides of the industry is the risk of picking up STDs.
No matter how vigilant you are there's always the threat of a condom breaking.
I find the stigma and the double-standards attached to the industry very sad.
There are about 10,000 sex workers in NSW with 60% working in commercial sex service premises and the remainder working privately or on the streets.
Female escorts are looked down upon but if you're a male escort no-one bats an eyelid.
We get stereotyped as well. People think if you're a hooker you must have been sexually molested or be a drug addict.
I used to do drugs 10 years ago but no more. I've been through rehab. I get a lot of clients try to bring drugs into their sessions with me but I refuse.
Unfortunately there are some women in the industry, especially younger ones, who are drug users.
To be able to be successful and have staying power in this industry you've got to be mature with a really positive outlook otherwise you start self-destructing, I saw that at the brothel.
But the other side of the industry is women like myself who treat it like a solid business.
I can see myself doing this for at least another five years. I want a new car and a better living situation for my son and I.
My son, who is in primary school is not aware of what I do, but some close friends and family members know.
I'm a very liberal and open person and I'd love to be able to be upfront with my son when he's older.
I'm engaged to be married to a man from overseas I met on Facebook who is fine with what I do for a living.
He understands that sex and love are two different things.
But I accept that as our relationship progresses we could both end up having problems with it.
I wish I could be completely open about what I do with everyone without the fear of myself and my son being ostracised.
It's the oldest profession in the world but still the most stigmatised."
There are about 10,000 sex workers in NSW, with 60 per cent working in commercial sex services premises and the remainder (including most male sex workers) working privately or on the streets.
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