Have you ever wondered what life must be like for a legal sex worker? To sell your body to strangers, to fulfil their fantasies and to deal with the stigma of living as a professional in that industry?
Some will tell you it's empowering to women, to use men to get what you want on your own terms. While others will say it's enslaving, turning daughters, sisters and mothers into little more than a tool for sexual gratification. But what's the truth?
We spoke to a legal sex worker, Ruby Rae, who works at The Love Ranch - which is in Northern Nevada and is part of America's Only Legal Red Light District, to pick her brains on the job, the lifestyle and all that goes with it.
LADbible found out the secrets of the brothel, feminism, weird clients, STIs and some of the common misconceptions of the industry.
First question, how did you get into it and how long have you been doing it for?
So, I started in 2011. I was 20, an undergrad and working at a full-time job. I just realised that I was working too much to be able to focus on school.
I've always known about the legal brothels in Nevada. I just got really curious and I researched them and the idea kind of blossomed from there. I took a really big giant leap of faith and reached out to them.
What exactly are the types of services you offer?
Because I work in a legal brothel, you can pretty much put it out there that, 'hey, if you come here you are going to get a full-service experience'. But for different girls that means different things.
I would say for me, personally, I specialise in 'the girlfriend experience', because I think that just fits my personality as I'm more introverted.
"I'm not a wandering slave, I am a woman of choice..." pic.twitter.com/8HOKoIfoIq
- Ruby Rae (@TheRubyRae) January 12, 2018
What other types of experiences can you get?
So there's the 'porn star experience' which is a bit more rough and sexual. Then of course you have fetish, role play and also a lot of two-girl bookings.
As you specialise in the girlfriend experience, do the lines ever get blurred between the service and actually developing feelings for the client?
I've never really got too attached to a client. I see them as friends and my lover for the time they're with me. When I started the bigger obstacle was making sure that clients don't get too attached.
Without boundaries, it's not healthy for me or the client.
What would be a red flag?
Asking certain questions about my personal life is inappropriate. I would nip that in the bud pretty quickly. I never want them to feel like I'm leading them on.
It's also really healthy for clients to see a variety of girls, because when you just see one girl for so long, it's really hard for them not to get attached.
Would you ever consider giving it up for someone you met?
Well this won't make me sound like a romantic at all but no. Not at all. I mean who knows, if I met someone and it was my soul-mate then maybe, but I don't really believe in having one soulmate.
How about ambitions for a family?
I always say I don't think I will. If I'm being totally honest, child-birth really scares me. I just see myself as being that really cool aunt, who spoils all of her friends' children. I'm not saying it's completely out of the picture though.
What is the most you've heard a sex worker earn?
It's before I started working at the ranches, but I have heard of one experience on Christmas Day where one guy paid $1.2 million, where he picked seven girls for a week-long experience. So now management always tells us 'just because it's Christmas don't think that nobody will come to spend some money'
What for you are the biggest misconceptions towards the industry and sex work in general?
That we're 'dirty' or 'desperate.' We certainly aren't dirty. At the legal brothel we are tested for STIs every single week and for HIV once a month.
We're also not here because we're desperate. I totally chose to do this. I re-searched it heavily and I knew what I was getting into.
One of the biggest issues sex workers seem to have is being labelled a prostitute. What are the main differences between sex work and prostitution?
People have created a bad stereotype with the word prostitute, especially Hollywood. When they show a prostitute in a movie, usually it's not in a good light. So, when you have things like that thrown up against the word it creates negative connotations and we don't want to be associated with that.
We want to be seen as business women. Women who have chosen to be free and empowered.
You were saying you think it empowers women. Why?
I am empowered by sex work because I have a lot of freedom in my life and my schedule. It would be very hard for me to go and work in corporate America after doing this job.
Of course there's the money. I make a lot more than I would in a corporate job. There's also something really empowering in being able to command a certain price.
What would you say to those who say the industry is degrading for women?
So you basically mean 'radical' feminists who are obviously against prostitution. With feminism, I think that a lot of them think we are contributing to what they call 'violence against women'. They think that by selling our bodies we are contributing to gender inequality.
What I would say to that is that we don't believe that we're selling our bodies. Selling my body, that's slavery. I am definitely not a slave.
I sell my time. I sell my energy. Of course, the physical is a part, but it isn't everything.
The fighting cry of sex workers is that sex work is just that - work. A career option.
A lot of women speaking out about sexual harassment at the moment. Does that exist in the sex industry at all?
A guy wouldn't be too bright to come into a brothel and sexually assault somebody because we are well protected. The sheriffs really have our back.
Harry Potter studio outside of London! My mom wouldn't let me read HP when I was younger but look at me now! (Or rather two summers ago) :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:#harrypotter #england #rubyraetravels pic.twitter.com/vXX2sZUh5S
- Ruby Rae (@TheRubyRae) December 3, 2017
What would a client have to do to a sex worker while they're working for it to be considered sexual harassment rather than part of the job?
It's hard to imagine because it's never happened. I guess if I'm with a client it would be them being insistent on performing a service that I have clearly stated I don't provide. I'd consider any attempt sexual assault. If I feel like they're violating my boundaries I wouldn't allow that. I'd end the booking.
We actually have a panic button. So, if a girl starts feeling uncomfortable she can hit it and a really loud, annoying ring goes off. Then the cashier will bust into the room and see what's going on.
Is this a lifetime profession?
I've known a few ladies who definitely made it a career. There's 'Airforce Amy' who works at Bunny Ranch and has been in the business about 20 years or maybe a little longer.
This is definitely a career for me but I say that knowing that people don't stay in one career their whole lives.
I read one time that said the average person has 'seven careers in their lifetime' so this is definitely a big chapter of my life and I don't have any plans to stop at the moment.
Interview By Jared Lawthom