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Selling sex between loads of laundry

// Mike Kendrick
// Mike Kendrick

Prostitution has been in the headlines this year since the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s prostitution laws last December, giving the government a year to write new ones. But between booking ads, hotels and doing a surprising amount of laundry, some of the people most affected by the changes have the least time to deal with it.

Melody, a 29-year-old from British Columbia, is a touring escort, who travels from town to town, offering a service called “the girlfriend experience,” which is a type of sex work more personalized than traditional escort services.

In April she advertised for a few days at a time in Edmonton, Lac La Biche, Cold Lake, Bonnyville, Edson and Lloydminster, according to her Twitter account @DeviantMelody, where she tweets with other escorts and posts pictures of her horses. She lives in Winnipeg, but only technically.

“I’m never there, ever,” she says. “All winter, I was there 25 days of the whole winter. I have two horses there that I never get to ride. It sucks. That’s the downside.”

At a restaurant for lunch, Melody, who stands 6’2″, is wearing a black-and-grey jacket and drinking white wine and arranging her waist-length brown hair. Two cellphones lay in front of her on the table: a white iPhone 5 and a cracked HTC handset whose number she gives out to clients. As a touring escort, Melody independently books her own clients and ads on websites like backpage.com, arranges a hotel or a condo and leaves town after a couple of days.

“Women that independently tour, they’ve got their shit together, because it takes a lot to book the hotel in advance and do your ads and respond to your emails and manage the review boards,” she says. “I even struggle with it. It’s a lot of work.”

Her past careers include training problem horses and commercial fishing. In 2011, she was working a retail job full time while trying to apply for nursing programs. That’s when she started paging through the Craigslist Casual Encounters section.

“When I turned 27 … I was going to leave for school, so I didn’t want to get attached to anyone,” she says. “So I turned to Craigslist, because I had a fantasy I wanted to play out. It was fantastic.

“[After a summer] I was like, I kind of enjoy this whole sex-with-strangers thing. … I know girls that are doing the same thing that I’m doing, but they make money. Why don’t I just turn this into my job?”

She started working part time and was initially surprised by the popularity she says accompanies any new escort.

“I had a full-time job, I had a retail job, I was perfectly fine, I was set up. I just get really bored sometimes in life, and I live for excitement, and this is exciting for me,” she says. “You’d be amazed at how many emails you get when you post a new [ad].”

The girlfriend experience, or GFE, can simulate a relationship with kissing and cuddling, but varies from client to client.

“There’s no set routine … it’s different with every person that you meet,” Melody says. “Typically, for the non-girlfriend experience—they call it fluid exchange—there’s no kissing or anything like that. The girlfriend experience, there is. It’s a little bit more passionate in that way.”

When Melody tours the north, she ends up booking a lot of clients from the oilsands.

“It’s hard for them to have a home life if they’re just a single guy living 30 to 40 days in camp, and they get lonely,” she says. “They don’t say it in those specific words, but yeah, you hear it.

“I like that they really appreciate that you’re there. They’re really glad that you’re there!”

But Melody doesn’t book in camps, usually trying to get rooms in hotels or booking short-term condo spaces instead.

“I’m getting used to hotels. I used to work out of condos I met through other girls,” she says. “It was great because I could stock the cupboards with my favourite teas and it was like a second home.”

But the biggest challenge, hotel or condo, is one that you might not expect.

“People don’t realize how much work is involved that’s not work you’d think you’d do … it’s laundry, ’cause laundry is a way of life,” she says. “It’s not the clothes, it’s towels and sheets, because every person you see, they have a shower, and so there’s a towel. I had an in-call in Vancouver I worked out of, three girls were there, the washer and dryer went 24/7. It’s a monumental amount of laundry, it was unreal.”

Melody says the community among escorts, which often involves whispers along review boards—”There’s a Yelp for [escorts]”—is particularly good in Alberta.

“Here, there’s meet-and-greets, and we had a barbecue in September. Everyone gets along … and there’s no drama, no crap, and everybody’s really friendly,” she says.

When it comes to staying safe, she relies on references from other girls. “I just screen, and when you’re working in places where there’s bylaw and stuff, I take references. You don’t see someone without a reference from another girl that you know,” she says.

And she relies on her gut instinct, which she says is always right.

“You’ve got to really fuck up to get caught. Just don’t be stupid, man. It’s not hard,” she says. “This is a terrible analogy, but if you watch Cops, every time you see them bust someone with like six kilos of cocaine in their trunk, it’s ’cause they ran a stop sign and got pulled over for a traffic violation. Just don’t be stupid!”

Melody has always been independent and she’s never seen human trafficking firsthand. While she doesn’t use drugs, there are some in the community that do.

“There’s all these stereotypes, right, and it holds true for some people but certainly not all, and unfortunately we all get painted with the same brush in that way,” she says. “It’s frustrating for me … people think that we come to the industry for the wrong reasons.”

While she speaks to advocates involved in the Supreme Court case on Canada’s prostitution laws, she says she’s been reading a bit, but is not as well-versed in it as they are.

There’s been a lot of discussion of what kind of new laws may be introduced, with “the Nordic model”—the philosophy in Sweden of targeting the buyers of sex rather than the sellers of sex—posed as an option.

“I don’t think it’ll affect me, if it does come into play, because all they have to do is go to a review and find out that I’ve been around for a while and I’m not a sting,” she says. “That, I don’t think, will affect the girls that are well established really, but I think it’ll really cut the flow of new people coming into the industry.”

In the debate over the new laws, critics like Minister of Justice Peter MacKay told the National Post that prostitutes are “predominantly victims.” Melody disagrees.

“It doesn’t objectify. It puts us in a position of power. Think about it: we’re not calling them, they’re calling us,” she says. “Girls have one-night-stands all the time, at least girls that work get paid for it. And who do you have more respect for? Honestly? Because she’s not getting money, do you have more respect for her? It doesn’t make sense.”

That being said, Melody says she’s considering transitioning out of the industry.

“It’s getting watered down, is what it is. There’s barely enough work for me,” she says. “It’s totally hit-and-miss, which is really frustrating, because you can go to one town and do really well and then return there and not see a single person the next time. And then you go there again and you do really well.”

Though it has a reputation for sex work, one town she’s crossed off her list is Fort McMurray.

“It’s too expensive and it’s too hit and miss. It’s a big gamble, and there are a lot of girls that don’t go there any more. You could do very well, but if you don’t, you’re losing a lot of money,” she says.

“You’re not getting rich. I’m not retiring on it, I’m doing it because I enjoy it right now. But it’s changing a lot; there’s a lot of new girls coming up and touring out here, and so work’s thinned right out.”

She’s been spending a lot more time in Cold Lake.

“I have a really close friend there, so I spend a lot of time with her,” she says. “Although I find that I don’t work [there] as much as I could, because I’m too busy having fun with my friend.”

As she gets ready to leave the restaurant, Melody gets a text from a client in Lloydminster, where she was the day before.

“This is one of the biggest frustrations for me: it seems like whenever you leave a town, your phone starts ringing for that town,” she says. “I’ve gambled on it a few times and stayed the extra day, and of course your phone doesn’t ring. It’s frustrating, so now I’ve realized, don’t gamble on it, just leave and if they want to call you when you come back they can.”

23 Comments

  • Finally, a refreshing honest look at the world’s oldest profession. It would be so useful if the federal politicians did their homework on this issue but sadly, they already have an agenda and their tiny minds made up. Standby for the “Nordic Model” which will drive prostitution further underground and make it more dangerous for the ladies.

  • Finally, a picture accompanying a sex work article that isn’t a young street worker in high heels leaning up against a car or a wall. two thumbs up

  • Way to go Mel!!!!
    So glad to see a story done on One of who has their stuff together!
    But sweety the nordic model DOES affect us.
    We pay taxes! At least I do!
    Why should we pay income tax when our clients are being vulnerable to being charged for seeing us?
    Who else has to be licenced and pay taxes yet their customers cannot legally facilitate their company? !
    That’s ridiculous!
    “Hey you can shop here what they sell is totally legal BUT you can be charged for buying it”

    Anyways happy travels beautiful!
    Xoxoxo
    Melody Merlot

  • HMMM Melody Merlot, how have you been paying taxes when you have been in THIS business for 4 months? do you treat it like a business or do your personal taxes? do you have a fiscal year? or just wing it? or are you hoping for a tax break with all your kids and hubby on your tax form?

    • ?
      I applied for a gst # and pay quarterly (gst)
      I set aside a certain percentage for when I have to pay income tax.
      Just like any other general contractor.
      And I have no idea about tax breaks hun, thats what accountants are for isnt it?
      I save receipts. ..I think the accountant does something with them…. and yes I have been back for a short time but please dont think for a moment im new to this industry.
      As soon as I started to consider coming back, I was looking into how to pay taxes.
      No point In making $ if its not taxed and reported

  • Ummmmm ms merlot where did you hear that the Nordic model has escorts licensed?
    That’s news to me!

      • No I was on the highway hun.
        I can admit I dont exactly know everything. …im cool like that :-)
        We are already required to be licenced, and believe it or not many womwn report the income and do pay taxes, so is that going to change?
        I was under the impression that basically would remain the same EXCEPT our clients can be charged for seeing us, so if there is more to it please let me know :-)
        I would never be so ignorant as to claim to know everything :-)
        Xoxo Mel

  • The condescending tone and preaching in your first post sure sing a different tune.
    Your first post actually makes no sense, there’s no linear logic there.

  • Also the licensing is only on a municipal level right now, the Supreme Court ruling will be a federal change.

  • O.o and what makes you think your any better tham me? At least I dont resort to name calling and childish behavior.
    I dont really understand the nordic model, and I admitted that.
    My point was (and maybe its NOT a good question I dunno!)

    If our clients can be charged for seeing us, why should we pay taxes?

    Thats like saying you can open a store but anyone who shops there can go to jail or be fined for shopping there.

    I dont understand why this comment brought so much hostility?

  • Pretty sure when you said “But sweety the nordic model DOES affect us.
    We pay taxes! At least I do!” in an attempt to discredit the lady in the article, you brought on the hostility.
    You also made it seem as though you understood the Nordic model, but the rest of your post made it clear you don’t.

    • No I didnt! Thats not at all what I meant, I have no clue about miss melodys tax status nor do I care, and you completely read that wrong.
      That being said I am not the best at communicating via forums.
      However; we (general we) have to report our income somehow, if you want to buy a car or a house ect you need to prove your income.
      If you pay in cash, the CRA will be looking Into it no doubt.
      I *personally* dont mind paying taxes, I mean it sucks.
      But such is life

      I in no way meant what I said as an attack on miss melody, who is in fact a person I have admired since my return to the industry, although we have yet to meet :-)

      My whole point was ; why should we get licenced as required and pay taxes as required, as any other business would, when anyone who facilitates our company can be charged?
      That just doesnt make sense.
      To me, personally.

      I hope we are cool? :-)

  • Whoa whoa whoa, guys, her original post was bad enough. Let’s not turn this into a three ring circus.

  • Prostitution needs to end. I respect no woman who sleeps with strange men, and in turn knowingly takes money away from his family unit. Women deserve better than to be bought and sold as disposable sex dolls. Some true gender equality in this country would be a welcome change. But ya, keep telling yourself that selling your soul to strange men double your age for creepy diddles is “okay”. Hopefully one day you will wake up.
    Oh and tricks…. NO woman enjoys your john sex. Trust me. If it weren’t for the money the vomit and tears would be spewing. Get a real relationship you creeps. You make us all sick. You’re stupid enough to believe the “oh ya baby” instead though. Sad fools.

    • You are really ‘gross’. You have no idea how gender equality is achieved, obviously. It’s not through denying women options just because you don’t like one of the options. It’s not by forcing women further underground placing their lives at MORE risk. Essentially, you are arguing that you are giving women more options by LIMITING them. All of this is VERY similar to what Harper has done with women who wear the burqa. He wants to make it a crime to cover one’s face during a swearing in ceremony, without considering that this may put women who don’t wear it by choice in a potentially abusive situation. Or that, even if a woman DOES wear it by choice, you are definitely limiting *a woman’s* options. That isn’t achieving gender equality, after all, it’s still oppressing women, just that these women happen to be of a different faith than you, this time. Oops.

      This ‘respect yourself’ meme has also got to go. After all, it’s a double standard that is only ever applied to women. It also only ever blames the woman, as you just oh-so-conveniently proved, at the end, there. GROSS.

      Finally, did you even read the article? After all, in the article, near the TOP, they mentioned single guys. How is he taking away money away from the family unit? What about guys who are disabled and lack companionship because of bigoted people like you? Are they not supposed to have sex or something? WOW.

  • Hey out there.Y don’t u listen to someone who’s been in the trenches,like miss Merlot.She’s bin in the industry.for yrs and knows first hand what she’s talking bout.Unlike u who has probably never had a real sexual fulfilling relationship.Come on already and wake up.Prostition has been around since the beginning of man and always will b.So y not accept it already?Bye!!!

    • This article is not about her, it’s about a totally different girl. Ms Merlot just jumped on the coattails here.

      • Um, Mel didn’t say this was the same person. Why isn’t Original jumping on you for your lack of reading comprehension skills? Oh, that’s right, because they’re the one who doesn’t have reading comprehension skills, lacks any form of ‘linear logic’ or compassion and is an immense bigot.

        • Whoa whoa whoa, who made you an expert on the lady mentioned in the article?
          You talk like you actually know her, beyond what you’ve read online.
          Sting words for an anonymous poster in the comments section of an article that’s well over a year old.

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