by Peter Berton
If meritorious medals were ever presented to sex workers (and considering how much they give to others, the idea is a good one), then Simone Loren would win the Gold Medal for Public Service. That’s because Simone has been a committed and professional sex worker for the past 20 years.
In that time she’s had many amazing experiences, and learned a great deal about herself, clients, and the business in general.
Here’s my interview with Simone Loren. (Note: You can also hear her being interviewed on Sienna Hunter’s The Escort Deconstructed podcast; well worth the listen!)
Peter Berton: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Simone Loren: I am a sex worker based in the Toronto area. I like to describe myself as “an aide memoire to the classic international movie starlets of the past”, because I’ve frequently been told that I “remind” people of actresses like Sophia Loren, Gina Lollabridgida, Claudia Cardinale, and more recently Monica Belluci.
I think it is more of an energy comparison than a doppelganger likeness, but I do possess the dark, smoky Mediterranean looks, sly smile, quick wit and air of easy sensuality wrapped in mystery that can be attributed to these amazing women.
Peter Berton: How and why did you decide to join the profession?
Simone Loren: I’ve always been a bit of an outlier in my rather conservative family, and someone who embraced rather than downplayed their sensuality. At 18, I got a job bartending at a now defunct strip club because I needed to work to pay for university, and I thought it rebellious at the time. During school, I continued bartending, which evolved into dancing for a short time, and then progressed very naturally for me into escorting.
Peter Berton: You’ve stayed with sex work for 20 years. What keeps the career worthwhile for you?
Simone Loren: This career is so much like any other, and then in other ways, so distinct.
In the course of my career in sex work, I have also held other forms of employment, including two very lucrative positions in corporate finance for a multinational company, and in real estate.
As above-board as these careers were, I was always made to feel less-than for being a young woman in those particular fields. My many successes never felt good, although they were hard earned, because of the workplace dynamic that breeds itself in other contemporary vocations.
The last straw for me was a poignant moment after breaking a national company record and receiving a notable promotion in the shortest time in company history. It was disclosed to me in error that male new hires were coming on board for entry level positions with little to no experience (at this point I was at a management level, travelling between countries), and yet were earning more than I was in my new title.
I’d had it.
While I did enjoy some aspects of corporate life, I did and still do enjoy more aspects of sex work. It can easily be equally lucrative, and as an independent escort I am able to control every single detail surrounding my work.
I am a business owner and make short and long-term decisions every day regarding branding, advertising, networking, budgeting, life/work balance, and everything in between. You are responsible for your own safety, your sanity, and your service level, whatever that may be.
It is not easy work, but it is your own and something to be proud of.
Peter Berton: So what keeps you going?
Simone Loren: What keeps it worthwhile to me is the ability to run my own business, the sense of empowerment, the freedom and flexibility it allows me to pursue other interests outside of sexwork, and the amazing relationships I have been able to cultivate along the way, both with wonderful clients and amazing industry friends.
Peter Berton: What are the best and worst parts of being a sex worker? And how have things changed over the past 20 years?
Simone Loren: Things have changed so much over the past 20 years.
My favourite change has got to be the widespread use of the internet. Although it was around at the time I started, there were only one or two places to advertise and they were not well-suited for everyone. There is more of a sense of community now, with screening and ready access to dangerous offender info becoming the norm, despite lawmakers taking these away from us at every opportunity.
Back when I began, it was “place your ad in the newspaper and cross your fingers”. It was at times very isolating.
There are far more tools in place for us to work safely and build connections now, but we still have a very, very long way to go in terms of being fully recognized in the public eye as contributing members of society who are deserving of the same rights as anyone else.
The downside to this advancement is time management. I think this could be said for virtually any career.
Before social media for advertising became a thing, I would spend about 30 minutes a day on marketing, if that. Now that we live so much of our lives online, it is hard to separate yourself from work and focus on taking the time you need to recharge and practice self care.
The worst thing about being a sex worker is the negative stigma associated with it.
Peter Berton: Quite right; how do you deal with the stigma that other people assign to sex work?
Simone Loren: There is no other way to say it; stigma sucks. It is unequivocally the worst thing about sex work.
It sucks for advertising, because I feel the need to blur my face to avoid personal backlash. (I am more concerned for my family than for me specifically, but I digress.) I need to hide my face to ensure that I am able to travel freely. I know that my face is my best feature, so to not be able to use that in my advertising is frustrating and dehumanizing.
It sucks because it allows people to take advantage of sex workers and place our lives in danger, because we can fear repercussions for speaking up for ourselves or taking necessary steps to ensure our safety.
It sucks because although I have personally never had an encounter where I felt unsafe or afraid, I still have letters written to my children for if something should ever happen to me, explaining why I do what I do and that I love them and to remember all of me.
I do this because stigma says that should something ever happen to me at work, the newspapers will only use words like “hooker”, “escort” and “prostitute” and forget about “daughter”, “sister”, “loving mother”, “friend”, “entrepreneur”, “philanthropist”, and any of the other words that encompass all of the other facets of a person.
If our worst fears were to ever come true, we are reduced to what stigma allows and erased otherwise, and that must change.
It sucks because it allows and even in some cases, encourages, people to associate sex trafficking with consensual sex work, and that is ignorant and dangerous.
I deal with it by trying my best to educate those who have questions, and I try to be upfront with what I do wherever possible.
It is emotionally and mentally exhausting to continually be defending and explaining your choices, and in some cases people won’t even try to understand. But we keep marching on in hope of change.
I deal with it by sharing my story wherever possible when asked, such as articles like this one, and sex worker podcasts. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people in your network is also helpful to me, and I am lucky in the sense that I have a good support system in place of people who love me and are supportive, not just tolerant, of my ideals and choices.
Peter Berton: What are some of the best and most unique experiences you’ve had with clients?
Simone Loren: I could write a book, but discretion won’t allow it!
Kidding aside, I enjoy 99% of my experiences with clients. I’ve crafted my advertising over the years to appeal to the sort of people I enjoy spending time with, which is so much more fun for me.
I love exploring what makes the mind work. We all understand anatomy and what goes where, but if you can figure out the why and the how as it relates to the individual and then have it evolve seamlessly, it brings a certain chemistry and connectivity to a session that is more elusive. This is more readily achieved with longer dates, which allow a more natural progression of affection.
Perhaps one of the more unique experiences for me is longevity. I take great pride in cultivating repeat clientele and have clients that I have been seeing for 10+years, who I am very lucky to know!
Peter Berton: What have you learned about the psychology of clients over the years; both good and bad?
Simone Loren: The psychology behind the client/escort relationship is something that has always fascinated me, so much so that a few years ago I enrolled in university again to study psychology further. There are countless reasons why people seek out a paid professional for companionship in the first place, and a myriad of possible expectations or outcomes that a client could be seeking.
This is why, for me, branding is so important. I hope to attract people that want the benefit of the type of experience I truly enjoy providing. There is no right or wrong way to be a sex worker, but experience has taught me that if I am genuinely enjoying myself and my time with someone, that shows, and people appreciate that.
I also take great pride at being able to provide a tailored affair, which requires time and effort, and that is one of the reasons I enjoy dinner/longer dates for a first meeting. It allows conversation to flow naturally, and quite often we can uncover desires that the other party didn’t even know they had. The stimulation of the mind before the body, in my opinion, leads to a truer and more fulfilling encounter each and every time.
I have also always had a very strict “no phone” policy, which means I communicate via email only when making arrangements. Not only does it eliminate being disturbed at inopportune times, but I feel I can tell a lot about a person from an introductory email/email exchange.
I pay attention to things like their wording, and terminology they use: How do they refer to me, and to the experience they hope to have, and to themselves? Are they graphic, rude, entitled or misogynistic, or do they appreciate nuance and take the time to read through the website before contacting me? All of these things are indicative to me on a psychological level of how this person’s behaviour will be one on one, and whether they are seeking companionship from a place of mutual respect and desire, or with ill intent or non-compatibility.
Peter Berton: Long-term relationships are said to be the bedrock of escort financial success. What are your thoughts about them?
Simone Loren: Maintaining long-term relationships with clients can sometimes be psychologically challenging, as occasionally feelings beyond the escort/client relationship can develop and they can begin to blur the lines in their mind. I believe this can be a natural progression, but it is my job to remain professional and remind them of why the relationship works in the first place; because of the framework it exists in, and the spoken and unspoken boundaries that allow us to explore without fear of judgement and interference of “real life”.
It can be a very delicate space to exist in, because you are being genuine and happy, but it is still an exchange-based relationship, and still “work”. It can be mind-blowing, fun, passionate and exciting, but ultimately it is my job to evoke those emotions and feelings, and this can be confusing at times for some.
Peter Berton: Is there a ‘Best Before’ date associated with being a sex worker? Or can it be an evolving lifetime career?
Simone Loren: If there is one, I have yet to encounter it! Each year that passes is better for me in so many ways.
Every year of experience brings more assuredness in my choices, better stability, more learning about myself and others, and more relatable clientele. I am in better shape now than ever as this work has allowed me the time, energy and means to focus on personal betterment on a consistent basis, and I feel great and always attempt to look my best.
I admire ladies of all age ranges, and am so happy to see success at every level. The concept of ageing out of the industry doesn’t make sense to me, because there is a desire for every look, body type, and age range, depending on the client and what kind of person and overall experience they are looking for.
Peter Berton: How does your work life and schedule as a sex worker today compare to when you were starting out? Has your clientele changed?
Simone Loren: As a younger sex worker, I still enjoyed what I was doing but lacked the life experience to fully immerse myself in the experience. After I finished school I worked a lot, mostly shorter appointments, and often saw multiple clients in a day. Because I didn’t have other obligations, that was fine with me.
When I was entertaining another career at the same time, there was more planning involved as my time was limited, and at that point I realized that advanced planning was something I really enjoyed. The clientele were a little bit more reliable, there was an aspect of anticipation that I very much enjoyed, and it felt less stressful.
After that point, even after returning to full time sex work, I put an emphasis on pre-booking for dates which makes it more enjoyable. I have other obligations now that take precedence, so I am more appreciative of pre-planning as it allows me to structure my days and weeks in advance.
Similarly, over the last few years multi-hour/day/travel appointments have become more popular as the clientele that seek me out are more about building long-term relationships, which I am very passionate about. This was not as common for me when I was younger, and I’m sure it’s a culmination of branding and experience, along with clients taking a different approach to what their needs and expectations truly are. While I do still entertain shorter appointments, it is increasingly rare for them to be requested, and for my schedule to allow for them.
I see more couples and single women nowadays than when I was younger as well, and I believe that more relaxed views on sex work as a viable option for exploration and companionship helps immensely in this regard. Couples often say that they prefer someone in their own age range as they find it sometimes difficult to converse with and relate to someone much younger than they are, and it can aid in their comfort when trying something new to select someone experienced who clearly enjoys what they do.
Peter Berton: What advice would you have for other sex workers interested in making this their career?
Simone Loren: If you are looking at sex work as a career, as opposed to a short-term stepping stone on the way to other things, it’s important to build capital to aid in your retirement, if and when that day should come.
We are in a position where if we are not able to work, we don’t get paid. So being smart with your money is to me probably the best and most blanket advice I could give!
Get a good accountant, sound financial advice, and think both short AND long-term.
Stay informed about the industry as knowledge is power, and wherever possible surround yourself with supportive people.
Peter Berton: Do you intend to keep going as a sex worker indefinitely?
Simone Loren: I wouldn’t say indefinitely, as everything good comes to an end. I have no imminent plans for retirement though, and can see myself working happily until early retirement age.
I hope to end up on a Caribbean island somewhere to live out the rest of my days on the beach when the time comes!