Prostitution #YXE: An escort's take on adult services and legislation protecting them
Madison keeps her iPhone in its funky purple case close by as she orders lunch -- she doesn't want to miss any calls.
"People who know me in my regular, square life would never imagine that I do this," said the 24 year old, who isn’t using her real name.
The high-end escort stayed at the Bessborough in Saskatoon for five days only as part of her third visit to the city in the past eight months. The majority of her clients in this city are either blue collar or "white I.T. guys."
Every time Madison sets up in a new location she places an ad on a popular escort website, she also emails and texts a few of her regulars to let them know she's in town. But, she said, the most effective way to attract new clientele is through forums, where men rate the girls they have been with. The better your rating, the more you can charge.
The self-described “curvy-exotic” escort charges $280 per hour -- a far cry from what the addicted prostitute working the streets in Saskatoon makes.
"You also have girls that have tons of reviews and are very well known, so then they can command a higher price. I eventually want to get to that point in my career," she said.
People have this idea that you must have been abused, be drug addicted or have daddy issues, she said.
But the Toronto native grew up in a strong family, with immigrant parents who pushed her to focus on education. She has a degree in political science and was working in a call centre before her best friend convinced her to join the escort business.
"The idea that I'm selling my body is so hilarious to me because I don't do that. I still have my body -- I haven't sold it to anybody. No one else owns it."
She said that it's her time she's selling.
"I'm in this position and in this occupation because it's my choice and I enjoy it,” she said.
"Do I have guys that come in and objectify me? Absolutely. Do I have guys that I never want to see again? Sure. But if those were the majority of the guys that I saw, I wouldn't still be doing this."
While Madison can walk away at any point, Saskatoon has recently passed a bylaw aimed at protecting women who are in the industry, but not by choice.
"There's this misconception that what we're trying to do is basically be the next Amsterdam -- create a red light district," said Const. Rob Lechner, with the vice unit of the Saskatoon Police Service.
"What we're trying to do here is put more controls on it, make it harder for people to set up shop, make it harder for people to get in the sex trade."
Before the adult services bylaw was passed, police had no regulation or controls to check in on women advertising as escorts or lingerie models, he said.
"This gives us something to make sure these girls here are not minors, are not individuals that are trafficked, being exploited. It gives us an element to go in and check these people and protect them," he said.
In her eight months of travelling the country as an escort, Madison said she has never come across an underage girl in the circles she's in.
"I think that is really detrimental, because you expel all these resources on trying to get someone like me to stop working, when those resources could be used to help someone else who has a drug problem or who's been abused," she said.
"We just want to be treated with respect and we don't want to be demonized for our personal choices."
For more on Prostitution #YXE:
Part 1: Underage sex sells in the city
Part 2: Seeing sex work through the eyes of VICE
Part 3: Getting caught buying sex lands johns a trip to school
Part 4: An inside look at life working the streets
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