Sex workers reveal how they're getting creative after brothel shutdown

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Alice Little, the USA's highest-paid legal sex worker, says workers are getting creative as brothels shut down. Photo: Instagram/thealicelittleofficial

Sex workers have revealed the ways they are getting creative in the time of coronavirus, as lockdowns see brothels, strip clubs and other venues closed in Australia and around the world.

With some experts concerned sex workers will be unable to earn or access welfare payments in Australia, many workers are now turning to alternative online work in a bid to keep their incomes coming.

Alice Little, America’s highest-paid sex worker, tells Yahoo Lifestyle the pandemic is an opportunity for many workers to return to old specialties.

“Everyone including the legal sex workers are going to have to be willing to pivot into new opportunities and adapt at least in the short term to the fact that right now the most responsible thing we can do is practise social distancing,” she says, adding there’s ‘all sorts’ of innovations happening.

In the US, full-service sex work is only legal in some parts of Nevada.

In Australia, sex work is legal in the ACT and largely legal (brothels and private work) in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. In South Australia and Western Australia brothels are illegal, and sex work is criminalised. Tasmania and the Northern Territory have very specific regulations around legal sex work.

A brave new online world

Alice has swapped to online dates with clients. photo: Instagram/thealicelittleofficial

Alice says in light of the lockdown many co-workers have returned to old lines of work, with a huge focus on online porn, web cam live videos and phone sex.

“Some of my co-workers are very well known porn stars so they are switching their focus to create online content within those spaces,” she says, adding others are turning to in-person online services.

“I have some ladies who had previously worked as cam girls who are working to reintroduce themselves into that part of the world.”

As for her own work, she is moving dates online, saying that other ladies are focusing on modelling opportunities.

“Some guests are choosing to set up virtual video dates,” she says, explaining that she will often set up a picnic with food and wine, or watch a movie with someone via video link.

“[We’re] really taking advantage of technology in creative ways.”

Online services like porn and web cams are spiking. Photo: Getty Images

Rosie Renee, a WA-based cam girl told Yahoo Lifestyle ‘many new faces are now entering into online sex work’.

Adult film stars Kate Kennedy and Joslyn Jane both told the New York Post they are seeing a huge jump in subscribers and income, as well as new playing joining the online camming world.

Dr Alice Orchiston is a lecturer at the University of NSW and an expert in sex industry law, she says the move to online is the right one as in-person services are no longer safe.

“The best way to reduce transmission is to no longer provide in-person sexual services,” she says. “The virus can be transmitted via mucus, saliva and faecal matter, and it’s impossible to maintain a safe distance while having sex”.

Going online a unique risk for some

Aussie Taylor Tara says switching to online is far from simple for many. Photo: Supplied

Mature sex worker Taylor Tara, however, tells Yahoo Lifestyle she is now seeking alternative income after she decided her in-person services were no longer safe, but says for many, swapping to online work is not as simple as it may seem.

“A lot of people have changed to camming, but having said that if they don’t have somewhere to work to do that, if they're a home person or they have kids, they can’t do that from home,” she points out.

Alice agrees, saying different kinds of sex work are seriously misunderstood by many.

“There is a dramatic difference in the different lines of sex work,” she says.

“To be a legal full-service sex worker doesn’t mean you’re going to make a great cam girl or phone operator.”

Dr Orchiston points out that for many, the swap to online is not an option, given the stigma and exposure for workers who keep their sex work a secret.

“It will be very difficult for many sex workers to do video because it exposes them to risk of being recorded or screenshotted and many keep their work a secret,” she says. “In addition, some may not have access to places where they could film or livestream because they live with other people.”

Pornhub reported a spike of 14% in Italy following the lockdown, and online cam workers have also revealed a spike in business.

Unexpected shift

Alice says demand for very basic connection is set to increase after the pandemic. Photo: Instagram/ thealicelittleofficial

Perhaps most surprising is how demand is changing under the unprecedented global shutdown.

Alice says she has noticed a marked difference in what it is her clients are looking for these days.

“Previously people would ask for threesomes or costumes [for example],” she says. “At this point, we’re seeing people go from a want or a desire to a really specific need, and that’s that of intimacy.”

She says many of her clients have reached out with surprisingly simple requests.

“Many of my guests are emailing me saying just as soon as this is over, all I want to do is lay in bed and cuddle,” she says. “[They] just want to be held.”

“Right now as physical touch is becoming increasingly rare, people aren’t getting that very real need met.”

She says she expects there will be a surge in very simple services after the pandemic.

“We are all going to feel the very real effects of being isolated,” she says.

“I expect there to be, on the other end of this, an increase in demand for legal sex workers, and an increase in those seeking simple touch. Not even sexual, but just the raw feeling of it.”

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