In his tell-all biography, Australian male escort Ryan James takes readers behind the scenes of his provocative world of sex and lust – to discover how a twenty-something, clean-cut, blonde bloke from the suburbs ditched a career in finance to star in over 150 adult films and find success in the lucrative work of male escorting. This insider look at the sex industry explores all the myths and misconceptions surrounding it, as well as his personal journey…
When people hear ‘male escort’ and ‘porn star’, they sometimes make some pretty interesting assumptions about what my life has been up to now. A lot of people think I must have been the popular kid, a smooth talker, super charismatic and great with girls. Sometimes they think I must have had a poor upbringing filled with abuse and neglect that led me to seek out sex work as a form of validation, like I was the male version of a girl with daddy issues.
Anyone who’s ever thought any of those things in relation to me is wrong. In my line of work, I’ve travelled the world, been treated to excellent meals and taken some fabulous holidays. But perhaps the best thing is that I get to meet a really diverse group of people who come from all walks of life. I get to find out about their jobs and their lives and what makes them tick. It’s made me realise that, while everyone is unique, we’re all really more alike than we are different.
I’ve had clients who were high-powered businesswomen and multimillionaires who came into their money some other way, and I’ve had clients on an average wage. I’ve had clients who were students only working part time or who’d had to save up for a couple of months to come and see me. I’ve had clients who work in medicine and law, who are top ranking CEOs, other escorts, lesbians, virgins, who work in the film industry, who work in journalism, one or two celebrities. But at the end of the day, they’ve all had similar thoughts and feelings and desires and issues.
You might be tempted to think my background must have been like a scene out of Fifty Shades of Grey. If you’ve ever given much thought to what type of person might eventually become a male escort, chances are your assumptions are likely nothing like what my life has been. In the first part of this book, I’ll tell you about my life growing up (I’d be willing to bet you’ll be surprised), my early career and how I made the transition into the adult industry.
I’ll also devote a couple of chapters to a relationship I had that had a huge impact on my life, one in which I experienced emotional and physical abuse. I want to share this part of my story for a couple of reasons: one is that this experience was very influential in my life, but more because I learned a lot about the cycle of abuse, how abusers lure their victims, how the cycle repeats itself and what you can do to break that cycle (or perhaps recognise signs that someone you know might be going through something similar). If telling my story can help someone else, then I want to do whatever I can to pass on what I’ve learned to others.
There’s a lot of judgement surrounding sex work and the adult industry, and I’ll admit that some of that judgement has been well earned. I’ll tell you about the darker side of the business. It’s no secret that sex workers aren’t always treated with respect and that their safety isn’t always the highest priority to the people who manage them or to law enforcement. Decriminalising the industry has helped a lot in this regard.
Then there’s the judgement that comes from societal hang ups surrounding sex in general. A lot of people have very conservative views of who should be having sex with whom and how and when and where. I know for a fact, though, that some of society’s most highly respected members – the ones who insist they are as pure as the driven snow in public – are the same ones who are off having a wild time in private with escorts like me. The good news is that attitudes are changing and not everyone in the world associates sex with shame. I’ll share my thoughts on sex positivity.
The sort of work I do has been called ‘the oldest profession in the world’ and that’s not too far off. There are Sumerian records of professional prostitution dating back to 2400 BCE, and around 450 BCE the Greek historian Herodotus documented temples and shrines in the Ancient Near East where sacred prostitution was common. From the Greek hetaerae to the Japanese oiran and geisha to the Indian tawaif, courtesanery and sex work have been prevalent in just about every culture in the world. You could argue that it’s simply human nature. Just ask Keith Chen, an economist from Yale who conducted several experiments with capuchin monkeys alongside psychologist Laurie Santos (there was an article about it called ‘Monkey Business’ in the June 5, 2005 issue of The New York Times Magazine). The experiments were designed to see if the monkeys could learn to use currency and at one point, one of the monkeys threw the entire batch of coins into the cage. The monkeys had learned that they could trade their coins for food, but they also learned something else – Chen just happened to notice ‘out of the corner of his eye’ one monkey paying another monkey for sex. It’s no surprise that sex work has been around for so long. There are a lot of reasons why someone might want to hire an escort. I’ll talk about some of the clients I’ve seen (anonymously, of course – your secrets are safe with me) and why they chose to take the professional route rather than shoot the dice in a nightclub. For now, I’ll just say that, when it’s done ethically and safely, sex work doesn’t have to be the taboo many people think it is.
I’ve seen every side of this industry, the highs and the lows. I’ve been the top male performer in Australia and I’ve had my life savings cleaned out. I’ve made some great friends and been on the receiving end of domestic abuse. I’ve seen people with great attitudes towards this type of work and people, both within and outside the industry, who maybe aren’t always that positive. I can’t speak for everyone in the industry. I can only talk about my own experience as a male escort who only sees female clients. Other types of sex workers would have a different story to tell. But I would venture a guess that most people – even the ones who have had some experience as a client – have a lot of misconceptions about what happens behind the scenes in the adult industry. It’s not every day you get to take a look into the life of a male escort and porn star. For anyone who’s ever wondered, now’s your chance.
A MEMOIR OF A MALE ESCORT by Ryan James, New Holland Publishers RRP $29.99, is available from all good bookstores or at www.newhollandpublishers.com
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