(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)
Charlotte Rose recently won a British Erotic Award as Sex Worker of the Year.
She had just come back from Cuba when I talked to her two days ago via Skype.
“I’ve got a busy morning,” she told me. “I’ve been able to squeeze my dog into the vet’s at 9 o’clock; somebody’s coming to fix my washing machine; and then Channel 5 TV are giving me a call.”
“How was Cuba?” I asked.
“It was fantastic, but I did slice my knee and I sliced the tip of my toe off in the swimming pool.”
“A shark attack in the swimming pool?” I asked.
“There must be something there with massively over-sized teeth,” laughed Charlotte Rose, “because it really did take a chunk out of my toe. I can’t recall what happened but a lot of things apparently happen in that pool.”
“Were you in Cuba on holiday or for professional reasons?” I asked.
“Holiday,” she replied “I went with a colleague that I work with. Havana is fantastic and the people are fantastic. I’ve got about nine new husbands. The old-fashioned Cadillacs – all the cars – are fantastic. And the Che Guevara Museum was amazing. But what was really interesting was the red light district. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of girls there… and lady boys and gay boys.”
“I’m amazed,” I said. “I’ve never been to Cuba, but I wouldn’t have thought the regime would allow a red light district.”
“They tolerate it,” explained Charlotte Rose. “It’s policed. If you get caught, then you’re arrested. You’ve got cameras on every corner, but there are no cameras on the red light road itself. Over there, the women are quite reserved. There’s no sex before marriage. It’s very Catholic. But, because they’re an equal society, a taxi driver will earn 25 pesos a month and a teacher will earn 25 pesos a month. Our £ is worth about 1.50 pesos and those people are getting 25 pesos a month to live on. A prostitute over there will get 25 pesos for the hour. So, in my opinion, 90% of the women over there will do it with a tourist just to top up their wages.”
“Someone like the Daily Mail ,” I suggested, “would say Oh, prostitutes. Terrible people. But you would say…?”
“I love what I do,” said Charlotte Rose. “People have their own definition of what the word stands for. But it’s how somebody does it. It’s how somebody conducts themselves.
“At the end of the day, what I do is I give the opportunity for people to feel passion and pleasure and intimacy in their lives for a certain amount of time. The bonus I get out of it is knowing I have left that person with such a huge smile on their face and I’m the reason behind that smile. But, like any industry, you get the good and the bad.”
“The Daily Mail,” I said, “would go on about girls being kidnapped in Romania, brought here and forced into prostitution… or prostitutes are all drug addicts… No girl would do it of her own volition…”
“They should come and visit me,” suggested Charlotte Rose, “and I will give them Devon’s finest GFE and I will show them my arms. Yes, we do have the bad side of the industry. Young children, drug addicts, yes, unfortunately, yes. But, if you look at the banking industry, there are nice bankers who enjoy their job and we’ve got bankers who are wankers.
“The stories that come out in the papers are always A prostitute was killed in Surrey. Twenty young Cuban girls… You don’t see in the paper Oh, there’s Charlotte Rose, Sex Worker of the Year Award. Fantastic the amount of work she’s doing within the sex industry. Why not?
“I’ve got a Bachelor in Science degree. I moved to Exeter to become a teacher. I realised I don’t like kids – 15-year-old kids don’t want to learn – I did my PGCE, the basic teaching qualification. My degree’s in Hospitality. I’m trained to run a 7-star, 500-bedroom hotel.”
“Why did you become an escort?” I asked.
“I’m very highly-sexed. I detest the idea of picking someone up in a bar. I think it’s dirty. I think it’s seedy. So why not join an agency and get paid for it? I absolutely loved it. I was funding my businesses and I was doing something I enjoyed. I stayed with an agency for a year and then got an apartment and went into escorting independently and never looked back.
“I have a certain minimum that I see each day. I’ve built-up fantastic rapports with lots of my clients. I do a lot of sexual training and relationship coaching. I have clients who see me for troubles in their own relationships. They’ve got me on a retainer. If they have an argument at home, they can phone me and I can coach them. I have clients who come and see me for social skills, because they’re too afraid to do basic chit-chat with people.
“Every fantasy and fetish gets thrown at me and, if it’s something that I can accommodate, I will. It all boils down to If I can make somebody happy, then I will.”
“So,” I said, “you recently won this Erotic Award as Sex Worker of the Year. Why did you get that?”
“Because I’m awesome!” laughed Charlotte Rose. “I really love my job and it shows. I’m very passionate about people. I work a lot with disabled people. I work with anybody that wants and needs intimacy and passion in their lives. That’s one of the things I push my business towards. I’m not an escort for a quick fuck for fifteen minutes. My minimum term is an hour. We have a cup of tea together, sit down and talk, get to know each other, relax, then shower and enjoy each other’s company. If I can give somebody the opportunity to feel intimacy, pleasure and passion in their lives, then that’s me happy. I say I work with the three Ps – I work with passion, professionalism and people.”
“Have you reaped any benefits from your Erotic Award?”
“Well, all the regular people I work with think it’s fantastic and I should be working with Channel 5 in the up-and-coming months with regards to the sexual training I offer. So everything’s getting there. Exciting stuff. I was supposed to have worked with Channel 4 on the Sex On Wheels programme, but I pulled out at the last minute because I do have a family and the things that I do… It just wasn’t ready at that point in my life able to go nationally public. But the way things are going now…
“The National Ugly Mugs scheme sends out information about dangerous clients to people, but it doesn’t record people who waste your time and having that information is just as valuable. If a client genuinely messes me about, I can upload his phone number onto the website. If he then tries to book with someone else, she can look up his number on the website and it won’t show his number but it will say whether he’s been entered as a time waster. It also has a star system on it to tell you how many times the man has been entered.
“What’s the idea behind the Sexual Training website?” I asked.
“To give sexual training,” laughed Charlotte Rose.
“In what way?” I persisted.
“It’s more to do with sexual surrogacy,” she explained. “I’ve been working with ICASA (the Centre for Intuition, Consciousness And Self Awareness) in regards to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. There was a client of mine who suffered with premature ejaculation. Just a simple stroke of the arm could make him explode. But, using different therapy techniques, we’ve gone from 3 seconds to 17 minutes.
“I’m not trained in psychology but I am, at the moment, looking for a psychologist I could possibly work with in the future.”
“The Channel 5 show should get you a bit of publicity,” I said.
“We are looking for people to be on the show,” said Charlotte Rose, “but I don’t want it to damage the discretion I have. We are looking for a man in his 40s who has never had sex; a couple; and a disabled client.”
“I don’t think I count for any of those,” I said.
“You could mention in your blog that there’s going to be a TV show on sexual surrogacy and Channel 5 is looking for those three types of people…
“I just think it’s absolutely fantastic that I’ve got an award for what I do. You get all these achievements for the Best Teacher of the Year, the Best Accountant of the Year and people in my profession go un-noticed. It’s only the bad that gets noticed. The message I want to get out is that I’m proud of what I do.”
“And you’ve a busy life,” I said.
“Yes,” said Charlotte Rose, “I’m going to have to put a note on my door to the guy who’s fixing my washing machine to say I’m on an emergency run to the vet.”