“A prostitute is no different from an athlete or a construction worker.”
That’s what social escort “Courtesan Cara” believes. The petite and curvy 28-year-old, who goes by her trade name, hopes to change perceptions about the industry – especially the stigma attached to those who sell their bodies for cash.
Wearing a floral dress and white sneakers to her interview with Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore, Cara comes across as intelligent, opinionated and eloquent. Sitting down with this reporter at an Orchard Road cafe, she openly shares her stories and is so pleasant to talk to that the meeting lasts well beyond the venue’s closing time.
Having been in the trade for more than three years, Cara has no qualms admitting that social escorting is prostitution.
“I think anyone who has sex with money is a prostitute, people want to sugar coat it of course,” she says, referring to other escorts who claim that they are selling time and companionship.
“At the end of the day, make no mistake, I am a prostitute.” Yet, she sees nothing wrong with using her body for cash. A social escort is no different from an athlete who endorses advertisements and construction workers who use their physique,” Cara adds. “You use your body in an intimate way, but people see it in a negative light.”
“The takeaway is that people are not defined by what they do or who they sleep with… we’re just regular people. Just because we do intimate acts with our body does not make us less human.”
While prostitution is not illegal in Singapore, the solicitation of sexual services is prohibited. “High-class” escorts like Cara do not hit the streets but advertise their business through slick, professionally set-up websites.
Cara’s site reveals snippets of her personality along with snapshots of her body, but not her face. It states that she provides an “intimate girlfriend experience”, albeit one that comes with a hefty price tag. Her rates range from $600 an hour to $2,800 for a 12- to 14-hour sessions.
Discretion’s the word
While the money is good, Cara’s double-life is shrouded in secrecy as she feels her friends and family would never accept her lifestyle. Only four of her closest friends know about her escort work. An only child, Cara says her parents would never understand what she does.
“That’s the one thing I worry most about: my family finding out. For me, I’m not personally ashamed of what I do… but if my family were to find out they will be upset,” she admits.
Cara is one of many “high-class” escorts working discreetly in Singapore. For this story alone, some six out of eight such escorts contacted declined to be interviewed. One agreed and answered some queries before pulling out of the interview as she felt “uncomfortable” about going on the record.
Cara, like some others, only does social escorting as a sideline business. She has held a compliance job since graduating with a business degree and arranges escorting rendezvous with her clients at night. She says she got into escorting four to five years ago as she was “really bored” and had been inspired by a book about a woman who became a sugar baby.
After placing an advertisement for companionship on Craigslist, she received such an overwhelming response that she decided to add a financial element to her plans.
“I honestly thought, What joker is going to pay you Cara?’ I thought they would balk, but guys asked me how much I wanted.”
She decided to turn professional a few years later and set up her own website. Her first client, an American, helped her with the photographs for it. Till this day, the client remains her good friend.
It’s about ‘job satisfaction’
For Cara, who says she comes from a relatively well-off family, escort work is not primarily about making money but is more about attaining “job satisfaction”.
“I don’t get a lot of satisfaction from my day job. In fact, the clients (from my day job) hate me because I come in and I tell them what they’re doing wrong,” she says.
Not needing to do escort work for the money is an important factor for Cara as it means she can afford to be picky about her clients. Being an escort to pay off one’s debts or as a full-time job puts one in a precarious position, she says.
“If someone didn’t pass my screening it’s easy to say I’m not interested, whereas someone who needs the money might be forced into a situation that might be potentially dangerous,” she adds. The escort has managed to avoid unpleasant encounters so far as she’s able to seed out aggressive or rude characters by conversing with them by email and text before meeting them.
There is no denying that escort work is a lucrative business, however. While Cara earns $70,000 to $80,000 per year from her compliance work, she says she rakes in more from her social escorting.
When asked if she thought of becoming a full-time social escort, the self-described “people pleaser” pointed that one has a limited shelf life in this line of work. “You can’t rely on your looks for a long time, eventually you get old,” she says.
However, she maintains that it is dangerous for those still in their early 20s to earn so much as it is easy for them be trapped in a particular lifestyle.
“It is hard to leave when the money comes in and they become more vulnerable,” she says, adding that she had no issues with giving up her escort work.
“For me, the moment this becomes a chore or too troublesome, or I’ve had enough, I would happily give it up. There would be things I miss about it but it’s a phase in my life and when I’m ready to move on, I hope I recognise that time,” she says.
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