What. A. Year.

Well, well, well. I embarked on this adventure (this…Shae-venture?!) last May, and so much has happened since then.

I dove, headfirst, into being a companion in New York. I started from zero. Website, photos, reputation, client base — all built up from scratch.

I pulled out my suitcase and embarked on a few self-guided, self-administered tours: to Michigan, Philadelphia and San Francisco. I flew to Texas for a special client. I went to Montreal for a photoshoot.

I painted the town red with my clients; stayed in; quaffed champagne; ate delicious food; laughed, cried, found common ground, watched a little bit of South Park, drank wine out of a can, almost set a hotel room on fire, and everything in between.

On and off, I struggled with self-doubt and compulsive behaviors I’ve had since my teens. Sometimes I wondered: do I have what it takes? Do I need reviews? Do I need to participate in sites and communities I find repugnant? Am I what my clients are expecting? Can I hack it as an independent?

I posed for two professional photoshoots with two different photographers, as well as countless mirror selfies, tripod selfies, and (my favorite!) tripod animated GIFs for Twitter and my Members Only section. 

Speaking of Members Only — I created it as a gift to my suitors and kept up with 2x/month updates, as well as an email newsletter available to anyone who wants to receive it.

I launched this blog, yippee!

I stayed up late, woke up early, formed a mental map of Manhattan’s hotels, and collected many little bottles of lotion and shampoo.

I honed my filters: the filters that allow good people in, and screen the baddies out.

I got a crash course in info security, VPNs, screening methods and other esoteric topics.

I saw the dark side of human nature. Revenge reviews, faked references, cheats, scams, lies, pushing of boundaries, the nasty results of self-loathing and misogyny. I took notes, took stock and adjusted my filters accordingly. I hired assistants to free mental space for myself and the lovely people who deserve my time and attention.

I assembled my team. My brain trust. My panel of experts. These are fellow companions, in New York and across the world, who I lean on for advice and moral support, as well as the people that keep me happy and healthy: my logo designer, my assistant, my hairdresser, my manicurist, my aesthetician, the women who run the vintage clothing shops that furnish me with most of my wardrobe and hosiery. The designers of my lingerie and jewelry. My psychiatrist. My clients, who are fonts of wisdom, advice and joy in many areas of life.

I molded, and re-molded, my website, ad copy and screening procedures. I tried to make them concise, straightforward, and no-nonsense, but appealing and fun. (I hope I’m succeeding, at least a little!) I tried to scrub them of classist and other coded language. 

Through Shae, I tapped into what it is I like most about myself. I don’t take things too seriously, but I stand up for my principles. I’m resilient, resourceful and adventurous. I’m a work in progress, comfortable in my own skin, and grounded. I’m lively, energetic, unpretentious, a breath of fresh air. I’m open-minded, accepting and non-judgmental. I have a strong point of view. I revel in my femininity.

It wasn’t always a picnic, but I’m extremely proud of everything I’ve done. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met, especially my loyal regulars and the other wonderful companions who I’m proud to call friends.

Here are to the triumphs, the failures, the flights boarded at the last minute, the well-worn Metrocard, the sound of stilettos on plush carpet, the thoughtful notes that make me punch the air and do a silly little happy dance. Here’s to a great 2018.

 

 Feelin' myself in a bikini and winter hat. As you do.

Feelin' myself in a bikini and winter hat. As you do.

Shae Ashbury