Guest Post: A client responds to "On Display"
[ Shae’s note: This is a piece one of my clients wrote, unbidden, after reading my piece entitled On Display. I found it worthy of a wider audience, so I am publishing it here with his permission. The thoughts and opinions are the author’s own. If you have reactions to the piece, kindly email them to me and I will forward them to him. “JD” is a pseudonym.]
I am a client of yours. As I explained when we first meet, it was your words — how you describe yourself — that made me want to meet you, as opposed to someone else. (I mean what’s not interesting about a woman who uses the word ‘kismet’ in her opening sentence describing herself... on Eros or in the “real world”?)
I’m not a 'newbie,' but I am also most definitely not a 'hobbyist,' looking to churn through providers in a mad effort to check as many women as I possibly can off a sexual bucket list. (Is that too judgy? Probably.) Instead, as I also told you when we meet, of the limited number of times I've done this over the past year, the vast majority have been with a single woman, who I’ve come to know and whose company I really enjoy.
In the alternate universe, where there is no stigma attached to this kind of thing and jealousy doesn’t exist, she would be folded into the cast of late-twenty-somethings who my wife and I got to know when they were teenagers and regularly babysat my kids. Who come over for dinner every now and again to introduce us to their new boyfriends. Who spend a holiday with us when the financial strain of living in NYC or their entry level job doesn’t allow them the freedom to leave. Who borrow my car when they move to a new apartment or want a weekend upstate with their boyfriend. But in this world, that can’t happen. Even if, in my perfect universe, it would.
So that’s the kind of provider I seek. A woman who in another universe might become part of my extended family. I have no idea if that makes me an unusual client or the most usual of clients.
How do I find that person? I read what they write about themselves.
Of course, it doesn't always work. I once saw a woman who, after reading her ads, I thought was going to be ideal for me. When I finally met her, however, it just wasn’t the case. It wasn’t her fault. She was perfectly lovely. We just didn’t connect enough to make me want to return. And when I look at the ad of my ‘regular’ of the past year, I’m not sure I’d reach out to her again, today, based on what she has written. Again, it’s not her fault. There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with her ad. It just doesn’t convey what I now know I’m seeking, even as I know, first hand, that she is exactly that.
As an aside, when I’m reading ads (as uncomfortable it is to admit), I also stay away from women who come from certain parts of the world. Not because I have anything against people from those parts of the world. In fact I lived in one for a number of years and many, many of my dearest friends come from there. However, from what I read in the newspaper, the human trafficking trade preys heavily on women from those parts and that is an abhorrent modern slave economy that I want to stay far, far away from. As much as I hate being a person who 'stays away from' people because of their ethnicity in any sphere of life, on this score, I just need to be absolutely sure. So I stay away.
Similarly, I stay away from agencies. In part because I think they’re more likely to be involved in trafficking (I have no idea if that’s actually true), but also because if I’m going to pay money to spend time with a woman, she should at least get to keep all of it and not have to share it with some guy who answers the phone. (I feel more comfortable with this, because it's just the business model I don't like.)
But back to descriptions. I put a lot of weight on how people describe themselves. Both in the real world and in this world. Of course, I’ve been around long enough to know I’m not always right. (See above.) But I still like to think I’m a pretty good judge of people. And there’s no better place to start than how people talk about themselves.
With you, for example, as I tell you when we meet, I love the fact that you call yourself 'a lovable weirdo' and 'damn good company.' (That’s exactly how I like to think of myself.) I read your tweets. (Sorry, I can only imagine how much it must suck to feel a need to feed the social media beast.) Your blog is terrific. (And very thought-provoking.) I just love the phrase 'liking the cut of one’s jib.' (It feels so retro and wonderfully goofy. Like something an ascot-wearing Princetonian might have said, circa 1958, while advocating for the admission of some underclassman to his eating club.)
Still, as I also tell you when we meet, your Goodreads list just seals it for me. Many of the books you list I’ve read, and one is an absolute favorite. Moreover, I just love buying books for myself and for others. So, check, right off the bat your description of yourself makes me smile. 'Yes,' I think. 'Another person I can buy books for!'
How much of that is you and how much of that is Shae, I don’t know. On one hand, as you write in On Display, there must be a lot of overlap. I have a hard time imagining that the person you’ve created in Shae was made of whole cloth. Shae just feels too authentic. On the other hand, it doesn’t matter. I’m making a date with Shae, not you. That’s our deal. And I respect that.
Similarly, the me that you meet is closely related to, but not, the complete me. Don’t get me wrong, everything I tell you is true (other than the last name I use, which I truthfully tell you is not actually mine). Some of the things I tell you are very true. A few are truths I’ve never articulated out loud to anyone, ever. About my relationship with my wife. About other things that weigh heavily on me. About why I think I've chosen to see a provider. I worry to you that I’m rationalizing ‘bad’ behavior. You tell me it’s ok. Even normal. I thank you.
But at the same time, you never see the me who’s yelling at his kids because they won't clean their rooms. Who's frustrated at his wife for asking yet again, but this time in anger, when he’s going to fix that thing that needs to be fixed. Who sometimes curses under his breath at his boss after a tense exchange.
Instead you see a me who’s been cleansed of all the grit of everyday life. It’s just the normal grit of a life lived, to be sure. And I've lived a lucky life. So, as grit goes, my grit is not bad at all. But it’s still grit. I imagine that’s similar to the relationship between you and Shea. And this world can’t all that terrible (Trump notwithstanding) if it allows this ‘cleansed me’ to meet with Shae for an hour or two every now and again. Yes, it’s a bit of an act on both our parts. Yes, it’s transactional. But who cares if it works for both of us?
And then, there are the pictures. Before deciding I want to meet someone, I no doubt also look at her pictures.
I’m very mixed about this. Obviously, like any person, I find certain people physically attractive and others less so. As important as a woman's description is, I’d be lying if I said I read her description before looking at her pictures. Of course, I look at the pictures first. And, no surprise, I only read on to the descriptions of women I find desirable physically, as an essential part of this is physical. So finding someone whom I find physically desirable is a necessary precondition.
I honestly hadn’t looked that much at ads in a long while until a month or so ago when my ‘regular’ told me she would be away for a few months. So I started looking again. It is both exciting and somewhat dispiriting. Exciting because I know from my first hand experience that there are wonderful and lovely women out there working as companions with whom who I can really connect. And hopefully I’d get to meet one. The excitement of meeting and learning about someone new! Dispiriting because I have a hard time shaking the feeling that I am picking human beings out of a catalog.
In On Display, you write about your own agency vs. the exploitative history of photographing the female nude. One difficult part of looking at all those pictures, for me at least, is trying to figure out which of the women have that sense of personal agency and which do not. It’s easy to tell on the margins (I think?), but it’s very hard to figure it out for most of the women. And I want to spend time with a woman who does have that sense of agency. Both because I find strong, genuine women more attractive and also because, again, I want absolutely no part of the darker world that preys on women who lack the ability to fend for themselves.
So I look and I look. And the other thing I become very aware of is the fact that I am the one choosing. I know, I ‘choose’ Shae. Shae doesn’t ‘choose’ me. Of course, you screen me. But to my mind (although, honestly, I have no idea), screening me is more about you making sure I’m not crazy. That I won’t hurt Shae. Which I imagine is a much lower standard than affirmatively choosing that you want to be intimate with somebody.
Nonetheless, in this universe, I’m the one who chooses. So, with respect to Shae, I see the way she wears her hair. Her smile. I consider the curve of her back. Her breasts. How her ‘derrière’ looks, both clothed and not. (Even with a coffee mug balanced on top!) I see her dog. After looking for a while, I even think I can tell which photos were taken in her apartment and which were taken somewhere else. So before I even email Shae the first time, I think I know what the inside of her own private home looks like.
At the same time, Shae knows nothing about me. She doesn’t know if I’m 6’6” and weigh 350 lbs. (As she now knows, I don’t.) If I’m decent looking and physically attractive. (Eh... I guess I’m ok, but no doubt there are much better looking guys out there.) If I smell bad. (I don’t think I do.) If I’m kind, open-minded, and respectful. (I like to think I am.) Or if I have an ugly and nasty side. (No one’s ever accused me of that. Long-winded, definitely yes. Ugly and nasty, never.) But, before we meet, Shae knows none of this. Honestly, that’s the hardest thing for me to get my head around. When I finally meet Shae, I know her age, height, weight, that she's from California, that she used to have a corporate job, what the inside of her home and her dog look like, as well as every curve of her naked body and pages of her thoughts from her writing. All the while, she knows almost nothing about me. She only knows that, of the two women I referred her to, I didn’t hurt either of them.
In the end, though, I take great comfort in learning that your photos please you first and foremost. That they’re crafted and curated to present Shae exactly the way you, and only you, want her presented. It makes me feel better knowing that. Both in the superficial self-congratulatory 'man-can-I-choose-em' sense. And in a deeper 'the-world-isn’t-as-fucked-up-as-I-thought-it-was' sense.
In the end, I guess I’m just genuinely happy this world populated by people who create people like Shae. So, thank you, and all the others like you, for what you do.
This post was written by “JD” and published by Shae Ashbury, a GFE escort in NYC. Visit my booking form, gallery, patronage and details, and testimonials. Feel free to email me responses to this piece and I will forward them to he author.