< SWITCH ME >

Sophie (22) is a drama student living in the Dutch capital Amsterdam. Since last April, she has also been working as an escort girl.

‘I had been travelling, and had spent way too much money. Because I'm a student, I couldn't take a full-time job, but I needed money urgently. Working as an escort was something I'd already been thinking about, something that I wanted to try.

I looked at many different online escort agencies, until I found one I liked. It was called Women of the World and was based in Amsterdam. Their website looked so professional and classy, it really stood out. There were no nude pictures on it. So I wrote the agency an email, and they immediately invited me round for a talk. I didn’t know what to expect, I was very nervous.

They let me think about it for a few days. In a second conversation they explained how it all works. That I have to ‘call in’, for example, when I meet a client, to let them know that I've arrived, he has paid and everything is okay.

A few days later I had my first booking. Beforehand, I had a chat with a girl at the agency, who told me he was a regular, not attractive but gentle. Everything went well.

When you’re new, you’re very popular. Those first weeks I had two or three bookings a week. Now I toned it down a bit, as my term-time has just started again. Every Sunday, I email the agency with my availability.

In the beginning, they had a few photos of me on their website. But somebody who knows my family apparently discovered them, and sent them to my mother anonymously. Why on earth would somebody do such a thing?! She called me, in a shocked state. She couldn’t believe it. At first, I denied everything. But eventually I went to see her, and told her the truth. She said she wasn’t proud of me, and I felt bad. She's worried as well, afraid that I might end up in unsafe situations. But I think I have reassured her pretty well. Now, we share the secret. She knows I am not stupid, that I take good care of my body. If I were a mum, I would prefer that my daughter told the truth about such a thing, rather than lying about it.

Three of my girlfriends also know about it. One is very disapproving, another one thinks it’s marvellous. It’s wonderful to be able to tell someone: ‘Last night, me and two other girls were with a client at the Amstel Hotel [a very luxurious hotel on the Amstel river in Amsterdam, ed.]. We opened six bottles of champagne!’

It’s not only about the money. Of course, it’s great that I don’t have any financial worries anymore. My credit card debt has disappeared, I went on holiday, I paid for some courses. And now I am saving money, I want to have ten thousand euro on my savings account by next summer. But the main reason for me to be in this business is the suspense. I just think it’s so exciting. I love to have a lot of attention when I go out as well. It’s the thrill of sneaking out of my student home late in the evening in a beautiful dress. It’s an act too: you let the client see your best side and you pretend to be crazy about him. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it’s not, but then you have to make the best of it. In my mind, I divide them into two categories: the lonely types whom you have to put at ease, who want attention and compliments, and the macho businessmen who are mostly married. They love to have a beautiful girl in a beautiful dress at their side, with whom they dine, drink good wine and have great sex afterwards, without any complications.

"It’s not only about the money. I just think it’s so exciting. I love to have a lot of attention.."

I learn so much from these encounters: I eat in restaurants where a student like me normally wouldn’t go to, I stay in very luxurious hotels, I have learned how to keep a conversation going, how you give someone the feeling that you’re genuinely interested, I've learned about wine. The clients are a source of inspiration for the theatre pieces I write. (laughs)

The only time I feel guilty about this job is when I see friends of mine who have money problems. I even took a student job this summer as a cover-up, it’s ridiculous.

I will quit this job as soon as I feel reluctance to meet a client. When I notice I am only doing it for the money.’

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