Hayley is good with her hands. In fact, a few hours earlier, she had gripped a pink whip with them as she repeatedly lacerated the buttocks of the local taxi-firm owner. You see, Hayley has two jobs. By day, she sells cosmetics. Research from Leeds University and National Ugly Mugs, a charity that supports sex workers, found that 45 per cent of escorts balance sex work with a civilian job.
Perhaps this should be of little surprise: Peep behind the filtered face of social media and you will find a world of young men and women known as courtesans, who use their profiles as a virtual billboard to ply their trade. Escorting — a trade that once required, at the very least, a written advert in Craigslist — now takes little more than a selfie.
Escorting has provided Hayley with a lifestyle her day job could never provide. Hayley began escorting five years ago, after a business venture she started with her mother floundered.
She signed with an agency, before choosing later to list her services online and operate independently from home. Her regulars range from a retired GP practice manager, whose wife knows he sees Hayley, to a man who enjoys tickling and being lightly spanked with the back of her hairbrush for three hours a week. Miranda has a more intriguing justification for her former trade than mere financial necessity. As her escorting career continued, she began to receive more unreasonable demands.
From the outside, her team would never know that their boss has a secret second life beyond their office in the South East of England. She looks like any other office worker — glossy brown bob and attired in a neat black suit.
Anne-Marie started off doing webcam shows from her bedroom to make some extra money, then realised she could make more money escorting. The three women I spoke to had all been fairly lucky in their experiences.
But the underground nature of this kind of work means it could, at any point, turn a lot darker. Last year, research by National Ugly Mugs and Leeds University found that almost half of sex workers surveyed had experienced violence. The trend for sharing their outlandish lives was started by Dr Brooke Magnanti, an academic who began writing an anonymous blog about her double life as an upmarket prostitute, using the pen name Belle du Jour.
It was reported that, above the usual favours, the cash was to cover her hotel bill, mini-bar, air and cab fares.
A source involved in the investigation said at the time: Nobody knew she was a prostitute. Now it makes sense where her Cartier watch, her Louis Vuitton bathing suit and her trips to St Tropez came from. Another trend is for the escorts to organise lucrative tours taking in some of the glitziest events on the social calendar, such as the Monaco Grand Prix. They will organise a handful of appointments in advance and combine work with pleasure.
Naturally the client also picks up the tab for first-class travel. Some of the girls routinely carry visas for countries such as India and Russia so that they can fly to a lucrative rendezvous without delay. Others offer secretarial, personal assistant and translation services as some useful extras. Some escort agencies claim to be able to offer access to supermodels who are between catwalk assignments.
There is no shortage of bright, pretty girls willing to become courtesans. These women, renowned for their beauty and sexual wiles as well as their intellect and wit, were at the top of the prostitutional hierarchy. In return for their loyalty and discretion they were provided with opulent homes, which they would furnish to their own taste, and lavished with jewels.
When a man took on a courtesan she was a status symbol. No doubt some of them became attached to their wealthy lovers but on the whole if his income disappeared they would move on to a different man. Every society had its courtesans and in Japan the equivalent was the geisha, a beautiful woman who was expected to entertain her rich benefactor and his business clients, although sex was not always part of the arrangement.
She is most definitely not a prostitute.