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EPISODE 14: Somebody You Love has relationships

It’s the relationships episode! It comes as a shock to some but sex workers, like many other human beings, can and do have romantic relationships. We talk about why this is important for people to know, how our work has affected our romantic relationships, and monogamy vs non-monogamy. Our misconception this week is that men are always paying for it somehow, Jenna & Holly have their first disagreement on the show, and Jenna provides some insight into “hi” guys during Shit People Say.

Scarlet Alliance Emergency Relief Fund:


3:28 Main Segment: But is a whore gonna date YOU?

45:55 Misconception: Men are always paying for it somehow

55:28 Shit People Say: “whoa that’s a bit full on, isn’t it?”


SWOP NSW’s website:

SWOP NSW on Twitter:

Patreon (from $3AUD/month):

Somebody You Love is sponsored by Assembly Four, empowering sex workers through technology:

For more info on sex work in Australia, please check out the following organisations:


Qld (Respect Inc):

Vic (Vixen Collective):

WA (Magenta):


Jenna Love 0:01

Do you miss the free and affordable ads and social networks without all of the anti-sex rhetoric?

Holly Harte 0:06

Assembly Four is a team of sex workers and technologists from Melbourne, Australia, aiming to bring back free and fair advertising and social spaces to the sex working community

Jenna Love 0:15

Stepping away from the clunky design of traditional platforms, their two products and are refreshing and well needed changes in both presentation and mission.

Holly Harte 0:26

And both are free to join and open to all.

Jenna Love 0:29

You can find both of our profiles on trust, and I love how it is so clearly designed by sex workers.

Holly Harte 0:36

Yep. And I love how straightforward and easy it is to use and how much they clearly support the sex working community.

Jenna Love 0:41

And also how responsive they are when it comes to feedback and customer service.

Holly Harte 0:46

Check out their website (four the word, not the number) for more info.

Jenna Love 0:55

Welcome to Somebody You Love, or the sale of two titties. I'm Jenna Love.

Holly Harte 1:03

And I'm Holly Harte.

Jenna Love 1:05

And we're experts in disappointing our parents, breaching community guidelines, and banging the people who vote against our rights. Before we get into the show today, we just would like to take a second to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land from which we are recording, I am on the land of the Darug and Gundungurra peoples and Holly is on the land of the Ngunawal people.

Holly Harte 1:27

We'd also like to acknowledge our privilege within the industry. As cis white workers, we don't face the challenges as more marginalised workers do. We can't speak on behalf of more marginalised workers than ourselves. And so these experiences and thoughts are just our own.

Jenna Love 1:41

It won't come as a surprise to you that as a podcast about sex work, we will be dealing with adult themes, and this podcast is really not designed for non adults to listen to. So if you are a non adult, don't listen. Thanks.

Holly Harte 1:58

We also wanted to mention we've had a few clients of ours contact us with a little bit of concern that they may be crossing boundaries or breaking some of the rules or doing some of the things that we've discussed that we don't particularly like. We want to make it clear that if you're the kind of person who is worrying, you're probably not the kind of person that we're talking about.

Jenna Love 2:19

Yeah, absolutely. I've had a couple of conversations with clients who have gone "oh, listening to that I thought, Oh, do I do that? Or have I done? Oh, no, is she talking about me there?" And we knew that this would always be a potential issue with us speaking publicly about this stuff. But as, yeah, as Holly said, like, I have a really long etiquette page on my website. And there's a lot of information there. And I can guarantee you that the clients that read all of it are the clients that probably didn't even really need to in the first place anyway, the clients that I have who reference it, my best clients, I'm always like, "yeah, of course, you've read it". And then it's the people who would never think to read that in the first place, or the people who wouldn't ever listen to our podcast, that are usually the ones that we have problems with. So the very fact that you're listening to this podcast, that you're listening to the voices of sex workers, you're already, you know, A++ in our books.

Holly Harte 3:08

So if you're one of our clients, and particularly if you're one of our regular clients, we keep seeing you because you're a good client, so don't take too much to heart. Take this for what it is - just some criticisms and thoughts, a bit of laugh and a bit of banter. For the most part, you're probably doing fantastic.

Jenna Love 3:28

So today we are talking about sex workers having relationships. And this is something that I'm super passionate about. And I think it can get dismissed quite easily in the activism space, because it's sort of not, I think it can--maybe people might see it as a bit frivolous. Like we're just talking about our love lives. But I think it's actually incredibly crucial to the sex worker rights movement. And for me, it was a really core part of my activism. So I'm going to tell a little bit of a story about how I sort of came to be an activist, I guess, and how I now consider myself to be one. I used to do a whole bunch of videos on Twitter that were like, Question and Answer videos. So people just ask questions, and I would answer them in the form of a video, just little two, three minute videos. And then one day, I was talking to Mr. Love, and we were thinking maybe it would be cool if he came on and did some with me. And we actually asked people for questions that was specifically for the two of us or for him. Now this was quite a big deal for us because Mr. Love is definitely the shyer of the two of us. He is not the kind of person to just start a podcast and start talking to people all the time. And he often like--a lot of the time people ask him stuff about sex work, and he's just like, "I don't know, like, that's just what my wife does, like what's"--he doesn't really see it as a big deal. And so I spoke to a couple of my friends at the time being like, "Oh, Mr. Love is kind of keen to come on and do a couple of those videos with me" and everyone I spoke to warned me against doing it and said, "Oh, you know, you might--or you better be careful. It might, you know, scare clients away" or whatever. And I was like, "Oh, well, I've always been open about having a husband, like everyone knows he exists. I talk about him in all my bookings". I feel like my clients are sick of hearing about him, because I'm always raving on about how great he is. And they were like, "Yeah, but it's very, very different to know that he exists as a concept. And to actually, like, see him", even though he wasn't showing his face in the videos. And I was like me, "Okay, fair point". But I also was like, I don't care. Because if I lose clients, then I lose clients. And as we can tell by this podcast, it's like, I'm just really good at turning people off booking me, that's like my special power. So I just wasn't really bothered. And I went ahead with it. And the response was exactly the opposite. And actually, I had quite a few new clients come to me who sort of said, "I saw those videos". And they were really interested in the way our relationship works. And it really humanised me and made them want to come and meet me. And my regular clients were like "it was so great to actually hear him speak and say all the things that you've been saying about him". So it ends up being really great. And I'm really proud that we did that. And soon after that, I was contacted by somebody from SWOP New South Wales about a magazine that they produce, which is just for sex workers only. So a lot of people listening won't have access to it. And they asked if I'd be interested in being interviewed. And this was the first time somebody had, like, wanted to interview me. And I was like, Oh, my God, I've, "yes, I'd love to be interviewed". And then they said that they wanted me to be on the cover. And I was like, "Are you telling me I'm a cover girl? Amazing". So I'm basically a model now. And so I went into their offices, and we had an interview. And quite early on in the interview, the interviewer said to me--talking about my activism. And I was like, "Oh, no, no, no, I'm not an activist. Like I'm, I'm just a whore", you know. And she said to me, "ah, I would describe what you do, you know, just sharing those videos with your husband, that's activism". And I had always thought, like, I always kind of wanted to be an activist, but I didn't think, you know, I just didn't think I was cool enough. I didn't think I was brave enough. I didn't think I had the knowledge behind me. And when I looked at the activists that I looked up to in our community, and in any community, I was just like, "Oh, my God, that's so awesome". Like, I really kind of bowed down to them. But anyway, she said, "Yeah, I consider you an activist". And that really ignited a thing in me and I went, "Oh, well, maybe, maybe I can be". So yeah, that in a way that really cemented my passion for sex work activism, and it all sort of was born out of me just having a chat with my partner. It's kind of as simple as that. And that's, that's a really powerful element of us getting our voices out there.

Holly Harte 7:50

That is a really interesting story that I did not know about your growth in the industry, Jenna. But yeah, I definitely agree that it is vital that we discuss these sorts of things. I think showing the public that we're multifaceted people that we have real life experiences, real world experiences, we're not just caricatures of of humans, we actually are human, we have emotions, we have relationships, we have families, all this sort of stuff is really important to creating a 3d image of us in the public's mind. It really helps to remove a bit of stigma, but also just to humanise us. And so when people talk about sex workers, people think of human beings, not shady alleys with the stereotypical stuff that the media likes to portray. Of course, that can be some of the industry. But that doesn't represent all of us. And that's not all of who any of us are.

Jenna Love 8:41

Yeah, and I think when you don't see us as humans, that can lead down the path of thinking that we are somewhat disposable. And I think a lot of us, any of us who have listened to any true crime, or even like shows like Law & Order and all that sort of thing. You know, it's not uncommon to hear about, you know, things like serial killers, targeting sex workers and that sort of thing. And I know that when we talk about our job to civilians, sometimes they go, "Oh, no, but aren't you worried about, you know, the serial killers?" And my view of that is that you know, our work is not inherently dangerous. Being in a room with another person is not inherently dangerous. There are plenty of professions that do that. The dangerous element is when that person thinks that we don't have anyone who loves us. That's where sex workers can be susceptible to violence, and to marginalisation, is when people think that we don't have support networks and that we that we don't have anyone who's going to miss us when we're gone. And that couldn't be more wrong, of course. So knowing we were doing this episode this week, I wanted to get a little bit of completely unscientific information from our community. So we posted polls on Instagram and Twitter. The Twitter one is a bit--because we said "please only be sex workers", but it's--the results are anonymous, so whether you know--got to take it somewhat with a grain of salt, because some random people may have contributed who weren't sex workers, the Instagram one, you can actually see everyone who did contribute. And there were two people who I was like, "Who are you? I don't think you're a sex worker". So I took them out of the numbers. And we also posted in a sex worker only space. So we know that everyone contributing there is a sex worker. And it's like, there's no clients around looking at what we say. So I think there's arguably more validity to be given to those results. But overall, we had about 450 people respond to our little study. As I said, it's completely non scientific. But hopefully it gives us a bit of an idea. And we were asking about whether people were in relationships or not, basically. So about 50% across all three mediums, about 50% of sex workers said that they were in a relationship. So of those 75% of them described that relationship as being serious and monogamous. So I think that's quite interesting, because a lot of people assume that if a sex worker is in a relationship, that it will be a non-monogamous one. And we'll talk about that a bit later. But yeah, three quarters of people responded saying no, they are in monogamous relationships. Of those who were single, it was about 50/50, whether they were happy to be single, and they wanted to stay single, versus those who were described themselves as dating or looking for a relationship, whatever kind of relationship that might be. And in our sex worker only space, there was a bit of discussion about it. And we've got permission from a couple of people to share their stories, because I just think it's important to remember that we all have different situations, and there's so many different ways of doing relationships out there. And that's reflected in the sex working community as well.

Holly Harte 11:43

One of our favourite workers, Amanda Valentina, had to say, "I am permanently single and have no interest in dating again, let alone in the near future. I feel I'm the best possible version of myself when I'm flying solo, and have sadly learned through experience that boundary management is challenging for me when emotions are involved. Working allows me to manage those boundaries effectively, as well as proactively mastering the art of assertiveness. The only romantic relationship I have interest in maintaining is the one with myself. I am, as I put it time and time again, happily ever single."

Jenna Love 12:18

Something that came up that was quite interesting that I had never considered before was there are a few workers who shared their experiences of being in what they would describe as serious, non monogamous relationships. But that the government dictates that their relationship is defined by the exclusion of all others, and that their visas are dependent on that. So a couple of anonymous stories: "it wasn't our intention to settle down and nest together", which is often--in non-monogamous circles, nesting is referred to the person that you live with. So Mr. Love is my nesting partner. It wasn't our intention to do that. "But a partnership visa was our last resort. And it forced us to jump onto the relationship escalator together. Fortunately, were very happy together. But fuck, it's been an expensive, invasive, fucked up process". And they said a lot of that had been shaped by the pandemic. And somebody else said, "I am married. And we are exclusive. And we have to stay that way, probably forever, I will never get an Australian citizenship. So I don't think that there is any option for me to ever be poly or in an open relationship. Again, I'm glad that my partner and I are going strong. And I don't currently have the desire to date anyone else. But it sucks that this will never be a choice that I can make". So yeah, there's some kind of unique situations that affect some sex workers. And we do have plans to have some workers on in the future who will talk about their relationships. In just two weeks time, I think we will be having somebody very special, who will be coming on to the show with their monogamous partner and they both will be speaking to us, which will be very cool. But for today, Holly and I just kind of going to chat about our own experiences. So a comment that I come across all the time, particularly on Reddit, Reddit is is real keen on this one is the "ew but no guy is going to date a whore". "What are you going to do when you've got to settle down?" And "how are you going to find somebody?" and you know, "no man wants to be married to someone who's a whore", blah, blah, blah, all that sort of stuff. See it all the time.

Holly Harte 14:18

I mean, it's a whore gonna date you? The idea that was somehow unlovable due to our jobs, which are essentially selling the experience of love, is incredibly off base. It's such a misogynistic view to think that multiple sexual partners decreases anyone's value in any way. And that this somehow makes people inherently undesirable. Obviously, stigma and people's ingrained assumptions and insecurities make dating as a sex worker much more complex, and we totally understand that it's a different thing to navigate then traditional dating, but it doesn't mean that we're desperate or that we're worth any less than any other human.

Jenna Love 14:54

Yeah, this is what I don't get - like we're actually professionals at bedroom fun. And having like, good time together. Like aren't we actually incredibly fucking dateable? Like, we're really good at that stuff. So what!? Like, it just doesn't doesn't really make sense to me.

Holly Harte 15:14

At some point for me, my mother asked me, I think it was when I was a stripper, is "do you think this is gonna affect your dating life? Like, what if you want to settle down?" Things like that. And for years, I did feel that way. I thought "oh is this going to be harder for me to meet the right person?". And eventually, I've come to the realisation that the right person is going to love me for whoever I am and the decisions that I make in my life. And I don't want to cut myself off from being who I want to be. Just in case I meet someone who loves me for a reduced version of myself.

Jenna Love 15:46

Abso-fucking-lutely. And this is what gets me is that I think people saying this, they don't realise how high the bar actually is. The conversation is always framed around, "will somebody accept what you do for work, or what you have done for work in the past?" And like, I am not out here looking for somebody who accepts what I do, or who allows me to be a sex worker or somebody who's okay with it. Fuck that. I'm out here looking for somebody who raises me the fuck up, who thinks that I'm a bloody legend, who loves that I do a job that I'm passionate about and that brings me joy. And that, like, I don't think they have any idea. Like, I'm mainly going to use my husband as an example here. He isn't just okay with what I do. He loves and respects the shit out of me and thinks that I'm an amazing person and builds me up just like a partner should. As an example, you know, I'm always posting videos online. And I do different little interviews and things like that. Actually, I did an interview with a mainstream media channel recently. And it was like distance recorded. So I recorded on my end, and then sent them my recording. So it was completely unedited. It was just me talking for an hour, basically. And then they're going to cut it up. And later in the day, I walked past my husband's office, and I heard my voice coming out. And I was like, "What are you doing?" And he was listening to my recording of that. And he sat there and listened to that whole thing. And he always does, he--I always overhear him listening to little videos, I've put up online and stuff. And I always get embarrassed. I'm always like, "Oh, god, what did I say? Fuck". You know, I'm happy to put the shit out to everyone on the internet. But when my nearest and dearest see it, I'm like, "Oh, no, what have I said?", and every time he's like, "I'm proud of you. I love you. I love that people--" The other day he said to me, "I love that people come to you and ask for your opinion on things. Because you're, you know, for better or worse an expert in a field because you're, you're somebody that--you've got things to say and people are listening to what you say". And I just think that this idea of "No man's gonna put up with someone who's been a whore". I'm like, "oh, babe, you do not realise how fucking legendary the partners of sex workers are". They're not putting up with us. They are right there with us. I mean, I'm sure there's some terrible ones out there. But I think that the ones that stick around, and a lot of the ones that I know, are bloody legendary.

Holly Harte 18:12

It's a really archaic view that women have to somehow be less than who they are just so that they can get the perfect partner. And that's so ingrained, and particularly with generations gone by, that you should be whatever your partner wants you to be. And I think we're coming into an age now, where a lot of people are finding that they can be who they want to be, and meet a partner that accepts them, and not just accepts them, but adores that about them. And that's so empowering. And as you said, Jenna, so many of the partners of sex workers that I know are incredibly supportive, and they love their partners because of who they are, not because of who they are not.

Jenna Love 18:49

Yeah, also, people may not want a partner, or they might want multiple partners. And let's not forget that this conversation is always "oh, no man's going to want to date a whore". Half the whores I know are lesbians. So what men want has nothing to do with it. So I think another question that comes up for a lot of sex workers is choosing whether or not to be open to their clients and be open in their advertising and all social media about whether they have a partner or not. And you know, look for a lot of workers, they really want to keep their their private and their professional lives separate. You know, if somebody asks them, whether they have a partner, they say, "That's none of your business". And absolutely fair enough. It doesn't have to be anyone else's business. But in my case, I had just never thought not to be open about being married because I, I don't know, it was just like doing any job. I was like, "Well, I have a husband, that's--there's a ring on my finger and we're married". So that--I don't know, I just never thought that it would be something that I should hide. And early on there was a lot of comments around forums and just even from clients that would say it to me face to face, there was a lot of assumptions that my husband must have been a cuckold - somebody who gets off on the idea of their partner being with other people, and often in like a humiliation way, and all that it was a fetish and that he was with me because it like turned him on to be with with a sex worker or something like that. And people found it really strange when I was like, "No, he's, he's just my partner, like, I don't--we're just married, just like your doctor might have a husband, I have a husband like, I don't... there's nothing more to it". And so I think this was like, you know, good 10 years ago, almost 10 years ago, people sort of had this idea that if a sex worker did have a partner, that there was a reason for it, rather than just being a human being who has relationships. These days, I don't get that nearly as much, probably partly because I'm a bit more well known, I guess, and people know about Mr. Love. But also, because of the work of a lot of other sex workers who have been open about having partners, I think we've all really helped kind of pave the way of being a bit more accepted that that is a very normal thing. It's just as normal as somebody not having a partner as well, you certainly don't have to, of course, but it's not any more unusual than anyone in any job having a partner. It's not a surprise when you hire a tradie to come to your house if they have a partner. And it's not a surprise if a sex worker has a partner either. What do you think about this, this thing of disclosing whether you're attached or not?

Holly Harte 21:25

Well, I'm unable to comment from personal experience, as I've never formally had a partner during sex work, I've sort of had fuck buddies and things like that, but not an actual partner. If I did have a partner, I would be strongly inclined to disclose just because I'm just too frickin honest. And lying for me is not something I'm comfortable with. I think my clients know me, really raw and honestly, and that's just who I am. So I would have no issues with being really honest about it. And I think yeah, it's it's a nice thing to share. "Hey, I'm in love and loved", that would be fun.

Jenna Love 22:00

Yeah, I think it's very understandable for sex workers who do want to separate that for a whole number of reasons, one of which may well be protecting their real life identity and that of their families. But I do think it can't be underestimated how exhausting that would be. Because that is akin to living a double life, essentially, especially if they're not out to their loved ones, or all of their loved ones, about being a sex worker, then they're hiding from them that they're being a sex worker, and they're hiding them from their clients. So they're really having to carry all these lies around. And if they want to do that, then that's great. And if they feel that they need to do that, then they absolutely should. But I think that we do need to understand what a burden that is to carry around all the time.

Jenna Love 22:46

Definitely. So what about telling a new lover? What is your experience with that?

Jenna Love 22:51

Look, I've been quite lucky. And I've been very lucky in relationships in general. So I do have to preface everything with that. Obviously, my husband and I were already together when I started in the industry. So that was something that we talked about together, I didn't need to like break it to him as such. But in the--I spent about two years away from the industry, which I talked about in our little origin story, Somebody You Love became a sex worker. And during that time, I started dating, one of my now partners. And I had never mentioned having worked in the sex industry to him. Mainly--not because I was particularly ashamed of it. Perhaps there was some internalised whorephobia there. But I think it was mainly because I just didn't, it was just a thing that I did in the past, and it sort of hadn't come up. And it wasn't something that I felt had anything to do with me at that point in my life. But after we'd been dating for, I want to say six months or so, I had decided to go back into the sex industry. And I was like, "Ah, okay, I have to tell him now". So we arranged to meet up one day, it was actually just after I'd finished a shift at a brothel. Because we don't live very close to each other, but the brothel was near where he lives. So we decided to meet up. And we just went and hung out in a park. He has dogs, so they're always happy for outside time. We went and met up in a park and I had prepared, you know, this whole speech. And I was incredibly nervous. Even though I thought he was really cool and we had a great thing going, I was really worried that he would just turn around and say, "Okay, well, that's it for us then" like, this is not, you know, I don't know, all those things that you worry about. And I kind of--I worked my way up and I spilled the beans and I told him, you know, all this big news. And he was like, "Oh, okay". And I was like, "Oh, is that? Is that okay?" And he was like, "Oh, yeah, I mean, are you happy? Is this--are you? Are you enjoying your work? Do you like it?" You know, and I was like, "yeah, I'm really glad to be back". And he was like, "Okay, cool". And that was kind of that later on in that same conversation. He was like, "Hey, I don't know if this is the wrong thing to say but I feel like you'd be really good at that". And I was like, "Yeah, I think I am.. I think I am quite good at it, actually, thank you". And that was that. We didn't speak too much about it for a little while. He's a very quiet guy, somebody who really likes to process these thoughts on his own, and then he'll bring them to the table, which is not like me, I just process them outside of my person. But later on, almost a year later, I think we had talked about sex work, and he'd asked about it, we'd had lots of conversations about it, and he follows my social media and is incredibly supportive as well. At a later date, he told me that at first, it did make him feel quite self conscious. And he was worried that he was inferior. And he sort of had these ideas that I was having all these crazy, wonderful experiences. And he was like, "Oh, god, what is she doing with me?" You know? And then he said, then he realised, "well, she's doing it with me without payment. So obviously, that means that she really wants to be with me". And I was like, "Yeah, I mean, if anything, that's, that's a huge endorsement. Isn't that like--that must make you feel like a fucking rock star, because I want to hang out with you with nothing else. Like, the only thing I'm getting out of it is you. And I love that. That's a really wonderful thing". So he went through that thought process on his own. But I can see that that would be something that could be difficult. And everyone else I've dated, has either known very, very early on, or I've met them as a client. So obviously, they knew what I do. So I know that lots of people out there don't have great experiences. But I've just never had an issue with telling a partner about my work.

Holly Harte 26:44

My experiences haven't been as healthy as yours. I have, as I said before, haven't had a serious partner while I've been doing sex work in the last however many years, but in the past, I have dated, and in between bouts of sex work, I have had partners. I had one partner when I disclosed to them, they were very paranoid during our relationship. I mean, he was a pretty paranoid dude anyway. And when we split up, he actually went to my mother's house and knocked on the door to tell her that I had been a sex worker. So I wish I didn't ever tell him. I had another partner who I told who then sort of used it as a way to put me down during the relationship as if I was somehow tainted, which was really disappointing. And at that time, I didn't have the connections in the industry. And I didn't have the self esteem, I suppose to realise that that was bullshit.

Jenna Love 27:41

I think it's quite telling, like, I think it really, really showed their true colours, for lack of a less cliched way of putting that. Because I think, you know, the one that was was quite paranoid, I think was always going to have issues with the feeling of, of you being with anyone else, or anything like that. Jealousy, insecurities, and the one that used it to put you down, I imagine would have found something to put you down. And that was the tool that he grabbed on to, in order to do that. And it's shitty that these people would use sex work to do those things. But I think it also shows if sex work wasn't there, they would have found something else to do that with. And I don't think sex work is necessarily the cause of that. But it certainly can bring it out and make it unpleasant for you.

Holly Harte 28:28

Definitely. The first one, Luke, he actually used to be really paranoid. I used to work in telecommunications at the time, and I'd catch the two buses home because we we lived out in New South Wales at the time. And if I was four minutes late to get home from work, he would ask me where I'd been like, he was like, "Who have you been with, where?" he was paranoid. There was a lot of issues going on there. And the relationship did actually end in a restraining order. So I don't think sex work was any sort of influence on that. I think it was just another thing that he used to, to target me with or to be paranoid about.

Jenna Love 29:05

And then when the relationship was over, and he went to your mum's place, was that do you think just an act to try and hurt you?

Holly Harte 29:13


Jenna Love 29:13

It was just weaponizing it?

Holly Harte 29:14

Yeah, yes, absolutely. It was, yeah, it was just a way to get at me at the time, he was sleeping in his car in my street, and doing things like really doing bizarre things to try to hurt me. So not good times. The other partner of mine, who was the love of my life, really was not a very healthy person at all. And he was, once again incredibly insecure. And, yeah, he saw any chance to try to bring me down because he felt shitty inside. So yeah, I think sex work wasn't what caused or wasn't a big thing in either of those situations. But it definitely was, as you said, weaponized, several times. And so I so I wish I didn't tell those people but it's not even that it's more that I wish I didn't date those people. That would be the solution is that, you know, I have healthier relationships or healthier self esteem these days. So I don't put myself in those sorts of situations. I've also been on Tinder dates with two women, who I never heard from again after those dates. And I feel like a massive part of it was sex work. They never said explicitly, but you do pick up on people's body language, when you tell them, you do pick up on those sorts of things. I didn't tell them until we actually went on our first date, because I like to see someone eye to eye so they can see me as a human before they decide sex work is confronting for them. One of them was actually a polyamorous woman in a relationship. She was really into ethical polyamory, but she thought sex work was not valid. So that's in my eyes, maybe slightly a double standard. There's a little bit of whorephobia there. But that's her choice to make. That's fine. And it's, you know, not the person for me. So, yeah, to go back and answer the question in terms of telling a new partner, I always will tell my new lovers and new partners, but it can be fraught.

Jenna Love 29:39

And that's that's the next question. When do you tell a new person in your life? In particular, for this episode, a new romantic interest in your life? When should you tell them?

Holly Harte 31:16

I tell them straightaway, either on the first date, or in the first messages online, if that's where we meet. I have stayed away, though, from telling them online, as I find that it leads to, as is standard in the sex work community, bans from those sorts of apps, they think we're soliciting so they will ban permanently ban our accounts for even mentioning that that's our career, which is just absolute madness. But also, when I have told, particularly men, on dating apps that that's my job, it encourages fetishization of the work or seeing me as a sex object. You know, I've had people reply with just really, I think that they they mean well, and they think that they're open minded dudes, but the stuff they're replying is really making me feel like that's all they see me as suddenly. And so I'd rather not do that immediately. I'd rather wait until we meet in person and they get an idea of me. What's your experience with that? Jenna, how long do you usually wait?

Jenna Love 32:12

Yeah, I don't wait at all, I would prefer every single person that I've ever come into contact with in my life to know that I'm a sex worker, because I would like to know if they have a problem with that, because I don't have time to fuck with those people. Like I'm not interested in investing a second of my life into somebody that thinks that I'm less than because of what I do. So I'm very much you know, upfront, I want to know straight away, and if they do respond in a fetishizing way, I'm like "Cool. Goodbye", or respond saying, "Oh, isn't that a bit eurgh?" "Okay, cool. No worries, goodbye". And I know, I don't expect everyone can be to be completely woke and up with sex worker issues. And, you know, I spend a lot of my time doing activism and, and speaking to people who don't know about this stuff, but if we're talking about, you know, me, my personal dating life, I don't have time for that shit. But that being said, that's really, really, really easy for me to do, because I am completely out about my work, as you like, your example with Luke is a great one, where if you are not completely out about your work, every single person that you tell is a potential liability. So if you're sort of, and I think that that's something we really need to, we really need to keep in mind, because I think it's all well and good to say, "Oh, you've got to be upfront and tell people" and that's sort of, that's how I like to live my life. But telling somebody that you're a sex worker can put your safety in danger. You don't know how they're going to react, they can weaponize that if you have a civilian job, as we call it, they can contact your employers, they can contact family members. And I think that as a result, telling people straight away is just not always an option for a lot of sex workers. And they have to really tread a lot more carefully and wait until they have developed a sense of trust with someone which is tricky, because then that person may then feel that the trust has been broken because they've withheld something from them. But it's, I mean, it's bloody difficult. And I obviously I've had such brilliant experiences, I can't tell them, I don't have any good advice for how to manage that. I'm often asked "how does me being a sex worker affect my relationship or my relationships?" And while I acknowledge that for many people it does, in my case, it just doesn't. It never has, since becoming a sex worker, I've dated five people. So including my husband, that's six people and you know, people that don't want to believe this aren't going to believe it. But I can tell you that there has never been a single issue in those relationships as a result of my work. And a lot of people often when I speak to media, they--I mention my husband, and they go, "Oh, oh, do you think we could talk to him?" And as I said before, he's quite shy and he's like, "ah, I don't know if I really want to talk to people". But he also--and I'm putting words in his mouth, I know, but his other thing when people say like, "how do you make it work? Or how does it affect your relationship?" He's like, "I don't know. It just doesn't. She goes to work and she comes home. Like, it's literally like any other job". And I know that not everyone sees it as literally any other job. And, of course, there is the element where I have sex with other people. I know that's a part of it. But for him, and for all the other partners I've had, they've just been... it honestly has just been a non issue. I've heard sex workers say that they've dated people who they thought it would be a non issue with, and the person has acted really cool with it. But then when they've had arguments or something they've thrown it in their faces, and I am so so grateful that I've never had that experience. If somebody were to throw sex work in my face in an argument, I might commit my first ever act of violence. That would be just completely unacceptable. So it's really sad to hear that people have had those experiences. But in my case, it just, it just hasn't been a thing. Of those six relationships, only two of them are still going. I actually had a breakup at the beginning of this year, which is the main reason why we haven't done this episode until now. We originally talked about doing it early on, and I was far too heartbroken and kept bursting into tears. And we were like, "okay, let's leave that one till later". And I can tell you that being an escort is the hardest fucking job in the world when you're heartbroken. It is not easy to be there for other people when you're feeling that way. But I'm all good now. And yeah, only two of those relationships still exist. But none of them ended because of anything to do with sex work, they just came to an end as relationships do. Have you had it sort of affect your relationships in the past?

Jenna Love 36:41

As I've said before, my exes didn't take it well. But I definitely dated a different kind of person when I was younger, I've mentioned before, I have been single now for over 10 years. And in that time, I have grown so much and developed so much more self esteem. So I don't think I would be dating people now who would have that level of insecurity. And I don't think it's even just about insecurity. But I think I would date people who are more open to discussion, people who are able to tell me when they are feeling insecure, or when they're not comfortable with something, and we can work this out between us. I think, in the past, there were issues in my relationships, because I was dating people who were quite mature, and who weren't good communicators. Now communication is such an important thing to me and dating someone who values me highly. So I would hope going forward that that's not the sort of thing that I would have to deal with when I'm dating. So now that I'm a grown woman with some self respect, I would only date someone who accepts me for my entire basket case self, bunch of cats and dogs sex work and mental illness included

Jenna Love 37:48

And me. I'm part of the package deal.

Holly Harte 37:51

Jenna is definitely part of the package deal. And therefore Mr. Love by proxy. So

Jenna Love 37:56

Mr. Love is nodding because he knows that Holly is part of my package deal. He's always having to hear us chatting nonstop, all throughout the different hours of the night. Yeah, I do think I've been lucky with the people that I do spend my time around. You know, I grew up and really found myself in the arts community and the theatre community, and in a lot of queer circles, and I think that's what a lot of people don't realise, when they're surprised that sex workers are in relationships, a lot of sex workers do sit at those intersections of the margins, a lot of us are LGBTQ. There's a lot of sex workers who are involved in like, other lefty spheres and who might be involved in--there's a lot that have been performers, because, which kind of makes sense. I think the two jobs kind of go hand in hand. So it's not a surprise that we would find partners who are very sort of open minded, who are sex positive, who understand marginalisation and who understand perhaps a less tradition al way of living life.

Holly Harte 39:02

Civilians often ask, doesn't your partner worry about what you do for work? Don't they worry about your safety. Do you find that?

Jenna Love 39:09

Yeah, people ask me this all the time. I mean, to an extent like, yeah, we all worry about our partners, obviously, we don't want any harm to come to them. But what I normally say is, you know, my husband, he drives a forklift for a living. And if you want to talk about safety at work, like have you watched videos of forklift accidents, because I have and they're fucking horrifying. And nobody ever says to me, "Oh, Jenna, are you? Are you okay with Mr. Love working in a warehouse?" You know, no one ever says that. And yeah, I do. I have these little moments of "Oh my god, what if something horrible happens to him?" But the way I deal with that, and again, I'm putting words in his mouth, but I can only assume that he feels the same way, is by going well, I trust and respect him and I love him. I know that he's a really sensible person and that he's going to follow the work health and safety guidelines, I know he's really sensible, he's not somebody who's going to go do foolish things. I think, you know, incredibly highly of him. So obviously, I think he's going to take the right precautions to look after himself. And that he's not going to be silly and foolish and muck around with his own health and safety. And I would suggest he feels the same way about me. And certainly earlier on, when we knew less about the industry, he was more concerned about that. But he knows that I'm not an idiot, and that I'm going to do what I need to do to protect myself. And he also knows that my activism is a part of keeping myself safe. Because that's, I mean, it's part of keeping all sex workers safer. And that's why it's so important to me. So I think it's a bit silly to ask if you're, if your partner worries about you at work, because there's a lot of jobs that that have dangers in them of all different kinds. And I think that what you have to do is you have to just trust that your partner is doing the right thing. And I think like, I'm certainly not anti monogamy. But I think a lot of the people that have these ideas are very, like pro monogamy. And I think monogamy is fine, I just don't think it should be like set up as the standard, I think it's a decent option to have. I just personally think it's a little bit weird, but that's okay. And I sort of go how--you're all about monogamy, you're all about this, like one person for the rest of your life. And yet you don't have enough trust and respect in that person to trust their decisions, and to know that they're going to do the right thing for them and for the two of you? Like that's a bit weird to me.

Holly Harte 41:33

This is another one that I don't have lived experience with. But I think I'd be really clear with my partner about the safety measures that I take. And I'm sure or I would hope that they would appreciate my ability as an adult to manage my own safety. They are my partner, not my parent, even though when you're in any sort of relationship, that's just what you do. When you love someone you worry, you care, and you hope that they don't get hurt. But there is a line where that becomes prohibitive and just becomes neuroses.

Jenna Love 42:05

I mean, if you let your partner--"if you let your partner" God, who am I becoming? If you're comfortable with your partner driving to work every day, but you're not comfortable with what they're doing at the job, then your views on safety might be a little bit skewed, I think

Holly Harte 42:20

Is there room in sex worker relationships for monogamy?

Jenna Love 42:24

Yes, absolutely. And this is a big one. And I think I've been hesitant to talk about this because I'm so open about being non monogamous and not being a fan of monogamy, really, as I said. No, I think it's fine. I think it's a good choice. But I just think it's weird how it's held up as though that's the standard and anything else is a deviation. But I think the best way that I can illustrate this, from my experience is that when I first went into the sex industry, my husband and I were monogamous. And it wasn't until I actually took a break from the industry that we decided to sort of explore non monogamy, moreso from my needs, it was something that I wanted to try. And he was like, "Okay, we'll give this a go" because he's a legend. And in fact, then that we started to explore polyamory, which is a whole kind of nother level. And I think that what's really telling is that when I wanted to begin doing sex work, we had a lot of conversations, but we were like, "okay, yeah, cool. Let's give that a go. And I think that'll be all right". When we moved to doing non monogamy, when we moved to the step of me, spending time with other people in an intimate setting without there being payment. That was a much bigger jump, that said a lot more about our relationship. So they're just two completely different things. The fact that I'm a sex worker is not why we are in an open relationship. That's just because I'm a big slut. It's quite a different issue. But yeah, they are completely different things. And so even though I am in an open relationship at this point, that has nothing to do with my work, I work a job, and I have a relationship style. And those two things, pretty much have nothing to do with each other. So in that sense, absolutely. It can be monogamous, or it can be not.

Holly Harte 44:08

My preference for relationships is generally monogamy - it has been in the past. As I get older, though, I do like the idea of not necessarily an open relationship, but maybe more flexibility. As I said before, I'm open to discussion with my partners. And we can discuss those sorts of things without judgement, that would be an ideal relationship for me where maybe at some point, my partner says, I'm feeling like this, and I can express my feelings and I can go the same way. If I was doing sex work at the time, and honestly, even if I wasn't doing sex work during the relationship, I would be comfortable with my partner saying sex workers. I don't find that threatening in any way. And I understand sometimes there's a need for variety and that doesn't really offend me that once again, my job does not mean that I am immediately open to one thing or another

Jenna Love 45:03

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the sex industry. And snap lock downs and travel restrictions mean that there are times when sex workers require emergency financial relief in order for them and their dependents to stay safe housed and fed.

Holly Harte 45:18

Sex workers don't get sick or holiday pay, and many have no savings to fall back on. The stigma and discrimination that we face means that some have no proof of earnings to access government support. And of course, migrant workers are often forgotten.

Jenna Love 45:30

Scarlet Alliance and their state and territory member organisations joined together to create an ongoing fund that is hosted on the website Chuffed.

Holly Harte 45:41

Donations are tax deductible, 100% of funds raised go directly to sex workers in need, and most weeks the amount of people apply outweigh the amount of funds raised and sadly, people have to be turned away. The link to this fund is in our show notes.

Jenna Love 46:00

Our misconception for this week is one that I brought up and found out quite quickly that Holly and I have different views on it. Basically that I thought it was a misconception and she maybe isn't sure if it is so much of a misconception. So let's discuss. It is that men are always paying for it somehow. "It" being sex, basically. So do you see this as a misconception, Holly? Or is it just me?

Holly Harte 46:25

It's such a hard one. Because immediately when you said that to me earlier this week, I went "...I mean they are". But as we discussed it further, I'm not quite sure anymore. It's a really complex one, because it does revolve around power dynamics and gender roles, and heteronormative assumptions that we make in relationships. So I generally think at first glance, men are paying for it one way or another. I think generally, men usually are the more sexually driven people in a relationship or in society. And women therefore hold the power of the pussy, as some people call it. So therefore, if a man's goal is to obtain sexual interaction with a woman, there is some amount of time or financial or emotional investment that goes into that. And I know that's making it extremely transactional. But I think if you look at any dynamic in society, they are transactional, not always, but there are transactional elements to different dynamics. And that is part of it--is that in one way or another, a man, if he wants to obtain that sexual interaction, there will be some investment in one way or another. That's my understanding or my feelings on it. Tell me why it's a misconception. Tell me why that doesn't tickle your pickle.

Jenna Love 47:44

It does--it shrivels my pickle, I fucking hate it. I hate hate hate this. I am having a visceral reaction to it. But that was interesting listening to you talk about it. Because it did make me--like when you said, you know, any interaction we have with other people is somewhat transactional. And that's--actually it's a philosophy in theatre, I used to study acting and one of the things that's really crucial to acting is that you go into every interaction that your character has with another character, with an objective wanting to get something out of that interaction. And the philosophy behind that is that whenever we have an interaction with another person, we're doing it to get something out of it, even if that thing is a bonding, comfort, or, you know, it can be an altruistic thing that you're getting out of it. But we're always wanting something out of everything that we do. We don't do things without purpose. So actually hearing you say that I was like, "Okay, all right, I can understand where that's coming from". But I still fucking hate it. It's often used to validate sex work, I hear it used as an argument a lot, especially from men in particular, who will, you know, comment and say, well, "sex work is fine, because all men are paying for it somehow anyway". And I sort of go, I don't need you to validate my work. I don't need that argument made. As you've said, it's heteronormative it's fucking stupid. Because what about-does that mean that men who have sex with men are all paying each other at the same? Like it doesn't...? It doesn't make any sense. And I think I it really cuts me personally, I think because particularly since becoming a sex worker, I'm really staunch that my relationships are amongst two equals. And I know that it's not talking just about money. It's talking about, as you said, emotional investment, time, etc. But you know, I'm a real split-the-bill girl. Before I was a sex worker, I didn't really care about that stuff so much. But because I have all these transactional relationships in my life, it is vitally important to me that my personal relationships are not transactional, and that we're both really contributing equally to the relationship. And when I hear people say this, I go "you're saying that Mr. Love is somehow paying to be able to fuck me and that makes me--I feel disgusted". That completely--I mean, I call me romantic, call me naive, but I believe that we have a really equal beautiful relationship. And it's not based on him wanting to get into my pants. And it's the same when I get a lot of clients who say to me, "Oh, my God, Mr. Love is so lucky" because they think I'm great in bed or whatever. And I'm like, "Well, actually, yeah, he's lucky, because I'm amazing. But it's not--it's nothing to do with the bedroom". Like, sure, that's a part of our relationship. But that... it's not--he's not putting up with me. I think it suggests that women have to be put up with in order for men to get their dicks wet. And I think that's really fucked. And I just, I think it's...I hate it. I just hate it.

Holly Harte 50:43

Yeah, I definitely think part of my view comes from some amount of internalised misogyny, and I totally recognise that. But I also think, as I said, before, power dynamics are really important. And I think in your relationship, you have a very healthy, equal power dynamic, where you both want the same things, and you both have the same respect for each other. And that's really healthy. And I'm sure, that's what we all would have as an ideal. But that is not, in my opinion, often the case in society, that both partners have the same interests in sex, or that they both have the same values and things like that, I think, in society, it just does tend to be reflected that women are less inclined to be intimate with their partners. That may just be a stereotype. But I think there's fuel to that fire. I think that's there's some truth to it. And in my past relationships, there definitely has been, but yes, society as a whole tends to, to function in a certain way. And maybe that reinforces views that aren't particularly healthy in myself and in other people, I definitely get what you're saying about it seeming like we are a burden, and managers doing whatever they have to do to get into our pants, and that feels really shitty. But I do still think that there is some truth to the idea that, if that's a man's goal, there is investment in it. And like you said, using it to justify seeing sex workers, it does make sense to me, because if you're a guy who your whole goal is, I want to have sex this week, or I want to have sex. And that is your goal, then whether or not you go on Tinder, or you catch up with a girl that you used to go to school with, and you lay all the groundwork and you do--or whatever it is, there is some payment, there is some investment that you have to put in.

Jenna Love 52:27

But do those people not also have the same goal? If your way of going and achieving that is getting on a dating app or hooking up with someone, then the two of you are looking for the same goal, it's not like you're going out and you need to buy them drinks, and you need to spend time in order to get them into bed. And that's not something that they want to do? Like that's their payment?

Holly Harte 52:46

I think a lot of men don't, aren't inclined to want to go through that whole dating experience themselves. So it feels like they're having to put in--if their only goal is for sex, it feels like the man is having to put in work. Even if the woman wants them,

Jenna Love 53:00

Well then they should just go to a sex worker!

Holly Harte 53:02

That's exactly, exactly, exactly.

Jenna Love 53:04

If that's what they want!

Holly Harte 53:05

Yeah, 100%. But I think there are a lot of men out there who--sure, there are a lot of people who want complex things in relationships and different sorts of dynamics. And that's a whole other thing. But I think there are a lot of men out there that just want sex. And because of the way that women view sex as part, or sorry, and I'm generalising massively here, but that women generally say sex is more of an emotional thing, or they need to know, or give a fuck about who they're fucking often, like, we don't just want any dick, we want some dick that we care--, whereas a lot of men in my experience, I wouldn't say they're not as fussy. But the end goal is sex, not anything too much deeper than that. So because of that, sort of the way that sex is--that sexual currency is held, when men are just driven to go and just get sex, and that's all they want, it probably feels like payment to have to then go through a process of "I've got to meet this girl. And then I've got to, you know, invest my time into her and then go somewhere with her and pay for the blah, blah, blah". And it's, I can see the reaction on your face. Now, it's not glamorous, it's not romantic, it's not sexy, but I think it is a function of that whole dynamic. And that probably feels like payments. So like you said, go and see a sex worker. And that's what a lot of them do. They come and see sex workers, they don't have to go through any of the social awkwardness or the financial outlay, or the time outlay or any of that sort of stuff to get what is purely just sex.

Jenna Love 54:28

Yeah, well, that I think that's a great solution. To me, it's this, like pretending that it's not transactional, but thinking that it is going--I've got to do these things in order to have sex. Fuck that. If yeah, if you need to pay for it, then cool. That's everyone's upfront. Everyone knows what the deal is. Just look, I really, really appreciate you sharing your view on it because you've given me stuff to think about. And we--

Holly Harte 54:50


Jenna Love 54:51

We each we know that we like to disagree on things and we're comfortable with that. But I just think it's a really gross way of looking at it and people in your interactions with them. But I think that you're right in terms of being a bit more maybe realistic about how a lot of relationships actually do work.

Holly Harte 55:09

I definitely agree that there are gross elements to that. And I also don't want to paint myself as having those sorts of values. I don't want anyone listening to be like, "Oh, that's what Holly thinks is okay". That's just my perspective on how the world works. And as I said, it may be elements of misogyny in myself, and it may be bits of uneducated parts, and some of it may be right. So once again, it's all just my opinion. And, as always, it's a pleasure disagreeing with you, Jenna.

Jenna Love 55:37

For Shit People Say this week, I was recently reminded of a conversation I had with a client many years ago. Now, this was a client, who his initial contact with me was a text message that just said, "Hi". And I think I responded back "Hi", he said, "How are you?" I, probably knowing me, said "fine", probably with a full stop, because I do tend to be a bit passive aggressive. And any sex workers listening will be familiar with this, we call them "hi" guys. And often they are seen as people who are wasting our time, people who aren't serious about actually making a booking. And a lot of the time, it depends, if we're quite busy, we may just ignore messages like that. A lot of sex workers, particularly those in positions to turn away work will just ignore anybody who doesn't submit a proper booking inquiry, and other workers will, you know, respond to every single message they get regardless of it. For me, it really depends on how I'm feeling. At this time, I was obviously bored enough to go along with the conversation. And he did then go on to make a booking. So then we had the booking, and during it, he said to me, "thanks so much for responding to my message, because most sex workers just don't respond". And I was like, "oh, okay, well, that's because you just say, Hi, you're being a Hi, guy". He was like, "oh, what else am I supposed to say?" And I was like, well, you're supposed to write you know, "hi Jenna, I saw you on this website. I'd love to make a booking around this time. Do you have this availability, etc? Here is my screening information". And he was like, "Whoa, that's a bit full on, isn't it?" And I was like, "No, that's just how you should do it"

Holly Harte 57:12

Basic manners

Jenna Love 57:12

From my perspective, yeah. And he said, "Oh, you can't just jump straight to the sex. Like, you've got to, you know, say hi, introduce yourself, get to know someone a little bit". And I was like, "oh, but we're not courting". And it made me realise--And until then, I had no idea why these people would say, just "Hi", or "Hi, how are you", or "you available?". And it was really interesting to get inside his mind. Because he viewed it as really rude to speak to a woman in the first message talk about arranging to get together to have sex. And I was like, "right... but it's a business". You know, when you contact your dentist, you don't go "Hi. Oh, yeah. How have you been? Ah, okay, what's new with the kids? Cool" and then make a booking, you just fucking make a booking because it's a business and otherwise, you'd be wasting their time. So it just made me realise that a lot of these guys, they actually think they're being really polite. And it's perceived by us as being incredibly rude. And something I've written on my etiquette page as well, because I think a lot of things that clients or potential clients do that are perceived as the nice thing to do are actually considered quite rude by those of us in the industry. Anyway, at the end of the conversation, I explained all of that to him. And he was like, "No, I'm not going to be doing that". He refused to take my advice. And he was like, "that seems really impolite to just jump straight into it". And I was like, "Alright, well, you're going to keep having people not responding messages" but cool, whatever you do you.

Holly Harte 58:43

Good luck!

Jenna Love 58:44

Yeah, no worries. But I thought that was interesting. And it's good to know that that's where they're coming--well, that's where some of those people might be coming from. The reason I thought that was relevant for this week is because it was like they viewed it as a courtship period. And I was like, you don't need to court us though. That's not what this--we're not courting. And if we were, that would not achieve it. That would not make my panties wet. It's time for us to give a huge thank you to our supporters on Patreon. We've had three new Generous Somebodies sign up they are Nick, Scott, and Abby.

Holly Harte 59:21

Our Even More Generous Somebodies are Timmy, Andrew, Adam Smith, Leo, Lachlan, Cass, Sub London, Miss Billy, Diane Needs, Nora Knightley, Lesley, and Scott Watson. Our Extremely Generous Somebodies are Aaron, Samuel, Andrew, Pete, and Theodore Betts, the first Esquire.

Jenna Love 59:44

Thank you so much for listening to us today. We love having you here. And please remember to sort of spruik us on social media if you feel so inclined. We would really like that, we'd love to get our message out there. Please look out for us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Patreon. Our name everywhere is somebodyyoupod (as in podcast). Our Patreon starts at just $3 a month, and you can get all of our episodes ad-free and a day early, plus bonus episodes, behind the scenes action, bloopers and more. Thank you for taking the time to listen to the voices of sex workers. And remember, Somebody You Love might just be a sex worker.

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