- As states begin to reopen businesses, sex workers with jobs at legal brothels are gearing up to return to work.
- Full-time brothel workers say they need to return to their jobs to offset the financial devastation of not working for months, but returning means potentially exposing themselves to the coronavirus.
- Some brothels are creating cleaning and health protocols, but they aren’t fool-proof. That’s why sex worker Alice Little said brothel owners should give workers a higher percentage of their profits.
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As many states start reopening restaurants and public beaches, more gig economy workers are gearing up for their returns to work as well.
For legal sex workers who spend their time in close contact with others, getting back to the brothels where they work is necessary for financial survival.
That’s because sex workers were barred from applying to the federal small business economic relief package, and the closed strip clubs and brothels that were their main income sources have remained closed since the March shutdowns.
Though sex workers are eager to get back to making money, Alice Little, a legal sex worker at Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada, told Insider they aren’t being compensated appropriately for the coronavirus transmission risks they’ll have to take when they return to work. Those risks include being in close contact with clientele for extended periods of time indoors, which the CDC and infectious disease experts warn against.
Sex workers take home half of the money they bring to brothels
In Nevada where sex work is legal, people working at brothels keep half the money they bring in from customers, while the other half goes to the brothel owners. Sex workers can set their own prices for clients.
Though not written into law, brothels around the state use this percentage in sex workers’ contracts.Little said this industry standard should be adjusted to account for the health risks that sex workers take, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are the ones essentially taking on all of the risk. If we’re the ones that are putting ourselves out there intimately with people from all over the country, even all over the globe sometimes, we deserve recognition for that and to ask for something like a 10% increase [in the money we take home]…I don’t think that that’s unrealistic or unfair,” Little told Insider.
Little said she and her fellow sex workers want brothels to change the standard to 60% for sex workers and 40% for brothel owners.
“I’d love to see the owners say, ‘You know what? Yeah, you’re right. You guys have been out of work for however many months.’ Many of these owners are incredibly, incredibly rich. I mean, my god, how much money does Lance Gilman [the owner of Mustang Ranch brothel] have? He could afford to help the ladies out in that one small way,” Little said.
Brothel workers say online sex work isn’t enough to support them
Little said sex workers have had to find alternative ways to make money during the pandemic, but those methods, like camming and making OnlyFans accounts, haven’t made up for their brothel-associated income.
“This is our career. This is how we make a living, and so it’s been very, very impactful,” Little said.
Transitioning to online sex work isn’t an easy logistical feat either, Little said.
“It can’t be understated how unfriendly the internet is for sex workers. So to transition to having to process our own payments, having to advertise when many of our websites are blacklisted and hidden on Twitter, it is incredibly challenging,” she said.
So when brothels reopen, she expects sex workers will want to return despite the risks involved.
Brothels are creating safety and cleaning protocols, but they aren’t fool-proof
Sex workers have always used thorough cleaning protocols, including showers, hand-washing, and surface sanitization, to stop the spread of germs and sexually transmitted infections while they work.
But extra care will be needed in brothels, where clients tend to congregate in enclosed spaces.
Madam Bella, the owner of the brothel Bella’s Hacienda Ranch in Nevada, told Insider that she wants to reopen her business as soon as the governor allows it, but that she’ll be taking certain precautions to protect the health of her employees.
Bella said she’ll keep the communal bar area in her brothel closed to limit multi-person gatherings, set up hand-sanitizer stations throughout the premises, and instate temperature checks for all clientele.
“If they’ve had the sniffles, there may be people that get turned away initially where we say, ‘Gosh, we’ll see you next time you come through,'” Bella said.
These methods aren’t foolproof, however, since people can be asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus.
Little said brothels should take the lead from sex workers, and create cleaning protocols that include their recommendations.
“One of the things that concerns me is that no one is talking to the workers themselves. No one’s talking to us and saying, ‘What sorts of things do you need to feel safe?'” Little said.
She’s spoken with her colleagues, and many have said creating areas that are spaced six feet apart for a single client and sex worker to interact, using temperature check stations, and allowing workers to create their own client schedules to minimize overall contact, are all requests.
“They’re thinking of having longer encounters with one individual rather than multiple shorter encounters…I can only speak for myself here, but I’m interested in the idea of working one week and then taking one week off in order to minimize risk,” Little said.
— to www.insider.com