'Hugely beneficial': Hidden side of sex industry shines under social isolation

Relationships between sex workers and their clients have been interrupted by the coronavirus, with social isolation restrictions leaving brothels, massage parlours and private one-on-one services on pause indefinitely.

The industry is, however, still going strong, highlighting that there is more to adult entertainment than just sex. 

Rosie Renee believes that pornography is more important than ever now that Australia is in coronavirus lockdown. Photo: Yahoo

Sex worker Taylor Tara has been seeing some clients for more than a decade, and they’ve been missing her.

“Well, it’s funny, I got home and there was a packet on the backdoor,” she told Yahoo.  

“One of my clients had brought me around toilet paper, and just left it there.

“I thought that is so sweet.”

While Ms Tara was pressured by some “Johns” to “just do one more,” for many it was the conversation they missed most.

When one client, a man in his seventies, lost his job when social isolation regulations came into place, Ms Tara was the person he turned to.

“I’ve had a lot of clients say, well can we just talk on the phone,” she said.

“Because they’re lonely and this is going to make it so much harder.

“The sex industry in my eyes is the most needed profession for society, other than the medical profession.

“Not having that regular contact when you have no one else at all, I think it will make a big difference and a lot of people will go downhill.”

Sex worker Taylor Tara has found that many of her clients are lonely and want to speak on the phone. Source: Supplied

Tara isn’t the only one concerned at the mental toll a lack of sex work will take on an isolated population. 

Alice Little, America’s highest-earning legal sex worker tells Yahoo the industry offers a kind of healing many will sorely miss.

“We have a very real effect on the lives of our guests: they're getting their needs, their physical and psychological needs met,” she says. 

“There absolutely is a healing aspect to this line of work. Right now as physical touch is becoming increasingly rare, people aren’t getting that very real need met.” 

Alice Little says the disruption in the sex industry means a 'very real need' isn't being met. Photo: Supplied

Porn consumption is actually hugely beneficial

Adult entertainer Rosie Renee had been working as a cam girl for 10 years when the coronavirus started impacting the Australian economy.

Before the stock market took a hit and businesses started to fold, Ms Renee would hook up her webcam to a small room in her house and perform one-on-one for a select list of clients.

When a number of her regulars lost their disposable income and they could no longer afford her time. 

Keeping things fun is important to Rosie Renee who likes to make sets to perform in. Photo: Supplied

“It was really obvious for me as the pandemic started getting increasingly worse here in Australia, the effect that it was having on me,” she told Yahoo.

“A lot of my peers in the industry, other cam girls that I know, they’re making more money now, because people are home and they just have supporters that haven’t been impacted.

“Whereas I just happened to have a lot of accountants and businessmen who have just lost their income pretty much.”

Now, Ms Renee is focused on entertaining a wider audience, operating her business through the subscription-based Only Fans website, and while the money isn’t as good, she’s feeling good with her decision.

“Porn consumption is actually hugely beneficial to people’s mental health,” she said.

“That’s why we’re seeing such a huge spike in people consuming this.

“They’re home, there’s nothing to do, they want to relieve stress, and it’s that little bit of normalcy that people can bring into their lives with all of this craziness that’s going on. They can forget about it for a minute.”

Despite the fun and games, many of Rosie Renee's clients confide in her about their struggles. Photo: Supplied

She says the benefits can’t be underestimated, particularly while the nation is in the grips of a worldwide pandemic.

“It's bringing comfort to people right now in a really dark time and keeping them distracted and keeping them inside,” she says.

Rosie says with the rise in demand has come a rise in new recruits, many of them former escorts or full-service sex workers left out of work by the shutdown.

“The Australian cam community is so small, I know everyone,” she says. “You notice new people coming in.”

“It’s a little overwhelming,” she admits, adding the transition may not be as simple as many think.

“Camming or Only Fans is 24/7,” she says. “It’s really full-on which a lot of people don’t realise. If you want to make money that is.”

'We want to help them and we can’t’

These days that demand has shifted somewhat, with ‘full-on’ now encompassing more than just physical work online. 

Many of the men Ms Renee still speaks to one-on-one over webcam have been expecting more from her, needing her to act as a therapist and help them with their stress of the pandemic.

For some, she is the only person they can confide in - they live alone and don’t have anyone else they can be open with about the embarrassment or shame they are feeling from losing their income or investments. 

Many clients share their deepest feelings with Taylor Tara. Photo: Supplied

“I did put a post out basically, saying that I know that you’re going through a hard time, we all are, but remember we’re not therapists,” she said.

“Because we can’t help them with these things. 

“They’ll often try and unload all of this stuff onto us and we just feel back because we want to help them and we can’t.

“And it’s happening multiple times a day with multiple people.”

Alice reports the same experience, saying many men now just want to connect with her on a very basic level.

She says where previously sex workers offered a chance to explore exciting new experiences, she has seen a true reversion to basics.

“Previously people would ask for threesomes or costumes,” she says. “But at this point we’re seeing people go from a want or a desire, to a really specific need, and that’s that of [basic] intimacy.”

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