- People in the sex work community are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with clients canceling appointments and work becoming more scarce.
- Many sex workers cannot work remotely, meaning social distancingis not a realistic possibility to stave off the virus.
- Despite myths about sex workers being "disease-carrying" or "dirty," people in the industry typically have deeper knowledge of proper sanitation and cleanliness practices than the general public.
- Insider spoke to three sex workers on how there are being impacted by the coronavirus epidemic.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
People in the sex work community are being hit hard by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike office workers who can work remotely, some sex workers are unable to practice social distancing without suffering financially.
"How do you do social distancing when you're salary dependent on socializing," Sherae Lascelles, a Washington State senatorial candidate and founder of POC Sex Worker Outreach Program, said.
Coupled with existing stigma that surrounds sex work — marking sex workers as "dirty" or "disease carrying" — many say they are experiencing intense backlash as the global outbreak spreads.
Sex workers are used to keeping things clean
Fera Lorde, a full-service sex worker based in New York City, told Insider that while sex workers are often stigmatized as dirty or carrying diseases, sex workers are oftentimes more cautious about sanitation and germs than the general public.
"I think it's important to just note we're already aware of pathogen risks similar to anyone who may be working with bodily fluids like a tattoo artist or someone's whose a nurse," Lorde told Insider.
Because Lorde themselves is immunocompromised, Lorde has always used medical grade hydrogen peroxide wipes to disinfect her work spaces and has a thorough process for cleaning sex toys.
Similarly, Aviva Diamond, a lifestyle and professional dominatrix based in New York City, has a thorough process for sanitizing her workspace — a professional dungeon with a "very strict cleaning policy."
"The only additional precautions I have been taking has been to wash my hands more often and thoroughly even when not in sessions," Diamond told Insider. "Honestly because of the precautions we take, seeing a professional is likely a much lower risk than having this kind of experience with a non-professional."
The coronavirus is hitting the economy, so clients are cancelling appointments
Ruby Wild, an Australian escort and massage provider and a former nurse, told Insider she is more concerned about how the virus will impact the economy than her immune system.
"I'm more concerned about the ripple effects economically and how long will it last," Wild told Insider. "As other industries are affected and people have less money to spend, it will affect me for sure."
Diamond says the market fluctuations have already tightened her clients' wallets, particularly businesspeople from overseas.
"The biggest impact for me has been with clients who travel for business," Diamond said. "Many work trips are being canceled, and therefore sessions. I've already had several clients have to cancel this month due to their company restricting travel."
Some are turning to video sessions to ride out the pandemic, and some are creating support groups for the community
In order to adapt to the changing demands of clients and looming possibility of indefinite quarantines, some sex workers are changing their approach to work.
"Because people are staying home more and not as likely to book in-person sessions, I will be focusing more on online content," Diamond said. "I imagine if people are staying home more, they will be bored and looking for an outlet online. "
Meanwhile, many — including Lorde — are putting their efforts into providing information, supplies, and support to others in the community at a time of uncertainty.
It's all the more critical, Lorde says, as the virus drives strip clubs to close, driving strip club workers to street work, increasing competition and risk for Lorde's community.
"A big thing that has changed for me is just getting access to funds and suppplies to people in my community who are at risk or are seeing a downtick in their ability to see clients or create income for themselves," Lorde said. "Offering that kind of support has been a big shift in the industry."
Additional Reporting by Haven Orecchio-Egresitz
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