A male escort client empties his pockets after hiring a sex worker.
How much do sex workers cost? Here's an explanation as to why it's such a big investment.

Six reasons why escort service fees are so expensive

Georgie Wolf
Georgie Wolf

“Why do escorts charge so much?” It was an innocent question, but I felt defensive.

“Are you saying I’m not worth the money?” I wanted to reply. Instead, I bit my tongue. I didn’t want to ruin the mood.

We were lying in bed together at four in the afternoon and the sun was streaming through the windows of our hotel room. Two half-drunk glasses of champagne sat on the bedside table. I felt relaxed, as one often does after a play session. It was a bad time to raise the question of money. Hadn’t he just had a great time? Surely, he should be happy about the session he’d just invested in?

But instead of taking offence, I looked closer. I saw the worry lines at the corners of his mouth. My client wasn’t questioning our time together; he was concerned about whether he could afford the next encounter.

How expensive is it to see an escort?

In a country where the minimum wage is twenty bucks an hour, I understand that a fling with a sex worker might seem expensive. It’s one of the reasons I started this job in the first place: I wanted a high hourly rate of pay so that I’d have time to concentrate on other projects. Sex work appeals for many reasons, and one of those is its ability to make cash quickly. But there is more to the story than simply making bank.

Firstly, there’s something you need to know. Sex workers aren’t always that expensive, and 'expensive' doesn’t necessarily mean ‘better’. Independent escorts are pretty much able to set their own service fees. Prices start around $200 per hour and go as high as $1000 per hour, for those workers who have special services or international fame.

When it comes to sex workers, 'price' isn't the same as 'value'.

As I said above, sex workers charge all sorts of rates and work in all sorts of situations, for a variety of reasons.

Everyone has a different opinion about this stuff, but I strongly feel that you can’t make assumptions about the quality of the experience based on price alone.

I say this because there are sometimes negative judgements made about workers who charge lower rates. 'High class' escorts become sex status symbols, while more affordable workers are considered less attractive, less professional, or less respectable.

A dollar value does not define the worth of a person, or their work. I know plenty of guys who've met their perfect match during a half-hour brothel visit. Whether you spend $200 on a quick fling or $4000 on an overnight booking, you may end up feeling just as satisfied, if that person meets your needs. Your experience will depend on many factors, such as the worker's way of doing business, the location of the session, whether you ‘click’, and how well you treat them.

I don’t recommend seeing ‘expensive escorts’ because they’re ‘better’. Price isn't the best way to work out if someone is right for you.

A 'high' class escort wearing expensive dress and jewellery
'Expensive' doesn't necessarily mean 'better'. Lower-priced escorts can be professional too.

Here are a few reasons why escort service fees can be expensive.

Perhaps the worker you're interested in charges more than average...that's okay too. Here are a few reasons why we set our rates so high.

We may not work as often as you think.

A lot of clients assume that sex workers are rolling in cash. But often, we're on quite a modest income.

Although some escorts see dozens of clients a week, many have a lower turnover. That means a few sessions a week. If the jobs are only an hour or two, long, then they're basically making an average wage.

We also need to deal with quiet times of year, such as holidays. We don't get paid for sick days or time off. All this means that the money we make must stretch further than if we were working a nine-to-five job.

You’re paying for our emotional labour, not just a sexual service

You may be thinking, "An hour's worth of sex isn't hard work – it’s just having fun. How can someone charge so much for that?"

But although it's fun and relaxing for you, there's a lot of work that your escort puts into each and every encounter.

When I see a client, it’s my job to make sure they feel comfortable, welcome, and listened to. I need to pay attention all the time to ensure they’re enjoying themselves. I need to listen to their problems and support them if they’re having a tough time. I also need to keep an eye out for any behaviour that might be difficult, such as pushing for services I don't provide.

This is called emotional labour, and it’s the most significant aspect of the job. When you spend time with a skilled escort, you feel as though the booking is completely effortless – but behind the scenes, a lot of emotional work is happening on to ensure things go smoothly.

Escorts work hard outside the bedroom, too

From posting ads to filing taxes, there are dozens of unpaid tasks that can fill up the time of a successful escort. Marketing, admin, replying to emails...basically, it's just like any other small business. All of this effort needs to be factored in when we calculate our fees and hourly rates!

We also deal with a lot of 'time wasters' - people who contact us but have no intention of actually arranging a booking. Dealing with these folk is time-consuming, as we need to sort through all the bad enquiries to get to the good ones. By the time an escort shows up for a session, they've had to decline a lot of other offers.

So a percentage of your session costs could be considered the 'admin fee'. Without all that work, we'd never be able to meet you in person.

You’re paying for us to deal with sex work stigma

People talk trash about sex workers all the time – it’s called ‘whorephobia’ or 'sex work stigma'. The idea that sex workers are damaged, greedy, or unprofessional pops up everywhere.

Apart from making dinner-table conversation difficult, this stuff has some very real effects on the way we live our lives.

Thanks to stigma, being a sex worker can make life very hard. We're often discriminated against when we apply for loans or open bank accounts. We might be hassled by the cops, fired from our regular jobs, denied insurance coverage, or treated badly by medical professionals.

In social spaces, we might sometimes be rejected by family members, struggle to make friends outside the sex industry, or have conflicts with romantic partners. All this because other people have issues with sex work!

Any type of work that has increased risk or hardship will usually attract a higher rate of pay. When we set our rates, we're factoring in all those difficulties, which often persist long after we've actually quit the industry.

Our operating costs are higher than you think.

Advertising costs money. So do photo shoots, lingerie, shoes, makeup, hair, transport, health checks and phone bills.

Some of these are standard business expenses, but there are also some sex-work-specific items that really add up. Online advertising, for example, can cost hundreds of dollars a month. And items such as lingerie can climb into the thousands, depending on our clientele's requirements.

If you spend time with a touring escort, their rate needs to cover their flights, accommodation, and food while they're away from home.

Access to our bodies is personal and valuable

Sex work involves a lot of intimate physical and emotional contact. It's not just any physical service.

Any work that involves intimacy or physical touch is expensive because it's so personal. Every escort sets a rate of pay that suits them best for the work they do. We deserve to have the final say when it comes to our bodies.

A client puts coins in a savings jar to save up for his required escort service fees.
An escort's service fees are often high, and you might need to save up before you can treat yourself to a sex work session.

Tips on how to afford sex workers.

Many clients have a fixed idea of what they'll pay to see an escort. But if you're a little more flexible on price, you may find yourself having just as enjoyable an experience.

As I said above, a lower-priced escort isn't necessarily any less professional than a high-priced one, so why not try someone that's a better fit for your budget? Escort advertising sites such as Tryst allow you to search for sex workers within your price range.

If escort rates don’t appeal to you, it’s worth considering other types of sex work. Brothels, for example, charge a fixed rate when you visit their premises (with some additional costs for certain services). They're often (but not always) priced lower than most of the escorts you see online, making them a great option for the budget-conscious.

A brothel, or parlor, is a business where a number of sex workers offer hands-on services on the premises. You can visit the establishment, meet the workers, and then choose who to spend time with on the premises. A session can be anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours. Brothels might be found in some locations and not others, depending on local laws.

Or perhaps it's simply a matter of waiting longer between sessions? Draw up a budget, set up a savings account, and treat your escort adventure the same way you would a holiday: as a goal you need to work towards.

A date with an escort is supposed to be special … and something that’s special is worth paying for. So, rather than dwelling on the cost of and escort's service fees, find someone that's deserving of your hard-earned pennies.