The Coronavirus Pandemic Adds Another Layer to Sex Work: The Online Girlfriend Experience

Sex workers BELatina

It will be many years before we finally have a general idea of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all levels of our society.

While some complain about not being able to go to bars or get their hair cut, there are workers who survive exclusively on physical contact, including sex workers.

We spoke a few days ago about the experience of sex workers in Latin America, where precariousness and life on the streets have made it more difficult for them to survive the public health crisis.

But in countries like the United States or Japan the so-called “developed” countries this industry has mutated in a particular way. Between networking of support organizations and the transformation of their services, women workers now have a new post-confinement landscape.

In Los Angeles, working women members of the chapter of the Sex Workers Outrech Project (SWOPLA) met virtually in mid-March to create a mutual aid fund and secure emergency grants for all members, according to The Nation.

“The second we got together, we knew we had to launch an emergency fund immediately,” said one of the members to the media.

In Las Vegas, the SWOP raised $10,000 in just 15 days through GoFundMe; Brooklyn raised $100,000, and other cities such as Austin, Detroit, and San Francisco were able to launch similar efforts.

Like undocumented and other informal workers, sex workers did not benefit from the congressional stimulus package, and the risk of precariousness is just as strong.

“A lot of us have been on the margins of the economy for a very, very long time, if not our entire lives,” the worker continued. “Some of us have literally not taken a payment except in cash or on a cash app. Some sex workers have never had bank accounts. Some are undocumented.”

For Allisa, a sex worker at Sheri’s Ranch, a Brothel in Pahrump, Nevada, the closure of public spaces and therefore of her workplaceinvolved an effort at improvisation.

As reported by Rolling Stone, Allisa resorted to another “digital” format of her work: the girlfriend experience, where sessions “provide more intimacy than the average encounter, usually involving kissing, cuddling, and extensive conversation.”

With the extensive competition that has emerged on digital platforms to offer all kinds of companionship services, Allisa turned to Skype and FaceTime to offer “virtual dates.”

“Normally, during my overnight parties, we take our time; we sit by the fire and have drinks together,” she told the magazine. “We share dinner, watch a movie. There’s more foreplay. With the regular parties, it’s more straight-to-the-point sex.

With sex work being heavily regulated but legal in Nevada, options for accessing government assistance are virtually non-existent. Beyond trying to enforce the CARES act for the self-employed, sex workers are completely excluded.

“I haven’t had a job outside the ranch in 10 years, so it would be hard for me to go somewhere else without experience. I hope people would be open-minded to hiring us, but I’m not so sure,” Allisa added.