Hard up

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By Carla Wintersgill

The first time someone paid Jared* for sex, he wasn’t expecting it.

He was working at the Barn and Stables where he met a good-looking man. They spent the whole night dancing together. When the man invited Jared back to his hotel room, Jared accepted the invitation as the night’s natural progression.

After they slept together, Jared left to take a cab home. On his way out of the hotel room, the man handed Jared a $100 bill. He said it was to help him with school expenses. Jared went home with a new idea in his head. He liked sex, he liked meeting new people and he needed the money. Why not place an ad promoting his services?

Blond 21 yr old university student, smooth swimmer’s body, green eyes, 30” waist, 6’1” tall, 9” dick, cute bubble butt. Clean cut, boyish good looks and very friendly bottom boy.

His ad runs in the Fab magazine classifieds each week. He also has a similar one online. These ads aren’t uncommon, but the fact that he is a university student is.

Everyone knows post-secondary education is an expensive venture. Making enough money to pay tuition is hard to do when you work in the mall — the hours suck and the job pays nothing.So, Jared found an alternative way to pay for school.

Jared’s first client contacted him through e-mail. Nervous, Jared suggested they meet in a public place, underneath the horse statue in Queen’s Park.

The man who showed up was middle-aged, balding and slightly overweight. He had a nice smile and was just as nervous as Jared, which made him relax. Jared was 18 and he knew that escorting would pay his way through school.

Jared, now 21, is a third-year University of Toronto student studying languages. His goal is to get his MBA. Jared is from the United States, so he pays international student tuition fees. They add up to approximately $15,000 a year. On top of that, he pays for room, board and books.

Jared’s parents refuse to pay for his tuition. They have a rocky relationship and he left home when he was 16.

“I’ve been on my own since then,” Jared says. “I was working as a lifeguard, swim instructor, waiter, and a nude model for art classes. I had enough money to pay for about 50 per cent of first year. I thought that I would be able to get a work visa when I came here, which didn’t happen. You can’t have a work visa when you have a student visa.”

The only jobs available to Jared were low-paying, on-campus jobs. And student loans were out of the question.

“I’m not emancipated and my parents won’t sign off on a student loan,” says Jared. “My mother controls all the finances. The only loan I can get is a very small one, so that’s not an option.”

Ryerson’s most notorious brush with prostitution comes in the form of former professor Gerald Hannon. Hannon was a part-time journalism instructor at Ryerson who confessed in a 1995 Toronto Sun article to working as a prostitute. Shortly after, Hannon was fired from his teaching position.

Today, Hannon still works as an escort for a select group of regular clients. The bulk of his income comes from freelancing, while escorting provides him with “coffee money.”

“My only regret was not advising my students that it was a good way to make a lot of money without taking a lot of time,” says Hannon. “If you’re at ease with your sexuality, you can sit at home, take calls and it doesn’t take a lot of time from studies.”

Holly Sullivan*, a third-year Ryerson student, takes a non-traditional approach to making money. She sells pictures of herself in her underwear online. The proceeds help pay her tuition.

In 2003, her website caught the eye of a man in Ottawa who offered Sullivan $200 for a picture of her in her bra and panties. Sullivan agreed, and a moneymaking enterprise took off.

Last year, Sullivan estimates that she made between $4000-$5000. Clients either paid her money for photos, or bought her things from her Amazon.com wish list. Recently, Sullivan sold a picture of her feet to a foot-fetishist for $300.

Sullivan is adamant that she draws the line at photos.

“I wouldn’t sleep with someone for money,” she says. “It would be degrading. I would never do it.”

Jared charges $200 for the first hour and $150 for every hour thereafter. Overnights start at $700. Prices are agreed upon before the evening starts.

“That way at the end you’re not expecting one thing and they’re expecting something else. It lessens the stress and the possible conflict. Everyone knows what to expect,” says Jared.

Jared isn’t the only person Lyne Genereux has heard of who uses prostitution to pay for education. Genereux is a resource centre co-ordinator at Maggie’s — a sex worker outreach program. She acknowledges that prostitution is a viable way to make a living.

“In this business, it’s very unpredictable. But if you’re prudent with your money and you take good care of yourself, you can earn a living,” she says.

There are also the occasional perks. Some clients take Jared on extended vacations. His most memorable experience was being taken to Hawaii by a much older man. He had a house on a secluded beach where Jared spent the week scuba diving and getting to know the man’s cats.

Jared sees escorting as a chance to be exposed to all different walks of life. He doesn’t just have nameless sex with men — he forms friendships with them. Last year when he had strep throat, a client brought him chicken soup. One client helped him move. That being said, all of his encounters haven’t been positive.

Jared’s scariest experience came in a hotel room. As they were getting undressed, the client walked to the closet and started pulling out whips and chains to use on Jared.

When Jared expressed discomfort at being tied up, the man became angry and told Jared that since he was paying for him, he would do whatever he wanted. Hearing that, Jared jumped off the bed, grabbed his clothes and ran out of the room.

Genereux knows sadistic clients are a hazard. She warns escorts to, “be very careful. Predators prey on the weak and vulnerable. Have a screening process. Trust your intuition.”

Jared has given a friend access to the e-mail account he uses to communicate with clients. Before an appointment, he e-mails himself the contact information for his client and when he’s expected back. He checks in with his friend regularly.

Jared also worries about his sexual health. Every six months he goes to the free clinic to get tested for sexually transmitted infections. He is currently STI free.

“I always use a condom because I want to have another career. I don’t want to play Russian roulette with my future,” he says.

Jared worries that the University of Toronto will find out what he’s doing and kick him out. He worries that one day he might meet a psycho. Plus, prostitution isn’t exactly legal in Canada.

Jared jokes that he’ll never be able to be president, but he doesn’t apologize for what he’s decided to do. “I’m not harming anyone,” he says. “I’m not selling drugs to other people. I’m not taking anything away from someone. I’m not blackmailing anyone for money. I’m not forcing anyone.”

“Without this I wouldn’t be able to pay for school,” Jared continues. “I’d probably be working at a dead end job for five to 10 years until I saved enough money for school. This way, my life is going in a good direction.”

Jared remembers the time he accidentally outed a client. The two were mid-coitus when Jared heard a gasp. They turned to see the client’s elderly mother clutching her knitting bag in shock. She was visiting from Ottawa and had arrived in Toronto a day early. She let herself in with her son’s spare keys.

Jared took the women into the kitchen and made her some tea. He broke the news to her that her son was more interested in men than women and introduced himself as her son’s boyfriend. Jared decided that the shock of finding out that her son was gay was enough. She didn’t need to know that he also paid for sex.

The mother came around to her son’s sexual orientation and even walked in the Ottawa gay pride parade. She has also added Jared to her holiday card mailing list. He has since received a Christmas and Easter card from her.

Jared laughs when he tells this story.

“It’s interesting,” he says. “But there are other things I want to do with my life. I’m not going to be 21 forever. As long as I keep my goals in mind, I’m all right.”

*Names have been changed

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