What is an escort?
There are an estimated 32,000 sex workers currently working in London, with a large percentage operating as an escort. Escorts are classified as individuals that will offer companionship or social services for a certain period of time for a payment, and despite the commonly-accepted idea that sex is inherent to the service, no actual mention is made to the act.
Sometimes an escort will work for a company that advertises their services. These companies will have a number of women (or in some rarer cases men) working for them at any given time and will organise the meetings with customers. To become accepted by one of these escort agencies, an individual will usually apply with some information and photographs. Once working with the business, they will organise what exactly they will provide in terms of escort services.
Some escorts will only do in-calls, where an individual arranges to come to a location for a period of time. This can be at an escort’s home, flat or a residence, or sometimes a separate location specifically arranged by the business for the purpose. Others will do out-calls, which involve an escort visiting a customer at their home or hotel room, with certain escort agencies providing a driver that will take escorts between clients for a fee. Of course, some escorts will provide both in-call and out-call services at differing rates for each. It is commonly accepted that an in-call will be slightly cheaper than an out-call due to the added travel expense involved.
Independent escorting is also very common and usually involves the individual setting up adds for themselves online, giving a greater degree of freedom in regards to pricing and working hours.
What is expected of an escort?
While it is legal in the UK to pay for sex and work as an escort, there are a few elements which are not permitted by law. The two main areas that are of concern to escorts are of solicitation and of being forced. This means that an escort can not directly advertise sex or be forced into the practice.
Restrictions against advertising mean that an escort is never, legally speaking, selling sex when they advertise themselves via a company’s website or online page. They are simply selling their time. While it is commonly accepted and understood that an escort is primarily being paid for sex, it is unlawful to overtly state this fact.
In much the same manner as massage parlours can operate as long as sexual acts are not advertised, escorts can be promoted online. If the escort then chooses to sell a sexual act, it is lawful as it was not advertised publicly but they must be in no manner forced to do so. This is in order to combat human trafficking and pimping.
However, an escort that does not provide sexual services will find that they will not find work. It is understood by client, customer and escort that sexual acts are the focus of the arrangement and while an escort does have a separate role to a prostitute, it will be part of the job. Some men may wish to meet a woman simply to have dinner or talk for an hour, but these will be the exception rather than the rule.
Working in London
Working as an escort in London can be extremely lucrative. The location means a high concentration of prospective clients as the UK capital hosts nearly 9 million people in a highly dense area. London is often described as the finical capital of Europe due to its large banking and finance infrastructure, meaning that clients may well be wealthy and willing to pay a premium for an escort. Many businessmen travel to London from overseas, meaning that a constant stream of successful foreign visitors are in the city at any one time that may wish to hire an escort. This is due to the fact that they may not have much time available for traditional dating.
London’s traditional red light district has been Soho in the West End area of the city. Soho still has a reputation as the sex centre of the capital, but has become less so since the 1960’s and an end of street-walking. Soho still has a small number of massage parlours and so-called walk-ups (a small room or flat hired for sexual services, sometimes with a sign stating the business) in Brewer Street and Berwick Street but is much less sex-focused than previously.
Escorts in London are often not constricted to a single area. This is as they will usually travel to meet customers in their homes or hotel rooms. If they do have a single location used for in-calls it will be generally be in the south or south east areas (popular areas include Stratford and Shadwell) of the city where flats are cheaper and less restrictive, or use their own personal property. This means that escorts operate across the city. The speed and ease of travel offered by the tube system or by a company provided driver mean that out-calls are somewhat popular, but most escorts operate out of a flats or home.
How Much Does a London Escort Earn?
Prices charged by escorts in London vary wildly depending on age, services offered and general attractiveness but are higher than in the rest of the country. Typically, escort agencies offer meetings starting at around £100 per hour but may go to £500 or more. Meetings of 30 minutes are sometimes offered for in-call escorts, starting at around £60. Additional time is generally offered at a slight discount under the standard price. Some escorts will provide overnight options which will cost £1000 or more.
If an escort works with an agency, the company will take a certain percentage of fees. This will be around the industry average of 30%. While it is accepted that the price a client pays will be sufficient for the escort’s time and sexual contact, some additional payments may be required for additional or exceptional services. Some escort agencies will accept payment directly from a customer via a debit or credit card while others will accept cash directly to the escort.
Independent or Agency?
The first choice that an escort has to make is whether to set up as an independent agent or signing up with an agency.
Becoming an independent escort is a fairly straightforward process. It is often as simple as placing an add on one of many websites that feature escort advertisement. Some of the most popular include backpage.co.uk, vivastreet.co.uk and craigslist.co.uk. An escort will upload some details, services offered, prices for in-calls and/or out-calls and some photographs of themselves and then wait for customers to contact them directly. They may also have their own website.
If an escort is to offer in-calls and they are unhappy with customers coming to their home, they may rent a flat to operate out of. Often two or more escorts will arrange to share a property to work from. This can be difficult to arrange, however, as privately rented accommodation will often prohibit tenants from operating a business in the premise. If a landlord or letting agent finds out about this kind of use, they will usually evict escorts. Nearby residents often complain about noise disturbances or large amounts of visitors. This has led to escorts seeking out cheaper or undesired property in the south and south east of the city where complaints are less likely, or to rent business properties. Some landlords will be unwilling to let business locations to escorts, however.
The main advantage in becoming an independent escort is the level of control maintained over the business. An independent escort will not have to pay fees to an agency or be tied down to a particular working period. They can choose when to work simply by turning off their phones or editing their online adds. It is a good practice to have a separate phone for escort purposes in order to limit the intrusion into personal lives.
Independent escorting, however, does have some disadvantages. An escort will have to spend some time setting up meetings, posting online and managing any properties involved. Acting alone also may potentially increase the risks associated with escorting. Agencies will often require card payments or identification, giving a degree of safety that an independent escort will not have.
As escorting in London has increased in popularity, especially among those from other countries, there may an initial problem with an escort finding regular customers. Online sites have thousands of advertisements for escorts listed, and so new new members may well find themselves buried. The best advice from successful escorts is to find regular customers, promote continually and to set themselves up on rating sites. On these, customers can leave reviews on their meetings and high-rated escorts are more likely to find success.
London has a large number of escort agencies in operation. Some of the most popular include Angels of London, Cleopatra’s and Admiral Escorts. While they will all operate in a similar manner, such as taking fees and arranging meetings, each will have some differences that are worth investigating. Some will arrange drivers to take escorts to meetings, some will have properties that are managed solely for in-calls and others will pay escorts in cash or by direct deposit. It is worthwhile for a potential escort to do some research and find an agency that suits her particular needs.
Working as an Escort Legally
Like all workers in the UK, London escorts are required to follow a number of rules regarding their income. Independent escorts have to declare themselves as such and pay tax on any income over £10,000 alongside national insurance, to be paid at intervals of six months. It is common practice for sole traders like escorts to put aside a percentage of their income in order to avoid a large and unexpected bill. While it is common for some escorts and agencies to work without paying tax or declaring themselves, cases involving prosecution and even jail terms over non-payment have started to appear. Janine Adeleke, for example, operated a London escort agency and failed to declare her income of £650,000. She was jailed for three years in November of 2015.
Agencies have similar legal obligations to their workers. They have to set up as a business correctly, pay business rates and taxes alongside providing employee benefits to their employees such as pension contributions. There are some agencies, despite recent cases involving prosecution, that continue to operate illegally however. Agencies must also take great care not to fall afoul of the laws involving prostitution. Any fees they take from escorts must solely be related to the advertisement and arrangement of meetings. It is illegal to make money from another’s sexual services, so again the process must be dealt with in a discreet fashion. Websites should not explicitly state that sexual services are sold and that any such acts are at the decision of the escort.
The other serious consideration that escorts and agencies must be aware of is the matter of coercion. While it is not illegal to pay for a sexual act like face porns, forcing someone to do so or purchasing an act from someone who is illegal. For example, if a customer asks an escort if they are operating under their own free will and they state that they are (when they are not), the customer is committing an offence. This can lead to some difficulties as escorting is typically legal and successful when done with a measure of discretion, away from the public eye.
Working as an escort in London can be a successful, legal and safe career. The number of escorts in the city have risen dramatically alongside widespread use of online advertisement services allowing for semi-private contact between customer and escort/agency. All parties, however, must take great care to follow legal requirements or they may find themselves facing prosecution or jail terms.