“I openly tell people: ‘I don’t smoke, I don’t school. I drink, I just have sex. My only drug of choice is sex’,” says 24-year-old Ashley Chan (not her real name) about her five years as a sex worker in Singapore.
In her new memoir, Scarlet Harlot: My Double Life, published by Epigram Books and co-authored by Gerrie Lim, the undergraduate reveals raunchy secrets about her double life.
In an interview, Chan tells TISG that her favourite type of client is, surprisingly, the geeky type.
“I really like nerdy clients because they impart so much knowledge to you. Either they are very geeky or very worldly, like they have met all kinds of people and when you hear their stories, it’s so fascinating,” she says.
And the worst type of client? “The worse type of clients are those that are very stick-in-the mud, they haven’t seen the world, and they don’t know what they want.”
The book is shocking in the best ways because, as Chan says, everything about sex work is fascinating.
“Yellow-card girls in Geylang will do a guy for S$50 for half an hour. They hold yellow identification cards that say they are legally allowed to be sex workers…
The “escort experience” is the way to go to get “mid-tier” girls like me. We charge S$500 (but you can’t put a price on conversation and companionship, you know).
When asked about the three most interesting sexual experiences she has been paid for, Chan describes them in some detail. On one occasion, she was flown to Japan where she attended a few BDSM parties and kicked a guy in the b***s – “He was supposed to maintain his erection while I kicked him,” she says.
“The second was London, these two are very precious to me because those were my first times, even though I nearly got into a fight in London at a swingers’ party – a guy brushed past me and I was mad at him for not asking permission for contact with him and I got into a screaming match with his girlfriend, who was German or Russian.”
The third one – and we paraphrase this – was to choke a man wearing a hood.
We probed for a bit more, asking Chan which VIP, celebrity, rich guy or politician has used her services but she does not seem to kiss and tell.
“I have one client who is the cousin of a very famous socialite. I can’t name the person and that’s all I’m going to say.”
As a final-year university student, Chan says sex work affords her “financial freedom — that goes without saying — and knowing people from all walks of life. I’ve always found people to be fascinating”.
“I did consider other options before I became a sex worker at 19, but I decided, first and foremost, I needed money for my education,” she writes in Scarlet Harlot. “And I admit, I’m working as an escort for the money – but also the time and flexibility of the lifestyle.”
Co-author Gerrie Lim adds that the Covid-19 pandemic has definitely taken a toll on the sex trade. “Even for escorts, a typical escort like Ashley would work four or five hours a week (one session is one hour) whereas previously she would work ten hours a week, and earnings have been reduced by some 60 per cent.”
However, he notes that, thankfully, she still has a pool of “regulars” who still support her.
Chan says that although the sex industry has been good to her, she only plans to be part of it until she graduates.
“And then I’ll work hard like a normal person. I’ve been very lucky to have paid my bills, but good things have to come to an end and I have to be realistic and pay attention to other things.”
Lim adds that having a “double life” like Ashley’s is very difficult, where one is constantly aware of how you can be “outed” by anyone.
Scarlet Harlot is priced at S$18.90 on the Epigram website.