I am not an expert on most of the things I write guides about, but my information either comes from my own experience, or from a ton of research (and no, Wikipedia is not real research). Like everyone else, I can make mistakes, so if I ever get something wrong, please let me know.
A sex worker is anybody who works in the sex industry. This can include prostitutes, strippers, escorts, phone/cam sex operators, and pornographic artists. For the sake of simplicity, and because this was a requested guide, I am going to focus on prostitutes. Just as a general piece of information, all sex workers are not prostitutes and not all prostitutes are sex workers. Keep that in mind.
What is a prostitute?
Excellent question. A prostitute is a person who makes money by performing sexual acts with clients. The sex acts can vary from traditional intercourse, kink play, etc.
Who is a prostitute?
There is no one single definition for who a prostitute can be. Prostitutes can be male, female, people who don’t identify with either gender, and, sadly children and teenagers. There are prostitutes of every race, religion, ethnicity, country of origin, sexuality, and background.
What types of prostitutes are there?
Roughly speaking, there are three types of prostitutes, street, brothel, and escort. Street prostitutes, as the name implies, work on the streets. They solicit customers in cars, at traffic stops, and by gas stations. Street prostitutes who frequent trucking lots are known as lot lizards. Street prostitutes are considered to be most at risk for sexual assault and sexual violence. The majority of street prostitutes are working against their will.
Brothel prostitutes work in established places of business, called brothels. Brothels are illegal in 49 of the 50 United States and in many countries. Brothels often disguise themselves as massage parlors or barber shops, and overwhelmingly are run by former prostitutes. They are more widespread in the developing world, such as Thailand and Cambodia.
Escorts and call girls do not work on the street or in brothels, but rather by appointment. They advertise online, in certain magazine, and over the phone. For the most part, call girls and escorts serve as their own pimps. Out of the three types of prostitution mentioned, being an escort or call girl is considered to be safer than the other two, and makes the most money.
Is prostitution legal?
That’s complicated. Certain types of regulated prostitution are legal in much of South America, Western Europe, Australia, and Canada. In the United States, prostitution is illegal except in the state of Nevada. In Asia and Africa, prostitution is overwhelmingly illegal, but still does exist at very high rates. Prostitution is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea, and Sudan.
How do prostitutes act?
Like I said above, there is no one single face of prostitution. Some women willingly become sex workers and see themselves as empowered. In Argentina, for example, sex workers have unionized and are fighting to become more active in the national labor movement. Statistically, call girls and escorts tend to be more willing sex workers than those who work on the street or in brothels.
However, the majority of prostitutes are not willing, and that is very important to remember. Some prostitutes engage in survival sex; they have sex in order to survive because they are homeless or otherwise disadvantaged. Homeless LGBTQ youth are three times more likely to engage in survival sex than homeless heterosexual youth. Within refugee camps, survival sex with guards can also be common in return for special favors like extra food.
Other unwilling prostitutes are trafficking victims or sex slaves. They are generally sold into prostitution to pay off a family debt, or are kidnapped by pimps. Sex slaves and trafficking victims are generally more likely to be abused, sexually assaulted, or killed than willing sex workers. The vast majority of child prostitutes are victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery. Human trafficking and sexual slavery happen everywhere, and the victims are from every country in the world. There is not one face of sex trafficking.
Every prostitute is unique. There is no single way to play a prostitute. Rather, focus on your character’s background and personality instead of their career.