Gasp. Horror! A MOTHER, a 40-year-old, leaves her low-paid job as a respectable tabloid reporter and gets paid handsomely by the hour for sex? Whatever is the world coming to? Has she lost her marbles?This is what surprised me so much about the whole media circus: the fact I worked once a fortnight in the tuck shop of my local primary school was what seemed to interest Australia the most.
And to top it all off, she volunteers in the school canteen. Wait, what?
Escorts don’t work in school canteens. They certainly don’t have kids. Besides, most of us are monsters who walk around in a slunken stoop, only stopping to self-flagellate with our shiny, black leather whips for being such awful human beings. Beware, we walk among you.
Forget terrorists. It’s hookers you need to worry about.
This is what surprised me so much about the whole media circus: the fact I worked once a fortnight in the tuck shop of my local primary school was what seemed to interest Australia the most.
Coming out was bigger than I thought it was going to be. Sure, I knew I would ruffle a few conservative, God-fearing feathers out there. I certainly didn’t walk into the furnace with my eyes shut, thinking no one would give a hoot.
But what I did not expect was for the news to go global. For The Sun newspaper to do a big splash, or The Daily Mail UK to make me its headline story. I was even invited to LA to appear on a talk show. Seriously? I was hardly reinventing the wheel: prostitution is, after all, the oldest profession.
Except, not so, as it would seem for 40-year-old escorts who are (bated breath, closed eyes, come on spit it out) mothers. The fact I had kids caused a torrent of vitriolic abuse spouting from the thinly pursed lips of apparently ‘better’ mothers than me who thought my role in society was awful, tutting my ‘poor, poor’ children and raging about what a terrible, selfish mother I was, and how because of my job, my kids would have to endure a life of misery, bullying and shame (probably from their own kids). I was a whore and a slut and an anti-feminist, and someone call DoCS now!
Every single day that week, my heart would sink and I’d feel sick in my tummy again, waiting patiently for the day to end and the story to become old news.
A good friend of mine turned up every morning with fruit salad, yoghurt, green juices and coffee. ‘You’ve got to eat,’ he’d say, unpacking the plastic bags. He even called throughout the day to see how I was.
‘Terrible,’ would be my usual whimper.
‘Get a bit of mongrel about ya,’ he eventually said. ‘Come on, Amanda. Where’s that feisty woman gone? Don’t take this crap. These people don’t know you.’
He was right. That night, as I washed my face and eased a cold flannel onto my puffy eyes, I looked in the mirror. F … them all. I knew who I was.
The people who loved me knew who I was. I adored my kids, and my kids adored me. I was a good person, a good mum, a good friend. I needed to toughen up.
If these people had read my book, even just thumbed through the bits that didn’t talk about sex and sexless marriages (or other things that clearly hit a nerve for them), they would have read about the emotional turmoil, the torture I faced daily about my job, my kids and my future.
They would have read that I disowned my family a good while before I came out, and that my issues with them stem from many years of hurt.
They would have read that my kids are the most important people in my life and I do my best every day to be the best mother I can be.
But I have learnt along this journey that your profession does not define you as a human, let alone a parent, and as long as kids get bundles of unconditional love, your trust and your time, they’ll be okay.
The most surprising reaction, though, was not my haters, but the kindness I received from absolute strangers. Their voices were louder. Their voices were smarter, more educated and balanced.
My website had over 90,000 hits from 154 countries in a few days, Australia, Brazil, America and the UK being the most intrigued. I even got emails from Mauritius, Serbia, Russia, France and Italy. People were writing in to me in their droves, wanting me to solve their love and sex issues, or simply congratulating me on my bravery, and, of course, most of them were asking to book an appointment with me.
Lots of women write to me too, asking for advice on how to become as escort, having thought about it for many years, or how should they treat a man, or does their husband cheat (for example, what signs should they look for?).
A few write to me to say they have given up their boring accountancy or law job to become an escort. They want to thank me for going public and making them realise it was okay to like sex, and want to get paid for it.
Escorts have written to me saying thank you for coming out and giving the industry an intelligent voice. Even some bosses of escort agencies and websites wrote to say ‘Thanks, we love you!’
One woman wrote to me about growing up with her mother, who’d been a high-class escort. The woman had only admiration and adoration for her mother, and she was never bullied. That email in particular I’ll hold close to my heart.
So every time I read comments like this on my Facebook page: ‘You’re disgusting, you WHORE, you SLUT AMANDA GOFF!!!! YOU DESERVE TO LOSE YOUR CHILDREN AND GET AIDS’ from a lady wearing a footy jumper and missing a front tooth, I can easily delete and ignore them.
There are other letters to cherish. The fact that people were taking time out of their busy lives to write to me was really touching.
I set up the Samantha X Facebook page, and my own website (www.samanthax.com.au) and received hundreds of messages from strangers all over the world wanting to be friends.
Even beyond Facebook, men, women, psychology students, professors and sometimes the odd celebrity have reached out to me.
You want to know what my kids have been exposed to since coming out? That.
No teasing at the playground; no name calling. I’m sure there are people who think I’m awful, who probably bitch and gossip about me behind my back. But they are smart enough not to say it to my face and even smarter not to say anything in front of or to my kids.
And woe betides the person who thinks it’s a good idea to bring it up with my children.
Sure, the kids have asked questions about my book. I have told them it is about sex and it is for adults, and one day when they are old enough, I will explain it to them. I have also told them to tell me if anyone mentions it at school, and I check with them regularly.
‘No, Mum, no one cares,’ said my son once, exasperated after a little prying question from me. ‘No one cares what you do, get over it. Can we go to the skate park?’
His little snap at me was, if anything, a welcome relief.
Okay, my ex. Did he know? ’Course he did. He knew for yonks. Didn’t like it, didn’t want me to do it. But it wasn’t a shock, there was no surprise, no ‘Now I have to tell our children.’ Do people really think I would write a book about being a call girl and go on telly, and not think to mention it to my ex and family?
One thing I did take away from all of this — thank God I left journalism and all its scrappy, unscrupulous morals. Give me the ethics and class of the sex industry any day. Seriously.
As with sex workers, we aren’t all bonkers. And not all reporters are scrappy. One, in particular, is very good. Sarrah Le Marquand asked me to write an opinion piece for The Daily Telegraph. I respect and trust her, so I thought that, after five days of being in the very public firing line, it was time to respond to some of my critics. She printed my piece and hope fully, just hopefully, it shut up a few people.
Since going public, I was absolutely inundated with requests. Hundreds of men (and women) from all over the world wanted to book me. I even put my prices up to $1000 an hour: $6000 a night. I could have made a million dollars if I had seen every person who asked.
But my time as an escort is coming to an end. It is. My lease expired on my unit in the city, and I decided not to renew it.
I felt sad as I packed up — my stockings draped over chairs, my pearl necklace hanging over the bed post. When I closed the door for the final time, I knew it symbolised the end of something. Not just the pretty unit with water views — sure, I’ll miss that and the laughter that radiated from inside. But I knew that I wouldn’t get another unit. I didn’t want to. I don’t want to. I’ve met a few nice men that I would date, but I can’t, because Samantha X is afraid of love.
I am sick of being afraid. I am sick of sleeping alone.
One day I will lie on my death bed and, taking my last gasp, as my lungs bubble away and my heartbeat takes its last few flutters, I will think back to the whirlwind of hotels, green $100 notes and panting men. I will think back to this book and the beautiful strangers who reached out to me in support.