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Tips on Success from the Oldest Profession

220px Kristen Stewart adjusted15 150x150 Tips on Success from the Oldest Profession

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Had you heard that Kristen Stewart, sweet-faced Bella in the high grossing children’s movie, Twilight, is going to play a New Orleans hooker in her next outing, Welcome to the Rileys?  A curious choice by the director, one might think, but it is perhaps another example of the current reappraisal, even glamorisation, of the oldest profession – on both sides of the Atlantic.  Perhaps Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman started the trend, a tart with a heart a world away from the Hogarthian types typically portrayed in movie classics like Taxi Driver, but away from the screen the profession of prostitution is being scrutinised seriously. 

In the book SuperFreakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner delve into the mysterious economics of prostitution.  They explain how demand for prostitution overall has plummeted over the last fifty years, driven out by the sexual revolution of the Sixties and the advent of serious competition in the form of casual sex, delivered for free by consenting, newly “liberated” women.  Prices for street sex have accordingly crashed over the decades, with street hookers now finding it hard to scrape together a hard, dangerous and sad living. 

The economics is very different at the top end.  Levitt and Dubner showed how a savvy, self-employed, home-based, web-marketing call girl can not only make very good money, but can actually increase her earnings by pushing prices up and working less.  Yes, read it again! – atypical economics indeed. 

Some might say that whether a girl is working the street or from a fancy apartment, the ultimate mechanics are the same and a hooker is a hooker.  Morally perhaps, economically not so.  A high class call girl operates a different business model altogether. 

For over seven years, one of the most widely clicked blogs in Britain has been Belle de Jour, the “intimate adventures of a London call girl”.  The diaries are witty, quirky and, most strikingly, literate.  They were also anonymous, and for years had press pundits vying to guess the identity of the scribe.  Most opined that the adventures were the work of a reputable author with an over-active imagination, possibly a man. 

Then in November last year the author revealed herself.  She is Dr Brooke Magnanti, a research physicist in her mid-thirties, specialising in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology.  For 14 months in 2003-04, she worked as a prostitute to support herself during her PhD studies.  She found her situation not without humour, so started blogging under the name Belle de Jour, the nom-de-guerre of a bored housewife turned call girl played by Catherine Deneuve in the brilliant movie by Luis Bunuel in the 1960s. 

Magnanti  earnt very good money in her surprising, enjoyable (says she) but temporary  career, but that was just the start.  The blog turned into a best-selling book, and the book into a TV series, starring Billie Piper, former teen pop singer and later co-lead of the highly rated UK children’s TV series, Dr Who.  Again, the role of hooker was played by a celebrity known more to children than adults. 

Magnanti has been condemned by many in women’s groups, politicians and the media for glamorising prostitution.  But she frankly retorts that she was lucky.  She was at the top end of the trade, she never had to face a troublesome or dangerous client and she wasn’t in it for long. 

She recognises that things are very different at the street end of the trade and she in no way wishes to glamorise that, especially where trafficking is involved.  All are agreed that any element of coercion in the trade, from over-assertive pimping to outright abduction, is abhorrent.  But where there is free will, and that is the case in the vast majority of cases, according to recent research by London Metropolitan University, which challenges the over-inflated numbers on trafficked sex workers in the UK touted by some in the media, the ethics vs economics argument is more open to debate – and is indeed regularly debated in parliament and beyond. 

What then does this have to do with a blog on backing your passion and achieving career success, you may well ask? 

Well, aside from the obvious retort that if the practitioner doesn’t display some element of passion at the delivery end of the trade, quite a lot.  It is an activity that we all come across in an amateur capacity and regard the professional side of things with at least curiosity.  And it has some strange economics, as discussed above. 

But, above all, it produces quite a surprising result to the question we ask of most jobs: what do you need to have, or do, to be good at it, to succeed in the trade? 

Is it the technical skills?  The attitude?  The passion? 

Have a think about what drives success on at the top end of the game.  How come the high class hooker in SuperFreakonomics was able to raise her prices?  How come the real Belle de Jour was so successful?

Any tips for the rest of us?  All will revealed in a later post. Hint: think marketing…

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4 Comments

  1. Kristen Stewart is really the best actress for the movie Twilight. I bet that Kristen and Robert Pattinson would also make a good couple. -

  2. Kristen Stewart has a unique smile that i love, she is very pretty*:`

  3. i like both Kristen Stewart and Michelle Williams, they are pretty as a goddess “

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