We were intrigued to find an ad on one of the escort sites which read:
Retro Pinup Girl channeling Bettie Page and all the guys at the Camera Club. Glamour, Exotic, Pinup, Nude and Fetish Modelling. And More. Check my website for pretty samples, rates and schedule. Coming to your city soon. Tulsa La Flame”
So, of course we emailed and then we tried calling and then emailing again. No answer. But we kept trying and last month received an email from Miss La Flame and we were, finally, able to arrange a Skype call.
by Hannah Jay
“I looked you up online and you write about escorts and I am not sure what I do can really be called escorting. Although I do see men and I am paid for my time. It’s more like modelling that way.”
Before we got to the knotty problem as to whether a modelling service was actually escorting we wanted to find out what Tulsa actually did.
“It’s complicated.” she said, “I am a very sex positive, cis-female, 26 year old, burlesque queen who is more than a little curvy and who loves dressing up. My hair is a really pretty dirty blonde this month. I have a couple of small tattoos which I can disguise with make up. I like boys and I like girls. I’ve been collecting a killer wardrobe of vintage clothes and lingerie, lots of props and things like make-up compacts from the 50’s. I like to dress vintage full time which is a lot of fun in the middle of Kansas City, Missouri. I live in a pretty hip part of town and I managed to find some great ex-industrial space. Nearly 2,000 square feet. It was raw when I found it but the building was in good shape and it is a quiet and very safe neighbourhood.
But there was a problem. No matter how I added up the bits of money I made from a job in a vintage consignment store, some online gigs and a few casual part time things, I was not making enough money to afford the space, much less do it up the way I wanted to. Or, really, if I was honest, heat it.
I looked at a few alternatives. I guess I could be a camgirl but, realistically, it takes a while to get established. Massage? I knew a bit but I also knew I needed more training for legitimate massage. The “rub and tug” game is not one I am interested in. Escorting itself was a bit interesting but I was pretty wary. In Missouri you can be charged for either buying or selling sex and all the disclaimers on the lines of “payment is for my time only” are not going to stop the law enforcement people from trying to arrest you if they can catch you offering something you shouldn’t.
I had no objection to escorting. In fact, if I was not very wary of various police sting operations I would have been happy to do dates. But the fact was that Kansas City law enforcement likes to run up the numbers and were not in the least reluctant to use entrapment to do it.
One day I was leafing through the gigs ads on Craigslist and I came across an ad which read, “Private modeling (KC) (Indep) Hiring females for private modeling gigs. Perfect for new models, established models or women with time during the day wanting to try something new. Photos will NOT be published on websites, or anywhere, people you know may see them.”
I thought to myself that I could do that. I have no problem with nudity and, honestly, it sounded like fun. And it was. “Bert”, not his real name was a guy in his early sixties who liked taking “naked pictures of girls”. I was a girl. The money was not great but when I told him I had a lot of retro lingerie and vintage dresses, Bert bumped my day rate.
I like modelling, especially if I can play around with the look. I love the look of a pretty corset and stockings, or retro stiletto heels. And, one of my most successful looks was the whole 1950’s call girl thing with black seamed stockings and a wonderful wiggle dress I found online. Yes, it really was all about the “sexy”. But Bert could really only afford to have me model a couple of times a month.
However, it occurred to me that Bert was likely not the only guy in Kansas City who would like to take pictures of a pretty girl wearing very few clothes. But where to find those guys? I tried putting up ads on sites like ModelMayhem.com but, while I got a few bookings it was not really enough. And, realistically, guys with a camera seemed to think they were doing me a favour by shooting me. Not the right dynamic at all.
Just for fun I put up an ad on an escort site.
I made it really clear that this was just dress up and photography. And, all of a sudden my phone started ringing and my inbox got full.
I set up a corner of my space as a photo studio. Nothing fancy, just a couple of backdrops and a chair and a couch, plus a changing area where my clients could shoot “behind the scenes” pics of my switching costumes. I had learned a bit from Burt and I realized that guys liked to get those sorts of shots.
I started booking. While I was on the escorting sites I read a bit about how escorts screened their clients and I figured it would be smart to do the same thing for what I still thought of as my photography clients. I posted my rates which were high for a model but low for an escort. Pretty soon I had photo sessions booked. Five or six a week. I thought I was doing great and, I suppose, I was.
Then, one afternoon, a very respectable looking gentleman with a very expensive camera arrived and we did a session in the 50’s call girl mode. He wanted a lot of up skirt and down blouse shots and I was happy to oblige. Then he wanted partially nude which I was fine with. He finished, paid me and left a tip. On the way out he said, “You are a great model Tulsa. I will book you again probably next week. But I wondered if you would ever entertain the thought of getting a little further into you character.”
I was wary but I asked, “How into my character?”
He smiled and said, “Well, you dress the part of a call girl beautifully, but would you be interested in making much more money for doing what a 50’s call girl would have done?”
“You mean like an escort?” I asked knowing that was exactly what he meant. He nodded and left. He called and booked the next week. On the call he asked if I had given his offer any thought.
Of course I had. And when I looked at what I was doing I realized that I had an almost perfect set up for hassle free escorting if I wanted it. My biggest problem with escorting was the risk that I might get into some sort of trouble with the police. But by starting with a photo session I had something I could advertise and which let me get to know a potential client. If I had any suspicion a client might be from law enforcement the session would be pure photography. In fact, as I thought about it, I realized that if I didn’t bring up activities between consenting adults but, instead, waited for my client to suggest something, I was pretty much bullet proof. Of course that meant I would not have that many escorting clients but I was ok with that. I was also wrong.
It turns out that about half my “guys with a camera” would, at the second or third session, make some sort of proposition. Often they would suggest it in terms of a POV blow job where they would just keep shooting as I got the job done. And they were not shy about offering money, much more money, if I was willing to go a little further down the escort path.
Well, why not? As I said, I am a very sex positive girl and I like just about everything on the consenting adult menu. By the time a guy has taken four or five hundred pictures of you in various costumes and states of undress, you get to know him pretty well. What he likes, where his thoughts are going. It isn’t all that difficult to give him the gentle little hint that were he to ask and offer the right sort of money the answer might be yes.
Well, that pretty much took care of the bills. In fact, the combination of private modelling with a dash of adult activity meant I had more money than I had ever had in my life. The guys who could afford to hire a private model were usually well able to afford two or three times my already fairly high modelling rates for a bit of private escort action.
But, and isn’t there always a “but”, there were a limited number of these guys in Kansas City. Most became regulars and we had great fun with photo dates where we’d recreate vintage pinup looks or try for a sweater girl look. However I realized that if I wanted to keep growing my business I needed more clients but I was not willing to lose the photo element.
One week I was booked for two days in a row by a guy from Omaha who was in town for meetings. We had a great couple of photo sessions and he left the second with a very big grin and some pictures he’ll remember for quite a while. We were talking a little about my strange little model/escort business and he suggested that I expand my horizons a bit. “Look, come up to Omaha. Put an ad up there and I bet you could book enough photography to make it worthwhile. The escort part would work too.”
If you time your trip to miss the traffic, Omaha is about three hours from Kansas City right up I-29. Pretty country, farms and a really nice highway. I put an ad up on a couple of escort sites and got a gratifyingly decent response. Eight bookings over three days which, even without any escorting activity, would make the trip worthwhile.
I rented a loft space in the Old Market which I had found on AirBnB and which was pretty much set up as a photographer’s studio. The great thing about my story about being a photographer’s model is that I could just stick with it when I did things like rent space for a couple of days. No need to pretend. What happened at the end of the photo session was no one’s business but mine. And it explained why I showed up with three suitcases for a three night stay. Plus, the fact I had people coming to see me pretty steadily for three days was expected rather than a surprise.
The Omaha trip was, as the expression goes, proof of concept. About the same distance away are Des Moines, St. Louis, Wichita, Oklahoma City and my namesake, Tulsa. I like driving, especially in the Spring and Autumn so I set up to do a photo sessions in each of these cities twice a year. I also do a week in Chicago and a four or five days in Minneapolis. Those are longer drives but really worth it because I have fifteen clients in Chicago and ten in Minneapolis who like to book half days. Which are pricey. In every city my sessions were very similar. An hour or two of photography and, if the guy indicated he was interested, consenting adult activities to follow. Mainly, but not exclusively, oral sex. I am very, very good at oral.
The bonus of all this travelling is that I am able to scour the vintage stores and the thrifts for brilliant retro fashion finds. The mid-West has not been nearly as picked over as the Coasts and it is amazing what I find.
Of course my business has evolved and I will often be asked out by one of my regulars after a session. Suits me. The thing I realized was that the photography puts the escorting into a particular context. Most of my regulars are very serious about their photography and that creates a bit of a bond. I’ll often spend time in session planning wardrobe or props for the next shoot.
In fact, part of what I do is might be called the “model experience”. He comes, we shoot two or three outfits, I may give him a lovely blow job and then, if we have time, I’ll make coffee or we’ll pop out for a drink and we’ll plan what will be doing at our next shoot.
Some of my clients are just amazingly generous. One sent me on a modelling course which cost a fortune, others give me these wonderful vintage gowns or retro silk lingerie and stockings which I could never afford myself. Of course they want me to wear what they bring for our shoots but that’s fine, it is what I do.
Because of the model photographer bond it really never feels like I am exactly escorting. I don’t do straight escorting dates but I often wonder what it would be like to have a guy come to you place simply to pay you for sex. Sure, I guess you would have some sort of conversation but what would you talk about? What would an escort and a first time client have in common? And even with a regular, an escort really does not have much of a bond.
With my clients, whether they are there for the first time or the tenth, the escorting element is always far in the background. First we need to get the shot. A lot of first timers are very shy about asking me to “reveal my charms” and I am fine with that. It creates a nice tension. If they have been to my website they will know that my charms have been revealed before. If they have joined my website they will see that I really am a very uninhibited sort of girl.
I am happy to do toy shows and take baths and be privately photographed demonstrating my oral abilities on the photographer. I even will help with the set up so that the camera does not have to be held. And, of course I do video. Regular little porn star.
I do ask my clients not to post my naughtier videos and pictures on the internet but, instead, enjoy them privately. While I am more than happy to accommodate my client’s particular visual desires, I don’t want to spoil my brand by being posted on amateur sites. To date, and I must have done at least a hundred and fifty videos, my clients have been kind enough to honour my wishes.
On the other hand, I love posting the slightly less revealing pictures my clients take on my website. I have a no full nudity policy for the public pages but my members’ area has hundreds of gorgeous shots with nothing left to the imagination.
I’ve kept my job at the vintage consignment store and I still do online gigs from time to time, but my main job now is as a private photography model and sometime escort. Realistically I can’t think of another way of making a living which would let me have this much free time and an awful lot of fun. Plus, and an accountant client of mine pointed this out, I can deduct the cost of my “studio”, props and vintage dresses and lingerie from my taxes as a professional model. I make sure to pay my taxes and I also have worked hard to build up my credit score and a great banking relationship. I am up front about my modelling and the escorting side? Well who is to know?
One of the best parts about being a retro pinup model is that I don’t have to worry about “aging out” as much as a fashion model would. And, of course, if a man is interested in photographing me he will also likely be interested in the escorting end of my business. All of which means I can keep doing this for quite a few years.
My own plan, which I am already doing on a select basis, is to use the escorting money – as distinct from the photography modelling fees – to build an online vintage business. Basically I reinvest my escorting income in gorgeous vintage pieces and then sell them online which turns that escorting cash into traceable, legitimate, earnings. My bank manager loves me. And it solves the problem of big cash deposits from escorting attracting law enforcement attention. Plus it is a great way to make quite a good return. Thank goodness I have a big space because I have racks of dresses, skirts, coats and vintage lingerie waiting for online buyers and all financed with escorting cash.
I may be kidding myself but, honestly, I don’t really think of myself as an escort. I am a pinup model with a fast growing online vintage clothing and accessories business who, once in a while, gets a bit carried away during a shoot.