Door2Door about Marike who runs an escortservice in Rotterdam
In may 2018, Door2Door published an article in their magazine about Marike, owner of high class escortservice Society Service in Rotterdam. Door2Door is an information- and servicecenter for sexworkers who work or live in the Rotterdam area. Door2Door views prostitution as a profession and wants to contribute to an improved position of sexworkers through this center. The article was published in Dutch but below you can find a summary in English.
Queen of the high class escort
Marike and I are meeting in the restaurant of a five star hotel in Amsterdam, where we arrive in the lobby at the same time. She is wearing a classy dress and her long blonde hair is put up in a classic role. Marike is greeted by the manager of the hotel and we are appointed a nice table. Meanwhile, her phone is ringing off the hook. Marike runs the largest and leading high class escortservice of The Netherlands; Society Service.
She answers her incoming calls discreetly. Our drinks are served and the phone remains silent so we can start our conversation. I ask Marike how she ever got the idea to start a company in the escort industry. "An other student had the idea. I was studying business administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and had just finished my Bachelor. I needed to choose a Master and entrepreneurship appealed to me. I found the idea of the other student to be a nice challenge." I raise my glass and tell her that she did a great job, as a 21 year old. I then ask her what is left of her original image of the escort industry. Marike starts laughing. "Actually, quit a lot, but that's also due to the way I have set up my company. I had very strict ideals on how I would do this, from the get go, and I make sure these ideals do not change. I realize I am in a luxury position, I am not solely financially motivated, so I am able to maintain the ideals I have cherished from the very beginning. I did however underestimate how difficult it is to manage 50 escorts (men and women, red.), that's a real challenge! All escorts have 'something' to keep in mind, such as not being able to visit a certain hotel because a relative works their, a pet which needs to be taken care of, and so on. In addition to working as a high class escort, all escorts have an other (freelance) job as well, or are still students. They enjoy working as an escort for the excitement but want to keep their work as an escort a secret as much as the clients do, due to the stigma attached to it. At the end of the day, there are many personal preferences and situations to take into consideration and that's a tough job, all these details!"
Our lunch is served and we enjoy our food. When we have finished our meal I ask Marike to tell me a bit more about the stigma attached to working as an escort. Marike agrees. She has a sweet face, big blue eyes and a pleasant smile. As soon as her phone rings, it's wonderful to see the transition from the feminine Marike to the businesswoman who directs the conversation with the client from beginning to end. Friendly, correct, not flirty and very professional.
"You have been in the news a lot, what are the pros and cons of this?" Marike answers "Mostly pros to be honest, like brand awareness and the opportunity to inform others. But also invitations from amazing restaurants and other elegant occasions, hoping I will send all my clients to them afterwards. I don't care about the stigma. I am who I am and I do what I do, without sugarcoating it, and why would I? I run a legal business and meet all legal requirements. I manage my company in a way that I deem responsible, strict but fair. This means I provide the escorts with proper guidance and honest information. I have nothing to hide, but I understand that's easy for me to say. I am rarely confronted with negative responses, at least not to my face. In general, people are curious about how this all works, running an international high class escortservice. And if a person where to judge me for my work, then that's their loss. I am an adult with amazing friends. I really do not care if people judge me due to their own narrow-mindedness. What does affect me is friends and family being confronted with the prejudices of the industry I choose to work in. To me, that's unfair and it hurts my feelings that they are negatively affected by my choices. Commercially speaking, being open is very beneficial, but there is a downside to everything."
We order an other bottle of sparkling water and I ask Marike how she advises her employees to deal with the stigma. "That is different per escort. When an escort is relatively young, I assume a lot will still change in her life, such as career, lifestyle and friends. It would be unfortunate if she where to place herself in a position where is vulnerable to blackmail, by being open about her work as an escort to people who in a later stage in life are no longer her friends. However, the only way to deal with the stigma is by being open. As long as everybody remains secretive, you will not decrease the stigma, but you need to be able to handle that. How strong are you, how verbally educated are you? When an escort is more mature, she will most likely have a more steady inner circle and being open can be much easier and better received. The biggest downside of working as an escort turns out to be having to live about your life and the choices you have made, hiding and leading a double life. By being open you can be honest and avoid this downside."
I ask Marike for other downsides of her work. "It can piss me off that, even though I am running a fully legal company which complies with all laws and regulations, I am sometimes treated like a criminal. This is something that the escorts also have to deal with. For example: a substantial amount of clients prefers to pay in cash during a booking. The escort receives this cash payment, deposits it into her bankaccount and then transfers the amount which is for Society Service and the tax authorities to me. Given our high rates, it is not uncommon for the escorts to deposit large amounts, including 500 euro bills. All the sudden, the bankaccount of the escort was blocked pending a fraud investigation! And how about an escort looking to travel to the US for a private holiday. She had been honest about her occupation at her Esta (digital visa waiver) and was denied access to the US due to her job. She applied for a tourist visa but during her interview she was told she would not be able to visit the US as long as she was active as a sexworker. Well, that makes me very angry. Luckily, libertythehague.nl and wijzijnproud.nl are working on fighting such situations.
When I returned from a long flight, I was selected for a 100% check. The customs officer was very unprofessional by expressing his personal opinion on the work I do. As a civil servant, you are a role model and such bizarre behavior is very inappropriate. Fortunately there are many positive examples as well. Such as when dealing with government agencies which have a separate department for sexwork, like the tax authorities and police. The contact with them is normal and pleasant, professional, as it should be."
Before I know it we are way past lunch hour. I could talk for hours but we both have a busy day ahead so we need to finish. I ask Marike what she likes most about her work. She is very direct and confident: "The freedom it offers me. I can do my work from anywhere in the world and I like the variety. I work in a very dynamic world. I have a very nice and pleasant working relationship with the majority of the escort. The same goes for the majority of clients." I ask Marike if she has any advice for other sexworkers. She think, after which she responds. "It's never nice to receive a complaint but use this in your advantage and learn from it. See it as an opportunity for improvement, not as a problem. We are all continuously developing, life is a learning process, why would that be any different with this work? Expertise is not built by ignoring complaints and suggestions. This is the same for everybody, regardless of the industry you work in. It has helped me steer my company into this position. In addition to that I advice sexworkers to get a clear picture of their personal boundaries, before starting in this industry. What do you want to do with a client, and what not? What do you think you will enjoy, what will you consider and what would you never do? Make a list. By thinking about your boundaries beforehand, you are less likely to cross them and it's easier to express your limits when someone is almost crossing those. It is also a great way to reflect if you are still on the right path. Take a look at the list from time to time. If you are now doing things you previously said you would never do, you need to think about why that could be the case."
I compliment her advice and she smiles. "I have lots of advice, do's and dont's. I even wrote a book about it, the Escort Bijbel. I am very proud of the book and recommend every sexworker to read it." She offers me a stunning copy, which makes the train ride I have ahead a lot more appealing all the sudden. Now let's hope I don't get lost in her book and forget to get off at Rotterdam central station!