Estimated read time: 8-9 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
You might think from the title of her book, "Sex Secrets of Escorts: Tips From a Pro," that Veronica Monet wants women to throw on some lingerie and cater to men's every whim.
While sex is a bodily experience, Monet likes to say that the biggest sex organ is the brain. And great sex isn't about props and techniques, though they can go a long way.
Monet, the stage name for this former prostitute and sex educator, grew up in Oregon and graduated from Oregon State University.
After 14 years as a prostitute, escort and courtesan in San Francisco, Monet, 45, quit a few years ago to focus on a lifetime dream of becoming an author. She was married for 12 years during her escorting days and considers herself bisexual.
And, yes, her book does include technical sex tips but says you also need good communication and negotiation skills. Written for "mainstream" married women, her book delves into a lot: letting go of shame and body image issues; self pampering and care that make you feel good and sexy; learning to date your mate again; setting healthy boundaries; how to initiate sex and more.
An articulate outspoken champion of sex workers' rights, Monet has appeared on Fox news shows, "Politically Incorrect," and other programs.
Now living in a cabin in Lake Tahoe with a downsized income and lifestyle, Monet was in Seattle recently to teach a class called "Shelter From Sexual Shame," at The Wet Spot on Capitol Hill. (Her Web site is www.veronicamonet.com.)
So we tapped into her expertise.
Q: A lot of women still wonder why men visit prostitutes. What's the answer?
A: "First and foremost, men do not go to see therapists. They go to see prostitutes. So, when a man's feeling like something's lacking in his life, something's missing and he's not quite sure what it is ... the prostitute or the mistress or the courtesan, or even the stripper, wind up being confidantes. The men are either too ashamed or too afraid or too protective of their ego or their power to make themselves that vulnerable to the people in their life. There is an exchange of cash, which gives the man the feeling that he's in control, so therefore, he can exercise no control....
"When I first started working as a prostitute, I thought these guys would tell me what to do. They hadn't a clue. I suddenly realized, no, this is a service provider position, which means I'm like a hairdresser or a chef, who's getting paid to know my job. I had to go take classes. ...
"I think even if we had all the free sex in the world and everybody's sexually empowered, there will still be prostitutes. Just like there's going to be restaurants, even if we're all well fed. Because there's just days when you don't want to do it yourself."
You grew up in a conservative Christian family. How did they react to your becoming a prostitute?
"My mother has known all along, but she just called me up the other day after she read the first chapter and found out that I had had sex with about 1,800 men in a 14-year-career. Which actually is pretty low. I mean a lot of prostitutes do a lot more people than that. But, she cried and she was very upset. And she said, 'I think I've been living in denial.' She feels comfortable talking with me about it. We're very close."
Monet's father is estranged from the family.
So, what's your take on what makes men happy sexually?
"I would say to women, stop worrying about making him happy. Make yourself happy. Ironically, men are happiest when you are into your own selfish pleasure. A lot of what men like about prostitutes is that prostitutes love their bodies and they have sex with the lights on. They flaunt themselves in a way that shows a lot of sexual confidence. They will seduce the man, and I don't mean by sitting across the room and batting their eyes. I mean actually pushing him down on the bed and having your way with him."
You say that you believe sex can be a very spiritual, even transformative. How so?
"When I look around, I don't see an asexual world. I see berries on that bush out there, which are a form of procreation. I see squirrels that are chasing each other in the yard. ... To me, it's one big beautiful picture. ...
"And, it's quite possible for two complete strangers to come together for 40 minutes, 50 minutes, 60 minutes, two days and have a phenomenal spiritual connection. That's something that our culture doesn't allow for. We've got this language which is long-term committed relationships -- that's where the love is. And, strangers in the night is mean and degrading and debasing. I don't live in that world. What I'm interested in is regardless of whether you've known somebody for 25 years or 25 minutes, what kind of energy are you channeling?"
What makes your book different from others written by ex-prostitutes?
"This book is timely. It's needed. I think there's a lot of people crying out for something else. You hear all the time that we're living in a culture that's sexual, that we have all of these sexual images. It's interesting, because my job has been sex for the last 15 years and I don't see very much sex anywhere. I see a lot of hatred, a lot of violence -- and what I mean by that is emotional violence -- striking out at people's psyches, trying to make people insecure about their bodies, basically so you'll buy stuff. They say it's sexual, because they're showing you nudity. Well, I don't think nudity is sexual of and by itself. Nor do I think somebody who's got rock-hard abs or big silicone boobs is necessarily sexy. ..."
Why is there so much sexual shame in our culture?
"So there's this whole mythology that the people who are sexual are the strange people over there -- and that's a lie. And that kind of separates all of us so we don't see each other as human. Most people do possess a certain amount of pornography. They rent it on TV or they buy Playboy or whatever. They're really just normal, middle-class families with kids, just like the clients of prostitutes are mostly normal, middle-class family men. And so all of us are running around with all this shame and guilt that we're the only normal person who's not so normal. We've got these secrets that we have to keep."
So, how can people decrease that sexual shame?
"Educate yourself about the history of sex. If you can put things in a historical framework, you can see where you fit into that. And, there's just very few things that you could possibly think to do that haven't already been done. And if you know your predecessors, it could have been that your grandparents were doing something kinky. You have less reason to feel strange about yourself."
What do you recommend for people with low libidos, or those who've just lost interest in sex?
"The best advice I could give for people who want to pump up their libido, is please, don't go off to the doctor or get some Viagra or a testosterone patch just yet. It could be as simple as joining the gym. Exercise produces testosterone, and it also makes you feel better about your body, no matter what size and shape you are. Just getting the blood flowing through everything gets you breathing and that can create a lot of sexual juice. And, take better care of your body. ...
"If you're not enjoying sex, stop having it. I really recommend abstinence. Abstinence is a wonderful gift. It gives you space and time and safety. You can get in touch with your feelings; you can experience yourself in an asexual paradigm. ... Then you can start off with therapy, talk about how you feel about sex, journal about it, start seeing what kind of feelings come up about it."
You started out almost a "man-hater" but gained a lot of respect and admiration for men during your escorting years. Why?
"They're very complex creatures, very cerebral creatures. And I don't think we give them enough credit for that. We say that they're like dogs and they all want the same thing. ... But it's very important for them to be considered a man. There's a lot of ego wrapped up in that, a lot of fear. They come to the prostitute a lot of the time to do role reversal, so that they can act feminine without being laughed at or losing authority in their current relationship."
You've said prostitution really was a good experience for you, not a dark, drug-filled period of low self-esteem. But there must be a downside.
"The worst part really is twofold. One, the threat of arrest and any other social repercussions, such as, you could get evicted from your apartment, if you rent. ... It's amazing how few civil rights and human rights prostitutes have. You cross that line into bad girl kingdom and basically serial killers and serial rapists have a welcome mat in comparison. The life of a sex worker is worth nothing. And her word is worth nothing if she goes into a court of law, because she's automatically considered a liar. She can have her children taken away. You could basically strip her of everything.
"The other part is friends and relatives. ... I had a girlfriend and I was her Lamaze coach. She was having a child out of wedlock and she came to my door one night and said, 'I don't ever want my child to meet you.' Those things hurt a lot."
To see more of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, for online features, or to subscribe, go to http://seattlep-I.com.
© 1998-2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. All Rights Reserved.