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Sex and Booze: The Surprising Things I Learned From Being a Sex Worker and Recovering Alcoholic

As a Manhattan escort I hooked up with hundreds of lonely, random strangers. Since I got sober, I've reunited with many of them—in the rooms of AA.

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Since I was 19, I’ve worked on and off as a prostitute in New York City. I learned a lot about men during my decade of escorting, from seeing the insides of their apartments and uncensored sexual requests, but it wasn’t until I quit drinking and using drugs three years ago that I began to notice that many of my clients shared a surprising characteristic: They were sober.

As soon as I was looking for the signs, it became obvious that I was seeing a disproportionate amount of recovering addicts. Eventually, I would start bringing up drinking just to test my own hypothesis. Over and over again, I would find out that the guys who were paying me to drool all over their junk had been sober for a decade or two.

And most of them were married, too, of course.

A male friend in AA once alleged that the main topic of conversation in men’s meeting is hookers, and I kind of believe it, because it wasn’t long after I started accumulating sober time that I also began running into former johns in the rooms. They were always cool about it—I still remember one married guy, who used to athletically bang me in a back room of the restaurant he owned mid-day, enveloping me in a big hug and telling me he was glad I was there.

He meant it; sober people are always glad when somebody makes it out of hell into recovery. I found out he had been on a relapse during our encounters, and I genuinely believe he was trying to be a better person. See, I’m not trying to judge these guys. How can I? I’m right there with them. But I do think AA is a bigger hotbed of sexual sickness than people realize.

When I quit drinking, after years of blackouts and bedwetting and miserable depression, I thought that my sexual problems were over, too. My promiscuity and infidelity were, I was sure, just products of intoxication—like hangovers and staying out too late. And for 90 days, it was true. I went to meetings, collected coins, and kept my pants on.

Somewhere shortly thereafter, I started posting both pay-for-play and casual sex ads on Craigslist. I launched right back into compulsive sexual behavior, this time without the benefit of alcohol to blur the lines and dampen my guilt. Now I felt it all, but still couldn’t stop. It was extraordinarily painful.

And this is when I started realizing how many of the guys I was acting out with were sober like me. There was the married guy who showed me his coins before bending me over his desk, and the one who kept making appointments with me and losing his nerve before finally meeting up with me at a coffee shop where he showed me deepthroat porn on his handheld while his eyes darted around nervously. They both had over a decade sober.

We never discussed our sobriety beforehand. I didn’t say anything to signal it in my ads or subsequent email correspondence. But after a few back-and-forths, we’d meet up and it would come up organically, like when one of them casually used the expression “one day at a time.” One guy literally said it out of the blue—“I’ve been sober for 10 years” he said as we walked to the short-stay hotel room where we would have automated, soulless sex before never talking again.

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