Question a sex worker gets most
AS A sex worker, there's one question I get asked more than any other: and no, it's not, "How much?".
It's: "What's the weirdest thing you've ever done?"
I've lost count of how many times I've been asked. Friends, colleagues, clients, even the odd inquisitive soul at a party or event: few seem to be able to resist asking about the kinkiest, strangest, most unusual, most downright depraved request I've ever fielded.
For what it's worth, there are few things I've refused to do.
I consider myself pretty open-minded, and even though I may not always share the kinks and sexual quirks of my clients, it's fun to help someone realise a fantasy. That having been said, I do draw a line at anything illegal - obviously - and anything that violates someone's consent, including surprise bookings for partners and friends.
I've never felt comfortable seeing men on their buck's nights and you also won't catch me dressing up as a kinky cop or a naughty army recruit any time soon.
What can I say? In the current political climate, I'm just not keen on sexualising the armed forces.
While that does rule a few things out, it also leaves a whole host of options open. There's a huge, wild world of fetishes and kinks out there, and one of the most fascinating parts of my job was always speaking to people about their quirky turn-ons and finding out how, and why, they developed them.
There was the fellow who worked across the road from a gym and had developed a particular love for women in yoga pants; and the other chap who had found himself obsessing over the texture and feel of rubber since before he could remember.
The man who chose to see me because my hair reminded him of his first girlfriend was an interesting one; as was the businessman who enjoyed wearing high heels and stockings because, as he put it, his secretary wore them all day and seemed to live a much less stressful life than he did.
When he stripped off the suit and slipped on the stay-ups, he felt the pressure of his high-powered corporate job melt away.
I've been sad to disappoint some foot fetishists in my time: I simply hate having my feet touched and can't, for any amount of money, seem to hold back the cringe when someone so much as looks sideways at my big toe.
I also had to turn down the man who had baked a full tray of lasagne and simply wanted to watch a naked woman eat it: I'm a vegetarian, you see, and the dish contained meat.
Although a lot of these kinks are certainly unusual, I wouldn't call any of them weird.
There's a certain stigma that comes with dubbing someone's secret fantasy "weird", and it feels a bit too cruel to single someone out and call them weird just for enjoying something that other people don't.
After all, I would guess that most people probably have some special, hidden fantasy: whether it's Chris Pratt's abs, leather catsuits, or a bathtub full of buttercream icing - or Chris Pratt wearing a leather catsuit in a bathtub full of buttercream icing!
The only time I've ever felt a little regretful about helping someone enable their fantasy was when a man booked me and told me that he wanted me to watch him eat the contents of an ashtray.
I'm not a smoker, so I reluctantly made my way down to the outdoors area of the parlour I worked in and collected a night's worth of cigarette butts from the other workers.
Back upstairs, the man knelt down and proceeded to wolf down the contents of the ashtray like it was a bowl of fruit loops, and I couldn't help but feel a bit concerned. After all, if it isn't healthy to smoke cigarettes, surely it couldn't be a good idea to eat them?
I finished the booking but sent the man off in to the night with a few stern words about gut health.
One of my close friends likes to joke with me that, after being exposed to so many people's fantasies for so long, my own desires must be downright freakish; but I'm not so sure.
While there are certainly some things I'd like to try that I haven't yet - such as getting a happy ending massage - I think the one thing I have learnt after seeing so much of people's hidden desires is that everyone longs to be accepted.
Everyone who has ever shared a fantasy with me has done so with trepidation, nervous that I might refuse them or call them a freak, and it's a feeling I can absolutely relate to.
"Coming out" as a sex worker brings up many of the same feelings within me: nervousness and reluctance about telling someone, and hope that once they do know, they won't use the knowledge to belittle or objectify me.
Maybe that's my ultimate fantasy: not someone who has a basement full of whips and chains, or someone who wants to squeeze me in to a Latex dress, or even someone with a fetish for watching me eat an entire vegetarian lasagne (because that's a sight that can be seen for free at my place every Sunday night).
No, it would be someone who accepts people in the sex industry and respects us not despite our jobs, but because of them: someone who can hear about my work and won't find it freaky, or weird, at all.
- Kate Iselin is a writer and sex worker. Continue the conversation on Twitter @kateiselin