Interview with Juan Bruno
Canadian escort talks about changing laws and smart work skills.
HOOK: Are you familiar with the changes in the laws about working in the sex industry ( Canada v. Bedford, Lebovitch and Scott, where the Supreme Court of Canada held that three criminal laws that prohibit various aspects of adult prostitutio are unconstitutional) Has it affected your approach to business?
Juan Bruno: I am very familiar both with the laws and the Supreme Court’s decision. Even though I believe this is a huge step to humanize the sex trade and the sex workers, this decision has had very little effect on men working off the streets. In theory because of the newly unconstitutional laws, we weren’t supposed to work out of our own homes, we were not allowed to support anyone with money earned through the sex trade and if two escorts lived in the same house that constituted an illegal bawdy house . In practice. these may have been the least enforced laws in Canada.
Since the main focus of the prostitution laws have historically been protecting unwilling females and preventing minors’ abuse, the laws have been enforced selectively. As long as men are not working on the streets the laws have had very little impact on us. The change in laws, whatever they may end up being, will have very little effect on us, aside from legally sanctioning the way in which we have been conducting business. It will be good to know that we are not breaking any law to make a living.
HOOK: The Canadian Court’s decision that the laws are invalid is suspended for one year to give the federal government time to consider whether or not new laws should be enacted. Do you think other men are aware of the changes in the laws? Are there voices talking about it in Canada?
Juan: Sadly since the laws have affected us very little in the past, male escorts have been considerably less political and aware than our female counterparts. I know some of the guys are aware things are changing and are very happy about it but we are not as involved as women. Also, since we really don’t know what will the new laws look like all we can do is either wait and see or be an active part of the creation of the new proposed laws.
HOOK: Have you had any issues with the law? Do you know others who have?
Juan: No. Never. And I don’t know of any other male escorts who have had troubles with the law for escorting in Canada.
HOOK: Do you think that stigma around working in the sex industry impacts men working than the legal issues? How do you deal with stigma?
Juan: Well, I think in most cultures there is always a stigma associated with sexual activity whether it is professional or not. Sadly I think the patriarchal sexist double standard applies even to sex work, where female prostitutes are regarded as women without self worth, lost, and useless, while people (especially men) often high five me when they find out that I get paid to have sex.
I know a certain sector of the population might look down at sex work but it is never nearly as bad as it is in The States. Canadian attitudes about sex and diversity (which applies to different ways of living and different ways of making money) extend to the way people at large see sex work. Also, here it is frowned upon to proselytize when other people live differently than we do. If we meet someone with whom we don’t agree we tend to nod and move on, as opposed as the US accepted custom of actively explaining why the other’s way is wrong and how he/she should change to make it better. This makes stigma and criticism much harder to spot. (Or suffer.)
HOOK: What were factors in you choosing to work in the sex industry?
Juan: When I was six I asked what the word “Gigolo” meant. The answer was that it was a gentleman who provided pleasure, intimacy and fun for a living. I then asked if people paid for that. The answer was “If he is good, he can make a lot of money”. I decided then and there that I would be a gigolo, even if I didn’t quite understood what it all entailed. It was a kind of calling. Because of the conditions of my life I was not able to give it a try until I was 26, but when I did, it all clicked and I knew that this was one of the things for which I had been born. Most of my life’s experience and many of my talents became useful and valuable while dealing with my clients. It has been a very rewarding experience and it has allowed me to live things that otherwise would have not been available to me.
HOOK: How did you learn about working in the sex industry? Did you read books or ask people? Other ways of learning about it? trial and error?
Juan: When I moved to Canada and I decided to give escorting a try I applied to an escort agency. Since the agency represented male, female and trans escorts their security practices were very strict. I also read all the relevant laws and any material I could get my hands on. I became a member of the Hooboy message board, where escorts and clients came together to discuss escorting and where clients reviewed escorts. I also hired a couple of the escorts who had the best reviews in town to see how they conducted their sessions.
Hooboy passed away after a couple years and the site became www.daddysreviews.com To this day I regard it as one of the most helpful tools any escort might have to learn about this profession.
HOOK: Do you have any guidelines you use while working? Strict rules, for example that you maintain with clients regarding privacy or security? Care to share some of them?
I only engage in safer sex practices. No exceptions.
For safety I only consider an appointment confirmed when I have a phone number I can call back to.
If the call will happen in a hotel room I have to be able to call the room through the hotel phone, which demands that I know the last name of the guest.
I prefer to book my own tickets when travelling to clients and I keep my information as private as I can, unless it is a client that I know well. I know as a fact that there are many “professional hobbyist clients” who regard -real escorts’ name dropping- as a sport.
If someone wants to come to my in call facility I need to be able to call them on their phone before to confirm and then only give them the street address. At the time of the session, when they are outside the building I provide the apartment number so they can come upstairs.
I have a security person who always knows where I am, how long I am supposed to be there and will call the police if I go incommunicado for longer than I said I would. This person will know the licence plates of every client’s car I get on, and every address. As soon as the session is over, both me and my security person erase all information. For my clients’ privacy and my own I do not keep records.
I only use my own lube and condoms. No exceptions.
When engaging in fetish and power imbalance play, I only play the Dominant role.
HOOK: Is there something you would rather be doing than working in the sex industry? If so, what? If not, what is your long-term goal?
Juan: I have another profession, and I have been working at it simultaneously. It is not as time demanding as most jobs which gives me plenty of time to focus on escorting. In a few years, I can see myself retiring from escorting and focusing exclusively on my other profession. At the time, I am very happy escorting.
HOOK: Do you think men working in the industry can be political? What do you think it would take for men in the industry to create strong communities?
Juan: I know that the mere act of being alive is a political act. Every choice we make, the way we choose to express ourselves, the way we dress, the company we keep, the books we read (or don’t read), and so on.
I believe that women escorts are more drawn to create strong communities because they need more support. They are more vulnerable, at risk, they are often victimized and ostracized and that tends to push people together in order to combine their strengths. That is a very powerful homogenizing tool.
When we are lacking the same and suffer from similar stuff we see our similarities and are drawn together.
When it comes to male escorts, however, I have found that there is a huge heterogeneity among us. Huge age, education, background, social stratus and goals differences. Some are really young guys bearing old men’s attentions to get through college and to never -ever- escort again. Some are porn actors who realized that porn alone doesn’t pay the rent so they end up having to escort. Some are drug addicts that need to keep their addiction going. Some are what I call “calling escorts” which is men who have always felt a special vocation and are devoting their lives to see escorting as their profession. Some are gay, some are straight, some are bisexual but pretend otherwise. Some are accidental escorts, who for whatever reason realized they could make some money on the side. The list goes on forever.
When you have a group of people that are so dissimilar there are very few opportunities to come together. We are not suffering the same, we don’t want the same, we don’t see the world, ourselves, sex or escorting in the same way and have very few common goals.
I always try to get to know all escorts working in Vancouver. I travel a lot and clients always ask who they should see when I am away. I only recommend an escort if I am convinced he can provide a satisfactory service. Even though we share many common experiences I find that I feel a real connection with only a few of the men that I meet. I have four local escort friends whom I love and regard as very close and loved friends, and there are four other escorts in different countries with whom I have a similar relationship. We see our profession in very similar ways and not surprisingly we have shared the same clients all over the world, clients who look for escorts with specific characteristics.
I really hope escorting will—little by little—become more normalized so that more intelligent men realize that this can be a valid and fulfilling professional choice wherever escorting is not illegal. There is so much disinformation about it that the good kind of men stay away from it because they think it to be seedy while the wrong kind of men feel attracted to it because they think it glamorous and a source of fast and easy money. It is neither; it is simply another service industry that while it can be elevated to therapeutic levels it can also be practiced as a purely physical activity. The constant false dichotomy of emotional and intelectual intimacy versus physical acts. That is what in my opinion creates such a wide array of ways of looking at this profession; that is what in my opinion separates the sexual therapists and sexual surrogate partners from the prostitutes. Personally I consider all of those as perfectly valid and important career choices but I don’t see myself on either extreme. I like the term escort because in my mind it reconciles both sides of the equation: accompanying someone through their trips and also through the more private journey of sexual and intimate self-discovery.
I am very happy I had the balls to act on my vocation. It has taught me so much about sex, intimacy and ultimately it has taught me a lot about myself.