Episode 46: "Elise" - A "Modern Day Courtesan" Offers us Fresh Perspective on an Age Old Profession

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In this provocative interview, we peek inside the world of a woman who does not fit inside the “traditional” role of a highly successful woman.  A self-professed “Modern Day Courtesan” we hear from “Elise” about her (what may seem like radical) ideas and approaches to an extremely sensitive subject – Sex Work.

There is much talk these days about a “Feminine Revolution” happening, a sort of Renaissance for women that is becoming more and more evident as the time of the patriarchy gives way to ever increasing females in positions of power. To this end, I met “Elise” and was fascinated by her wits, and practical, grounded approach to the “healing work” she does with men and eye-opening perspective to work that most would shun.

Pushing the boundaries of where I normally go on Just For Women, my desire with this conversation is to illuminate issues some women might rather ignore.  But if we deny issues in our lives and relationships, we are missing a big opportunity to really wake up and address all facets of our lives as Empowered Women.

Please keep your heart and mind open as Elise addresses questions such as:

  • What exactly is a “Modern Day Courtesan”?
  • What the heck does your husband think and feel about your job?
  • What can women do to re-connect with their sexual desire?
  • What is happening for a man who chooses to see a Escort/Courtesan?

Transcript

Alissa Kriteman: Have you ever wanted to ask a professional escort how she could have such a career? Well this week on Just for Women, we’re going to talk with Elise, a professional escort who has a lot of insight to share about sexuality today, men, women, sex, and her own personal insight into being a professional escort.

Elise: There’s another group of women that were very closely tied to the courtesans, but they were a little different, historically speaking, and these were the sacred prostitutes. These were the temple dancers. These were the priestesses that lived in temples, especially in Roman times, in Greek times, in India. And men came to them to worship the divine feminine through the priestess. So the priestess would embody the divine feminine for them, they would have sexual relations, and in that they would be worshiping the goddess.

<Above clip is repeated>

Elise: Listen, you know, when I say I love men, I love everything about them and that includes their sex drive, which is higher than most women’s, and biologically that makes perfect sense. Women, biologically, are designed to have intercourse, conceive, and then all our energy, survivally speaking, must go to raising that child.

Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. I’m your host Alissa Kriteman. Today on the show, I’m going to approach a very touchy and provocative subject matter: Escort Services. And I know this will bring up a lot of feelings and emotions for most of you listening to the show. I ask that you listen with an open mind and an open heart. And consider whatever is coming up in reaction to what your hearing can be used to feel feelings you might not even have known were there, or to even heal wounds that may have been buried long ago. Because sexuality is a very touchy subject, in our society, in our lives, and it’s one of the reasons why I wanted to talk to Elise today.
She’s an incredible woman: highly, highly empowered, juicy, turned-on, smart, and you’ll find out today just what’s going on in her life and what it’s like to be a professional escort. So welcome to the show Elise.

Elise: Thanks A.

Alissa Kriteman: I’m so glad to have you here. Thanks for taking the time and being so brave to have the lifestyle that you have and be willing to share it.

Elise: It’s my pleasure. I actually love talking about this. Especially to women. I meet women every day, I’m pretty open about what I do in my day-to-day life and there are always questions. It’s such a great topic of conversation, an icebreaker at a social gathering. Because everyone, everyone has questions about this. It’s the world’s oldest profession. It’s been around for a long time but it’s so buried, and there are so many stereotypes and misconceptions about the work that people can’t help but have questions about it and judgments and wonderings.

Alissa Kriteman: So what’s a typical reaction? Say we’re at a cocktail party, and you’re talking to a woman, what do you say?

Elise: Well it’s interesting because I’m married, and it’s an inside joke with my husband that without fail within the first five minutes of meeting someone, they’ll ask me what I do for a living, they won’t ask him. They can go for hours talking to him and they won’t ask him what he does for a living. Me, something about me has people ask me right away what I do for a living.

Alissa Kriteman: Is that because you’re wearing a sexy, hot provocative outfit?

Elise: No, no, I don’t think so. I mean, this can be anywhere, it can be… I don’t actually dress provocatively on a day-to-day basis, I can dress like anyone else.

Alissa Kriteman: So here we are at the cocktail party. And I say, “Elise, so, hi! Blah, blah, blah, like your shoes. What do you do for a living?

Elise: Well, I usually start out with, " I teach transformational workshops in the area of relationships and man/woman dynamics," which is all true. And then I'll go a step further and say, "I'm also a courtesan." I actually, I know you introduced me as a professional escort, I actually identify as a modern day courtesan, which is a little different, and we'll talk about that later. But I did start out as an escort, so it's a fairly accurate description as well. So then I say, "I'm a courtesan," and they say, "I don't know what that is, what do you mean?" And I'll usually say, "Do you know what a geisha is?"

Alissa Kriteman; "No"

Elise: And with the recent movie, most people do know what a geisha is.

Alissa Kriteman: Tell us what a geisha is. Because when I saw the movie, it's about art, and art, and being very cultured, but is sex involved in the geisha work?

Elise: You know, they don't like to talk about that, but from what I gather, most geisha, where they make the most money was not in the day to day entertaining and art, but rather in having ongoing patrons with whom they would have sex. And one of the biggest things in the life of a geisha was when her virginity was sold to the highest bidder. So there is absolutely sexuality involved with being a geisha. Now, these days, they've become such a cultural icon that that may have faded away, but traditionally and historically, absolutely. They were highly educated, courtesans of Japan. And they trained from the time they were little girls in how to observe tea properly, how to dance, how to sing, how to play instruments. They were taught to be artists and service the elite of their day in companionship and entertainment.

Alissa Kriteman: It's almost as though they were training to be the fullest expression of the feminine. Do you think?

Elise: In many ways that's true, and historically across cultures, there has been a class of women that have filled that role, not just in Japan. In ancient Greece, we have a group of women called the hetaerae. I don't know how to pronounce that, that's how I pronounce it. Some people call it heterae. They were the Greek courtesans, and unlike the women of the day they were highly educated, much more so than wives were, traditionally speaking. And the reason a man would go seek out one of the heterae or hetaerae was for their intelligence, for their education, and for their ability to converse with them. Not just the sex. So that's ultimately what sets a courtesan apart from an escort or a prostitute. And those distinctions have existed throughout history. A courtesan is there to converse, to challenge them intellectually, is there to be with them in an advisory role, in a companionship role, it's not just, " Hey, I'm going to see you for an hour, we'll have a roll in the hay, and then we'll go on our way.

Alissa Kriteman: It's interesting, I noticed I got a little twinge of, "Hmm" when you said that the courtesans were the educated artly women and the wives were not. So what were the wives doing- kind of taking care of the kids, going, "that's not fair!"

Elise: And it isn't fair, and yet it was what was historically so, and the courtesans had much more power than wives did. In ancient Greece courtesans, hetaerae, were allowed to own property. Same thing with Italy, Venice, in renaissance, courtesans were allowed to own property. Wives were not. Courtesans were allowed to go to university, wives were not. Wives were the property of a man, courtesans were no ones property. Basically women through much of history have been the property of either their father or their husband. And I think it's one of the reasons why prostitution and courtesanship does bring such a charge is because we don't belong in the system we don't belong to anybody but ourselves, we're free women.

Alissa Kriteman: So let's talk about that a little bit. You have a business, and then you have a husband and you are a modern day courtesan because you are educated and you do say what goes on, and you're cultured, and you're worldly, and if you have children you'll have all of that too. So, how is it different, what's happening now, in a modern day courtesan life.

Elise: Well there are several differences, first of all the wives are no longer uneducated, so there isn't the same power that the courtesans hold, and at the same time the courtesans and prostitution in general in this society, Europe's a little different, but in this society in particular in America, has had to go underground. We come from a fairly puritanical history and background so prostitution just went underground and was really vilified. So unlike the history where courtesans were their own class, they were not necessarily liked by the wives, they were a threat to the wives themselves so there were also limitations put on them socially. Right now it's very difficult for me to exist because my role doesn't exist in this society. The fact that you and I are having an interview about this right now kind of speaks to this. The fact that this is so unknown, the fact that there's no structure for which to exist for me. So that's part of the challenge is that I can't just come out. I'm pretty free and open about what I do but that's because I live in the San Francisco Bay area and this is a much more accepting place than most places in the US. So here I feel comfortable being fairly out and open about what I do. And yet there are still legal liabilities. There are still limits to what I can say and can't say and how open I can be about it legally speaking. It's illegal or it's deemed illegal.

Alissa Kriteman: Yeah, one of the biggest changes is that courtesans of the ancient days, it was sort of revered. And men looked towards these women as confidants and intellectual peers. Do you find that today? That these men- who are these men that are your clients?

Elise: Well that hasn’t changed. There’s another group of women that were very closely tied to the courtesans, but they were a little different, historically speaking, and these were the sacred prostitutes. These were the temple dancers. These were the priestesses that lived in temples, especially in Roman times, in Greek times, in India. And men came to them to worship the divine feminine through the priestess. So the priestess would embody the divine feminine for them, they would have sexual relations, and in that they would be worshiping the goddess. So actually the clients that I see, whether they consciously realize it or not, in my experience are there to worship the divine feminine. I have the mystery the Eros the mystique that their wives have lost. When you live with someone from day to day, they lose their mystery, they lose their secrets, they lose their mystique. They're not a mystery anymore, you get to know every detail of them and that leads oftentimes to a lack of sexual connection because the mystery, the Eros is gone. And the mystery the Eros is just another way of saying the divine feminine. The mystery the divine feminine that all women have their wives have it too, they've just become blind to it. They've become so used to who they think they are, they're no longer present to that divine spark in them. So most of the men that come to see me don't realize that their looking for that, but my body gets worshipped. They bring me presents, they bring me flowers, chocolate, wine, they send me things in the mail, they write me poetry, on more than one occasion. They write me music, if that's what their gift is. They come to worship the divine feminine. At the same time, they come to yes, to be inspired, to be challenged, to have someone in their lives who's telling them no, who's actually willing to stand up to them and not just give them what they want, that they come to be loved, they come to have an experience of being seen as good and right.

Alissa Kriteman: Are most of them married, or most of them single? Because it sounds as though most of them would be married, and they're seeking something that they're not getting in their marriage as opposed to a man who, a single man. I don't know, what's your take on that?

Elise: I have both, I have married clients and single clients, although the majority are married. They are seeking something that they're not getting inside their marriage, however the one thing that almost all of them have in common is that their committed to their marriage. As strange as this may sound, if they weren't committed to their marriage they would be having an affair and be getting ready to leave the marriage. By coming to see me, they're actually specifically coming to see someone for whom that's not even an option. Because the structure of the business relationship implies that this will not become a personal relationship. This has very clear boundaries, it is what it is. When I'm here with you, I'm completely with you and when we're not together we're not together. So it's a way for them to have their needs met while still being in their marriage, for whatever reasons they have. Most of them, quite frankly, love their wives, but that mystery is gone. Often times, from their perspective, from what they've told me, the women just aren't interested in sex anymore, and they still are sexual beings, so what's their option: turn off their sexuality for the rest of their lives, or go and have that need met so that they can stop nagging their wives for it and actually appreciate their wives for what they do offer, for the great mothering that they offer their children, for the great companionship and friendship that they offer.

Alissa Kriteman: I know that this can be hard for some women to hear in marriages where there is not a lot of sex happening, and even the thought of their husband being with another woman is kind of frightening, but nonetheless we have to raise these issues because if women want to be empowered, and they want to have thriving relationships they have to look at "why am I not wanting to have sex with my husband, what can I do about it, how can I be responsible" and you're saying, "Yeah that's what's happening." They're coming to you to find what's missing in their relationship. If you see these men ongingly, is that not an affair?

Elise: It's a relationship. I don't consider it an affair.

Alissa Kriteman: What's the difference?

Elise: I think an affair becomes the other woman, it becomes that substitute for their wife, and I'm not a substitute for their wife. I'm an adjunct, I'm an addition to, I'm a treat. I'm what they use to rejuvenate themselves, to be a better husband.

Alissa Kriteman: When you are with these men, do you ever teach them or train them how to inspire the women's sexuality back, or is that not anything you do?

Elise: I have although that really, I wait for them to ask for that because it's not my place to say, "Hey, look you need to do this and this and that." Their relationship with their wife is their responsibility. And that's where I leave it. And certainly if they come to me with questions, if they... And it's happened, I saw a client a few years ago, we saw each other a couple of times, we ended up going on a short business trip of his together. And over the course of that business trip he realized that he had been for years seeing escorts, and spent a lot of money on them, and was married, and one of these men that was just so devoted to his wife and kids, his face lit up when he talked about them, it was just so obvious how much he loved them. And the sex wasn't there. It wasn't happening. At the end of the weekend he said, "You know being with you has made me realize that I have been looking for something when I've been seeing all these escorts, and until I met you I hadn't found it. And it's that intimacy, it's that connection on a personal level." And it made him realize that he wanted that back with his wife. And so he asked me for advice, and I sent him to places and books and had him do practices and had him commit to not seeing escorts anymore, actually. And I lost a client out of it, but my commitment is not to me making money, my commitment is to my clients being the happiest that they can be, the most fulfilled, the most passionate, and it was just clear that for him the path was to go back to his wife and really enroll her into working on their sex life and their intimacy.

Alissa Kriteman: That's one of the most refreshing things I have heard in a really long time because I don't think people or hold prostitution, courtesan, because you've interchanged the words. And I was almost afraid to say prostitution like, "Oh my god, I don't want to offend you," and yet you're really clear, you're really open, and I love that what you said was- you're sending the guy back home like, "hey do this in your marriage if this is what you're wanting, and it's not all about you and hording money" and all of that.

Elise: First, the prostitution comment. It's just a continuum; the courtesanship is just a continuum. It's all sex work, ultimately, when you get down to it, so a courtesan is just a highly educated and trained prostitute. They are interchangeable.

So actually the clients that I see, whether they consciously realize it or not, in my experience are there to worship the divine feminine. I have the mystery the Eros the mystique that their wives have lost. When you live with someone from day to day, they lose their mystery, they lose their secrets, they lose their mystique. They're not a mystery anymore, you get to know every detail of them and that leads oftentimes to a lack of sexual connection because the mystery, the Eros is gone. And the mystery the Eros is just another way of saying the divine feminine. The mystery the divine feminine that all women have their wives have it too, they've just become blind to it. They've become so used to who they think they are, they're no longer present to that divine spark in them. So most of the men that come to see me don't realize that their looking for that, but my body gets worshipped. They bring me presents, they bring me flowers, chocolate, wine, they send me things in the mail, they write me poetry, on more than one occasion. They write me music, if that's what their gift is. They come to worship the divine feminine. At the same time, they come to yes, to be inspired, to be challenged, to have someone in their lives who's telling them no, who's actually willing to stand up to them and not just give them what they want, that they come to be loved, they come to have an experience of being seen as good and right.

Alissa Kriteman: Are most of them married, or most of them single? Because it sounds as though most of them would be married, and they're seeking something that they're not getting in their marriage as opposed to a man who, a single man. I don't know, what's your take on that?

Elise: I have both, I have married clients and single clients, although the majority are married. They are seeking something that they're not getting inside their marriage, however the one thing that almost all of them have in common is that their committed to their marriage. As strange as this may sound, if they weren't committed to their marriage they would be having an affair and be getting ready to leave the marriage. By coming to see me, they're actually specifically coming to see someone for whom that's not even an option. Because the structure of the business relationship implies that this will not become a personal relationship. This has very clear boundaries, it is what it is. When I'm here with you, I'm completely with you and when we're not together we're not together. So it's a way for them to have their needs met while still being in their marriage, for whatever reasons they have. Most of them, quite frankly, love their wives, but that mystery is gone. Often times, from their perspective, from what they've told me, the women just aren't interested in sex anymore, and they still are sexual beings, so what's their option: turn off their sexuality for the rest of their lives, or go and have that need met so that they can stop nagging their wives for it and actually appreciate their wives for what they do offer, for the great mothering that they offer their children, for the great companionship and friendship that they offer.

Alissa Kriteman: I know that this can be hard for some women to hear in marriages where there is not a lot of sex happening, and even the thought of their husband being with another woman is kind of frightening, but nonetheless we have to raise these issues because if women want to be empowered, and they want to have thriving relationships they have to look at "why am I not wanting to have sex with my husband, what can I do about it, how can I be responsible" and you're saying, "Yeah that's what's happening." They're coming to you to find what's missing in their relationship. If you see these men ongingly, is that not an affair?

Elise: It's a relationship. I don't consider it an affair.

Alissa Kriteman: What's the difference?

Elise: I think an affair becomes the other woman, it becomes that substitute for their wife, and I'm not a substitute for their wife. I'm an adjunct, I'm an addition to, I'm a treat. I'm what they use to rejuvenate themselves, to be a better husband.

Alissa Kriteman: When you are with these men, do you ever teach them or train them how to inspire the women's sexuality back, or is that not anything you do?

Elise: I have although that really, I wait for them to ask for that because it's not my place to say, "Hey, look you need to do this and this and that." Their relationship with their wife is their responsibility. And that's where I leave it. And certainly if they come to me with questions, if they... And it's happened, I saw a client a few years ago, we saw each other a couple of times, we ended up going on a short business trip of his together. And over the course of that business trip he realized that he had been for years seeing escorts, and spent a lot of money on them, and was married, and one of these men that was just so devoted to his wife and kids, his face lit up when he talked about them, it was just so obvious how much he loved them. And the sex wasn't there. It wasn't happening. At the end of the weekend he said, "You know being with you has made me realize that I have been looking for something when I've been seeing all these escorts, and until I met you I hadn't found it. And it's that intimacy, it's that connection on a personal level." And it made him realize that he wanted that back with his wife. And so he asked me for advice, and I sent him to places and books and had him do practices and had him commit to not seeing escorts anymore, actually. And I lost a client out of it, but my commitment is not to me making money, my commitment is to my clients being the happiest that they can be, the most fulfilled, the most passionate, and it was just clear that for him the path was to go back to his wife and really enroll her into working on their sex life and their intimacy.

Alissa Kriteman: That's one of the most refreshing things I have heard in a really long time because I don't think people or hold prostitution, courtesan, because you've interchanged the words. And I was almost afraid to say prostitution like, "Oh my god, I don't want to offend you," and yet you're really clear, you're really open, and I love that what you said was- you're sending the guy back home like, "hey do this in your marriage if this is what you're wanting, and it's not all about you and hording money" and all of that.

Elise: First, the prostitution comment. It's just a continuum; the courtesanship is just a continuum. It's all sex work, ultimately, when you get down to it, so a courtesan is just a highly educated and trained prostitute. They are interchangeable. The distinction... is just a gradation, that's all. That's why I made the distinction earlier between courtesan/escort, etc. As far as hoarding money, I have a number of friends who also do this, a number of girlfriends who I've trained how to do this, and yes we make a good living but we don't do it for the money, we do it because it's beautiful work. We do it because we love men. And the moments that are available, the healing that is available, for our clients in being with someone who loves men, and holds them as good and right, is really profound. When I first started working as an escort, I was also training as a therapist, as a therapist intern, doing family therapy with severely emotionally disturbed teenagers and their families. And when I started escorting I quickly realized-- I mean I had all the misconceptions anyone has about sex work and prostitution and escorts. Who must be the men? I had it that these men either had no idea how to have decent sex or had no social skills in order to get a partner, so basically only losers, right. Only losers would go see a sex worker. And I quickly, very very quickly realized that I was very wrong about that and 95% of the men that I saw were intelligent, sweet, caring. I was being treated so much better than I had been when dating, but I also came to quickly realize that the kind of space that was created in a session with my client was very similar to the space that was created in a therapeutic session as an intern. They're not that different. It's all ultimately about healing and being with another person.

Alissa Kriteman: Wow, very very interesting perspective. We have to take a break. I have to take a deep breath. I'm your host Alissa Kriteman. You're listening to Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. We're talking today with Elise, a modern day courtesan. And we'll be right back.

Alissa Kriteman: Welcome back to Just for Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. I'm your host Alissa Kriteman. Today on the show we're having a very very interesting and provocative conversation with a modern day courtesan. I love that. It just evokes such feminine, it sounds so graceful. And yet we're talking about prostitution and sex, but a whole other perspective, a whole other dimension in sexual healing and what's going on in relationships with men and women. And what going to a courtesan even means these days. So there, Elise. Again thank you for being on the show. This is truly amazing. There's so many ways we can go and directions we can take. So let's talk about the business side of this. I just saw today on Fox news. I couldn't believe it, here I am getting ready to talk to you and there's a woman retiring at age 29 from the escort service. Let's talk about that. Because I think her world may be a bit different from your world. But what I want to say about that is the people that were interviewing her, the host, and the other guests on the show, by the end of the interview, and I only caught the end, the energy was so high. This man was verbally attacking her, the host/woman totally attacking her, saying, "It's so sad, how do you separate sex and love and it goes in the face of what sex is supposed to be, and what couples are supposed to be"  so what's your response to all of that. You would have laughed. And the woman was right there being with all of it. So I'm sure she's caught that judgment before. Sex and love - how do you separate?

Elise: Well my response to that  is that I don't. I love my clients. Now it's not in the romantic sense that we have as the fairy tale of what a relationship, you know, a man and a woman should have, but absolutely, love is not separated out of that, not one bit. I wish I had seen the interview, because then I think I would have had a bit more commentary on it. But I'm not surprised, I mean prostitution is such a lightening rod for judgment and in this society where, listen, we all have judgment about money, and we all have judgment about sex, so you combine those two and people are going to start to get pissed.

Alissa Kriteman: What do you think's happening- is it activating wounds they have, issues they have, traumas they have? What's happening?

Elise: I'm sure that is happening, I mean. Yeah, like I said, money is such a charged subject. And it's so close to survival for so many people and they have judgments about having money, about not having money, about who has money, about who shouldn't have money and the same thing with sex, you know, people get really angry about who's having sex with whom. None of their business, but it gets them all riled up. Look at Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. I mean, come on, as a side note, I grew up in Europe, and most Europeans that I talked to around that time were just kind of shrugging their shoulders and shaking their heads going, "What's the big deal?"

Alissa Kriteman: Well I just want to add something to that which speaks directly to what you were saying before. Is Hilary Clinton a juicy, turned on, feminine flowing woman? I think most people would say no. And so it makes sense, kind of in a weird way, it makes sense I mean I don't necessarily condone what he did, but when you look at it from a different perspective, like your saying, why courtesans even exist, I can't imagine Hilary whipping off her clothes putting on some high heels, I mean I don't know I don't know what goes on there, but when I look at him going toward Monica, I mean some of this starts to make sense.

Elise: Sure, sure of course. I mean listen, when I say I love men, I love everything about them and that includes their sex drive, which is higher than most women’s, and biologically that makes perfect sense. Women, biologically, are designed to have intercourse, conceive, and then all our energy, survivally speaking, must go to raising that child. And the man in order to spread his genes as far and wide as possible will just keep going, and doesn't require his physical resources to raise that child, to incubate that child and give birth to the child. So it only makes sense that there's more drive to have sex for men. From a biologically evolutionary standpoint. Yes we're humans, and we're more than just our drives. Certainly. But quite frankly it's one of the things I love about men.

Alissa Kriteman: And you're a sexual being too. Now do you want to have children?

Elise: Yes, very much.

Alissa Kriteman: So let's talk about your husband for a second here. How does all of this fit into his mind, his life, what's going on there?

Elise: My husband and I have been together for four years. We got together after I started doing this work. So he met me, and he knew what I did for a living. I did take a break from my work, shortly after he and I got together. Because I wanted to build a really strong foundation in our relationship so I wanted just to focus on us for a little while, and then we built out from there. I think one of the reasons it works for him is that he knows if at any point it doesn't work for him anymore he can say something and I will stop working. So ultimately he has veto power, he has his hand on the emergency break. And that allows him to have more freedom to have whatever reactions and emotions he has. Speaking for him, I think his challenges lie much more around the fact that I'm being flown to exotic locations and being given very expensive gifts and going out to fabulous restaurants all the time. That's harder for him to deal with than the fact that I'm having sex with other men.

Alissa Kriteman: How can that be, I mean, do his thoughts drive him crazy? Are you constantly processing? Does he feel intimidated by the wealth that other men have that he doesn't have? This must be a big pill for him to swallow.

Elise: I'm sure it must be, but I think a lot of that processing has happened early on, and it's been a few years now and we took small steps to get to where we are now. I think he could answer that question better than I could. But no we don't process all the time. It's not like every time I come home we're processing.

Alissa Kriteman: I was just thinking maybe we'll interview him next week.

Elise: You can ask, he might be willing. Another difficulty for him has been a sense of unfairness. It's not fair that in his perspective I don't have to work very hard to make good money. I do make a very comfortable living doing this. I am in the top one percent of what I charge for my services as far as other escorts out there.

Alissa Kriteman: Ok what does that mean?

Elise: You want numbers?

Alissa Kriteman: Yes, we want numbers.

Elise: I set my rates at a minimum of four hours and that's three thousand dollars.

Alissa Kriteman: Three thousand dollars for four hours of work.

Elise: And I should say that that includes dinner and dinner is usually about two hours. So we go to dinner, they pay, it's a five star restaurant, and then we go back to the five star hotel and have a few hours of intimate time together there.

Alissa Kriteman: And let's talk about intimate time. What is that? Is that something that they make requests about? Are you bringing your creativity? Does it always include intercourse?

Elise: No it doesn't, it doesn't always include intercourse, by any stretch of the imagination. I've gone out to a wedding to a client and that was actually all that happened. He needed someone presentable by his side who could carry on a conversation and look elegant and sophisticated so that's what I did. Usually it's a co-creation. Absolutely, it's feeling each other, and what we want to do. Is there usually an expectation of sex? Sure, I would be lying if I said otherwise, but that doesn't by any means mean that that 's what has to happen. I've had clients who were recently widowed, and literally all they wanted was just to be held because they missed touch. I have clients who just aren't able for physiological reasons to have intercourse. And so we'll do other things, sensually, just to feel good.

Alissa Kriteman: How do you screen your clients? How do you get to the place where you're like: Ok, I want to work with you?

Elise: That's a really good question and this is one of the things that-- I have mentorees and I have encouraged them to get really clear on their screening process and in order to do that you have to be really clear on who you want to work with. I want to work with men who are respectful and clean but further than that I want someone who is intelligent, who has been successful at whatever they do in the world, whatever that might be, and that we have some things in common so that we can have fun. I mean it's important for me to have fun, so I want someone who has a sense of humor and who has traveled, and where we have some interests in common so we can actually have a conversation. So I screen by getting the client's full name, their location of work, their work phone number, their cell phone number, I actually ask for a reference. Which is a more and more common practice. So I ask them to give me the name and phone number or email of - we call each other providers- of a provider that they've seen who will vouch for them, who will vouch for the fact that they are respectful and clean and that they're fun to be with and safe. And then beyond that I ask for some of their interests and hobbies so that I can see that this is someone that I would actually get along with. And then beyond that it's really intuition. And every time I've gone against my intuition, it's been an experience that taught me, "Oh yeah right I need to pay attention to my intuition and actually has something worthwhile to say.

Alissa Kriteman: So you say you love your clients, and I can get that, I can get that you really understand men, appreciate men, and can find their heart in why they're coming to you. It sort of elevates the whole situation, and have it be more of a sexual healing, than anything. But do you ever fall in love with your clients, and if so, what is that for your marriage?

Elise: It has happened, it gets challenging. My husband and I do have an open marriage, so it's not that it's not allowed, but it's does make it more challenging.

Alissa Kriteman: So does that mean he gets to have sex with other women?

Elise: Yes.

Alissa Kriteman: Wild. And you guys don't sit around and process all of this? Does he want to know what's going on with your sexual experiences and do you want to know what's going on with his?

Elise: For him, he doesn't really want to know too many details, he has met clients in the past, it's more by happenstance than anything else. It's not something that he's super uncomfortable with but it's not that - he would rather that they stay more or less anonymous. And unknown entities for him. It's important to him that I have a good time and I am fed by this on an emotional and physical level, but other than that he doesn't really want to know too many details. For me, details are a double-edged sword. Sometimes details are much milder than what I would have in my head as the worst case scenario picture, which my mind tends to do, is go to worst case scenarios, and at other times it's just too much information, and it does hurt. So I think I'm a little more jealous than my husband is. So it's been a little more difficult for me. Sometimes it helps for me to get to know the woman and develop my own friendship with her, and at other times... I find that that's more important if he's actually falling in love with her, if he's emotionally attached with her, then it's more important for me to have a sisterhood, and a bond. It's easier for me to share him if I like the woman that I'm sharing with.

Alissa Kriteman: Which is so wild because guys are relatively disconnected. Their heart from their genitals. We know that from books and from interviews that I've done. It's like guys are pretty disconnected so it's a lot easier for them to have sex with someone and not feel the emotional attachment but how do you deal with that, how do you unwind from having your heart and your genitals be connected?

Elise: That's a really good question, and I come back from.... It's more challenging after a trip. I often go away with clients for, say, a weekend. Two or three nights. And it does take about a day to come back and land and energetically reconnect and reengage with my husband. After four or six hours it might take an hour of re-adjustment. After two or three days it would take most of one day. But yeah there is definitely some time that I need, whether it's a bath or going to the spa or just sitting at home relaxing not doing anything and then reconnecting with my husband.

Alissa Kriteman: It's so wild for me as a woman, I'd be like, "What did you do? What happened?"  And you're just there and he's doesn't sit down and be like, "What happened" or like cold shoulder. Nothing?

Elise: No, no really, it's great. We really enjoy the fact that that's possible. That we can come home from our independent adventures and have each other to come home to. Without fail, I come home and I'm glad to be with him, and vice versa.

Alissa Kriteman: So that's got to feel good that's probably more of the glue that keeps your relationship together, you come home more juiced up, more happy, versus shut down and feeling shame yourself for what's happening here. So let's talk about that for a second. You're a transpersonal psychologist. With your Masters in Psychology. You've seen clients. So you know that a lot of sex workers have sexual abuse in your past. Do you have sexual abuse in your past, and what do you think about that?

Elise: I do have sexual abuse in my past. I have talked with other sex workers about that. There's a concept in some psychology circles, the transpersonal psychology world is familiar with the concept of the wounded healer. And we're often initiated through a certain type of challenge in order to work in that realm. And I think sex workers are exactly like that. Statistically speaking, from the studies that have been done, a really high percentage of sex workers have survived some kind of sexual abuse in their childhood. And some of them go to sex work because it's what they know, and others go to it - like myself- out of choice, out of the healing that's available. But I think all of us have been initiated into that world of sex at an earlier age than most, and have come to different places with it but it comes out in our work.

Alissa Kriteman: Is there ever any fear that unresolved sexual issues will attract not the highest quality men?

Elise: For myself or in general? I think that's a valid concern. I think my worldview, and this is not the truth just my worldview, is that the world, life, gives us opportunities to work through unfinished business. And so if we have unfinished business around a certain sexual experience, it's very possible that that kind of sexual experience will show up for us again to try and cope with it and deal with it an process it in a more useful way. So yeah, I would recommend to anyone thinking about doing sex work that they really explore their own sexuality and see what issues are there and find places to get support around that before stepping into the work.

Alissa Kriteman: And what did you do, did you heal a lot of that in your Masters program, get to the heart of what your sexual issues were so you could actually separate a lot out, or maybe bring it together. Like you said, there is no separation from sex and love for you, whereas other workers might be having a lot of struggles. So you worked out a lot of that?

Elise: I started studying alternative healing modalities when I was 18 and 19. I'm also a massage therapist, so I have a lot of the somatic background. My own healing was fairly lengthy. I didn't start doing this work till I was 28, and I would say 27 was right around the time when I felt much more whole sexually, as a sexual being.

Alissa Kriteman: What impact do you think this has on teen prostitution, rape, domestic violence, as young confused, sexually molested abused women are out there, most of them are turning to this kind of work but it's not at the level that you're talking about. So you're out there making all kinds of money, I don't even want to know what a three day weekend would be, that would be probably twenty grand That's amazing money. And for women who are struggling, I could see how that's very alluring, so what do you have to say about that?

Elise: Unfortunately, there is a social socioeconomic split that's happening, and the streetwalkers are a reality. And I don't think the solution is to criminalize prostitution, which is what's currently happening in the name of protecting the streetwalkers, which is just ridiculous, because they go right back out on the street afterwards.

Alissa Kriteman: Because they have these traumas and issues that are unhealed?

Elise: I don't think that's necessarily- I mean each one, I can't speak for them. Each one has their own situation although oftentimes it's because most streetwalkers from what I understand, have pimps, most streetwalkers, it's actually more of a domestic abuse than a sexual abuse issue. They grew up domestically abused and their pimp abuses them physically and it's all kind of what they know. And they oftentimes have children that they need to support, and they are under the influence of this "Daddy" as they like to call them, and so there's a lot less choice. It's very clear that there are women that are doing this who don't do this out of choice. Who do it out of circumstances and have very little alternative. So I would like to see alternatives. I would like society to offer them alternatives not out of judgment because what their doing is bad, but because I'm a strong supporter of anyone doing this type of work being at full choice about it.

Alissa Kriteman: Empowered, would you say?

Alissa Kriteman: We have to wrap up, I can talk to you for days about this. Ok so before we go I have just a few more questions. You were talking about your mentees, women who are getting into this. So, what kind of advice- you gave us a bit of advice: you really know your sexual history, why you're getting into it, maybe do some healing on your own. What other advice do you have for women, just in general, not necessarily women who want to be a modern day courtesan, but just maybe women who want to have a better sex life? Or a marriage with sex in it. That's an issue, why these men are coming to you. What can women do to empower themselves whether they're single, in a relationship, where the sex is struggling, or in a relationship where there's no sex.

Elise: There's actually a friend of mine, Veronica Monet, wrote a book exactly about this. It's called "Sex Secrets from a Pro" I think. If you look up Veronica Monet, last name M-O-N-E-T, she's a wonderful woman who worked in this industry as a courtesan for fourteen years, and wrote a book, exactly for women who want to spice up their sex life and use some of her things that she learned about men and sex. But I would say that generally speaking from my experience, it starts with yourself. It starts with you feeling sexy. So, take a bath, get dolled up, not necessarily for him but for yourself. Go buy sexy lingerie that you feel good in. Start if you don't masturbate already, start masturbating. It's so important. I still do it. I have sex all the time and I still masturbate. And, you know, it's a practice, it's really important for me to feel connected with my own body, my own pussy, my own sexuality. I think I would say start there.

Alissa Kriteman: Awesome. And so I have to know, tell me, you've traveled all over the world with your clients and have had many many experiences, what is on the top of your list of amazing experiences that you've had.

Elise: That's actually difficult to answer. You know it really doesn't matter where I am. I think for me the most amazing experiences have been where my client and I are truly connected, where the love is really palpable and present. And I've had sessions where I've cried, I've had sessions where they've cried. So those are the ones that I remember. And I don't remember where they are even. All of the glitz and glamour is really just that. It's about the relationships and the connections that I've made.

Alissa Kriteman: Wow, that's amazing, I thought you were going to say like Bali, in one of those little huts on the water and all kinds of food around but no, that's amazing- what an amazing answer. Thank you. Thank you for blowing my mind, and  I'm sure a lot of people's minds- women and men- who are listening to the show. You've definitely given us a completely different perspective on what you do. And still I know people are going to have reactions and judgments about you and this kind of work, but thank you for bringing a new perspective to us. That there actually can be heart connection and healing and attention to really taking care of each other.

Elise: Well thank you for having me, it was really fun. Yeah I would actually love to hear the reactions, and maybe we can do another session with some questions that people asked and send in questions and reactions and we can talk about those.

Alissa Kriteman: I would love that, so listeners, if you have any questions, comments just feel free to email me at [email protected] and if you want to get a text and transcript of the show, that's available as well, just go to Just For Women on the personal life media network, www.personallife.com . And Elise, I don't think you're going to let us know how to find you, are you?

Elise: Not just yet.

Alissa Kriteman: Thank you, thank you.

Elise: You can thank law enforcement for that.

Alissa Kriteman: Thanks, law enforcement. I'm your host Alissa Kriteman. You've been listening to Just For Women: Dating, Relationships and Sex. Thank you so much for tuning in. Tune in next time where you'll find more juicy news you can use. Thank you.