RCL Exclusive

‘Modern Whore’ Andrea Werhun Dishes About Her Favorite Clients

Ahead of her memoir’s release, the former escort talks to us about industry changes.

Women By

Andrea Werhun self-identifies as an authentic whore. It’s a term she’s comfortable with, even if other people aren’t.

“For us self-identified whores we see nothing wrong with being our fullest, most sexual selves. Because it empowers us and makes us happy. Women like us were burnt at the stake only a few hundred years ago. Now we get roasted on Twitter.  But imagine, for a moment, if we lived in a world where women were immune to sexual shame. Imagine how powerful that would be.”

Werhun has made a career from unabashedly embracing her sexuality: first as an escort and most recently as an author. Her memoir Modern Whore – a collaboration with friend/photographer Nicole Bazuin – walks readers through the highs and lows of sex work with stories that are equal parts tantalizing and hilarious.

Ahead of Modern Whore’s New York City Book Launch I had the opportunity to sit down with Werhun. We chatted through her favorite stories from the memoir, her decision to be public as a sex worker, and the best ways to be open about your wants and desires. You can read the conversation below:

Andrea Werhun. (Nicole Bazuin.)

Graham Isador: Thanks very much for taking the time to talk. Can you walk me through the decision to be out as a sex worker?

Andrea Werhun: Let’s just say coming out wasn’t my first choice. Why would I put myself in the hellfire that is social judgment? It became apparent, however, through the process of making Modern Whore that if the book was going to achieve its desired effect — which is humanizing the sex worker through honest, nuanced storytelling — I would need to put my name and face on the line. That meant risking my reputation, my safety, and any future opportunities, to tell this story.

Having been out for a year now, I feel happier than ever, though I deal with the ramifications of my admission on a daily basis. One of the best perks of coming out is developing friendships with other sex workers. I cherish them most of all.

I know brave is an overused term, but I still think being out is a brave thing to do. Why do people are so publicly opposed to sex work?

Oh, classic misogynist hypocrisy. One hand jerks off while the other points the finger. People publicly shun because they are privately ashamed. And why would they be ashamed of their sexuality? That’s really not for me to say. But we don’t need to hide our sexualities. Sexuality is what makes us human. The sooner we get out of this black/white, sinful/holiness, dichotomy the better off we’ll be.

In the memoir, there are several memorable experiences with clients. Is there one that stands out in particular?

I still look back with such fondness at Charlie, my client in the chapter Gifts. His high-school sweetheart had been suffering from a terminal illness that left her libido in shambles. His being alive and well, he asked if he could see a professional to fulfill his sexual needs.

I was the third woman this man had ever slept with. He was in his fifties. He encouraged me to be my best self. I told him it was my childhood dream to become the Prime Minister of Canada. He told me it was still possible. Said I should consider a run at municipal politics. Even after I quit the industry he’d send me the occasional inspirational text. He defied all the stereotypes of the monstrous john and I’m grateful to have met him.

Were you ever attracted to a client? Did you take pleasure in your work or was it more of a job?

Of course, I’ve been attracted to clients. Since my clientele consisted mostly of older gentlemen, it became a game to see the young men they used to be. When they were my age. Getting old is a choice. Our bodies may change, but when a man who has lived still has a sense of humor/playfulness, intelligence and a curiosity about the world…well, f-ck me silly! That man is not an old man. That man is alive.  That can be a turn on.

Andrea Werhun.

Comparatively were there any particularly terrible experiences?

The worst client I had was a smelly man-child. He lived in his dead parents’ basement in a bedroom covered wall-to-wall with Toronto Maple Leafs logos.  We’re talking posters, wallpaper, bed covers, pillow sheets, signed pictures tucked into his dresser mirror. Everything. When the deed was done, he handed me a dank towel and informed me there was no door to the bathroom. There’s no amount you could pay me to live through that Leafs Nation hell again.

How did you navigate sex work with your dating/personal life?

With my partner, honest communication is always number one. We talk it out and neither of us is afraid of disagreement or compromise. Thankfully, my man understands sex work is work. In my personal life, I am very fortunate that my friends and immediate family are supportive of my choices. Sure, not everyone’s happy about it, and yes, it makes many people in my life very uncomfortable. But that’s the cost of being oneself.

Thanks very much for chatting, Andrea. I’m always pretty floored by how forthright you are. Do you have any suggestions for people who’d like to be more open about their wants and desires?

Know yourself and be yourself. Self-knowledge is key, as are having boundaries. Here is my non-professional opinion on how people can become more open about their sexual wants and desires:

Andrea (Nicole Bazuin)

Step one: Figure out what you like and don’t like (this can take a lifetime)

Step two: Learn how to communicate those desires with someone you trust

Step three: Recognize when your boundaries are being transgressed

Step four: Communicate when your boundaries are being transgressed

Side note: sex workers are REALLY GOOD at establishing boundaries! It’s our bread and butter. If you need advice on how to stick to your guns, ask a sex worker. It’s practically in our job description.

This interview has been edited.

Modern Whore Book Launch: NYC – March 3rd (International Sex Workers’ Rights Day) at the Jefferson Market Library from 6-9pm. Hosted by Tina Horn. Facebook event