“I first became involved in sex work after traveling to London for a job interview and losing my ticket home,” Paul Lowell tells Vice in a fascinating new article about retired sex workers.
Lowell’s career started while he was walking around the West End and noticed a man cruising him.
“I asked him the time, and his comically cheesy response was, ‘I have the time and the money,'” he recalls. “I had no qualms about taking him up on his offer, and felt empowered by the fact that I was able to use my only possession, my body, to earn enough cash to buy breakfast and another train ticket.”
Lowell, whose mother left him and his four siblings to be raised solely by his father, says poverty and a general sense of desperation played into his decision to enter into the sex trade.
“Add to that the psychological effects of abuse and a troubled school life that produced no qualifications,” he says, “and it’s easy to see why I went down the road of prostitution.”
He found most of his clients at gay bars and clubs and in cruising areas.
“Alcohol and drugs added a rosy haze to everything,” he says. “They were a crutch that made life bearable and helped me to remain optimistic.”
Lowell continued the work for some time, even after finding a regular, full-time job.
“I still didn’t quit because I didn’t trust my ability to keep it,” he says. “I had more faith in maintaining my regular customers than in remaining legally employed.”
He finally gave up sex work, he says, after falling in love.
“I was so smitten that I wanted to give my new relationship 100 percent,” he recalls. “The biggest difficulty lay in revealing the truth. But without question, I was accepted.”
Today, Lowell is happily married to a man who supports him. He says he doesn’t miss the money he made from prostitution, nor does he feel ashamed of his past.
“I’m slightly proud, if anything,” he says. “I used what I had to make an interesting life for myself, never stole from people or hurt anyone, and entrusted my destiny to karma.”