From January 2008 to January 2009, I conducted an online experiment called Letters from Johns. Why do some men pay for sex? I put out a call for letters from men about why they sought out prostitutes. Over that year, I published 51 letters. Recently, I heard from one of those johns. His original letter: "I Was Smitten." I asked him for an update.
Two years ago, I responded to the "Letters from Johns" project because it gave me an opportunity to finally tell a secret. Reading over some of the other men’s letters, I sensed a lot of shame and self-hatred, but those weren’t the reasons I had always kept my involvement with providers to myself. As I detailed in my letter, I was more worried about the social and family implications, which came to a head when I started actually falling for one of my providers.[Letters from Johns]
Looking back over my letter now, it reads more melancholy than I meant for it to. My time with providers was actually a lot more thrilling and adventurous than I related. And it wasn’t just about skilled sexual technique, but also about being with a lot of different kinds of women, with different kinds of erotic energy. And while it’s true that providers perhaps contributed to somewhat unrealistic expectations for my "real" girlfriends’ sexual prowess, it’s also true that they taught me a lot about how to please different kinds of women.
Being with a provider was never a one-way street. I only felt like the hour was satisfying if I knew she had gotten off, too. I’ve always thought that men who can be duped by a fake orgasm have no idea what they’re doing; a woman can’t really fake vaginal convulsions, copious lubrication, or rapid, full-body shudders. And there are as many different ways to make a woman come as there are women. Providers showed me how to be rough without actually being violent, how to go slow without being a wuss, how to direct sex even when being more submissive.
Ironically, I haven’t been with a provider since I wrote my "Letter from a John." Instead, I’ve been in two monogamous relationships with a few one-night-stands in between. I wonder if, by writing the letter, I released myself from the fascination with/romanticizing of the special charms of providers. I occasionally look at the local escort review board to see who’s new, but I haven’t made contact with anyone. My current girlfriend is as sexually experienced and skilled as anyone I’ve been with, so that may be part of it. Or maybe I’ve just gotten whoring out of my system.
I’ve also grown to wish that I didn’t have to keep this part of my history a secret anymore. Recently, my girlfriend asked me if I’d ever paid for sex, and I said "No" without thinking twice. She’s somewhat jealous as it is, and I knew that telling her the truth would be a recipe for disaster. Some small part of me thinks that, ultimately, the perfect partner for me would who be a woman who knows, accepts, and is maybe even turned on by my former experiences with providers. This feels like a tall order; I’m guessing that I will always keep my secret to myself.