Well-off engineers and programmers are no longer the only thriving entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley — according to CNN, these days, sex workers from the Bay Area also consider themselves to be entrepreneurs. And, in a lot of ways, they are.
"I consider myself to be a small business owner," says "Josephine," whose real name has been replaced with a pseudonym by CNN to protect her identity, as she arranges a collection of shirts that she owns specifically to attract her targeted demographic — young, rich tech entrepreneurs.
The shirts read phrases like "Geeks Make Better Lovers" and have Game of Thrones references on them ("Winter is Coming"). Their purpose is simple: "I'm trying to communicate to them that I understand a little bit what it's like to be techy, nerdy, geeky."
And to further cater to their tech-savvy and wealthy clients, the sex workers have taken to Twitter, Google Voice and podcasts to attract a larger number of clients, and use "Square" to accept payments.
One sex worker, Kitty Stryker, who charges $350 for an hour of her time, even has a day job as a social media marketer for a local startup company. She utilizes those same apps to help her with her evening side business.
"Everything I know about social media marketing I learned doing sex work," she says. "Currently I'm using Hootsuite a lot; I'm using Klout a little bit. I also use Twitter calendar, which is just this simple free thing, but it's got very interesting analytics data."
She also considers herself an activist for women, advocating their right to choose sex work and pursue it in a safe manner. She even speaks about it on a podcast called The WhoreCast, which, according to its description, shares “stories, art, and voices of American sex workers" with another sex worker who goes by the name of Siouxsie.
Siouxsie, who considers her sex work to be her career, says, "I would like the podcast to be a vehicle to really humanize sex work and have people see that I am just a girl trying to make a living and pursue the American dream."
In other words, the goal of many of these women is stop society from victimizing and criminalizing something that they seem to like.
And it isn't all that surprising when they do get big-name clients who are rich enough to buy their sex workers condos — these men may be rich, young, and successful, but according to Amy Anderson, a self-described "love concierge," they're are also dreadfully socially awkward and lack the skills to actually go out and mingle with women.
Meanwhile, while prostitution is illegal, it's not exactly at the top of the law-enforcement’s lists unless minors are involved.
In fact, according to Sgt. Kyle Oki of the San Jose Police Department, business for sex-workers is booming in the Bay Area. "The girls say they can make more money here than in other cities," he says.
Josephine agrees, saying "It's interesting to hear on the news about the economy and how it's recovering … If you were to gauge by my business, it's recovering a lot faster."