Maia Ceres is a student of Sexual Science, she is a member of the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services e.V. (BesD) – and she is a sex worker. As part of her Bachelor’s degree in 2016, she researched the Prostitute Protection Act and visited the sex work congress in Hamburg. There, two escorts gave a talk about their work and Maia decided to apply to an agency. Today she is an escort, working under the name Lillith at the Wayfare Agency and under her pseudonym Maia at kaufmich.com., where she offers the girlfriend experience. What exactly does this mean? Does the media have a damaging effect on the way sex work is viewed? O*Diaries talks to Maia about these topics and how she deals with negative attitudes to her work, as well as why she enjoys working as a sex worker.
How did you begin working as a sex worker?
This question is often asked. There was no point in my life when I said, “Now I want to become a sex worker.” I have always had a keen interest in sexuality. First of all, what moves people, what they like and why. And so was my driving interest in starting sex work. I started to learn more and it quickly became clear to me that I could only imagine working as an escort and specializing in extended appointments, during which I can build intimacy and offer a “girlfriend experience.“
I researched agencies. That was in 2012, but I didn’t really see myself working with these agencies. At the time, it was still common for many high-end agencies to dictate size, weight, dress size, and so on. This has changed in the meantime.
There was no point in my life when I said, “Now I want to become a sex worker.” I have always had a keen interest in sexuality.
In what way?
At that time, for example, tattoos and piercings were often not allowed. Today the agencies and their expectations change with society’s. For example, high-quality agencies also have trans women in their portfolio. That was just not common then, when it was still an issue if you had a piercing.
And how did you end up with your agency?
In 2016 I visited the sex workers congress in Hamburg. There were two escorts giving a talk about their work. Just normal women who spoke with love and enthusiasm about their work – and the many positive experiences they have. It was completely different from the usual media portrayal and clichés about sex work. And I thought to myself, “If they can do it, then I can too.” So I applied to an agency and was immediately offered an interview. It was easy. I drank tea with the head agent and I didn’t feel judged on whether my body also fits any beauty ideals. My worries and expectations, which were more informed by my prejudices at the time, were totally unwarranted.
Why do you work under the name Lillith?
Lillith is an ancient name and comes from a Mesopotamian background but is featured in Christian stories. Lillith was said to be the first partner of Adam. She left him because she was too emancipated to be subservient towards him. I thought that was fitting – as a sensual anti-heroine to the patriarchy–oppressed Eva. I find that absolutely fitting for my job.
Which clichés are you constantly confronted with and what kind of resentment do you sense in people?
I’m fortunate enough to be in an open-minded environment. That is why I encounter very little negativity in my everyday life, nor any clichés or hidden prejudices. By the same token, I am always asked the question of how I started sex work… just as I was in this interview. This is not a question you ask a journalist or a teacher. The question always resonates with the assumption that there is a particularly exciting event, preferably a story of suffering behind it – and that I fell into sex work, so something negative was the trigger. But this is not the case, it was simply being pragmatic and essentially the natural conclusion of my studies and needing to find gainful employment, as well as my interest in flirting and sexuality.
I encounter resentment sometimes when I look in the newspaper or look at some red-light reports portraying sex workers as ‘fallen women’. The interesting thing is that many have an opinion on sex work, but few really know it. In order to do more educational work, I write about it on my blog, on which I enlighten people about sex work prejudices.
Feminism: Are there any situations where you have to justify yourself to women for your job?
Since my personal environment tends to be more open-minded and feminist, there are rarely situations in which I need to justify myself. I think the third wave of feminism and sex work is not mutually exclusive. And furthermore, feminism or feminist views are of course not reserved solely for women. However, many women are more open-minded when I tell them about my work and say things like, “Oh, I think that’s cool, that you do that, it’s so bold!”
As a sex worker, I determine what I do with my time, my body and my sexuality.
The publication “Emma” has said that prostitution is essentially the opposite of emancipated sexuality. What’s your opinion?
I have a lot of respect for what the second wave of feminism has brought to women in our society. I also see that this feminist attitude has kind of frozen in place in a more conservative time. Even outside of sex work, young women especially today can no longer identify with it. It is a relatively hetero- and homonormative world view that still stands behind it – where ‘good’ sexuality should take place only as an act of romantic love in fixed partnerships. This is very patronizing and the tutelage of women is not feminist for me.
As a sex worker, I determine what I do with my time, my body and my sexuality. I am free to decide if I would like to use these three factors to earn an income. This is what emancipated means to me. To deny that I should not do that – I think that’s the opposite of feminism. Likewise, if I was married and not working, that is, economically dependent on my husband – and all my resources would be mine only. For me that is the complete opposite of sex work.
To what extent does sex work support patriarchy in your opinion?
The question reveals how sex work is perceived. When we talk about how sex work supports patriarchy, we assume that sex work is something that heterosexual women do for heterosexual men. But that is not the case. Sex work is as diverse as society. People of all origins, classes, genders, cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations and preferences offer or claim sex work. That’s why this perception doesn’t make sense.
So sex work does not support a male-dominated culture?
Exactly. Sex work is not only done for people with a penis. Especially in escorting, it’s not just about the sexual service. It is more holistic. You will be booked for several hours. You have conversations, eat together, drink, flirt, cuddle, get to know each other and in the end there may also be sex. I offer a round date. Not just sex, but much more. And I’m certainly not spending six hours paying homage to the penis.
The need to book an escort is usually one of intimacy.
Are there any worries or fears that people may have told you about?
The need to book an escort is usually one of intimacy. And intimacy also means being able to have a trusting and warm conversation. Of course, people who book an escort or sex worker also have sexual desires. But it’s not just about fast, impersonal sex – most of the time there’s a demand for a conversation. Of course, this can also mean that someone wants to talk about fears or problems. I offer the conversation. But I can also offer to distract from such things. This too is a need – the break from everyday life.
On the website of the Professional Association Erotic and Sexual Services e.V (BesD) it says that the public needs a better, more realistic view of sex work. What do you think? And what can one do against any stigmatization or discrimination against sex workers?
It’s impossible. Due to the images of sex work that are in circulation, everyone has an opinion. Everyone believes they know what it is like. The idea is based on prejudices that one gets in ridiculous news reports and so on – on the sidewalk with fishnet stockings and a pimp breathing down their neck.
Through these negative ideas, pressure and prejudices are built up, and sex workers have little desire to come out to fight the image. Such an action always has consequences. It can still cause negative effects. Let’s take a look at politics, which does not really support sex work. Instead, it only enacts laws that first and foremost suggest that sex workers must be protected from their job, but secondarily want to restrict or regulate sex work as much as possible. Some members of the SPD want to enforce a sex-buying ban – based on the Swedish model.
Why is that problematic?
In Sweden, people who use sex services are criminalized. This also has an effect on sex workers and sex work in general. Prohibitions do not make sex work disappear. It is being pushed into the shadows.
The ban on buying sex was rejected at the Berlin State Party Congress of the SPD, but advocated in Baden-Württemberg. However it shows the trends in sex work to me: sex workers have not been strengthened in their social and legal position. Instead, it is claimed that women can’t and must not determine their sexuality – even if it is to make themselves money. Instead, they must be protected – whether they like it or not. This, in turn, does not empower sex workers to come out or defend sex work as something other than just trafficking, gigolos or a downtrodden brothel, but instead as a professional service.
I stand behind what I do. And I am proud of it. In addition, I stand up for myself when I feel disrespected or like another sex workers is being wronged.
How openly do you treat your job in your life?
In my circle of friends, I am largely out. I feel safe and accepted. In other situations, I don’t speak so fast: I have other jobs and I study. These are situations with a certain interdependence, where I am either paid or graded. Then I just do not want to give this knowledge to the person and possibly influence it. You never know what kind of attitude people have about sex work. Even within my family, I was not openly discussing it After all, you can’t choose your family. When someone in my circle of friends makes me feel that he or she can’t cope with my job, I feel rejected by them. Then I have to question the friendship. It’s even harder with a family member.
In public appearances – as part of my activism for the BesD e.V. or as a consultant for sex work – I work under my pseudonym as a sex worker Maia Ceres. To protect my identity, to protect myself. But, of course I’m sitting there with my face and it may be that someone recognizes me. But I stand behind what I do. And I am proud of it. In addition, I stand up for myself when I feel disrespected or like another sex workers is being wronged.