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Meet Roxy: Student and massage parlour sex worker

It’s a regular evening and a client has just walked into the massage parlour where Elizabeth — who introduces herself as Roxy — works.

Wearing a seductive dress, she greets the client by first introducing herself and asking him if he is interested in her, or would prefer meeting one of her co-workers.

If Roxy — she specializes in domination, fetishes and fantasies — is chosen by the client, she will take the man into one of the rooms to discuss the details of his experience, as well as pricing.

Roxy is chosen.

After hopping into the shower for a quick wash, Roxy starts massaging her client. Like most of her work appointments, it leads to sexual services both she and her client both agree to.

“We offer anything from hand jobs, blow jobs to sex. Every girl offers different stuff,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth is one of Canada’s massage parlour workers who are operating in a grey zone since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously last December that the country’s prostitution laws were unconstitutional. The federal government was given a year to decide next steps. In the meantime, sex workers, local governments and the public wait to see what will happen.

The part-time political science student says that in Edmonton, some of the women working in the sex industry have started offering a popular service called “the girlfriend experience,” when clients are able to kiss and perform oral sex on the masseuses.

“I refuse to do that because of STIs and, unfortunately or fortunately, I don’t know, it’s the big seller right now in Edmonton,” she said.

Now, meet Roxy, she specializes in domination, fetishes and fantasies.

Working in the sex industry in Edmonton was never something Elizabeth said she imagined for herself. She first became a sex worker while travelling in Australia. When she ran out of money, she asked a friend working as a bouncer for job recommendations. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, her friend sent her to a bawdy house.

“I walked into a brothel with a resumé — which was entertaining in hindsight. I wondered, ‘Why are there girls in skimpy dresses everywhere?’” Elizabeth remembers wondering.

She ended up working as a receptionist at the brothel, where she greeted clients and offered drinks. After moving to Brisbane and running out of money again, she turned to a nearby brothel looking for a similar job. Instead, she was asked if she wanted to be a “working girl”.

“I thought, ‘Well, I could live in a hostel for two days, then I’ll be broke and sleeping on the beach, or I could do this. Everyone said it’s like having a one-night stand, so I started working,” she said.

Working on and off in the industry in both Australia and Canada for four years, Elizabeth estimates she has slept with over 1,000 men during her time as a sex worker. Her income: An average of $4,000 to $5,000 a month.

“It’s never been stable. I can’t do it for more than four to six months before I need something mentally stimulating,” she said.

Practising yoga and watching cartoons like Sleeping Beauty are just some of the ways Elizabeth disconnects from her clients and her work in order to stay mentally healthy.

Currently single and still pursuing her political science degree, Elizabeth plans to leave the business that helps her pay the bills and also helps her gain a better appreciation for true lovemaking.

“It’s a very special thing when you find somebody. What I do at work is not what I do at home. What I do at work is like riding a bicycle or those last three blocks when you drive home. You’re not really there, you’re just going through the motions. That’s exactly what I do at work,” she said.

“The vast majority is an act. It’s step one, step two, step three. I’m thinking about my grocery list, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with the money I just made. When I’m at work I’m Roxy, I’m not Elizabeth. They’re two very different people.”

Roxy's clients

Elizabeth, a.k.a. Roxy, said her clients generally fit into three different categories.

  • Client one. “They either have physical deformities: so missing a leg, blind, deaf, not stunningly attractive and would have a hard time picking up at the bar.

  • Client two. “The second group is working the trades. They work up north, have a ton of money but they don’t have a lot of time for a girlfriend.”

  • Client three. “My third group is ‘bored with wife, bored with life.’ They’re middle-aged to slightly older, bored with the wife, work well-paying jobs … business suits, white collars.”

This is part of a series where Metro Canada talks to some of the people directly and indirectly involved in Edmonton’s 42 body rub parlours.

Read more about the body-rub parlour industry with Metro's Massaging the law: Canada’s body-rub parlours feature.

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