• Tilly Lawless

Doing It: Gasp under Gasp, Sigh behind Sigh

‘For you alone I reserve that Gasp under Gasp, that Sigh behind Sigh, that Attention back of feigned’ – Djuna Barnes

There’s nothing like waking up and sculling a litre of pineapple juice before breakfast to be ready to pee on a man’s face. Morning sex has never been my thing but here I am, fucking on an empty stomach.

People sometimes ask if it becomes hard to differentiate sex in my private life from sex at work. There is nothing like sex with someone you love, and no amount of orgasming with a client ever makes them feel less like a client, or lessens the orgasms with my girlfriend. Sex with Dani is never a chore, never at a pre-determined time, never when I don’t feel like it – three defining aspects of work. It’s not like the genuineness and love of my private life are somehow pared away with each work exchange; if anything the chasm between sex for love and sex for work is made even more glaring, and makes me appreciate what I have all the more.

I have been drawn out of her bed by the allure and promise of green, the ka-ching of cash louder than the clack of my stilettos on wood as I pace away the remaining minutes to his arrival. I leave her bed so as to pay for the downtime to stay in her bed, sleep-tousled and wet-thighed, for days upon days.

Watch movies and smoke weed and make her come till the room is musty with sex and there is a thin layer of white on the sheets that I can scratch off with a thumbnail when it dries. It’s 8.45 am and usually I would only be pressing my arse against her in a desperate sleepy need to feel her hands upon my waist, but now I am readying myself to sit on a stranger’s cock and hoping my bloated bladder does not burst too soon.

It was easier to work when I was single. No other bed called me besides the brothel bed. Now I cancel and complain and peel off notes reluctantly, showing none of the eager abandon with which I strip for her. Clothes can be simply – and hopefully never – put back on. That $100 has to be re-earned. Is $500 really worth leaving the heavy-aired, tucked-beneath-your-armpit space that I so love to nestle in? I know I’ve seen Bridget Jones’s Diary five times already but I am loath to leave it now. When you love someone the most mundane task can seem special – you can share a cigarette or a meal that is more intimate than anything else. So to leave that hazy place of muffled sounds, those ‘mmmms’ and ‘mmmmyeahs’ that crinkle the corners of my eyes and leave my heart pressed up against my ribcage, is hard. I drag my feet and wish my hair would drag too, grow and twist till it caught on her bedstead and trapped me there beyond my control. Why can’t I stay? I am leaving so as to come back, I tell myself.

It is a harsh capitalist truth that we must pay even for our free time, and so now I go to fund our sloth.

The client is here. He is a nice man with an even nicer dick, and I orgasm happily. Among all the men who shipwreck themselves on the rocks of my anatomy, I occasionally meet one that I readily come with. What at first confused me I now simply see as a bonus, and as the lube runs down my legs I am satisfied. We move to the shower, where I lower my pussy over his mouth and he sucks up my pee straight from the source, his pursed lips reminiscent of a teenage me sculling goon, or the oddly intimate movement of a friend drinking the nectar from a honeysuckle. I feel ever giving and wish I had more of the sweetened urine to give, endless amounts to splash over his open-mouthed, curved-eyed bliss.

‘So do you have a boyfriend?’ he asks, in the contented aftermath of sex. When time is still left in the booking and we lie on the bed together, relishing the peace of the allocated time before we have to rush back into the day.

‘No, I have a girlfriend.’ And I think of her, winking at me as she fakes orgasm over the mouth of another man, holding in her laugh as I turn a yawn into a moan at 2.00 am, pulling me in to breathe ‘I love you’ against my lips while the client furiously masturbates, oblivious. Who can ever plumb those depths; who can understand that which fits no mould except that of our own creating?

As he leaves, Dani calls me. ‘He had a really nice dick and I orgasmed,’ I say in the same tone I would say ‘he was super chill’. It is a non-event, this orgasm. Later today she will plaster my sweating mess of a body against the bedsheets as she grinds a strap-on into the very epicentre of me, and it will not be those quakes that obliterate any other orgasm from my mind but the things that lead up to them throughout the day. The tenderness and respect and divulging of truths. I will come with her name caught in the back of my throat, and feel it run throughout my limbs, my blood quickening with each syllable pulse.

What is a sexual interaction compared with the reality we live together every day? She sees me cry and laugh and fume, she sees me flounce off in irritation, she sees me impassioned and moody. I have opened my legs to clients but there is no real knowing there. No background to the snapshot they have of me, almost a disembodied person in an out-of-context frame. A soulless work apartment, empty except for fucking. They have not packed me a cone when I can’t sleep, nor pulled me to when scared and lonely.

I watch her roll the condom on now, harness tight upon her haunches, and she grins at me. We both know. There is not even the thought of another to slip between us and harden a nipple with ghostly cold. ‘Mmmmm,’ I encourage, as she bends down.

* This is an extract from 'Doing It' edited by Karen Pickering. RPP $ 29.95. Buy your copy here.


Tilly Lawless is a queer Sydney sex worker, who inadvertently outed herself internationally after beginning #facesofprostitution and damaged many future career prospects. She divides her post–uni degree life pretty evenly between forcing cats to selfie with her and writing rambling Instagram posts about issues within the sex industry and her homesickness. She is passionate about horses, the way queer literature has been censored and abolishing the whorearchy. You can follow her thoughts on her Instagram @tilly_lawless or various websites.


Women love sex. So why do we have such a difficult time accepting them as sexual creatures?

For a society that loves to project sex onto women, we’re not so keen on their free sexual expression. Doing It brings together some incredible female writers to reflect on why that might be, how they feel about sex, and why they love it. Women don’t get to talk about this, or hear it, enough.

Edited by renowned feminist Karen Pickering, Doing It celebrates women taking control of their sexual lives, with some brilliant writing on intimacy, physicality, gender and power. These stories encourage honest discussions about sex and remind us of simple truths: women’s bodies are their own, everybody’s idea of good sex is different, and loving sex is nothing to be ashamed of.

Featuring some of Australia’s most engaging voices, and some international stars, this exceptional collection combines the serious, the hilarious, the satirical, the personal, the political, and the downright sexy.


Karen Pickering is a feminist organiser and writer based in Melbourne. She is the creator and host of Cherchez la Femme, a monthly talkshow of popular culture and current affairs from an unapologetically feminist angle, which has toured nationally. Karen was the cofounder of Girls On Film Festival and was its first director. She was also a founding organiser of SlutWalk Melbourne. She started doing it in 1992 and shows no signs of stopping.

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