Escorting and Sentiments
“I’ll always be known as a call girl in this town,” said Tharani , taking a drag off her cigarette. “Somebody always knows.”
Tharani , which is not her real name, is a call girl with Bangalore Girl Friends Experience , and has been in Bangalore for the past four years. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at her. She’s beautiful, to be sure. But she could be confused with any student on Mg Road, or any lady in town. On this particular afternoon, her cleavage is minimal, her jeans well-fitted rather than skin tight, her shoes cute and comfortable.
In other words, she doesn’t fit the stereotype of prostitutes who overdo their makeup and wear clothes that show off their bodies.
But on any given evening, whether out with friends or at home relaxing with a movie, Tharani could get a call promising money in exchange for certain favors. She’ll meet her clients at their homes, and also receives “in calls,” at an undisclosed location. That’s when she leaves herself at the door and turns into a fantasy, offering sensual massage … and then some.
“You live a double life: who you are in the world, and then you have this other life, where you show up, pick a different name and create this illusion,” she said. “A lot of it is acting.”
Despite her different names—part of that is for her protection, she said, and part is so she can tell where someone knows her from—she says it’s impossible to completely keep her call-girl identity under wraps. In a small town like Bangalore , word travels fast.
“There’s always someone who knows in this town,” Tharani said. “And there’s such a stigma around it. Like, ‘You don’t have a brain.’ That may be true for a small percentage of girls, but a lot of us are just pretty girls looking for an easy way to pay the bills.”
Tharani is a sensual massage therapist. In fact, she’s hoping to take her ability to put men at ease a step further by becoming a certified massage therapist. The training takes time and money, but would add legitimacy to her title.
On a typical on-call night, STharani gets a name, an address, and an order—men typically ask for an hour or half-hour massage session, for a fixed price. Then, for out calls, she gets spruced up and heads out.
“You pray it’s the right house, that someone answers the door and that there are no guns,” Tharani said. “Basically, you pray for your own safety. But in the four years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had any major issues.”
Like many others in Bangalore who offer the same “erotic massage” services, once you’re behind closed doors—and naked—that INR 5000.00/ hour-long massage could turn into anything from a “happy ending” ("most guys just want a massage with a hand-job,” Tharani says) to full-on sex, for an extra fee. A quick search on Google ” reveals that even girls at some of the more reputable establishments in town—they all say they’re legit—have reviews touting their oral or sexual prowess.
That’s not to say that every woman in Bangalore who offers sensual massage is a hooker. Some actually are legit—making it difficult for law-enforcement to crack down on individuals or businesses.
Tharani said she’s been approached by cops before, and follows a strict protocol so as not to get arrested. “A cop will never take his underwear off,” she offered.
As for the rates for anything beyond a massage, every woman has a different set of standards.
“I’m not going to give you a blowjob for less than INR 10,000.00/,” Tharani said. That number goes up to INR 15000.00/ for sex.
A number of women who advertise on Craigslist charge anywhere from INR 10,000.00/,to INR 15000.00/for what’s referred to as the “GirlFriends experience,” or GFE. Basically, that means she’ll have sex with you, Tharani said. “Full-service,” or FS, means the same thing. She added: “If they say they’re Tamil , they’ll give you a blowjob,
One woman contacted for this story replied to an e-mail asking about her rates by explaining that she’ll do an uncovered blowjob in addition to “lots of kissing and fucking.” And she offered to drop her regular rate of INR 10,000.00/, an hour to INR 8000.00/ limited-time offer.
Another problem Tharani sees in the industry is the lack of knowledge some women have about how sexually transmitted diseases are, well, transmitted. And she’s known some who have walked around with STDs without getting tested for months.
“It’s scary how uneducated some of these girls are,” said. It’s her policy to never get intimate with a man without a condom. Even so, she gets screened for STDs every two months.
“I worked the other night and made INR 13,000/ ” she said. “The guy offered me another INR 5000.00 /to have sex with him without a condom. I said, ‘No way!’ “
Being a call girl, particularly in Bangalore, isn’t all glamour and cold, hard cash.
“It is cold,” Tharani said. “I feel like I compromised myself.”
Rewind the clock to four years ago. Tharani had just moved to Bangalore and was working a “crappy, minimum-wage job.”
“A guy came in and asked me, ‘Do you want to make a lot of money?’ and gave me his card,” she said. Eventually she called him. “Half of my friends told me to go for it. The other half said, ‘What the fuck are you thinking?’ “
She was thinking it was an easier way to make her car payments, afford a nice apartment and buy new clothes. “Growing up shopping at thrift stores for clothes, you really get an appreciation for jeans that fit,” she said.
Lots of women get into the business—or other aspects of the adult-entertainment industry, like stripping—for similar reasons. Some are paying their way through college or trying to support themselves as single mothers. Others do it to pay for drugs, and others do it for a sense of empowerment, Tharani said.
Tharani sees Bangalore as the perfect breeding ground for prostitution. Lots of young women show up in town each year, some of them trying to pay their way through college, and they know Bangalore is known for being a party town. In fact, she’s approached girls the same way she was approached—"Wanna make a lot of money?”
It’s not something she’s proud of.
Looking back over the past four years, Tharani recognizes the parts of her that have changed, as well as those that she’s held on to.
“When I started, I was insecure. I didn’t think I was attractive. Now I get told I’m pretty every day and I’m like, ‘whatever,’ “ she said. “But thank God I’m still intact with who I am. For sure, my morals have been stretched, but at the end of the day, I’m the only one who has to go to bed with me and wake up with me and, ultimately, live with me.”
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