When I worked in women’s magazines, stories about lesbians or bi-curiosity were guaranteed to boost sales. And that was back in the 90s and naughties. So it’s kind of surprising to see it’s taken this long for someone to turn that curiosity into money.
A new service has recently launched for women to pay to sleep with other women. To fulfil a fantasy, scratch an itch, push a boundary, indulge a whim.
News Editor Rick Morton was sent on a mission to interview Ingrid, the owner of this niche adult industry service for women only.
In simple terms, it’s a place where ordinary, everyday women can go to set-up romantic dalliances that lead to sex. It wasn’t the fact there was sex involved that made it an interesting story, but that the women choosing to use it were from otherwise very ‘normal’ backgrounds and not, on the face of it, lesbians at all.
But Ingrid’s a marketer. She obviously saw something marketable when she arrived at the concept of a sex service run by women, for women. Not a man in sight.
It might be the first service of its kind in Australia, and possibly the first legal service of its kind in the world, but there still has to be a reason for it to work. It comes down to the age old theory of supply and demand. Ingrid supplies beautiful women to lawyers, businesswomen and mums who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to a lesbian liaison. Clearly there is a demand. Quite clearly.
But why? What is it that drives women out of their comfort zones to go looking for sex; not just any old sex either. The kind they can’t have with men? Rick writes:
Let’s be clear right from the start. Delicious Dalliances is not a brothel. Brothels are for men. Despite years of debate and psycho-analysis it can at least be agreed that men and women approach sex – and lust – very differently. Apparently, a brothel is for men on a quick dash for sex. It’s all very wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. On the flip side of the coin, the experience at Delicious Dalliances still has the wham bam factor if that’s where clients want to take it, but it starts off with wine and a giggle.
As company founder Ingrid found out when she realised there was a market for ordinary, heterosexual women who wanted to try sex with another woman, there is much thought that needs to be given to what women really want. It goes beyond sex.
“I’m not a psychologist but to some degree I have become a by-proxy counsellor in these matters and there are actual differences between men and women, and that extends to what they like in the bedroom,” she says.
“These aren’t women who decide two hours before hand that they need to take someone to bed right then and there.
“There is generally a 10-day lead in time as the client starts thinking about whether she would like to experience another woman and there are a lot of phone calls between then and when the date goes ahead, believe me!”
And that is what these liaisons start out as; dates. There is dinner at an up-market restaurant. Wine, champagne, cheese. Chatter. And yes, sex.
Women want to be wooed. They want to feel comfortable. In liaisons like this, it’s necessary.
That’s where the girls, the staff members, come into it.
Milla is beautiful with legs right up to her hips. She’s confident because she needs to be, for her clients.
“My job is purely to make them feel at ease and then to show them a good time,” she says.
“We go as fast or as slow as they like. Often, to begin with, the clients are understandably quite nervous so we talk over dinner and get to know each other.
“I had one client who was so jittery she would flinch every time I even came close to her, but she’s come back on a regular basis now and she jumps me as soon as we get into the room.”
But hang on a second, if this is just sex, why all the analysis? Nobody tries to invoke Freud when the lads are off for a bonk, right? But, as Ingrid explains, this is more than a sex service. It’s a whole lot more, which raises in itself a series of interesting philosophical conundrums.
“One thing I get asked a lot, even by my clients, is whether having sex with a woman makes you a lesbian,” says Ingrid.
“The answer is, of course, absolutely not. Unless you’re a lesbian to begin with.”
The clients are, more often than not, high powered successes in their own right. They’re lawyers, businesswomen. They work stressful jobs and long hours. They’re highly strung. They have obligations. So many obligations. The work, all that work…and their husbands and children.
Which brings us to moral quandry number two: is it cheating if you’re with a member of the same sex?
It sounds like a question which needn’t be asked (well, of course! you say) but it pushes a genuine moral grey area.
“I have clients who say to me ‘I would never cheat on my husband…but this is different’ and I’m not here to judge them,” says Ingrid.
“Some of their partners know about it and they’re fine with it.
“They are exploring their sexuality, not looking for relationships, and they’re doing it in a place that makes them feel comfortable and relaxed.”
That statement is supported by the data. Having taken its 100th reservation, Delicious Dalliances is amassing a profile of how clients use the service. Some just once, never to return. They try it out and retreat back to the ‘normalcy’ of their families. Other might come back twice. Or three times. Others have become regulars.
They’re driven to exploration, not necessarily because they are lesbians, but because they have had urges they could not explain. A spark. A thrill at the thought of a same-sex experience. Questions. Fantasies. Some strong, some dull. But still there.
Psychologist and sexuality trend-setter Dr Alfred Kinsey was the first to overtly recognise that the world was not made up of gays and straights exclusively.
“Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories… The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.”
His scale of sexuality starts at zero for ‘exclusively heterosexual’ and ends at six for ‘exclusively homosexual’ with an ‘x’ added later for those who are officially asexual.
There will be those who are at either extreme but for many, there exists a homeland in the middle of that scale where bisexuality (the practice, not the label) is celebrated.
These days you might call it heteroflexibility. Ingrid takes a marketing and advertising viewpoint (her background) with a pithy summary of all the science and challenges us to disagree.
“Oh, everyone is bi-curious after four wines,” she says.
“I really believe that, were it not for inhibitions that society jams on us, many people would be a lot more open about their feelings with things like this.
“My clients aren’t that sure of themselves in a sexuality sense so they’re hardly going to go out to some seedy bar and try and pick up a girl there for fear they are seen out in public, or with no guarantee of who the woman is.
“I see it as a privilege that they can and do come to us to try one of these experiences; this is a one-of-a-kind type of thing. It’s not like going bungee-jumping, it doesn’t compare. They need to feel safe.”
It’s Milla’s role to make sure that happens but you have to ask, how does a freelance hairdresser get involved in, well, freelance sex? She’s not waiting around in a room all day for women to come through the door but when Ingrid gets a booking, Milla is one of the girls on standby.
“I actually met Ingrid before Delicious Dalliances was fully set-up and she told me what she was working on and I said it was really interesting…really interesting,” she says.
“I’m comfortable in my own bisexuality. I’m actually dating a man at the moment and he knows what I do for work. He’s a typical boy, you can see he gets excited about it. He’s even asked if he could come and watch. The answer was definitely a no.”
That’s an important point too, says Ingrid. No men. Men are not allowed to come and watch. Not partners. Not anyone.
“This isn’t a seedy sex adventure. This is a high-end service for women who are branching out of their comfort zones and I want to keep it that way,” she says.
Which raised another curious question. The publicity photos are raunchy, to say the least, and they seem to be geared toward a male sexual fantasy, aren’t they?
“I’m glad you asked because I had actually organised an initial photo shoot and the pictures, although beautiful, came out looking like they were from a Pleasure State catalogue which wasn’t the look we were going for,” says Ingrid.
Watch Mia Freedman discuss her stance on sex work and the sex industry (post continues after video).
“We obviously walk a fine line between showing what is beautiful, feminine and gorgeous and not wanting to become Ralph.
“It’s an important difference because, to be honest, men are not nearly as subtle as women.”
This ethos finds its way into the website and how the women available for their services are advertised.
“With men you’d tend to line them up, chuck in the hair colour [blonde] and mention their breast size [DD], whereas what I try and do is match women by personalities so we know what our women are interested in and so on. It’s very different,” she says.
“That’s the difference between us and them, that and the fact we don’t operate out of a ‘premises’…oh, and we’re FUN.”
Some of the clients have no idea what they want in a tryst. ‘You decide!’ they’ll tell Ingrid uncertainly down the phone. Others will be very specific. They want dress-ups. Costumes. Sex toys. Milla interjects: “It’s always fun when they want toys!”
“We plan everything if that’s what the client wants. From the dinner reservations to the hotel room, to any other activities or tourist destinations if they are from out of town. Still, the most common question I get asked is ‘what should I wear?’,” says Ingrid.
Be honest, and anonymous if you must, would you use such a service? Have you ever kissed a member of the same sex? Gone further? And what made you do it?