I’m Alexander Cheves, a writer, author, and sex educator. My nickname is Beastly. I give adult advice on this blog — no question is off-limits. To ask me something, email AskBeastly@gmail.com or send a message via the Ask Beastly contact form.
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Hi, Beastly. I’m new to hiring sex workers. Should I tip? If so, how much and when? For instance, if a guy’s rate is 180 or 250 per hour of time, what should I tip? And should I just go ahead and include the tip with the initial gift of $, or give it to them after? So far I’ve just brought gifts (wine, vape materials).
First, recognize what kind of work you’re paying for. Providers who spend time with you — called companions, escorts, and so on — usually have an hourly rate which can range from $100 to well over $500. (Sex work is the only industry I know in which women always have higher rates than men and make substantially more money.) I assume this guy is an escort. When hiring escorts, tips are appreciated but not expected (most of my clients do not tip).
If you’re paying someone hourly (for their time, not for sex — whatever happens in that time is between consenting adults), you’re paying a sizable amount because most people don’t tip. A lot of work goes into providing a great experience, and if most clients don’t tip, rates must be higher. I asked some friends in the business and many agree that, while gifts are nice, monetary tips — not gifts — will make you a priority client and bump you to the “front of the line,” so to speak.
I would not tip at the beginning of an experience. Pay the agreed-upon rate for the number of hours you plan to spend with him (most providers ask for payment up front) and bring enough for a good tip in case you have a blast and want to see him again. Then, when your time is up, tip accordingly. I don’t think there’s a universally “good” tipping percentage but anything less than 20% doesn’t stand out. If someone tips me more than 20%, I take notice and prioritize them going forward (that said, simple politeness and respect is more valuable than a good tip and will take you far). If your guy’s rate is $250 and you’re with him for one or two hours, a good tip starts at $50. But if you had a blast, you can certainly tip more.
Length of time also plays a role. I and other companions prefer longer dates and overnights over quickies. Rushed interactions are never enjoyable, and many companions require a two-or-three-hour minimum for this reason. If you hire someone for an overnight (eight to ten hours) and they knock your socks off, you should tip in triple digits, or as much as you can.
If you’re paying a companion for more “involved” or “extreme” activities for which they have to provide a particular space, particular toys and equipment, particular lube, and so on, their hourly rate will be significantly higher than other providers’ rates. They put a lot of work into their service and their rates should reflect that. They have to wash their products and their space before and after; they have to spend time discussing your desires and fantasies beforehand and creatively build your experience. On top of all this, they have to keep safety — for both of you — top of mind without sacrificing fun. Kinky playmates, professional dominants and dominatrixes, and other more involved providers can usually name their price, and if you’re already paying that much, tipping is nice but not a requirement.
While companions appreciate tips but don’t expect them, tipping is mandatory for other sex workers. Strippers, for example, only make tips. If you go to a strip club without a lot of cash to drop, you shouldn’t be there. Even servers at restaurants have base salaries, but most strippers do not, and they usually have to pay out the house, DJ, bartenders, and so on. Most clubs even charge a fee to perform.
I’ve heard some people make the ignorant argument that they drop “enough” cash at strip clubs because they pay to get in and buy expensive drinks. These people don’t know how strip clubs work. Strippers are usually independent contractors who have to pay the venue for its performance space. They’re not employees. Stiffing them harms their business, not the club’s. You can find clubs that are exceptions to this rule, but it’s good practice to assume a stripper only turns a profit from tips — so you have to pay for every touch and private dance.
Some people think there are “codes” in cash — that $20 always symbolizes X service and $100 always symbolizes Y service, like a lap dance. Don’t believe any of this. There are high-ticket strippers in luxury clubs that require several hundred — or more — to even notice you and there are roadside peepshows where you can probably get a lap dance for $20, and both can be equally fun. As with all human interactions, you should communicate directly with the performer what you would like. They’ll tell you how much to pay.
What about porn stars? For studio work, porn stars are usually paid a flat fee and make most of their money from escorting — video work is essentially how they advertise. So if you’re going to watch studio porn, pay for it instead of going to tube sites and watching pirated footage (an easier rule to agree to than follow, but it bears being said). Paying studios is indirectly paying performers, and the less money a studio has, the less money it has to pay performers.
These days, of course, many performers cut out the middle man and supply direct-to-consumer “amateur” content via subscription sites like OnlyFans and JustForFans, which is why porn studios are rapidly becoming relics. You can tip on both of these platforms, and both give you the option to pay for custom content (you can buy a custom video from your favorite performer). Every performer has a monthly subscription fee which they set. On these platforms, tipping is appreciated but not expected.
If you’re paying a cam performer or phone sex operator, always tip — even if you’re paying by the minute. Every platform takes a percentage of a provider’s fee. As someone who has made money doing this, let me say that this is draining work. Phone sex operators accommodate people’s fetishes, kinks, and fantasies. Some give advice, hear confessions, or offer help. Tip generously for good service.
No matter what kind of work you’re paying for, there’s always an incentive to tip. All sex workers, from masseurs to strippers to OnlyFans performers, might provide extra services for generous tippers, which may be extra time, extra attention, or exclusive content. But like any other service industries, the amount you tip should vary based on how much you enjoy the service.
Honestly, I’d rather have a client tip nothing than commit a cardinal sin — haggle over my rate. To everyone hiring sex workers: Don’t ask for a birthday discount. Don’t give a low number and ask to “work something out.” You wouldn’t walk into a clothing store and ask the floor assistant to drop the price of a shirt because you only have X amount in your pocket. This is a business.
My rates are nonnegotiable, and to sex workers reading this: I used to work for Equinox, one of the most expensive gyms in New York City, and the experience taught me a valuable lesson: Never lower your rates for any reason — ever. You have to sell your business the same way you’d sell a gym membership that costs upwards of $300 a month — by recognizing pain points, asserting your value, doing adequate outreach (which I know is difficult on our policed internet), overcoming objectives, and giving prospects the ability to say “no.” Don’t be a hard seller. At Equinox, if someone repeatedly said the membership was too high, I’d recommend a great gym down the street within their budget. (They always joined.) Similarly, when someone tells me they only have X dollars, I refer them to Grindr.
I’m genuinely interested in clients and enjoy the work I do. In the same way I want every visitor to enjoy this blog, I want every client to enjoy my time, and I dedicate an absurd amount of personal time to both enterprises. Don’t haggle my rate. I’m a boyfriend, companion, coach, advice-giver, listener, surrogate, teacher, confidante, trainer, healer, helper, and more — and my rate reflects this. (On a related note, if you enjoy this blog, please tip or support my work with a monthly donation on Patreon. And if you’re interested in my other work, please email me via the Ask Beastly tab or via my profile on RentMen.)
I wish more clients were as considerate and respectful as you are. Enjoy your guy.