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New York’s Sex Diaries series asks anonymous city dwellers to record a week in their sex lives — with comic, tragic, often sexy, and always revealing results. This week, a once-wealthy woman offering her feet to pay the bills: 45, straight, divorced, UWS.
5:51 a.m. The sun streams in through my bedroom window high above Manhattan. I take a quick peek at my emails. Thirty-seven new messages … maybe one or two will pan out. Most are work-related — I’m in the fetish industry. Prior to that, I was married to a very wealthy man. I was a stay-at-home mom and wife and took care of my lovely home (well, a housekeeper did) and organized the social life of my family.
Things have changed.
I haven’t received my child support checks in over two months. While my ex traipsed around Europe with his life-size Barbie girlfriend, I was home with two kids trying to make ends meet. After an abusive marriage, nearly seven years in divorce court, a dying dad, and two young children, I was in no position to get a job. Even if I could have, the only thing I was good at was being a trophy wife.
5:55 a.m. When I was in college, I was a foot model for some big designers. A photographer friend clued me into the foot-fetish industry and let me know how much my feet are worth. Once my money problems got big enough, I remembered this … and started dabbling. From time to time I will get mildly aroused — honestly, usually not. It’s a job. At the moment, I’m not in any real sexual relationship …
I click on a promising message: “Good morning - I was intrigued by your ad. But I have a question: What does the rest of you look like? - Harry ” Hoping I’ve found the answer to my money woes, I responded immediately.
7:30 a.m. Kids up (I have a son, 12, and a daughter who’s 7), dressed, and ready. No lunches to pack since they eat at their private school in Riverdale.
7:49 a.m. Kids on their way to school. Now I can see if Harry is really serious. I send him my height, weight, ethnicity, coloring, size, and tell him I live in a doorman building. I didn’t know this would be so complicated. I was initially more concerned about the shame and fear of strangers in my home, not all of these annoying questions.
10 a.m. I close the deal with Harry. He’s coming tomorrow morning.
3:15 p.m. Goldfish, carrot sticks, and hummus before my daughter’s ballet class.
7 p.m. Math tutor for both kids. I explain to the tutor that I’ll have to pay next week. (It’s not the first time I’m behind, and it won’t be the last.)
My ex wasn’t always like this. At least, I didn’t see it. When we met, he seemed like a real man, not like the boys I had been dating. A Russian jet-setter who loved the nightlife, shopping, talking all night, and spending time with me. He made me feel special, important, and beautiful. Everyone told me how much he loved me. I think he really did (and still does, in a way).
10 p.m. Bedtime — I’m exhausted.
5:56 a.m. Another bad night of sleep. I make myself a double espresso. Rubbing my eyes, I think, Shit, did I really agree to see Harry today? No check from my fucking ex-husband and a near-empty fridge. Damn right you did, girl.
7:45 a.m. Drop kids off at bus.
8:30 a.m. Close the blinds. Shower, shave my legs, pumice my feet until they’re smooth as a baby’s behind, moisturize from my neck to my toes. Spritz of Chanel No. 5.
9:55 a.m. I’m sitting on the couch waiting for Harry, imagining every possible scenario. What if he’s someone I know? I would just die. No one would ever believe someone like me would be advertising on Craigslist.
9:59 a.m. My building concierge calls up, “There is a gentleman to see you.”
10:02 a.m. I open the door to find Harry, a distinguished-looking man with silver hair. As he enters my apartment, he takes off his navy cashmere jacket and hands me a stack of twenties. Clearly, he’s done this before. “What’s on the menu?” he asks, throwing me off guard. I tell him “basic foot-fetish stuff” as confidently as I can.
11:10 a.m. Harry spends his hour lying on the floor while I sit on the couch and use my feet to give him a massage. Now, I’m not a masseuse, nor do I pretend to be one. I’m simply trying to find something to do since he doesn’t want to suck my toes. Fifty minutes later, I walk my client to the door and wish him a lovely day. Simple as that! $300!
Noon I nearly dance all the way to Whole Foods, where I happily pay $69.00 for one large shopping bag with my earnings.
5 p.m. I make chicken fajitas and fresh guacamole with sides of rice and beans. It’s the best meal we’ve had in days.
9:30 p.m. Homework done, teeth brushed, and kids in bed. Better use the time to see what’s new on Craigslist. I field emails and post more ads.
10:30 p.m. Lights out.
5:10 a.m. I wake up even earlier than usual to find another email from Harry. He wants to come back to see me again.
8:20 a.m. Harry arrives and seems in a very good mood despite the monsoon outside. He’s carrying a bag from Dean & Deluca — breakfast for me. I look at him and realize he’s completely dry; he must have a driver.
He places a stack of twenties on my table. When I’m done with breakfast, Harry spends the rest of his hour lying on the floor while I use my feet to give him a light massage. When his time’s up, he stands, gives me a hug (a little bigger and longer than the day before), and then he’s out the door. Ka-ching, ka-ching! $300!
9:30 a.m. I call back two potential clients. One is coming on his lunch break.
11:55 a.m. Thirty-minute session with Marv. He’s very young, yet experienced. He brought me shoes — cheap-looking platforms — from El Mundo to model. That’s all he wants from me. They look like they cost less than $10, but if he wants me to wear them I will. $100!
12:30 p.m. I hand the shoes to Marv. He says, “You can keep them … we can use them again next time.” My one thought: “Oh yay; he’s coming back again!”
12:35 p.m. Hide shoes. My daughter’s a snoop, and she’d love these cheapo heels.
12:45 p.m. Back on Craigslist, scrolling and patrolling for more men with safe fetishes.
6 p.m. Wednesday-night visitation. Kids and I are downstairs in the lobby waiting for my ex. They’re both getting nervous and constantly asking me what time it is. My kids don’t need this anxiety. Neither do I.
6:38 p.m. My ex finally pulls up. I tell him I need the child support or we’re going back to court. He calls me a “fucking bitch” in front of the kids. The doorman hears everything. But I blame myself for this situation. I was so damn naïve! I thought my husband would take care of me for the rest of my life.
8 p.m. My daughter calls to say good night and begs me to come and get her. I am seething.
8:15 p.m. I open a bottle of wine and cry. What will I do next? Are we going to be okay? How did I ever manage to not only marry a total narcissist but to have children with him?
1:32 a.m. I wake up on my living-room couch in a sweat, fresh from a nightmare where my ex-husband is a piranha who chewed my feet off with his rows and rows of sharp, needlelike teeth. This Craigslist thing will have to be a very temporary situation. Hopefully just until my assets are released.
5:28 a.m. Wake up looking and feeling like shit. Harry wants to see me again. Three days in a row!
9:04 a.m. Harry arrives at my front door for his usual appointment. $300!
10:08 a.m. I’ve made a thousand dollars in a few days and worked only four hours (not including posting ads and corresponding with potential clients).
10:30 a.m. Deposit cash so I can pay bills.
11 a.m. Back home and on Craigslist. I need to keep the momentum going. I’m meeting new people and feeling special. Sometimes I think this is better than dating …
3:15 p.m. My kids are back. My daughter asks why I’m wearing lipstick. I lie. My son tells me I look especially pretty today.
4 p.m. My daughter has a play date, and my son has soccer practice. While checking emails from my iPhone, I talk to the moms and a hot single dad. I wonder if he has any fetishes …
9 p.m. I encourage the kids to get to sleep early so I can get back on Craigslist. Maybe weekends are busier than the workweek.
Noon While the kids are in school I see a new client for half an hour. He fondles my feet while staying completely silent. He refuses to look me in the eye. Very weird. $120!
3:30 p.m. My daughter and I make cupcakes, her favorite.
6 p.m. The kids are going to my ex’s for the weekend. My daughter is pleading with me not to send her. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.
6:41 p.m. My ex is late again. He doesn’t even bother to make up an excuse. I once again tell the bastard that I need my child-support check. In response, he drives off. I’m convinced I hear my daughter call out for me.
7 p.m. I finish the last of the Bordeaux and check my emails. I’ll be kidless and need to work as much as humanly possible this weekend.
9 a.m. My first appointment told his wife that he was going to the gym. Instead, he’s sucking my toes and complaining about married life. $200!
11:33 a.m. Second client is from Connecticut. He told his wife he had to go into work today to take care of something. He wants to be on his knees for the entire session and call me Mistress. Before leaving he asks if he can come back and scrub my toilets some time. I love that idea. $120!
2 p.m. My third client hands me a script when he walks through the door. I pray I don’t fuck up my role! We pretend he’s having a job interview with me and I catch him looking at my feet. I can’t believe men pay for this shit. $200!
3:12 p.m. I’m exhausted. I make myself an espresso and a tuna sandwich. Catnap on my bed.
6 p.m. I field some emails. I’m tired of men responding to my ads with photos of their junk and thinking I’m in this for free because I actually enjoy having strangers suck my toes.
7:11 p.m. I’m stretched out on my couch when I get a call asking for an appointment. The man on the phone is polite and very respectful. He asks if I can wear dark-blue opaque stockings and a skirt. Odd, but I’m definitely beginning to understand that many men have very specific fantasies.
8 p.m. When I open the door I can’t hide my surprise. He’s standing before me in a black suit, a black wide-brimmed hat, and has a very long dark beard. I never expected an Orthodox Jew of the Hasidic variety as a client!
9:17 p.m. I take the longest and hottest shower and go straight to bed. What a day. I’m emotionally and physically exhausted. I pray for my assets to be unfrozen and for my overdue, paltry child-support checks to magically appear.
5:32 a.m. Email from Harry. He’s on his own tonight and wants to have dinner with me. He’s becoming a regular part of my week and a good friend, even in just the short time we’ve known each other.
6 a.m. I make myself a cup of tea and stay in bed. I think I’m too tired to work today. I count my hard-earned money.
Noon I take a walk and grab an avocado toast at Le Pain Quotidien. I feel like I never leave my apartment anymore.
7:30 p.m. Harry arrives with dinner from Nobu, a big hug, and a bag of booze. I’m so happy to see him. I tell him about last night’s client and my bastard ex-husband. Harry’s not the One, but he’s much closer to it than my ex. I want to be with a man who values me as a person. I want to be in a relationship with someone who wants to be a WE not a ME — someone who won’t expose himself as a self-absorbed narcissist like my ex turned out to be after money, drugs, booze, and prostitutes got the best of him.
8:30 p.m. Wine and sake both opened. I’m feeling woozy thanks to Harry’s bartending skills. Harry moves his body a little closer to mine and playfully pulls me down alongside him and gives me a chaste kiss on my forehead. He ever-so-lightly massages my stiff arm and moves slowly, tentatively, to my shoulder. He rubs and caresses, finding a knot in my shoulder that he expertly removes. Then he says, “Why don’t you let me give you an orgasm? That’ll take your mind off things.”
I quickly sit up, head spinning. He goes on, “How about I give you one thousand dollars if I can? I bet you could use the money. And I know you’ll have a good time. I’m very good at this …” A thousand dollars? I mean, he’s right. I certainly can use the money. And when isn’t an orgasm a good thing? But even if I wanted to, I’d be so nervous and uptight that I’d never have one. Harry would be between my thighs for the rest of my life trying to make it happen. “Well, what do you say?” I stall. This is definitely not a decision I ever thought I’d have to make …
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