Nom de plume
In this article, independent London escort and luxury provider, Saffron Smith, talks about real first names and the importance (or not) of knowing them, writing in 800 words what she probably could have said in 80. Apols.
In my pre-Saffron days, I used this monstrous invention called dating apps. One chilly December evening, I went on a first date with someone whose profile pictures were gorgeous. Perhaps it might sound like a contradiction in terms but his hair was big and bouffy, perfectly coiffed into a curled, cloud-like work of art. In his dating profile, I remember him bemoaning the numerous approaches he’d receive from couples seeking a unicorn (honestly, his hair was great) and how people with B.O. were a huge turn-off for him. As we strolled along the Embankment, him in a caked suit looking nothing like his photos, me in knee high boots and a chic jumper dress downwind of his B.O., I felt a distinct sense of disappointment. More than that though, I felt a sense of intrigue.
In all the conversations we’d had online before we met, in all the searching questions he’d asked, and the long, intense discussion we’d had on our first date, not once had he asked what my name was. As we walked along the Thames and then got some mulled wine at a Christmas market, I wondered when he would ask what has got to be the most obvious, number one question asked by one new person of another new person. So commonly-asked is it that it has to be a collective cultural reflex closely followed in Anglo-Saxon countries by the tedious question, “What do you do for a living?”. However, the date went by and the opportunity to ask it probably became more embarrassing. When he messaged me later to see if I wanted to meet again, I asked him why he hadn’t asked me my name. His reply? That he was on a dating app and was purely focused on getting laid. No, if only – that would’ve been too truthful. What he said, and with some convincing measure of conviction, were words to the effect of, well, what do names actually matter?
Entering the industry in 2018 and adopting a pseudonym for the first time in my life gave me occasion to revisit this otherwise insignificant time in my life and consider what names, and our knowledge of them, actually matter. Does knowing someone’s first name confer a relationship with greater intimacy and trust? Ask my postman and he would categorically say no and I, for one, would agree. The strongest connections I’ve made in this industry, with both lovers and industry friends alike, are underpinned mostly by complementary personality types, shared values and mutual care – not an obsessive desire to know all things great and small about the other as though we’re in the business of Victorian botany. And it’s precisely because my favourites are this way, that they don’t push any boundaries and that they let our relationships develop naturally and take their own course, that they have become my favourites in the first place – and so there’s something tautological about it all, too. And when I think of it, when do I ever call my lovers by their names? Never. And when does anyone address me by my name? No one, unless they’re my mum and they’re angry at me so why anyone would want to recreate this mood is beyond me.
However, for some particularly curious (read: intrusive) clients, there can be an unhealthy obsession with wanting to discover a provider’s real name as well as other biographical information. On a Venn diagram, I’m sure you’d see that a significant proportion of these clients are exactly the same ones who would attempt to push other boundaries, too. But why this obsessive desire? Besides compromising my security, what benefit does sharing my real name with clients actually have? In a way, the question answers itself. One of the most arduous aspects of being a companion, one far more onerous than tax returns, and which merits an article of its own, is having to manage very large egos. Let’s call it “big dickhead energy” for short. The fact of something being off-limits becomes like catnip to a fragile ego. Being privy to secret, carefully-guarded information equates in the mind of the power-obsessed to an exercise in dominion and control: I know, therefore I am special. You are rendered more vulnerable, therefore I am more powerful. Even more worryingly, there are – fortunately a minority of – clients who delight in asking intrusive questions, making someone uncomfortable, seeing how much they can get away with, and feeling a misplaced sense of superiority as a result.
So if you meet a companion and you feel the urge to ask her what her real name is, do the right thing and repress it. Fin.