For Eva Sless, sex isn’t just something she enjoys — it’s a job. The 40-year-old Aussie is a sex columnist, a sex educator and a sex worker who engages in consensual sex for money.
She’s also married. Sless’ husband, Justin, 43, is completely supportive of her work, though they’re both aware it’s an unconventional life.
“I know we are a rare couple. Our life and marriage is built on a foundation of strong friendship, trust, love, and respect,” she told HuffPost. “I don’t know if the life we live is for everyone, but it works for us. I love our world.”
Below, they tell us more about Sless’ work, how it affects their marriage and what Justin thinks of his wife’s clients.
How long have you been together? Were you already involved in sex work when you met?
Eva: We’ve been married almost 11 years. We’ve been a couple for around 18 years and we met around 30 years ago. We’ve always been in each other’s lives.
I have worked as a sex worker on and off for about 15 years, so I already knew Justin when I started. We’d talked about it for years and it was something I’d always wanted to try and explore.
Sex and sexiness and being desired and being paid for it was always something I thought about, before I think I even knew it was something people did. I’d worked as a receptionist and manager at a brothel for a few years before I decided to jump over the desk and work the other side of it. It was a mutual decision. He gave me the courage to actually do it. And it’s been amazing.
Justin, what was your response when Eva told you she wanted to become a professional sex worker? What do you do for work?
I told her, “Cool! Go for it. You’d be freaking great.”
I build and fix mountain bikes for work. I used to race them, and then I got old and realized crashing really hurts. I still do the occasional endurance racing, but I’ve hung up my downhill pads.
Eva, in general, what does your work with clients entail?
That’s a really tricky question to answer, because everyone is different and each job is different. I guess a basic rundown for what would be: chat, hang out, have sex, shower, chat and go home.
But really, it’s far more than that. I don’t like reducing it down to just sex because it’s the personal interactions that are the key and what I enjoy and what my clients enjoy. We laugh. We discuss interesting things. I have cried with clients who have lost partners or pets or family members. I have played board games all night and watched movies. I’ve gone to museums and dinner. I’ve had jobs that were supposed to last hours, that actually lasted about 15 minutes and ended in tips over $100. It’s impossible to reduce my job to plain generalizations, because life and sex and the reasons people might call a sex worker can’t be generalized.
What does your husband think of your clients? Has jealousy ever been an issue?
Eva: I don’t think he ever really thinks about them. I mean, no more than I think about the people he deals with at work. Jealousy rarely comes into our lives. We have an open marriage and swing and play and share and enjoy sex together and with others. There have always been those safety concerns that come with the job, but we’ve always had great systems and security in place, and it’s really never been an issue.
Justin: Jealousy has been an issue; I’m jealous that it’s a job I can’t do myself! I mean, maybe I could, but it’s a lot harder for guys to get into. But no. I’m never jealous of punters. It’s just a job.
What’s your work/life balance like, Eva?
Well, at the moment, I do less sex work due to the fact that all my other work keeps me busy. Plus, we used to live in Victoria, where the laws on sex labor are more open. We moved to Queensland about four years ago. It’s actually one of the reasons I don’t work as often as I would like to; the laws, stigma and religious groups make Queensland a bit scary for independent sex workers. Well, for me anyway. [Editor’s note: Sex industry laws in Australia are determined by state and territory governments.]
I miss it sometimes. I have three regular clients I see now, but apart from that, I don’t really do it as much. I just don’t have the time. When I did work regularly, I was also studying, so I’d do maybe three nights or days a week or special request bookings. But it never took over or took time away from us.
What, if any, impact does your work have on your sex life?
Eva: I really don’t think it has. Not in any negative ways, anyway. But my life and work, regardless of sex work, is within the sex industry. I am a sex columnist, a sex toy reviewer and a sex educator, and all of that has been my world for around 20 years.
Justin: I don’t think it has an effect. Our sex life is excellent. It has been before, during and since she’s slowed down on the work.
You have a 14-year-old daughter together. What does she know about what you do for a living, Eva?
She knows I work in sex and sex education and that I am very politically motivated to create a better world for women, and my focus is often on sex workers and the industry in general.
She gets very cross at me when we’re watching TV, because I will point out everything problematic about it! We had a deal recently where we would binge-watch each other’s shows, so I got her into “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who,” and she got me to watch “How I Met Your Mother,” one of the most sexist shows I’ve seen in a while. Her main comment to me while watching was, “Mom! Do you have to make everything political?” I’m like, “Yep, kiddo, because everything ispolitical.”
She’s unlike me in almost every respect, especially me as a 14-year-old. She’s quiet and academic and doesn’t give a flying flip what anyone, especially boys, think of her, but she’s very open-minded and understands that everyone deserves respect and that sex work is work.
What “rules,” if any, do you have in your relationship related to your job?
Eva: Basic security rules. Having “check in” people and support networks for when I meet clients, for example. But we aren’t very rules-heavy in that sense. Again, it’s just a job. I treat it like a job, as does he.
Justin: Exactly, it’s just a job. It’s like if your partner was a massage therapist, there’d be what most people consider personal intimacy with others during your partner’s work hours. We are very good at separating love and sex. It’s a physical thing rather than an emotional one. There are certainly emotions involved, it’s very intimate, but it’s not love or permanent connection. It is what it is.
Justin, what are people’s reactions when you tell them your wife is a sex worker?
They’re often surprised I’m OK with it, but it hasn’t changed any friendships or their attitudes toward us. It’s just a job. A kind of cool job, but just a job. I guess people are surprised sometimes that she does it by choice and she enjoys it and it’s a well-paying job.
Clearly, you’re very open-minded and honest in your marriage. That said, what’s one deal-breaker you couldn’t stand for in the relationship?
Eva: Dishonesty. The truth is power, and in power there is strength. Take away that strength and what is left?
Justin: Same for me: Dishonesty. What’s the point of being in a committed relationship if you can’t be honest? Everything is easier with honesty. The good and the bad.