B“We found out this coronavirus spreads by touch and thought, yeh to AIDS ka bhi baap aa gaya (this is worse than AIDS). Condom had helped until now but what do you use for this? A raincoat?"
One afternoon, she saw her saheli dressing up and putting on make-up. “She said I get calls, I want to look good for them. Then I listened to her when she was on the call. She was talking dirty. I started laughing. I never had to talk to people. They would only ask me to do things: press here, touch there."
But times were hard. Coronavirus cases in Bangalore were showing no signs of plateauing—they still don’t. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, who form a chunk of the clientele, had left for their homes. Bangalore Escort, a migrant herself, like most sex workers in Bangalore, used to send money to her family in Karnataka every month. As her earnings dried up, her family started feeling the pinch too. She decided to give phone sex a try.
“(After the lockdown) I would often get calls from my regular customers asking me how I was, if I missed them. I would usually not engage. But I said one day, ‘I do. Do you?’ He said, ‘I even touch myself thinking of you.’ I said, ‘Why don’t I help you help yourself?’"They agreed on a price. She called him back only after he sent her money via Google Pay. Three weeks on, phone sex has become part of Bangalore Escort’s daily routine. She also offers a video chat—for a higher price. But before coming on, she covers her face with a dupatta, so no one can record her in the act.
Innovation is being discussed in every field. A recent advisory published by Butterfly, an Asian and migrant sex worker support network based in Canada, suggests that the profession might never be the same again. Sex workers, it says, should use masks, gloves, dental dams and disinfect work surfaces after each appointment. “Instead of kissing and direct contact, consider offering alternative services such as erotic massage, and strip-tease, and opt for sexual positions that minimize face-to-face contact (e.g doggy style, cow girl/person)," the advisory adds.