Becky Adams began her more than two-decade career in sex work at a time of desperation. But even though her teenage daughter Emilia grew up wanting for nothing, Adams wouldn't mind if the girl followed in her footsteps. It's certainly better than banking, she told the British tabloid, The Sun. "Society may judge her but I wouldn't," she says. "At least prostitution is an honest profession."
Adams wouldn't want her daughter to peddle her trade on the streets, but she would help her find success in the world of high-end escorting. "I'd much rather she work as an escort than a banker," the former madam told The Sun. "I couldn't understand her wanting to do something morally wrong, something that could jeopardize someone else."
"Prostitution is a service. It's like care work," she explained. "Clients might be disabled or widowed, it's about making them feel special."
Adams kept her daughter Emilia away from her brothels in the English town of Milton Keynes during the workday, but the prostitutes would come around the home, and one even became like an aunt, the daughter says. Adams thinks that it made her daughter more open-minded about sex workers and appreciate that sex work is like any other job.
"They can have a bad day or a quiet day, just like anybody else," says Adams, who told The Sun that she ran two brothels. "I made sure all the girls were safe. There were no drugs or alcohol, just local ladies working to provide for their kids."
"I loved being surrounded by these nice, glamorous women," Emilia told The Sun. "It was a happy family."
Selling sex is completely legal in the United Kingdom, but having sex with a person who was forced into prostitution is not. Neither is pimping, nor owning or managing a brothel, and Adams has had plenty of run-ins with authorities. Now she's retired, however, and said in an interview that she works as a public speaker and as consultant on the sex industry and women's sex issues for the BBC and other news agencies.
Prostitution isn't currently in the younger Adams' plans, though. Emilia Adams is studying travel and tourism, while working part-time at a car showroom and in a store. She says that she sees nothing wrong with selling your body for money, but is worried she'd get "hooked on the money."
Growing up, she was surrounded by nice things that most of her classmates couldn't afford. That made up, she says, for her mother's frequent absences, "going to the shops to buy 300 condoms at 12," and the bullying from other children.
Work-life balance is a particular challenge for sex workers who are mothers, especially if their children's schoolmates find out how those mothers pay for those Lunchables. "If someone asking my son if his mother was a whore is the worst possible thing that happens to him, I'll consider him extremely fortunate and my job well done," former prostitute Zoe Hansen told The Daily Beast.
Adams has been especially open about her career choice, appearing in dozens of news stories and TV segments on prostitution over the years, and recently publishing an autobiography "Madam."
"What I always remember is that every girl who worked for me was someone's daughter," Adams says. "It would be hugely hypocritical for me to say, 'It's good enough for their daughters, but not for mine.'"
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