In 2018 alone, 4.79 million new videos were uploaded to Pornhub, and if someone were to watch every single video posted back-to-back, it would take approximately 115 years. As pornography has become more accessible, the industry has become mainstream and hundreds of thousands of women are cashing in on the 21st century’s sexual revolution.
While there are plenty of upsides to being a sex worker in 2019, there are obvious downsides to competing in an industry that’s highly oversaturated. Being a cam girl, a porn star or even an escort is no longer a novelty profession that promises fame and fortune to a select few pioneers. Instead, only the strong — and in most cases, lucky — women are able to sustain profitable and long-term careers in adult entertainment.
This is where Lydia Dupra, formerly known as Melina Mason, comes in. Dupra has over eight years of experience in the sex industry, earning a coveted Best New Starlet nomination at the 2013 AVN Awards show. While making a name for herself in porn, Dupra worked on the side as an escort for a network of high-profile clients. “An escort sells time and companionship for money,” shares Dupra, who earned a minimum of $1,300 an hour and $90,000 on her highest earning night. “Sex is normally expected, but that’s technically not what the client is paying for.” Throughout her career, Dupra earned more than a sizeable fortune, but she realized that her true passion was helping other women to succeed in sex work. From there, the Heaux Mentor was born.
“I work with individuals one-on-one to create an escorting personna that will attract the clients they want,” explains Dupra, who’s established both an online and in-house network of women seeking her expertise. “I come in to give my girls the edge.”
Dupra’s process for branding a client is highly individualized and she has a full team on-call to create the perfect escort. “Stylists, surgeons, vocal coaches to create accents and witchcraft can be used during my mentoring sessions,” says Dupra. “I even pick a birthday for my client when selecting a new age for her, I gravitate toward Scorpio and Libra birthdays for their great sexual reputations.” And if that wasn’t enough, Dupra leads her business with integrity and strives to ensure her clients maintain originality within her network. “I won’t mentor girls with the same look in the same city,” says Dupra. “This helps to guarantee their success.”
To some, the modifications she’s made for her clients and herself may seem excessive, but the little things add up in a major way, according to Dupra. And despite the trust that she’s gained from thousands of women, attesting to the positive impact Dupra has made on their lives, she’s still very much impacted by our society’s stigma of sex work.
Dupra brands herself as a mentor, which unlike other industries, is seldom recognized in the sex industry. However, because of the way full-service sex work has been portrayed in media for centuries, her work is often compared to that of a madam, despite not making a dime from her clients aside from the sale of her products and mentoring sessions. “The biggest misconception about me is that people assume I help women become prostitutes and I’m taking fees from their bookings,” says Dupra. “I’m a business consultant and have no desire to instruct anyone on how to sell anything but time.”
The misconceptions are not only directed towards Dupra as a mentor, but also the women she helps become sex workers. An important message from Dupra and other activists in this area is that sex work is work, and these professionals can better their lives from entering the industry. “It’s a real job,” shares Dupra. “It’s the only industry in the world where women make more money than men. Sex work is recession-proof, and can be safely done from home behind a computer. It’s a solution for those with mental health issues that can’t work a typical 9 to 5, and the flexible hours make it great for parents.”
Society’s negative perception of sex work not only impacts the public perception of women like Dupra, but legislation like FOSTA-SESTA can present life-threatening dangers to her clients. FOSTA-SESTA was introduced to make the assistance, facilitation and support of sex trafficking illegal; however, it can also restrict sex workers from conducting business safely. “I had to remove two of the major safety features on my Heaux app,” Dupra explains of an Apple and Android app she created as a safe space for sex workers. “One of those features was a blacklist where girls could report dangerous customers. The other was a check-in feature that allowed girls to alert each other when they safely finish an appointment.”
Despite the institutional restrictions that continue to limit her and her clients’ livelihoods, Dupra maintains optimism through constant adversity. “It’s all worth it when one of my clients achieves a major goal like paying off her student loans, buying a home or retiring,” says Dupra. “These people are really getting an education from me and it makes all of my past mistakes worth it because it’s healing to help others.”