Possibly the most mysterious aspect of sex work is also the one that seems the most simple. Why is there such demand for it?
You might be tempted to roll your eyes and say well, duh, that's because people want sex. That's obviously true. But wanting it so much you're prepared to spend serious money to get it from a professional instead of trying your luck on the dating market? Wouldn't having a steady partner be better - and cheaper - than hiring prostitutes to satisfy your cravings?
"I wouldn't want anyone to think I consider myself an expert on love," Fatima cautions, "but I see a lot of people, who come to me for something very important to them. And no, I don't just mean rubbing body parts."
Sex, Fatima believes, is about more than that. Much more. It's a critical part of being accepted and loved as a full human being.
"We all need to be loved," she says. "But what does that mean, really? For many people, it means being accepted and valued for who they truly are. Including sexually."
Fatima believes intimate love has three components. "People want to be loved for what's between their ears, what's in their heart, and what's in their pants. We are all sexual beings; it's an integral part of being human, that we engage in sex outside of baby-making. We don't all want the same thing. Some people don't even want intercourse. But we all need to feel accepted for who we are sexually."
Her clients, she explains, are on the whole straight men in stable relationships. Many are married. "You can tell by the mark on their finger where the ring was up until five minutes earlier." They love their partners, she is convinced of that. "But there's something missing in their lives. They tell me this sometimes. These are guys who aren't into crazy wild sex; I tend to screen those out. My clients aren't scary sexually. But they don't like it when their woman makes them feel dirty for desiring something a little more exciting than missionary in the dark once a week."
For instance, she says, too many women refuse to engage in oral sex. "Wives could stop their husbands from wanting to cheat if they could just learn to do that properly once or twice a week. And by 'properly' I mean, 'if they could learn to enjoy it'. All straight guys love it, and most straight women stop doing it soon after marriage. I never understood why. That's the bulk of my business, by the way. Guys who come to me for that because they can't get it at home."
But sexual estrangement goes beyond this particular detail and encompasses a desire heterosexual men have to feel intimately welcome by the women they love. They want to be appreciated not just for the status or stability or financial security they provide, but for the sexual pleasure they want to give as well.
"Most of the guys I know would be ecstatic if their wife would relax a bit and trust that their man is deeply in love with them. If they could just stop trying to control everything and let go. They should know a man loves looking at his partner's body and that he thinks she's perfect just the way she is. He's not looking for a model with an unnaturally tight body, just a normal woman who's into him. He wants to see her smile but he especially wants to see her body enjoy sexual pleasure. That's the biggest turn-on there is for a straight guy. I get questions all the time about how to please a woman, and what to do if she doesn't react to something the way he was hoping. My married clients aren't cheaters even though technically they do cheat when they come see me. They don't want to have affairs. They want their wife to love them fully. It's not at all the same thing. They have a profound need for this love and acceptance that drives them to my bed in desperation."
Fatima is aware that if people took her advice, her business would decline. "But you know what? In the end, people would be happier if nobody needed prostitutes. That would be a good thing."