Alternative services

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Alternative services are lower-risk sex work service options you can offer to clients when you do not feel comfortable offering a requested service. 

When you might offer alternative services

Sometimes you may find visible signs of a potential STI or related condition when you do a visual health check on a client. Based on the health check, you may decide that you are not comfortable continuing with the agreed service. Some sex workers may refuse service when this happens, and others may offer alternative services with a lower risk of STI transmission. Alternative services can be a great way to avoid loss of income, help you retain the client, and help avoid difficulty with management. 

Offering these services can also be helpful if you are receiving treatment for an STI or related condition but are not in a position to take time off work.  

Making decisions about who you see, what services you offer, and how you offer them is your call. It is up to you to decide if and how you would like to proceed.

Check out our BBV and STI FAQ page for general STI and BBV information, or contact your local sex worker organisation for any workshops or other education they offer on BBV and STI prevention and harm reduction and sex work skills. 

You can also find detailed information about specific infections and conditions and how they might impact your work in our BBV, STI and related conditions section.

List of Alternative Services

This list is sourced from the wealth of sex worker peer knowledge-sharing and is not an exhaustive list of alternative services. If you have other ideas you’d like to contribute to our growing list of services, please get in touch with us! 

Here are some options for alternative sex work services: 

    • Massage: this could include relaxation massage, anal massage, erotic massage, or whatever else you can offer.
    • Hand job (aka ‘hand relief’): if you see signs of visible STI, the safest option is to do this with a glove. 
    • Tie & Tease: This service can involve light bondage and erotic touch, body contact, dirty talk, voyeurism/strip shows, or anything else you can think of. The benefit is that you’re in complete control of what goes where and can avoid any body parts you’re concerned about. 
    • Facesitting: This can be a BDSM service (which involves sitting on the face of the client to give a sense of smothering/body bondage) or a sexual service (allowing the client to perform oral on you – but only if you are not concerned about any STI symptoms in or around the client’s mouth). 
    • Oral sex: this can be offered where you are able to avoid any areas you’re concerned about on the client, including any symptoms on their inner thighs or scrotum. Oral can be a good alternative to full service where you are concerned about any symptoms on the groin or butt that a condom would not protect or that it would just be difficult to physically avoid. 
    • Fingering/fisting (with a glove if needed): on you or the client. 
    • Anal play: this can include prostate massage, fingering, the use of toys, or pegging/strap-on sex. 
    • Sensation play: this can involve any interesting sensations like hot and cold, sharp, soft, tickly, etc. It can combine well with a blindfold to heighten skin sensations.
    • DFK/”Making out”: Keep in mind that this service can still carry the risk of gonorrhoea transmission in the throat, but may be a less-risky option than the service the client first requested. 
    • Toy play: There are many great sex toys that can provide an alternative and a new experience for the client. 
    • Toy show/voyeurism: Using toys on yourself or another worker while the client watches. 
    • Mutual masturbation: You and the client person touch each other’s genitals. You can choose what to offer based on the circumstances. Be mindful of skin-to-skin contact, and avoid the client touching themselves and then touching you, or ask the client to use a glove when touching you. 
    • Simultaneous solo masturbation: You and the client touch yourselves, but at the same time, whether next to each other or watching each other. 
  • Lapdance/Strip Tease
  • Strip poker/other sexy games
    • COB (cum on body): the safest option is to choose parts of the body without open skin or mucous membranes. 
    • Frottage/grinding: ‘frottage’ is rubbing body parts against each other for sexual pleasure. You can provide this service through clothes to build tension and then provide other alternative services until climax. 
    • Body contact that avoids the genital area, like ‘thigh jobs’ (rubbing the client’s genitals against your thigh or other body parts that have no open skin). 
    • Foot job: rubbing or stroking the client’s genitals with your feet. 
    • Foot massage: give or receive a foot massage 
    • Tantric breathing/eye gazing: Google it! It can be a great way to teach the client a new skill if they’re open to it. 
    • Dirty talk/sharing fantasies: this is great to do while the client masturbates or while providing hand relief. 
    • Nipple play: with hands, mouth, clamps, toys, vibrators, etc. 
    • Rimming (aka analingus): this can come with some risks, so it is safest with a barrier like a dental dam or cut-up condom. 
  • Cuddling
    • JOI (jerk off instructions): you tell the client how to touch themselves. For some, this is a BDSM service, but it can also just be a type of dirty talk. 
    • Edging/orgasm denial with handjob/fingering/masturbating
  • Watching porn together
  • Golden showers/piss play: Make sure to discuss where the client would like to receive this on their body, as people can have sensitivities about this! 
  • Specialised BDSM services (if you know how to perform them safely)

Negotiating alternative services

Negotiating an alternative service can be challenging, especially if it involves delivering bad news to the client about their health and/or suggesting that they might need to see a doctor. Keeping the conversation light, playful, and fun can help diffuse any tension around this and prevent the client from feeling shame, which can impact their willingness to receive the service and make the booking more challenging. 

Remember that you’re not responsible for diagnosing anything – that’s their doctor’s job. You don’t necessarily need to know what STI or BBV the symptom corresponds to, just that you’ve seen something that you think they might want to get checked out, and/or that you’re not comfortable continuing with the agreed service but have plenty of ideas for other ones. 

Here are some tips for introducing alternative services. If you have other lines or approaches that you find work well for you, send them to us, and we’ll add them to this resource! 

  • Assure the client that you’re also disappointed to miss out on the discussed service, but you have a few other ideas that could be even more fun. 
  • Ask them if they’d like to try something new and interesting – often, it’s safest for them to try it with you. 
  • Tease them with a sexy story about a time when you’ve done that activity before. Tell them how fun it was, how much you enjoyed it, or that you were surprised about how much you enjoyed it. This might encourage them to try it out. 
  • ‘______ would be hot, and I hate to miss out on that, but I have an even better idea that will blow your mind.’
  • ‘We can do _____ next time/anytime – let’s make this booking a bit special and try ______. 
  • ‘I’ve never done _____ but have always wanted to. Would you be up for trying it with me?’ 
  • My ______ is the best in the biz!’ 
  • Remind the client that you’ve gotten this far and built up so much anticipation – it would be a shame to waste it. You obviously have an amazing connection, so why not use it creatively? 

You may not always convince the client to accept an alternative service. However, it’s still worth a try if you can land on something that you’re comfortable offering in the circumstances. Being prepared with some ideas – and any equipment, outfits or PPE you might need to make them happen – can help to avoid income loss, which can increase if the process has caused you to miss out on other client calls or intros. 

If you are doing establishment work and the client or manager requests that another worker see the client, you might want to let that worker know about any health issues you’re concerned about in case they might also want to avoid the service or the client.

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