— I master two professions, both of them being ancient. – Mariya likes to say and she does it half-jokingly half-serious so that it makes you both smile and ponder. Mariya lights up a cigar, reclines and looks at me playfully sitting with her legs crossed. She is wearing a short skirt, pastel-coloured lacy stockings and a tight shirt with a low neckline tantalizing to the eye. Mariya is a journalist by education. It is her first profession but she doesn’t work within her specialty. She grew disappointed in journalism and doesn’t see this profession as suitable for herself.
— This night I had a good client. A talkative one. He paid 400 euros for the night and we spent the whole night talking about things and barely had any sex, - she says, stretching languidly, with a tinge of regret in her voice.
This is her second, or rather, main profession. Mariya is a prostitute. However, she doesn’t like to apply this word regarding herself.
— Like, you know, bald guys are not very fond of being called bald, well the same is here - she giggles.
Mariya has a rare sense of self-irony, she is an easy laugher and no fool. She is beautiful, red-haired with grey eyes, pouty mouth and voluptuous body. She is nice to listen to, interesting to talk to and a pleasure to look at. I suppose her clients enjoy being with her just as much. Mariya really likes her job, she likes sex, money and when the one goes with the other. The only thing Mariya strongly dislikes is when people lie: she considers lying the most horrible thing in the world. She is twenty-seven but she looks much younger. And she doesn’t act like an adult either – she is immature and whimsical. Playing tricks on her would be an easy task - she is very trustful. Mariya reminds of a child that has quickly grown up but maintained common childish susceptibility and vulnerability. It’s no surprise that the majority of her clients are mature men old enough to be her fathers. They often ask her to dress like a schoolgirl, create a Lolita look and she does it with pleasure: it is easy for her to satisfy whims if they are well paid for, especially when she herself likes it.
Mariya usually uses a pseudonym with her clients. It’s not Lolita though. Magdalene.
— I am Mary Magdalene, isn’t that a great idea of mine? – she is smiling. Starts humming “I’ll never be Mary Magdalene” (by Sandrovskaya). It is a great idea indeed.
To some clients Mariya reveals her real name. They also find such combination of a real and a false name funny. She has her own peculiar manner of speaking: after ending a sentence she often asks: “True?” or “See?” without addressing this to anyone in particular, her eyes wandering around, as if she was talking to some other invisible listener.
— Do you remember a well-known phrase: “It’s not purely sex that is sold - dreams are”? It’s true. I sell dreams. And others enjoy buying them from me. I give them what they want. And I like it – I’m like a wizard who makes all your secret desires and fantasies come true plus gets paid for that. It can’t be bad, see?
I’m nodding — I do see her point but I forget that in fact it’s not me whom she is asking, it’s just a manner of hers. I focus my camera on Mariya trying to make a shot. She waves off, trills with laughter, covers her face.
— Stop it! What do you need my picture for? Oh, right, that’s cause I represent the two ancient professions! I’m worth an article in some yellow paper! – she is having fun about it and then adds in a genuine childish manner: - To me all ancient professions deserve some special respect…
“She sleeps with guys for money and still asks for respect” – where did these thoughts come from? I’m trying to get them out of my mind, but it’s too late: Mariya is looking at me intently and it seems there’s nothing you can hide from her.
— Yes, I’m talking about respect, - she instantly becomes stern. – Because we make no bones about the fact that we want money for the time spent and in this sense we are more honest than you. – One could hear anxiousness and nervousness in Mariya’s voice, she is like a stretched string that is about to snap. – We are more honest than you, millions of women marrying into money. We are more honest than you, journalists yielding more than a body - their soul - to whoever pays to them. We don’t sell our soul, we just sell our body. Call us sluts, whores, putrid sellouts, whatever – we still won’t be able to sell ourselves in such a sophisticated, reticent, foul and cunning way as you do. We don’t pretend neither make believe that we are somebody else. We are more honest, simply because honesty is our profession. And our so-called “love for sale” is better than your “normal” money marriage. Do you see what I’m talking about?
And I have nothing to reply to that, nothing to object and even less do I want to moralize in a fatuous double-standard way. I keep silent and don’t need to nod anymore – Mary “Magdalene” feels that I understand her anyway. And there is a good reason for that – we both belong to the ancient professions.