An Escort is a specifically Mixed prostitute, never a term for a human in the same situation. About fifteen percent of Escorts are male, but the overwhelming majority are women. This is partly because finding jobs, especially heavy labor in the Blue, is easier for men, and also partly because of the demand. A man with a female Escort (homosexuality is technically illegal in Dalton) is seen to have status in his peer group, but a woman with an Escort is often told she only has one because she can’t attract a real man. Some homosexual Escorts do offer services, but these are rare and constantly in danger of being caught.
Most Escorts live in the Blue, although there are also some houses in the human sectors, especially in Red. Since Escorts are generally not living in their clients’ houses but in group homes, they are not considered to be working in the place where they live and the houses are often shut down as illegal Mixed residents in human areas. Many prefer to have their clients visit them in the Blue. This also carries the risk of the cline being caught by border guards, but many are wealthy enough to bribe the Patrols on duty.
Some Patrols themselves will allow an Escort’s customers to pass uninhibited in return for favors from the Escort herself. This situation is actually fairly common. The Escorts themselves often initiate these transactions, and those who have deals with the guards will give every client something specific that they can show the guards in order to pass without harassment. For some, it is a strand of their feathered hair, for others a piece of cloth in a specific color. Many Escort houses make these deals as well, and will usually give out a small piece of paper with the name of their house written on it. These trademarks are well known among the upper levels of Dalton society, and sometimes young men at parties will compare their pass tokens to see if any of them have hired the same girl.
Some Escorts, rather than requiring clients to pass through the guards, will go to their clients’ houses in other sectors. These Escorts have deals with cart drivers and often the border guards, in the same way the Escorts who admit clients do. “Service for Service” is a commonly heard phrase among the cart drivers and Patrols.
The entire Escort system is elaborately designed to avoid the regulations and laws surrounding Mixed residency laws, but there are no laws against the practice itself. The only legal action that can be taken is a fine in case of the death of an Escort. It is almost assumed in the upper levels of society that every young man has hired an Escort at least once, and hiring your first and either sneaking into the Blue or sneaking her to the house is considered a rite of passage that brothers, friends, and sometimes even fathers will join in on.
Some Escorts hire into a single house under the guise of a maid, or sometimes even directly since if they are living in the client’s house there is no legal action against them. These Escorts often have one or few partners over the course of their careers. They are more of a live in mistress, sometimes even assisting an actual wife with raising children and housework, than a prostitute on the street.
Life for an Escort varies widely. Those who serve one or a few exclusive clients often live like humans themselves, sharing a house with the family or with a bachelor in the White or Gold. House Escorts often form a sort of sisterhood and will help out each other by picking up the slack of clients for a girl who is injured, pregnant, or ill. Those who have deals with Patrols and drivers also tend to have more economic stability than many other Blue residents, although they often die young of disease. Street working Escorts have the lowest life expectancy, both because of the diseases transmitted by the number of clients they have and the potential to be hired by sadistic clients.
Escorts in houses or on the street often spend large amounts of time together, and they try to help each other as much as possible. They understand the situations that have landed most of these people where they are. A few Escorts are in the job because they find it glamorous, but these for the most part are the live-ins or work alone in the Blue. They tend not to socialize with those driven to the life by poverty and starvation. Some girls are also kidnapped, although this is a remarkably low percentage. The economic desperation in the Blue virtually guarantees an unending supply of Escorts, from orphans as young as ten to mothers desperate to feed starving children.
Escorts have developed ways to try to protect themselves from some of the hazards of their life. Houses often screen clients before allowing them to hire a girl, and some solo Escorts with enough resources to be choosy do the same. Many of the girls try to prevent pregnancy by not working during days they are in cycle. Some take home remedies either before or after to try to prevent pregnancies; almost every house has its own tonic, just like having a house wine. Most of these are simple palliatives to ease a girl’s mind. Many are herbal concoctions that are completely useless. A few are poisons, and contain toxins that build up in the body each time the medication is taken until the girl dies of poisoning. A few are immediately fatal, but these are usually black-market items bought by women on the street, who already have too many mouths to feed and cannot afford another. Girls who do become pregnant often give the child up to an auction house. Some girls in houses will raise their child there, especially a girl with similar markings as the mother, to become escorts themselves.
Escorts who manage to survive to middle age often stop working around age forty, when their looks begin to fade. They often run the houses where girls work from. Others who are tested and certified to be illness free become nursing mothers in the auction houses. There are cases in which a nurse has raised the children of women from her former house. Some of these nurses have no concern for the children whatever, but many are affectionate mothers, as this is their chance to have children they know they will not have to watch starve.