Photo-essay: a day in the life of a Danish sex worker

An amazing and award-winning photo essay by Marie Hald of the Danish School of Journalism on Bonnie, a sex worker in Denmark.

Bonnie Cleo Andersen has been a prostitute since the age of 18. Her first time having sex for money was at a visit at a brothel in a small town. Bonnie and her girlfriend were in need of money and wanted to try it out. The experience was unpleasant and Bonnie was shy and ashamed of her body. But because of the money, she stayed in the sex industry.
(College Photographer of the Year via @BWJones)


  1. Why is it that the majority of your posts need to be inappropriate? KIDS READ THIS SITE TOO, XENI. Someone needs to repair Jesse  Andrews’ Greasemonkey script. Absolutely ridiculous.


      In all seriousness though, if you dislike Xeni’s posts so much, just don’t read them. What is and is not appropriate is a personal judgment, not an absolute. Trust me. This post won’t do anybody of any age any harm. “Oh no, my kids might find out that these are such things as prostitutes!” Trust me, they probably already know. And if they don’t, so what? They are going to find out someday. It is the parents, responsibility to supervise what their children see on the Internet. Personally I am not all that fussed. I would personally be a lot more worried about what kids are putting on the Internet (like on sites like facebook and twitter) rather than what kids are seeing on the Internet.

      TL;DR – Keep your outdated ‘morals’ off my favorite blog please


      This site is not intended for children.

      Why is it that the majority of your posts need to be inappropriate?

      Agreed.  Way too many tits and not nearly enough cocks.

    3.  I have no problem with my children reading any of Xeni’s posts. And my children are a little taken aback that you have come all the way from the 1950s to vent your spleen on their behalf.

    4. I can guarantee you that “kids on the web” don’t really need to come to BoingBoing to stumble on “inappropriate” material. The intertubes are clogged with the damn stuff.
      Besides, content like this is *incredibly* educational; I bet any teenager joking that “if I’m really broke, there’s always prostitution” would stop saying that after looking at these pics. (Although that kitchen is mighty nice — I guess it’s still Denmark, after all).

    5. 1 – Obvious troll is obvious (next time try having more comments on the account.)
      2 – Supervision of the crotch fruit is the job of those who spawned them, not the job of anyone else.

    6. It isn’t inappropriate at all in my mind.  It’s an interesting subject.  Xeni’s post had NOTHING INAPPROPRIATE.  You have to click through to another site.  Everything isn’t suppose to be “for kids”.  Some of us are adults and don’t want everything filtered for the kiddies.  Goddamn.

    1. What part of Photo-essay: a day in the life of a Danish sex worker could possibly be construed as SFW?

      1.  Asking for a NSFW is fair and reasonable – there are a lot of workplaces where you can really be in the shit for having the wrong stuff on your screen.

        Note that he didn’t ask for stories like this not to be posted.

        1. Who are all these people who have time to futz around looking at BoingBoing while they are at work?  Shouldn’t you be working?  

          1. Sometimes I take a break at my desk because I don’t feel like going outside. (For instance that’s what I’m doing right now.)

            Of course I also looked at this article and, after briefly thinking, “Well, there’s no NSFW notice, so it’s probably tame enough to go to the link” a much louder mental voice said, “Photo essay about a sex worker. Probably best not to risk it.” 

        2.  Then don’t read BoingBoing. If your job has restrictive policies regarding work-appropriate content, you shouldn’t be browsing non-work related web sites on company time.

  2. If I ever want a photo for “Dead look in the eyes” vs. Tyra Banks’  “smize” I will use that first photo. Her soul has left the room, only her body is there.

    1. Seriously though, let’s not judge her from this stare.  She may just be having another bland day at work.  People want to assume the lack of ardor means sad vacancy.  She might just be like anyone else, staring uninterested at space during another boring day at work.
           Probably thinking “I need to pick up a couple of metworst links and a chunk of edam on the way home tonight.”

      1. It reminds me of the old joke: what’s the difference between an escort, a lover, and a wife?

        An escort asks, “Was that good for you?”

        A lover says, “That was so good.”

        A wife says, “I think we should repaint the ceiling.”

  3. I think the moral of the story is you need to post even more stories that talk about sex, so the prudes throwing a tantrum about it will go away.

    Instead of throwing a tantrum once a month when a boob shows up like it’s some huge surprise that boingboing would post NUDITY. 

  4. Once upon a time PRINT magazine did an issue that covered sex in advertising print. It was very interesting. The magazine was subsequently inundated with emails and postal mail all virtually saying the same thing. “How dare you”, “It’s inappropriate”, etc, etc. They  wrote an apology and noted the mail in the next issue. I wrote the editor and said she should look closely at the responses she got and see if any were from actual subscribers. Turns out none were, in fact a couple of the return addresses were from areas that PRINT wasn’t even delivered to. It appears that religious prudes have coordinated campaigns to harass publishers and content producers for posting pictures of boobies etc. I believe Markos Moulitsas coined the term the American Taliban.

    1. I had one of my letters published in Communication Arts that was in response to some people objecting to an ad that ran in one of their issues. I was baffled that readers of a magazine that featured cutting-edge design would be offended by a little skin. In hindsight I bet they weren’t subscribers either.

      And that, kids, is how I made it into Communication Arts (because my design skills aren’t that good to make it otherwise ;o)

    2. Eh, I don’t think the Helen Lovejoys on this thread are necessarily part of a coordinated attack effort. The modern resurgence of right-wing Christianity has been virulently anti-sexuality, and what used to be considered overprotective parenting is now a norm. Even outside of those two trends, lots of Americans are and have always been extremely uptight about sex and nudity.

  5. That is pretty depressing, but it could be worse.   She could be getting shaken down and arrested by cops, and threatened and beaten up by pimps and johns without any recourse to legal protection, and working on the street instead of owning a second house (which you can really only buy with legit income) to work out of, if her job weren’t legal there.

    1. Yes, this is true.  I know one woman who is a sex worker in a spa here (illegal) and she has mentioned one instance where she was threatened and literally screwed over by a pimp.  The woman does suffer from low self-esteem as well. This only confirms my experiences with such and I wish I could help her too.

    2. Nearly all of us trade something of ourselves in exchange for the resources that we need to live the way we choose to live.  Most of us have marketable skills or can perform labor, or run into a ceiling for our lifestyle due to the income that we can make through what unskilled labor we can perform.  We do not truly know the circumstances that led to her as an eighteen year old entering or continuing with prostitution, but I would expect that it’s likely that she did not have, as an eighteen year old, either the skills or else the interests to develop skills that would have let her have a career with the income she desired that didn’t involve sex work.  I could be wrong, but her naked skin is a fairly literal canvas for her life, and I don’t just mean the tattoos.  I mean the weathered, aged skin and tired, almost desperate expression of someone who has lived a very hard life and had to work very hard in it.

      She’s the same age as my wife, but she looks old enough to be my wife’s mother.  On her face she wears the look of haunting realization that her life will probably always be this way or even harder as age continues to hammer away at her appearance, combined with the realization that it didn’t have to be this way, of self-realized regret that she didn’t choose different or choose better.

      I don’t think that prostitution should be outright illegal.  On the other hand, if legal prostitution were to require license, this woman would make one hell of an example of how life could turn out even with an arguably financially good result from sex work.  Certainly the deck is strongly stacked against older sex workers living and looking like Dolly Parton in Best Little Whore House In Texas, and even this outcome is possibly on the upper end of success without taking too many falls.

  6. Well, I have to put my two bits in. I’m going to be disagreed with, poo-pooed and tut-tutted, and that’s fine.

    I don’t like this sort of stuff on Boing Boing. I know this sort of stuff generates money for the blog, I know an ever increasing number of people like this sort of thing, and for you guys, I guess it’s the way to go. One day we get the disgusting goon show (yes, it’s only my opinion) that is Die Antwoord the next the photo diary of a prostitute, and I suppose it’s a success.

    However, I don’t like the new Boing Boing flavour. It’s not for me. I don’t want this level of edginess. Is this what hipster is all about? I guess I’m not hip at all then. So, I’ll look elsewhere henceforth for my culture news.

    I wish you all well, and am actually sorry to have to let you go. I’d been a reader for quite a while.

    1. BoingBoing is a ‘zine, and ‘zines tend to float from subject to subject.  My only request is that no NSFW pictures get posted to the main page since I like to read BoingBoing at work.

        1. Personally, because downtime at work is the only free time I have to look at random stuff on the internet.

          1. I’m not sure. Not in the sense of worrying about being sacked just because it’s in my browser cache, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with it being on screen while my supervisor walked by.

          2. I do consider it NSFW.  Her left breast and nipple are visible under his armpit, and the general subject of the photo is of a couple in sexual congress.  It’s not work appropriate in the same way that an R-rated movie is not appropriate for work.

            At work I would not open the link to the rest of the story and discussion on boingboing or follow the links to the third party site.

    2. Good luck with all your future endeavors.

      The implication that this was posted to generate money is offensive. As an LGBT person, I’m happy to see issues of sex and sexuality being addressed here on BB instead of being swept under the rug like they have been for the last two millennia. Sorry that it squicks you out.

    3. Wow.  You know, YOU and the other pearl-clutchers are what is offensive.  This is a beautifully written essay telling a sad and tragic story about a REAL PERSON.This story is more than just about sex.

      “I don’t want this level of edginess.”
      What you REALLY mean is that you’re too much of a coward to face your own privilege.

      You don’t want to be made uncomfortable by seeing even one mere headline and a sad picture about a real human being.

      You don’t want to be made uncomfortable by reading a story about someone who lives a different but still VERY real life.

      You’re a coward, really.  You’re too afraid to actually consider that life isn’t always peaches and roses and perfection for the vast majority of people. Pathetic, really.

      1. you’re too much of a coward to face your own privilege

        You lost me with that sentence (and what follows). Maybe you should face your own self-righteousness instead, and learn to moderate your language when arguing on the interwebs about people you don’t know.

        1. No, regardless of his tone being excessive or not, the person he was arguing with deserves no defence whatsoever from any third party.

    4.  However, I don’t like the new Boing Boing flavour. It’s not for me

      Haha, been a visitor since the early 2000s. ’twas ever thus.

  7. This is why I’m glad prostution is legal in my country and in much of Europe. Sure, it’s still a shit job, like soldier or stevedore is a shit job, or any job where you have to put your body on the line in such an extreme way. But she can have her own company and she can raise her kids in peace (she’s still being socially shamed, which is a shame, but at least nobody tries to take them away from her or make their lives unsafe). And I think that last part in the story about how if they wanted it, she would help her own kids get a secure position in the sex industry, is a fairly crucial bit to the story. She doesn’t love the job, but apparently she thinks it’s decent enough that she wouldn’t prevent her children from entering the profession, as long as they do it the right way. And then of course there’s the fact, that there is such a thing as a secure position in legalized prostitution.
    Also, I have no idea what you guys are going on about when you say this story is inappropriate or edgy.

    1. She doesn’t love the job, but apparently she thinks it’s decent enough that she wouldn’t prevent her children from entering the profession, as long as they do it the right way

      I actually shivered at that idea. I’m of the opinion that sex-work is a necessary evil, which has to be conducted in full daylight as much as possible in order to protect all actors involved (workers, their relatives, their clients and society at large)… but I don’t think we should let children think that “it’s just a shit job”, like flipping burgers or loading cranes. Once you “sell” your body in that way, your relationship with it changes at a very fundamental level, and you enter a very dangerous territory; I’m glad she’s found a balance of sort, but many people get irreversibly compromised at a deep psychological level and never “come back”. I hope her children never get to experience what she did, not even the most pleasant aspects of it (whatever they might be, money or anything).

      (btw, a “boarding school on a cruise ship in the Caribbeans”? Danes can be weird.)

  8. I like the photo’s but the article perpetuates the stereotype of the sexworker as a self-loathing girl from a broken home.

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