As we continue our ‘Lost Generation’ investigation Paul Baldwin visits the resort’s ‘working girls’ to see why they decided to sell their bodies for a living and finds out if it is a life – and an hourly rate – they find impossible to leave.
Honey pulls her baby doll nightie around her as she explains how she has tried many times to give up ‘the game’ then admits “where else can I earn £120 an hour in Blackpool?”
It wasn’t always this way. Honey was brought up on a Blackpool estate in a loving family and as a youngster she dreamed of dancing at the Ice Arena at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach.
But after leaving school with no qualifications the grinding reality of life on the dole in Blackpool kicked in and at the age of 21 she entered the resort’s sex trade.
She was not lured, she was not trafficked, she was not coerced – she willingly decided to become a prostitute.
And as far as Honey is concerned it was a savvy career choice.
Now in her mid 30s she is something of a veteran of the resort’s sex trade and sees new and younger girls mostly from Blackpool – but increasingly from eastern Europe – arriving to work the resort’s ‘massage parlours’ every week.
She says that while she would not encourage a 21-year-old girl to become a working girl she can fully understand why many would want to.
She said: “I’m not ashamed of what I do – it’s just a job.
“When I started I was skint, there were no jobs and I was totally broke.
“A friend asked if I would like to help her mum out at a ‘working flat’ and I thought, OK, I’ll try anything once.
“I then remember thinking ‘what the hell am I doing’ but I earned £60 for 10 minutes work. It was the easiest £60 I ever earned.”
Honey had worked a handful of standard low-paid Blackpool jobs, part-time barmaid, telesales, and had even tried lap-dancing but nothing came close to the £500-a-night she could earn as a prostitute when business was brisk.
Holly says, like every other business in Blackpool the vice trade has felt the rough end of the recession.
And these days a girl might only make £150 to £200 on a ‘very good night’.
And there are days they won’t make a penny.
But Honey added: “If I could talk to my 21-year-old self I would tell her not to do it but you get used to the money and it’s hard to go back to the real world. We’re almost like footballer’s WAGs.”
She said some of the girls in Blackpool turned to prostitution to fund their drug habits – usually heroin or cocaine – but many just wanted the money.
Honey added: “In the end it upsets me a bit when I see new girls, especially the younger end, and I would never recommend it.
“It seems like easy money but it’s not because ultimately it messes with your head.
“You train yourself to lie there and switch off, as if you were an actress, or you might be thinking about what you should have for tea or whether you turned the washing machine off.
“But at the end of the day you can’t help but realise what you’re doing.”
Read more from The Gazette investigation - The lost generation: