Billie De Jour; True Confessions ... the Original Diary of the Anonymous Call Girl That Became a Bestseller You Called ... Billie Piper, Far Left, as Belle De Jour and, above, Filming a Scene with a 'Client'. above Right: Billie as Rose in the BBC's Doctor Who
Billie looked as nervous as I felt. 'What happens in a GFE?' she asked.Wow, I thought.
She'd clearly been doing her research. GFE is short for girlfriend experience.It's popular with men who don't like to feel they're paying someone for sex.
'Lots of staying in,' I said. 'DVDs and bottles of Shiraz.' 'What would youwear?' 'Date-cute, not too casual but not formal.
But always with matching underwear.' Looking embarrassed, Billie then said:'What do you do when you're coming to the end of the hour, and the clientisn't, er, finished?' 'Try to make him feel relaxed, take his mind off theclock: a bath and massage.' If you had told me four years ago that Billie Piperwould be playing me on television and asking me for sex tips, I would neverhave believed you. But then, so much of my life has been incredible since Ibecame Britain's most famous prostitute.
In 2003, like thousands of other recent graduates, I ended up in London lookingfor a job. With only a small student debt and a bit of money saved up, Ithought I was set for a few months, but my surplus was quickly drained by rentand a thousand trivial expenses. My daily routine consisted of poring over thejob pages and writing enthusiastic and sycophantic application letters, knowingI'd never be interviewed.
I watched my mean savings dwindle away as buying a Travelcard became thehighlight of each week. And while I have a crippling lingerie habit, evencutting down the intake of lacy things was not going to help much.
Aware of my situation and that, in the past, I hadn't been averse to sex withstrangers, my good friend N set me up with a couple he knew who were looking topay someone to join them in bed.
The experience was an enjoyable one and taking money for sex didn't feel halfas bad as I thought it would. I had stumbled upon the solution to my problems.
I located what sounded like a small, discreet agency over the internet. Afteremail contact I arranged to meet the manager.
We got on and I signed up. About [pounds sterling]300 for an hour's work hardly sounded likeexploitation. Even better, I was to discover that I enjoyed sex work.
My clients were normal men. A lot of young guys with no time for a girlfriend,or older men on business trips. A few chaps were separated from their wives.Sure it got kinky at times, but it was nothing I couldn't handle. A brief chat,a glass of bubbly, sex and a taxi home. Hardly a long day in the salt mines.
In fact, I found the job so fascinating that I wanted to tell everyone I metwhat I had been up to. Of course, I couldn't do that; most of my friends andfamily had no idea what I really did for a living. So, instead, I startedkeeping a diary online, using the pseudonym Belle de Jour.
But although I kept writing about my experiences, I had no idea who was readingit - if anyone. Then I won the Best British Weblog competition and thingschanged overnight.
I guess that the blog attracted attention because my image is so different fromthe stereotypes. I'm university-educated and not from a deprived background.I've never used drugs. My parents stayed married and I'm close to them both.It's not exactly Pretty Woman - Richard Geres are thin on the ground - but it'snot what people expect, either.
I'm fortunate: for women who are streetwalkers, or drug-addicted, it's a verydifferent story. But my experience is not that uncommon. You'd be surprised howmany middle-class girls have dipped into this secret life.
My notoriety sparked a media frenzy to uncover my identity, which thankfullyremains a secret, and I went on to publish two books. Then, last year, I got acall from my agent telling me that ITV wanted to turn the experiences of Bellede Jour into a television series.
It would be based on the books, I was told, but not slavishly so. There's muchin the books that wouldn't make good television.
Also, the number of episodes dictates how the story 'arc' goes: I felt it wasbetter to leave decisions like that to the producers and writing team. …