This was one of NZH Lifestyle's top stories for 2017.
Warning: Explicit and distressing content
Gwyneth Montenegro says she has slept with more than 10,000 men.
She first stepped into a brothel at age 21, lured by the prospect of earning up to $1000 for an hour's work. While she doesn't regret her 12 years as a sex worker, Montenegro, 39, says she is glad to be out.
Now, she is trained in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), an approach to personal development and psychotherapy made popular by American motivational speaker Tony Robbins. She teaches women how to "understand" men and get the most out of their relationships.
Here she answers questions about the reality of sex work and what men really want.
How did you first get in to sex work?
"I never wanted to get into the sex industry in the first place. I was 18, I went out to a nightclub and my drink was spiked and I got taken away and gang-raped by 6-8 men - I can't remember exactly how many because I was so out of it.
"It kind of changed my opinion about myself. I felt I wasn't worthy anymore, that I wasn't good enough. I came from a Christian family and I was saving myself for marriage and then I got raped. So I went the other way ... I was very promiscuous. I ended up in the table top dancing industry when I was 19."
How did you transition from stripping to being paid for sex?
"I felt that I'd already crossed a line when I stripped, so it didn't seem that far off at the time.
I thought 'Oh well, if I don't like it, I can always walk out after the first shift'.
"It was totally surreal. Once you've been paid for sex once, you can't take that back. I just found I was able to compartmentalise and switch my feelings off, because I already felt dirty.
"The money was really good and the money is what kept me in the industry for all those years. I don't recommend anyone do it."
How much did you charge?
"I would charge $500-$1000 an hour - that depended on the services. Usually you had to do quite a bit for that.
"I was so young and naive when I started out. I was a good country girl. I was so surprised when someone paid me for sex. I wasn't very experienced and the ladies told me 'Our basic thing is basic sex and a massage'.
"I was naive, I didn't even know what the 'extras' were. Over time I would do other things, like I was able to do kissing and toys and dress ups."
Did you ever have to do anything really crazy?
"A lot of them don't want all this hardcore kinky sex - that's such a small percentage of the men. I was in the industry for 12 years - that's a long time. But I didn't see a lot of the men that had these sick fantasies. Most of it was just normal sex."
Was it always just about sex or did the men want emotional comfort too?
"It's more than just sex. There's always a psychological motivation for sex, it's not just a physical urge. A lot of the clients I would see would be an hour plus and I mean sure, they wanted the sex, but a big part of my job was just talking.
"There was always some sort of psychological game from it. There was always a feeling of ... you could sort of tell they felt more validated as a man or some of them felt like 'I can control you'. They'd walk out with this strut."
Why do you think men seek out sex workers?
"Because that man feels emasculated in his relationship, he wants to feel masculine again.
They're seeking validity for their virility. Virility is very important to men.
"There's also a group of men who want to play the game. They get an intense delight out of controlling women. They get more of a kick out of feeling like they control you, than they do off the actual sex. So a lot of it is from a psychological motivation."
Do you think men have changed over the years?
"I don't want to be so brazen as to just blame feminism for this. However, I think there is a part to play where men do feel emasculated. They don't know 'should I open the door?' 'Will I get yelled at?'
"A lot of the time the grip is they don't know what it is to be a man anymore. They've lost their way. That's what I've seen in my clients."
What advice can you give to women who say they're baffled or completely confused by the behaviour of men?
"Detach the emotions - look at it from the outside. The man will give you all the cues from his behaviour and his relationships.
"You'll be able to pick out if this person is going to be a long-term thing or not really the right fit for you."