Interview with Loretta Leigh
About Loretta Leigh
Loretta Leigh, otherwise known as Marcella Romaine was one of the most recognisable faces of the Australian sex industry until her recent retirement. In her early to mid 20’s she was featured as an 11 time national centrefold model in Australian men’s magazines such as Penthouse, Picture and People. In 2006 she was crowned Australian Penthouse Pet of the Year and performed as a feature dancer in strip clubs across Australia and New Zealand.
After an 8 year hiatus in which she worked in the fitness industry, Loretta returned to adult entertainment from 2015-2020 as an independent private escort under the moniker Marcella Romaine.
She now resides in a picturesque little beachside community in Qld with her partner and has plans to pursue her love of painting and writing and to raise a family.
What are the most frequent misconceptions people have about private escorts?
Probably that we’re all nymphomaniacs. That we don’t have partners. That we’re only interested in the material world. That it’s an easy or mindless vocation.
What’s the best thing about being an escort?
The obvious things, like the huge earning potential and the travel.
But also the less obvious things, like learning good marketing skills and how to interact with all types of people... and the stories! Both the ones you hear from other escorts and clients as well as the ones you become a character in.
What’s the most difficult thing about being an escort?
Unfortunately it’s the high risk of being assaulted in some way. That’s not a glamorous thing to say in an interview but I believe speaking frankly about microviolences and boundary violation is important to change the culture of the sex industry.
Stigma is touted as a big hurdle too, although I have to confess I barely experienced this through my career on a personal level. The social anxiety I DID experience in ANTICIPATION of stigma was much, much worse.
What did you learn from your experiences in adult entertainment?
Too much! (laughs)
Seriously though... maybe that all people are vulnerable in their own way, even the rich and powerful. That wealth past comfort doesn’t bring happiness. That people are complicated and we should try not to judge anyone without understanding their circumstances... Oh! and also that as a woman, it’s important to develop your mind and emotional intelligence as much as your physicality. It really, really is. There’s always going to be someone “hotter” than you. Don't place your self worth in your looks or validation from others. Get to know and love yourself beneath the surface.
Did you have an escort persona or were you always completely yourself in bookings?
People sense inauthenticity, but it’s important to have boundaries too.
At first I was pretty concerned with protecting my privacy and didn’t disclose much about myself. Then I found myself swinging too far the other way, to the point where my clients knew so much about my personal life it became uncomfortable. So to answer the question, I tried both and neither were optimal.
If I was advising someone else, I’d say be yourself, but keep some information private.
What do you think makes some escorts more successful than others?
I think small business basics might be overlooked for some.
Reliability, organisation, clear and appropriate communication all immediately spring to mind. Really good, consistent marketing is huge. However, nothing is more important than how you treat the person in front of you when you are together.
What advice would you give a new sex worker just starting out?
I’d direct them to read my Dakota Dice blog article “Becoming a Private Escort."
What will you miss most leaving the industry?
At the risk of sounding crass, the high income! The opportunity to soak up different cities regularly perhaps. Also the sense of community. Australian sex workers are a pretty special bunch.
What will you miss least leaving the industry?
Being away from home at times. Also having to step up and perform at times you aren't feeling it. Both sexually and socially. Having perfect deportment was annoying for me too. I’m a hippy, I don’t really enjoy being so conscious of how I look.
Will you ever return to escorting?
It’s hard for me to see at that possibility at the moment, but things change of course. WE change and evolve so much. Who knows what incarnations or reincarnations of myself might emerge.
Has popular culture ever really been successful in relating the world of the sex worker to the public?
That’s a tricky question to answer definitively because all escorts have such a different experience. From my perspective, three examples I can think of are:
The vulnerability of Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman (Yes, it was an extremely problematic storyline but her portrayal of Vivian was a triumphant humanisation.)
The outstanding combination of Riley Keough’s stripped-back performance and the space and sound of the screenplay in the first season of The Girlfriend Experience (Starz Network) which led to such a visceral sense of isolation and dichotomy.
The compassionate handling and unpacking of stigma through likeable characters in Australian series Satisfaction (Showcase).
How do you see the sex industry changing in Australia?
Hopefully for the better, with nationwide decriminalisation. If the law protects independent sex workers more efficiently, then less workers will feel the need to work in brothels or for agencies. Not that there’s anything wrong with those options of course, but I personally believe that nobody should directly profit from an individual’s sex work except the individual themselves. The law should at least protect the option of escorts working privately and safely.
Marci, thank you for your time and all the best for your future endeavours!
You can still follow Loretta/Marcella on Twitter here.