NOVEMBER 19, 2018
How old are you?
Where are you from originally?
What was it that drew you to New Orleans?
I could wear shorts in December. I also fell in love but mostly it was the environment before I fell in love.
Why are you still here?
Mostly because of the small business that I’ve built. I’m saving up money to go elsewhere and be somewhere where it doesn’t flood all the time.
How do you refer to your work? What do you call yourself?
I refer to myself as a sex worker.
Why that terminology over others?
I have always identified with that because at a base level that is where I started.
How long have you been doing sex work?
Since the winter of 2010.
How did you get your start?
On the internet camming and then I moved into real life.
What was that transition like?
Mostly because of the fear. I was living in a big city when I started doing in person work and it was the fear of being kidnapped or something really unpredictable happening. At the time I was working wholly independently and I didn’t have the support system around me that some of the other girls. I was flying by the seat of my pants and hoping for the best was I was 18 and 19.
Why did you push past that fear?
It was personal and monetary. There was a certain disconnect that I found in online work that I was trying to meet for myself and my clients too. I had met a few local people online and they were some of my first clients in real life.
Did it help that you had already had some sort of relationship with those people beforehand?
In general, when you were growing up do you remember being told or taught anything about what it was to be a girl or what was expected of a girl and what was not?
Yeah, there was definitely a lot of sexism I was raised by. My grandfather was very conservative. If he was alive now he would’ve voted for Trump. There was a lot of “be seen and not heard”-type sentiments. We would hear stories in the news about things that had happening to women and the women were always blamed while there was no discussion about the education of men.
Can you define sexism?
It feels like something you can’t really articulate. It’s like it’s this physical thing that is dragging all of us down and collectively hurting us. It’s a tangible, palatable thing versus something that just happens randomly. It’s been perpetuated and is a free-standing thing that we all just confront and deal with every day.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
Smaller than I already do as a woman with anxiety living in America. Small, powerless, angry most of the time. And then expressing that anger leads to more anxiety because you’re scared of the backlash. When you go to defend yourself, the alarm bells go off and by the end of the interaction it’s screaming in your head because you don’t know what this person is going to do. You don’t know if they’re going to tweak out at you and beat the shit out of you. I have definitely had people get in my face after confronting them. Even Ubers drivers in the city have yelled at me out of their cars for simply explaining that they shouldn’t call their femme-identifying passengers babe or sweetie. Pet names are not ok. Even down to the small stuff like that, it can be overwhelming.
Do you always notice when people are acting in a sexist way?
100%. I’m sober in terms of alcohol and the way I structure my social life is a bit different from other people. I don’t go out to bars because I don’t like that energy and being around people who are consuming large amounts of alcohol is super triggering for me. I had a serious problem—like downing fifth of vodka a day at this weight. I spent a lot of time in the dance music community and the electronic music community and these are communities that pride themselves on that bullshit from the early 2000s you may remember called PLUR: Peace Love Unity Respect! There was this fake façade of love and safety when really those were some of the most dangerous places in the city [for women].
There are a lot of organizations and communities that are seen as “good” based on their work and their mission like animal shelters, environmental groups—
It’s like it gives them space to be even more abusive.
Can you recall any specific instances of sexism you have experienced that has stuck with you?
Let’s see. It’s like pulling a card out of a deck. The business that I currently run is one that is almost always dominated by men especially in the realm that I am operating in now. Just yesterday I went to go make a transaction and was told that I didn’t know what I was talking about because I was a woman. It stuck with me because it’s happened before but also because it’s within an arena that I have dedicated most of my life to and probably know more about than any fuckboy in Louisiana.
What’s the best part about being a sex worker?
Taking back power and having those windows of time where I am completely in control of every single aspect of what is happening or else. I operate as both a dominatrix and submissive and the times I get to operate as a dominatrix are probably my favorite. The healing of trauma is better than therapy. It’s better than spending money, it’s better than drugs. It’s super liberating and self-affirming. I am capable of being a confident person and I am not some scared, anxious person constantly.
How has life changed since you started doing sex work?
It’s definitely completely changed the way I operate with people in terms of social transactions. You gain certain skills over time that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.
The ability to read people. We as women have that innately but when you work in that arena, you have your finger on the pulse of being able to read people and figure out their intentions and anticipate their needs. That kind of gives you an edge in non-work life because you can anticipate people’s needs in social situations and other “normal” work situations.
And what’s the hardest part about being a sex worker?
Probably self-motivation. I struggle with seasonal affective disorder and occasional depression and making myself want to get up and go do my job. But that’s kind of the beauty of it is that I don’t necessarily have to.
What is the biggest misconception about the industry as a whole?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that prostitutes just walk around on the street.
What is that line of questioning like?
When I get close to someone I tell them eventually and more often than not, they go, “So do you just walk around and get in people’s cars?” No! Why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you? That’s not how it works at all.
Something that has come up again and again in my interviews has been the importance of sex work itself and people viewing the work as less than or dirty or gross. Can you speak on that?
I have lost friends of years and years. Someone I had been close to all throughout high school and college ghosted me when she found out based on the assumption of it being, like you said, dirty or less than. I was young when that happened and I recognize now that she was very privileged and super classist but at the time it felt like she suddenly saw me as someone who was poor or desperate or destitute and I was about to be out on the street eating dirt.
How did FOSTA and SESTA affect your work?
I have basically ceased all of my online work because my Skype, all my payment plans, different websites and forums I was using, they all got shut down. Someone described it as going to clock in and having the building be gone. Everything was cool one day and the next day, you couldn’t do 99% of things without legal danger.
At the time, there was a lot of outcry against those and similar local measures. Since it has faded from the headlines, has it become harder to fight those things?
Absolutely, when there is not direct media attention to drum it up again, it is that much harder. We’re living in Trump’s America so every day there are 25 new fucking headlines that are so important that. To get SESTA and FOSTA back to even the midline of people paying attention feels climbing Everest.
Do you have hope or optimism for sex work as an industry?
I like to think I do.