STRIPPER & SEX WORKER
NOVEMBER 19, 2018
How old are you?
How long have you been in New Orleans?
I moved around a lot as a kid and ‘home’ was always a state of mind. I’ve lived in New Orleans for five and a half years and though I’m not from here, I feel as if the current version of me is ‘of’ here. It was a name on a map, supposed to be a stop along the way in a grand solo adventure. And then I stayed, built a nest to grow in, and grew myself dangerous, strange, and strong enough to take into the world. I’ve been around the world twice since I moved here and New Orleans still feels like home.
How do you refer to your work?
I worked in professional BDSM for about four years and began dancing and stripping in March of 2016. Both are ‘sex work’, although stripping seems to remain the culturally approved version. Hopefully more awareness as to what BDSM provides in regards to healing will push it more towards being accepted as a therapy.
If you feel comfortable saying where you work or have worked? How long have you worked there?
I started working at Barely Legal after winning an amateur night competition. I think I touched the pole once during that first set. I had no idea what to do with it yet. Somehow dancing barefoot with body isolations and a little rain from the crowd was enough to convince them I was worth a shot. A lot of sweat, bruises, tears, and life lessons later, I began dancing at Hustler this last spring, proud to nail an audition and hold my own among new peers. I much prefer Hustler now— upside-down drops on a 25ft static pole to Tool? Hell yes.
Can you define sexism?
I believe sexism stems from imbalanced masculine and feminine energies. We all want to be perceived and perceive ourselves as having value, yet our cultural norms have translated worth as something that should be earned. Our innate qualities as extensions of the universe are now unconsciously perceived scarcities, and that’s when then the fear of inadequacy comes in. I think sex work provides a beautiful platform for people, particularly men, to see and be seen, without the stigma of going to ‘therapy’. Whether in dungeons or champagne rooms, I have held space for varied spectrums of humanity. Sex work has provided new concepts and new perceptions of both the human body and psyche, and forced me to check my own misalignments and the way I move through the world.
I have experienced sexism my entire life though it can be exaggerated particularly while I’m working—a mohawk, power tricks, and unshakable confidence leaves less room for men to play power games with me anymore, not unless they’re willing to meet me on my playing field. Sometimes they try, but I can only laugh now. I don’t need to out alpha anyone and I’m not here to validate egos, I’m here to help cultivate higher versions of selves. It’s taken a long time for me to get here, and it’s taken most of my life not to meet lewd comments, put-downs, catcalls with venom.
I grew up believing my sexual experiences were ‘normal’, when in fact most were sexual assaults. The worst happened two years ago, when I was raped by a massage therapist who works from his home in New Orleans. It wasn’t until this last spring that I was forced to deal with the results of that incident, when the PTSD became undeniable. It was hell to re-experience and I know I’m not the only woman he’s preyed upon. But in a city where NOPD stands for ‘Not Our Problem Dudes’, what chance could I have for reporting him, especially two years later? All the cops would see is a stripper, and a sex worker’s word doesn’t really hold up in court, does it? So I do my best transform my experiences into a healing power instead. I think choosing compassion over pain is worth more.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
Judgements tend to limit the person making them, not the judged. I’m a little sharper, a little colder, and have a much stronger backbone.
Do you always notice when someone is acting in a sexist way?
Headphones, sunglasses, and a ‘don’t fuck with me’ walk do a lot to mitigate that energy, but yes, I do. I don’t care if people stare, I don’t care if people catcall. But once anyone begins to cross that barrier by invading my space or with physical touch, then we have a problem. Interpersonal interactions are different when I’m working than when I’m ‘on strike’ and still out in the world. I believe there is an unspoken norm that the moment a woman is deemed attractive, her time, body, and energy become like a beacon, a trophy to be attained. When I am dancing on weekend nights, I have to open up my energy sphere to contain potential clientele, and this means brushing edges with less than desirable treatment on occasion. Unfortunately that leaves rooms for bruising, but it’s usually the offender’s psyche in danger now, not my own. I think there are a lot of teaching opportunities that open themselves as well, and I do my best to allow certain amounts of grace for people who are just ignorant and not willfully aggressive and disrespectful animals.
Do you have any specific stories of experiencing sexist behavior against you that you can't forget?
Too many. But always charge more than you think you’re worth. You determine the value of your time, don’t let anyone negotiate that. Ever. You start to lose parts of yourself otherwise.
What is the best thing about being a sex worker?
I can add my depths and strength to the riding tides of feminine energy and power in this age. It’s done a lot to open up new levels of the game for me as well. Playing with bigger numbers means bigger adventures, more questions, and so many more possibilities of experience before reaching the end. I am able to live my life with far less regret as to missed opportunities and with a greater sense of how what we believe to be impossible very often is within our reach. So I’ll keep playing this level, learning, earning, growing, investing in myself, until I can bring a whole new game into being.
What is the hardest thing about being a sex worker?
Everyone has demons. And sometimes it’s extremely difficult not to hate people who let theirs win. Remembering that people are for themselves, not against you, makes it easier. Also remembering that everything in the universe happens for us, not to us. Especially when I was a ‘baby stripper’ and ‘baby domme’, a lot of older men got away with a lot of disgusting requests because I simply didn’t know any better. I look back now with a deep sadness at what I let them get away with and a gratitude for the things I did not compromise on. I think it’s easier for women who have been working in our industries for a long time to hate on the newbies who don’t know any better than to do xyz for only $200 an hour or ‘gifted tributes’. There’s a lot of bitching about how all the ‘new girls are ruining it for the rest of us’, and I think this stems from scarcity as opposed to abundance. We all started somewhere, and this is another teaching opportunity. I know better now, but I sure as hell didn’t when I started— and I’ll bet a lot of women, unless they had a strong mentor in the very beginning, didn’t know either. We can always rise above, and in doing so, we must bring others with us instead of making them feel worthless.
What is the biggest misconception about working in the sex industry?
While they can buy our intimacy, our attention, and our time. We are fucking priceless.