NOVEMBER 19, 2018
How old are you?
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Rock Island, Illinois.
I’m from Chicago!
I recognized your area code. The Quad Cities was where I was raised.
What brought you here?
I came down here originally for anti-pipeline work and environmental work. That was in February.
Are you staying?
I’ll stay through the end of the year to see through my projects. I think I’m going to South Dakota next.
What exactly do you do within that sphere?
Most of it all stems from colonial work: indigenous resistance to environmental genocide. Trying to help people in poverty with the basic needs of water, heat, food and the healing that needs to be done out there. The government is still tormenting those people with infrastructure projects on the land that they live off of as well as their sacred sites. That’s where most of my work comes from.
How long have you been a sex worker?
I’ve done it since I was 18 maybe even 17 because I was homeless. I think how it actually started was a guy online asking if he could buy my dirty panties. He offered me $40 and instantly my entrepreneur brain was like, “I can go to the Dollar Tree and buy a pack of five panties and make however much money off of that. And that stemmed into cam work and pictures and realizing how much capital I can make just on stuff that I already do. It made sense to me and I’ve been coming in and out of doing it since then. I want to help communities and I can easily make larger amounts of money with less time. It’s still a lot of labor but it takes up less time so I have more money and more free time which works out better for the things I want to do with my life.
How do you refer to your work?
I usually just tell people I do cam work. And if I don’t even want to get that specific, I just say I’ve got my hustle.
Why be vague?
I exist in a lot of social, anarchist, Communist communities and there are still so many people with biases against sex workers even if it’s just light commentary. “I could never do that.” They think they’re giving you a compliment when in reality it doesn’t feel like that.
They’re separating themselves from you.
Exactly. I don’t really ever seek out romantic relationships with men but I hook up with men and have a lot of cis men that are friends and I have gotten multiple comments from them saying I have too much free time and I need to get a real job. I have all this free time and money, what do you do? I used to be more outspoken about defending myself and making space to actually be but nowadays with everything else that I’m doing, I just don’t have the energy for it. I’d rather just not mention that part of my life to people or talk my way out of having to explain that part of my life to people. Even friends, even with people I am close to I don’t go into the full extent of what my work entails.
If you had to approximate, how many people that you consider close to you actually do know what you do?
Like, I can count on my two hands. Maybe five or six. I think that definitely stems from growing up in the Midwest. That’s where I got into this work but it wasn’t until I got to New Orleans that I opened up at all about what I do. I didn’t tell my partner, I didn’t tell any of my friends. And even here in New Orleans where it’s more normalized, I still feel shame from growing up from growing up in the Midwest and shame around my sexuality and all of that.
Even living in a city where it is more accepted, I am still shocked by the amount of people that look down upon it while knowing that this city has always run on this type of work.
This city in history has always had sex workers but this city in history has always had the government and patriarchy coming in and tearing that down and trying to clean it up or whatever. History is repeating itself as it usually does.
How did all the legislation against sex workers, both locally and nationally, earlier this year affect your work?
My own personal work has not necessarily been affected just because when I do work online, I go through Seeking Arrangements and I am still able to find what I need to on there. I never worked on any of the sites that were taken down but it has personally affected people that I know. That said, it has affected me in the amount of anxiety I have and the amount of security measures I take. And it definitely doesn’t help the shame that I already feel.
And am I correct in assuming that there is anxiety that comes with your anti-pipeline work as well?
Exactly. I completely have my social life separate from my work and my activism. I am socially introverted anyway so I tend not to get out much. I want to hide, I want to be in the dark corners when I go out in public, if I go out in public. I am not actively thinking about if someone recognizes me or not but I feel like it’s always there subconsciously.
When you were growing up, do you remember being told or taught anything about what it means to be a girl and the expectations that came with that?
My parents got divorced when I was in elementary school and my mom was always talking about what was ladylike. You need to clip your nails, you need to shave your armpits, don’t eat this, exercise more, don’t do this, it’s not ladylike. And she was also really homophobic. I came out when I was 16 or 17 and she was like, “You’ve always liked boys, you’re definitely not.” I remember those set standards. And I also vaguely remember her commenting on dancers and saying something like, “I would be so ashamed if one of my children ever had to turn to that.” Tiny little comments like that that have stuck with me into my adulthood.
She does not know then?
She doesn’t know. I share a lot of stuff on normalizing sex work and have even made comments about my sugar baby work on Facebook where I know that she’s seeing them. I don’t care but she’s never said anything about it. We’re also just not very close. I’m about to go see her for the holidays and I haven’t seen her until now since two or three years ago. We’re really distant.
Can you define sexism?
The inherent prejudice of the patriarchy that exists in men and women or whatever you identify as. We have all structurally come across it being brought up in this system. It’s an inherent perception of people that present themselves as or look like women. We’re expected to look a certain way, to line up a certain way, to fall back a certain way.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel?
It makes me feel disassociated from my body.
Do you always notice when people are acting in a sexist way?
Yeah especially now that I am more open-minded politically and super anti-establishment, I notice even the tiniest examples of it all the time.
Can you recall any specific instances of sexist behavior against that may have stuck with you?
The most recent experience was with someone who I thought was close to me. They went off about my line of work and said things like, “Have fun getting paid for your ass instead of your brains.” It was someone who I had grown up with back in the Quad Cities and they had been sort of a radical but suddenly they were making all these comments about a post I shared that was pro sex work. They were someone that I trusted and those are the ones that really stick.
What’s the best part about being a sex worker?
The best part is the people I am able to help with the money and the free time that I have. That’s everything for me.
Would you say that’s the main reason you do the job in the first place?
What’s the hardest part?
I try to own it but sometimes I have this sinking feeling that my way of life, everything that I do, my traveling could all be taken away from me because all of it is coming from these outside sources. I could get in big trouble from this line of work. I could lose having this as an option altogether. That’s the scariest part, the instability that comes with being a sex worker.
What is the biggest misconception of working in the industry?
There is this misconception that sex workers are all poor, unfortunate addicts who have been forced into these corners and have no other choice. Sometimes that might be true but there are also more people that are consciously choosing to do this work and not enough people recognize that. People do this to further their goals for the future, to make money to go to school, to make money to try to change the world, to make money just to try to live comfortably in a way that they couldn’t otherwise. It’s not just a dead end.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
The only thing I’d like to add is the reason why I do this is because so many of us want to go out and make a difference in the world but feel like we can’t because we’re so tied down by money and our job and just trying to keep a roof over our head. That’s why I chose this path. I can have that freedom to actually go out and do something about the messed up things in the world. That’s the one thing I wanted to make sure I got to say.