MAY 31, 2018
How old are you?
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Washington, D.C.
What brought you here?
I originally fell in love with the kids at a school that I volunteered at. I came to visit a friend and she took me into this school and the principle found out I was an artist and asked me to volunteer. I stayed for three weeks longer than I was going to because of the kids. They inspired me to go back to being an artist and when I went back to New York—where I was living at the time—I couldn’t forget about them. I couldn’t get this city out of my mind. It welcomed me. That was the beginning.
How long ago was that?
It will be seven years soon.
How do you refer to your work?
I consider myself a pro-dom but I also specialize in sensual domination. I incorporate some tantra and breath work and sensual work as well as more kinky, BDSM things.
For those who don’t know those terminologies, how would you explain that?
Basically, I beat men for a living. It’s a power exchange and a lot of my clients are looking to surrender to me as the giver of sensation, of experience. It ranges from tying someone up and hurting them to giving someone a massage, all of it consensual. But why I really think people come to see me is because they’re looking to release or give up control of the experience. With a conversation beforehand I figure out what things I can do to take control in a way that feels empowering to me but also gives them some of the things they desire.
How long have you been doing this work?
This work is new for me. I’ve only been doing this specifically for about a year and a half. I’ve been doing other forms of sex work throughout my life.
How did you get your start?
That’s a funny story. I had a side gig cleaning houses and I was already into lifestyle BDSM work. I showed up to clean this house one day and the guy who answered was shocked to see me. He was nervous and he asked my number for “other reasons” but I thought he was harmless and I didn’t really care so I gave it to him. He wanted to get drinks or something and I said no but I also knew I was supposed to clean the house during the same time as a yoga workshop I wanted to go to was happening and that I needed to get in there before he was required to leave. From a very pragmatic standpoint, I told him I didn’t want to get drinks but that I would give him a private yoga class and he could pay me for that and I would get the money from that and the money from cleaning the house and go to the workshop. This was during a time of my life that I was focusing on maximizing my time and doing the things I needed to do for myself. I was sick of letting people tell me what to do. I had so many jobs with crazy bosses over the years and cleaning houses was the only thing I could do at that point where I could work my own schedule, work by myself on my own terms, and get paid OK money to do it. But when I showed up for the yoga lesson, he was so nervous and when I felt that energy I felt great. I gave him the yoga lesson and then at the end of it he blurted out, “Will you pee on me?” That made me feel amazing. I didn’t do it just then because I had places to go afterward and I was exercising my boundaries but I knew it was something I wanted to do and that I would do. So instead I spat on him while he jerked off and made him clean the apartment. I think it was something in me my whole life but that was what made me realize I could do it. I started putting up ads and started seeing clients and I figured it out.
Do you like it?
I love it. I love my job. I couldn’t be blessed to have a job where I set my own hours, I get to set my own rates, I decide who I work with. I think the reason I love it more than anything is that I am also a sexual assault survivor. A big thing for me in being able to reclaim that and heal has been consent and exploring consent. This work is so steeped in negotiation and consent and I am the one in charge of it. I know what boundaries I have and I teach men how to treat women. I get to re-navigate and reframe the experience of sexual assault. Not only do I get to beat them or fuck them in the ass or something, I get to feel like a goddess doing it. And I get paid for it! I think that getting paid for it makes it more rewarding because there have been so many times in my life where I’ve been fucked by men without getting paid and felt assaulted or was assaulted. Now the acts are different, it’s a consensual thing, but the fact that I am in these relationships with men and they’re paying me for the renting of my body and the skills I possess as sex worker, it feels like reparations. I am getting what I deserve after all these years.
Do you remember being told or taught anything while you were growing up about the societal or behavioral expectations that come with being a girl?
I was taught that a woman or a girl is a bitch if she is trying to take control, if she is not afraid about speaking her truth. It’s ok for you to do those things but only if you want to be a bitch. If you want to speak your truth and be honest, you’re going to be seen as a bitch or nasty or crazy. Otherwise you just keep your mouth shut and you’ll be liked by everyone. Even though my mother was very strong and set a good example of what a strong woman is like, I still felt like I had to be careful and mindful of what I said and how I said it. I knew there was something wrong with me because I punched a boy in the school yard or whatever or because I spoke my mind and I didn’t care if I seemed crazy. I was called crazy and a bitch.
Being quiet is a big one. Not speaking up. Apologizing and explaining. We always have to explain ourselves, especially to men. If I don’t want to go out with you, I have to give you a reason. But I’m learning now that that isn’t right. No is a full sentence.
Can you define sexism?
I think sexism is anytime we’re discriminating against anyone based on their gender or gender presentation. But specifically, it’s about femininity and what femininity looks like. Whether your trans or cis, if you present femininity based on your clothing or the way that your mannerisms are, sexism is a fear of that. It’s a really powerful energy we have put a lot of energy into squashing because it’s opposite to what capitalism or patriarchy does. We don’t know what it would look like to live in a society that is matriarchal. It’s fear based.
How does being treated in a sexist way make you feel.
Ugh. I don’t fucking stand for being treated in a sexist way. I either ignore it or I get really angry. I’ve put up with enough of sexist behavior in my life, whether it’s catcalling or assault or bosses making weird jokes that are inappropriate, I’ve learned that that is a boundary for me. If that’s happening, I’m out of there. I weed out people that exhibit that behavior, I avoid certain places where those things happen. I feel lucky because I have a community that isn’t that. But when I confront or am confronted by sexist behavior, I get angry and rageful and probably become the stereotype of the bitch that they’re afraid of. But the reality underneath all that is that I’m actually saddened by it. It’s really sad that people are not able to see past what might is perceived to be feminine. They’re not able to embrace femininity as something that is to be respected. It’s really sad that we’ve taught people that we are able to not respect one another. We’re able to not respect women’s bodies or wisdom. My work helps to teach men how to treat people. For instance, if I have a client who shows up late, I get to tell them why that isn’t ok and why you need to respect people time. My time is valuable and in this case, more valuable than your time. I don’t want to claim power over somebody but I think that in order to balance things out, there is a necessary amount of that that needs to happen in my work. I want to take these men that are assholes and I want to school them. I want to swaddle and cradle them because they’re babies.
Do you always notice when people are acting in a sexist way?
Oh yeah, definitely. I have a sixth sense for noticing sexist, creeper, predatory behavior. If I sense it in anyone, I stay far, far away. I would say I am hyper-alert and hyper-aware of sexism and sexist behavior. I think that’s a good thing. It reaches a point where I am on edge all the time but I am also happy to be aware of that and know when and how to create safety for myself and my friends. At this point I have been sexually assaulted 22 times in my life that I have counted. Four years ago, I said to myself, “That’s never going to happen again,” and I have worked hard to make sure of it. It’s such an amazing state that we live in that you can be out at a bar and the next thing you know, someone is trying to grope you. It’s unfortunate and at this point, not only do I notice it but I do everything to avoid it.
How do you remember all of them? How do you know?
I had to do a lot of work to remember them. I am also an incest survivor. I was raped by my uncle. When I started to heal from that, it was total chaos and my world fell apart. I needed to know that the things I believed and the memories that I had were true. Even though I know my uncle raped me, there were all these things that came up. Did it really happen? Did I make it up? Is it my fault? I knew that in order for me to stay sane, I had to get grounded. I made a list. I sat down and I wrote down all the times I could remember being sexually assaulted. Some were explicit like rape. But some were more mundane like someone reaching down my shirt at a bar. I wrote each of them out and it was horrible. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do but I felt better afterwards. Here is proof. There is more than 22, those are the ones I could remember. They were from being really young like two years old to being 26. Then I made a series of art out of them. I made a series of quilts, one quilt for each time I was assaulted. That also helped me to physically and metaphorically mend myself back together. It was important because it felt like proof and it felt like I was grounded in believing myself again. I needed to know that it was ok to claim even these smaller assaults because I knew that they affected me and that we live in a society that downplays all of that. I downplayed my uncle’s rape. It’s not a big deal and it didn’t really happen. Actually it is a big deal. I had to make sure that even these little things were valid and important and that gave me the permission to start to heal. They don’t define me but they definitely are a big part of my experience.
What is the best part about being a sex worker?
One thing that it’s given me has been the permission to be myself, feel good, sexy, healthy, and loved in my body and know that my worth is not determined by anyone else’s criteria of me. I can set my own rules for engagement, I can say I’ll do this but not this, I’ll take my photos like that, I can have arm pit hair, I can have whatever kind of makeup or clothing I want and I will still have clients. I do believe there is a client for every sex worker and a sex worker for every type of client. My individual voice and my unique perspective in the world is valued and that has transferred over into the rest of my life. Money being added to the equation is icing on the cake. It helps to know that I also can support myself with my own body. I used to think I wanted to be like Jesus and make things with my hands but I think it led me to this idea of being a sex worker because I’m not exploiting anyone, I’m using my own body to make a living and I care for myself. I think that it is the antidote to capitalism. You can’t take away my body. You could put me in jail, that’s the only thing. I can do it without hurting anyone else or exploiting anyone to get the things I need in my life.
What do you say to people who say you’re exploiting yourself? Is it possible to exploit oneself?
Is it possible? Sure. But to critics I would say that I am not exploiting myself because I am fully consenting to this work. I like it, I love it, I choose to do it and I also can choose not to do it. Sometimes I choose not to do it. When you say sex work, it’s this blanket statement and people think it means one thing. But actually, I can do sex work and it can mean all sorts of things. Sometimes there’s no sex involved. I still get paid for the emotional labor that my body is being rented for in that moment. It’s not exploitative because I am choosing to do it and I feel empowered doing it. If I ever didn’t feel that way, I just wouldn’t it. But I have never felt that way. I’ve had very limited instances where I felt exploited with my job. I felt more exploited in other jobs I’ve had where bosses took advantage of me or outright didn't pay me what I was worth or for the work I was doing. It is not exploitative to be in control of your own body and make choices with your own body. That’s the opposite of exploitation.
What’s the hardest part about being a sex worker?
The first thing is the shaming I experienced from other women. I had friends tell me they thought I was crazy and that I needed to see a therapist. They couldn’t condone it or associate with me. That was really painful and that kind of stigmatization is a greater problem. I think that overall what it means is that we live in a society where we’re afraid of sex anyway and our sexual liberated selves. Women often shut down other women. That’s a really harmful thing and then sex work becomes this underground thing. I would love to be able to be completely public about my work. I am pretty open about it in some ways. Even some of my family members know. But it feels hard to not be on equal ground with a lot of other work. Knowing that my job is illegal or that I could get arrested makes me feel invisible. When I have a hard time, I can’t come out to anyone about it. I have community through other sex workers but I can’t go out to the world seeking answers to my problems. I have to be resourceful. It’s also really hard to not get to share something I love. I love this thing but I can’t necessarily be so forthright about it and that feels oppressive and repressive, like I am holding something back that I love so much.
What has been your experience been with the recent passing of FOSTA and SESTA?
Fuck that shit. When that bill first passed it was hell to be a sex worker. Everyone I know and myself were on edge. I have never felt no anxious, so scared, so fearful of my life, my livelihood. There was nowhere to turn to do anything about it. I can’t even publicly share all the pain I’m in because I can’t out myself without putting myself at risk. At first it was pretty traumatic and then after the initial shock, what has been really beautiful is that I’ve gotten to be a lot closer to other workers and providers that I was friends with before but now we are getting closer. Like today I was creating photos with other providers just so that we have content to share on the internet because we’re using alternative forms of advertising. While business hasn’t totally changed for me, it still feels like time will tell how things will change. I think what I really see happening is that if you are an established sex worker and that you have an established clientele and web presence, you’ll be ok. If you don’t have that though, then you’re kind of fucked and that has set up a big divide between privileged indoor workers and people who are out on the streets and don’t have those things. I don’t know the effects of that but I would bet that it’s harsh. People are still trying to figure out creative solutions, to figure out how to survive. If something bad happens, what do you do? A lot of people have given up and gotten “regular” jobs. I decided that I wanted to get smarter about what I do. I’m committed to it so I have to figure out how to make it something that won’t go away. I don’t believe there will be an end to the demand of sex work so it’s a matter of getting creative and continuing to lean on each other for support right now. Finding your voice and finding the things you offer and the things you can get back. But it does feel like a game of tag in the dark because I have no idea how some of the clients I’ve been getting have found me. The screening process feels very scary and more tentative. Every couple of weeks I wonder if this is going to be the month I don’t make it. What’s going to happen? Do I need a backup plan? That’s horrible, it’s a horrible feeling to feel this constant threat. Fuck it. Fuck the government. Fuck it all. It makes me really mad. But I really do believe there is an opening now for a creative way for the industry to find itself again and find out how it can maybe operate in a way that benefits the clientele and provider. I have clients that have reached out to see how I am doing and have offered advice of what to do. People are looking out and that’s always a positive to a disaster but I do think we have to wait to find out what will happen.
What are the biggest misconceptions about sex work?
That I am not on control of my own body or that it’s not safe. Like I said, I have been sexually assaulted 22 times and I have never been assaulted as a sex worker. I have never felt more empowered in my ability to make choices and be protective over my body. Clients who see me are more respectful than the average dude walking down the street or in the bar because they know these rules of engagement and I’m teaching them that. People who think that sex work is about selling your body just don’t know. It’s so not true. My experience has been really empowering. I have this dynamic where I can take the power back and it’s cool. It’s not pretend. There is no way I would keep showing up for a job that continually exploited me unless I was already that low. I have felt that low in my life in other jobs. At least with this choice I can make it on a client-to-client basis or make it on a day-to-day basis and I can make it at any time I want. I think overall the real misconception or stigma to break is that sex work is actually really empowering and a really beautiful place to explore my own boundaries, my own sense of self-worth, my identity and has been a place to grow. I have grown a lot in this work. It has taught me how to have compassion for men. We talk about sexism but the patriarchy has done damage to men as well and they are hurting. They don’t have places to safely express their feminine side. I get to see people in this intimate, beautiful space where so many things can drop. We don’t have to pretend for each other. I get to see people explore their own trauma and shame and break through those things. Sex work can be healing for the provider and the client. For me I have seen clients who are survivors and didn’t have anywhere else to express that. I had one client in particular who said I’m the only person he’s ever told he had been molested as a kid. There’s an incredible amount of healing in the space and as providers, we are on the front line of that kind of healing work. It’s where the masculinity and the patriarchy get to be held by femininity and they can release their armor or their pretense of what it means to be a man. That has been super valuable. I used to be such a manhater and I would say I still hate patriarchy but I have a love for men that is very different. I have found a lot of compassion for all the things they experience even the stuff that is icky to me. I have a job where every day I connect with people really intimately and deeply and that’s really special.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Sex work has taught me how to better nurture myself and my community. It has taught me that I can use my own body as a political tool. I train clients how to treat me, how to talk to me, touch me or not touch me. I’ve learned how to be clear on my boundaries and understand that my worth is not dependent on pleasing others. I can say no and still be respected, valued and desired. Sex work has taught me about survival. It’s such a gift. I am so grateful for it.