Stories on this page are on the topic of Sexuality.
Different to every individual, sexuality can be a tool the powerful lord over the weak. It can be the channel where a lasting relationship is established. Or something entirely different.
Stories on this page are on the topic of Sexuality.
Different to every individual, sexuality can be a tool the powerful lord over the weak. It can be the channel where a lasting relationship is established. Or something entirely different.
By Hawk Kinkaid
Mistakes suck. We all make them, and when I say mistakes in a conversation around the sex industry, people may think I am referring to being in the sex industry. But I am not. Let me make that clear. Being in the sex industry was not a mistake when I made the decision to do that work. It was a good choice. But I did make mistakes.
Like the guy who wrote me a check. Or the one that tried to drug me. The innumerable flakes wasting my time. The weekend session that was mired in a client’s sloppy drug use and my perpetual boredom. I made mistakes and I wish I had known better.
None of mine were the big boo-boos. They weren’t the kind where you get drugged by a bottle of water. Or the one-client becomes four-client sexual assault. Or the client’s slips off a condom and you get herpes. Or the strapped to a chair and set on fire kind of mistakes. These did not happen to me. They happened to others.
HOOK, a publication and program for men in the sex industry, was born out of the idea that while we all make mistakes, we can reduce poor decisions by those of us working in the industry sharing what we know about the business. The idea came from a very unlikely place: a teen open mic.
I was serving a year’s stint as an AmeriCorps worker both to offset my college loan and to explore more activist approaches to a career path when my students challenged me. We were putting together a ‘zine in the midst of that DIY revolution when one of my pluckier troupe dared me to draft my own.
I was working in the industry to offset the annual income of 9K that I was given to live on while still putting in 50-60 hours a week to the different programs, and I realized that there were few men I could talk to about the business.
In fact, just the week before, some guy paged me (that’s how long ago this was) and we hung outside a local dive and he expressed how frustrating it was that none of us really knew what we were doing. We lived on intuition.
I created the first issue of HOOK in response to the dare, and a few months later, brought the collection of sex worker-written stories onto the newly minted Internet. For many men, it was the only venue that existed to learn about the industry. Even today, there are few resources. HOOK has built a large library of helpful content, up-to-date interviews and stories about men working in the sex industry. It’s exciting.
More importantly, it works. HOOK is a mobilizing force for men working in the industry to learn about their business, strategize their place in it, and make tough decisions involving long-range planning (to make a career in the business or create an exit strategy), and I couldn’t be prouder of the many men that contribute to the site in various ways.
Recently at a HOOK Meet, Greet, and Eat event, more than 2 dozen men working in the industry spent a couple hours talking about the decisions they make and the lives they have chosen to live by working in the business. From dating to taxes, marketing to client relationships, every bite of conversation I could hear was the kind of knowledge share that HOOK works to bring to men working in the sex industry every day.
We will all make mistakes, but if a program like HOOK can facilitate swifter learning and better decision-making to reduce life-threatening or risky mistakes, we fulfill a role. I believe it does that every day helping men in the sex industry make solid choices and life-affirming decisions.
Learn more at HOOK.
By Margaret Casteneda
It has been 23 years since the last time he touched me. I have been to therapy, spoken to psychologists and psychiatrists and have gone through three types of antidepressants. If I had been sexually abused by just one person, I don’t know if recovery would have been easier. From the age of 5 to the age 11, I was allowed to be left alone with pedophiles. A family friend, a cousin and a mariachi.
There are two roads a sexual abuse survivor can go down. One road shuns sex. The other leads to a woman who only knows how to use her sexuality. I thought because the men that abused me were so close to me, that that was how you showed people you loved them. I didn’t even know you were supposed to enjoy sex or make noise until I was 23.
It wasn’t just sex that was ruined by these men, my relationships with everyone changed. I didn’t know who I could trust. Sometimes, I still don’t. I was always suspicious of any man that showed any type of attention.
In many of my relationships, if I can call them that, I needed heavy drinking to be able to have sex. There was no intimacy. I was never in a relationship long enough to build that. I was afraid of what they would think of me once they knew my dark secret. Would they stay with me or think I was to blame, a tramp that allowed this to happen? The ongoing joke was that their week was up. They may have lasted longer, but once I thought they were getting too close, I was done.
I eventually learned that what they had done to me was not my fault. That's what my head knew, but the rest of me was so messed up, my judgment was pretty screwed. I never thought I was good enough for anyone, I felt I was too broken. Broken goods and a lifetime to go. Never thought I would live to see 25. I did many things that I am not proud of and many things I'm not ashamed of to help me survive and understand what I was going through.
In my career and in my personal life, I had few friends. I knew a lot of people. I was always laughing and cracking wise, but few knew how bad my depression got. The self-loathing and worthlessness that overwhelmed me. If it weren’t for my daughter, I don’t know where I would be now.
32 years later and I still have issues. I was struggling with the fact that I to drink to relax and not jump at the touch of the man who loves me. Our relationship started as friends. We worked together on some marketing projects, had lunch together. That lead to phone calls and meeting up to go shopping. I was able to confide in him and tell him my deep dark secrets. The good, the bad and the funny. Six months in to our friendship I realized I was in love. I didn’t want to run or push him away. It hasn’t been easy. He has been patient when we’re intimate and I have an anxiety attack or a flashback. Didn’t get upset when I had to stop because it felt wrong or dirty. I finally spoke with a doctor and he prescribed antidepressant /anti-anxiety meds. He said he was amazed that I was so well functioning with the PTSD I had suffered through for years. I never thought of it that way. I just needed to get better so that my daughter could see what a healthy relationship between two loving people is. We have been together five years this April and are engaged. His love and kindness has helped me battle this forever demon.
By Daisy White
When forced to testify in court about my life as a prostitute I understood that despite my shame I needed to share all the secrets of my past. Sugar is the culmination of this realization.
Paris, France-Concierge apartment, January 15th 1972, 3:50 PM. Daisy; aged 7
In France, on Wednesdays, in the afternoons, there is no school. Instead, Pepe and me, we have our snack gouter together, just the two of us. Pepe is not my real grandpa. Anyway, I sit on top of his big green Pepe fauteuil, the one he always sits in to watch T.V. He sits in his chair and I slide down onto his neck so we can “go to the hairdresser” together. I’m the hairdresser, so my job is to sweeten up his hair with special hair tonic, combs and barrettes. His hair smells very bad like an ouvrier. An ouvrier works in buildings, building things on ‘construction’ sites. The tonic smells very strong, like alcohol, because it has alcohol in it. I put it on Pepe’s head, ask him to hold it, and then... he drinks it a little bit. When Meme’s not home, he drinks it a lot a bit. Once his hair smells nice, we go and stand in the kitchen to have our gouter together, just the two of us—chocolat chaut and café.
“Pepe, can I make a canard in your coffee with the sugar?”
In France we all dunk square sugar cubes into the coffee, and then we eat it whole—Faire un Canard, to make a duck, not a dunk, a duck. You dip your sugar in the café till it’s all wet, and then, you eat it whole. I stand over Pepe’s black steamy café in the little cuisine holding sugar cubes in my fingers. “Pepe, Pepe, can I make another canard in your coffee with the sugar?”
“Oui, cherie, come and get some sugar.” I love to eat Canard from Pepe’s café.
“Pepe, what, what are you doing?” Pepe loves me and I love him.
“Just rubbing an itch, don’t move, stay here, this is the best ‘sugar’.”
Pepe likes to rub his pants on me when he gives me sugar. “Oui, cherie—so good, sh... sh—SUGAR!”
Beverly Hills Hotel January 15th 1998, 3:50 PM. Daisy; Aged 33
“Sure, you can call me sugar if you’d like... I’d love to see you again; you’re such a nice man. Just let Natasha know—that that’s what you’d like to call me—from now on... She’ll understand. I’d love it if you’d call again, anytime...”
By Daisy White
After being apprehended in a high profile sting operation I was forced to testify against the madam I worked for. Till then I had lived a double life and I was filled with secrets. It was on the witness stand that day, that all was revealed to me. I finally understand why my sexuality had been so impacted. I had been blind to in my own life and the reasons why I had made choice became crystal clear. This is when I decided to tell the truth, it forever change my life. From that day forth I became free, speaking to all men and women who search for their true identity and a true voice. I became truly myself.
The same question keeps coming up. I’m wondering about that first time. I’m trying to figure it out. I can’t pinpoint a real first time because maybe there is no real first time. There are many first times, new choices each new decision. Maybe I don’t care so much about the first time. Maybe I’m just wondering because everyone asks about it.
“When was the first time? What made you do it? What sent you over the edge? What was the way in?”
I don’t know! The way in isn’t just once, it isn’t one time, and anyway the first time was lots of different times. The first what anyway? I mean what are we really talking about? Because the real first time I didn’t know that it was the first time, not the thing you’re calling the first time. I mean…I didn’t know what was happening to me. So can that be the first time? But, you could call that the official first time. But then after that there were many more times that could qualify as the first time too. I didn’t know those as the first time either. There was a time, when I did know what I was doing and what it was called and maybe that’s what people want to know about. That could be the official first time. I’m enraged and I want to explode trying to make sense out of this. I can’t fucking organize it into any neat box.
“Miss White when did you commit your first act of prostitution.”
I am on the witness stand of the Van Nuys courtroom in a black wig, wearing dark thrift store clothes that I’ve never worn before. I’m trying to be someone else. The courtroom is filled with people I’ve never seen, reporters, court reporters. Jurymen and women, what seems like the entire LAPD vice squad and more… The room is packed. I’m fidgeting with a black string on my incognito jacket. The judge is to my right on what feels like a high chair that reaches up to the sky. His black sleeves move like a bat with each objection. The room smells sweaty and angry. Sasha’s lawyer, Mr. Scottie, is wearing a grey generic lawyer type suit and he looks as jerky as he sounds. Sasha, my madam, is sitting opposite me at an angle and her blond hair strobes the entire courtroom. She looks like a younger version of Angelyne wearing a fake white channel suit. I’m here to testify against her,
I’m worried she hates me, maybe she’ll have someone follow me later. I focus on the pencil in Scottie’s right hand. I’m scared. I’m tired. I’ve been answering fast questions for over an hour. I look at Mr. Wallmark, the D.A. who is sitting directly across me hoping for help but he looks down. I’m not sure what Scottie means with his question. I grip my hands around my cool wooden chair and anchor my self. I turn to my lawyer at my left. I know I am the star witness for the D.A. I know Scottie is trying to get me. I don’t want to cry again. I want to ask my Lawyer, Gayley, how to answer the questions again but I know Scottie will object. I turn towards the judge instead.
“I don’t know.” I answer.
Scottie looks at me stunned and brushes the lapel of his ugly suit as if he had smootch all over it from sloppy eating. He flicks it with thumb and index finger. The heavy maple doors of the courtroom slam as yet another looky loo enters and stands at the back. Scottie hovers at his big desk and looks at his notes stalling for time. Sasha whispers to him. The judge picks his fingers and rolls his eyes waiting for Scottie. The first juror lady adjusts herself in her seat. I look over at her and she smiles me some silent encouragement. Mr wallmark’s chair scrapes at the floor standing to interject. Scottie beats him to it.
“Ok so you don’t remember, can you tell us about when you first became a prostitute.”
Scottie bounces back and forth between his heels and his toes. He throws me the question I can never answer. The one that always stumps me about the first time. The room gets blurry. My eyes narrow like they did when I was little and I squinted my way down the Champs-Elysees so that all the light would go soft. The room whispers. The judge looks down. Wallmark waits. Scottie Revels. Gayley looks at me. Everything goes blank.
“Voila! Take this 500 franc note.” Sami handed me the biggest most colorful money France ever made and put it into my 13 year-old hand. I wore my escarpin to the agency, all models were tall and I wanted to make the best impression with my high heels. Sami wore the most beautiful Armani suit, well pressed and the tan color matched his skin. I looked at all the magazine covers on the wall. I recognized every face. I wanted to be one of them one day, one of the ones on his office wall, one of his favorites. Sami’s office was big, bigger than any office I’d been in. The walls were plum and the room was dark like a cave with furniture from Versaille. I crinkled the bill between my fingers. He must like me, he gave me money. The office smelled like eau de cologne, Sami’s cologne.
“Merci monsieur.” I smelled the 500 francs and put them in my little purse. I felt valuable. I smiled and Sami smiled back. I smoothed my skirt down on the white couch I was sitting on. The phone rang and Sami ignored it; I was important. The rain and thunder started to pound on the street below, the room got darker. Sami took off his jacket and swung it on the back of his desk chair.
“Non, non, don’t call me monsieur, call me Sami. I want us to be good friends and I will make you a famous model like all these. If ever you need something you come to me. I’m just going to lock this door now. Privacy. Oui. Bon, bon. Now why don’t you put your mouth on me.”
By Hannah Reimer
My palms are sweating, nausea spreads through my stomach, and a knot rises in my throat. I can feel the man creeping up behind me from his hiding place in the corner of the women’s bathroom and pushing me into the stall.
But I am not physically at the study abroad club in Salamanca, Spain, where the sexual assault took place. Instead, I am sitting in a therapist’s office with headphones on my head and pulsating sensors in my hands. I reassure myself that I am safe and that the vivid memories, images, and feelings are a result of the alternating tone and vibrations being sent through my body as part of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy.
After pausing briefly, I close my eyes again to a flood of memories and sensations. Over the course of the next hour I relive moments from the weeks following the assault when I felt most shocked and helpless in a foreign country so far from home. Troubling memories of needing a male advocate to make the policemen listen to me, spikes of anger and confusion overtaking me just from feeling the gaze of a man on the street, struggling to find a voice in English and in Spanish, and feeling alone, ashamed, and helpless with the hot sun beating down on me, numb to the European beauty all around me.
When I was first told about EMDR as a technique that could help address issues relating to extreme anxiety, I did not understand how moving my eyes back and forth or listening to a bilateral tone could possibly help. But a doctor explained to me that when a traumatic event occurs, information processing might be disrupted, leaving the memory dysfunctionally stored without appropriate associative connections . So when the memory was triggered in my early EMDR sessions, I experienced emotional distress and relived the physical sensations related to the assault. As the sessions progressed, the intensity of the memory lessened and I began to explore other experiences over the last few years that related to the residual emotional effects.
The goal of EMDR therapy is to lessen the negative associations of a traumatic experience as memories are processed over the course of several sessions. Next, the negative emotions, beliefs, and sensations are replaced by a positive belief about oneself. Profound cognitive insights help create frameworks for future adaptive behaviors that are a healthier response to stressors.
Targeting some of the lingering emotional effects of a sexual assault that occurred almost three years ago has been a large step forward for me personally in reclaiming my sexuality and sense of control. Prior to EMDR therapy, I had only addressed the issues stemming from experiences with predatory men at a logical level. Being an advocate for consensual, safe relationships and reading large amounts of feminist literature confirmed what I already knew - that I was not at fault for what happened. But simply checking the box at doctors’ offices that I had experienced a sexual assault, right next to the box that said I had no known allergies or shortness of breath, furthered my tendency to bury my feelings. Only when the negative emotions bubbled up to where I could no longer control them through rational thinking did I stop and ask how this was affecting my relationships or shaping how I thought of myself.
EMDR therapy helped me realize my desire to have a stronger voice and to learn to be more assertive in all areas of my life. As a white, heterosexual female, I realize my story does not speak to the added complexities that LGBT people and women of color may face, but I hope it resounds with those who have experienced sexual assault, helps educate people about its long-term emotional effects, and offers the courage to seek help for a healthier, happier, and more confident future.
Hannah Reimer is a University of Michigan business school senior and Spanish major.
By Anonymous Academic
I wasn't an addict, a victim, a professional, experienced, a novice, or an offender. I was a person who happened to work temporarily as a sex worker for about three months, actually. I ended up making about $25,000. If I had accepted the numerous offers that involved the sharing of bodily fluids, I would have made more, but I was quite careful. First, because I didn't want to end up infected with HIV, and second because I knew "the pigs" often made those offers to catch you for selling sex.
Of course, all of those previous categories fit me in some way or another, but I like to think of the time I worked as an escort as MY choice. I certainly reasoned my way through the possibilities, assessed my goals, and preferences, evaluated pay outs, and finally came to the judgement that my most rational course of action at the time was to become an escort. I can't remember exactly how the idea occurred to me, save for its being a pretty random event.
My problem was that my mom with whom I was living at the time, and who had just divorced my father, spent all of the money from the settlement, and we didn't know how to pay rent. Also, I was a spoiled daddy's girl, and so was accustomed to a certain lifestyle I was not willing to give up, which did, I must admit, involve a lot of partying too. But hell I was 19 years old -- that's what a lot of 19 year olds do.
The only exception to my stringent policy of using protection was when I was with the manager -- Georgie. He was my first trick, and I was always his first choice whenever he came around. I remember his smell, and his hairy chest, his beer belly, and yes, the heavy gold chain he wore around his neck, and the big white limo I dreaded every time I saw it coming down the street. Strangely, I do not remember his penis. The first time I tricked, I made $100 for about 15 minutes of work. I left the agency kind of numb, but excited and proud at the same time.
I admit I was very good at this job, and that gave me some self-esteem. I got thousand dollar tips quite frequently. I built up a lot of regulars. The agency, of course, took their cut, but the tips were all mine. It was worth it for the safety and protection I got in return.
The "girls" and "boss" always encouraged me to wear more make up. In other words, to look more like a whore, but I just wasn't that type. And at least one of the secrets that the good ones know is that it is often times not about the sex for the men that visit prostitutes, but often about loneliness, about the desire to pretend for a just a while that they are actually with a woman who is real and who wants to be with them, not put on a show. A natural looking woman fits the bill, since it allowed them to forget where they were and indulge their fantasy that a real woman wanted them. I was also very good at pretending that I enjoyed it. And sometimes, against my will, I did.
Those times that I orgasmed against my will were the worst. They made me feel guilty and degraded and ashamed. But I learned that the idea that women can only enjoy sex in the context of love was completely wrong. Women were just as physically oriented genitally as men. They just had hang ups about it.
I also came to believe that there was more than one good reason to have sex. For me, now, there will always be two: money or love. Now, of course, it would take a lot more money. More money than anyone would be willing to pay for a woman my age these days. There's a kind of freedom in that.
I guess my point is that my experience as an escort was neither all good nor all bad, just like many other jobs of course. The bad things mostly involved some of my regulars: the guy that did me for the full hour every single time because he couldn't get off, the creepy one who always talked dirty to me and made me feel dirty and then made me come, the one guy who looked and smelled like my father. The good things were that I was financially independent, the amount of time I spent "working" was minimal, maybe 10 hours a week, and the power I felt from finally having the ability to use my sexuality to my benefit instead of feeling like I was being taken advantage of. I felt like I was the exploiter now, and that felt good for a change.
It also changed my view of men and men's sexuality. Something to be manipulated, instead of resisted. I still, to this day, divide men into friends, lovers, and "marks." Of course, many would say that having to take this avenue as an avenue to power is just another result of oppression. I agree. But under the circumstances, I'll take any edge I can get.
By Alex Ghenis
My awakening was five months after my spinal cord injury, when I was locked in the caring confines of Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California. Shriners is a free hospital, supported by various chapters across the country - and Shriners NC was in Sacramento, a city which I'm now aware is more of a prison than any hospital ever could be.
My awakening was with someone who just had major hip surgery, a patient there with me in a free institution because her Central Valley family was too poor to afford health insurance. It happened not because I loved her, but because I was a sixteen-year-old boy and she was a sixteen-year-old girl with the biggest breasts I'd ever seen, and I wanted my face in them. Confidently I flirted with her in the way the nurses knew I was good at, and with newly red cheeks she flirted back. I couldn’t help but think that, if I could still get an erection, I'd have one (side note - they have pills for that).
Pink Cheeks’ flirting continued for three whole days ‘til she told me that she (much sooner than I would be) was about to be discharged - because hip surgeries take less rehab than spinal fusions with major MRSA infections. The latter of which put me on IV antibiotics for a month and took away my "OK" to have roommates.
“Did I mention my room is all mine? Do you want to make out in it?”
Out of tact and self-preservation, I did not mention I was imagining my mouth on her nipples. Thank goodness she said "yes."
As we entered my abode, I tapped Cathy Huey, the charge nurse, saying “do not disturb.” She smiled as she shook her head, and then graciously closed my door behind us. My mouth was watering so much, this girl might have wondered if all crippled boys also had saliva problems.
We made out for a half hour. Halfway through it, I started caressing her breasts over her sweatshirt. She was hesitant, but I was determined to fulfill my nip-sucking fantasies - half because it would be awesome and half because this was my last opportunity to really have fun for the next 35 days until I was discharged.
One minute later, my one good hand was on the inside of her sweatshirt and a minute past that, the top half of her body was bare in front of me. I was fulfilling my fantasy - my first time doing so with anybody – and it was beautiful (and also, pretty awesome).
This was my awakening not because my eyes were wide open like my mouth against her chest, but because I realized that constantly sitting I could still be seen as sexy. And instead of being cursed, I am actually lucky - because now my lips are at the perfect height of nipples.
I never saw her again and I do not remember her name. It was a quintessential one-hour one-night stand between post surgery teenagers in a children's hospital room in the prison that is Sacramento, California. And then, despite knowing I'd be locked up in that place for another 35 days, I was free.
Alex posed for the above photo for a calendar created by Sexability. You can buy the calendar on their website.