Episode 020 SWOP Sex Worker Outreach Project

Episode the Twentieth; Wherein the Pageist gets productive in a geeky way, is all kinds of grateful to a particular bondage enthusiast, and speaks with a very nice lady about a great way to help incarcerated sex workers.

.50 Intro and Announcements:

  • Thank you to AliceinBondageland for sharing links to the podcast! Welcome to new listeners!
  • Listener survey–anonymous and brief and earns my undying gratitude: Podtrac survey

2.25 My Submissive Life:

  • Louis C.K. on why we should be thrilled and amazed we can fly at all: You Tube Link
  • The productivity app/game that allows you to level up for simply being an adult. It’s a website and app: Habitica.com

8.25 Interview:

  • Today’s interview was with Alex from SWOP Behind Bars (Sex Worker Outreach Project). Their goal is to help incarcerated sex workers learn their rights and improve their lives.
  • Their website: SWOPBehindBars.org
  • Email: swopbehindbars@gmail.com
  • Twitter: @SWOPBehindBars
  • Facebook: SWOP Behind Bars

33.19 Closing Remarks:

Being a Lioness with Rain DeGrey

This piece originally appeared on Fetlife, but when I asked permission to repost it, the author (Rain DeGrey) said the link to the writing on her regular blog would be more accessible to people not on Fet.

I love this piece. It’s about how women who own their sexuality–particularly the ones who get paid for it–aren’t supposed to have working brains or opinions.

It’s also introduced me to the phrase ‘bag of holes’, which I shall be using for the rest of my life.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rain DeGrey.

Hi there. You might have heard of me. You might not have. That part doesn’t really apply to my point here.

But if you HAVE heard of me, you probably have heard of me as some sort of Professional Naked Person, one of those girls on the internet with her tits and ass splayed out all over the place. You have probably heard of me as a bondage and fetish model. Maybe even one of those fetish models that likes to do the more “hardcore” stuff. If you have heard of me.

And there is a funny thing that happens when you become one of those people that plasters their naked body all over the internet…it surprises the shit out of people when you have opinions. It is as if folks think you sign a contract when you become a Professional Naked Person that says “I will keep my mouth shut and my holes open. With an exception clause for open mouths when it comes to blow jobs.”

Here is the thing: I never signed any such contract.

So I kept on being me. And the me that I am happens to be a lot more than a bag of holes. I had opinions. I pondered shit. I talked about things that were on my mind. I gave advice. I tried to help people, educate, inspire, motivate. I grant that it might not be typical behavior for most models. But I never felt defined as a person because I have done some modeling.

Being a bag of holes with lots of opinions didn’t sit well with everyone out there. Many people reached out to inform me of this fact. Especially since one of the topics I happen to talk about and cover a lot is bullying, harassment and sexism. Porn stars griping about misogyny tends to be a boner killer. Nobody wants to fap to that.

But like I said, I have never defined who I am as a person because I have done some modeling. I wasn’t going to be quiet because it might kill a stranger’s boner.

And then something amazing started happening. People started reaching out to me. People I did not know. People started telling me that my willingness to speak up inspired them to do the same. That talking about and discussing the “uncomfortable” things gave them the courage to do the same in their own lives. Women would tell me that because of my writing they stood up for themselves for the first time when they got hassled. That they realized that was ok to advocate for your rights. That speaking up for yourself doesn’t make you “fussy” but rather makes you strong.

These stories take my breath away. They humble me. They awe me. If I have helped just one person on this planet then my time while I was here was worthwhile. And you know what? I think I have succeeded in doing just that. And it feels amazing. It makes my heart melt.

Not bad for an opinionated bag of holes, huh?

I follow her on Twitter (@raindegrey) and recommend that you do too.

On Facebook she’s raindegrey and her website is Raindegrey.com

Whore’s Glory

Whore’s Glory is a 2011 documentary by Austrian filmmaker Michael Glawogger that follows the lives of prostitutes in three different countries.

Bangkok, Thailand

(The Fish Tank)

The women clock into work, briefly bowing before a statue and saying a little prayer they’ll be chosen, then have their hair and make up done by people on site. They get dressed nicely and sit on cushions behind a glass partition (the ‘fish tank’).

Because the women are behind glass they can talk to one another, laugh, gossip and complain without the men overhearing.

The men sit on the other side of the glass in comfortable seats and have a drink or two and look at the women and chat with one another or the attendants. Attendants answer questions about the women—if they’re new, if they worked somewhere before, etc.

The women support one another—giggling about men looking at the other women—mostly. Though when one girl is chosen more than once in one day one woman says, ‘I hope his dick is too big for you.’ Another does the Thai version of a fist bump to the one chosen.

Lots of women have shown up that night so it’s less likely any one will be chosen. If they aren’t chosen, they don’t get paid.

The prices range from 1,600 bhat up to 2,000 ($45.50 –56.90) for two hours with the woman of your choice. (We’re never told how much the woman gets.)

The documentary follows the women out on their daily lives—at home or having dinner with friends.

They talk about what they’d do if they didn’t work at the club and how their families drive them crazy—the same conversations you’d hear from any other women in their early-twenties. They discuss other career options and when they’ll get married and have kids (in Thailand it’s not a big deal for a man to marry a former prostitute).

For fun the girls go to host clubs and pick up bar boys, who dress like extras from Miami Vice. Bean informs me host clubs are also popular in Japan. Pretty young men spend time making themselves beautiful then flirt and dance with women.

The woman who is a sort of manager of the club talks about being a kind of second mother to the women and she worries about them spending all their money on the bar boys. One of the women is appalled to learn the guy she likes spending time with is often patronized by a woman who’s over forty.

While looking up bhat conversions, I did a little more research, with the help of Bean. Prostitution isn’t strictly legal in Thailand, but it’s not also explicitly illegal, and in some ways it’s regulated. About $6.4 billion dollars was generated in a recent year (according to Havocscope), which is roughly 10 percent of Thailand’s GDP.

Glawogger also interviewed the men who frequented the establishment.

The overall philosophy towards sex work was straightforward. But it almost would be, the women clock into work in a clean, well-lit, safe place. They shouldn’t feel like they’re doing anything untoward. And prior to that, the societal groundwork had already been laid, so to speak.
 

Faridpur, Bangladesh

(City of Joy)

This segment takes place in (inside? Outside? It’s impossible to tell but it’s always dark and close like a Dickensian slum) an enormous brothel called the City of Joy.

Which is the least apt name for anyplace I can imagine.

All of the prostitutes in this part look much younger than the women in the first section. These I feel comfortable calling the people in this segment girls.

This segment starts with a young woman is on the phone, harassing a john who was at the brothel earlier that day. He usually patronized her, but he’d gone with someone else that particular day and she was mightily displeased. There were particular parts of her body that she wondered if he no longer cared for any longer.

She was a little more… to the point, though.

The girls—over thirteen, under twenty, I would guess—are owned by various madams. One tells the story of how she was brought there (with lies); we see one madam buying another girl from another madam and then talking to the girl about what she needs to do to earn her money back.

At one point an older teen quotes a price of 200 taka ($2.50) and the man tries to haggle her down to 50 taka ($.64). They settle on a deal and she has to run to get a condom from her madam—a different one from the others—and off they go.

That woman runs four prostitutes total. She talked about her previous place and her daughter—a toddler—and how she would probably become a ‘whore’, because ‘what else was she going to do?’

There was a straightforward tone to this section, as well, when talking to the girls and the madams. But it was more fatalistic. They had been born into a cold, hard world where, if you were a woman, you had few options, and none of them were desirable.

Like the previous segment, men are asked why brothels exist and what they think of them. One man talks about how the brothel is good because without it all women would be molested in the street and men would be screwing goats and cows.

The situation in Bangladesh is far more desperate than the one in Bangkok—the girls verbally and physically accost men to try to get them to stay with them.

Prostitution is legal in Bangladesh, though the minimum age is supposed to be 18. This is often ignored by the authorities.

Girls are often sold by their families to brothels for two to three years for bonded sex work.
 

Reynosa, Mexico

(The Zone)

Reynosa borders Hidalgo, Texas and is over 450 miles from Mexico City.

The final section is in Mexico and begins with a woman who’s laughing about how she loves dick, gets horny and has orgasms. She gets paid to have fun. She lists off the various cities she’s worked in in Mexico (a whole bunch) and talks about how she loves her job.

We see one person give a price of 500 pesos ($28) for sex and a blow job.

Then a woman who was THE whore for years gave some practical tips on how to fool johns and told some tear-inducingly hilarious stories about her decades as a famous prostitute. I would watch an entire show of her just telling stories. The documentary was worth the watch anyway, but her few minutes alone would have made it worthwhile.

A guy goes to see one of the women interviewed and she gives him a quote, but, wouldn’t you know it, he doesn’t have that much. They do what they’re going to do and she gives him his twenty minutes, but… I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this entire segment was great. Fellas, bring enough money. Don’t be cheap.

The final bit are two of the women we’ve seen talking before getting high.

As with the other two, men were asked what they thought about the Zone—why they came there. The guys were there to have fun! They had no problems sharing what they were interested in or why. Really, this segment made me want to visit Mexico.

Prostitution in Mexico has been regulated since 1885. In Reynosa, as well as other Mexican cities, there are designated areas for legalized prostitution that are patrolled by the police. They’re called zona de tolerancia – basically the red-light district. Perhaps that’s why everyone was so laid back about everything. It’s just a part of life, and has been for over a hundred years.
 

Overall Thoughts

At some point in all three pieces the women pray to their different gods (Buddhism, Islam and Santeria). All for good luck getting johns. No judgment on that—I just found it interesting that they all did so and it made me wonder how widespread the practice of praying for johns (not safety from them) was.

Women in the first two segments spoke about what they thought of as gross (oral sex for one). If a man asked for that they’d say they used their mouths to recite holy words—even though the two sets of women were saying different holy words—and so they couldn’t do oral sex. Apparently, men accepted this

The Mexican prostitutes included blow jobs in as part of their pricing scheme.

Then I started wondering what sex workers found to be beyond the pale around the world. Just an absolute, ‘No! No sir, not today!’

It should be a Tumblr. I would read it so hard.

Moving on.

The music choices were spot on. It started with a piece by Tricky and every other cue was perfect.

There is no voice-over, no narration, but the filmmaker gets to choose what story they want to tell. When watching any sort of documentary it’s important to keep in mind the agenda of the person making the piece. If a viewer wants to watch this and see women being exploited by an unfair system they can certainly find that—the Bangladesh segment was heartbreaking, but that situation could have an entire essay or two (or four) of its own.

How sex work works in one part of the world is not how it is in every part of the world, where attitudes towards women and sex vary (somewhat). Which is possibly what Glawogger was trying to say.

Whore’s Glory was interesting to this someone who is pro-sex worker (obviously when the person has freely chosen the profession). I would definitely be curious about the opinions of sex workers who’ve seen it.

The two people I watched the film with agreed that the segments were presented in the perfect order. The first was pretty straightforward—no one seemed particularly bothered by their profession. The second was difficult to watch in places and the third was basically comic relief.

If you’re interested in the way the sex industry works to some degree in some countries, I recommend this one.

4/5

Coming Out Like a Porn Star

This is the text version of the book I reviewed in episode 010 of the podcast, Coming Out Like a Porn Star: Essays on Pornography, Protection and Privacy edited by Jiz Lee.

This was how this book review was going to go… see, I’m working on a review of two books by Dr Gloria Brame—her classic Different Loving and the recent follow up, Different Loving Too. Different Loving is full of information and I’m loving it, but it’s going to take some time to do the review properly.

So I thought, ‘I’ll just read this, comparably smaller collection of essays by sex workers: Coming Out Like a Porn Star: Essays on Pornography, Protection and Privacy, which is edited by Jiz Lee.’

Physically it’s not a large book—300 pages but it’s kinda squat, if that makes sense. I figured I could read it in three days, knock out the podcast in another two and have one more week than normal to work on the Brame episode.

Right. OR I could wind up taking 8,550 words of notes—don’t worry I’m not going to read all of them to you—and it could redefine the way I think of the entire concept of ‘coming out’. That could happen, too.

Apropos of nothing, after the book arrived I showed it to my vanilla friend Bean and she immediately said, ‘That looks like Jiz Lee on the cover.’

The cover has an illustration by Jamie Baiser, so it’s not a photo or even photorealistic. I mean, it’s not cubism, but … I was impressed. Then Bean looked at the list of contributors and recognized more names than I did. A lot more. She was excited to get to read it after I was done.

Bean’s vanilla, but she’s like the really good kind of vanilla—like the kind you spend extra on. Like handmade French vanilla.

Anyway, the book is published by Three L Media, which launched last year—their website was hacked recently and they are in the process of rebuilding it, which is why there’s nothing currently on the site. I saw it before they got hacked and it was a very nice site. They focus on books about kink and genderqueer issues and sex work. The book I’m reviewing today is excellent. I recommend getting it to support them since someone was being an asshat and making their lives a misery.

I will include a link to their site in the show notes, but if you go there and it’s still a placeholder, they’re working on it. I’ll also include links to some of their books on Amazon, if you’d like to show your support that way. It’s really a cruddy thing to happen to a new, indy publisher that is trying to give voice to the voiceless and marginalized. That’s my rant. Now for my review.

Coming Out Like a Porn Star is a collection of 57 essays by people who work in the porn industry—in front of or behind the camera. Some contributors have been doing whatever their thing is for decades, some are no longer in the business, one person was trying to break into the business when she wrote her essay. Some quote-unquote ‘just’ do porn, you know, BDSM porn, but just porn, while others have been strippers and done private sex work, and cam work and been in porn.

Many contributors had overlapping circles of marginalization—for lack of a better phrase—they were trans or gay or genderqueer or a person of color or from a depressed socioeconomic background or several of these at once. Hearing from such a diverse range of voices was interesting and powerful but in some ways, people say the same things no matter who they are.

This book is like having the ability to read people’s minds and realizing that everyone is the same. Because ‘looking’ at the contributors in this book from the outside you’d think they’d have nothing in common with one another most of the time and certainly nothing in common with you, general person, but once you see inside their minds you see everyone responds to the same situations the same way.

The typical belief is that porn is something people get into as a last resort, but quite a few contributors actively sought out the industry. Several people wrote about knowing they wanted to be porn stars from a young age.

In ‘I Always Wanted to Be a Porn Star’ Denali Winter couldn’t wait to get started—but she had to escape her small Alaskan town. She wrote this about their first trip to San Francisco.

By the time I came back from my nine-day, parent-free vacation, I had gotten my first tattoo, had group sex, been to my first goth club, and had a Dom/sub couple waiting for me to move down and live with them as their partner.

This person needs to be leading the San Francisco tourism bureau. OR they just need to be a travel agent, because clearly they know how to pack some activities into a holiday. I spent a week in New Orleans last year and all I managed was a corset and visiting the saddest fetish shop you’ve ever seen.

There were many moments that were hilarious—people who have to put up with a lot of b.s. tend to develop of sense of humor, I find.

This is from Lily Cade’s essay ‘This is Who I Am’ she’s talking about how she wants to come out as gay to her mother.

As high school wore on, I started to become frustrated that it had never come up, and I began to push her as hard and I could without directly admitting my lesbianism. I would stare pointedly at waitresses’ asses. I would bring up gay rights issues in the news. I would talk about how much I liked the liturgical dancers at our church because you could see through their dresses.

Look, mom, when your daughter is talking about the see-through dresses of the girls in CHURCH, she’s trying to tell you something. You’re being willfully ignorant here. I laughed out loud at midnight when I read that bit.

She didn’t really accept that I was gay until I got married. She used to introduce Sten—then my girlfriend, later my wife—and me as ‘her’, which would prompt us to make out so she’d have to admit it…

I’ve seen Lily Cade’s work and was a fan, but this makes me love her more. There’s a link to an article she did with Cracked about what it’s really like doing lesbian porn in the show notes.

Another person who made me laugh out loud then got philosophical on me was Loree Erickson in her essay ‘Why I Love Hickies and Queer Crip Porn’

I’ve never been good at being in the closet—any closet. When I first went to college in Richmond, Virginia, I immediately started volunteering with the Queer Student Alliance. I was tasked with calling people to remind them of the upcoming meeting. It wasn’t until I was halfway through the list that I realized I maybe shouldn’t be leaving messages. Then there was the time I left a message on my friend’s parents’ answering machine telling her, ‘The Lesbian Avenger meeting starts at seven–(awkward pause)–so you probably wanna come over afterwards since you are not coming to that meeting because you are definitely not a lesbian.’

Kids, people used to have these things where entire houses shared the same answering machine, but now messages go right to your phone. Ah, thank Tesla for progress.

Erickson is doing a PhD, which she describes thusly:

I make porn and then write critical cultural analysis of the ways porn made by and for queer disabled people transforms and interrupts systems of oppression.

After making porn she shows it to students and receives … interesting reactions. Including that what she’s shown them isn’t porn.

The two main reasons students give me for why the videos I make are ‘not porn’ are (1) they’re ‘not offensive,’ and (2) there is no ‘explicit fucking’. I find both of these responses incredibly significant and telling. I firmly believe that the ways (primarily mainstream) porn has become culturally linked with oppression and dehumanization in the popular imagination serve to undermine the historically rooted potential for porn as a vessel for transformation and resistance. Also, for most people, porn is seen as being fairly self-evident, the old ‘I know it when I see it’ approach. This approach, which is also how many people understand disability, serves to render both as fact, not as cultural constructs. This thinking serves to undermine the fluidity and complexity of both porn and disability. Furthermore, when students only understand sex and penis-in-vagina intercourse, they are not only missing out on some really fun and sexy activities, they are reinforcing larger structures of cissexism, heteropatriarchy, and disableism. At times, I strategically use disableism and the ways that my work is not considered porn to mitigate whorephobia. Whereas sex work and porn are criminalized, pathologized, pitied, and seen as illegitimate, my porn video has been purchased by many university libraries, taught in several courses, and screens in numerous spaces that typically avoid association with porn.

There’s a lot in that quote to address—but people absolutely do think they can tell if you’re disabled by how you look and I’ve seen segments on TV that I’d qualify as BDSM porn. There was an opening of an episode of Wentworth in the third season where I was… ‘Why is there BDSM porn on my screen? I’m not complaining! They can show this on Australian TV?’ There was no sex, it was all leather gloves and mindfuckery, but people who knew… they’d know. And the entire, ‘Well, I wasn’t offended so it’s not porn,’ argument. Wow. That makes me sad. And I love that she uses people’s biases against them to get her work into spaces it wouldn’t usually be shown. Haha. You go, lady.

Continuing on with the heavy philosophy…There were two pieces that covered similar territory as one another but in slightly different ways and I wanted to compare them directly. One was called ‘Coming Out Again (and Again)’ by Drew DeVeaux and the other was ‘On Coming In’ by Gala Vanting.

Drew is a queer-identified trans woman who works as a part-time porn star/nurse/epidemiologist/educator and activist in Toronto. Drew coined the terms cisnormativity and the cotton ceiling, which is the systemic exclusion of trans folks from everyone’s spheres of desire or the people we find attractive.

Gala Vanting is an Australian erotic film producer and performer, professional BDSM practitioner, educator, pleasure activist, relational anarchist and erotic imaginist.

Drew says:

So when I talk about ‘coming out,’ it’s not a simple story of recounting a time when I told just one thing to someone. Coming out is an ongoing process. I come out about different things, at different times, to different people, and for different reasons. In writing these words I am, in essence, coming out to you, the reader, in a way that doesn’t really happen in my everyday life.

This is a concept that is repeated by many contributors. But what both Drew and Gala Vanting (whose name I love) both discuss is more the entire concept of coming out itself.

Drew finds it odd and bothersome that coming out stories focus on the person hearing the coming out story—the family member or friend or whomever who now has to deal with this burden. She says:

I think it’s more interesting to hear the stories of the comer (that’s what she calls the person coming out), of what makes them come out, to whom, and when, of what makes them unique, and how they feel about that which makes them different but which also makes them special. I want to hear the stories of how they came to accept themselves—how they made a decision to accept that they may be into other women, or other men, or getting tied up by their genderqueer escort lover, or when they decided that, yes, shooting porn is something they really want to do, it’s actually something they have to do, and why the hell did they wait so long to do this.

Almost in agreement with this, in Gala Vanting’s piece she says:

So who owns these coming-out stories? And who do I stand to hurt in the process of telling them? They’re written by us both, in the moment…

Like Drew was saying, this makes the story about the other person—the person hearing the story—the person who (ostensibly) is in some place of privilege—and protecting their sensitivities rather than wondering if the person who is regularly being broken down (you) is going to be let down once again.

Then Gala…Miss Vanting? Talks about a friend of hers, Sam, and their way looking at coming out

We the Others, are quite occupied with the process of projecting ourselves out into the world, with the ways in which our various identities are either read or invisible to the outside. We’re concerned about the ways in which representations of our communities are interpreted, and sometimes we even try to exercise some control over this. We’re anxious about how those individuals we interact with will receive the news that we are what we are. We end up devoting a lot of time and energy to what’s happening outside, perhaps to the detriment of what’s happening inside; inside our lives, our relationships, our communities, our fucking, and our politics.

So Sam decided to talk instead about ‘coming in’–coming into their own delicious confluence of identities, spending more energy exploring and loving it, filling it up, poking at its peripheries and looking for the give. Accepting it as the already-perfect starting point it’ll always be. Spending less time iterating it to others or caring much about their response. Coming into a glorious shared space with others who share those intersections, and those who don’t care what kind of thing you are as long as you’re good people. Coming into an era of just being themselves.

This concept blew my freakin’ mind, man. I sat there, just staring at the words on the page. We’re taught by the outside world and by one another that we must gain approval from Out There. You have to come out. If you’re not lucky enough to be born as whatever is currently deemed socially acceptable, you’re going to have to sit the important people down and tell them what’s wrong with you and hope they’re going to be, at the very least, tolerant. (I mean, who doesn’t want to be ‘tolerated’, right?) If you’re super lucky, you meet an accepting person. But we pat those people on the back for, you know, not being dicks. That’s kind of a weird thing to be proud of, right? I mean, just, for accepting other people. But here we are. The baseline for decency is not being an asshole when someone isn’t like you. Not, ‘I celebrate your difference because that’s what makes the world interesting!’ Wow.

Anyway, Annie Sprinkle’s essay—if you don’t know who Annie Sprinkle is I’m not sure what to say, you’re probably too young to be listening to the show. If you don’t know, though, Google her—she’s been doing sex professionally for forty-two years. Her essay was called ‘The Luxury of Coming Out’ and it was a list of seven things that came to mind when Jiz Lee asked her to write about coming out.

It’s what we think of ourselves that matters most. When we tell people what we do, it’s not what we do, it’s how we say what we do that will radiate out and reflect back to us in the response we get.

This is a concept that was repeated in different ways by other people and something I’ve long believed in. People will, often, treat you the way you behave.

She also said:

What other people think of us is really none of our business.

And that is the truth. Other people’s judgments of you is far more to do with them than it is to do with you. I love it. ‘I’m sorry, but what does your opinion of me have to do with the truth of who I am?’

At the end of her piece she issued a beautiful call for community.

Remember, too, if we expect others to love and accept us for who we are and what we do, we have to extend the same love and acceptance to others. Next time someone comes out to you as something that you don’t approve of, be gentle, be kind, and try to not judge but to understand.

Many, many people wrote about names—why they chose porn names and so forth. One essay, ‘What’s in a Name’ by a producer called Edward Lapple mentions a study done in 2014 by statistician Jon Millward. He ran 10,000 porn stars names (as in pseudonyms) and other biometrics and types of scenes through various mathy-things and came up with some very interesting findings. I’ll put a link to the page in the show notes. You know any scientific paper with the phrase, ‘Fisting, I’m looking at you,’ is worth the read.

There are two essays by Jesse Jackman—he’s the only contributor with two entries. Both are very good—one is about how his employer took it (marvelously everyone should get that reaction) and the other is how his mother took it—also, not terrible. This quote comes from the second essay (‘Mom, I’m a Porn Star’) and happens after Jackman stops by his mother’s house unannounced. He goes to use her computer and discovers his, as he describes it ‘VERY X-rated’ blog open on the monitor.

My blog talks extensively about how porn has changed my life for the better. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. I’m excited, empowered, and confident.

A pretty good number of contributors talk about what a positive influence porn and sex work in general has had on their lives and how their loved ones have seen that change for the better. Everything all the time isn’t sunshine and roses, but no job is like that.

Reading about highly vulnerable moments in a person’s life can make you feel as though you know them, when you really don’t, but there were certain people I wanted to get to know better. Many of the people I’ve quoted here and others I didn’t have the space for. Tina Horn was one. I just loved the way she used language.

In ‘Exhibitionists and Exposure’ she describes being a dominatrix as:

…the best paid improv gig in town.

which I really like. I’d be interested in hearing from others in that profession to see if they concur with that assessment.

Later, she describes herself as a ‘sexual extrovert’, as in:

They knew I was supporting myself being a sexual extrovert,

referring to her parents knowing she had something to do with sex work in one form or another. I really like the way she writes. Her first book is called Love Not Given Lightly—it’s also published by Three L Media—and her essay makes me want to read it very much. Her twitter is @tinahornsass. She also has a podcast called Why Are People Into That?! The title alone makes me want to listen to it. Tina—if you’re listening to this—contact me!

Several people talked about the sheer crazy-making whack-a-doody runaround involved in trying to get paid if you’re involved in any kind of sex work. That could be it’s own show. Legal sex work like porn and erotica and cam work—PayPal and Chase and just all the people won’t process payment for you. Because. Don’t get me started. Link to more info in the show notes. They shut down people’s private personal banking accounts. Because they can. I’ll leave it there.

Because I can’t quote everything at you I’d like I’ll just say Madison Young’s essay about raising a child and being as age-appropriately out as possible was eye-opening and … I’m going to go with eye-opening. That child is going to meet some very repressed peers out in the world in comparison.

Jack HammerXL’s story is particularly affecting—he lost a lot due to what I’m going to call a colossal dickpencil, but he’s making the best of it.

Joanna Angel’s essay (‘Porn Made Me Like My Parents’) is about the very beginning of her site Burning Angel and its convergence with punk. She certainly had an unusual childhood.

Stoya has a piece, as does Nina Hartley because of course she does—does that woman sleep? She has more energy than I do.

Usually in collections—whether it’s short stories or essays—some pieces are stronger than others, but in this one I think every piece earned its place. Some will resonate more than others with each reader, but they’re all well-written and they all come from the heart. Some are funny—or have funny moments, at least—and some are infuriating. Others prove how surprising family can be.

I would recommend this to everyone. If you enjoy porn then definitely—get to know the people who make it, they’re actually pretty awesome humans. But even if you’re not interested and you think it’s wrong, wrong, wrong, give this a read. Try to understand why the people who make porn do the jobs they do, you’ll be surprised. This is definitely a 5 of 5.

At the start of each piece was a brief bio on the writer that included their social media handle or website, which you can see here.