This topic will require more than one post. There is simply too much to cover in one sitting (my attention span isn’t that long). Enjoy Part I!
I was 23 when I entered the sex industry, and I was terrified. My first gig involved taking artistic nude photographs for money. Typically I would make about $150 for an hour or two of shots. I would find the photographers on Craigslist – the site that veteran sex workers like myself remember fondly – before the Craigslist killings took place and the site limited access to adult ads.
Even though I was terrified, I wasn’t worried for my safety (I had always been drawn to dangerous and risky things), and I definitely wasn’t scared about my reputation (insert Joan Jett song here). What i was really scared of was expressing myself. I had grown up in an oppressive, Catholic household where sexuality was shamed, pleasure was punished (I know, the irony), and women who showed off their bodies were sluts. Growing up, I was told that masturbation would send me to hell, and it’s no surprise that I had numerous unplanned pregnancies before the age of 18 – due to the lack of education and awareness. So, it would be safe to say that at 23, I was a prude. I barely knew my body, and even though I had slept with a lot of men in my past, I wasn’t proud of the feminine figure or the sexuality I possessed. What sexuality? I think, looking back.
My self-determination and fear were what motivated me. I had grown tired of the crippling anxiety that occurred when I attempted to express my sexuality in the most simplest forms (manner of dress, etc.). So, I decided to take the plunge. Baring it all in an environment where expression was encouraged, welcomed, celebrated, and compensated did wonders for my self-esteem and self-expression. When I looked at the shots I felt like I was staring at a stranger. I had never seen myself so exposed, transparent, and willing. It felt great.