Friday, August 10, 2007

A henna tattoo and musing on starting sex work

Last weekend, sunny day, Linda and I got my father to drop us off at the local fair. Having the attention span of an 11 year old I decided that I would simply DIE if I didn’t get a henna tattoo. So before you could say, go bo-peep go, I was inside the henna tent getting my tat painted on.

So while the girl, K., is painting on the henna we have a talk which may have started with weather but soon drifted to creepy guys and sex work (as these idle conversations often do). I had been getting a lot of emails recently from devotees since I did that piece on them for a disability carnival. Apparently doing a long post saying; “Hey, I’m finding this wheelchair thing kinda emotional, please stay the hell away from me” is translated in Devotee speak to “Hey, why don’t you email me; I’m just playing hard to get for those other guys because I’m really waiting for YOU.”

K. is pretty interested in the idea of sex work where you just have to take your socks on and off to make money. She tells me about a webpage (which I forgot to write down – curses!) which lists all the ways to make money on the internet in sex work which doesn’t involve sex or getting naked. She says she remembers that standing in high heels shoes on a guy’s dick is really in demand. I am thinking “Well, standing in high heels is no problem but the supply of guys who are willing to be stood on might be a bit harder.” But K. and I amuse ourselves with the thought that no matter how bad things gets, there are always odd ways to make money off (strange) men.

Anyway, with my dad driving home I tell this tid-bit about high heels to Linda when my father says emphatically, “No thank you.” I’m puzzled. “Uh dad, I don’t think this opportunity is open to you.....” I know my dad is looking ahead for things to do post retirement but this is more a chick enterprise. Wrong thing to say. Apparently my dad is NOT COOL with his daughter talking about work in the sex trade while he is driving. Even when the work, as I pointed out, would be with my clothes ON.

I tried to find this magic web site later: no luck. But I did find a recent book called, Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads and Cashing in on Internet Sexploitation. The author Audacia Ray (background interview here), works for the Museum of Sex and is a famous sex blogger in her own right interviewed over 80 women on how they interact sexually with the internet. One of the major changes she notes is that women dip in and out of things like modeling, kink wear and don’t consider themselves sex workers (since you only do it twice a year to get money for a new tattoo). Audacia is interviewed by Violet Blue, fetish model and sex author for SFGate about the book. Audacia’s response to the question about going to a local cupcake store seems the perfect tongue in cheek rejoiner, “Only if you let me rub frosting on your boobs.” Darn it, what a great line that would have been to use when I did that on-air radio interview at Women’s Power Hour for Zed. On second thought, they didn’t look like the cupcake or frosting crowd.

While Audacia does bring up fetish opportunities like Nose Bondage she does warn that getting outted from sex blogging or sex work is VERY HIGH. Have no fear, I am not exactly the type of person to skulk away; any sex work I do will be blogged about right here first (once this blog becomes pay-per-view). Seriously, am I thinking about sex work? Well, when you have a Ph.D. and absolutely no one will employ you in any sort of work because you a) are sick and can only work short stretches and b) mostly need to work from home; then you start to feel like no one wants you. Only, ta da, suddenly you are getting contacted DAILY by people who pay big money for wheelchair videos and pics (one site which uses all body form female models charges about $150 a download for videos of stuff like doing your nails and dragging your ass from one transfer point to another). So on the one hand; societal rejection. On the other hand; more money in a week than I have made my entire writing career. That dichotomy is playing with my head.

I put the situation and question up on a forum: Should I enter erotic work? Responses so far are 1 yes (though they don’t know why) and the rest all “No.” Most are “no” because “not only is it a sin but you will be helping others to sin” – okay, because God was fine with me encouraging women to masturbate but now God is angry because I am thinking of painting my toes on camera? The other responses were: “Maybe you will meet someone nice this way.” My response to that: EEEEEEEWWWWWWWW! This is not a "Gee, I'm lonely" thing. Yeah, that’s why Pretty Woman is really a recruitment video for prostitution. Want to meet some nice guys? Want to have an all expense paid shopping spree? Go into the sex trade.

Anyway, more about this later since Linda is telling me her opinion of the debate tonight.


Ruth said...

What's sad is how little writers get paid. I watch Meredith working on books and am blown away by the amount of time and work that get put in. Of course many writers don't write for the money - but I think they were better off in the days when they were supported by a royal court. Unless you wrote something they didn't like and you were beheaded.

Back to the drawing board.

kathz said...

When I looke at some of the servile flattery poets (not all) turned out for their patrons I reckon sex work may have been a less degrading alternative. Given the choice, I'd rather sell my body than my mind - but it's not a choice I'm likely to be given at my age.

The questions around sex work are quite complex. I tend to reckon that there's real and appalling exploitation and abuse that needs to be fought. Men's attitude to sex workers can - but doesn't necessarily - reinforce oppressive attitudes to women. At the same time, some of the complaints about sex work and sex workers come from people who want someone to despise. Listening to sex workers - and allowing for wide varieties of attitude and experience - is probably the best starting point.

Getting back to the main point, how does the henna tattoo look? And how long will it last?

tornwordo said...

I see worn $2 flipflops being sold for over $20 simply if accompanied by a picture of the girl wearing said flipflops. I see nothing wrong with making a buck in this way. You can work from home at your pace. Sin my ass. If guys are getting off on the internet, they're not out raping people.

Zephyr said...

I say do it if you're comfortable and think you can handle it. That's not a surprising answer coming from me, is it? *grins* Oh, and tell me all about it, 'cause I might want to do it too if it pays well!

I don't know if I'm the devottee type though. I think I look too....dark?

Donimo said...

I think that sex work can be a great way to turn a profit if you find something to do that fits for you. Given the content of your post on the disability blog carnival, it seems like you've got a bit of figuring to do before you could feel free to pursue marketing your goodies to devotees. Personally, I feel that if one carries any hatred or disgust or antipathy toward the client then the job in the long run will start to really wear on you.

I know someone who was just starting out being a Dom a few years back and she thought her clients were rather pathetic. I explained that while she might not want to be their friend in the day-to-day world, at least she might try to respect that they were pursuing their desires and they were being a little bit brave in connecting with a real live Dom. My friend started to see them differently and told me that her work went better after that. I know people who have done phone sex work and some burned out fast and some have gone on for years. Some distance measured with a bit of respect seems to help.

If you do something online, I hope you find a place where you get paid well and the web owner doesn't get the bulk of the cash. That's the trick: getting your due. There are scores of new porn sites online every day and they aren't there to help women make money, that's for sure!

There are probably some good resources online for people looking to get into the trade. You might try Susie Bright and people like that. Good luck!

Donimo said...

I have to add that while I agree with tornwordo's "it's no sin and you can work at home" position, I can not let it pass that he feels that you can prevent someone from committing violent rape if he is just kept at home wanking on a pair of used panties. Rape is a violent act and is not even remotely related to any non-violent sexual fantasy or fetish.

Daisy said...

Are the devos harassing you? If so, sorry about that! But is just the fact of someone being a devo offensive to you?

Or do you not care, but just wish they'd keep it to themselves?

What about women devos? As a lesbian, is this as offensive to you as straight male devos?

Sign me curious!

KateJ said...

Loved the picture of you getting your henna tattoo! Interesting to hear how long before it wears off... or how easy they are to remove if you just hate them!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Ruth: yes, it is a wierd obsession - writing, one which requires so much time for a little reward at a much later date.

Kathz: Well, I think I've already sold my mind so not much left to lose I guess. The tatoo turned a nice orange red, similar to my hair and now it down to a fading brown.

Tornwordo: See, now I am interested in selling flip flops - this sounds like the kind of exploitation I enjoy.

Zephyr: I think you are a bit too self aware and enjoying it (the seuxal not the disability) for most devotees, but I am sure there are a few out there for you - maybe BDSM crutches devotees?

Domino: Well, since I would be doing primarily for revenge, I suppose that wouldn't work for the long term. I do have "contact" as it were with real life devotees, but the ones I know seem to have no idea of boundries.

Daisy: My core objection to devo's is that body objectification is taken to a higher level - I know that everyone has "likes" sexually and as long as it is between consenting adults, that's fine. I know that people are attracted to "types" - however, people have relationships with people not types. If someone is only interested in my because it is me + wheelchair, and if I get better, they are not interest, that's complete objectification isn't it? I'm also agianst people who have relationships entirely on any appearance - the whole, date her if she is beautiful, have sex but don't bother talking to her because essentially she is a walking talking sex doll.

Kate: I like the henna - I will probably get another one. They last about 2 weeks and are fun.

Ms. Pet said...

Hey hon! I've thought about this myself in the last couple of years or so. About two years I was quite serious as I was feeling quite good about myself sexually, empowered and all that. LOL

I know Zephyr and I have talked about starting an erotic photo site for women with disabilities. I've been wanting to do it for ages, first as a sexual exploration thing and then as a money thing. In regards to BIG money on the Internet...

I've thought that selling panties is the way to go. *pause* "hmmmmm," and I know someone who works at fed ex! LOL