by Furry Girl

08.02.15

I was reading some recent thoughts on sex work from Brooke Magnanti, which carried the obligatory disclaimer, "I am by any measure an incredibly privileged white, well-educated, successful ex-sex worker & as such a poster child of choicey-choiceness." Having not done much of reading of sex worker blogs in the last few months, I was especially struck by this standard opening many visible (ex) sex workers use.

I've seen these disclaimers countless times, and generally tried to avoid them on my blog. It isn't that I don't acknowledge that I have more privilege than most of world's population - I'm white, middle class, and have had a reasonably successful life, free from famine, displacement, violence, illness, and disability. However, I avoid privilege disclaimers of my opinions for two reasons: the way the left deals with "privilege" is simply as an insult to be avoided and defended against rather than an evolving dynamic to ponder, and because admissions of privilege are starkly one-sided in sex work debates, and I don't want to contribute to that.

Why is it that "our side" feels so constantly obligated to disclaim our ideas as coming from a position of privilege, but anti-sex worker activists - many of whom have much higher salaries than the sex workers they lambast as "privileged" - never say a single word about their own economic/racial/education status?  When you have a debate and on one side are all these "I am privileged, but..." arguments, and on the other, no such acknowledgement ever, then it sets up an appearance that professional feminists and anti-sex work activists are the down-trodden victims.  And we all know it's bullshit, but we still perpetuate it be defensively prefacing everything we think with, "I am privileged, but..." This disclaimer has the effect in lefty circles of being read as, "My opinion doesn't matter because I am actually an oppressive, obtuse, and shitty person."

Most of the sex workers I've known have been from lower and middle class backgrounds, who have gone onto to become the same or inching up the economic ladder a notch or two. We are not a very privileged or powerful group, honestly. Being a sex worker, even a "privileged" one, is less profitable than being a feminist academic. The wealthiest and most successful sex workers I know of are ones who own homes. Not 6 bedroom palaces on the water with yachts in front and a collection of designer furniture and appliances inside, but basic middle class homes. Think about that - you are held up as an icon of economic eliteness and ruthless capitalism because you can afford the things that other middle class adults in your country can also afford.

To me, there's actually nothing more emblematic of the concept of privilege than being a professional feminist - whether an academic position or working for an organization that campaigns against sex workers. I can't imagine a better job than to get paid a large salary with benefits to read and think about the things that interest you, and then to tell others your opinions. I do that every day, but for me it's a hobby, it's not a high-paying career with tenure. Which is why it makes my blood boil that professional feminists - who, again, have a job which is easier and pays a lot more than just about any sex worker makes - are the ones droning on about how people like me are "privileged," and "not representative." (As though there even is such a thing as "representative" for sex work. Sex workers are not a monolith, spanning all cultures, all races, all social strata, all sizes, all genders. Sex work is perhaps the most diverse occupation, so any one is "not representative.")

Is there a better way to handle these things than our current method of prefacing everything we say with, "I admit I am privileged, but..."?  I don't know.  I'm in favor of honest discussions of the ways privilege affect our lives, but think the left botches this issue by invariably turning it into a shouting match of accusations and insults.  I do hope we're aware of how we're tacitly creating this absurd framing that it's sex workers and sex workers' rights advocates who are the ones in a position of privilege, whereas moneyed and powerful feminist academics, lobbying organizations, and celebrities are representatives of the weak and voiceless.

It's an upside-down world when we are expected to apologize constantly for our "privilege" when we advocate against criminalization policies that enable violence, rape, and abuse - policies which disproportionately impact the least privileged sex workers.





by Furry Girl

04.13.15

"One of the most common – and offensive – questions that porn performers get from viewers is, 'what are you going to do after this?' It’s as if porn star can’t exist, be looked at and wished upon, without viewers imagining that same star collapsing. Or perhaps better said, some fans have trouble meeting porn stars without expressing their anxieties of having watched. Another way of saying, 'What will you do after this' is 'I’ll stop watching you some day!' or 'One day you won’t be desirable anymore!'

It’s just rude for fans to ask that question. But it is important for performers to be able to have an answer."

-- Conner Habib in How To Be an Ex-Porn Star: 10 Tips on Taking a Break on connerhabib.wordpress.com





by Furry Girl

04.11.15

firstshoot-1

The first sex work I did was a solo porn shoot for a big "naughty teen" company based out of Los Angeles.  That photo is from my very first shoot, taken in a park in LA that I've since recognized in many movies and TV shows as a generic "wooded area".  (We worked fast, because the photographer would have gotten fined if he'd been caught shooting there without a permit.)  I've seen the park several times in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it always makes me laugh to see it.  "Hey, look at Picard and Riker on the alien world/holodeck where I first dropped my panties for cash!"  I've never really written about my first experience in porn because it's embarrassing, tacky, kinda gross, and not very interesting.  And besides, memoir-y shit isn't really my thing.

That first day of porning was in 2002, when I was freshly 18 years old, and at a time that I would have been a senior in high school had I not dropped out years earlier.  (High school porn star!)  I'd started exploring the idea of working in the jiz bizz when I was 17, browsing "amateur teen girls" web site for casting calls, trying to get a handle on how much money I could make in the sex industry.  Porn seemed like a good balance - far safer seeming than prostitution, but still paying a hell of a lot more than the jobs I was qualified for.  I wouldn't say that I was "financially coerced" - that term is silly and obtuse, but feminists love it because they thrive on denying agency to other women.  I made a choice for a job I found far less repellant than the idea of community college or waiting tables.  I was comfortable with my body, ballsy, exhibitionistic, and "sex-positive" before I'd been aware there was a label for it.  I was going to find a way to have a cool job in the sex industry, make money, and have lots of free time.

I'd spent my last two "high school" years bouncing around the west coast after my violent nutball mother kicked me out when I was 15.  There were great times, like when I cobbled the money together to rent a rustic cabin on a river in the middle of nowhere for a couple of months.  And then there were times when I just stayed up all night, wandering around and cold because I had no place to go, listening to music on a Sony Discman CD player.  Everything worked out in the end, I learned a lot about the world and read a ton of books, and the one time I ever felt in real danger while hitchiking, the guy was too drunk to chase me after I fled from his car.  I accepted at a young age that we are totally alone in the universe and can't depend on other people.  That the sort of radical self-accountability I felt was both terrifying and liberating.  It's because of my teenage background that I always found "naughty teen" websites to be especially absurd in their portrayals of "teen life."

After emailing various companies, and getting some rejections, I found a company that wanted to hire me for the day.  Much to my happiness, I learned that hairy pussy is actually appealing to some porn consumers, so I wouldn't even have to shave.  Bonus!  The rate was $750 for 20 photo shoots, which was all done in an insanely long day where I looked exhausted and pissed off by the end.  I've always hated it when someone recognizes me from that web site, because the photos aren't very good.  "Hey, aren't you ____ from _____!?"  I'd get it occasionally from cam customers and web site fans, since the hairy pussy market is small enough that you might actually be able to remember the models.

As a photographer, I shoot many more photos than I need, whether I'm shooting myself or other people.  Then I delete the ones that aren't good.  I think that's how basically every photographer operates.  My first porn photographer - a balding, profusely sweaty, middle aged white dude whose photo should have been in the dictionary under "creepy pervert" - shot only the minimum number of photos required by his boss for a publishable photo set.  He'd count to 80 or 100 (or whatever it was) and then we'd stop and set up for a different shoot.  Oh, how embarrassing it was to see some of the things that made it online.  I didn't even save the worst ones because I was ashamed of how bad I looked, but here's one example:

firstshoot-4

There were so many unflattering photos: of me blinking, looking tired, looking angry, or mouth agape oddly because I was in the middle of speaking.  By the time we got to the following set on his balcony, I hadn't eaten in 8 or 9 hours, and I just wanted to leave so badly.  Isn't that the face of a teen who desperately wants your cock?  Look how horny and excited she is!

firstshoot-5

That's why I describe my first foray into porn as an "anti-sexual" experience.  I wasn't oppressed or molested or anything exciting, but it was just so tedious to go through the poses the photographer requested, all while he kept asking me, "Why aren't you wet yet?  Are you wet now?"  Yes, so wet.  So horny.  The photographer reminded me every so often that "most" of the girls he photographed got so excited being naked that they just had to give him a blowjob.  Yeah fucking right, weirdo, I thought to myself.

One thing that embarrasses me to this day is the fucking panties the photographer required me to wear.  I'd brought a bag of my own clothing, but he declared almost all of it to not be what a teen girl wears, so in most of the shoots, I'm wearing these hideous floral granny panties.  I was also wearing one of the gross photographer's shirts in several photo sets, because yeah - a large men's polo shirt and granny panties is totally a normal outfit you'd expect of an 18-year-old.  It still creeps me out that he saved the ugly panties from each shoot as his trophy from each model.  I wish I'd gone and caught scabies before the shoot.

firstshoot-2

He tried to talk me down to $600 at the end of the day even though we agreed to $750, but I held firm, and he acted like I was the one being rude.  I googled the photographer just now, and it looks like he's still employed by the same porn site, still taking the same old photos of bored young women.  [Update: in looking for an email from someone else, I found this message from my photographer from 2011: "furry girl, you want another shoot? can get you $1000-$1200 for 2 short easy days you still hairy etc.."  Wow, what a deal!  I could make less than I did the first time!  I like how he considered having a sweaty dude pester me to get wet while trying to get me to suck his dick as a "short easy day".  I never replied to his email.]

My first day as a sex worker was long, boring, and fairly uneventful.  I realized, though, that this was not what I wanted to do for a living.  Maybe I would have gone into mainstream porn if I'd had a better first experience, rather than being in some weird dude's ugly apartment all day hoping he didn't try to stick a finger inside me.  I started researching how to build your own porn site, and decided to go that route.  I taught myself everything.  It worked out pretty well for me, and I don't regret it.  I built a rad little business that sustained me for over a decade.  I'm proud of what I accomplished in the porn industry.

Yesterday, I concluded my porn career.  I didn't even plan for it to be the last time, so there was no big blow-out sale on my pussy.  After I stopped updating my porn site regularly so I could focus on building my second career, I'd pop in and do some cam shows when I had the time and needed the extra money.  But, as time went on, and I logged in less frequently, so disappeared my regulars, and therefore, my reliable income.  (My websites are staying online for now, since there's no sense in not receiving a trickle of residual income.)  I'm currently between jobs for a month before things really kick in with my awesome new career and consume my life (in a good way), and I planned to spend a bunch of time camming.  Things had been going slowly, and I wasn't making much money.  On my final night on cam, I had one guy gush about how he was excited to see me, tell me how much he loved my web site, and he thanked me for blazing trails for unshaved porn.  There were half a dozen forgettable striptease sessions, and one with some pushy prick who signed off, "FUCK YOU!" because I wouldn't comply with his requests.  Fairly uneventful, just like my first time.  I meant to log in again tonight, but I just couldn't do it.  I don't want to spend my last couple of weeks of free time entertaining other people for barely more than minimum wage.  I want to read some books, binge watch some TV, ride my bike around and enjoy the springtime weather, and do basically anything that's not sitting at my desk being flirty and cute for spare change.  I sat down and wrote this blog post instead, and now I'm going to go enjoy some wine and Netflix with my cat.

 

Don't worry, internet, I'll be your naughty cheerleader (in the world's ugliest panties) forever.

firstshoot-3





by Furry Girl

07.28.14

There's a wonderful new photo project at WomenAgainstFeminism.Tumblr.com that you must read.  It shows the huge political diversity of women who are standing up against feminism.  (See, you guys!  It's not just a few random whores and Sarah Palin types.)  I love this Tumblr, and I wish I'd thought of it.  Here's my contribution:

againstfeminism





by Furry Girl

04.24.14

Though not nearly as big a list as my previous roundup of mentions of sex workers in US diplomatic cables, I did take a look though the latest Wikileaks release for the term "prostitute."  The Carter Cables, as they've been titled, are 367124 new items in the WikiLeaks Public Library of US Diplomacy.

* An October 1973 cable from South Korea complains about how "unenlightened" and unconcerned with "individual rights" the country's judicial system is because its prosecutors are appealing an initial "not guilty" verdict against two US soldiers who raped a local prostitute. The military seeks to get the men off the hook by finding possible technical errors in due process.

* An August 1974 cable from the Netherlands reports on Christians living in tents protesting in the red light district, who claim they fear arson attack from "100 pimps": "POLICE SPOKESMAN TOLD LEADERS BILL LOWRY AND JOE GREER THAT GROUP COULD PREACH GOSPEL ON STREETS BUT COULD NOT PREVENT PROSTITUTES FROM RECEIVING CUSTOMERS, WHO RESENTED DISTURBANCES IN VICINITY OF BROTHELS. HE SAID THAT POLICE WILL ARREST ANY MEMBER OF GROUP WHO VIOLATES DUTCH LAW AS WELL AS TAKE ACTION AGAINST ANY PROSTITUTE OR PROCURER WHO ASSAULTS MEMBER OF GROUP. IN RESPONSE, ACCORDING TO POLICE CONTACT, LOWRY AND GREER INDICATED THAT GROUP WILL CONTINUE TO PREACH IN RED LIGHT DISTRICT, BUT PROMISED THAT MEMBERS WILL OPERATE WITHIN FRAMEWORK OF DUTCH LAW... LOWRY SAID THAT HE HAD INFORMED POLICE OF RUMOR THAT 100 PIMPS MIGHT ATTEMPT TO BURN DOWN TENT SAME NIGHT."

* A March 1975 cable from Malta cable tells of international military solidarity in helping a US Navy seaman who murdered a prostitute secretly escape the country: "SEAMAN HAD BEEN CHARGED IN 1971 WITH THE MURDER OF A MALTESE PROSTITUTE BUT HAD BEEN FOUND TO BE INSANE BY THE MALTESE COURTS AND THEREAFTER INCARCERATED IN A MALTESE MENTAL HOSPITAL. OUR BASIC ARGUMENT WAS THAT SINCE NEITHER WE NOR GOM DESIRED ANY PUBLICITY CONCERNING THE SEAMAN'S EVACUATION FROM MALTA, WE THOUGHT THE SIMPLEST AND SUREST WAY WOULD BE VIA A QUICK TURN-AROUND USN FLIGHT TO THE RAF PORTION OF THE AIRFIELD HERE. GOM ATTORNEY GENERAL MIZZI, TO WHOM AMBASSADOR MADE HIS APPROACH, ACCEPTED THAT THIS WOULD BE BEST WAY OF AVOIDING PUBLICITY AND SOMEWHAT NERVOUSLY AGREED TO PUT SUGGESTION TO MINTOFF. WE RECEIVED AN IMMEDIATE AND VIGOROUS NEGATIVE RESPONSE: 'NO USG MILITARY AIRCRAFT OF ANY KIND.' AS SOME ADDRESSEES AWARE, RAF THEN CAME TO OUR RESCUE AND EVACUATED SEAMAN FOR US."

* Three 1974-1975 cables from Greece discuss some typical interactions between US soldiers and prostitutes. American sailors charged with beating and robbing prostitutes in two separate incidents: "TO DATE, GREEK PRESS HAS NOT GIVEN AS WIDE OR EMOTIONAL COVERAGE TO THESE INCIDENTS AS IN PREVIOUS INSTANCES OF ASSAULTS BY U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL ON GREEK CITIZENS." Five members of the US Army suspected in murdering an alleged prostitute in Crete.  A follow-up to that report notes the group of men getting in "altercations" with cab drivers on the same name as the murder.

* A July 1977 cable from Chad details the murder of a Florida man for attempting to rob a prostitute: "HE MET A LOCAL PROSTITUTE AT THE 'LE SELECT' NIGHT CLUB AND DECIDED TO GO HOME WITH HER... SOMETIME IN THE EARLY MORNING OF 1 JULY, SUBJECT HAD FINISHED WITH THE GIRL AND WANTED TO DEPART. HE BECAME INVOLVED IN A DISPUTE WITH THE GIRL ABOUT MONEY. APPARENTLY HE DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY HER, AND SHE DEMANDED SOMETHING OF VALUE AS COLLATERAL. A SCUFFLE ENSUED AND SUBJECT PUSHED THE GIRL AGAINST A WALL, KICKED HER DOOR DOWN, AND RAN AWAY. BUT THE GIRL LIVED IN A WALLED COMPOUND, AND SUBJECT HAD TO SCALE THE WALL TO GET AWAY. WHILE HE WAS SCALING THE WALL, THE GIRL CALLED OUT THAT THERE WAS A THIEF. WHILE MR. TEOFANI WAS ON TOP OF THE WALL, PREPARING TO JUMP TO THE STREET BELOW, A NEIGHBOR THREW A LOCAL STYLE THROWING KNIFE THAT PENETRATED MR. TEOFANY'S CHEST OVER THE HEART. HE APPARENTLY FELL TO THE STREET, SUCCEEDED IN PULLING OUT THE KNIFE, STAGGERED A FEW FEET AND DIED. ACCORDING TO THE POLICE, SUBJECT WAS NOT ROBBED AS HAD ORIGINALLY BEEN THOUGHT."





by Furry Girl

04.22.14

"'Authenticity': It's one of feminist porn's favorite words.  It pops up frequently on Bay Area-based websites such as The Feminist Porn Network and The Crash Pad Series.  The Feminist Porn Awards decree that in order for a film to win, it must 'depict genuine pleasure, agency, and desire for all performers.'  But I'm beginning to wonder if "authentic" is just another genre of porn, like 'MILF' or 'casting couch,' that places performers in a box for marketability...

Along with [Arabelle] Raphael, I fear that the concept of 'authenticity' has entered the feminist porn movement into a dangerous game of respectability politics.  I would like to see more emphasis placed on fair labor practices than on whether or not I have a 'real' orgasm.."

-- Siouxsie Q in Authentically Yours: Feminist Porn Gets Political on sfweekly.com

The piece would have been more aptly titled, "Why feminist porn is just another apolitical industry that sells stuff."





by Furry Girl

02.01.14

"One of the more remarkable results of the rise of industrial capitalism was that, for the first time in human history, the poorest classes of people gained access to luxury goods.  Another remarkable result was that wealthier people who claimed to be allies of the poor told them this was bad for them.  Recent developments in American popular music demonstrate that this paradox lives on.  Last Sunday night, Macklemore and Lorde, artists who have built their careers upon songs attacking the desire for luxuries among African-Americans, received the highest commendations from the music establishment in the form of multiple Grammy awards.  Their songs continue a long tradition, rooted in progressivism, of protests against the pleasures of the poor."

-- Thaddeus Russell in The Progressive Lineage of Macklemore’s And Lorde’s Attacks On the Pleasures of the Poor on reason.com





by Furry Girl

12.01.13

Like many other things of major cultural significance - Hooters, War Games, and My Little Pony - I'm turning 30 this year.  As a December baby whose birthday was always overshadowed by Christmas, I now celebrate my momentous occasion for the entire month.  So, happy 30th birthday to me!

I can't say I feel old quite yet.  I definitely haven't "mellowed out" over time, but I have spent less time blogging about sex work related topics.  After a decade in the industry, every "new" debate/issue that comes up feels like a rehash of something that was argued about years ago.  I feel like I've covered every angle of these debates myself, dozens of times, and it gets boring, even though I still feel engaged by a desire to improve life for sex workers everywhere.  At the end of the day, you either believe that humans must be free to make their own choices that fit their individual needs and circumstances, or you believe that people need to be herded like cattle and subjected to violence for moral/ideological noncompliance "for their own good."  (Which is a major source of why I just can't identify with the left as I get older.  Too much of the intellectual foundation of the left is based on an imperialist attitude that "we enlightened" need to "help" and take control of the lives of  "victims"- notably women, especially those in developing countries, whether they want "help" or not.  Mistress Matisse phrased it best in a 2007 blog post when she said, "sometimes help is just the nice word for control."  A chasm almost always exists between genuine solidarity and what outsiders think of as "saving" others.)

I'm still working on career two, a challenging field that combines my interests in both science and helping others (in an effective and constructive way).  I think I'll probably completely retire from the jizz biz in a couple of years, though I plan to keep all of my sites online forever.  I've learned a lot of awesome new things, and every time I'm trusted to do something more skilled or important, it feels like such a big step forward.  My supervisor praises me for being such a meticulous and organized person, which is great, considering that I have no formal training at anything I'm doing.  If you've been an independent sex worker/small business owner, that tenacity and work ethic will carry over into other lines of work, even if you have a radically different skill set to master.  I really believe that successful sex workers are people who have the ability to be successful at anything.  If you can make it work in such a weird and stigmatized industry where so many cards are stacked against you, relying on your own creativity, cunning, and boldness, you can do all sorts of things.

My mate and I are going to Fiji for a scuba diving trip from mid-December to New Years.  I'm really excited to get away from cold rainy Seattle, even though it's during the busy holiday travel season.  (I'm getting accustomed to planning around the fact that most jobs only let you get away with taking significant time off around Christmas.)  I spent a lot of time rounding up the best budget hotels to stay with great reefs nearby, including a day at Beqa Lagoon, which is supposed to be one of the best shark dives in the world.

If you miss me from the peak of my blogging days, I still tweet a few times a day, often with news items you'd find interesting.  And plenty of stupid funny shit, too.

I'm planning to spend some time camming from January 2-5, because I don't need to work and will feel cute after getting getting a good tan in Fiji.  If you've been missing naked me, that's your next chance to catch me live.

Want to wish me a happy birthday?  I have an Amazon wishlist, and I would especially love anything marked "highest priority," like the SeaLife underwater digital camera, or if you want to be crowned my best fan ever, the $1400 underwater housing for my DSLR camera.  (I'd love to get into underwater wildlife photography, but I can't justify spending that much on a hobby when I'm making so little money right now.)  You can also help me while getting something great for yourself by buying closeout items - like lube, books, candles, washable menstrual pads, and strapon harnesses - from my sexy store.  And since SWAAY is still running at a net loss that I'm closer to erasing, you could also buy a pro-sex worker shirt or cute stickers from that store as a present to yourself or your favorite friends.





by Furry Girl

11.23.13

"The problem is that female competition and aggression don't always look like the male versions...

Females tend to threaten each other with social isolation rather than violence.  Among social animals, being cast out of the group can mean death, or very few chances to mate.  Among humans, perhaps the most social animals we know, the 'mean girls' phenomenon is a perfect example of low energy competition.  Nobody is beaten, but we know for sure who has lost the battle."

-- Annalee Newitz  in Evolution is steered by aggressive competition between females on io9.com





by Furry Girl

"If you make a thousand dollars a week, every week, you’re still only making around $50,000.  This is by no means money to sneeze at; it’s more than my mother ever made, and she had a Master’s degree.  But consider that according to Wikipedia, in 2006 the average weekly wage in Manhattan was $1,453.  A thousand dollars a week is good sex worker money.  It feels rich to me and always will.  But in New York City, it doesn’t even make you average. You will be able to pay your bills.  You can save.  You might even be able to afford health insurance next year.  You will not be able to go on shopping sprees at Nordstrom’s.

Writing checks to my landlord and Time Warner certainly feels luxurious to me, but it’s not … seductive.  It’s just baseline what I should be able to do with a fucking job."

-- Calico Lane  in The Myth of Seductive Money on misscalico.com

The comment I left:

Excellent post.

I have never made the sums of money everyone assumes from the insta-rich reputation of online porn. I started in 2002, not 1996, so the bubble for my part of the industry had already burst by the time I was 18. I was happy to make a lower middle class income at a job I love (because I’m a genuine pervert), but as you said, a grand a week doesn’t add up to an income that hooks you like heroin. I went on a date once with a guy who assumed I must make “a few hundred thousand” a year. I burst out laughing. My best weeks were when I earned $2000, but then I also had plenty of $500 weeks, too. I know so many other sex workers who are also approximately lower-middle class, but no one ever thinks of us when drawing up the dichotomy that the only two ways to be a whore are if you’re a destitute, abused street-based worker selling $10 blowjobs for crack, or an elite escort who accompanies celebrities and bankers on trips to Dubai. Most sex workers seem like we’re somewhere on the spectrum of working-to-middle class.

The punchline is how often professional feminists and other such types (who often quietly came from wealthy families themselves) and who make more money than I ever did in porn accuse me and sex workers like me of being some sort of privileged elite who, unlike “real” women, don’t “really” work. Shit, I wish!





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