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

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

11.22.13

"I cried on the way to the hospital. It was the third time I ended up there on account of my erection. I'd considered myself drug-free for the latter half of my life. But I'd spent my entire twenties consuming erectile dysfunction pharmaceuticals. Over the past two years, on a more-than-frequent basis.

It was normal by default. To be a male porn star meant that you swallowed pills or shot up your dick.

I didn't think of it as fake. I'd found my process of arousal and allowed a sense of sincerity into much of my work. But the fear of failure always loomed. The work-flow of modern porn did not allow for the unpredictability of human performance. My psyche didn't allow for it either. I'd wrapped up my identity in the ability to fuck anyone under most any condition.

The choice came to either fuck like a god until I couldn't fuck at all, or to bring my sex back down to earth. An emergency room doctor had my attention once he'd opened a hole in my penis and let it bleed out. 'You keep doing this and you're not going to be able to get an erection, period.' There was something in his voice. It suggested that I'd already gone too far.

'What the fuck am I going to do?' I said out loud while driving home. It was meant for something greater than myself - a god I didn't believe in."

-- Danny Wylde in Transition on trvewestcoastfiction.blogspot.com  Also see his post, RIP Danny Wylde

Danny dislikes me, but I wish him all the best in his transition into new things, because I'm sure he'll be great at at.





by Furry Girl

03.30.13

I am pleased to see that a new fight is gearing up against the United States' horrible 2257 regulations, and I want to tell my readers about why "a porn regulation" should matter to them as sex workers, sex workers' rights activists, and privacy rights supporters.

"2257" is shorthand for the numerical code of the irritatingly-named Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act.  You can read about it in detail on Wikipedia, but the short of it is that when you appear in adult productions in the US, you as the performer/model must give the production company/photographer two forms of identification and sign a bunch of paperwork promising that you are over 18.  (Which is its own absurdity, because there have been a few instances of 16 or 17 year olds getting fake IDs to work in porn, and any contract a minor signs is void anyway.  The contract doesn't do a thing to guarantee age, and does not prevent a determined teenager from working in porn.  It's the producer who is punished, even if they do everything they possibly can to screen out a lying underage worker.)  2257 laws, like all ridiculous, anti-privacy, anti-free speech measures, are "to save the children."

There are many good reasons to oppose 2257 regulations as they stand now, not the least of which is that it's an attempt by the government to strangle the sex industry and stifle sexual expression online through red tape and excessive paperwork-keeping requirements.  As someone who both appears in and produces online porn, 2257 is a problem from all sides for me, but there are two facets which I oppose the most.  (I covered this topic in my talk in privacy at the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, and I really wish more sex workers understood what happens to their information once they sign waivers and let their IDs be photocopied.)

First off, 2257 laws are a horrifying problem in terms of privacy for models and performers.  I am required to keep records of the name and legal address of all people who appear on my websites, and to keep copies of two forms of ID, one of which must be government-issued and have a photo.  If I pay them over $600 US in a year, I am required to note their social security number for tax purposes.  I am required to keep these model releases and IDs organized by legal names and stage names, and where the images appear.  I am required to have these records available for inspection by the federal government to prove that my web sites are not actually filled with child pornography.

As a small-scale pornographer who only produces exclusive content, I keep all of these records to myself, but with the vast majority of porn, content is shot with the purpose of re-selling and licensing it out to many sources, which means a performer who thinks they are entrusting their name to one photographer may end up giving it to hundreds of people.  Any random person can search for companies reselling and licensing adult content, and with a purchase, buy performer's legal names, social security numbers, and addresses.  I've even seen online content sellers that allow new customers to try their content for free, meaning they are literally just handing out copies of performer's personally-identifying data to anyone who asks.  This should rightly scare anyone who has ever signed a model release for an adult company.  I even hesitate to talk about it this part of the porn industry publicly, because it's the easiest way for a stalker to find a porn performer.  It's not as easy as Googling, "Sally Sweetsucker home address," but a determined stalker can comb through enough adult content resellers and have a good shot at finding their target.

My second main problem with 2257 as a small-scale pornographer is that I am required by law to list my legal name and home address (because that is my business location and primary place of production) on the front page of my web sites.  (This is not allowed to be a PO box or an office you rent just for the purpose of record-keeping.  It has to be staffed during business hours, and where you actually shoot your content.  That might work for a big studio with a building with security, but not for small-timers.)  In my decade in the business, I have only ever met one small-scale producer that complied with that portion of 2257 regulations, and I was shocked that they did.  Independent pornographers and sex workers like myself should not have to choose between a fear of federal prosecutions and prison time for violating this aspect of 2257 laws, and a fear of overzealous stalkers coming to our homes to rape or assault us. When I started in 2002, it was allowed to have an attorney serve as the official record-keeper of your 2257 documentation, but that changed years ago during the Bush administration.  Many small-scale pornographers simply pulled out and found new jobs, too scared of making the horrible choice of federal prison or being attacked by stalkers.  No one should have to make that choice.  No one should be put in such an extreme a lose-lose position.

There have been legal challenges in the past to 2257 laws, but the fight continues.  The Free Speech Coalition has launched a new web site asking for help funding their battle, and you should support it.  2257 laws endanger the lives and safety of sex workers, but this issue is never discussed in sex worker advocacy circles.  Porn production regulations are more institutionalized and abstract that the immediate concerns of escorts/prostitutes/etc who fear arrest, assault, and rape, but it's just as real, as just as serious.  Please support the effort to fight against 2257 laws, and spread the word.





by Furry Girl

03.16.13

I only had a handful of online interactions with Shannon Larratt, but I admired him, and I am saddened to hear from our mutual friend Bella Vendetta that he has taken his own life after years of struggling with the pain of a degenerative medical condition.  You can read his farewell blog post here.

Shannon Larratt isn't a household name by any means, but if you're someone who knows your stuff about porn, kink, body modification, subculture, and "the extreme and weird," he was an icon.  I've been ranting a lot recently about the feminist porn and sex-positivity scenes for their self-absorbed nature, endlessly lavishing praise on themselves about how "revolutionary" they are for owning vibrators or publishing punk pinups.  Hearing of Shannon's death makes their silly claims ring all the more hollow and insulting.

Shannon wasn't a pornographer, but he was a true pioneer when it comes to explicit imagery and pushing the bounds of freedom of expression.  As the founder of BMEzine, a long-running body modification community, Shannon boldly published the most "extreme" and "shocking" imagery on the web: the "BME Hard" section of his web site contained photos of voluntary castration, cliterodectomy, nipple removals, testicles turned into pincushions, and just about everything "weird" that a person could do to their body and genitals.  (While most of what was published in the BME Hard category isn't my "thing," I fervently defend everyone's right to modify their body as they see fit, and to use their bodies as a canvas of personal expression, experimentation, connection, and sexual fulfillment.)  For his work in pushing the envelope and putting himself at risk of obscenity prosecutions, we are all in Shannon's debt, whether we are pornographers, kinksters, artists, body mod practitioners, or just people who don't believe in censorship.

When I wanted to launch one of the web's only menstruation porn sites back in 2005, EroticRed.com, Shannon was the person I looked to to answer the question, "Who the hell is going to be willing to process credit card payments for something this weird?"  (All credit card companies and intermediary banks have policies about what you are allowed to sell while using their services, which almost always prohibit porn that features blood.  So, if you're doing something banned, you hop around from sketchy startup biller to sketchy startup biller as you wait for them to get shut down by their own upstream banking providers.)  It was Shannon who connected me to a billing processor so that my site could become a reality.  While that billing processor did eventually go under, as do all the billers for "extreme" imagery, I never would have been able to get my project launched otherwise.  Shannon and I shared the frustration of credit card companies enacting censorship policies against our work, all long before WikiLeaks named and popularized the concept of a corporate "banking blockade" against material deemed socially unacceptable.

Goodbye, Shannon.  As a fellow publisher of the "extreme" and passionate believer in bodily autonomy and freedom of expression, I owe you one.  Thank you so much for everything you've contributed to the world.  To my readers: I want you to know who Shannon Larratt was, and I want you to know that if you're someone out there on the fringes, he may have helped pave the way for you.





by Furry Girl

03.11.13

Last night, the feminist porn bubble erupted in girlie squeals of "OMG, a cute boy looked at us!" on Twitter because it has found a new celebrity hero: Justin Timberlake.  In a skit on Saturday Night Live, a character Timberlake was playing made a joking reference to feminist porn, which the feminist porn scene have been quick to appropriate (inaccurately) as some sort of serious celebrity endorsement of their genre, with Tristan Taormino now using Timberlake's face with the line from the SNL joke as marketing for her latest book.  An image of Timberlake's face and the quote is currently being widely retweeted, reblogged, and celebrated as a victory.  (On what planet does a joke on SNL constitute a celebrity's endorsement and interest in you using their image to sell you products, anyway?  Should the piss porn genre should start using Patrick Stewart's face to sell their products because he once did a skit on SNL where he played a man turned on by women urinating?)

However, implying a celebrity endorsement of your products where none exists and using their image without their permission so you can make money isn't why I take issue with Taormino and others fawning all over Timberlake.  (Though those are perfectly problematic issues in themselves.)

timberlakeReally?  I oppose feminist porn because I know how to treat a lady right.

Timberlake was one of the celebrities who appeared in advertisements for the now-defunct Demi N Ashton Foundation, an anti-sex worker organization that regurgitated the same old lies about how the average age of entering the sex industry is 12, and how a whopping 1% of the population of America are trafficked child sex slaves.  If you follow sex workers' rights issues even in the most passing way, you'd remember what a big deal this celebrity-led campaign was, and how it launched the biggest-yet mainstream media coverage of the rescue industry in the form of a series of Village Voice articles debunking the Foundation's claims.  Like it or not, celebrities get more attention that any normal person ever could, including most politicians, so when celebrities pick up a cause as a trendy new way of earning themselves some good PR, millions of people will hear about that cause.  It's because of the instant credibility which Americans assign to celebrities that their campaigns have so much power to undermine grownup-level conversations like sex workers' rights.  I'm infuriated that Tristan Taormino and the rest of the sexy feminist team are currently heroizing a man who was very recently making the rounds as an anti-sex worker campaigner.  Justin Timberlake has contributed to setting the sex workers' rights movement back by popularizing the worst lies about us, and no amount of jokes about porn can right that wrong.  Feminists like Taormino couldn't care less about Timberlake's anti-sex worker activism, though, apparently finding it perfectly acceptable to throw normal sex workers under the bus so they can grasp desperately at the exciting straw of a celebrity knowing their porn genre exists.

This spat with an obtuse feminist pornographer reminds me of why I hate the feminist porn genre so much.  No, not the products it makes, since I think a lot of it is sexy, but the way the genre works.  It adds insult to injury that so many people see feminist porn as an extension of and solution to sex workers' rights, when it's really an obstacle.

Feminist porn is the anti-sex worker sex work, and its marketing commonly slams other sex workers and their appearance.  One of the first feminist porn sites was Nakkid Nerds, whose motto was "Smarter than your average porn star," and it's only gone downhill ever since.  Feminist porn has an aesthetic, and that aesthetic is marketed as the definition of being "empowered," as though a woman's intelligence and value as a human being is to be judged solely by whether or not she has tattoos and thick-rimmed hipster glasses.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen feminist porn marketed with insults, catty little jabs about how their company doesn't have those brain-dead bleach-blonde drugged-up bimbos you see in regular porn, it has artists and lovers and manic pixie dream girls.  As someone who makes porn with a similar "not traditional beauty standards" aesthetic, I have always tried to avoid that kind of vicious marketing copy, and while I do want to differentiate myself from a mainstream porn site, I prefer to use terms like, "not another cookie-cutter porn site," rather than launch an attack on how mainstream porn performers are ugly and stupid.  You don't have to insult the appearances and intelligence of other sex workers to show that you're different, but it's endemic to feminist porn.

Feminist porn excludes normal sex workers by screening out applications from anyone who dares to be motivated by money, and the genre has long been inconsistent when it comes to actually paying performers.  Feminist porn sites try and avoid hiring people who are "just in it for the money," as though there's nothing more disgusting than being a sex worker.  One of the largest feminist porn companies used to openly claim that you could only get paid modeling work if you did some free work, so they could deter those awful people who were in it for the money.  Another famous feminist porn director is renowned for financially screwing over her performers by trying to talk them down to accepting a lower payment after they've already shown up for work, or have already performed their scene, or simply not paying them at all.  Most feminist porn sites start not with some investment capital, but by asking performers to donate their labor on the vague promise that they will be paid if and when the site ever makes a profit.  (And many sites fail, which leaves a lot of hurt feelings.)  I've watched as this business model has lead to plenty of behind-the-scene drama over the years when models don't get paid.  This is not just about one feminist porn company, it's how the genre works.  This financially exploitative relationship to workers is their normal, and it only continues to work because there will always be plenty of cute college-age punks and hipsters who are motivated by the fun and rebellious aspect of the porn industry, but aren't trying to make it a reliable source of income.  Many feminist porn sites also expect workers to donate unpaid labor in the form of writing blogs for the site, participating in the site's online forums and flirting with paying subscribers, responding to fan emails, and doing member chats.  Those precious "social networking" and "community" features, of which the feminist porn genre is so proud, are built on the labor of unpaid workers, who are well aware that doing free work might lead to being hired for paid work again.

Feminist porn splashes the word "revolutionary" all over everything it does.  This might seem like I'm nitpicking semantics here, but I take deep offense to corporations using the term "revolution" in order to sell things.  After all, let's not forget that feminist porn is a business, and as a business, its goal is to make money.  It's fine by me to make money, I like making money, too, but I would never insult all the peoples of the world who have engaged in lengthy and costly life-or-death struggles by touting my collection of tit pics a "revolution."  Using that word to market entertainment products shows a profound ignorance of and giggly insensitivity towards countless historical and global struggles where vast numbers of oppressed people have died in horrible ways while fighting for freedoms like ending racial segregation, to buck off colonialism, or to overthrow dictators.  Feminist porn sellers are not "revolutionaries" by any stretch of the imagination.

People who dabble in feminist porn are regularly handed paid speaking gigs at colleges around the country to speak on sex work issues, even though they only rarely engage in sex work, and do so mostly for fun.  This would be akin to having an event about labor organizing for farm workers and hiring as your speaker someone who occasionally helps with a friend's garden on summer weekends.  People are drawn to sex work for all sorts of reasons, and one of them is that it's naughty and exciting, but it's deeply troublesome to have most of the public faces of sex work be feminist porn models who are motivated by an interest in transgressive fun.  The vast, vast majority of sex workers are not in the business primarily for personal growth and sexual fulfillment, so it always bothers me to see such people actively seeking so much attention as sex workers.  I doubt any of these feminist porn dabblers claim to represent all sex workers in their lectures, but that doesn't negate the fact that when the public is handed a token sex worker at an event, they will mentally assign to them the status of "spokesperson for sex workers."  It's because of the fact that representatives are taken as representative that the onus should be on people invited to speak before large groups as a token sex workers to ask themselves, "Am I really the person who should be addressing this group?  Might they be better served by someone who is a full-time sex worker, or who has more experience than I, or who is a more typical sex worker?"  I have refused plenty of chances to be on TV or in the media because I felt like I was not the best spokesperson for whatever a journalist wanted to discuss, and I always referred them to people who are better suited than I.  I've dabbling in pro-domming work, but I certainly wouldn't be marketing myself to universities as someone they should hire to speak to students on what it's like to be a dominatrix.  Dabblers shouldn't be spokespersons, period, but the lure of fame and being able to add "college speaker" to one's resume is too irresistible to feminist porn people.

And the biggest one: feminist porn hinges on the idea that sex work is only ethical or acceptable if it's done by people who are doing it primarily for personal fulfillment.  This "let them eat cake" attitude is such profound bullshit, and it's completely antithetical to the idea of sex workers' rights.  The feminist porn scene trades on (and profits from) marketing copy that implies that sex work is unethical when it's done by normal sex workers, who are no doubt exploited and degraded.  This is so insulting, especially when some of them obtusely throw out the argument that feminist porn is some kind of "solution" to sex workers' rights, as though the millions of sex workers around the world could sustain their incomes by traveling to San Francisco to do a couple of porn shoots a year where they may or may not ever be paid.  (Feminists have deployed a similar argument about how the "solution" to large stage fees and mandatory tipouts in the strip club industry is that everyone instead works at San Francisco's small worker-run Lusty Lady punk/chubby girl strip club where everyone earns an hourly wage.)

Along with decriminalization, the goal of the global sex workers' rights movement is to gain public respect for our work and to be recognized as workers, and feminist porn is fighting for the exact opposite: that sex work is only acceptable if it's done by not-workers for not-money, and that being motivated by money to do sex work is a problem in itself.  Every business needs its marketing angles and to differentiate itself from competitors, but feminist porn needn't put its own profits and feel-good image ahead of the struggles of sex workers to convince the public that selling sexual services is a legitimate job and should be respected as such.  The real insult of all of this is that any advancement in sex workers' rights also benefits feminist porn performers, but feminist porn believes it can only succeed by disparaging other sex workers.





by Furry Girl

03.06.13

One of the things I've stridently maintained when it comes to sex work activism and debate is that the voices of current and long-term sex workers should always be privileged over those of former sex workers and occasional dabblers.  It's in that vein that I feel obligated to disclose changes in my own status: after 10 years as a full time sex worker, I'm transitioning out of sex work.  Well, half way, for now.  It's not the sort of rapid exit process I've seen others undergo, such as getting a new boyfriend/husband and suddenly deleting their web presence.  Since I have dealt with stalker problems throughout my career, I'm not going to disclose the details of what I'm doing in the new "straight" part of my life, but I'm not going to leave you totally hanging, either.  I'm still one foot in, one foot out, as I work on creating a second career for myself - it's the hokey-pokey method of leaving the industry.  (I've wondered if this is more normal, or the sudden exit method?  Do most sex workers start a second career secretly towards the end of their stint as sex workers, and just never mention it?)  The only thing I feel like saying about Career B is that it involves using science to make the world a better place.  Since this has been a big decision that I didn't make lightly, I thought I'd share my reasons and some things I've been discovering.

The big question: why are you leaving sex work?

First, porn simply doesn't pay very well any more.  Even though I am a sexually open person and a natural exhibitionist, I got into sex work for the money.  (I can be a pervert for free any time, though.)  The money's just not there any more, at least in my part of the industry.  It's been a struggle to come to admitting this to myself, but the golden days of internet porn are long over, and I'm not willing to continue with the stress and responsibility of running my own business - and one that could land me in prison! - for so little pay.  Though I've given it a lot of thought, I'm simply too much a scaredy-cat to be an escort or dominatrix.  I've dabbled in offline pro-domming, and had totally safe experiences, but I just worry too much about drawing the short straw and going into a hotel room with a dangerous person.  No amount of screening makes you invincible, and while I have friends who've never had a violent client, I have also met people who have been raped, robbed, assaulted, or otherwise harmed on the job (sometimes by police officers).  It shouldn't be that way, of course.  We should have decriminalization, sex workers shouldn't have to fear reporting crimes against them, and sex workers shouldn't have to fear being robbed and raped by cops, but we're not in that world yet.

The second reason I'm starting to retire is that I feel like I have done everything I could ever possibly want to do as a sex worker.  There's no room for growth, other than in quantity.  I've done a fucking awesome job of going from being a high school dropout to having a successful small business that allowed me to make a middle class income so that I have free time for travel, adventure, learning, and taking on all sorts of hobbies.  I don't exaggerate when I say that porn has been my dream job.  I wouldn't do it differently other than make some smarter business decisions when I was younger, but on the whole, I am incredibly proud of my work.  I feel like I have taken off every possible color of clothing in just about every way I could, and now I'm just repeating myself.

I came, I saw, I kicked ass, and now I'm ready for something new.  I don't feel challenged by my work any more, and fully realizing that helped me make my decision to find a second career.

I have no intention of deleting any of my web sites.  

I've spent 10 years building a number of awesome porn sites, this blog, and SWAAY, and I'm proud of them.  Further, lots of other people have also put plenty of blood, sweat, jizz, research, and time into my web sites, and I'd hate to erase their efforts, too.  And even if I did want to erase my past (which I do not), deleting my work only means that I am ensuring that I will never profit from my labor, even though images and videos of me will still be floating around the internet until civilization collapses.  Unlike strippers or escorts who would never do porn because it exists forever, I enjoy that the products of my labor will exist forever and continue earning me residuals, even if it's not a lot of money.  Residual income is rare in the sex industry, so I'm glad that 18-year-old Furry Girl picked a career path that came with a little retirement income.  (On the official social security and payroll taxes front, as a self-employed person, it's damned near impossible to claim unemployment benefits, so while I've paid significantly more in federal taxes than your average worker, I am unable to access those funds to which I should be entitled.  It's one of the many insults upon injury sex workers deal with when it comes to the US government.)

Moving on from sex work: the good

For the first time in a decade, most of the compliments directed at me have nothing to do with my appearance.  This isn't to say that I think I've been "coasting on my looks" for a decade, especially since I know I'm not a major head-turner.  People ignore all the invisible labor that goes into being a successful sex worker.  If I shoot a particularly awesome set of photos, the praise I receive is invariably along the lines of, "You're so hot," not, "You're a hard-working photographer!"  "Being sexy" is the smallest part of what goes into running your own porn site, but it's the only part that people acknowledge.  (The same extends to other forms of sex work: the visible part of your work is always dwarfed by all the preparation.)  As much as I stand by the fact that "being sexy" is a hard-earned job skill and that it takes smarts and ambition to be a successful sex worker, I have to admit that it's awesome to be praised regularly for my intellect or work ethic.  (This isn't to say that there's something wrong with being a professional piece of ass: that's exactly the job we sign up for upon entering sex work.  All humans are all "reduced" to one-dimensional beings by those with whom who we have only fleeting contact, but that fact has no moral component.)

I feel challenged.  Sometimes too much!  Ha.  Seriously, it's awesome to have new things to do, even though some of them are tedious and annoying.  While I've always had an array of interests, sex work and sexuality issues have been the focus of the last ten years of my life, and it's refreshing to give some of my other interests free reign and really see what I can do with them.

Just like my first career in porn, I've found a second career where I can make an interest into a paying job.  I'm glad that both of my careers are the sort of things I could have written down on a typical high school "how to decide your career" quiz that asks, "If you had millions of dollars and didn't need to work, what would you do with your time?"  That's not to say either porn or the new career is easy and always enjoyable, but both tap into my passions.

Moving on from sex work: the bad

Starting all over in building your resume, especially when you're almost 30.  Ugh.  While being smart, motivated, good with computers, and possessing an ability to learn new things are traits I bring to any job, the rest of my skill set doesn't transfer over.  This also means I will not be making much money for a while, hence, staying a part-time sex worker as a financial bridge.

Waking up at a certain time of day.  As someone who has been mostly waking up whenever I feel like it since I was 16, it's jarring to need to be somewhere precisely at a certain time.  One of the biggest reasons many people choose sex work is the flexibility and ability to set your own schedule.

Working with other people who are not of my own choosing.  I'm not the most enthusiastic team player.  I can do it, but I am regularly examining my behavior to make sure I am doing it right.  Running my own business from home for so many years has made me forget all the required social niceties we are supposed to engage in, like asking everyone how they're doing all the time, and them being required to say, "I'm good, and you?" no matter how they are actually feeling.  It's so artificial, but it's apparently the lubricant that keeps society functioning.  I've wondered, "Do I have a touch of Asperger's, or am I just kind of an antisocial weirdo?"

Not being out as a sex worker in all parts of my life any more.  This one bothers me a lot.  I'm used to being out out to just about everyone I interacted with, but I'm keeping that under wraps for now with Career B.  It's not at all that I'm developed a sense of shame, but because I am the lowest-ranking member of a group, and because life is a competition, I don't want to do things right now that would prevent me from being given a shot at opportunities.  (I'm also not out as poly, kinky, or pro-guns, so it's really about not courting controversy in any form.)  I made the decision that I need to build up new "credit," and once people see that I am not a cliche sex worker stereotype of an untrustworthy drug addict who can't handle hard work or intellectual challenges, I can be open again.  I'd rather demonstrate my competence and then surprise people later than start off by "making myself look bad" and then trying to fight an uphill battle of convincing people I'm capable, or not having a chance to try and convince them at all.  It's not ideal, but it's not how I am going to live forever.  For now, new folks know me as someone who ran a small web design company and has decided to switch careers.

Moving on from sex work: the random

I am not transitioning out of sex work for a man.  Without trying to sound too judgmental, I have to say that it always bums me out when women leave sex work because they got some controlling, jealous boyfriend.  I always swore that I would never do that (although that didn't spare me from dating some assholes who had problems with my job), and I'm glad I stayed true to that goal.  (As a bisexual/pansexual woman, I will add that I would not have switched careers for a lady, either.)  I do have an awesome dude in my life, but he's secure enough that he isn't reduced to fits of terrified panic at the idea that other men have seen me naked.

I am not transitioning out of sex work because I think I'm "too old."  Without sounding vain, I think I'm aging just fine, and would have no problem continuing to work in the sex industry for years to come.  Sure, I'm about 15 pounds heavier than I was 10 years ago, and I get occasional grey hairs, but I'm so far happy that I'm not one of those people who "hits the ugly wall" and suddenly ages 15 years in 6 months.  (It pleases me that this category includes some of the "pretty girls" who bullied me when I was a youngster in school.)  Also, unlike some cranky feminist sex workers, I haven't been exercising and eating healthy only because I am trying to cater to mainstream beauty standards to extract money from men, excitedly squealing upon quitting the industry about how I can't wait to get fat.  I think people can be sexy at any size, but purposefully gaining weight (and increasing your risks of all sorts of health problems) just to say "fuck you, male gaze!" is as stupid as starving yourself to attract the male gaze.  I'm hardly as athletic as I wish I were, but there are reasons to stay fit other than sex work. (Click see to two NSFW photos, one from the most recent photo update on my site, one from the very first.)

I'm not sure about my plans for SWAAY, but I'm not interested in trying to turn it into my career.  The debate over whether to be agitators or paid mainstream NGO employees has long been going on in grassroots activist circles, and every scene has watched people lured away with the promise of a steady paycheck if they'll only tone down their rhetoric and get in line with the "proper" nonprofit establishment (ie, become less effective and more palatable to big donors).  I know that a number of sex workers' rights activists are trying to turn (or have turned) their passion into careers as professional social workers with official tax-exempt charity statuses, but I don't want that.

I'm not quitting sex work so I can try to have a "real" writing career where I write puff pieces for HuffPo and ladyblogs about how I used to be a sex worker.  Doesn't interest me.

I'm still maintaining my web sites, and will undoubtably still shoot new content sporadically, as well as continuing doing cam shows around my new schedule.  I don't know when I'm going to stop doing anything new entirely, but I'm guessing in a couple of years.  No sense in abandoning ship before the next ship is fully launched, and I'm giving myself a long timeline.

So what am I, a half-retired sex worker?  And does this mean all sex workers are considered half-retired if they're starting a different career or going to school?  (Because that's a sizable chunk of people in the industry.)  I still think of myself as a current sex worker, but I feel like it's dishonest to say I'm a full-timer.  I'm going to keep on being a supporter of sex workers' rights, and blogging/tweeting about these issues as Furry Girl, but the sexual politics world is definitely not my top priority any longer.  It's a bit sad to think of that, but I am also excited about what's still to come.  I have one final big project I want to do as "Furry Girl the sex work blogger chick," while I plan to announce soon.





by Furry Girl

02.13.13

Heartbreaking, enraging blog posts from a former Gail Dines adherent who later became a sex worker.  A few snippets:

"instead of questioning her assertion that survivors are basically incapable of making our own decisions with regards to our bodies, i began shaming myself.  since i am turned on by MANY of the things she condemns, i determined that i had become an oppressor – the guilt was tortuous, and not in a good way."

"size was not the only aspect of my body dines had an opinion on.  i wanted tattoos and to stretch my earlobes (i have two large pieces of ink now and ears stretched to 3/4″), but whenever i talked about body modifications, dines would get a look of disgust on her face and tell me that was a way of internalizing my abuse and re-victimizing myself by permitting the infliction of pain... and then, of course, the management of body hair.  any maintenance of body hair, whether it be plucking my eyebrows, shaving my legs, or waxing my bush, was subject to detailed analysis, and, quickly determined to be submission to patriarchal oppression."

"when i met her, i was actively organizing for the rights of transgender students, putting together panels discussing the discriminatory practice of accepting transmen to my all-womens college, but not transwomen, and to have gender-free bathrooms in our under-construction library.  however, dines argues that transgender men and women reinforce gender stereotypes and therefore reinforce patriarchy."

"dines’ perspective is that empowerment is a word for women who believe falsely that they have power when in fact they are ‘oppressing themselves.’  now, it seems to me like this was her way of keeping me from seeking out a feeling of empowerment for myself.  because there was nothing empowering about working with gail.  it was a constant anxiety, fearing for the lives of all womankind. "

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

Via Dr Brooke Magnanti on Twitter, whose wonderful blog you should already be reading.





by Furry Girl

03.14.12

I've been a part-time cam ho since 2005, and in that time, I have been a worker bee for a network called iFriends.  iFriends used to be the big dog on the block with web cams, but these days, that has been eclipsed by Streamate (aka CamModels.com).  I'd been hesitant to jump ship on iFriends to try Streamate because of the much heftier cut of sales taken by the latter network.  I decided to finally give it a go, and here's what I've learned after three months on Streamate.  Your results may vary, of course, but here's my rundown of my pros and cons in an effort to help others who may be considering an iFriends/Streamate switch, or just curious about branching out into camming altogether.

For those of you not familiar with how web cam stuff works, here's the nutshell version: after submitting a model release, contract, and two forms of ID, you can log into the network at any time and make yourself available for clients.  Most networks let you set your own per-minute rate.  Generally, there is some kind of free/guest chat area where you hustle for clients and chat with them about what you do in private/paid shows.  Different networks and settings option let you pick totally exclusive shows, or for multiple paying clients to watch you at the same time.  Earnings can be erratic, so you might make $20 one night while making $200 another night, and you have to roll with the slow times and not assume a big payout every time you log in.  The cam network is the one that brings in all or most of your clients, as well as running the streaming video platform and handling billing and customer service, and for this, they take a big cut of your sales.  You're generally paid once a week via check, wire, or other options, and this is considered taxable, reported income.

I've liked web cam work because it's like working in a peep show or strip club, but from the lazy comfort of home, and where no one can try to jam a finger in me on the sly.  I set my own hours, and if I'm not with a paying client, I can watch a movie, read blogs, write, or do anything else that still keeps me visible and in front of my computer.  I do most of my movie and TV watching on cam.  (Camming often feels like a way to justify watching TV shows.)  So, I'm not just sitting there in a sad lonely peep show box, I'm doing something else in the background.  I tend to not do serious work, however, because I need to be able to drop whatever I'm doing and instantly perk up and entertain someone when someone starts paying.  (I also don't watch "emotional" things on TV that might give me sadface.  I recently welled up with tears while watching a documentary on John Nash when he finally wins a Nobel Prize.  Cam whoring and PBS programs go hand in hand.)

For my iFriends-versus-Streamate experiment, I decided to log two or three months on Streamate and see how that sample compares to past earnings on iFriends.  I did not use my most recent iFriends time, since that's covering the holidays, during which it has been slow during previous years.  I don't feel like it's the most accurate comparison, so I decided to make the iFriends comparison all of 2011, just so I feel like I'm getting a proper sample.  (I keep records of my cam earnings.  Spreadsheets and cam whoring also go hand in hand.)

The money

On iFriends, I charge $4 a minute.  iFriends takes 50%, so my take-home pay is $2 a minute for time spent with a paying client.  In 2011, I averaged about $17 for every hour I spent logged into iFriends.  It was a surprising sting to tally that up, because a few years ago, I could count on making at least $25 an hour for time spent logged in.

With Streamate, I charge $3.99 per minute for basic shows, and $4.99 for exclusive shows.  Streamate takes 65%, leaving me with $1.40 or $1.75 per minute.  So far, I have averaged $28 for every hour I spent logged into Streamate, a big jump up from iFriends.  (This could be artificially high as the site's members "try out the new girl," so we'll see if the level stays the same over time.)

The hustle and the clientele

Of course, hourly averages are not the only things to compare.  I find Streamate's members, in general, much more pushy and entitled than iFriends' members.  The guys are less likely to even type "hi" at the start of a show, and might just type "pussy,"  "SPREAD ASSHOLE," or "hurry up!"  I've politely stated "calm down and enjoy the show," or "relax, I'm just warming up," only to have people log off in a huff or tell me to go fuck myself because I'm ugly anyway.  This would not be a good network for sex workers who have yet to develop a thick skin.  Most of my shows are 2-5 minutes, instead of maybe 10-15 minutes on iFriends, but there are more customers who want these quickie naked shows.  The guys generally expect to do the "get to know each other" chat for free in guest chat, and then only pay you for the "sex part" of the show.  To me, whether I'm amusing you with my brain or my pussy, I want to be paid.  (It's the analog to escort clients who can't understand why they should pay you to eat dinner with them, assuming that a stopwatch starts only when you get naked.)  There's more of an expectation on Streamate of you spending a lot of time hustling and woo-ing and enticing.  I hate hustling and woo-ing and enticing.  You've seen my photos, you see the list of what sorts of things I'm into, and you are either interested in me or you're not.  I'm not going to beg.

The technology and interface

Streamate cons: My biggest gripe is that the network freezes a lot for me, and I've heard from other cam hosts that they've had the same problem.  Streamate's tech people went through some basic trouble-shooting with me, but ultimately had no solution.  It's annoying because this has cost me clients and money, and there's nothing I can do to fix it.  It's important to note that Streamate gives people the first 30 seconds of paid chat for free, so don't do anything but talk in that first 30 seconds.  Streamate also does to-the-second billing, so if a client spends 3 minutes and 48 seconds with you, you will not be paid for 4 minutes.  This to-the-second billing is better for clients, but it makes me feel like a cell phone plan, where guys are trying harder to maximize every single second.  (I think this is part of why most don't even bother saying "hello" at the beginning.  If typing "hello" takes you five seconds, that's 33 cents you "wasted" on being polite.)

Streamate pros: I love that the interface allows you to save common replies/statements, like "Would you like to see it all in a paid chat?" or "I'm sorry my video feed has frozen.  I need to refresh and I'll be back in about 30 seconds."  90% of my free/guest area interactions on Streamate are me clicking a button to fire off an auto-reply to the questions I get asked constantly.  It's a great feature and saves me the bother of explaining the same thing hundreds of times a night.  The site overall is much more attractive than iFriends' cluttered design.

iFriends cons: Horrible tech support, many of my support tickets over the years have simply gone unanswered.  Although the site has gone through design updates, they all are still stuck in the 1997 school of design.  It's so confusing that some people honestly can't even figure out how to join or spend money on a private show - I've heard that from plenty of my site members as they got frustrated with trying to get a cam show with me.  iFriends using cheesy language, like referring to cam performers as "stars," and tries to have this atmosphere of celebrity that's all the more laughable because the site is comprised mostly of broken English speakers from Eastern Europe and semi-literate American housewives.  iFriends also blatantly lies in their advertising in an attempt to lure people into joining the site, and it's always embarrassed me to have my image used to sell these lies.  My profile page promises readers that if they sign up, they'll get access to "my sizzling photos, steamy video clips, secret diary and so much more."  While cam hosts do have the ability to upload all sorts of free stuff for members of our "fan clubs," a lot of us don't upload anything.  To make it look like I am personally promise people that they will find "steamy video clips" and my "secret diary" is a shady business practice and one I've always been uncomfortable with.  I also know that their blocking system doesn't work, or has bugs in it, because there's a at least one guy that I've blocked several times who keeps showing up using the same screen name.

iFriends pros: Doesn't freeze nearly as often as Streamate, and the latest redesign of my interface lets you refresh just the video feed, so I don't lose a customer and have to restart my entire browser in order to get it going again.  I like that when a chatter appears in my room, the system tells me where they are from (based on their IP), just so I can to to be more personalized and ask something like, "How's the weather in New Zealand?" or something.  I like the ability to refuse to let unregistered surfers see my video feed for free.  I want to give as little as humanly possible to people who are unlikely to ever buy anything.  I also like how iFriends displays, right under the cam window, how much money someone has spent so far.  This lets me easily have mental rules like "I don't start toy shows until I've netted $10."  (On Streamate, you can click and open a new window to see your payment stats, but it's not live and in real-time, and it requires clicking and being distracted.  I want a little ticker right there under the chat window telling me how much I've made on the show.)

Conclusion

I've decided that I will only be working on Streamate now.  There are more rude people and my cut is less, but I'm overall making more money.  I'll now refer you to a strip club comparison post from Calico Lane which contains an infographic that explains it all.





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