boundaries2Dear Tits and Sass,

I’ve been a worker for around ten years now and have been full time for around the latter half of that. Navigating having a partner while being a worker is nothing new to me. However, I’ve been with my current partner for around a year and over the last few months I’ve started to worry about possible whorephobia and manipulation around my work.

A few of my regulars have become friends over the years, a few of whom I’d see socially (like going for dinner/drinks tagged onto a booking), communicate with socially (off topic chat and not just admin style arranging bookings kinda contact) and when this has happened, it’s been driven by me and stayed well within my comfort zone. But now, these long-term regs are backing off because I’ve created distance due to my partner’s difficulties around it, and I’ve not provided them with a solid reason why. I don’t know what to say to them other than being busy, but with no explanation a few of my crying manbaby clients have taken it personally and I’ve lost their custom!

I lost another client because activities happened during a session which were outside of what my partner and I had agreed (which was down to miscommunications and misunderstandings, rather than me deliberately ignoring anything that we’d agreed). The culmination of this happened when my partner had overheard something while I was seeing my client at my incall space, and didn’t like the sound of it so looked through the air vent to see what was happening.

I felt sick that she had been doing so without my prior consent, but obviously she was angry that I hadn’t respected our rules and it must’ve been a pretty tough way for her to find out. I heard doors slamming and told my client to wait a moment, and paused the booking to go and talk with her. I tried to calm the situation and said I would finish up with him so we could talk properly after. This wasn’t good enough, and she walked in on him, shouted at him, and then stormed out. I didn’t know what to do so I apologised, gave him his money back and then asked him to leave. Another regular lost.

Most of my clients are older gents but one is younger, and as such I adopt a more casual, familiar tone with him. My partner read through my work e-mails  and at first, said “I know it’s work, you’re flirting on the internet for money,” which felt accusatory but at least partially understanding. But later, she said that she didn’t like the way I spoke with him and she didn’t want me to see him anymore.

And then there’s my most frequent regular, who did become emotionally needy and made attempts at boundary pushing—but the situation was manageable and still worthwhile from my point of view. She genuinely felt he was dangerous and even though I wasn’t sure if I agreed or not, I did take her concerns seriously and I did stop seeing him.

Since I’d been working for so long, I’d almost built up enough regs to not need to screen for new clients—something I’d been working towards and hoping for, for quite some time! But now, it looks like my regs—newer and older—are where the issues lurk. I won’t stop being a worker for the sake of my relationship, but at the same time, I do want to respect her boundaries so that we can both feel safer and happier about it.

She considers me to be financially well off, and as such she thinks I’m secure enough to be able to cherry pick only the best or easiest bookings. I’m not doing survival SW, but I do flex my work practices around how much money I need at any given point. She struggles to comprehend why I see certain clients/permit certain activities when I “don’t have to”, and the only reason she can find is that I’m apparently greedy and money-obsessed. In reality, her comfort zone around SW is different to mine and on top of that, I’m far more of a workaholic. But when she is critical/questioning of certain things that I do with clients, it makes me feel like she’s being judgmental and whorephobic.

Ultimately I’m wondering if the issue is with her lack of trust in me, or if it’s to do with me being unreasonable in the way I work, or if it’s her being controlling and critical in ways that are unfair or even emotionally abusive. I do respect her right to tell me how she feels about my work, and I do want to accommodate her as much as possible, but when she gives me ultimatums then I worry that it’s gone too far.

Sincerely,

Overwhelmed

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drakememe

Tits and Sass is a Rihanna blog. This is a sound editorial decision Caty and I made a long, long time ago, and so far it has served us well. Tits and Sass has never been a Drake blog. Which isn’t to say we’re anti-Drake, we’re just not explicitly pro-Drake the same we are, say, pro-Rihanna. Recently, it came to our attention that Drake loves Rihanna, and we love Rihanna, so, therefore, we reluctantly give space to Drake. In any event, this is the internet, and you can’t just ignore something on the internet, because the internet will not allow it, the internet will force you to talk about it. So, here is the post in which we feebly acknowledge that Drake is opening a strip club. That’s right, you heard it here first, folks (actually, you probably didn’t).  Drake is opening a strip club. This is our post about it. [READ MORE]

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fagtc1

Lauren (Lauren Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) in For A Good Time Call.

There aren’t many films about phone sex that are worth anyone’s time—notable exceptions being the excellent short film Sumi, the brief, funny phone sex segments of Tamra Davis’s 90’s hip hop spoof CB4, and about three-fourths of Spike Lee’s kind-of classic Girl 6. Despite its truly troublesome flaws, I have a soft spot for Girl 6, as it gets at least some things about the industry very right, which is more than most films do. The 2012 phone sex buddy comedy For A Good Time Call fits comfortably alongside Girl 6 as another genuinely mixed bag. Its focus is really more on friendship than phone sex, but it does manage to maintain a phone sex-centric narrative throughout a feature film’s runtime without making me want to throw my TV out my window.

For A Good Time Call, directed by Jamie Travis, is now available on Netflix and other streaming services. I’m relieved to report that it is a pleasant-enough way to spend 90 minutes, and one of the better cinematic portrayals of my profession; not hateful, judgmental, or a patronizing cautionary tale. But I’m exasperated that this baseline decency gives it such an advantage over much of the cannon.

FAGTC tells the story of straight-laced Lauren (Lauren Miller), who through a series of contrivances is forced to become roommates with bubbly, performatively slutty Katie (Ari Graynor). The two initially hate each other and it’s all very Odd Couple (they have history—in college, party girl Katie peed in Lauren’s car after getting wasted), but become bffs through the magic of starting their own phone sex line. One of the screenwriters, Katie Ann Naylon, has said on record that she operated her own phone sex line herself in college.

Bonding through working a phone sex line is actually a great premise for a fun, bubbly film, and it’s the crux of what I simultaneously love and find frustrating about this one. While the relationship between the women is both believable and refreshing, their business model is much less so.

Lauren discovers that Katie is a phone sex operator and confronts her during a call after overhearing the conversation and being confused. Now, I can understand why Katie would want to keep her phone sex gig a secret from judgmental Lauren. But it’s hard for me to suspend disbelief far enough to believe Katie would bring Lauren in as a roommate, into her workplace, without giving some kind of heads up or a cover story to prevent exactly this sort of hassle. I did phone sex out of an apartment with multiple roommates for years, and you’d better believe I told people while interviewing them and gauged their reactions. I couldn’t live with anyone who would mess with my income stream. I find it hard to believe that Katie would both not mention it and be so goddamn loud without at least taking the precaution of setting up a cheap white noise generator.

Then again, good girl Lauren, who slowly gets dragged into the weird, dirty world of phone sex, is supposed to be the audience surrogate, so making Katie’s psychology and behavior equally plausible may not have been a priority. She’s the weird one, so she’s weird! I don’t think the writers were thinking about the reactions of PSOs or anyone else who might relate more to Katie in the audience, despite the fact that the character is based on one of the writers.

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(Photo by Flickr user Nasrul Ekram)

(Photo by Flickr user Nasrul Ekram)

Last month, I woke up to the news that a friend of mine had overdosed and died.

I’d never met her, but I’d known her for almost 15 years online. We’d found each other back in the days of Livejournal, back when it was a shock to my system just to be able to read the writing of another heroin-using sex worker like me. I read everything about us I could get my hands on back then, even tabloid trash or Narcotics Anonymous literature.

Reading someone writing about her life, our lives, in the first person—daring to construct her identity as more than a punchline or a cautionary tale—was revelatory. People talk about the value of “representation,” but there’s no way to describe what knowing she was out there like I was meant to me when I was 22.

I could always talk to her about all the things I couldn’t discuss with my straight friends: lazy dealers, asshole cops, and the constant grind of working enough to keep ahead of withdrawal. Later, when we both got on methadone maintenance, we groused to each other about the unique blend of bureaucracy and condescension we found at the clinics. She’d always keep me up to date on the latest drug war fiasco, and we could be candid to each other about our rage in response.

I’m still not sure what happened to her. She could have been a victim of all the fentanyl floating around the country mixed in the heroin supply. I know she hadn’t used dope in a while. Keeping her kid was too important to her. Her tolerance must have been low.

But I can’t shake the suspicion that her death wasn’t entirely accidental. Like many of us, she was incredibly harm-reduction savvy. She could have taught a class on overdose prevention. I don’t think she killed herself. But I’m not sure she was trying her hardest to stay alive.

And who could blame her if she stopped making that monumental effort to survive, for a moment?

I have to tell myself everyday that despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m worth something, even if I am a walking worst-case scenario to most people. Even if by every rubric of mainstream success, I’ve gone way off course. Even if living like I do is not only criminalized, but reviled.

But sometimes, it’s difficult to believe that message when you and your small circle of movement friends are its only source.

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Visual approximation of what Hulk Hogan probably feels like. This is purely satire, please do not sue us Mr. Hogan.

Visual approximation of what Hulk Hogan probably feels like. This is purely satire. Please do not sue us, Mr. Hogan.

In the early 00s when I was in journalism school, my professors were feebly trying to bestow me and my fellow students with the skills required to work in print media. Sure, they said, the future of journalism is online. But none of them could quantify what that meant or how to teach it.  The school’s curriculum was a great foundation, I guess, but by the time I was done, my skill set was already outdated. I was a media dinosaur.

So I studied Gawker Media. Gawker, and Gawker’s sister sites, presented the framework for what writing online could look like—objective and sarcastic.  I suspect anyone who has ever dabbled in independent publishing online is feeling a bit sentimental this week. Almost every writer has a favorite Gawker story. They certainly remember the Gawker story they were most scandalized by.

One thing I think Gawker and its sister sites deserve credit for is consistently covering sex work and giving sex workers bylines.  [READ MORE]

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