I do these interviews because I want to talk with other sex workers about our work, and because I think we all have interesting stories. But, after interviewing Matthew and his telling me he was coming out, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to worry about that. I acknowledge that I am very privileged to have a mom who isn’t freaked out by my work, but we’d had very few conversations about how she felt about my work. Actually, we hadn’t had any. I tell her about sessions, and I told her when I started working, but beyond a few mentions here and there that was it. I wanted to know what she thought about my work, and since she’s a preacher, if she thought it clashed with our religion at all. I didn’t know what she was going to say, I swear, but I committed myself to reproducing whatever she said no matter what.
What was your first reaction to finding out about me doing sex work?
I appreciated your being honest. I have to admit I didn’t understand and I also have to be honest and admit that it was something we knew and were waiting on you to tell us because it was important for us to respect you in your choices. That was very important to me. At the same time I wanted to make room for me to understand and learn ways to support you. Even if it was to support you to have enough power to stop, but I knew that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t allow you the room to be honest to me. I’m glad now that making you stop isn’t something we had to discuss.
What do you mean by “make you stop”?
I mean literally make you stop.
Because at the time I thought you were doing something that was against the law, that’s why I was glad you weren’t. Instead it became about understanding what you’re doing and finding a way to support you. I want to find ways to support my daughters no matter where they are; I don’t have to understand. That seems fair to me, and you know I’m all about fair.
Did you have any preconceived notions about what sex work was?
Well I didn’t understand the depth of the occupation; the different things that are classified as sex work. My understanding was really limited, I thought it was only prostitution. From a clinical viewpoint that wasn’t something I wanted you involved in because of risk of disease, you know? It didn’t seem like something that would build ones self-esteem or help one become a better person either. So, I really wasn’t down for that. I also knew that at the end of the day you were going to do what you wanted to do, so my job was to find a way to support you in doing it. With LOTS of praying.
What do you think about sex work now?
Well, I think it’s very interesting. I want to be a sex worker when I grow up! It’s intriguing. I think it’s really good that it’s a way someone can earn a living and take care of them-selves without a degree or training. On the other hand it makes me sad that there are people who don’t have the ability to meet their needs without it. And that they have to engage in encounters with someone who is initially a stranger…although, that’s how any relationship begins, so I guess it’s all in how you look at it. The main thing for me is that I know you’re ok.
What do you think about my particular kind of sex work?
Well, I love the stories! And I think the clients are particularly interesting. Their lifestyles, the things that they do, and the ways in which they have chosen to engage the world beyond what you guys do are especially interesting. On the other hand I am always baffled by the idea that someone wants people to hit them for fun, it always seems very strange. And then they pay for it!
I do understand that on some levels I am very prudish when it comes to relationships. So, the other sides of my personality get to live vicariously through you! And, I think you are pretty cool and brave, because you took a big risk in telling me. I could have rejected you, and I don’t think that would have been good for our relationship. I’ve always been supportive of the things you girls do, so I would have been acting out of character, but you took a risk.
Do you think sex work is against our religion in any way?
No. At the end of the day it’s important that people have agency in their decision-making. Christ expects us to engage in relationships that are about mutuality and reciprocity, so what you do in that relationship is just what you do. I guess that’s a controversial way to look at things, for a person of faith, but I don’t think Christ would have a problem with us engaging in relationships that are about mutual agreements and understanding and that’s what you do.
What advice would you give to parents who have kids doing sex work?
I would say that before you make a decision as to what is ok or not, you need to get to know your kid. You can’t influence them if you aren’t in relationship with them. As a parent we don’t always understand, but our job is to guide and facilitate you being your best selves. But, we aren’t always there. I can’t be around if I’ve alienated you. I lose my opportunity to help you if I do that. We have to always respect the choices our kids make too, even if we don’t like them. In my case, pray, so that if it’s not what you’re supposed to be doing, you’ll make the change, and if it is you’ll be protected. Even though you aren’t engaging in behaviors where you’re sharing your body with someone else you still deal with people who may unwell. And if you decide to find another job, I have to help you transition, but if I’ve kicked you out of my life I can’t be there when you need me. As a parent, we have to know that our place in our children’s lives is important, to the end.
Has how you looked at me as a person changed because of sex work?
No, girl! Well, yes. You seem freer because you’re being honest and you can talk to me about stuff. We’ve gotten closer, if anything. I think there’s something to being able to truly talk to your parent about what’s going on with you. I think it liberates the relationship. You’ll always be my honey-bunny-firefly.
What would your sex worker name be?
Hmmm, I guess I’d be “Red Domina.” My tagline would be “I don’t talk a lot, I get down to business!”
You’re so weird. Thanks, Mom!