This week I stopped by Tiny Tuesday at Lucky Devil Lounge (633 SE Powell). The ad boasted that all dancers would stand under five feet, there’s a three and half foot tall host, mini bottle service, a free drink for any customer under five feet, and “customers under 4 feet drink free all night!”
I was surprised by the amount of male customers taking advantage of the free drinks thing. When a friend asked what it had been like, I said that there were kind of a lot of little people in attendance, “Well, there were three dudes at one table…”
Being a crazy whore is kind of like being the meanest dog at the pound: out of all of the rejects, you’re the least wanted, and your very existence makes your peers look bad. I say this from experience. I used to work at a pound, and I’m definitely a bitch (HEY-O). I’m also a crazy whore—a pro-switch with disabling, medication-resistant Major Depression, to be precise. Society has made clear to me that it would prefer if I were euthanized, and a lot of folks within the disability rights and sex workers rights communities don’t want me around either. I give credence to some of the most persistent, prejudiced assumptions people in each group encounter. Namely, that women with mental illnesses are sexually promiscuous damaged goods, and sex workers are mentally unhealthy damaged goods. What better way to argue against those stereotypes than to deny the existence of those of us who fulfill them?
And there are a lot of us, more than most folks realize. We frequently stay closeted about one or both of these marginalizations, partly because we may lack the physical energy or emotional stamina to brazenly insert ourselves into the activist communities that dislike us. I rarely mention to other people with disabilities what I do for work, and I am equally reluctant to test the reactions of fellow sex workers by discussing my experiences as a crazy ho. Just the idea of walking into a sex worker empowerment meeting and telling everyone that I’m doing this job because I’m too nuts to work full time and I kind of hate it, makes me feel exhausted.
Exhaustion is also why a lot of disabled sex workers don’t work independently. Houses, agencies, clubs, and brothels take on more of the workload associated with sex work, such as finding clients and providing space and security. But houses, agencies, clubs, and brothels are also (usually) more concerned with profit than with their employees’ well being, so you’re likely to find that more agency girls hate their jobs. People who hate their jobs don’t often organize around that identity, which is another reason disabled sex workers lurk in the shadows.
It can get pretty dark hiding out in here. That’s why I like to liven the mood sometimes with some equally dark humor.
It’s tax season! That makes me think of a story I found out about a few weeks ago involving a Domina and a silly man with a government job.
A tax collector from Secaucus, NJ named Alan Bartolozzi wired (maybe more than) $780,000 in taxpayer money to a Domina with addresses in 5 states. He wired money internationally too, but there isn’t any info out there on where… I imagine somewhere sunny. She featured the guy on her website, but it’s down. I am assuming he’s dressed up in sissy clothes or bent over with objects inside him based on my own experience with government workers, but I could be wrong.
Working as a professional submissive often makes you feel like an outsider.
Pro-subs and pro-switches are a relatively rare breed of service provider, which makes our work feel pretty esoteric from the get go. For every one of us, there are many more vanilla, in-person, indoor workers. In part, this could be because the need for resources like fetish equipment and dungeon access means that subbing isn’t an accessible entry point into sex work. However, there is undoubtedly greater stigma and misinformation surrounding the work which deters many people from working as subs. Because we offer services such as restrictive bondage, sensory deprivation, corporal punishment, and erotic masochism, subbing is frequently thought of as intrinsically unsafe. Far too often, we are perceived as having knowingly “put ourselves in harm’s way”, and into the path of sexual violence as an inevitable consequence. I’ve lost track of the appalled responses from both sex workers and civilians when I tell them I let men tie me up and hit me for a living. They fail to grasp that there is a fundamental difference between consensual, pre-agreed upon pain and abuse.
The consequences of this stigma became apparent very quickly when I first started working as a pro-sub in a professional dungeon. The management created an environment in which clients paid for the privilege of foregoing boundary negotiation with subs, and we in turn were paid to ignore these boundaries. By treating us subs as if we had minimal agency, both our clients and we came to believe this was the natural order of things. In my 6 months at my first dungeon—and in the previous years when friends also worked there—none of us could recall a single client being blacklisted for sexual violence, despite the fact that colleagues experienced numerous incidents of assault.
As pro-subs, our work is affected by stigma from within and outside the community. As sex workers, our labor is more stigmatized than other types of work, and as pro-subs, our job is often dismissed by those working in other parts of the sex industry. But why is pro-subbing so marginalized, and what effect does this have on us and our work?
At my first dungeon, the effect was extremely negative. Ostensibly, the setup appeared professional. For a total newbie with no savings, it seemed ideal. Unfortunately, it was a deeply unpleasant place to work. The management bullied and coerced workers, and kept us all isolated and competitive with one another in order to maximize profit. They also went out of their way to appease clients. A key component of this was issuing explicit statements that we subs would willingly take any punishment they wanted to dispense. It was here that I first encountered the attitude that submission is an inherently high-risk service, in which subs are paid to tolerate the non-consensual violence presented as an unavoidable part of the job.
As a skittish baby hooker, I quickly internalized the view that my job was essentially an exercise in mute endurance. If something scared me or hurt me in a way I was not comfortable with, or even if I changed my mind about a scene halfway through, that was my problem.
Tits and Sass contributor and wilderness expert Tara Burns has published an Amazon Single about her first two weeks as an escort in Alaska, and it’s free at Amazon.com today and tomorrow. She’s allowed us to publish this excerpt from her memoir. There are a lot of sex worker blogs out there, but Tara’s experiences are definitely unique. The first time I ever met her, she picked me up at the Kenai airport and let me live on her converted schoolbus for a week while we worked at a crazy rural titty bar with linoleum stages, plastic lawn chairs, and dogs running around in the club. That was probably a pretty dull place for her. Enjoy this excerpt and check out her book. Tara also says to our readers “They could write a Kindle book, too! It’s awesome passive income. Get our voices out there!”
I look at the camera he brought. It’s one of those old fashioned ones with a spot for a little tape. There is no tape in it, and he swears it’s not recording anything and he can’t get off without it. I don’t see any place for a little digital card or anything. He says that he used to have baby monitors, which the whores weren’t afraid of since they never record, but one day he got pulled over driving, and the floor on the passenger side was filled to overflowing with porn and baby monitors, so the cops thought he was a pedophile. They took him down to the station for questioning and he explained to them that he was not at all interested in children. Just that the only way he can get off is to watch prostitutes’ feet through a camera screen, leaning over to sniff them sometimes. The prostitutes didn’t let him use digital cameras or anything cause they didn’t want to be recorded. The police advised him to ditch the baby monitor and get an old camcorder like this with no tape. They were mean to him, too, the female detective kept asking if she had nice feet, and they all laughed at him.
First he rearranges the lamps in the room for optimal lighting, and then we sit on the edge of the bed and he sits on the floor. He points the camera at our feet and tilts the screen up so he can watch it. He sets one of my shoes next to him, and one of Mac’s shoes in his lap, both of which he sniffs deeply. He asks us to lie down and not look, he doesn’t want us seeing him. We would laugh. The poor guy is so embarrassed, and the worst part, I think, is that the whores who laughed at him probably didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. They just misread him as having a humiliation fetish. So we lie back, expecting him to start licking and sucking our feet, like most foot fetish guys. But nothing happens. We look at each other questioningly and whisper, “is he touching you?” “no, is he touching you?”