Interview: Lindsey Kugler On HERE.

by Kat on August 2, 2013 · 4 comments

in Books, Cam Girls, Interviews

HERE. Book Cover6HERE. is Lindsay Kugler’s “mini-memoir,” covering a year in her early twenties living in Austin, being in a codependent relationship, and working on My Free Cams. She also worked as a social worker and writes about dealing with clients from both worlds in a style that reads like poetry, with negative spaces that leave you wanting more while you cackle.

One time while trying to find one of JC’s medicine bottles I found a soiled copy of The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton. I first encountered it in one of my sexuality courses I took at Arizona State and I wondered why JC would even have a copy. I imagined him pushing through a bookstore to find something so salaciously titled to bring it home and find it was less Penthouse and more personal theory.

HERE. feels like stumbling upon someone’s very relatable diary. Haven’t we all done the equivalent of getting drunk and crawling into a cardboard box so someone would happen upon us and give us sympathy? Originally self-published through Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center before being picked up by University of Hell Press, Kugler’s debut also has my all-time favorite About The Author line: “She is a college dropout who has never cared about school.” I loved doing this interview and can’t wait to read what she writes next.

How did you get started camming?

In the context of the relationship that I was in, I was not getting a lot of attention and I was not getting a lot of sexual fulfillment. I had first gone through Craigslist Casual Encounters being like, “I’m just interested in being on cam with someone via Skype and I don’t even really want to see you. I just kinda want to take my clothes off and that would be it.” And I got a few responses and talked to some people and then they were like, “You could make money doing this.” At the time I was working for AmeriCorps, so I was working 40 hours a week making like no money as a case manager, and I was like, “You know, I could use some extra income.” So I looked into it and really how I got started was sort of a mixture of needing to get paid and also needing to fulfill this void that I had in my life.

I thought it was really interesting that you talked about exhibitionism because a lot of sex workers, especially strippers, are really adamant about not being exhibitionists since people always assume we are.

Yeah, I mean, I’ve met people that do it and they’re not really into that at all. I know that I’ve been doing this since—I didn’t even realize, but then I was looking through old pictures that I had on my computer from when I was in high school and I was like, “Wow, I’ve been taking pictures of myself since I was in high school,” so definitely for a long time. Taking pictures and being more of an exhibitionist for me is an exploration of seeing myself in an objective way because I’ve always struggled with body image issues. [S]eeing myself on film or from a picture is a way to kind of reflect what is supposed to be reality, whereas when I look in a mirror or I’m talking to people, those ideas of my body and my image are much different than what I see in a picture. So it’s always this weird kind of reminder that I’m not fully seeing myself as other people are.

From what I understand, you weren’t necessarily setting out to write a book but it came together during your time at the IPRC?

Yeah, it was definitely a way to process the end of that relationship. It was just a weird year in my life to experience just kind of intense poverty and dealing with all of these issues that I hadn’t really sat down and talked to anybody about. So when we were writing these personal essays, it just sort of spilled out and then I was kind of embarrassed to share it with people. But then they were all so supportive and they were like,  “Please, just expand it” and I felt like I should probably do that and it was really therapeutic.

It really comes through that you wrote this for yourself. You can tell when someone’s like “I’m going to write a memoir.” It has a different vibe.

It was never supposed to be a speech, it was never supposed to be kind of a position on anything, it was kind of just like exploring “What the hell did I just go through and how do I feel about it?” I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and people being like “It’s not resolved enough. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel at the end about what you did.” I always think that’s kind of funny, ‘cause I’m like, “You know what, I don’t know either.” That’s kind of why I wrote it. Even at the end, I still don’t really know.

Do you feel like sex work and social work go hand-in-hand and have some parallels, especially as far as emotional labor?

It was hard because at the time I was doing all kinds of emotional work. With my social work, I was there for my clients who were elderly and homeless and hungry and I was a lot of peoples’ last support. So that was very strenuous and draining for me. And then with camming, I found that with my look and I don’t know, just how I am, I tended to get clients who were—they wanted the girlfriend experience and they wanted someone who would be more like a therapist for them. They weren’t always interested in sex but they were mostly interested in having these really deep emotional conversations where they were unloading and they were getting my opinions on things. I’m naturally a very open and receiving kind of person so for me it was really hard to have any kind of boundaries. And then at the same time I was in a codependent relationship so I was just giving and giving and giving which was the reason why I called it HERE. Not here as in location in place, but here as in “Here I am giving this to you, like, constantly.”

You wrote about some dysfunctional family stuff. Has the publishing of your book put a strain on things with your family? Have they read it?

I know that a few family members have read it. My parents have made the choice not to read it—I think the same with my brother—my immediate family who know me well. They know that I’ve wanted to be a writer for like, my whole life. There was a period of time where I had dropped out of college to “become a writer.” I didn’t really know what that meant or what I was going to write or anything. My mom was really frustrated with me because she was like, “Well then do it. I don’t understand what you’re doing and I want to be supportive.” When nothing came of that, I started doing social work. And I finally have this book published and she was like “I’m really proud of you but I don’t want to read it and I don’t want to deal with this kind of stuff.” She was having a lot of struggles with being like, “I want to be a supportive mom to you and I know this is your dream and I want to support you but I don’t want to read this and I don’t want to engage with it.” It was kind of funny to me because I was like, “I completely understand and I don’t think that you are a bad mom in not reading it and not supporting this particular work. This isn’t gonna be the only thing that I write.” We had this really long conversation about what it means to be supportive of someone who’s writing stuff that you’re not necessarily supportive of. It came down to, she can be supportive in the way that I need just by encouraging me. She doesn’t necessarily have to read it and show up to readings and comment or promote it. It was an interesting freedom of “What does it mean to be supportive of your family members?” because it can be really complicated, right?

So have you quit camming or would you do it in the future? Had it run its course or something? How did you end camming?

I think that I just had a better paying job that fit better with a schedule. I realized that if you want to make a lot of money doing that, you need to have some good equipment, you need to really carve out time like it’s a business. You need to market yourself and you need to really focus on it. I just didn’t have the energy or time working in AmeriCorps and doing all of that. I got a job at a high-end dry cleaner where I was washing celebrities’ clothes. Every now and then I’ll check in on My Free Cams and I know a few people—I don’t know if you know Milcah Orbacedo—she was on there doing some really interesting stuff. I still kinda keep up with it because I find it to be, I don’t know, it’s part of my life. I still find it to be really interesting work. I’m not necessarily closed off to it but with the exhibitionist side of it, I’ve definitely continued that. Like I post on Reddit and some other websites anonymously just to kind of express myself that way but nothing that I’m too serious about. Kind of a passing thing. It’s mostly just for fun. I’m not opposed, but it did run it’s course it feels like, but it is what it is. It always depends too, if you’re in a relationship or not, what your partner’s comfortable with. Weirdly enough, my then-boyfriend was really into it. He was really supportive and really excited.

Has he heard about your book?

He found out when I self-published it that I had written a book and it kinda got through the grapevine. He called me up and was like, “I wanna read it” and I felt like if the tables were turned, it would be respectful just to kind of see what was going to be out there about me before it was published. So I sent it to him and I expected to have this big blowup and he was very supportive and he was like “I’m glad you’re actually writing because the entire time we were together you’ve always wanted to write and you never did.” There was one scene he really wanted me to include. I used my bedroom to do the camming stuff and when he was there, he would play video games in the corner where he was off-camera. And when he would have to go smoke a cigarette, he would try and find a way to sneak out without being seen. Because if he was seen, it would be really disruptive. Like, no one would want to pay to see me, you know what I mean?

That would be such a boner-kill.

He tried to sneak out but he fell over and knocked stuff over in the background and he created this big commotion and then people were like “Who the fuck is that?” and then tried to slink out, waving at the camera. I was like, “You just screwed up my whole night.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

lily August 8, 2013 at 11:54 am

This is an awesome interview! I love that her author bio says what it does about being a college dropout that never cared about school. I find it so pretentious when authors love to name drop their colleges. I’m totally anticipating reading her book after this interview.

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hollyholden November 19, 2013 at 8:54 am

Haha, my bf plays starcraft while I cam. Most of my followers know he’s there though, they keep begging me to get him verified but they know he has a lot more to risk than I do when it comes to public image, and we do some content together on another website. (without his face ofc) I’ve never had a problem with my guys knowing I was in a relationship, most of the time they think it’s cool, makes me more realistic or something. Sometimes they ask him questions I relay back and forth awkwardly. It’s fun. :3

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Raven Skye December 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Great article. You are brave to write a book about your camming experiences. Do you still do camming?

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