Prose & Lore is the Red Umbrella Project’s literary journal, which collects memoir stories about sex work in two issues per year (Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer). The stories are original to Prose & Lore, and about 75% of the authors in each issue are previously unpublished. Many of the contributors participate in RedUP’s memoir workshops and drop-in writing sessions. You can buy the new issue here, or pony up for a Prose and Lore subscription here. On Tuesday, July 23rd at 7 pm at the Bureau of General Services, Queer Division (27 Orchard Street in Manhattan) contributors to Prose and Lore will be giving a free reading.
This is an excerpt from contributor Mandy Tz’s piece, “My Almost First Time”, describing her first experience attempting full service sex work after working as a webcam girl. Mandy is a white trans woman who enjoys nothing more than telling a heavily tattooed man begging to worship her that she can’t hear him cause she has “Ace of Spades” blasting from her speakers. She may seem sensitive from her piece but she’s actually an evil, merciless slut devoted to instituting female supremacy. You can contact her for plans of future co-femme world domination at firstname.lastname@example.org.
…I open the attachment on the email. It’s a picture he took of himself by using the mirrored ceiling of an elevator. Oh, wannabe artsy types. But he was cute for a pasty white guy as old as my dad. So I thought, yeah sure why not. I told him I’d love to meet up. He said he could meet on Thursday night and I said I was free too. I didn’t realize until Thursday morning that it was Valentine’s Day. Hmmm, I wondered, should I be suspicious of that?
I hit up one of my girls who had been doing this sorta stuff for a while. “I wouldn’t be worried,” she told me in that tone of confident knowing that she spoke with even when she was clueless, “I’ve had lots of Valentine’s bookings. They feel lonely. Hell, sometimes it means they will pay you more.” Though I do ask for it, I am often wary of taking advice, especially on doing sex work, from cis girls. It is a completely different dynamic and though generally we are expected to be very similar things and to meet certain standards, trans women who detract in any wayfrom those standards are judged much more harshly. My outfit, makeup, legs, hair all have to be flawless, ‘cause if and when my top comes off, my clients aren’t happy to see the tiny little nibs. And this particular girl had, amongst other things, told me she had worked without makeup and had worked in flats, things I didn’t and still don’t think I could get away with. But for some reason I believed her this time. I was desperate to believe this would go smoothly: I had little money, my exgirlfriend was kicking me out of our apartment, and I really wanted to get laid, even if the sex was shitty. I didn’t want sex, I wanted affirmation that I would be okay.
…I was late and worse had run into friends at the train stop who gave me unspoken judgment for going out alone on Valentine’s dressed like a Mötley Crüe groupie. But John was there: good, I hate waiting for anything ever. He said hi, asked me what I wanted to drink. I said I’d have whatever he’s having. He showed me an AA token. Bad sign number two. I told him whiskey on the rocks. He was impressed. I was unimpressed by him being impressed: girls drink whiskey, boys; get over it. We went to a quiet back room of the bar. He told me he’d like to have a couple of drinks and talk, then take a cab back to his place. Once we were in the cab he’d give me my fee, which I was pleased to hear was higher than what I was going to ask for. I turned on my teen girl ditzy “Oh my god you’re so interesting; please tell me more forever” act. But this time it was hard; maybe it was ‘cause it was the first time I had done this sort of thing with a client (it was a bit more intimate than webcamming or phone sex) or maybe it was cause he was actually incredibly likable. When he talked about his life, it actually sounded like someone I wouldn’t mind going out with.
But he kept asking about me. Too much about me. Asking where I lived (lied), what my family is like (lied), what work I did besides this (lie, lie, lie). It was making me really uncomfortable, lying this much. I am a great liar, specifically when I have little to no respect for the people I am lying to; I view it as that they do not deserve to hear the truth from me. But it was hard to think that about John; I wanted to complain to him about my ex, wanted to tell him how lonely I was, wanted to tell him how I felt like a liar every time my mom asked me if I was okay financially.
So I pulled my wild card too soon: in the middle of him going off about how his girlfriend left him after she caught him looking at tranny porn (at least 30% of clients will tell me some variation of this story) I jumped on top of his lap and started making out with him. And thank Baphomet that I am so shallow and have such high standards in sexual partners, because as soon as he started that fucking propeller tongue shit that straight dudes just love to do I thought, “Yep you’re just a client.”
It was starting to get pretty heated, large wandering hands quickly figuring out the small expanse of my body. Bringing me in, but the affirmation wasn’t there. I still knew that I had been kicked out. It wasn’t working. Well, nothing is more affirming than drinking by yourself on Valentine’s. So I stopped, leaned back, and said in a sultry voice dripping with lust, “Hey let’s get out of here.” But he didn’t want to go just yet, he wanted to talk more. I looked at him with the sweetest look I could muster (whilst the voices in my head yelled, “Bitch I got a fucking handle of Captain at home I don’t want to spend all night listening to the tragedy that is your fucked up fetish.”) and said, “Sugar, we both know why I’m here. I do really like you, but this is work. I’m a pro. It’s time to do this or start paying for the
I am not good at a lot of things. Cooking? Nope. Gardening? Kill everything I touch. Mechanical stuff? No thanks. Making people cry? Oh I wish it were an Olympic event. Whether it is my parents, my teachers, my friends, my partners, complete strangers, bosses, co-workers, and most of all straight white people, my straightforward no-bullshit if you don’t like it you can suck my girly dick attitude turns on the waterworks for people. And here it came: he is so lonely, it is Valentine’s Day, he was hoping after we had talked for so long that it might mean something more. I just kept that sweet understanding expression on my face cause I knew if I budged it an inch my “What the fuck?” face would takeover forever. I just kept repeating sorry and that we needed to go or he needed to pay up now. So he got out his wallet. “I only have $60, is that enough?”
I did this, I thought in the brief few seconds before my emotions took over, I burned myself. “What?” I almost yelled. “What the fuck do you mean $60? What about the money you were going to pay me after the cab ride?”
“Well I was hoping that-“
“Excuse me? Do you understand what my life is? Mister fucking VP? This shit ain’t free. This shit ain’t ever free.” I snatched the $60 out of his hand.
“Let me call you a cab home…”
“Fuck you asshole, get lost.”
I cried all the way home. It was the loneliest train ride though there were a few people apprehensively glaring at the sobbing wreck before them. No one to tell me about the old punk shows at C Squat. No one to tell me they forgive me, I don’t have to be kicked out.
…This story doesn’t have a happy ending, and for most girls like me they normally don’t. We don’t get the chance to be sex worker positive: because I can’t tell stories like this one and have them end on some “And that’s how I stuck up for myself and defeated the patriarchy!” bullshit, I get labeled as a tragic travesty. John emailed me the next day apologizing, saying that he knows I was right and that he was going to abstain from prostitutes forever. I really do think he meant it in a nice way, but it was salt in the wounds. It was a “Look at you, you cold bitch: you just pushed away your meal ticket.” Just as I had pushed away my ex, my friends, my family. Fearing my feelings, choosing sex work because I thought it would be a job where my cold, calculating attitude would be appreciated.
I got my fourth rejection from a porno company that day, telling me to come back in a year once my tits were bigger. Ironically this place said it wanted models with all body types. But what they meant was they wanted cis models with all body types. They want to buy the sex of cis girls, they want me to be their free Valentine’s treat and shoulder to cry on. I wanted chocolates and instead I was given dead roses. I go out to buy my own and they are sold out. I try to make my own and I burn myself. I burn myself. I burn myself.