This Time, It's Personal

Home This Time, It's Personal

Sex Working While Jewish In America

(Photo via Flickr user Howard Lifshitz)

We are witnessing the blossoming of a white nationalist nation. Being the person that I am is not easy in the United States right now. It’s not easy for my friends, my family, or millions of Black people, Jews, and LGBTQI people.

I’m an Iranian, Tunisian, French and Jewish sex worker. I immigrated from France to the U.S. as a child. I still hold a fair amount of privilege; my skin is light, unlike that of many of my family members, and I am a high-income sex worker. With that, I’m still confronted with Islamophobia—many people assume I’m Muslim because I’m Middle Eastern—and anti-Semitism both in my personal and professional lives.

I was raised with Judaism but I’m a secular Jew. I’m a Hebrew school dropout. My feelings about religion are very complicated and honestly, it often makes me quite uncomfortable. Every time I walk around New York and see white Hasidic Jews, I feel both otherness—we are culturally different and I’m not a nice Jewish girl—and a connection to them.

The thing that makes me feel most Jewish is knowing how much people hate us. People hate them as people hate me. I’ve been to Nazi death camps and I remember looking at a flyer in one camp’s museum. There were excerpts from a pamphlet the Nazis passed out during the war. It was titled How to Spot a Jew, containing several highly racist caricatures presented as what to look out for. Those racist caricatures all looked like me. I don’t need to have religious garb on to be recognized as Jewish, and I still see those caricatures being used in reactionary media today.

I’ve been conflicted about saying anything about anti-Semitism under my work persona. I struggle with being politically vocal while still trying to make money and remain appealing to wealthy clients.

But when I’m faced with these prejudices at work, it hurts to be silent. I feel like I’ve lost. My racial identities come up too often at work to ignore. I once posted a photo online of myself post-menstrual sex, and someone’s response was: “Now I know why Hitler gassed the Jews.” People frequently point out my big nose. I’ve been called a “terrorist,” “camel pussy”, and “kike” on client-facing social media quite a bit.

When I was younger and new to sex work, I was afraid to set boundaries and money was scarce, so I took jobs that I wouldn’t take now that I’m in a better financial situation. I think all performers of color are faced with this experience. I’ve been in a movie called Women Of the Middle East, and have been cast as a belly dancer many times. I was always being given the information that I would be participating in a racial fetish scene only after I had traveled, paid for testing, been booked, etc. I’ve had a director make jokes about needing machine guns as props for Middle Eastern vibes, and I’ve had to fuck a white man in a turban with black eyeliner. Clients still ask me to wear hijabs.

A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free: Phone Sex On And After 9/11

("Nose art" by Alberto Vargas)
(“Nose art” by Alberto Vargas)

I will forever associate foot fetishism with terrorism. Although George W. Bush had been in office for almost a year, 9/11 was when “the Bush years” really got rolling. I’d been politically curious my whole life, and activism-oriented in recent years, energized and excited by the emerging global trends that were dubbed the “anti-globalization movement.” A friend and I had just submitted an article discussing the murder of Carlo Guiliani to Onward!, a now-defunct anarchist newspaper. Guiliani was killed by police during protests against the G8 summit in Genoa, in July 2001 and our article contrasted his movement martyrdom to that of the Kent State Four, and the less famous Jackson State Two. It was exciting to be wanking theoretical, especially about how we, as US-based members of A Movement, might effectively organize domestically for change without an obvious and tangible Big Bad (i.e. The War) to rally people around.

Hahahahahaha!

The article was outdated before the issue went to press. Suddenly, years of organizing and strategizing around the IMF and World Bank policy were blown out of the water and there was a new, even more mass-murderous game in town. Soon we’d have two big, obvious wars, not to mention the racist detentions of Arabs and Muslims right here in Brooklyn, a wave of attacks on mosques, massive crackdowns on civil liberties, endless new, tangible evils, and not much more by way of an effective mass movement.

When the first plane hit the north tower, I was in Manhattan, near the Empire State Building, talking to a foot fetishist. I worked the Tuesday morning shift at a phone sex bank—someone had to. This was the fourth Tuesday I’d swiped in ten minutes before 8 a.m., picked up my headset and booth sign stating my stage name and “girl number,” settled into a vacant cubicle on the talking floor and logged in for early morning action.

Romance & Relationships: A Stripper’s Love Story

As I’m writhing under the crimson-lit, leather furnished room, his eyes never leave my face. Although my glance is cast downward, I know that he is smiling and I sense his contentment. I don’t bother to hide my smirk, as I lower my lips to his neck, and deliberately graze them across the wiry brush of his beard. My knees are at either side of his waist, and I wind my waist around until I press against the bulge in his pants. He exhales against my cheek.

The last week when he visited, I giggled quietly to myself as he fucked me from behind, out of sight and sound of the other customers, staff and my coworkers. Tonight we are in the smaller, more visible private-dance room. The gauze-like curtain does little to hide our activities tonight, and so I will maintain my professionalism. Peripherally, I can see a bachelor party gawking from the couches adjacent to us.

The thumping rhythm comes to an end, and with the sound of DJ Robert’s voice, I loudly sigh and plop back in to the chair. My husband closes his eyes, and takes a breath, before reaching for his beer.

“Well, thank you Penguin,” he says to me, as he reaches in to his pocket and passes money to my outstretched hands. I daintily take it, and tuck it into my waist cincher as I bend to kiss him on the cheek. He knows the drill. Apparently he is also aware of the couch-gawkers. The bills are singles rather than twenties, but it is of no matter; I’ll surely just use them to buy us coffee in the morning.

I stand to give him a hug, as I do most of my well-paying customers. I step from the room, smiling, keeping my gaze level with the crowd, and hold the curtain open for him. My beautiful, bearded man returns to the bar, and I head to the bachelor couch.

Smiling bigger than I mean to, I greet them. “Well, hello, gentlemen. I couldn’t help but notice you watching. So…who’s next?”

I’m The Sex Worker Who Was Outed As Hugo Schwyzer’s Sexting Partner

This post was removed at the author’s request.

An Extras Girl in Australia

maxines_barI get into work at the strip club and put my bag down. “Who is leaving all these condoms around here? We’re not fucking whores!” “Why do people have condoms in here, it’s meant to be a STRIP CLUB, who is doing that shit?” I replied straight back, “They’re not mine, but what’s the big deal? Lots of us do extras.” Hours pass, and in a quieter, more private moment, the same worker who said this earlier confides to me that she does extras too.

The first sex work I did was in a strip club—in the state I was living in at the time (Victoria, Australia) there is a complex legal system for the sex industry which means to work legally for yourself you must register with your legal name and only do outcalls. The only other way to work legally is in a brothel where the money cuts are less and you had to attend monthly invasive health checks to work (recently reduced to once every three months). Neither of these options really appealed to me, so I chose to work in a way that was criminalized, but where I could keep the maximum amount of my money, take care of my own health, have the maximum amount of control over how I worked and also avoid police as much as possible. I chose to work in a strip club.