I was a stripper long before OnlyFans. Sex workers today need to be honest about the industry
A few years ago, when I saw the mother of a friend of my eight year old son at the grocery store, she asked me, “I saw your yoga pose photo on Facebook. You are so flexible… You were a dancer?
Shame washed over me, I never know what to say.
“Sort of,” I replied, shrugging my shoulders.
I wanted to answer the question honestly, but correctly. I don’t like to be deceitful.
Yes, I was a dancer. Not the kind of dancer she was thinking of. She had in mind images of a ballerina in a tutu, but for anyone who knows my past, this is not the kind of costume I wore.
I never know how someone will react if I made money undressing, so you better never go into details.
I started to undress when I was 18. As an actress, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to strip down and pretend to be a stripper, so I did. I was thinking of financing my move to New York to become a famous actress. Surprise, surprise, but I ended up undressing a lot longer than I thought I would, and I never became a famous actress, even though I made a living doing it for a few years.
When I was dancing the only way to make extra money was to go out to private rooms or during lap dances, which put me at a disadvantage because I wanted to do everything legally. I did a few risky photoshoots on the side, and I was never the one to make any money from the photos that were taken of me. I was paid an hourly wage and then that was it – someone else owned my images. They had a piece of my ass. When I look at what sex workers are capable of achieving in terms of control and autonomy over sites like OnlyFans these days, I am jealous.
The simple fact is that sex work is difficult and often not very enjoyable – but a lot of sex workers don’t want to talk about it. When I published my first post on the difficult aspects of stripping, a few online sex workers berated me that it was not good for people like me to talk about the negative aspects – than I should. write only about the positive aspects of striptease and sex work. . We only have to show the accountability side of it, not the negative, otherwise we were doing an injustice to our female colleagues in the industry.
It was strange to be berated by other sex workers who wanted to dictate my experience and how I expressed it. Why not show the truth of the world we inhabit? I felt like they were saying that the only way to make peace with sex work is to say that everything is good and empowering. But that was not my experience – although I tried to reframe myself this way on several occasions.
Do not mistake yourself. There were some positives about stripping: a cash salary, the ability to set my own schedules, and sometimes a sense of power and glamor. But the experience changed my personal life. To say otherwise would be dishonest.
Over the past few days, news has come that OnlyFans will be reversing its decision to ban explicit material, at least for now (https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/25/onlyfans- says-it-will-no- plus-ban-porn-after-backlash-from-users.html). I celebrate this decision and believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to control their choices. But there are also implications for the ease of OnlyFans. There’s bound to be a new crush on young women who decide to strip down and sell themselves naked in order to quell a financial crisis. Many of them will run after the “empowerment” promised by sex workers who are already in the industry.
At this point in the story, I think you’d be hard pressed to come up with a convincing argument for how a woman should not be allowed to make her own choices about what to do with her body. It’s easy to see how feminist ideals can be framed in such a way that they can be seen as stimulating to get naked and earn money for it. But it’s also important to be honest. I owe the young women of today this honesty.
Before OnlyFans and the ability for sex workers to control their images and safety, most of the stages actual exotic dancers performed on weren’t like New York City. Notes movie scene scammers, where I also performed in the early 90s. And pole dancing only existed in the “gentlemen’s clubs” of the big cities, not in the sleepy bars of the small towns where most of the dancers made a living. Instead of the thousands of dollars earned per night, many dancers worked double shifts to return home with a few hundred dollars, sore muscles and shattered self-esteem from the harsh working conditions.
OnlyFans gives sex workers another option and a greater ability to control their experience. But just like strippers, models will also get used to the easy money and feeling of adulation online. Few people will think about how society might react to them as they get older, or how they might find themselves trapped in a career they don’t want to do forever. It still doesn’t sound cool telling another mom I was a stripper.
I always said that I had never been a stripper; I was only acting the part. She was not who I was. But for a little while, I really thought that Kirea – my stripper alter ego – was who I was or who I should be. I got lost in this identity. I would hate to see a whole new slew of young women looking for their identity in other people’s opinions about them because of the easy and glamorous money they hear is possible on OnlyFans.
May be scammers and all the positive talk about being sex workers will help us openly say what we are, what we were and show the truth of it all – not just easy money, but the belly of possible damage to a young woman’s true sense of self and power.
I want people who are considering getting into sex work to know that they are more than a body, that they have value and that if they make the choice to be a sex worker, they can do the job consciously and in a healthy way. . There are good things and bad in the industry, and I’m proud to have survived them. I now realize that it’s OK to say that Kirea was and is a part of me. Likewise, she is not the only part.