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Confessions of an American Whore: Sex Work Holds a Mirror Up to S.F.'s Hidden Kinks and Communities 

Wednesday, Jan 29 2014
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I was also fascinated by human intimacy and desire. I went on a lot of OkCupid dates and had a lot of one-night stands in my exploration of my own sexual identity. When I moved to San Francisco, I discovered that I enjoyed and excelled at kinks and fetishes beyond my wildest dreams, and I was ravenous for more. By the time I began my career at the Lusty, I knew more about sexuality than your average 24-year-old. Eventually, being promiscuous no longer thrilled me. If I was going to have a just-for-fun one-time encounter with someone who was only mediocre at sex, I wanted to be compensated with more than just pizza and beer.

Despite my logical understanding that sex work could be an empowered choice, I was still afraid to make the jump from stripper to hooker. The first time I took an appointment, I was terrified that I wouldn't know what to do or that the client would be rough or mean. Instead, I intuitively knew exactly what to do, the client was attractive and kind, and I made more money in an hour than I ever had.

I lived in the inner Richmond, but to take appointments with clients I would commute across the bridge to a small apartment in the East Bay. The building was modern and secure, but the walk to and from the BART station always made me feel vulnerable. It only took about 10 minutes, some of which I often ran. I don't usually get scared when I walk around in the Bay Area; it's my home. But I was not used to carrying large sums of money around and it made me nervous. The idea of going to the police had also shifted for me. Being a sex worker could put me at risk for incarceration even if I was the victim of a crime. I tucked the money I had made for the day under the arches of my feet in my canvas tennis shoes. It made the shoes too tight and the walk to the train painful. I must have looked ridiculous: a freckle-faced girl with an overstuffed bag full of dildoes and cheap lingerie limping down the street at full speed. Riding back to the city on BART, I tried not to make eye contact with anyone for fear that my secret identity would be revealed. In hindsight, I'm sure I wasn't fooling anyone, since the riding crop I used for sessions was a bit too big for my bag and poked the people I stood next to when the train was crowded.

My paranoia was perhaps a bit overblown at first, but not unwarranted. Though I sometimes feared arrest or robbery, I rarely feared my clients. I've been fortunate enough to have largely positive experiences at work. The Bay Area is home to a diverse group of eccentric people with disposable incomes. My clients were often nerdy, and always interesting. From Google-busers to sensitive New Age guys from Marin, they were often surprisingly endearing. San Francisco offers a buffet of sexual explorations, from festive polyamorous play parties to elaborate professional dungeons. I've had the opportunity to explore those things, but many of my clients have not. Some of my clients are in relationships that do not allow them to explore their kinks, some have professional identities that make public exploration impossible, and some are simply curious and want to explore their desires with a professional before embarking on a journey on their own. My clients and I have a great deal in common. If my life had gone a different way and I had ended up in a more traditional lifestyle, I might be paying someone to tie me up and tickle me as well.

Not everyone I see is kinky, though. Some are looking for something as vanilla as a glass of wine and a heated conversation about the merits of Star Trek vs. Star Wars. The reasons they come see me are as varied as their desires. I'll say it: Many of my clients are married. Some of their spouses know that they see me, some of them don't. For the ones that don't, they see their time with me as something that enables them to stay in a marriage that, aside from a lack of intimacy, is successful. Unlike having an affair though, I will never text a client in the middle of the night when he is home with his family. I will never get upset when a client chooses to spend time with his family rather than with me. I would never expect or desire for my client to leave his wife to be with me. I am a professional, and I am pro-marriage. I intend my services to support the relationships that matter to my clients the most, not to destroy them.

People ask me, "What if he's ugly?" My attraction to a client is largely irrelevant. When I find my clients attractive, it's a bonus, but it's not a requirement. The service I provide is companionship, and when someone is respectful, generous, and communicative, I am almost certain to have a good time with them.

I am reminded of when I used to work as a waitress. It wouldn't matter if someone was attractive or interesting, I would still serve them. But certain customers are more pleasant than others and that always made the job more enjoyable. I looked forward to the man who came into the restaurant I worked at every Thursday, ordered a BLT and a chocolate milkshake, talked baseball with me, and always left a large tip. Now I look forward to my weekly client who likes to be spanked, brings me comic books, talks baseball with me, and always leaves a large tip.

Like most people, I also have hard days at work. Sometimes I don't want to put on makeup and lingerie and exude old Hollywood sexuality and coquettish moans; some nights I'd rather stay at home with my cat and watch Game of Thrones. I imagine most people feel that way. I chose sex work for many reasons, but mainly because I enjoyed the work, I excelled at it, and it allowed me to live in the city that I love. I understood that choosing sex work made me vulnerable to criminalization and stigma, but seeing myself as an entrepreneur fulfilled me in a way work never had before. People hope to find a job that is best suited to their skills and interests, and for me, that job is sex work.


When I embarked on my career in the sex industry in 2010, I was fairly certain I would die a glittery spinster. I pictured myself with my radical stripper compatriots growing old together in a commune for aging whores. I was not in search of a boyfriend, let alone a husband.

About The Author

Siouxsie Q

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