Cravings: Tell me about your history in the sex industry.
B: My start was gradual because as soon as I turned 18 I wanted to pose naked for somebody and be in Playboy, stuff like that. I was 19 or 20 when I posed for some random dudes on the internet and by the time I was 21 I started stripping. I was a stripper for a little bit, and when I was 22 I tried escorting. I went back to it over the years, for last time when I was 29.
C: What exactly is escorting and how does it work?
B: Sexual favors for money! You are spending time with men, doing whatever they want to do with that time. When I first tried escorting, Craigslist still had the “adult” section and tons of people were looking for sex and willing to pay “200 roses.” When I was a little older there were a lot of so-called “sugar daddy” sites, so I put up a profile.
C: You are no longer a sex worker, but as you move forward with acting and writing, how has your past influenced you? Are you creating stories about that experience?
B: Definitely. I want to make everything! I have a pilot in the works about my stripping days, and I’m working on a screenplay with my boyfriend about my life, and I want to write a book, a memoir based on all the emails I have written…
C: Sounds wonderful. Speaking of the internet - when did you encounter the #YesAllWomen movement and what were your first thoughts?
B: When I first saw it I got really excited, and immediately sent the hashtag to friends. I have a friend who was sexually abused as a child and so I sent her other peoples’ stories and it got her to share her story, which is really great and I’m so proud of her. But while the movement was happening, I didn’t even think at all that I was going to share my story. This shows the residue of shame I still have sometimes, because I can think of so many situations – I have #YesAllWomen stories, we all do – but I never even thought to talk about any of it because the negative voice in my head said “you had this other life where you chose all this stuff.”
C: So you felt like you had made certain choices in your past, and because of that you were not a part of the movement?
B: Right. The way I saw thing, it wasn’t something that had happened to me, which is the way it seemed for other people. I feel like it was a lifestyle that I had chosen so I even wondered if that was anti-#YesAllWomen. I wish I had been one of those sex workers who was a badass and empowered. I am those things now, but I am newly into this freedom. Usually you think of sex work as this hush-hush thing that everyone thinks is bad and so you never talk about it. But now I do!
C: You do! And ultimately you decided to share your story. Tell me about what that was like.
B: I was inspired because my friend shared her story the day before. I thought, if she can do it I can do it! I also thought, there’s this movement happening and I can’t look back on it and say that I didn’t participate in it. I have to. So I went for it. I started drafting the blog post and I remember before clicking publish I was shaking and sweating and could barely breath and I was terrified and excited at the same time. I couldn’t believe I was doing it and then I did it. And it was pretty crazy, at least for the first day.
C: In what way?
B: Knowing that more and more people were reading it.
C: Had your past been a secret from family and friends?
B: It was mostly a secret, although I started telling a few people last year. My friends, family and boyfriend knew.
C: How did you feel about telling the internet, essentially sharing with your entire social and professional networks?
B: That felt relieving. This is just done with now; it’s out there. I went out that night and saw people and kept thinking about if they read it or not, and realized that everything was fine. I’ve gotten nothing but support from everyone.
C: So the response has been positive?
B: It’s been pretty cool. I’ve received so many emails and everybody who has written me I’ve written back. And I’ve got people sharing their stories with me, their secrets and experiences; I had a girl write in and tell me that her ex-boyfriend used to see sex workers, so she doesn’t know if she hates them or feels sorry for them. I got to write a response that suggested the opportunity to practice empathy and compassion in that situation, because your reaction to something is just something within you that you don’t like either. Of course when I was doing it I had all this hate for men, but now I really do empathize with men that hire sex workers. They’re just people seeking love and understanding, just like the women they hire, and that’s the best that they can do in that moment.
C: And if someone reading this is hesitant about participating in the #YesAllWomen movement for a similar reason, what would you say to them?
B: I would say the hardest part is getting it out of you. But once you get it out you will see it’s not as big as you thought it was, and that is such a good feeling. It is scary for a few days, but that’s the vulnerability hangover. You can focus on the fact that you are helping other people - and you will, by sharing, that’s the way it works - and you are giving other people permission to be honest and freeing yourself from that shame. It’s a thing that you’ve held on to that you really don’t need to. It really is a weight being taken off of you and you feel so much more comfortable. You’d think it would be the opposite, but you actually feel more comfortable because you are just owning who you are. Once you do that you see that it’s not a big deal, people don’t hate you, if anything they love you more!
C: Thank you!
B: Thank you!
R. is a Los Angeles based writer with a cat sleeping on her stomach for most of the day. She’d gay marry Ellen Page in a heartbeat.
Photo credit: Nick CP via Creative Commons