The Private Lives of Public People 

Do Sex Professionals Take Their Work Home With Them?

Legendary screen hooker Julia Roberts had a rule that her clients could never kiss her on the mouth. This, apparently, was to maintain some kind of barrier between the sexual transaction and the obvious intimacy of exchanging saliva. Of course, in the end she lets handsome, rich Dick Gere plant one on the lips, effectively blurring the line between her professional and private lives. It’s a very moving scene. After watching Pretty Woman eight or nine times, we began to wonder about how sex professionals in general deal with the line between their careers and their bedrooms — so we asked a bunch of them about it.

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JAYME WAXMAN, SEXPERT
Age:
33
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: I don’t like to use labels, but if I had to pick one I’d say I’m try-sexual. I’m willing to try (almost) anything once.
City: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Professional Life: Sex educator, writer, director, producer, host and author (jamyewaxman.com)
Relationship Status: In a relationship with a man. We currently live together. We are mostly monogamous, but not always.

How has your job impacted your personal sex life? 
For starters, I’m desensitized to sex talk. I can talk about orgasms, penis, vagina, whatever – anywhere. The titillation factor is gone. Also, I don’t make as much noise as my partner would like because I work in porn (hosting, directing, producing) and I can’t stand when a girl sounds overly fake. Since I’m around the loud oohs and oh baby’s often, I don’t want to say anything unless it comes naturally. So my partner might complain that I’m too quiet in bed, but I’m working on that. We just took a Tantra workshop last weekend and I’m learning to express myself. Also, I’m numb to porn since I watch lots every month for work. What I find even funnier is that my partner will sometimes beg me to turn off the porn. It’s such a gender reversal. And I love to use sex toys. Which is positive mostly, but sometimes I think it’d be better if I spent more time with hands. Get back in touch with my body that way.

Has your job led to uncomfortable situations?
Sometimes because you’re working around sex, it’s difficult to find the line between sex positive and sexual harassment. Where in a regular office job, it’s not cool for your co-worker to tell you that you have a great ass, when you’re working on a porn set talking about tits and ass all day, it’s just different. Sometimes people mistake my level of comfort around the topic with my level of availability. I was at a party once where this guy was trying to get me to have sex with him. It was a kinky, fetish party and everyone was doing something, but I just wanted to watch. He kept trying, forcefully, to get me into a hot tub with him. The other people in the room were encouraging me to play with him, and finally I screamed at the top of my lungs “You’re all sex positive people in here, right? So when doesn’t ‘no’ mean ‘no?’” That shut them up, and they apologized for trying to push me. I have my voice, and I know how to use it, but I don’t think lots of young girls in this industry feel that way. That’s definitely a scary thing.

BRIGITTE PHILIPIDDES, SOCIAL COMMENTARY PAINTER
Age:
40
Gender: Female
City: West Village, Manhattan
Professional Life: head of Polyamorous NYC (poly-nyc.com), star of forthcoming doc-series (RE)Inventing Love.

How frequently do you engage in sexual activity? Depends on how busy I am with Poly-NYC and making paintings about my sexual activity.

How has your job impacted your personal sex life?
My painting is completely diaristic of my sex life, and my sex life is a sort of muse for my painting. And it helps that I have multiple partners and relationships and am the head of Polyamorous NYC. It might not be as powerful if I had no relationships and weren’t the leader of a poly networking site. It kinda gives me street cred on both levels.

Do you sometimes have to separate between your personal and professional lives? I’ve had to set very stringent boundaries around my private life, just in order to have a private life. My main partner and I get a lot of attention everywhere we go: people want to be with us and touch us and we do things like photo shoots together. Then we also have a lot of alone time when we’re just together and that helps, but it took me about two years to come to terms with putting my entire sex life out there. I think sex education matters and I think it’s crucial to show that there are alternatives out there for people who are really frustrated with the paradigms that we have today in relationships. I’m willing go out and use the example of my personal life to empower other people and show them that there are other ways of having a love life than monogamy.

How do you wish sex were different?
I wish people had less shame and actually lived the sex life of their dreams.

Has your work led you to expand your sexual comfort zone? Absolutely, because I’ve got to find new material to paint about, and I’m around people who are very sexually empowered and it encourages me to be more sexually empowered. And I’ve learned stuff from others by seeing what they’re doing and thinking: “Hm, I’d never thought of that, maybe I want to do that…”

JOHN, CABARET PERFORMER
Age:
37
Gender: Male
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
City: Vancouver, Canada
Professional Life: Member of The Wet Spots (performing at the Zipper Factory July 27, wetspotsmusic.com)
Relationship Status: In a polyamorous marriage. Both my wife Cass and I have partners outside of our marriage.

How frequently do you engage in sexual activity?
It varies wildly. When we are on tour, my wife and I have far more sex with one another than we do when we are at home. Most of our partners outside our primary relationship live in cities other than our home town, so when we visit these other cities, we also have more sex overall. The road is sexy for us.

How does work influence your personal sex life? My wife Cass is my primary partner and also my professional performing partner. Our professional life involves thinking about sex and the things that make it comedic, which are often the same things that make it tragic. Mostly it's about telling awkward truths. Consequently, our communication between one another in our personal sex life is very honest and straightforward.

How has your job impacted your personal sex life? In my public life I advocate for happy, healthy, shameless sexuality. When I find myself facing my own sexual hang-ups, dry spells or sexual problems in my private life, I sometimes feel that I am falling short of the character I embody onstage.

How do you wish sex were different? I really wish that there were more BDSM, fetish, play and swing venues that didn't try to be all gothic and dark and ominous. I prefer a more playful, creative, humorous vibe.
Has your job led to uncomfortable situations? Sometimes because we have just sung a song about spankings or butt plugs, an audience member will come up after the show and start talking to us about how they like to fist their pet goat using peanut butter as lube and would we like to come over to their house and watch and then we can all have sandwiches? This is uncomfortable only because we have to decline. Cass hates sandwiches.

ANONYMOUS, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST
Age: 62
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
City: Los Angeles area
Relationship Status: Married

How has your job impacted your personal sex life? My work helps me communicate better in my personal sex life.  My son always felt comfortable while growing up asking me all of his questions about sex.

How do you wish sex were different?
I wish people from all societies and subgroups would understand the biopsychosocial basis of sex better so that societal issues were based more on scientific information than opinion.
Has your job led to uncomfortable situations? No. If a licensed clinical psychologist does have sexual feelings for a patient, even though they are not communicated nor acted upon, ethically that psychologist must seek a colleague’s help with resolving those feelings so they do not contaminate the therapeutic relationship or else the psychologist must terminate the patient.

Has your work led you to expand your sexual comfort zone? Yes, I have learned more about the importance of romance and communication for men, not just women, in sexual relationships from the feedback I have received from male patients.

TARA TAINTON, SEX WRITER
Age:
33
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: Bi-curious
City: Las Vegas, Nevada
Professional Life: amateur adult performer, amateur erotic model (taratainton.com)
Relationship Status: Living with male partner in a committed, open relationship.

How did you get into your line of work? I've been writing erotic material for just over 3 years now, and at the beginning of 2008 started sharing erotic photos and adult videos of myself. I've found this new venture challenging and a natural progression, enabling lots of new experiences. I've also unexpectedly discovered comfort appearing nude and in compromising positions on camera. I really relish how the adult business community welcomes, nurtures, and supports independent, freelance work and careers. Since leaving my last "real job" in 2003, I've maintained a personal goal of never being employed by someone else for the rest of my life.

How work influences personal sex life? With the video venture, I've found that the increased frequency of sex has directly increased my natural libido. At the same time, such an intimate act being relied upon for a portion of my income has sort of taken away something that was just between my partner and me. Even when we're in the mood and about to indulge in sexual activity, our business instinct urges us to get the camera and not waste any of the action. We're actively trying to work out a better arrangement, a better balance between sex-for-work and sex-for-us. That said, the new line of work has added a great deal to our shared sex life. We feel more encouraged, supported, and confident in trying new sexual experiences, fetishes, toys, etc. because we're having more sex and want to keep it fresh, creative and fun. Modeling for erotic photos and appearing regularly on video for public view, I've also gained a great deal more personal confidence and self-esteem. I've learned to see my body as more beautiful and attractive, to ignore my perceived faults, and appreciate my body and personality much more.

How has your job affected your partners' attitudes towards sex? He definitely believes he doesn't get enough off-camera time with me. At the same time, he enjoys the new challenges we set ourselves sexually, the new roles we've tried, and even his being able to play a more dominant role (as is the norm in the adult business) in our sexual activity than happened when we had sex all to ourselves. I'm actually the more naturally aggressive one.

STEPHANIE SELLARS, SEX BLOGGER
Age:
31
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: Queer / bisexual
City: Manhattan
Professional Life: performer, filmmaker (sslustlife.blogspot.com)
Relationship Status: Seriously partnered with benefits

How has your job impacted your personal sex life? Being a professional artist allows me to be more sexually creative. The only negative aspect would be that sometimes intense creative focus depletes time and energy from my sex life.

Do you sometimes have to separate between your personal and professional lives? There is very little separation between work and pleasure in my life. If I'm working with someone on an ongoing basis, and I am attracted to that person, I would in most cases refrain from acting on that attraction, in order to avoid the messes that may occur from screwing on the job, so to speak. But I met my boyfriend at an audition for a film I produced. I cast him as the lead, and then I jumped into his pants. So it really depends on the circumstances.
How has your job affected your partners' perceptions of you? Everyone wants to fuck a sex columnist. Because I put myself out in the world (through my art) as a bisexual libertine, people meeting me for the first time often assume I'll screw anything or that I'm a sex goddess with a heart of stone. They're often surprised at how shy and vulnerable I can be.

How has your job affected your partners' attitudes towards sex? My sexual openness in my professional life inspires curiosity in my partners. My current partner had a sexual awakening as a result of our relationship. At another time, I had a partner who challenged how I was living my life. Even though he was open to the polyamorous lifestyle I was documenting in my column, he ultimately found it too flawed to try on for himself. Generally, unless a lover is already in my world, my "job" – which is really my life – opens my partners' eyes to another world of sexuality, inspiring fantasies that they didn't think were possible in reality for them.

RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL, WRITER
Age:
32
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
City: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Professional Life: Senior Editor at Penthouse Variations, erotica editor (rachelkramerbussel.com)
Relationship Status: I'm in a long distance relationship.

How would you define “sex”? When I'm with guys I think of sex as penis/vagina intercourse. Other things are sexual, but not exactly the same. I realize this makes no sense because I treat the same acts (say, oral sex) as sex with women. It's confusing, though, because I've had spanking scenes that were some of the most arousing things I've ever done, but there was no sex. Well, there was masturbation, but I wouldn't say "I had sex with that person." At the end of the day, though, I don't have some hard and fast definition.

How has your job impacted your personal sex life?
The positive impacts are that I'm very open-minded, moreso than I was before I started this. I've gotten to interview and hear about all sorts of fetishes, fantasies and practices that opened my eyes and made me less judgmental, and I'd like to think that makes me a better lover overall. The negative impacts are that I can never meet anyone and not have them Google me, read about my past sex life and form judgments. I had one guy ask me out via email (we knew each other through mutual friends) and right after "Do you want to go out sometime?" he was asking if I'm a top or a bottom. There's this assumption that if I go on a date with someone, I'll sleep with them. I think people also assume that I'm looking for no strings attached sex when I'm actually very romantic and care way less about sexual exploits than having a loving, close relationship (one with plenty of sexual fun too). That's something I struggle with a lot because I want to talk back to the haters, and I can't. I run a blog about cupcakes (Cupcakes Take the Cake) and a stranger emailed me to say how horrible it is that I run the site that she reads with her daughter but also write about sex. Literally, she wrote, "You should not exist." That's troubling to me. Or, for instance, I've written a lot about spanking, and am a big fan of spanking, but I don't do that with everyone I sleep with. It's not an all the time thing and people shouldn't assume they know what I'm into sexually from reading things I've written.

How do you wish sex were different? I wish sex toys were thought of not just as masturbation aids but as parts of couples' sex lives. There are so many amazing toys (and some can be household items, like a ruler to spank someone with) that can add a lot of fun in the bedroom (or wherever).

AMY LEVINE, SEXOLOGIST
Age:
36
Gender: Female
City: Manhattan
Professional Life: Certified Sexuality Educator, founder of Sex Ed Solutions (sexedsolutions.com)
Relationship Status: Married

How has your job impacted your personal sex life? I have a heightened awareness to what I need to do when I feel out of sync. Many people think sex is supposed to be seamless like in movies and on TV, or as explosive as the pop culture mags suggest. The reality is it's completely natural for our sex lives to wax and wane for a number of reasons. Living in this city alone can take its toll – there are so many things to do that if you don't make time for sex (solo sex included) it's easy to get sidetracked.

Do you sometimes have to separate between your personal and professional lives?
Since I know a lot about sex – sometimes too much – I can get a bit neurotic at times.  I might be having sex and have to remind myself to be in the moment instead of taking notes in my head.

How do you wish sex were different? I wish we were all empowered at an early age to love our body, respect ourselves, know the characteristics of a healthy relationship, feel comfortable talking about sexuality, learn the facts about our sexual health and safer sex, know how to make decisions in our best interest, build a knowledgeable support system, and more. Basically all the things parents and caregivers ideally provide at home and a comprehensive sexuality education program reinforces. Unfortunately, this isn't the norm in America these days, not even in New York.

How has your job affected your partners' perceptions of you?
When I was single it was a great way to weed out the boys from the men. If their jaw dropped when I mentioned my profession or that I had my own weekly sex Q&A column on Cosmo's website, it was a deal breaker. When I dated my husband, he learned early on that no topic was off limits. He loves me, sexpert and all.

YVONNE K. FULBRIGHT, SEX EDUCATOR
Age: 32
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Relationship Status: Partnered, but not married.

How did you get into your line of work? I found my passion for sex education in the sixth grade, when I gave a presentation on conception and the female reproductive system. My classmates were spellbound and I realized I could do something few could – openly talk about sex comfortably. I knew I’d found my calling.
How has your job impacted your personal sex life? Given my comfort level, I tend to be the one who brings the “strength” component to sexual enjoyment. By that, I mean that I am good at affirming my lover’s concerns, desires and feelings – I like to think that I create a safe space for sharing. Along with this “leadership” quality, past lovers may have seen the fact that they’re not in the driver’s seat as a negative. Men have admitted to feeling intimidated by what I do for a living and what I know. I’m not exactly the sort that’s easy to take home to meet mom, even if I’m an academic.

How do you wish sex were different? I wish that people could adopt ancient Eastern approaches to sex that involve it being a way of honoring another. I wish that lovers would respect each other more. I wish that people knew how to be good communicators – that we were raised to be such with our lovers. I wish that people wouldn’t use each other as much as they do.

Has your work led you to expand your sexual comfort zone?
I haven’t let it. There are people in my field who think that you need to experience something in order to be an expert on it. And while there can be benefits in commenting on something because of experience, it shouldn’t be a requirement. That’s like saying a vegetarian chef needs to eat beef in order to comment on its nutritional value. Come on. We all have our own boundaries, preferences, and desires, and they all need to be respected.

NAN WISE, SEX THERAPIST
Age:
50
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: 2 on the Kinsey scale (0 being completely heterosexual, 6 completely homosexual). I’m more attracted to men sexually, but emotionally I’m very attracted to women and have had connections with women that included sexual contact.
Race: Caucasian
Professional Life: neuroscience sex-researcher (thedesirecurve.com), meaning that I work with a team of people who study the brain in relationship to sexuality. We put people in a scanner and have them self-stimulate then analyze their brain activity during sexual stimulation to analyze the neuroscience of sex.
Relationship Status: Married

How do you wish sex were different?
I feel strongly that we need to get over this whole bullshit about being secretive and hypocritical about our sexuality. You’re basically guilty until proven innocent if you do something other than heterosexual monogamy. I wish we were more comfortable being authentic about our sexual selves, and I think if we were, we’d be less driven by it in a negative way. There are so many health benefits to sexuality, both physically and emotionally. It makes people feel more in touch with their bodies and I think if we were more in touch with our bodies we wouldn’t be so god-damned fat. We have an epidemic of obscene obesity because we’re not in our bodies, we’re heads on sticks. Being in touch with your body is one of the most joyful things about being alive, and I think if you’re more in touch with your body it’s much harder to mistreat it.

Has your work led you to expand your sexual comfort zone? There are times when I’ve had clients whose practices are somewhat radical. Like, for example, there are people who call themselves adult babies and who want to wear diapers and indulge in infantilizing fantasies, or I’ve had clients who’ve wanted to have sex with animals; things where I bump into my own biases and discomforts. I think my work has encouraged me to accept that there are lots of unique erotic fingerprints. When I put my biases aside I realize that even if it’s something that makes me uncomfortable, there’s something positive in this for that person. I’m not going to go by the normative standards – which are so biased – I’m there to help people figure out where they want to go and how best to get there.

VERONICA VICIOUS, FETISH WRESTLER
Age:
29
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: Queer, bisexual, polyamorous
City: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Relationship Status: I have a boyfriend and a girlfriend.

How did you get into your line of work?
I’ve always wrestled athletically and taken a lot of self-defense classes. I kicked a man’s ass in public when he hurt a female friend of mine and people seemed to find it entertaining and also really erotic, and I enjoyed it too. So when I came to New York I started jell-o wrestling and was really good at both the athletic side and the showy, sexy performance side, so I was recruited to do it for pay. I’ve been getting paid to wrestle for about three years now. I wrestle men privately in hour sessions so they can experience being physically dominated by a woman, without the need for whips or floggers, just my strong little body. I also make wrestling videos, have some clips on YouTube, and just won a gold medal at national championships for my division. I have an awesome feminist manager and I work through the agency Doom Maidens (they’re hiring, doommaidens.com).

How has your job impacted your personal sex life? Being involved in what I consider a type of feminist sex work has forced me to clarify my personal boundaries. I consider it sex work because it fulfills fantasy, and feminist because I follow my own personal limits of no nudity or sexual contact. It’s taught me to be a better communicator about my needs and boundaries and never do anything that I don’t want to do. I also get to explore other people’s fantasy worlds in a very personal way; they tell me things they don’t even tell their wives or therapists. The downside is that sometimes I am turned off by creepy clients – very rarely or I wouldn’t do it – and that encourages me to swing towards the lesbian side of my sexuality and I don’t want to feel attracted to guys for a while. But it’s mostly positive.

How has your job affected your partners' perceptions of you? Some previous boyfriends have been jealous and alarmed that although I don’t have sex for money I am fulfilling wrestling fantasies in close contact with clients, and they’ve wanted me to stop. My current partners believe I’m strong enough to make my own decisions and that I wouldn’t let myself be exploited. My boyfriend and girlfriend both think it’s sexy that they’re dating an international fetish icon.

How has your job affected your partners' attitudes towards sex? I think it’s intimidating to dominate me. When I came back from making fetish movies across Europe – dominating men in London, Amsterdam and Berlin – and I came back and wanted to have the vulnerability of being dominated, my partners were reluctant because they were intimidated.

REID MIHALKO, SEX AND RELATIONSHIP EDUCATOR
Age:
40
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
City: New York City
Professional Life: co-founder of Speed Flirting and Cuddle Party (cuddleparty.com)
Relationship Status: Non-monogamous, currently in three relationships.

How did you get into your line of work? I came to it from being a bartender. That got me started as someone who was allowed, by culture, to talk about sex and relationships. Then more personally, I wanted to understand what about my mum and dad’s relationship didn’t work. They were awesome parents but their inability to communicate as a couple started to affect their parenting. So I was very interested in figuring out what they were missing and how to improve on that.

How has your job impacted your personal sex life? Lots of how I educate people is role modeling, so I try to walk my talk and be in relationships that have integrity, take the time to listen and do the work. All those things that I preach to people on how to develop their own relationships I try to live as well. I’m not trying to tell them to be me, I’m just saying: “This is who I discovered myself to be and these are the tools that helped me discover that. These are the communication skills and perspectives that have helped empower me in my relationships. I invite you to use these tools and go build the home that you’ve always dreamed of. But don’t build a house that looks just like mine, this is my house.”

How do you wish sex were different? I wish that in our country we could talk more openly about sex and that people weren’t so judgmental and shameful about sex. As someone who works nationally, I have to be constantly aware of the bubble effect. I hang out with sex educators and pornstars so it’s easy to forget, and part of my job is to remind myself of what’s possible and who I’m working with. That’s just being a good educator: speaking to the lowest common denominator so everyone can hear you, and at the same time deepening the discourse by inviting people to step up and expand their comfort zones.

LUX ALPTRAUM, SEX BLOGGER
Age:
25
Sexual Orientation: I prefer not to label myself, but under duress, I will go with bisexual.
City: New York, NY
Professional Life: Associate Editor, Fleshbot.com. Editor, Boinkology.com.
Relationship Status: Taken! 

How did you enter into your line of work? I've been working in sex, in one way or another, for over ten years.  I've worked in a variety of sex-related fields: anti-violence education, HIV pretest counseling, adolescent sex education, pornography, and sex writing/blogging. I started Boinkology about a year ago, after getting frustrated with the limited breadth of discussion around sex that was happening on the internet.  About two months after I started Boinkology I was invited to come on as a contributor at Fleshbot, which led to a position on the editorial staff.

What are the positive impacts of your profession on your personal sex life? What are the negative impacts? Positives: I am knowledgable about sex, sexual health, and birth control; all of which helps me have better, safer, healthier sex. I get access to awesome porn. I get sex toys for free. Because I'm so used to talking about sex, I'm very comfortable discussing my needs and desires with my partners, which makes for great sex.
Negatives: I used to be afraid that my line of work would make me unappealing to potential partners, but I've since realized that anyone who feels that way is not someone I'd be interested in dating. So I guess I don't really have negatives?  I really like sex, so writing about it all the time doesn't numb me to it or anything.
How has your job affected your partners' perceptions of you? Who I am and what I do are so intricately connected that it's really hard for me to separate them enough to answer this question. Even when I wasn't writing about sex, I was still sexually open, experimental, and interested in talking about sex -- the job didn't really create anything that wasn't already there.

COLLEGE CALLGIRL, SEX BLOGGER, FORMER CALL GIRL
Age:
25
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual, but just in a slutty way. I have had sex with men and women but am mostly straight.   
City: New York, NY
Professional Life: Writer/editor/former callgirl

How do you feel that your work influences your personal sex life? It never really did. Sex at home is way different than sex on the job. If anything, my real boyfriends get cheated because I don’t feel compelled to perform for them, putting on a big sexy show like I would for a client. Real sex, real intimacy, shouldn’t be about smoke and mirrors, bells and whistles.

What are the positive impacts of your profession on your personal sex life? What are the negative impacts? Having to tell boyfriends you have worked as a callgirl narrows your dating pool down right away. But if you don’t tell you feel like the other person will never really be able to know you. But when’s a good time to bring it up?

How do you wish sex were different, given your personal and professional experiences? I love sex! One thing I’ve learned is that people should be more open-minded about their sexual partners. As a callgirl, I have had mindblowing sex with people I might not have given a second glance to otherwise. Chemistry isn’t about your “type.” It just happens, and when two people have good chemistry, it leads to explosive sex. 

How has your job affected your partners’ perceptions of you? Obviously some people think I am tainted in some way. Others fetishize what I’ve done. I don’t want to talk about it all the time with some guy I’m dating so he can get off on it. And just because I was a callgirl doesn’t mean I’m easy. I’ve had guys who know treat me like I should be instantly sexually available. 

A., EROTIC FICTION WRITER
Age:
34
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Relationship Status: Married
City: Tucson, AZ

How do you feel that your work influences your personal sex life?
Whether they admit it or not, anyone who reads or writes erotic romance is affected by it in their personal sex life. Erotica and all its many genre breakoffs is written to awaken the reader's sexual awareness--to turn him or her on. Writing it is just as good--if not better--than reading it. It makes a reader look at his or her partner with that hunger.

When have you felt the need to implement a separation between your personal and professional roles, in terms of sex?  If possible, please name specific instances. There are many things I write that I would not do or feel comfortable doing. I think readers don't understand that. A fiction writer weaves in enough facts to make the work feel real. I am still uncomfortable at book signings when someone shows me they are offended by my writing. They need to get over their sexual issues, instead of trying to make everyone see the way they do.

Has your work ever pushed you to expand your sexual comfort zone?
Absolutely. I think that's part of the fun of writing erotic romance. I get to examine why people have sex they way they do, who they choose to be with, and how they handle complicated relationships and the freaky things they do when the lights go out.

ESSIN' EM, SEX BLOGGER
Age:
22
Gender: A Femme woman
Sexual Orientation: Queer
City: Currently Philly, about to move to Colorado
Professional Life: community outreach coordinator, advice columnist, sexpert, erotica author (essin-em.com)
Relationship Status: Single and totally OK with that.

How would you define “sex”?
Sex for me has a very broad definition. For me, sex has been getting a play piercing, being fucked with a hand, with a dildo, with a cock, having a tongue on my cunt, fucking others, breast orgasms, mutual masturbation, solo masturbation (hey, it is sex with yourself), and more. If I'm enjoying myself in a sexual sense, it can be sex. It gets more interesting when someone thinks of something as sex, and the other one doesn't, but that is where good communication comes into play.

How has your job impacted your personal sex life?
Well, I guess it's kind of both; I refuse to have "bad" sex anymore. I have had, and read about, so much fun, engaging, hot, awesome sex, that I just can't go home with anyone to fuck. I want to talk to them, to see if our kinks are compatible, to flirt, to get us both hot and riled up before we even walk out the door. So I'm not getting as much sex as I'd like, but at least it is good, healthy, sex-positive sex.

Do you sometimes have to separate between your personal and professional lives?
I always go through the "so, do I tell them about my blog? Just that I write one, or the actual site? And if I tell them about it, can I then write about them?” I usually do wind up telling them because they'll figure it out anyways and also because I feel that if I'm going to be writing about them, it's only ethical to let them know.

How has your job affected your partners' perceptions of you? 
Well, I know they appreciated all the fancy sex toys I have, and all the fabulous ethical porn I watch. One of them really liked reading about himself in my blog, but sometimes, they have read something about themselves that they didn't agree with, and we have to have the "this is my blog, these are my thoughts and opinions and reactions, and you're entitled to your own" talk.

CORA ZANE, EROTIC FICTION WRITER

How did you enter into your line of work?
I wrote a book and went to a publisher that was taking manuscripts. Their guidelines called for erotica, and, after tweaking the book, that's what I gave them. It happened to work for me, and I felt comfortable writing it, so I became an erotic romance writer.

What are the positive impacts of your profession on your personal sex life? What are the negative impacts?  Negative connotations get lumped on you when you choose to be an erotic writer. People ask me all the time if I do what I write about. I get letters from men and women who think I'm slutty and sexually desperate. There are people who think I want and/or need explicit emails from them in particular. Some write me asking to have an affair with them. For these people, I have become just as much an erotic fantasy as the story I've written. The ideas people have about you are sometimes really bizarre, and sometimes frightening. As for a positive impact, you really have to grow a thick skin and believe in yourself to make it in this business. Telling someone you're a writer and then telling them you're an erotic writer illicits two entirely different reactions. You have to stay on your toes, show personal strength, and navigate those prude, shocked, and sometimes embarrassed reactions. It definitely gives you people skills.

Has your work ever pushed you to expand your sexual comfort zone?  Absolutely. There are trends in writing, and some genres require more explicit and/or experimental encounters than in others. If you want to sell and stay in the game, you have to sometimes reach outside your own expertise and comfort zone.

WYLIE KINSON, EROTIC NOVELIST
Age:
41
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Relationship Status: Happily married

How frequently do you engage in sexual activity? Frankly, not as often as I like, but with two small children who almost always find their way into mom and dad's bed, it's hard.

How do you wish sex were different, given your personal and professional experiences?
I wish the double standard of Man+Sex=HERO and Woman+Sex=SLUT would disappear. I want it to be okay for a woman to enjoy sex as she pleases without being labeled Loose, Whore, Tramp, etc...

Has your work ever put you in a situation were you were uncomfortable, or felt you'd gone beyond your personal sexual boundaries?
Men have made inappropriate comments and sexual innuendos upon learning what I write. They make comments that they absolutely wouldn't have made to me otherwise -- especially in the presence of my husband. They think it's okay to share their conquests and personal details, as if I'll get glazey-eyed and ask if I can base my next well-hung hero on them.

Has your work ever pushed you to expand your sexual comfort zone? Absolutely! Because readers expect a fair amount of intimate details in an erotic romance, I had to learn not to blush every time I wrote the word 'pussy' or 'cock'. I've gone from being a woman who never said the F-word to someone who can comfortably discuss the mechanics of anal sex in mixed company. My editor and I have have the most bizarre email exchanges.

A., NUDE MODEL AND PORN ACTRESS
Age:
20
Sexual Orientation: I'm probably a 2 on the Kinsey Scale
City: New York, NY
Professional Life:
At this point in my life, I am only doing nude modeling, (photographers take nude photos of me for their portfolio, or artists draw me nude) and Alt Soft core porn. I get nude and pose in erotic positions for burningangel.com, I also participate in solo and girl/girl videos, but I have never done anything with a guy for my job, and don't plan to. I also dance in my panties at weekly dance parties in the LES (this is called go-go dancing). I used to do a lot of niche fetish work and I was a submissive in many bondage movies.
Relationship Status: I am in a monogamous relationship with a male.

How did you enter into your line of work? I was about to turn 18 and I wanted to make a lot of money and not work a lot of hours.  A lot of my friends were fetish models, so I got a lot of my first jobs through them and people they knew.  Once you find one fetish job in NYC, the rest land in your lap.

How do you feel that your work influences your personal sex life? My personal sex life is totally different than the sexuality that I portray on camera.  I will not fuck, make-out with or pose nude with guys for any job, so that core part of my sexuality remains behind closed doors.

How has your job affected your partners’ perceptions of you? It's such a huge mind fuck for any guy to think of other guys shoving money in his girl's panties, or jerking off to her nude photos.

Has your work ever pushed you to expand your sexual comfort zone? The last video I ever did as a sub was  a self-domination video.  I basically had to beat the crap out of myself and then masturbate.  After I got paid that day, I was sooooo done with the BDSM world.

HUNTER, "SUICIDE GIRL" AND WRITER
Age:
23
Sexual Orientation: straight
City: New York, NY
Professional Life: Day job: staff writer at a respectable publication. Also: freelance journalist, occasional model for Suicidegirls (suicidegirls.com/members/hunter/news) and other projects
Relationship Status: Single

What are the positive impacts of your profession on your personal sex life? What are the negative impacts? I don't broadcast that I'm an SG, as I'm afraid it will attract sleazy douchebags and scare the nice, shy, nerdy boys away. Also, it seems like SG isn't that cool anymore, so I'm reluctant to tell the snarky, judgmental rockists I usually go after. There's a weird squeamishness about blatantly sexual women in the indie rock world...everyone's dream girls are these birdlike little creatures whose bodies disappear into their cool vintage outfits, who are calm and inscrutable and spend their time sewing felt owls onto their bags or reading n+1 instead of indulging their vanity or dancing or screaming into a microphone about guys who fucked them over. I'm not dissing felt owls or n+1, I just want to be able to do those other things too when I feel like it. I've had to de-sexualize myself somewhat in order to date the guys I'm attracted to. My ex boyfriend barely tolerated that I was on SG...partly because he didn't like other guys jerking off to me, but also because it just wasn't cool and/or befitting of the girlfriend of someone who edits a music magazine and plays in an experimental band. I changed a lot for him. Sometimes I think that's kind of fucked up, but I care more about love than sex, so it was worth it to me. The positive effects have been indirect--I'm more confident about my body, and that always makes for better sex. I'm also less depressed and socially awkward than I was before, which is helpful when trying to meet guys.
How do you wish sex were different, given your personal and professional experiences? I wish otherwise cool guys would stop demonizing female sexuality, female emotions, and all that other embarassingly sincere stuff that us girly girls feel pressured to hide. Be a little nicer to us; we aren't just dudes with tits as many of my peers would like you to believe. Guys should also stop judging our bodies so harshly. For example, I get a lot of nasty comments telling me to shave my pubes. Guess what? Fuck you. Judge not lest ye be judged.

M.,  FORMER GAY PORN SALESMAN
Age:
29
Sexual Orientation: Straight, formerly bi-curious.
City: New York, NY
Professional Life: Former Adult Video Sales Rep/Distributor - Manhattan
Relationship Status: Dating
How did you enter into your line of work? I answered an ad in the "gigs" section in Craigslist.  I was looking for DJ work.

When have you felt the need to implement a separation between your personal and professional roles, in terms of sex?  If possible, please name specific instances. I dated a girl who constantly wanted me to give her a strip tease, and never gave one in return. I think she somehow wanted me to be her own private "gay for pay" porn star, except I paid to take her out and all I got was a dollar in my trunks.

Has your work ever put you in a situation were you were uncomfortable, or felt you'd gone beyond your personal sexual boundaries? Dealing with getting underwear as gifts was pretty easy.  Kissing dudes was no problem.  Letting a little femininity loose was also not too bad.

SINEAD, SEX BLOGGER
Age:
20
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
City: New York, NY
Professional Life: professional pervert: alt model; former stripper; blogger, babysinead.com

When have you felt the need to implement a separation between your personal and professional roles, in terms of sex?  If possible, please name specific instances. I try my best at all times to keep both separate. I did have a young man once where it went from professional to personal after awhile. He visited me in the strip club frequently, I barely danced - we spent most our time discussing Pitchfork music reviews and Stanley Kubrik movies.

How has your job affected your partners' attitudes towards sex? None of my partners think this, but random guys think that I just put out like BAM and I don't. I am selective. I think the work tends to open my partners’ eyes to different things we can do, and encourages them to be more exciting and surprising in bed.

THE ETHICAL SLUT, SEX BLOGGER
Age:
26
Sexual Orientation: Straightish
Professional Life: Corporate Whore/Blogger
Relationship Status: Engaged

What are the positive impacts of your profession on your personal sex life? What are the negative impacts?
When I was first struggling with pain during sex, my readers were quick to educate me about the possibility of vulvodynia, and possible cures.  They are always helping me, from sex advice to apartment hunting.  Plus, one of my best friends in New York is Sabina of ytuhermanotambien.blogspot.com. The negatives are probably trolls who come on to my blog and tell me I have a "dirty, sloppy, loose vagina."  Also, there's the very real threat of being outed.  I can't think of anyone in my real life who needs to know that I do my fiance up the butt with a plastic dick.

How do you wish sex were different, given your personal and professional experiences? Its funny, I started Ethical Slut with the conviction that I wanted to be polygamous/polyamorous.  I completely sacrificed that for my fiance.

How has your job affected your partners' attitudes towards sex? I think the biggest job of the 'slut bloggers' is to be strangely at the forefront of our generation's feminist movement.  No one blinks if women writhe around in flimsy clothes, and being "sexy" is seen as somehow empowering.  It's still a completely radical thought that women is sexy because she, gasp, likes sex.  'Look sexy, but don't be sexy' is the message women have today.  In the practical sense, it makes it hard for women like us to find men.  For instance, a friend of mine met a man through nerve.com and both had "play" listed in their profiles.  After 3 weeks of no-strings-attached sex with my very anti-monogamy friend, the man wrote her a long letter about how he wasn't looking for a serious relationship.  This is an educated New Yorker, and he couldn't believe that he met a woman who enjoyed sex.  It had to be that she was a 'sad slut' who was using sex to 'desperately trap him in a relationship'.

RON JEREMY, PORN STAR
Age:
Oh you’re heartless. What a way to start. I feel like I’m in my 30’s but I’m 55.
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
City: Los Angeles, CA
Professional Life: Actor/comedian/lecturer.
Relationship Status: Well I just met you honey!  I’d say my relationship status is…interesting. I had a girlfriend for 3 1/2 years and now she is my best friend. We’ve split but we have joint custody of the turtle. So I don’t say ex-girlfriend, I say “mother of turtle.” 

How do you wish sex were different, given your personal and professional experiences? I wish women would communicate more in terms of what they like. They’ll tell their best friend, their hairdresser…TELL US! We’re the guys that are in there!  Men like a little direction.  They want to give the girl the best time possible. I’m not saying act like a drill sargeant, “Get that thing up! Get that purple-helmeted soldier at attention!” But you know, in a gentle way. Men love that, they LOVE that.

Has your work ever put you in a situation were you were uncomfortable, or felt you’d gone beyond your personal sexual boundaries? You know, the 15 girls scene was probably just that. That was a real test. I had to really pace myself and internalize and not climax too soon. I was very proud of myself--I did it, I did the pop shot. Even the owner of the company came down to offer me a Viagra. I said, “Nope. Not gonna do it. I’m doing it a capella, gonna see if I can do it. But don’t go too far with that Viagra!” But you know, I did it! I was so proud of myself. There were ups and downs to it. Literally. It’s not what you’d consider fun.

Has your work ever pushed you to expand your sexual comfort zone? A little. I was never into B&D or S&M. But I directed the John Bobbitt movie, and then they wanted me and John to do a movie together and I said what the hell, I’ll do it. And it was just so comical.  Watching us fall down, get banged.  Once they wanted me to suck on a dildo and I wouldn’t do it ‘cause I hate dick, so I faked it. It looked more comical than anything else.  I had to crawl on the ground with a leash. I did a lot of things I’d never done before, because I’ve never been into that world.   There’s nothing wrong with that world, but that was something past my comfort level. But other than that, porn can be uncomfortable anyway.  You’re doing a scene, you’re not really in the mood, you’ve got problems with your family or a breakup. Uncomfortable locations, like I said. Crazy outfits. Once they wanted me to be a little more mean.  I more white bread- I’m not one of the kinkier performers.  They wanted me to be a little rougher on the girl, you know, spit on her or pull her hair.  I wasn’t really good at that.  That was kind of uncomfortable for me.

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