Working from home looks a little different for sex workers. With most strip clubs closed and dancers excluded from larger pots of money in the coronavirus relief package, the sex trade has largely gone online. From strippers to erotic masseuses to full service workers, virtual sex work required innovation.
While OnlyFans’ explosive growth captured the public imagination, erotic content dominated the internet since the beginning. For performers, the battle over digital security and profits continues today. Similar to strip clubs and pimps, most sites take a cut of every transaction or charge a hosting fee.
Preventing stalking and maintaining ownership over images requires constant effort. Rudy (they/them), an online sex worker in the midwest shares, "I don't think there's ever going to be a time when I stop learning new ways to be secure and safe." Despite the effort, Cinnamon Maxxine, a sex worker based in Maine, finds the online work more fun and liberating than in-person service. They say, “It feels like some kind of normalcy during these times.” Cereza Cykes found her online colleagues and audience far more welcoming of gender and body diversity than her former service workplace. Cykes is a transgender woman who started doing online sex work this year. While she finds customers are appreciative of transgender performers, some sites, like OnlyFans, complicate her work due to identification checks. “I think there’s extra difficulty with verification with someone like me because my ID obviously doesn’t look like how I look now,” she explains.
On this edition of the Embodied series, host Anita Rao explores how sex workers are making online work more equitable and secure. Looking towards the future of the sex trade, Rao is joined by three activists: Antonia Crane, SX Noir and Teddy B. Ruxpin.
Crane is a leader at Soldiers of Pole, an organization dedicated to decriminalizing and unionizing sex work. She is also the author of “Spent: A Memoir” (Rare Bird Books/2017) and a former employee at the Lusty Lady, a unionized and worker-owned peep show. Noir is the vice president of Women of Sex Tech, an organizer for the Black sex worker liberation march. She is also the host of the “Thot Leader” podcast. Ruxpin is a burlesque dancer and journalist. She is also an organizer on the board of Soldiers of Pole.