How did you start with sex work?
JOHANNA: I was in my early 20s, studying Slavic Studies and Pedagogy in Hamburg, and working as a taxi driver. I had been always somehow fascinated with this Red Light Field, perhaps I had a fetish about it. Maybe because it is prohibited? Or is it just something inside of me? You know, I never wanted to live my sexuality like society tells me to do. So, I was always driving my taxi on the Reeperbahn Street, and while I stopped at the Taxi station, I observed those women standing there, working. I always thought they were amazing and that they looked proud. It’s interesting how the way we look at someone influences the way we perceive him/her. If, for instance, Alice Schwarzer, our Supefeminist, goes at night to the Reeperbahn, and takes a look at them, she’d probably think: „Oh my God, the poor women! Their eyes are so empty. They are definitely not self-determined. They are victims“. And if I go there, looking at the same women, I think: „Wow, they are so proud! They know exactly what they are doing”. One night, one of them was sitting on my taxi and I asked her: „Listen, what if I also wanted to work there...what doI have to do?“ „Oh it's really simple! I can tell my pimp, so the two of you can get to know each other and he will set everything up“. The word „pimp“ never came into my mind when I thought about this job. The second woman I asked, answered the same. „That's stupid“ I thought „it seems like there's no possibility to work on the Reeperbahn without a pimp. Well, then it's not a place for me to work“.
As a U.S. expat, would you tell me how does Germany's migration policy affect you and you work?
CORY COCKTAIL: Considering that what I was doing in the U.S. was more or less illegal, coming here and doing the same thing didn’t really seem like a huge problem, sex work is legal here, but the laws are getting worse. I still really enjoy creating experiences for people and what not, but I wouldn’t publicly say that I’m running an escort business in Germany. I am an artist. The laws here are very complicated, especially if you’re not German or from a EU country, in that case it’s really difficult to find jobs or access to any sort of social services at all...which I find interesting because sex work is one of the traditional jobs of migrant women, simply because it’s been one of the few jobs that women can have that has a flexible schedule and pays larger amounts than, let’s say, cleaning people’s houses. So when there are a lot of restrictions and a lot of laws around doing this work it is not going to stop people from doing it, it’s just going to make it worse for them. I find that being in a country where sex work is legal means that people tend to have a slightly different point of view on it. But when it comes to day to day things it feels very similar to being criminalized, because I legally cannot work.
What did you study?
LUCIA: I studied Gender Studies and History of Economy. Through my studies I got interested in feminist pornography, thinking of maybe do something in that direction, as I hadn’t excluded doing sex work in general. But I actually started again after finished university and became, also politically, more involved with BDSM.
How do politics and BDSM relate in you experience?
LUCIA: Well, I always found BDSM interesting and erotic. But I also have always seen myself as feminist, left-wing and anarchist, so I wondered if it was ok to find sexually interesting this kind of power exchange and its execution. I mean, it is also a form of...I don't want to say violence, but it's about pain. Violence has a negative meaning, because it always has to do with unwillingness, but that's exactly what BDSM is not about, BDSM is about consent. Anyway, it has somehow to do with violence and power. So I started thinking politically about it and asked myself if it was so bad to enjoy it.
Did you feel there was a contradiction between your sexual preferences and your political ideas? How did you solve the dilemma?
LUCIA: Funnily enough, I found a solution through my studies, I was very lucky. I had a teacher who was doing his PhD about BDSM, and he was very open about being in the BDSM scene. He has published a lot about it, also from a feminist point of view, so when I was in university, I read a lot of texts that dealt very positively with this issue. The message was basically: you can be a queer-feminist and still find BDSM amazing. Moreover, it can be really empowering. Letting oneself go on a consensual and self assured basis and practicing this power exchange, can be very pleasurable. It's not anti-feminist, even if as a woman, you enjoy playing a submissive role or being slapped in a sexual context, or even procure pain...to me it was all really exciting and important.
So, what services do you offer?
MARA: I started offering tantric encounters, it's very rare that I get to do anal or vaginal intercourse, because I offer other things. I offer tantric massages, while still being “touchable”. I provide an encounter that a man could not experience otherwise, if he has only focused on the in-and-out game. When I massage the tantric way, I build a completely different energy in his body. Then men started asking me to dominate them. I had already learnt with my partner how to use the whip, and as I started being whipped I noticed that I liked it a lot; astonishingly enough, it helped more to soothe my back pains rather than a physiotherapy session. My physiotherapist was also stroke to see that, after my first whipping- workshop, my back muscles were a lot more relaxed. She said that it would be nice to be able to prescribe whipping! So I took a professional course to become a dominatrix, if I do something I want to do it properly, and through BDSM I learned a lot for me as well. These are experiences that are not usual, that men often don't get at home. A lot of my clients have partners but either they don't want to do such things, or men often don't dare ask them because there are a lot of shame and inhibition involved. But with a whore they feel more at ease expressing their wishes, and then they get a lot out if them, simply because there are so many things that I can do.
How do you select clients?
HOTSUNNY20: I always ask for a picture so I can decide if he suits me or not. Then, we speak on the phone and make an agreement. Once, I had a customer who sent me a picture which I found ok. I had to meet him in a Hotel for three hours. When I got there, the man standing in front of me was not the one in the picture. “If you cannot even send your own photo, there's just no need for us to meet” - I told him and went away. I don’t like a guy who has the attitude of wanting to have all the fun while the woman gets nothing of it. Both of us have to enjoy, so the work can be fulfilling. We satisfy each other and then we’re both happy.
Can you tell me something about working with people with disabilities?
HANNAH: Well, we share a stigma. They don't know that I'm disabled unless I tell them, because I appear abled-bodied. So it is not the same for me as it is for someone who's in a wheelchair, for example. However, I feel like because of my treatment in adolescence, the experience of not being accepted in my gender...I am a woman and it took me a lot of time to figure this out, that actually the gender that I have inside matches with the body that I have. I never felt like I was a woman because of the way that I was perceived, the way I felt I was perceived by my peers as this disabled...thing. So when I see a client that has a disability, they are saying to me “Hey, I am a sexual being and I have sexual needs, and you're gonna deal with them!” and I love this. Because I get to say “Yes, you are a sexual being and so am I” and I find any kind of body difference, people in wheelchairs, people with amputations, non-normative looking bodies I don't really notice if people are attractive or not, but people with visible disabilities generally turn my head...but not in the pity way like “Oh, this person is disabled...” but more in the way like “Oh, I wonder what they're into!” and it's also a sexual fetish. I feel a little strange about this , because in a way I find disability fetish sort of gross because it can be interpreted as another way of de-personalizing, de-humanizing a disabled person. But there's also something greedy about it because depending on the kind of amputation it can be seen as an extra dildo attached to your body. Why not? Our whole bodies are sexual, not just our genitals. What would it be like if we saw in the media all different body types represented as sexy all the time? The mass media, Hollywood, the porn companies tell you what you like. They instruct you: this is what you like, this is what you find attractive. This is the education that we get about what is acceptable to like and find “sexual”. It's a shame, but our society really allows us to be quite stupid.
In which sense are you a sex worker?
*SPIRALENA*: I actually prefer to define myself as a sex activist, because here we are talking about labour, and I associate that with earning money. Unfortunately, I earn little money for the things that I do, I actually do them because of my ideals. I am an activist within the environmental organization Fuck for Forest (FFF), I take part in women empowerment projects, against the so called “designer-pussies”, and in order to make women realize how beautiful their pussy is, without recurring to plastic surgery. Apart from that, I also work with young people, encouraging them to accept their bodies and supporting them with my experience through their own per- sonal development, trying to widen their horizons in terms
of body and sexuality. In Mexico, I was supporting young gay people, working against homophobia, and encouraging respectful attitudes towards women. I am also active within the queer-feminist-porn scene, by taking part in experimental projects and events. I use my sexual energy to devote it to the pursue of my ideals.
You’ve told me once that it is actually possible to learn sex.
MARA: Exactly, you can learn sex. And sometimes love originates through sexuality. But yes, learning sex is possible because of all the different techniques, there is much more than just the usual intercourse...But you can't actually learn these things anywhere. How do I “make” sexuality? How do I act during the encounters? One can watch a lot of porn, one can read Bravo, or women think that men know how it goes. As a woman you just end up taking part in the male sexuality, without really discovering yourself and without asking yourself, what do I want? How broad is actually my attitude for adventures? There's a whole lot in there and we still don't explore enough. Take for instance squirting, the female ejaculation, I learned it during a workshop. It gives a woman another kind of fulfilment that the usual in-and-out game since I, for example, don't have an orgasm from penetration only. Also through the knowledge of BDSM I discovered a broader spectrum of intensity and a more playful intercourse. There are even urethra vibrators for men, tantric massage for the Lingam (penis) and the Yoni (vagina), breasts massage...you can actually have an experience by just holding your partner's breasts, or feel what happens when a man and a woman just lay on top of each other without doing anything. In Tantra, this is called the “trick of the happy marriage”. When you sense that the energy between man and woman begins to flow...that creates such fulfilment and satisfaction that you can even do it with your clothes on. It is just a much broader spectrum, another kind of experience, sex is then slower and it lasts longer. In the meanwhile, I started having spiritual experiences during sex, which became my actual “standard”. And I have learned all of this.
Did you study or did you have another job while you were working at the peep show?
CORY COCKTAIL: I was doing independent research on art and the surrealist/ DADAist art movements. I also studied to be an Emergency Medical Technician and got a certification as a medical professional at that time. Then at a certain point I wanted to extend into different parts of the sex industry, partly because I could make more money and partly because it was interesting to me, so I played around doing a little bit of modeling and some solo-porn but I really didn’t like that. When I was still working at the peep show I started working also at a sensual massage “temple”, it was called a temple...and everyone there was very hippy, and talked about spirituality all the time and I met a lot of other workers that were really wonderful. After that place and the peep show closed, I worked in Seattle as an independent escort and Dominatrix for several years and then moved to Berlin to pursue my art.