Why more women should see sex workers | Pillow Talk with Jessie Sage | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Why more women should see sex workers

click to enlarge Why more women should see sex workers
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I try not to admit too often — especially not among my sex-working comrades or fans who followed me back in my porn days — but I don’t watch pornography.

I have a great deal of interest in pornography in terms of its political importance, its implications on free speech, its ability to represent greater diversity than mainstream media, and what it tells us about labor within the gig economy. As a topic, I find porn to be endlessly interesting, shining a light on our cultural values and anxieties. But in terms of watching it for my own pleasure, rarely.

I certainly don’t have a moral objection to porn, it just often feels like its not for me. There are probably many reasons for this. I came of age before the internet was what it is now; I’m a writer so my imagination is more word-oriented than it is visual; I rarely see the sort of sex that I like to have in pornography; the majority of porn caters to the male gaze; and I know too much about how it’s made and have personal relationships with too many performers to be able to suspend disbelief.

Sometimes, particularly when I was doing online sex work, I would be somewhat jealous of the love that some of my customers had for porn, at the way that it tapped into something deep, imaginative, and fun for them. In an attempt to try to understand their excitement, I would scroll online tube sites to see if I could find anything I could connect with, usually to no avail. The only thing I could consistently get off to was very slow, and mostly softcore, massage porn.

You probably don’t need a degree in psychoanalysis to pick up on the fact that my fantasies mostly consist of laying still and doing absolutely nothing. I have so much to do in my life that, unless it approximates absolute relaxation, I can’t be bothered to get myself off to it. My fantasies consist of someone else showing up and doing all the work for me.

I am reminded of the anti-work advocates who answer the question, “What is your dream job?” by saying, “I don’t dream about labor.” As an admitted workaholic, it makes sense that doing nothing would be my fantasy. After all, it’s common to eroticize the things that feel most subversive to us. For example, high-powered and well-respected CEOs often fantasize about submission and humiliation. As a sex worker and mother who spends much of my time caring for others, I fantasize about being on the receiving end of that kind of attention.

Recently it occurred to me – seemingly for the first time – that just because porn isn’t for me doesn’t mean that my own fantasies are out of reach. I could just hire someone to show up and do the work for me. And this weekend, this is just what I did.

I understand that hiring a sex worker at three (or more) times the rate of a regular massage therapist probably sounds like an extravagance beyond the reach of most people, and for most of my life, it has been for me, too. Yet, pleasure is important, and this seems particularly true for women who are socialized to serve others. For me, deciding to follow through on prioritizing my own needs made me feel very powerful.

For as long as I’ve been doing sex work I’ve wondered what it was like, from a client perspective, to choose someone you’re attracted to and have them show up at your door ready and excited to spend time with you. It turns out that it feels just as good as I imagined it would. The provider I hired was just as stylish and attractive in person as he was online, and more charming. We sat for an hour and chatted over drinks before we headed to my room. It was like a very good blind date, but one you know will end well.

When we went to my room I told him that, despite being a professional, I didn’t know how to be the client. At that point, he just took over. He closed the blinds, telling me that he was creating a more relaxing environment, and told me to lay down in the center of the bed. From there, things went exactly as I hoped. I lay there and he did all of the work, with no expectations of receiving that in turn. At the end of the hour, while we were quietly chatting he casually said, “Would you like one more for the road or would you like to just lay here and cuddle?”

I chose to cuddle for a few moments before parting ways. At the moment that he closed the blinds, before anything had even started, I had already gotten everything I wanted from the session. While a happy ending is ostensibly the point of an erotic massage, what I really wanted was to feel taken care of, if only for an hour. It was worth every penny.

Jessie Sage (she/her) is a Pittsburgh-based sex worker and writer. Her freelance writing has appeared in a variety of publications including The Washington Post, Men’s Health, VICE, The Daily Beast, BuzzFeed, Hustler Magazine, and more. At the beginning of 2024 she launched a new podcast: When We’re Not Hustling: Sex Workers Talking About Everything But.

You can find Jessie on Twitter @sapiotextual & Instagram @curvaceous_sage. You can follow her new podcast on Twitter & Instagram @NotHustlingPod. You can also visit her website jessiesage.com.

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