Does a sex worker's 'sexual circuitry' get sunk by seas of sexual content? | Peepshow | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Does a sex worker's 'sexual circuitry' get sunk by seas of sexual content?


I read a story years ago about the 1998 AVN awards and there was a bit about how the judges who had to watch hours and hours of film found their sexual circuitry kind of burnt out by the end. Many people can’t imagine being in that headspace for a living. Obviously, you could ask a sports writer “don’t you ever get tired of sports?” or a chef “don’t you get tired of talking about food?” But I feel like sex and arousal are such a primeval, deep part of the human psyche that I can imagine getting burnt out. I understand that it’s just like any other job with its perks and bummers. I am curious though how sex workers are able to channel into that headspace for a living and if you ever get burnt out. - Alex G.


This is a great question. While I can’t speak for all sex workers, I can talk about how my own relationship to adult content and to sexuality has changed over the years that I have done this job, because it certainly has.

Pornography doesn’t sell itself, particularly in a world where free porn is ubiquitous. For this reason, all of us who are in the business of selling porn spend much of our time advertising, which includes countless hours on social media engaging with both fans and friends/colleagues who are also content creators. As a result, we have timelines full of pornography that we scroll through all day.
 

While I don’t know if I would describe my sexual circuitry as burnt out, I can say that I stop relating to it as sexual content; I rarely find it sexually arousing. Contrary to many unrealistic fantasies about what sex workers’ lives look like, I don’t spend all day horny, couldn’t possibly masturbate to all of the content I encounter, and relate to pornography primarily as art.

What this means is that I interact with porn in the way that any professional artist interacts with the work of their colleagues: I study it and find inspiration for my own work. I take careful note of the sets, color schemes, lighting, and costuming that I find sexy. I screenshot pics of models with similar builds to mine when I find their poses flattering and think I could create something similar. I notice trends in advertising tags, body hairstyles, and popular fetishes (all of which change over time). And I continue to be interested not because it turns me on, but because I am amazed by the creativity and talent of everyone around me.

While it is not entirely the same, I can say something similar about the more interactive work I do with clients. I am not turned on by every one of their desires, nor am I always aroused (though, of course, I do have clients — usually long-term regulars — that are good at tapping into my fantasies in a way that turns me on). That being said, I stay interested in my work and in those interactions because I am endlessly curious about what turns others on, and because I get a lot of gratification from getting them off. I love listening to the sounds my clients make as they come, and I feel a special satisfaction when they shyly thank me for fulfilling their fantasy.


For me personally, swimming in a sea of sexual content and fantasies all day doesn’t typically burn me out, or at least I don’t experience it as burnout. But I can say that I stop experiencing much of it as sexual in the way that those who don’t have such high exposure to it do. Or perhaps more accurately, I don’t experience it as my sexual pleasure in the way that I do in my personal sex life. It is a job, and while the work is an expression of my own sexuality, it cannot be reduced to that. It is a service, and it is an art. And much of my satisfaction comes from a job well done. 


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