When Literotica Gets Political

DoubleTap is an interview series highlighting creatives whose work explores sex, body and identity.

 

There’s an app for everything these days — including erotica.

Enter Slide Stories. A new app “for the culture, by the culture” offering users a variety of sensual fiction, covering everything from love to ghosting. Despite only launching this past Spring, several stories have already amassed thousands of views. Although Literotica (erotic literature) has been around since the internet was born, any horny fan will tell you — the key is quality control. It can take hours to cypher through the hundreds of poorly-written, not to mention offensive erotic fiction on sites like Nifty.org before you land on a story that will finally get your rocks off.

However, Slide Stories is not interested in maintaining the status quo.

Turning the format on its head, every tale you peruse on the app is told via text thread. Reading a steamy text exchange on your phone is not only delightfully meta — it lends the fiction authenticity.

Geared towards POC consumers, readers of all backgrounds can enjoy stories like “Weekend Zaddy” and “Love and K Pop.” More than targeted marketing, Slide Stories centering of Black and Brown identities feels empowering. Most erotic fiction is written by white people under pen names, and much of the un-policed literotica currently on the web is laden with racial fetishization and stereotypes. By creating a safe space for all readers to enjoy the more imaginative alternative to porn, Slide Stories has tapped into not only something essential, but political, too.

We spoke with 25-year-old founder Keryce Chelsi Henry about her company’s inventive approach to pleasure.

 

What inspired your team to make an erotic app marketed towards POC consumers? 

Keryce: Our team loved the text message format as a new way and opportunity to create interesting stories — and we thought there was a big opportunity for us to create a storytelling platform focused on voices that would resonate more with millennial POC. The focus on romance and erotica was inspired by urban romance novels, like those written by Zane

 

A lot of erotica features highly fetishized and racist depictions of non-white characters. Slide ensures the authenticity of its content by sourcing it directly from the community it seeks to represent, correct? 

Yes. We crowdsource our material through our team’s personal networks and via social media, and specify that we’re looking for millennial WOC and/or LGBTQ writers. Contributors are encouraged to develop storylines that are authentic to their own experiences and relationships. I tell writers to write the dialogue the way they’d text their friends.

 

Did you always know you wanted the erotica to live on an app? 

Yes, the goal has always been to create an app where these stories could live.

 

Your interface is super creative — it really makes you feel privy to someone’s sexts. Can you speak to the thought process behind the text-thread approach? 

We knew the visual of a text thread would be immediately familiar to our target audience, especially considering the kind of content Slide Stories is publishing — so many of millennials’ conversations surrounding sex and relationships occur via text, like first getting to know a potential romantic parter or getting advice about a partner via group chat. That familiarity helps to engage users, giving them the experience of sending and receiving these texts themselves.  

 

It’s particularly effective for stories depicting ghosting. How important was it that Slide include narratives that weren’t solely centered on sex? 

Slide Stories is geared toward love, sex, and dating, so it definitely opens the floodgates to storylines that aren’t just centered on sex. But even more than that, it’s important to us to depict specific situations that our demographic can relate to, like ghosting or dealing with exes who still like your social media posts, for example.

 

I’m thinking specifically of the “More Than Bros?” series, which tackles homophobia, both societal and internalized. It was like social commentary meets erotica — the potential is endless. However, when Ty reveals he’s HIV positive and knowingly had unprotected sex with another man while drunk — did it occur to the writer this may be perpetuating harmful stereotypes about HIV positive individuals?

I can’t speak to the writer’s thought process, but I did work with the writer to soften the potentially harmful nature of how that narrative played out. 

Generally speaking, writers are encouraged to draw from real-life experiences to maintain the authenticity of the stories while I advise on voice and tone, but we do our best to be cognizant of how stories will be received by our audience and let the writers have the freedom to express what they want to say.

 

On the flip side, it can normalize sexual exploration. I’m imagining curious guys downloading the app for the straight stories, then stumbling upon this and feeling, maybe in some way, seen. How important was it for your staff to include queer narratives? 

Including queer narratives is extremely important for us. Our goal is to represent POC, and you simply can’t do so without including LGBTQ+ perspectives because they’re a part of the community. 

We’ve also recently launched Prism Stories, another chat fiction app that features solely LGBTQ+ characters. 

 

Overall, it doesn’t seem like Slide shies away from taboo topics. For example, “Locked-Up Lust” is a text exchange between an inmate and his partner. In the KAAST office, we often talk about how we struggle not to over-police our own sexual fantasies. Are there any topics your team would consider off-limits to explore? 

We’re definitely open-minded about the topics covered on Slide Stories, in an effort to allow users to both relate to the content and also explore their fantasies. We do avoid storylines that include non-consensual acts, however, so as not to trigger users.

 

Have you ever considered incorporating educational elements into your stories? Maybe something like ‘Slutty Nurse Teaches Patient About STI Prevention’? 

We haven’t gotten pitches for Slide Stories with educational elements, but that’s definitely a great idea! I’d love if users could get helpful takeaways from our stories. 

 

Ideally, how do you want users to feel after they’ve used [the app]?

We want Slide Stories users to feel entertained and seen. Stories can only be so compelling to the readers if they don’t relate to the characters — that’s why our stories include slang, cultural references, and images with a diversity of skin tones and hair textures, to represent a variety of identities.

As for users who are writers themselves, we want them to view Slide Stories as a trustworthy outlet where POC/LGBTQ creatives can write for an emerging format and be compensated for doing so.

 

 

You can download the Slide Stories app on your smartphone here. 

Photos (in order of appearance) by Alyse MazyckNikki Burnett, and Tamara Chapman.

Zach Grear’s Art Pushes the Queer Aesthetic

DoubleTap is an interview series highlighting creatives whose work explores sex, body, and identity.

 

Etymologically speaking, the word queer originally meant “odd” or “eccentric” — anything that deviated from the norm. At the turn of the 19th century, it caught on as a pejorative for effeminate men, before ultimately being reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community in the 80s and 90s. What it means to be queer and who qualifies as such remains widely debated, however, most can agree that it doesn’t deal in the expected.

It is within this space and understanding multimedia artist Zach Grear’s work lives.

Concerned with more than physical expressions of queerness (although, plenty of same-sex action is featured), Grear’s art explores queerness as an expression of societal dissonance. Whether he’s superimposing tattoos over the bodies of Marilyn Monroe and Keith Haring or re-rendering iconoclasts like Nina Simone, he takes already eccentric images or figures and further queers them by subverting traditional visual notions.

His essential thesis: queer is punk as shit.

 

A portion of your work centers on marking up photographs of famous personalities with figurative tattoos and other body art — can you speak to the inspiration behind this?

The inspiration in utilizing tattoos and collage work comes from my own evolving standards of beauty. I got my first tattoo in 2013, and since then my journey with tattoos has become a way to reconnect with my body image. With each new piece I feel more in control of my body and my sense of beauty — each tattoo reclaims what the oppression of Body Fascism steals from us every single day. I know an image calls out to me when I’m compelled to place my own standard of beauty onto it.

 

Is there a criteria you consider when selecting these celebs?  

In terms of the selection process, the celebs I use are people whom I have admiration for. And for some of them that admiration may very well be based simply on aesthetic. More and more I’m trying to focus on contemporary artists and activists, ones that inspire me daily, who may or may not be on a “celebrity” level.

 

Between collages, prints, and clothes, your art seems pretty multidisciplinary. Do you have a favorite medium?

My favorite medium has to be drawing — pen, marker, or mechanical pencil to paper. Somehow my mind is always most liberated while I’m drawing; no matter how complex the design I’m working on is, I find myself in the middle of strange daydreams all the time. It’s an odd balance of concentration and mentally letting go.

 

Whether it’s a tee with a leather daddy gripping his hard-on or a sweater with two men kissing naked on it — your art is unmistakably queer. Were you ever concerned that such strong imagery might alienate non-queers?

The concerns of non-queer people don’t interest me.

 

Reversely, has anyone tried to censor or sanitize your work?

Fortunately I haven’t encountered anyone outright trying to censor my work. I’ve been lucky with the companies I use for screen-printing shirts and for photo prints. They don’t seem to mind boners!

 

You have a backup Instagram account in case your “main gets deleted.” Have you run into problems sharing your work on the app?

Being a queer artist on Instagram is like being in a toxic relationship. I’ve gotten amazing opportunities, exposure, and, most fulfilling — I’ve met so many other talented artists through this platform.

However, sharing my work within the confines of ambiguous “Community Guidelines” is infuriating. 77.6 million people use Instagram, so the concept of “Community” is absurd, especially when run primarily by wealthy cishet [cisgender and heterosexual] white men. I have a back-up account because the “Community Guidelines” tend to snowball once you’ve had even just one post deleted. Most queer artists I speak to share the feeling of walking on eggshells with each post, trying to stay visible while being hit with shadow bans (which IG still hasn’t even acknowledged exists), all while expecting their account to be disabled one day for no reason or way to reach out. I’m enjoying the ride while I can. I was an artist before Instagram, and I’ll be one after Instagram.

 

There are some recurring “tattoos” in several of your prints — different dates, and in particular, the Roman numerals VII — is there a significance to these?

A few of them have significance. My life-path number is 7, which is why I use it often, and there are certain words I have an affinity for: “Lust”, “Bliss”, “Radiant”, and the Joy Division song “She’s Lost Control”. Often times while drawing I’ll use lyrics from the song I’m listening to in that moment. If the subject is a celebrity I like to use symbols attached to them — birth date, zodiac sign, quotes, etc.

 

Are there queer artists of the past that inspire your work?

Absolutely. David Wojnarowicz blows my mind with the extent of his reach: street art, photography, writing, music, protest. He knew it wasn’t about being comfortable — as any oppressed group will tell you, there’s no such thing as being comfortable. James Baldwin is my hero. Another Country is my absolute favorite book and I tell everyone I meet to read it.

 

How would you define “punk” within a queer context?

I view punk as a very ‘Now’ stance. That is, it’s the opposite of a “turn the other cheek and wait for the oppressor to decide we should exist” mantra or even the feeble “but we’ve come so far/let’s meet in the middle” platitudes.

As queer people, punk means we exist solely on our own terms. Society wasn’t created with queer people in mind, so the concept of assimilation and compromise only serves to feed the beast.

 

Your work gives nods to sexual subcultures, like Leather and BDSM — how does eroticism dictate your work?

Again, this comes to the idea of standards of beauty. The fantasy of vintage erotica is most powerful when viewed through a nostalgic lens. I gravitate towards them in order to clash and twist the old school appeal — whether 50s era muscle mags or 70s unpolished Honcho men — with my own standard of beauty.

 

You designed the AIDS Memorial “What’s Remembered Lives” t-shirt, which is a lot of responsibility. Can you talk a bit about that process?

I’d followed and interacted with the AIDS Memorial Instagram for a few months when Stuart, the moderator, reached out to help design the first iteration of the t-shirt in late 2017. It’s been great seeing people share their stories while wearing the tee, and I’m excited to see new versions of the shirt from different artists.

 

Has the current administration’s encroachment on LGBTQ+ rights affected your artistic output at all?

Like many people, the 2016 Election definitely woke me up. Toni Morrison specifically snapped me out of my red haze when, in response to the election, she wrote: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work.” 2016 was also the year of the Pulse shooting, so I realized that if I claim to be part of the queer community, I’m going to have to claim it loudly. Art, which up until that point had mostly been a hobby, became a place to funnel that queer rage.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects coming up that you can dish on?

I just purchased my first real “big boy” camera! I’m excited to start taking portraits of the queer creatives I’m surrounded by, then transforming those portraits with my drawing and collage.

 

 

All photos courtesy of Zach Grear. To engage with and purchase Zach’s work, visit his website. You can follow him on Instagram here.  

 

Hoe, But Make It Queer Art

DoubleTap is an interview series highlighting creatives whose work explores sex, body, and identity.

 

Grindr, a modern advent that has, in many ways, picked up where the bathhouses left off, is equal parts sexy, hilarious, and demoralizing. The hookup app is what most cis gay men use to find no-strings-attached sex… and queer photographer and anthropologist-lite Andrew Harper has been watching this space for the sake of art and a nut since he was 18 years old.

If you are unfamiliar with the Grindr interface, it displays “looking” users within a 1-mile radius. The messages between interested parties are often brief and nude-laden. Think OkCupid if OkCupid were a focus group of primed and geographically compatible gays — with triple the dick pics. Since it launched back in 2009, the platform has developed a notoriety for its members’ candor (folks say the darnedest things when they’re horny!). Harper, originally from Florida, takes these exchanges and superimposes them over pictures of himself and his friends. The result of which is the popular Instagram account Gaytona Beach.

It’s a simple enough concept, but by pairing real communications with photos of actual queer bodies, a bit of our reality is laid bare on our feeds. Featuring conversations ranging from sweet affirmations to troubling displays of internalized racism, fatphobia, and femme-shaming — Gaytona is a mirror for the community.

Harper set out to explore the dynamics of gay men negotiating sex, and in the process he is uncovering the cultural and social influences that take us to bed.

 

What was the initial inspiration for Gaytona Beach?

Harper: When I was living in Daytona Beach, I felt like I was the only openly gay guy around. I had, up until this point, created an identity for myself from all of these things coming of age in coastal Florida, like sneaking margaritas in to-go cups onto the beach, dancing to New Order until we drove our downstairs neighbor into moving out, going on long drives through the swamps at night and turning our headlights off to really see the stars.

But up until 19 [years old], I had never explored the parts of my identity that related to sexuality. You can imagine that when I first downloaded Grindr it was an immediate addiction, because for most of my childhood and early teen years the majority of gay culture came from Tumblr and porn. So I felt that I had virtually nothing but sex, sin, and conflict to attribute to being gay.

I was surprised by how venomous and angry people could be [on] the app, and how easy it seemed for complete strangers to be just as abusive online as [the people who] shouted slurs at me from their pickup trucks. I started documenting the wild conversations I had, and over the course of a few years, compiled a folder of something like 3,000 screenshots (no joke). I was also in school for photography at the time, and so one day I was going through my photos and found one that reminded me of a conversation I had screenshot-ed and bam — the rest is history. I began telling these stories with these conversations and pairing them with real moments of life around me in that city, and it felt humorous and cathartic.

 

I have to ask, are any of these interactions staged? Are these really all things people have said to you on Grindr?

Believe it or not, they’re 100% real! For the first half of a year or so every message I posted was one [that was] sent to me. Like I mentioned, I had thousands of old conversations and messages to work with. Now I’d say about half of the ones that end up on the page are ones that have been submitted to me. You know how some people get those “Saw this and thought of you!” texts or DMs and it’s like a cute gif of a cat? I get those same messages, but instead it’s a screenshot of a stranger saying “Piss in my ass.” I still pull from that original folder all the time, though.

 

You’re a photographer and — correct me if I’m wrong — but the majority of the images you use for backdrops are other people’s selfies/nudes. What’s the inspiration behind this?

Yes, the majority lately has been that way, but originally this wasn’t the case — it developed over time with the growth of the project itself. Actually, when KAAST and I first met, I was predominantly still using beach landscapes and photos of spring breakers. Using other people’s selfies started when I first started taking submissions, and it happened kind of naturally because I was already using photos of other people but only ones I had taken. Because I was using images of people with anonymity to convey a story, it only made sense to start incorporating selfies and nudes because that’s the majority of photos being passed along on Grindr.

 

Would you ever consider taking your own photos to pair with the app exchanges? Or would that undercut the authenticity of what you’re going for?

I love this question because for the people who have been following the page from the beginning or know me IRL, you can actually spot a lot of photos of myself on there. For a while, I was also using a lot of my portrait work — I spent some time in Orlando before moving to New York last year, and I was working for a commercial studio. My mom also owns a studio in a small coastal town called Ormond Beach, so I had a lot of studio work to play with. I wouldn’t say it undercuts the authenticity because the focus of the page is each individual message, and the photos are just a way of bringing them to life and giving them energy or translating them visually for people.

 

Your posts really run the gambit, hinting at all sorts of queer realities. Are there specific topics you try to tackle with your work?

This changes all the time. Almost weekly, actually.

First I should say I listen carefully to input and criticism. I never expected the project to transform into something that has a sense of responsibility to it, but that’s what’s happened. The topics started as my own personal ones that I encountered — online harassment, drug use in the gay community, the internalized homophobia of others, etc. — these were all things that I was directly exposed to in Daytona Beach. And after documenting those interactions, I decided to express my own perspective.

One time I addressed the local police officers for a homophobic raid they performed (using Grindr!) and tagged them in it. Sometimes [posts are] more lighthearted and humorous, like sugar daddies and small town gossip, but the more interactions I posted for anyone to see, the more responses I got of people being able to relate. Eventually I left Daytona and along with that came a very clear shift in the types of conversations I had and topics that came up (obviously). The bigger the city, the more you see, hear, and experience, and so slowly but surely the page has gravitated towards bigger social conversations. Topics that come up now range anywhere from mental health to body image, and even to things like the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. This might be my favorite part about the page, honestly. If you look at it as a timeline, you can visually track the mindset and journey from small town to big city.

 

How has your approach changed over the years?

As soon as I opened it up to be collaborative, I assumed a sense of responsibility to focus on diversity and inclusiveness. The project used to be just me and my experience — whatever was immediately around me in Daytona Beach.  But that’s obviously changed a lot. My surroundings and my community have transformed.

 

In your professional opinion, what are some of the biggest differences between Grindr in Daytona and Grindr in Brooklyn?

Well, the most obvious difference is the density. Here, the person at the bottom of the list on Grindr is at most like 1,000-2,000 feet away. Back In Daytona, the fourth person over from you could be miles away. Forget about the bottom of the list, they’re usually in the next town over. But to really get an idea of how intensely unique that experience was, you have to take a step back and look at Daytona Beach itself: it proudly wears the locally-crowned title “World’s Most Famous Beach.” It’s the birthplace of NASCAR, a fixture of the American Spring Break phenomenon, and the location of the final showdown between Aileen Wuornos and the law. You can imagine it’s an outlandish group of people down there.

 

Have individuals whose messages you’ve featured ever gotten salty [that you’ve posted them online] after the fact?

Nope, but I never really expected them to anyways. When I first started [Gaytona Beach] that was what felt the most daring about it — I would get these messages that were sometimes so violent or hateful and [would then] posting them for anyone to see. If you were the person who sent that message, you would A) never want to out yourself for it and B) probably not want to talk to the person that you said it to again. I figured they would never reach out to me via Instagram and reveal any personal information by doing so. Besides, the focus of these posts is the dialogue itself — not the person who said it. My intent was never to create a public roast, but instead to evaluate an experience I was dealing with — which I later learned was a universal experience.

Basically, in order to get salty with me about something you said, you would have to address what it was in the first place. On the other hand, I also don’t post any content that would be harmful to someone or reveal their identity, so that would be the only other time I could see someone being salty with me.

 

Gaytona Beach definitely deals in the lead up to a hook-up. Would you ever consider exploring the aftermath of it? I could totally see your format applied to themes like ghosting, unrequited crushes, STI scares, etc.  

I think you’re on to something here….

 

Grindr probably has a more artistic connotation for you than most of us. Do you still use the app for pleasure?  

Yes! I have this account linked to my profile, but I still mostly just use the app for the same reason anyone does. Eventually I want to [unlink the project’s Instagram account] from there, but for now it generates a lot fun conversations.

 

What does the future for Gaytona look like?  

Bright! Last year I learned a lot, and I’ve made the promise to myself this year to circle back to why it all began in the first place. Growth is fun, change is fun — but its background is what made it interesting. Something else you’ll see more of is an integration between this and my day job [Andrew works in healthcare services].

I’m currently designing a system for people who take (or want to start taking) PrEP to get it them affordably, help with office visits and testing scheduling, as well as answering questions and connecting them with LGBT focused medical providers in the city. I realized there’s a lot I can learn from the diverse following of the page. For instance, if you ask your doctor about the side effects you think you’re having on PrEP, they’ll likely say something like “a small portion of people report experiencing side effects but this will go away soon.” I doubted this for a while, and I recently ran a poll of around 350 Gaytona followers that revealed half of them [have at some point] experienced side effects. Out of that group, around 10% of them experience ongoing side effects from their PrEP.

I’m not completely sure what that will look like for the page, but I’m excited about it. I’d really like to use the page to help New Yorkers connect with affordable LGBT care. Aside from that, I have a couple things I’m crossing my fingers for, but you’ll have to wait to see.

 

 

All photos provided by Andrew Harper. You can follow Gaytona Beach here.

 

You Can Look, But Not Touch

Everyone has a phone. Everyone takes selfies.

A study conducted by software firm McAfee found that 49 percent of people send/receive sexual content via video, photo, e-mail, or messaging — 16 percent of whom share it with total strangers.

As our society begins to come to terms with the inevitability that explicit photos and videos will be recorded and make their way across the internet, a group of millennials have begun to capitalize on our fixation with the naughty.

You can find Mistress Milan on a screen of your choosing, where the 22-year-old will perform a variety of acts in front of a camera — but only for the right price. However, Milan is not a porn star, at least not in the traditional sense. She is featured in videos (titles range from “Tempted By My Tits” to “Some Words To My Foot Bitch!”), but she ultimately controls how, when, and what exactly she is doing in them.

Operating primarily via Twitter, she posts sexy snippets of herself online to lure potential clients into booking Skype sessions wherein she will verbally degrade and humiliate them from afar. As it turns out, this consensual, sexual cyber-bullying is quite lucrative.

I got the opportunity to interview Milan about her work as a financial dominatrix/humilantrix. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

 

How did you first get in to being a dominatrix?

Mistress Milan: I actually started sex work as a cam-girl when I turned 18, but I didn’t really like it because, to make money, you have to cater more to what the guys want and it’s not my style. I just wasn’t making that much money.

I’m not even sure how I found out about dominating, I think I saw it on social media? Somehow I came across somebody’s page and was like, I could be good at this. 

 

Did you do any type of sex work before the camming?

No, I just did camming. I wasn’t really into the whole sex acts, more just online stuff. I still have yet to do in-person meets, but I’m looking to do that in the future, I just haven’t gotten there quite yet because I haven’t met the right person.

 

Can you walk us through what a normal online dominatrix session looks like for you?

I mainly get most of my clients from Twitter. My Twitter is my biggest following.

 

That’s awesome, what’s your Twitter if you don’t mind me asking?

It’s @Mistress_Milan. I just reach the 1K mark. Once you get there you get more credibility because right now [there are a lot of users] called insta-Doms because True Life did an episode on Financial Doms so there’s a bunch of people who have a Twitter [for this kind of work] but they’re not legit.

So once you reach the one “K” mark people are like, Oh, this person… they have a following. I can believe them, they’re real, not just a fake. 

I post pictures, I send tweets out, and then people send me a DM asking, “Hey, how are you?” Then they’ll tell you, “I’m interested in this kind of fetish and I want to do a session like this,” and then I ask for payment and I do the payments depending on the times and how long the session is. I have people who come back and continue to have sessions with me. It’s pretty straightforward. People come to me.

 

Were there any challenges you had when you first began doing this?

It took me probably almost a year just to get to this point, because there’s a lot of girls who do it. There’s a lot of insta-Doms, so it was pretty hard to get my credibility up there — pretty tedious. You really have to commit your time, you have to be active on social media everyday otherwise [potential clients are] just gonna get forgot about [you].

 

Are you usually the one with your camera on or do [clients] also turn on their cameras for your sessions?

It depends. I charge more if I put my camera on. Sometimes they just want to be watched, sometimes they want to actually see me. It’s pretty 50/50. 

 

Are there any boundaries that you set for yourself while you do this?

I don’t have any actual sex with any of my people. Like I haven’t met people yet. I try to stay away from the really outrageous fetishes… I’ve gotten really extreme [stuff] like scatting. Sometimes I’m like, “That’s probably not legal.” *laughs* 

 

Are you — is the correct phrase”out” — to your friends and family?

Pretty much all my close friends know. My family doesn’t know, my parents are actually Republican and Catholic so I don’t plan on them anytime soon. It’s actually funny; I met with my friend earlier and he told me, “Your old coworker just showed your Twitter to everybody at work,” and I’m like, what?!

If you’re in this line of work you have the risk of always being exposed but I’m fine with it. I make money, I’m happy, so that’s all that matters really.

 

How much do you often charge for a session?

Let’s say they want to do a twenty-five minute SPH [small penis humiliation] session, I’ll charge about 50 to 80 bucks. It depends, my rates are not set yet so I kind of do whatever I feel like.

 

That’s decent money!

I don’t like to do Skype [sessions] for anything below 35 bucks. Even if it’s like five minutes, I’ll still charge 35 because I still have to get on camera.

 

Are most of your clients men or women?

Men. I really don’t have any women contact me.

 

Have you ever experienced any animosity [from a client] when they’re time is up or they want you to do something you’re not comfortable with?

You get a lot of angry people. Let’s say a guy’s message is, “I want you to do this, this, and that.” And I’m like “No.” He’ll be like, “You’re a fake Dom.” He’ll just talk crap to you. You know how guys get when you reject them… happens all the time.

 

How many calls do you [take] a day on average? What’s a busy day?

Maybe like seven a day? But that’s only on weekends, because I still have two jobs   like vanilla jobs in my real life. So I only can do sessions certain times of the day.

 

What are your outside jobs?

I just work in hospitality.

 

You used to be a cam girl and you’ve mentioned before how you got into being a dominatrix because you got more autonomy in what you wanted to do on camera, right?

I like to hold control. I decide what I do, it’s all my decision. 

 

What are some services you offer as a dominatrix?

I deal with a lot of humiliation sessions. Guys really like it when I’m mean and humiliate them. My whole brand is a young, bratty, Brazilian Dom. I humiliate men in different ways and then there’s ones [whose] whole fetish is sending money — that’s my favorite, obviously.

 

What are some of the things you would say to humiliate a guy? 

A lot of times they want small penis humiliation. I don’t like doing race humiliation. I stay away from that because it’s not really my cup of tea.

 

Is that a market? Do men ask you to do that?

Oh, yeah. There’s like snow bunny  which is a white girl who’s into black men. Then there’s racial play… there’s definitely a huge market for it. But I don’t like to do it. There’s also religious humiliation, too. 

 

Have you ever taken it too far on the humiliation scale and guys get upset? Have they ever been like, “That was a low blow!”

Sometimes, but then they’ll get over it. They’ll realize they actually enjoyed it.

 

Have guys ever tried to coerce you into meeting face-to-face?

Oh yeah, all the time. They’ll tell you they’ll pay more, but I just haven’t found the right person because I’m not just gonna meet somebody that I don’t know. 

 

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about being a dominatrix or humiliatrix?

That it’s easy. People think that you can just start doing it and you’ll make a lot of money   that’s not true. It took me, at least, a good six months to start bringing money in. It’s not easy, it takes time. It’s just like a job, you need to put hours in.

 

What’s something you really enjoy about this kind of work?

I like sex work because I think it’s really empowering. It’s not a regular 9-to-5. I choose how much I can make and the freedom… it’s unique. I’m really into kinks and fetishes and sex, so I get the best of both worlds.

 

Has your work ever affected any personal relationships in your life?

My boyfriend knows about it. He’s cool with it, obviously, because I bring in money. But sometimes he’ll get touchy, but right now it’s not affecting anything.

 

Have there ever been times where you’ve been made to feel uncomfortable or afraid while you were camming?

Sometimes I still get nervous right before I get on Skype. But, I get over the fear pretty easily because it’s just another session in the end. I’m still gonna make money and I’m gonna humiliate someone, so who’s really the winner? *laughs*

 

So “Mistress Milan”, is that a character you created?

Yeah, just a name [I came] up with. 

 

Your camming and dominatrix persona, how is it alike and how does it differentiate from Milan IRL?

In real life, I’m actually a very sweet girl. I’m a total sub in real life, pretty much. I’m a Dom for work  that’s my persona.

 

What do you wear on your cams? Do people request you wear certain things? 

Yeah, I have leather. I get requests for thigh-high black boots. Some guys request you wear leggings, some want you to wear jeans. It really just depends.

 

Have you heard about the current legislation FOSTA-SESTA?

Yeah.

 

Has that affected your work at all?

I feel, at first, traffic started to slow down. It’s a little bit better now, but I feel like [FOSTA-SESTA, anti-sex work legislation] has affected it, unfortunately.

 

Are you more nervous that you could be exposed or doxxed?

Not really, because I’m not doing anything that’s fully illegal.

I feel like you will only get in trouble if you’re actually having sex with clients, and I don’t. Cam sites are still provided, in the United States   it’s not illegal. So I’m not too worried about it.

 

Do you have any professional goal within your work? Is there a sort of state you wanna reach? You said you just hit a thousand, what’s the dream for Mistress Milan?

I want to be recognized in the industry  I think that’s awesome. Definitely my goal is to become a known Dom. I’m not gonna stop anytime soon.

 

 

You can follow Mistress Milan and her work on Twitter here

 

 

Porn: a Generation’s Teacher

This article originally appeared in Pull Out, our magazine exploring the relationship between sex and technology. You can order a copy here

 

Bathed in a mixture of LED, shame, and lust I remember the first time I masturbated in front of a computer screen. Like clockwork, every day after school I would take half an hour to explore my sexuality in front of my family’s Windows 7.

While pornography, with its heightened depictions of sex, is nothing new — how we interact with it post-millennium is. Nowadays, you don’t have to worry about scrounging up the funds or an 18-plus friend to buy a Playboy or Penthouse magazine for you. The digital age has made it possible to get every type of porn imaginable, free of charge, in a matter of seconds. Therefore it’s worth examining if, as a generation raised in the glow of internet porn, we relate to our sexuality fundamentally different for it.  

“I was just trying to figure out how things would work,” admitted Candace Puente, 22, one millennial interviewed on how porn has affected her sex life.  Almost every other millennial we talked to described developing an online viewing habit while they were still virgins, turning to Xtube and Brazzers to fill in the blanks left by their schools’ sexual education programs.

“Porn showed me what sex could look like. Tumblr showed me the science side, so like why she/he is climaxing. Any remaining questions [went] to the internet,” said Eli Congelio, 21. For much of today’s impressionable youth, porn provided a visual example of the mechanics involved — well sort of.

Nicholas Walton, a 21-year-old heterosexual man, described being initially misled by videos’ depiction of male-on-female sex. “When you watch a lot of porn, all the dude does is stick his dick in her a bunch of times, and she’s just moaning and screaming her ass off… and then when you go into the experience [of sex] it’s not like that.” The scenario Walton describes is commonplace in online pornography; female actresses in straight porn are notoriously vocal, expressing satisfaction with their scene partner(s) in an exaggerated manner. While this is a choice no doubt encouraged by directors, it can foster unrealistic expectations of sexual response.

“You kind of think anything will be good,” continued Walton, “but what you quickly realize is for your partner, it might not be.”

Alec Chi, 22 and also straight, said online porn misled him regarding the amount of time it takes to stimulate women to the point where they are ready for penetration. “The girl has to get more wet,” he concludes now, having gained real life experience.

Reversely, when asked if porn accurately depicts the way women get off, 22-year-old Claire Reaves responded via email, “I guess there are women out there that get off on aggressive, jack-hammering whatever, but that’s not reflective of what I’ve heard from my friends or my own experiences.” Meanwhile, when asked the same question, the heterosexual, cisgender millennial men interviewed admitted that most porn, at least on a basic level, demonstrated a viable depiction of male sexual pleasure.

This idea of varied gender perspective came up often during interviews, begging the question: who is porn made for? Most videos seem to favor one gender’s fantasies over the other, with the women acting as a vessel for their male partner’s satisfaction. In mainstream porn, it’s not unusual to see an actress gagging on the actor’s dick while he sprinkles down expletives like “dirty whore” or “cock slut.” The performers involved have likely planned this exchange, and this behavior would be fine if consent were reiterated on screen. However, it almost never is. And it’s not likely that a young man, boner in hand while watching this interaction on his laptop, will consider such behind-the-scenes negotiations. This can send the message that this kind of behavior is acceptable without consent, and worse — that women expect it. If this is the case, is it possible that porn is conditioning a generation of boys to believe this dynamic is the norm, and for a generation of girls to expect it?

While not all porn shows male-favored circumstances, female-centric content is less popular with male viewers. In 2015, PornHub reported that women typed something similar to “guy licking pussy” and “man eating pussy” in their search bar 930% more than men did. Keep in mind that millennials (ages 18-34) account for 60% of PornHub’s worldwide users, and 76% of users are male. In the same year, PornHub saw a 260% search gain for men looking up “extreme gangbang” and “creampies,” which is when a man orgasms in a woman without a condom.

It’s in this capacity that online porn can become a dangerous tool, a negligent educator that feeds its viewers false depictions of sex. Naturally, young people internalize what they watch, especially if it’s the only action they’re privy to. This can generate a misalignment between what we expect sex to look and feel like and the actual reality of intercourse.

However, the millennial relationship with porn isn’t all bad.

For a generation that went through puberty with a desktop readily available, the discovery of porn often coincided with the discoveries of our bodies — to outright condemn pornography is to disregard a vital component of millennial sexual development. For many of us, our erotic exploration began in front of a computer screen; our lust acting as compass as we navigated the hidden depths of worldwide web. This demystified sex, introduced many to future kinks, and in my particular case, helped me discover my sexuality. My pornography preferences forced me to confront my orientation. As I typed “gay sex” into the Google search bar, the correlation between who was inspiring my orgasms and what that meant became increasingly clear. Maybe I should write to the PornHub execs and thank them?

Despite all the inaccuracies perpetuated by the industry, more than one millennial interviewed described porn as having a positive effect on their sexual confidence. “I wanted to be as comfortable as those people were to be filmed,” said Puente. She said it helped to see people look uninhibited while having sex, offering an example of a level of performance confidence to aspire to. 

However, it was in the same vein mainstream porn fell short for millennial viewers. Many stated they preferred to watched amateur, homemade videos, opting for realness over production. They craved context and a sense of connection between the parties involved, feeling as though porn actors often appear too detached and rehearsed. Overall, most of the millennials I spoke with regard porn fondly. It was their first taste of the real thing, a crucial teacher, and watching online videos of both men and women expressing sexual pleasure helped instill the notion that sex should be a mutually beneficial act, even if the industry depicts this unequally.

While older generations (and even some of our own ranks) will never tire of branding millennials as emotionally stunted, it seems much of what this generation craves sexually are the truths of IRL intercourse: messy, fumbling intimacy.

 

Photos by Luke Gilford.

 

Interview with a Millennial Sex Worker

The only guaranteed thing about autonomy is that the term is currently being used a student with dyed hair during a college seminar.

However, when individuals attempt to exercise the right to govern their bodies and decisions outside of hypothetical discourse, they’re usually met with at best conditional acceptance and at worst — criminalization.

Sex work, often called the world’s oldest profession, remained mostly legal in the United States until 1910, when religious groups cried “immorality” and campaigned to close the brothels. They failed to stop prostitution but succeeded in illegalizing and demonizing the profession, engendering a stigma that persists to this day.

Legislation continues to threaten the livelihoods of sex workers. With the passing of bills SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) this year, the US government has effectively limited the online platforms (digital brothels) which sex workers previously used to solicit clients.

On the surface this may not seem like a bad thing. But the bill package fails to distinguish the difference between sex trafficking and consensual sex work, conflating forced sexual labor with the autonomous soliciting of sexual activities. 

Introducing new policies aimed to restrict the former, SESTA/FOSTA subsequently jeopardizes the livelihoods of the latter. By shutting down websites like Backpage, Craigslist Personals, and other sites used to solicit, sex workers are denied the right to handpick and vet their clients from afar, forcing them to gauge their safety IRL. Research has indicated that street-based sex workers face higher risk of STI transmission and violence than those who utilize online advertising. In fact, a 2017 study estimated that the opening of the Craigslist Erotic section coincided with a 17 percent drop in female-homicide rates.

These statistics have faces, one of which belongs to “Melanie” a 27-year-old genderfluid artist and sex worker, who has entered this profession willingly. We spoke to them about their work and their future in the wake of SESTA/FOSTA.

Below is an edited transcript of our discussion.

 

First, in your own words, how would you describe what you do?

Melanie: I describe myself as a full service sex worker. I also sometimes use the term ‘provider.’ It’s important to me to delineate that [I am] providing a service to my clients.

 

What does “full service” mean?

It can mean full penetrative sex, it can mean other types of physical intimacy. Some people make the distinction between being full service or being an escort or being a sugarbaby. I feel like I could fall under any of those categories, because I offer different services to different people. But for me, it’s just easier to be like, ‘I’m full service.’

 

Before you meet a client, do you talk about what you’re offering?

This is kind of something that’s shifting and evolving, particularly post FOSTA/SESTA. Since that legislation was passed, I haven’t been able to find any new clients, so everyone that I see now are regulars. Prior to that, the main platform that I used for advertising was Craigslist — which is actually not allowed. Now Craigslist Personals is entirely shut down. What would happen before all of this happened [was] people would respond to my Craigslist ad or they would send me a message on Seeking Arrangement. I was very careful of the language I would use, as a way to screen people, because there’s always the risk that you are dealing with law enforcement or dealing with someone that is potentially dangerous. I would use elusive language, pose it as though it were a date.

Often times, I would go directly to this person’s home. I would set up some type of backup safety measure, having a friend know where I am, turning on my location — something like that. It was like a read-between-the-lines type of thing, so there were very few occasions where I would be explicit in what services I provide.

 

Out of fear of repercussions from the government or…?

Fears of implicating mess ups, legally, and also as a safeguard.  I’m not going to say I’m a professional — some people say that in a shaming way. Clients will be like, ‘Oh, if you’re a pro I don’t want to see you. I just want you to be a girl who needs financial help,’ you know what I mean? Like, ‘Oh, you’re just a girl who’s down on her luck.’

 

Where do you think that stigma comes from?

I think it’s just part of the greater stigma of sex work in general. A lot of people hold such negative moralistic views of sex in general and being promiscuous. Also if you are taking ownership of your sexuality and you’re commodifying your sexuality — [they think] you are dangerous. I have had clients say, ‘You’re not a pro, right?’ If you know too much about your rights and you know too much about what rate you can command — they’re threatened by that.

 

Because they want an illusion that they’re not engaging in this sort of trade?

Exactly. I can understand why people might feel ashamed for soliciting sex workers. In theory, because you might feel undesirable, feel you’re too old, or they might have all these internalized feelings [about] their manhood. And it’s like, no, you can solicit a service from someone — like getting a massage — and it can be just something that you need. Maybe you are too busy to date, maybe your schedule doesn’t allow for that, maybe you’re in a marriage where you’re not getting, physically, what you need.

There’s so many different reasons and I just feel like I’m in the trade of intimacy and love, and if I can offer that to people in a way that we are both consenting and both feel safe doing that, then why not? And if I can make a living doing it — and I mean, I’m barely scraping by now — but theoretically then, sure, why not?

 

What was your first experience with any kind of sex work?

I guess the first time was probably when I was 21 years old, and I had moved to [location omitted for privacy] after getting out of a long term relationship. I was in the city by myself, I didn’t really have any friends. I was working a dead-end retail job and was struggling financially to pay my rent and just thought, why not try this?

The first place that I went was Craigslist Personals. I’m trying to remember the very first time that I met [someone], but I’m not sure I remember who it was. But I do remember that I went over to someone’s home, and I didn’t have anybody to [tell], “This is where I’m going.” I wasn’t out to my family, so it was just one of those things where I was very at risk — considering my white privilege, I’m still much lower risk than trans femmes and queer people of color — however, there’s always that element of danger.

 

Do you remember how you felt after the experience?

During that time of my life, I was pretty depressed. I held a lot of internalized shame. I had a lot of internalized whore-phobia. So, it was not a good experience for me then. It was very negative, there was a shame spiral that happened, and actually, it was my birthday [when I was outed].

I turned 21, one of my clients had gotten me a bottle of expensive whisky and I was sitting in my closet-of-a-room in [location omitted for privacy]. I was online on Google Chat, talking to my ex and I was drunk and sad. I said to him, “I’ve been selling myself for money.” Which is an inherently flawed statement, because you’re not selling your body by selling sex, you’re selling sex. You’re selling a service, you’re selling an action, you’re not giving away any part of yourself by doing that.

And he had the worst possible reaction, he immediately said that I was so mentally ill that I needed to be institutionalized. He reached out to my family without my consent and outed me under the guise of being concerned for my well-being, and then promptly excommunicated me and blocked me on everything. But yeah, at the beginning there was so much shame attached to sex work for me.

 

Do you still feel any shame attached to sex work today?

Not at all.

 

And what was the process like to get here?

So, I’m 27 years old, right? There’s been a big gap. The last time I had done sex work up until that point was at 21, and then the next time was last summer [2017]. So this is actually my one year anniversary of getting back into sex work. What really spurred it was last summer there was a sex worker meet-up. I showed up, and it was just a circle. After that meet up, I was so overwhelmed with feelings of love, compassion, and understanding. I was like, all of these people are doing it and obviously we’ve all had difficult experiences through it, but you can still find empowerment through it. So I reposted my ad after that meet up, and got back on Seeking Arrangement. Then it just started happening again, and it has been kind of a life-line for me. My life has completely changed, and a lot of it is due to sex work.

 

What are some of the ways [your life has changed]?

I’ve always been a promiscuous person and a sexually adventurous person. I’ve never — no, that’s not true; I have felt shame about that, just because being raised Christian and being taught that sexual desire is inherently sinful. Meanwhile, I pegged my first boyfriend in the ass at 15 years old, so my mother knew that I was a lost cause when she found my strap-on in the closet.

 

She says lost cause, we say progressive.

Exactly. I’ve been able to come to new terms with my own sexuality through [sex work]. To have people value my time to the point where they are willing to pay for it, because let’s be honest — most of the cis-het [cisgendered-heterosexual] boys that I was fucking prior to getting paid for it — were not appreciative of my time, were not attentive to my sexual needs, and a lot of times I ended up feeling used after these disappointing sexual experiences.  But when you’re a sex worker, you can walk away with cash in hand. And then the real fucking irony is that these men are often better in bed than their counterparts, who are “too good to pay for sex,” you know what I mean?

 

So do you have any rules for yourself or lines you won’t cross?

I really just don’t like butt stuff. It’s just a personal preference, and luckily I have never had anyone break that boundary with me. That’s pretty much the only hard line that I have. Also a hard limit for me is intense physical bodily harm. With the regulars that I see, they all know me now. I’ve been seeing some of my regulars now for a year.

 

Do you have any emotional boundaries you set for yourself? Do you see clients in a nonprofessional manner outside of work?

There’s some people that, no matter how many times I’ll have sex with them, it’s still just a professional relationship. There’s been a few people who I have fallen for and have confused those lines.

 

Would you mind discussing rates? What’s more expensive, what’s less expensive — your breakdown of prices? 

It actually varies client to client. I don’t charge more for one thing or another thing. I don’t say, “Penetrative sex is this, oral is this.” I don’t have a menu. What I do is pay per meet. [With] some people, that’s one amount. Some people it’s $100 more, some people it’s $200 more — based on their financial situation, based on what I agreed to. There’s some people, who the rates change every time I see them, because they might only have so much money available and I’m desperate.

Because FOSTA/SESTA, I don’t have any new clients. [So] I’ll go over and I’ll see them for literally a fifth of my normal rate. I literally had a client yesterday who asked, “Will you come over for a Father’s Day present?” And I was like, no.

 

Do you always expect payment upfront? 

I always expect some type of compensation for my time.

 

Is it pre-established?

Often times it’s murky. Sometimes I’ll be handed a white envelope with money inside and I won’t know, until I open it later, how much I have been given. And I’ve been given very little before.

I recently had an instance [where] I met up with someone from What’s Your Price [an online dating service]. Not factoring the amount of time that it takes me to get there, time it takes me to get home, including the time I spend with him — I was getting paid very little hourly. Then the second time I met him, he was like, “Oh, I didn’t think that this was part of it anymore.” And I’m like, “Why wouldn’t you?” He’s like, “Well, it’s kind of depressing for me to think that I’m paying for your time,” and I’m like, “we literally met under those pretenses, why would that not carry over?” And he reluctantly paid me for the second date, and I honestly don’t think I’m going to see him after that.  

 

That’s shitty.

That’s a common thing for clients to try to convert you into dating. But not actually dating, literally just you fulfilling their physical needs and desires, without them offering you anything in return. I’ve had many people try and do that. Like, “Would you just come over, without payment?” No. This isn’t fun for me. I mean, it can be but…

 

You’ve enjoyed sex with clients?

Yeah.

 

Does that confuse you or them sometimes?

I don’t know. I’ve never personally felt confused. I’m having good sex so who cares? It could just come down to our chemistry or whatever. I have had some of my best sex ever with clients in the past year.

 

Do you tell them so?

Yeah, there’s a few people in particular where we’ll text a lot. That honestly can be emotional labor and can be very time consuming, but it’s something that I’m participating in consensually, so I’m fine with that. It’s like time off the clock. We’ll be like sexting, but that’s something that I’m doing for fun, to fulfill my own desires. So it doesn’t confuse me and I don’t think it necessarily confuses them either. There have obviously been times where they’ll make some off-hand joke where they’ll be like, “You should be paying me,” because the sex is so good and I’m like… no.

 

Do you use your real name?

I’m so messy.

 

Well you’re just speaking to your experience, you’re not the spokesperson for all sex workers. I should have prefaced that the questions I’m asking, I’m asking you. 

Right. I just feel like I need to stipulate that I’m not leading by example here. I always start out with a fake name. The fake name that I use is Melanie. I don’t have a last name, just Melanie. And I don’t feel like it necessarily is a name that suits me, so usually I end up telling them my real name once I get to know [them]. I’d say probably 80 percent of my current regulars know my real name. It just comes to that point where I feel uncomfortable with them referring to me as my false name. It’s not a persona that I’ve fully grown into.

 

Are your clients mostly male or female? Or have you ever worked with other queer/non-binary folks?

As far as I know, I only have cis male clients.

 

Rough age range?

Most of them are between 40 and 50. With a few outliers.

 

Who was the youngest person?

I think 44 or 45.

 

How has sex work affected your personal relationships?

I haven’t seen anyone romantically, basically, in the past year outside of sex work. So, I feel like commodifying intimacy, commodifying my sexuality has made me view [the] normal dating process a little bit differently. I’m more skeptical about it, and I’m a little more stingy with my time. If I know that I can be paid for it in another context… I guess I don’t really seek it out other places. I got banned from Tinder, banned from OKCupid — for stating that I was a sex worker. They hate sex workers, so whatever.

Friendships? I’m very fortunate and constantly grateful for the incredible community of people that surround me. So many of my friends are sex workers — it’s ridiculous, how many of us have either done it in the past or are currently doing it. There hasn’t been anyone who’s been judgmental of what I’m doing.

 

How long does it normally take when meeting someone for you to reveal that this is your line of work?

I’m probably too candid with people. And I’m probably too open and honest. 

 

For safety reasons or personal?

For safety reasons, really. I feel like I out myself to people so easily. I really do, and [to] complete strangers. Maybe take too much for granted, [because of] the community I’m in, I just expect everyone to be cool with it. Part of me also feels like it’s important, in pursuit of de-stigmatizing sex work to be like, ‘I am a human being and I am a sex worker. Hello, nice to meet you. We exist. We’re here, and we’re not hiding in the shadows.’

Of course, there’s a lot of risk that comes with that, and to be honest with you, I’m very paranoid. Particularly following FOSTA/SESTA, it’s a concern that’s been consistently on my mind.

 

I see you post about [FOSTA/SESTA and concerns for your safety]. 

I think I’ve gotten a little bit quieter on Instagram and on social media. I used to kind of shout about being a sex worker. It’s scary… there is a digital paper trail for my line of work. I don’t use encrypted text. Those are adjustments that I could easily make now, but everything that’s happened in the past year, that’s still there [exists online].

Also it makes you — there’s that cultural thing of, why should you have to go through all these sort of hoops to provide a service? Also it could discourage clients in a way, if you’re like, “Let’s use encrypted email,” cause it adds that shroud over it. This idea [that sex workers are] selling bodies for something. It’s like… people are construction workers, so many [jobs] you put your body on the line for money, so it doesn’t make sense. 

I’m fully for the decriminalization of sex work, and I participated in the rally where we were standing in solidarity with sex workers and marching for the decriminalization of sex work. Which is different than legalization, because legalization still involves the state and involves regulations. Where as [with] decriminalizing [sex work], [the goal is] people can’t be thrown in jail for it. I mean it’s obviously much more nuanced and complex than that.

 

What are the biggest misconceptions you’d like to clear up for people about sex work?

Oh, there’s so many. First of all, that sex itself is a moral issue, because sex is natural. You can be asexual, hypersexual, and everywhere on the spectrum is okay as long as it doesn’t interfere with your well-being. But I think there’s no moral values that can be placed on sex itself. There’s the victim narrative which is projected onto sex workers from outside sources.

 

That you’re forced into this occupation? 

Yes. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t many people who are, but you cannot conflate sex trafficking and consensual sex workers — that’s two completely separate issues. That’s inherently what’s wrong with FOSTA/SESTA, because they say that it’s about sex trafficking, but what you’re really doing [with] this legislation is making people go into the shadows. [By shutting down online soliciting platforms sex workers] are literally forced onto the streets, and that’s exponentially more dangerous. And the people that are at highest risk of being harmed, of experiencing violence [are] trans women of color — it’s literally a death sentence for them.

You cannot conflate sex trafficking and consensual sex work. As a sex worker, you might love your job or you might hate your job, it’s like any other job. Allowing sex workers to tell their own stories is really important. So thank you for doing this. Another misconception is that sex workers are diseased. Of course it’s part of our trade so we are at higher risk for having sexually transmitted infections, but actually, statistically, we are the most tested population. 

 

How does your queerness relate to your work? Being non-binary, do you feel that clients recognize your true identity?

I feel like, everyday is drag for me — but especially when going to meet a client. Being objectified for body parts that I felt intense dysphoria about, like my breasts, it’s a very particular position to be in. But then, at the same time, [my clients] appreciate my body. So it’s extremely complicated. But I feel like because of the age group that most of my clients are in, above 40, they don’t really understand. 

I see cis men exclusively — not by choice, just because opportunity. So these cis hetero men are very small-minded. I’ve tried to have conversations with them before about the fact that I’m non-binary [but I] don’t really know how to have this conversation with [them] because we’re speaking different languages. I feel like our generation is on a completely different plane of existence.

 

And it’s hard to get people to catch up. 

And we’re also spending such limited amount of time together. How am I going to give you queer history 101 in an hour?

 

And that’s not your responsibility. So are you out [about being a sex worker] to your family now?

It’s a little weird. My sister used to follow me on Instagram. I think she might still follow me on Instagram… but I think she stopped watching my stories because there’s a lot of things on my stories: thirst traps and me explicitly being like, “I’m going to see this client” or whatever. Before this legislation passed, I was more explicit and more candid [online]. So she pretty much knows, [but] I’ve never sat down with her and been like, “I’m a sex worker.” My mother sort of knows, but I don’t think she understands or she she’s willingly ignorant of the fact that there are sexual services that I provide. So she is aware, but she doesn’t know the full extent of it.

I almost feel an obligation to not tell them, because I don’t want to implicate them in the horrible instance that I’m ever criminalized. So the less they know, I feel, the better.

 

Are there any times you have felt frightened for your well-being, outside of FOSTA/SESTA, with clients? 

I’ve been extremely fortunate and I’m very privileged in my whiteness that I have never really felt physically threatened. Obviously, those thoughts cross your mind because you are entering someone’s domestic space, and you know really anything could happen. I’ve been tied up by people before, but there’s usually a certain level of trust which is established before I will go into being physically restrained.

I’ve been definitely made to feel uncomfortable before, but that’s more being coerced into doing things that aren’t ideal. Having unprotected sex is really the main one. But physically I haven’t had any traumatic experiences. I’ve been very, very fortunate.

 

Do you have any funny or sweet stories? 

On my birthday, my client showed up with a bouquet of flowers for me and it was really sweet. And we did Molly together at [location omitted for privacy], and that was a really intimate and tender experience that we shared. 

 

Do you foresee a time where you would want to stop doing sex work? 

I feel like I would always do it. I would always be open to doing it because I really have no baggage attached to it at all. There’s really nothing about it, right now, that makes me feel uncomfortable. The only thing that makes me feel uncomfortable is when people don’t want to pay me or pay me less than my rates.

The only reason that I would foresee myself [stopping] is if something really awful happens. If there’s violence enacted upon me or if I have an interaction with law enforcement. I’ve already kind of ceased all my incoming channels. My Craigslist was taken down for investigation, which makes me really, really uncomfortable. For all intents and purposes, besides by regulars, I’m not actively soliciting right now.

 

 

Click here to get involved with campaigns protecting and advocating for sex workers. 

If you are a sex worker in need of legal or social services, you can visit sexworkerproject.org.

 

 

Anal 101

It’s 2018 and if anal isn’t on the menu yet — it definitely should be.

There are a lot of archaic stigmas and misinformed concerns surrounding ass play. While it’s true that anal takes a bit more preparation than other forms of sex, the results are well worth the work: intensified orgasms, unexplored nerve endings, etc. The butt is not just the pounding-ground of gay cisgender men, it’s an erogenous zone that contains pleasures for all individuals, regardless of identity (read: pegging). And if social stigma is leading you to deprive yourself of potential sexual satisfaction? Well, you have a lot re-evaluating to do.

Below are some tips for anal virgins; take a deep breath, this will be fun!

 

Voice your curiosity.

If you’ve never tried anal with your partner talk about it beforehand. Asking for some back action in the moment can overwhelm an unsuspecting bedmate and will likely result in your request being denied. Physical hints (the classic butt-wiggle, guide to the taint, etc.) may intimidate or downright confuse a less experienced partner.

Discussing the idea prior to the deed also gives you both space to voice concerns about cleanliness, comfort level, etc.

 

Prep.

The ass is multi-purpose and while not all of its responsibilities are sexy, they are all natural. Ensuring you and/or your partner’s anal passage is up to code is crucial for both of your comfort. A quick rinse of your hole with soapy water should do the trick, but if you’re not sufficiently convinced, rectal douches are very popular (and available at your local pharmacies) and easy to use. However, be sure not to douche repeatedly, as that will upset your intestines and cause the opposite of the desired effect. 

 

Research.

It doesn’t sound sexy but doing your homework is super important for anal virgins. For example, the default for heterosexual couples is that the man assumes the penetrate role, however, ass play can be equally as pleasurable for men. The prostate is known as the male “G” spot and, if stimulated properly, can intensify their orgasm.

Researching how to responsibly and effectively engage in anal sex with your partner can be fun and quickly turn into foreplay, after all, the internet is full of titillating diagrams and videos…

 

Foreplay is key.

Like other forms of sex, foreplay before anal is vital. The asshole is especially sensitive and is often very tight. The more turned on your partner is the easier entry will be, so take extra care to ensure they’re as primed as possible before and during the act. Kissing, licking, and teasing the taint are great ways to begin knocking at your partner’s door.

 

Penetration. 

Unless you have a magic sphincter, losing your anal virginity will hurt a little at first. But don’t let this deter you! Once you get past the initial discomfort, a whole new set of sensations await. Excessive pain throughout is a sign you’re doing it wrong. 

 

Take your time and breathe.

Anal penetration can be very intense the first time. Ease and expand your partner’s anal capacity by using your fingers (start with one then count up) or toys (note: silicone-based lube can damage certain sex accessories). Take it slow, maintain eye contact, and take deep breaths with your partner. Give their body time to catch up before you pound away.

Use lube and then when you think you’ve used enough — use more.

The ass, unlike some other holes, doesn’t self-lubricate. Which is why you need some (a lot) of backup. Silicone-based lubes are best for anal sex as they take longer to dry out and are less sticky. KAAST suggests Pjur’s Backdoor anal lubricant for more aggressive anal play and for a softer experience try Analyze Me.

 

If you’re still uncomfortable, try different positions. 

Everyone’s body is different and if you’re struggling to relax in a certain position try switching it up! Doggy-style is a go-to anal position, and adding a pillow underneath your body to elevate your ass may help, too. Anal is all about finding that sweet spot so don’t hesitate to speak up if you’re not feeling it.

 

Use a condom.

Beyond STI protection, we suggest condom use for anal first-timers for two reasons. First, there’s bacteria in the rectum so it’s important one doesn’t switch between anal and vaginal sex without a new condom or washing the penetrative member. Secondly, on the off-chance things do get a little messy, a condom provides a thin layer of protection and peace of mind.

Be open-minded.

Judgments have no place in the bedroom. Do not shame your partner for their bodily functions, and if you’re not willing to take things at your partner’s pace — you probably shouldn’t be having sex at all.

 

Post-play.

Soreness and a little bleeding after the first time you’ve tried anal is not unusual. If you continue to bleed for more than an hour (or it’s excessive), call a doctor. Don’t let this scare you: many people bleed during their first time having vaginal sex, as well. It’s natural.

 

It’s OK to not like anal. 

The reality is anal sex isn’t for everyone. If you’ve tried it several times with someone you trust and you still aren’t enjoying yourself — that’s valid. Sex comes in many different forms and cannot be narrowly defined. The golden rule in the bedroom is do what makes you feel good and comfortable.

 

Have fun and play safe!

 

*Cover photo by Van De Aarde.

 

 

RoleModel: Buck Angel

*RoleModel is an interview series highlighting badass individuals we look up to.

 

Every year a Marriott in Los Angeles is transformed into a cornucopia of vibrators, anal beads, and sex dolls. The ANME Show is one of the largest adult accessory conventions in North America, and like any top-tier sex partyyou need to be invited. One particular attendee stood out with his chiseled frame and “Pervert” tattoo bursting from his tank top, he hardly looked the corporate part. But if the pornographer turned entrepreneur’s life is any indicator, conventions are not Buck Angel’s strong-suit.

Frustrated by the lack of trans men in the adult entertainment industry, he created his own production company in 2002. Five years later, he would become the first and only trans man to win Transsexual Performer of the Year at the AVN Awards. But these days, Angel is more concerned with his community’s pleasure than his own.

In 2016, he created the Buck Off, the first sex toy specifically designed for trans men who’ve begun hormone replacement therapy but have not received sex reassignment surgery. Beyond market visibility, the product empowers gender non-conforming individuals to take their pleasure into their own hands, literally. The right to orgasm is arguably the most human of all, and to see your identity reflected on the shelves of a sex shop is a privilege most of us take for granted.

The success of Buck Off has led manufacturers to ask Angel to develop entire line of female-to-male pleasure products. We had the honor of sitting down the outspoken game-changer for an exclusive interview.

 

Could you give just a little overview of Buck Angel Products?

I created the first transgender male sex toy called the Buck Offit’s a male masturbator specifically geared towards trans men. I made it so that guys can start to experience orgasms and start to experience their bodies without touching their vagina because a lot of guys have dysphoria about that. [It] actually became a huge hit. After that, the company I work with gave me a whole line to produce. I produced another [product] called the Kiss X, which is an FTM [female-to-male] masturbator with a smaller hole. Then I created a packer [a crotch device that fills out pants] which is called the Fun Boy. Then I created a lube called T-Lube, specifically to [get] guys talking about their vaginas and understand that it’s important to have vaginal health. That particular product puts out in the world that there’s trans men with vaginas and we need to talk about it.

 

What was the impetus for these ideas?

I always wanted to create sexual wellness productsnot necessarily sex toysand the reason I call them sexual wellness [products] is because it’s more about creating a spiritual and a wellness connection with your body. I think toys help do that, but it’s not just about like, fucking. It’s about the whole experience and really learning how to connect with yourself and your body. That’s what all my products, even my cannabis products, [are] about:  how we connect with our bodies and understand self-love, self-care. 

 

Was it difficult to get people to back these products?

Nineteen years ago, I created the first trans male platform for porn [Buck Angel Entertainment]. I started my career [in] porn as the man with the pussy, and nobody wanted to talk to me, everyone thought I was a freak. Fast forward three years, I was the first trans man to win the AVN Award. So that was a big deal. I busted through this industry and they didn’t want anyone like me here. Today they fucking love me, they lift me up.

With that said, about five years ago I started going around to all these companies asking who wanted to produce my transgender male sex toy and pretty much 99.9 percent of these people said, “No, there is no market. We’re not willing to put the money up to even try.” And then I met Steve Callow from Perfect Fit Brand and I said, “Dude, give me five minutes.” I already had the spielI had been doing it foreverand about a couple minutes into the thing, he said, “Dude this toy doesn’t exist?” I’m like no and he literally said, “No brainer, let’s do this.” And that’s the rewriting of history. We created the very first trans male sex toy together and it was just boom. 

 

When you first got into the porn industry, who was directing the videos?

Me! I created everything. I lived in Louisiana, I took a camera to swamps and I would jack off and I would film all my own stuff because nobody would even film with me. At the time, I was married and I would get my wife to give me blowjobs and stuff. One of my first movies was called The Adventures of Buck Naked. And then a company came to me and they signed me with a twelve picture deal. I was the very first trans man to ever get a twelve picture dealwhich is huge. But that company ended up being total fucking assholes and ended up not paying me and ripping me off.

 

Did you take them to court?

I’m just the guy that says, “Really?” You cannot fuck with me because it actually puts me in a place to become even more successful. So I took all my [videos] from them and walked away and started Buck Angel Entertainment. [Which] was the best thing that ever happened to me. I started my own company, and from starting my own company is when I started to produce and direct and create all my own platforms and all my own movies.

 

Do you think it’s important for there to be porn that is directed by trans people?

One hundred percent because it comes from your own space. You know, there isn’t a lot a lot of trans men in this industry and I still encourage them. I got a lot of shit from the trans community in the beginning. They said shit like, “I can’t believe you’re saying you’re a man with a pussy. That means everyone thinks we’re men with pussies.” I mean, they took it [to be] all about themselves. They said, “You don’t represent us,” and “How come you don’t have enough people of color in there?” And I was like, “You know what? If you understood what I’m doing, you would stop saying that to me and actually pick up a camera and create your own porn.” Create your own, like stop making me the man who’s represented. I never represent, I do not represent anybody but myself.

 

They put you on a pedestal [as if you] are the voice for the community?

Always. They always do. I have guys in this community that hate me and think what I do is wrong or that I say things that are wrong because I’m very much of a person who will speak my mind. If you don’t like the fact that I went around talking about my vagina, go figure out your own shitthat has nothing to do with me and stop telling me how to react, how to talk, how to represent myself. I’ve never represented trans men.

So I created a whole platform called Sexing the Transman, and I created a whole series of porn which I call docuporn. And basically I interviewed trans men, all different kinds, and I talk about their bodies and then I basically have them undress and do a sex scene for me. A lot of schools in this country carry it in their libraries. I’m the first person to actually really sort of talk about trans male sexuality and bodies in such a huge space. People are curious about our bodies, and I think it’s important for people to see our bodies because once you show people, they stop asking. If you tell people, “Don’t ask us about our genitals,” they’re curious, they wanna know. That’s why I’m the guy like, “Ask me! I’ll tell you. This is what our genitals look likebig deal, now can we move on?”

 

Have you always been this comfortable or was it a journey?

No, of course not! I mean I hated my vagina, dude. When I was a girl I hated my vagina and then as I started to transition I hated my vagina even more. I wanted to have a penis, but I transitioned 22 years ago and they didn’t have these kinds of [medical developments], and the things they had were not cool and I didn’t like it and I didn’t want it. I’m very much of a perfectionist.

Now with that said, I don’t care if you get a penis. Go right ahead, do what you want but do not force me or other guys. There is a part of this community that says you’ll never be trans unless you get the penis surgery. Go fuck yourself! Look at me. I go everywhere in this world. My pussy is everywhere, dude. No one says a word to me. And this is what I want peoplenot just trans peoplebut everyone to see. We are all different. We have different bodies, we have different sex, we have different everything. Celebrate your difference! Don’t feel intimidated by other people because you’re different or don’t feel that you have to hide difference. Fuck that. Celebrate our differences. That’s what a community is about; it’s about independence, it’s about having individuality, it’s about having diversity and that creates a community. Why do people want us all to be the same?

Think about it, even in the gay community in that there’s so much ageism, so much body shaming… all of this shit because they want you to fit in this nice little fucking space, and that is not okay with me. We are individuals first before we are a transgender community.

 

A little bit about your background, where are you from originally?

Born and raised in LA and then I moved to New Orleans and I lived there for four years . Then Hurricane Katrina hit. I was married at the time and we just were devastated by it. It was so racist and it was so gross and I hated the United States… Bush… I moved to Mexico because of that and lived [there] for 10 years. Then I moved back to LA because I went through a bad divorce. She challenged my gender [to get out of paying spousal support], said I was really a woman after 10 years of marriage. It was horrifying. But I won. Which was the first case in the history of the United States court system about somebody challenging somebody else’s gender in a marriage and I won! Do you know, if I didn’t win, how fucked our community would be? It would challenge every gay marriage, it would challenge every transgender person’s identity. People don’t know the shit that I have gone through in order to create change for our community. I don’t need a pat on the back, that is not why I’m saying it. What I’m saying is I need respect.

These children out there who have no idea what their elders have done for this community and the privilege they have today need to be spoken [to], because they are coming from a place of entitlement. So when I get attacked by my own people, it’s distressing for me because I do this for you. I don’t do this just for me. All I ever ask for is just respect me.

 

Do you have a favorite product in your line?

Well, my Buck Off because that’s the beginning of everything. It’s gotten me into mainstream and speaking all over the world. People respect me now and that’s a big deal for me. Do you know how hard it is to go from sex work into [the] mainstream? It’s almost impossible. That sex work [history] is like gum on the bottom of my shoe, I’m just like, “C’mon already, I did that a million years ago!” I’m not a porn star anymore, I’m an innovator. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a speaker. I’m so many other things, but because I did porn it’s like, “Oh you’ve done porn, you’re a porn star!”

 

Why do you think that is?

Oh, it’s so many things. First and foremost, we don’t respect porn in this country. It’s a shaming thing, as if sex was bad. So that’s really what America’s about: shaming on every level, shaming you for your body, shaming you for your choicesunless you fit into that neat little box. And that’s why this visibility, your visibility, my visibility, these kinds of websites that you do are very important and people like us need to find our space.

 

That’s a big part of why we do this. I write a sex column for the site because it’s all about demanding respect for every aspect of our lives, including our sexuality. Talking about everything openly and explicitly because that’s part of being radical.

It’s part of life and it’s part of un-stigmatizing. I’ve unstigmatized a man with a pussy. You don’t have to be okay with your vagina. What you do need to do is walk tall. If you walk around like [we’re ashamed of] ourselves with our sexual desires then people feed into that. People feel your fear, they feel your anxiety and then they act that way to you. 

 

The Buck Angel products are so amazing because, a step further than visibility, you’re giving people within the trans community the ability to please themselveswhich is such a human right.

Thank you. Yes, I’m a human rights activist! That’s what I am.

 

Have there been stories [about Buck Angel products] that people have told you?

It was important for me to give back to my community, say, “Look at my life! Look at how amazing [it is] and it’s really a lot to do with sex. I want you to have the same thing that I have.” And that is really one of the reasons why I did create [Buck Off] because I don’t wanna see my guys suffer. I’ve seen guys write me to say, “I cried, I [had] never orgasmed at 28. I couldn’t believe the feeling, you’ve changed my life.” I get tons of emails like that and, to me, that is everything. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.

 

Even with all of your success, is it still difficult to operate in these more corporate sexual wellness spaces?

I’m the shit [at ANME] and I don’t mean that like a bad thing. I created a toy that didn’t exist in a market that’s a billion dollar market. This is about innovation and when you innovate, they respect you. 

My porn didn’t exist, my pleasure products didn’t exist, my lube didn’t exist, and the fact that people are giving me the opportunity is a big deal… and these are cisgender men. That’s another thing that our community needs to stop doing: bashing cisgender people. It’s horrifying to me. Without cisgender people we would not be where we are. They are our allies. I have two cisgender white men [working with me] who are my fucking allies. Without them we would not be creating these products.

 

How do you personally define an ally?

I personally define an ally as somebody who understands my goal, what I’m doing, who I am, with no judgement and only help and only gratitude and only good energy. That’s an ally. 

 

Do you have any advice for some of our readers who want to be allies to the trans and queer communities?

Just be loving, have an open heart. Want to learn about us, put all your preconceived ideas of what a trans person is or what a gay person is away, because everything you’ve learned is wrong. I’m telling you right now, everything. Never ever come at us with anger. Ask questions! Not everyone wants to answer them but I’m the man. If you ever have a question, ask me.  

 

Are there any difficult aspects that come with all your success and publicity?

Yeah, I would say the majority of the things come from my own community. It’s a very small part. I wouldn’t be here without my community and I do it for my community, but there are a group of people out there who are hateful and I’m pretty sure it’s about my success. You don’t have to agree with me, I don’t want you to agree with me if you don’t. *laughs* That’s ridiculous! But all I want for you to do is respect and understand my ultimate goal. My intentions are obviously very good.

 

Where do you think this collective queer habit of tearing each other down comes from?

It comes from insecurity. It comes from not working on your own shit. I don’t feel like that about anybody in our community because I work on my own shit. I take responsibility for my own actions, and my ego isn’t fucking inflated so much that I’m worried about what other people are doing—because that comes from your ego. That’s what’s happened within our community. We have inflated egos. We also have this idea that we’re better than everybody else. We have this idea that we can tell people how to be trans. Like, wow, stop! We have to learn self-love. When you learn self-love, you will not attack people, you won’t. So that’s where it’s coming from, a hurt community. 

 

Can you talk about your self-love process with all this public pressure and your busy schedule?

I’m traveling the world and I speak and I do all kinds of stuff that I feel so blessed to be doing. With that said, I will get drained. People just take my energy. I give it freely but they take it and it’s pretty intense. So how I stay centered is I spend time by myself at home, where nobody else lives with me. I go to the gym a lot because that’s my therapy. I work on my physical self and I work on my own mental self and I really just give myself love. That can be with food, that can be with sex, marijuana… self-love isn’t one specific thing, it’s figuring out what makes you feel good and what makes you feel loved and what makes you feel like you can continue to do what you’re doing. 

 

What does the future for Buck Angel look like? 

In store for the future is really focusing on my cannabis company, because, financially, that’s going to make me enough to open a house for trans kids who are homeless. They get kicked out of the house, they have nowhere to go, so I wanna open the Buck Angel Home and that will just be fucking amazing to have. 

I’m [also] a founding board member of a home called Transform, here in Los Angeles. Transform is a house for post-incarcerated transgender people, staffed by all transgender people. It will specifically focus on being trans and how we can help create a better life for you so you don’t go back into incarceration.Trans people suffer in incarceration, especially trans women of color. It’s a very big population there and they get beat the fuck up and nobody cares so we have to care.

That’s the other thing, people, we need to care about our own community! If we don’t help our own community, nobody will. You can’t just take from the cookie jar because if I go to that cookie jar and it’s empty I’m gonna be fucking pissed!

 

You can order Buck Angel’s products here, and keep up to date on his latest projects by following him on Instagram.

 

New York City’s Most Famous Top

#Clout is an interview series exploring the love lives of social media influencers. 

 

Rembrandt Duran is the sort of urban queer legend only New York City could breed; more a product of who he does than what he does. Mention of his name can occasionally elicit eye rolls, but such reactions only support his claim to fame: everyone knows someone who’s fucked the 27-year-old.

Years of Grindr groundwork paid off in 2017 when Vice dubbed him the premier queer matchmaker, revealing that he kept a detailed sexual rap sheet of the 550 men he’s “networked” with. While having your number nationally publicized is many people’s worst nightmare, Duran fully embraces his hyper-sexualized persona. In fact, he’s built an online brand around it. Over 13,000 eager subs, jealous doms, and hetero voyeurs flock to Twitter for New York’s most famous top’s hot takes—common threads include premature ejaculation, shitdick, and his “extra medium” sized member. A recent highlight read, “I’ll never get over gays picking dudes with nice muscles over dudes with nice dicks. Those pecs can’t hit your prostate.”

Fan or not, it’s hard not to appreciate Remy’s commitment to being uncouth. And between the shock factor and humor, he’ll slip in a tweet or two about getting tested. We stan a woke sex god.

It seems his haters live only online. After a little investigating—you don’t have to barhop far to find conquests of Remy’s—sources suggest the key to Duran’s appeal is really just an old school combo of looks, charm, and kindness. Nothing seedy here, folks.

 

 

You’re a well-known personality in the NYC queer scene. Eileen [Kelly] has called you a Grindr sex god, and Vice kind of said the same thing. Is it difficult to have this reputation? 

Remy: I love it. It’s definitely good and bad. Mostly good because I like to be an outspoken person about that sort of thing. There’s been very few negatives, [only] it takes some people a little longer to trust that I’m not looking for just sex. But it’s never really impaired my dating. You can be a very sexual person and still be capable of intimacy and love and all of that kind of stuff. 

 

How do you sexually identify?

I sexually identify as gay and also bisexual. 

 

What do you mean by ‘also bisexual?’

I’m mostly homoromantic but bisexual.

 

Do you still hook up with women? 

I don’t actively search for women. I’m definitely more gay recently. I’m not made to feel uncomfortable in straight places, so I ask myself if I had a girlfriend, how would that even work? I see myself dating men and having sex with women. 

 

Did discovering you had a sexual interest in men coincide with your sexual awakening, or were you sleeping with women beforehand?

I was definitely sleeping with women beforehand. And nothing came of it until guys started hitting on me, and I was like, Oh, cool this is something else that’s possible. But I never saw myself romantically attracted to men until I actively chose to try. The first couple of times I went on dates with men, I really wasn’t comfortable with it. I actively chose to really pursue [dating men] and really make this something that I like and I did. I didn’t give up on it. 

 

Now here you are, a Grindr sex god. Could you talk a little bit about what it was like to come to terms with your bisexuality in a culture that tends to invalidate that identity? 

As I’m getting older it’s kind of harder to really identify with the label “bisexual.” I’m not afraid to call myself gay, even though I actively have sex with women. I live a gay life. I’m immersed in gayness, and I would feel uncomfortable being in a heterosexual relationship. So, I need to re-evaluate what bisexuality means to me, and if it’s important to label myself as that. What is bisexual life? What is bisexual culture? Does that even exist? 

 

Have you received any pushback for identifying as bisexual from your friends or family?

Not furiously. My friends make little jokes here and there, but just for joking’s sake. 

 

Do you prefer dating apps or meeting people in real life?

I definitely was the king of dating apps for a while, like if there was a high score on Grindr to be had, I would be like top three. And it was like that for a few years, but recently I deleted all of my dating apps. I’ve just been meeting people in person and going on my waiting list of people who I owe dick to. I’m in like dick debt, I owe a few people.

 

Why did you decide to delete the apps?

It had to do with a breakup. When we first broke up I was like, I can do whatever I want. But as things got more serious in the breakup, I was not interested in just sex anymore. I want to meet people the old-fashioned way and have more intimate sexual encounters instead of just sending a dick pic, the ‘pound me out and then leave’ [sort of thing]. Which usually is what my experiences with Grindr are. I never used to masturbate, so now I just masturbate.

 

So before now, you would just always rely on IRL encounters to relieve yourself?

Yeah, it was like every time I masturbated I regretted it. It was just over too quickly and a waste of a nut when I could have actually had sex with someone and could have been more satisfied. And now it’s just switched because now I’m like,  Whew, glad that’s over. I can go back to not wanting to have sex.

 

Was sex something that normally distracted you in the past?

When I first came out it was definitely a distraction.

 

 

Have you ever sent a DM to someone trying to hook up with them? 

Not like overtly. The context is key. I’m not just gonna be like, “What’s up, send dick pics,” to a stranger on Instagram. I’m gonna be like, “Yo what’s up, you’re mad cute.” That’s more my approach. 

 

Has anyone sent you a DM? 

All the time! I understand [that I] put out this persona of this person who has sex all the time. But again, context is key. Just because I have an open-door policy doesn’t mean you can just walk in, I still have agency over my own sexuality, my own body. It doesn’t mean I want dick pics all the time or ass pics. 

 

You get a lot of unsolicited nudes? 

Yeah, I’m never offended by it. I understand other people can be grossed out and feel like their digital space has been invaded, but for me, I’ve never been offended by someone sending them. Even if it’s not the most flattering of pictures, I’m like, Wow, this person is wild. I just find it amusing. 

 

Have you ever felt catfished? 

Oh, yeah. Once. 

 

What happened? 

Actually it was twice. Once, my Grindr glitched and it switched the chats with two different people. Another time it was like… she looked like her pictures, but it was clear that she knew her best angles. I still definitely had sex with her. She went from like a 9 to an 8, and that’s still a form of catfishing.

 

You post a lot of ‘top’ content, so do you primarily identify as a top? 

Yeah, I identify as a total top. I’ve bottomed maybe three successful times in my life. Not to say that I could never bottom, it just hasn’t been right for me and I’ve never been in a relationship with anyone who has inspired me to bottom for them. So, until that happens, I’m definitely a total top. I joke around [online about being a top], because it’s funny. I obviously respect everyone’s labeling and sexual position. Like the whole “top” thing, I don’t really identify as a top, you know what I mean?  

 

Only a top would say that. 

*laughs* A progressive top! 

 

How important do you think sex is in a relationship? 

I think it depends on the people. I think a healthy sex life can be having sex once a week. Or a healthy sex life could be having sex three times a day. It depends on the couple. It’s all about communication and knowing your partner. 

 

Have you ever felt the need to lie to get out of a sexual situation? 

Oh, all the time. I literally wish I could take my dick off when I go out to the club and when someone’s like, “You should come home with me tonight,” I’d be like, “Oh, shit. I don’t got my dick on me right now. I left it at home, maybe some other time.” But yeah, I’ve definitely had to lie, but not with a partner. 

 

Do you think social media makes it harder to be monogamous? 

No. I don’t think so. But I would feel weird about them posting thirsty comments on someone’s hot selfie. A ‘like’ means nothing to me, but if you’re over here [commenting] on someone else’s picture—you’re buggin a little bit. Ultimately for me, that’s just social media and as long as there’s a conversation and everyone can be mature about the situation, I don’t think it should be a problem. 

 

Have you ever had to talk to someone you’re with about how they were acting online?

I’ve never had to had that conversation with other people, but significant others have had to have that conversation with me. I don’t wild out, I just like pictures and [comment], “Cute” or “Wow, go off,” you know what I mean? I think I’m just a naturally flirty person.

 

You’re speaking to this sort of online romantic literacy that goes on, is this something you’ve always been cognizant of? 

It’s definitely a learning process. I used to just say whatever and people were like, “Are you crazy?” And I’m like, shit, that is a thing people care about. I learned to have conversations with people before we were romantic, and keep my comments to a minimum. 

 

This is very prevalent within the queer community. Do you have a theory on why we’re so keen on thirst traps and thirst follows?

I guess it’s just an obsession with how people look. I think social media makes that more available to people. And everyone likes attention, so the more you do it, the more attention you get, the more happy you are. It’s easy, everyone likes attention.

 

Can you describe the best sex of your life?

It was either with someone who I was super in love with or something really wild. Like something you only thought was possible in porn. So it’s a bit of both; I’m not like ‘intimate sex is always the best sex’ or ‘crazy wild sex is the best sex,’ it’s both for me.

 

What turns you on in a partner? 

Sense of humor, someone who doesn’t take themselves seriously all the time, someone who is comfortable with their body where they don’t need to be perfect and pristine every time we have sex. I had a partner who had to be 100 percent sure they were good down there, and they would have to stop [to ask], “Am I good?” I had to be like, “Relax, we’re in a relationship.”

 

Do you have any advice for feeling insecure in the bedroom? 

I have advice for dealing with insecure people; being patient and re-assuring them that it’s fine and that they don’t need to feel that way. I don’t really feel insecure in the bedroom, honestly, but it’s all about making other people feel comfortable.

 

Is there a sexual fantasy that you have achieved? 

Yeah, lots.

 

Can you name a few? 

Having like one bottom and seven hot guys come over, catering to one bottom. I’ve always loved doing one girl with multiple guys. One time my friend was with two girls and he asked me to come over and we swapped and switched—it was just amazing. There are a few really good ones, but those are the ones that stand out. 

 

Do you have any other thoughts on dating in the New York City queer scene? I know you’ve tweeted that you don’t usually go on bad dates. 

I’ve never been on a really bad, awful date. I’ve been on boring dates, but I’ve never had a horror story of someone being terrible and crazy. I’m just like—who are you meeting? How are you meeting these insane people, how do you not see that they’re insane already? 

 

You’ve never walked out on a date?

No. I’ve never been like, Wow, get me out of here. 

 

You’ve had really good luck. Who are you dating?

I know! I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve been dating in NYC for at least 10 years. I’ve never had a terrible date. I think dating in NYC is amazing because there are so many people here. I guess I am just really lucky, or I have really good intuition about people.

 

You’re very sex positive and open about your sexuality. Were you always this way?

 A lot of my mom’s best friends when I was growing up were all gay, and very loud about it and they liked to make jokes. I always found sexual humor really funny. And not just saying penis and laughing but being able to talk about your sexual experiences. I just think it’s interesting to talk about.

 

 

Photo by Rembrandt Duran by Heather Hazzan. You can follow Remy on Twitter and Instagram at @remdelarem. 

DoubleTap: Eromatica

DoubleTap is a monthly interview series highlighting artists whose work explores sex, body, and identity.

 

You have probably seen some of Eromatica’s erotic illustrations on your feed — but never the same way.

The multi-medium artist is taking inclusivity to new heights by offering feature-flexible graphics of people in love and lust. With the apps Colormatica and Teematica, the viewer gets to play artist and alternate each subject’s gender identity, hair color/style, and skin tone. Not only does this ensure diversity, but it grants viewers the autonomy to reflect themselves in the artwork. Once you’ve curated a love scene that satisfies you, Eromatica gives you the option to print the graphics on pins, t-shirts, postcards, and more. Additionally, the artist/brand has launched a set of original Bluetooth vibrators with remote control settings, allowing a partner to operate the intensity of your session from any where in the world. Talk about upgrading your phone sex.

While Eromatica’s sexy illustrations can sometime feature alien or mystical individuals making love, their appeal is based not in fantasy, but in embracing the reality of love’s diversity.

We had the opportunity to chat with the coder, illustrator, and visionary.

 

What inspired you to create interactive illustrations which allow the viewer to change the subject’s skin tone, hair, etc.?  

E: I believe art is only art when the viewer feels something for what they’re seeing. At first my illustrations were colorless, but I started [to] learn that these drawings would be more pleasant for the viewer if they’d resemble, in any way, the viewer. Art has to be done so the viewer feels connected to it, and this is the way I found to connect to them.

If a chef would cook only food that he likes, he probably wouldn’t have that many clients. But if he cooks personalized dishes, he’d probably have way more clients.

 

Your work often depicts people in intimate situations—are these fantasies or do you draw from your own experiences?

E: I combine fantasy with [my] own experiences. But mostly they are all fantasy and random scenarios made up for the drawing.

 

Have you ever felt pressure to censor your artwork?

E: More like, have I not felt pressure to censor my work? Instagram is an open platform, therefore anyone can access any account, no matter how old the person is. My main account had more explicit images, but Instagram kept censoring them and ended up disabling my account.

Since then, I opened a second account and started all over with a less explicit theme. Censoring body parts with clothes, hairs and hands. It’s hard to keep it “clean” when it’s such a subjective topic. I would think nipples and butts are okay to show, but Instagram thinks the other way around.

So, as long as I keep using Instagram as a platform to get to know my art, I’m keeping it within the rules of Instagram. Would be way better if I didn’t have this constrain, but Instagram is a really cool platform to work with so let’s keep it cool for them.

 

How has your work evolved over time?

E: It all started in March 7th, and it began with only simple lines and incomplete drawings. It was something new for me so I couldn’t go that complex. With time I started learning new techniques, getting better and getting lots of insight from my followers. And voilà, Eromatica started evolving and is still evolving. At the moment, all my posts have 10 variations of the illustration, some are turned into wallpaper format, some are uploaded to my Coloring Book app, and some are used for prints.

The biggest evolution of Eromatica has been the personalization of the illustrations, letting my followers customize the drawing so it looks more like them. I can tell right now Eromatica is starting a new phase of evolution, but cannot talk that much about it. Still a secret.

 

Most of your illustrations depict sexy and tender scenarios. Would you ever consider exploring the darker side of human sexuality in your work?

E: If by darker side of human sexuality you mean evil dark side… no, I don’t plan to go on that area. My account is about [a] couple’s love, sexual situations, healthy lust, self-love and inclusivity. One of my goals is to erase the gender gap and empower women in any possible way, and going to the “dark side” of human sexuality kinda goes against this. I’m here to empower and reach sex equality.

 

Your brand’s vibrator can be controlled through an iPhone at any distance (which, by the way, we think is a game changer for people in long-distance relationships). What gave you the idea to marry the virtual and physical realms for pleasure?

E: I’m actually a coder, not an illustrator, so my entire life has been dedicated to making software and hardware. I built my first websites and video games when I was 11 years old. I found a perfect mix of my techie-knowledge with my art project, and built this long-distance controlled vibrator.

It’s one of the multiple side projects that are starting to bloom from Eromatica. Still working on some more, and some are already out there on the site, like the Coloring Book app and the site to build your own T-Shirts with your own colors. I believe I can reach Eromatica’s goal easier if I take advantage of my techie skills, so here I am trying it.

 

In your wildest dreams, what does the future hold for Eromatica?

E: My very first goal is to make women feel powerful and confident enough to achieve anything in any aspect, either sexually speaking, or life-wise, job-wide, career-wise, etc. I’m sick and tired of having a world ruled mostly by men, we need powerful women doing powerful stuff. There is a lot of work to be done, and I hope I’m on the right path to do it.

What’s the future for Eromatica? Any future that leads to achieve my goals. What I’m doing right now [is] working on multiple apps for women, new illustrations, a blog/forum for women, networking with women in the industries, looking for collaborations, [developing] a clothing line, and doing research.

 

You can follow Eromatica on Instagram here, and buy their products at www.eromatica.com.