mysexlife
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mysexlife

RIP to the Old Me. 💔

Hi! Retired sex worker here. 👋🏾

I never expected it to end like this.

I imagined that I’d have a farewell set, and the club would be full of pretty balloons. I’d have a huge marble cake and share it with everyone, even the folks I don’t like. I’d tie up loose ends. I’d make the best of every moment. My last night as an “exotic dancer” would be one for the books.

But it wasn’t.

I can’t say that I even remember how my last night went.

But one thing was very clear: I was done.

So how did I end up being an “entertainer” in the first place?

Initially, it was my path to survival. I was fresh out of college and couldn’t land a job in my field. I couldn’t land a job anywhere. I tried the library, public school systems, fast food chains — all of it. But seemingly, nobody wanted to hire me. I must’ve submitted at least 300 applications in a span of 3–4 months before I considered jumping off of a bridge. And in my embarrassment, I was afraid to reach out to my network for help.

I didn’t have the luxury of familial support. I was estranged from them, actually. There were no trust funds waiting for me, or anything like that.

I tried freelancing and ended up getting conned out of thousands of dollars worth of work. That really broke my spirit.

The internships I had lead to nothing (and I’ll blog about those experiences at some point).

I ran across a promoter on social media and he wanted me to work as his assistant, but when it came time to pay me, he short-changed me and was like, “I owe you.” Head-nod and all. I just couldn’t believe it. And of course he never paid me what he owed me.

After several failed attempts at finding a stable job, and with my roommate jumping down my throat about the bills, I saw no other choice.

My hands were tied.

And so it began.

I got hired at the first club I auditioned for.

But it wasn’t a normal audition. The house mom just wanted to see what my body looked like. They call it a “body check.”

I’ve always been comfortable with my body, so taking off my clothes for her was no sweat. I just wasn’t sure if I could do it for random men.

But I did. For five years, part-time, off and on.

I’d be lying if I said they were the best days of my life. They weren’t, but my job still meant something to me. It was where — or how, rather — I became a woman.

Not in that way, but I learned a lot about womanhood, femininity, and misogyny. And misandry. I experienced colorism, featurism, and racism for the first time in my life. I gained a deeper understanding of class and social hierarchy. I learned about money.

And of course, industry politics.

Most of all, I learned about boundaries and consent, and how “men” have no regard for it.

All in all, as stressful as it was at times, being an “adult performer” was a part of my identity. It may not have been a full-time passion project, but the lessons I learned will last a lifetime.

I never thought retirement would look like this, though. I thought I’d be happy. Who wants to stay in the club forever? I thought my departure would be something I had control over — something I could actually plan for — but I was ‘forced’ away, and I didn’t see it coming.

I mean, I guess I saw the signs.

For the longest, I just kept having this nagging feeling that everything was changing. I just couldn’t say what. It’s like, I didn’t even recognize my reality anymore. I felt out of place, like a fish out of water. I thought the club was where I belonged…

Then, the pandemic hit and my life fell apart. My life as I knew it no longer existed. During that time in isolation, I became a different person and I realized… I’m old now.

And that’s when I started to panic.

My 20's… They were over already? It can’t be. It just can’t be! Where did the time go?!

In my last days, I felt myself scrambling to re-create my old reality. I bought new outfits, new shoes, and tried to keep my “claws.” *meow* I even started working at new clubs to get my “groove” back — and that was a total failure.

I tried desperately to make room for it in my life, even though I had new priorities and interests. I tried switching shifts, but due to my academic obligations, there was no way I could work a whole one, let alone half of one. Plus, I had a new “vanilla” job on top of trying to salvage my career as a beautician— there was no way possible for me to squeeze dancing into my schedule. I had too much going on, and even when I alotted time to go to the club, I’d end up falling asleep! Or I would run out of time because another commitment took longer than expected.

At that point, I took it as a sign that the Universe was hitting me with these roadblocks on purpose. And that was my cue to exit stage left.

Not to mention, I kept breaking my claws, so I started wearing my nails short again. I couldn’t wear my signature braids anymore because I was noticing signs of traction alopecia. My last wardrobe order got cancelled because the company was out of stock of all the items I selected. (What are the odds?) My stripper-brand image was over with. I didn’t look like “myself” anymore. All of it slowly melted away to a point where I had no choice but to let the rest of it go.

I wondered if this was what a mid-life crisis felt like…

In saying goodbye to sex work, I feel like I’m also saying goodbye to my youth. It’s almost as if the best part of me died.

And logically, it’s not like I have to retire. My income from this gig is kinda fucked because of the pandemic, but I can work when I want, and not too many jobs have that type of flexibility. On top of that, my regulars kept telling me about how much they missed me. (The ones who still go to the club, anyway.) According to one of the club managers, “Black women age slowly and gracefully, and [I] could stay another 10, 15 years if [I] wanted to.”

And this is true.

But it also makes me feel sad because deep down, if I stay, I’ll know I’m old enough to be some of my co-workers’ mother. Or auntie.

Even though I don’t look it, I feel it; I’m too old to be a sex worker.

(And this is just how I feel about my journey. Sex work doesn’t have an age cap. Don’t believe me? Search “granny porn.”)

This is just my personal account. I can’t speak for all sex workers — especially since every job in this industry is different — but retirement is breaking my heart.

I even tried talking to a club acquaintance about this, and all he told me was, “yeah, you’re at that age.”

😭😭😭

“But now, you have to move on to the next step. You don’t wanna be the old bitch in the club who never got her shit figured out.”

💀💀💀

And that’s the part that haunts me too, though. Like, is that what people really think of old strippers? There was this one line I heard in a song that went something like, “how you 30 and still stripping?”

I think that’s what triggered all of this actually. Because my initial plan was to retire at 30. I’m about two years early.

I haven’t figured out whether I have any regrets or not, but I do believe there is so much I missed out on and so many opportunities I let slip away. I feel like I lost a lot in my innocence, ignorance, and “stupidity,” and I never got a chance to redeem myself. I feel so naive in my expectations for my career, and I’m also disgusted at how no one talks about sex work in its reality. Maybe due to shame. Maybe secrecy. But this is one of the driving forces behind my research platform.

What started as a means to survival grew to become a major part of my life, and I’ll never forget this chapter.

Maybe I’ll slowly unravel my experience on this blog, and in doing so, hopefully y’all will understand how I feel.

Until then, be good to yourselves and each other. ❤️

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