I recently entered my self identity art pieces from my visual art collection from 2000 to present in a NYC based juried art competition that cost about $70 to enter. Times were still hard back then but now they are even tougher. If you win this contest, they say, they will pay for “one year of your life.” (this includes my weed, right?) How that gets interpreted is kind of a laughable prospect but I like the way it sounds, especially recently.
What would one year of my life look like at its very basic? It would look very similar to how it looks now, EXCEPT I would probably not being doing sex work to pay for everything in my life, including my art projects, musicians and solo show director. I’d throw out a few select ads and price my rate extremely high like many of the other girls in the VIP section of Eros.com. (they rate themselves at $6-800/hr! Do they get any clients I wonder?) I would do sex work because I enjoyed it, because I wanted to, not because it paid my rent or put food on the table. My art and music would do that. I would be paid for my artistic talents adequately to support myself.
I MUST say however, that I have had some amazing sex this month!! whew. I fell infatuated with one of my new clients, and converted another into a lover who offered me solace in recovery from PTSD moments after the martial arts incident…Reverse escorting has proved to be easier and better than adultfriendfinder. Most of the aff guys I met and/or fucked were sooooo lame. broke, boring, too religious, too cocky, ugly, LAME.
One of my new hot clients called me at 3am on a rainy Saturday and turned out to be an account manager for Adam Sandler’s film studio and was actually able to say that he played basketball with him in between shoots and would get yelled at by Happy Gillmore himself on a regular basis! sigh, my dream job with my ex-future husband from high school…I LOOOOVED ME SOME ADAM SANDLER for a good decade or more. I dreamt of a man that would be as dorky, charming and retarded as me! We had fucking amazing gushing multi-orgasmic sex on his amazing expensive mattress. I reverse escorted him almost instantly and made a home in his cuddle, sleeping over without asking after our second round. He had a nice home, nice car of course. A single man who loved yoga but didn’t look like a vegan hippie. I wished for a day or two that I could really date a guy like him, that he would even want to date a girl like me in his “real life”. Cinderella from South Central LA. It’s weird moments like these that I am ashamed of my class and what I do. What happened when he and I graduated from our prestigious colleges that deemed that he would have money and success and I would have strive and struggle? Would I give up my life of adventure for a real job of creative management status like he had, a job that all your relatives, even your distant ones would be bragging that you did…
If I didn’t have to do sex work, I would be able to have the privilege of turning off my phone to cuddle and have sex and play WWF wrestling imitations on my bed without feeling guilty! I would be able to take showers and baths with my lovers WITHOUT my two phones next to us….THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I AM STILL ESCORTING AND STRUGGLING, pushing and hoping that a big break, a small break, even a medium break of any kind will come my way and I will be able to float for a little longer. Anti-prostitution feminists are always asking us,”if you could do anything else right now, what would it be?” or “If you didn’t have to do sex work, what would you be doing?” I think of those questions as inane as “What would world peace look like?” or “What would it look like to not use cannabis everyday?” IMPOSSIBLE! Sex work is what I do to make money because i choose to be an artist. I do not choose to be an unpaid or barely compensated artist and musician. That is not my choice. The universe has really crafted this path for me, and it is a path in which the main way for me to pay for my existence is by being an urban geisha and personal companion for those men that are as emotionally starved and lonely as me! But real jobs are lonely, being in your cubicle alone, overhearing the watercooler conversations, office politics are all lonely. the grass is always greener. When I am in production for a big show, like the premiere of my solo show Modern Day ASian Sex Slavery: the musical, I was not able to do anything but write, memorize, revise, think about the show, make set pieces, prepare, memorize constantly…no social life. My escort phone would ring and I would just ignore it. I didn’t even think about it. I would figure it out later. I knew a check that would cover the rent was on it’s way and I would worry about the rest after February 8th. I turned down a pile of money, cocaine and an overnight rate with a client because I had a rehearsal the next day and I didn’t want to seem too fucked up for rehearsal with my director in a few hours. The 3 hour show that we did was one of the few clients that I saw during this prep period. Somehow it all worked out. seamlessly. It feels great to pay your rent on time without fear of your bitch ass manager calling you with a 3 day notice.
A dude I was trying to date recently (not a coverted client!) once said,”Why don’t you get a good job with your Master’s Degree so you can have something to do during the day?” As you can only imagine, he just erased himself out of my phone with that comment. I could have kept him around, but I was so bored with his acceptance of everything that he didn’t even understand. You DO NOT need a Masters in Fine Art (MFA) to understand art, to understand performance art or conceptual art. WWF wrestling, Michael Moore and The Yes men are all conceptual artists and once I explain it to the non art educated fan, they can get other types of conceptual art projects and happenings and gain a new appreciation of all of it. Some people, however, will never get ANY OF IT. In moments of pure acceptance of my path, I can say with confidence, “this is my day job. This is what I was meant to do. I’m doing it. I’ve been doing it. I will continue to do it. For the rest of my life. I can’t get a day job, because I HAVE ONE ALREADY. I can’t teach or tutor or work at Radio Shack because then I would be cutting out of my art and music making time. But we all need to pay bills and rent. When I add up my monthly income it seems consistent and decent, like I shouldn’t be struggling but I seem to always have trouble. 4 days at the agency was great for me, although it was definitely exhausting. I had a great situation with that boss lady. I was able to save up and travel, come back to LA stack chips and soon go off to travel somewhere else. But, that work came with its costs as well.
I am currently broke and struggling again and it always seems more hopeless than it is so I try to keep the faith. I am looking in all the different job sections of Craigslist and freaking out about the future because I remember canvasing for donations in the parking lot of Trader Joes and trying to make ends meet in that way without agency sex work and how devastatingly hard it all was. I spent the whole day today applying to different agencies but two of them already turned me away because I was an independent escort. I used to work with an agency that didn’t care what I did on my own time as long as I kept running calls for them. This is the way an AGENT should work. AROUND YOU. Not vice versa. But they aren’t really agencies. They’re pimps and bosses at best. I tried to explain this to one of the agent guys I applied for a job with an he hung up on me in 10 seconds. I told the boss lady that sent me on the call where I had to get my stun gun out with a guy who grabbed my butt to “call me” and she didn’t. I really wish my former agency was still running although I complained about it all, it was really nice to have them to fall back on when there was any kind of emergency.
If I was somehow privileged enough to not do sex work, I wouldn’t have to recover from job related PTSD. I would only have to recover from OTHER non work related trauma. (which recently happened via an instructor at my martial arts gym). For the entire span of my professional art career (since graduating from college with an Art degree) I have focused on using my self identity as a performance character and a canvas for the themes in my art and politics. My work has always talked about the very things that are inseparable from my experience: my race, gender, sexual orientation, beauty and weight standards, occupation, heritage and sexuality….I was first captivated by Cindy Sherman’s untitled film stills series and all of its Black and White grainy bold 60s feminism and I’ve since used it as an undercurrent for justifying using my self as an object, subject, narrator, seller and storyteller in my own series of artifacts. I have had the great fortune of collaborating with amazing artists and photographers along the 13 year journey.
Modeling in my own photomedia has always been a way for me to generate my own untitled film stills, sometimes owning them as my own stories or projecting a made up or over dramatized version of a story I may have dreamt. Although dressing up like a hooker and going to the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco in 1999 seemed like something an exhibitionist would do, it came to be my modus operandi in which i was able to become a prostitute performance artist creating a safer and more accessible version of my own reality to the public. I don’t do it for attention, I do it for self exploration and some form of therapy is found in performing and giving life to concepts, archiving them in images. I wanted to be a fashion model since I was 16 and though I only grew to be 5’1, high heels and the sex industry gave me the same sense of satisfaction, power, and even money that the Barbizon type modeling schools tried to promise me in exchange for $1500 (in 1992??) in runway and make up classes. After I became a stripper, I became a model, an art director, a make up artist, a fashion photographer, a producer, a singer and all those job titles that little girls want to be when they grow up. I was not too short, or too fat, I was in erotic spreads with the sexiest men and women…(ones that i have only had hot implied sex with!)
Except, in order to pay for those expensive dreams that COST money to pursue and did not PROFIT, even after years and years of investing time and energy into them I continued to do sex work, mainly escorting. After my “retirement” from stripclub stripping at 25 I ventured off as a free agent, working for agencies, entities, houses and myself for whoah, the last 10 years now. When I first got word of this competition, I was like, this is totally MINE. but lately, it’s so hard to keep the faith, when I haven’t had decent income in almost 3 weeks and the rent is late AGAIN. 87 octane gas is $4.15 a gallon and I have burned up so much of it going to no shows and prank calls around LA that when times are tough, I am forced to stay home. Save gas. I am having a bad run. The tide will turn soon. Power of Self.