THE PLEASURE IS ALL MINE by Holly Heart
Sexual pleasure to me is felt in all different areas of my body. It can be a flooding of warmth in my hips as I’m rolling them slowly into someone else’s, a salty heat over my tongue, a grabbing of someone’s hands or hair and holding onto them tightly while they make me cum, the way I move the curves of my body, the way I sound being fucked or fucking, the way I flip hair, the way I lock my eyes with someone as I bring them to or tease them etc. The experience of fucking for me is a welcomed pressure in the parts of my body I sometimes forget to feel into. I experience pleasure in the sex I choose to consume outside of work, but I know that similar pleasure or different forms of pleasure also exist and wait for me at work as a sex worker, but that it will always come with an immediate invalidation of such experiences.
I asked other workers how and if they experience pleasure at work, and what that in turn, means for them. Evie* said she’d had pleasurable experiences with her own clients where her pleasure was prioritized and because of that, she had learned more about herself through them. ‘For example if I’m in a dance and the person is rough and I’m really not feeling that, I know that’s something that doesn’t bring me pleasure, and then comparing that to when I have a dance with someone who is slow and gives me back massages and stuff, I’m learning then, ok this is pleasurable to me and I should bring this into my outside world.’
Lola* said she only experiences pleasure at work through herself, not through her clients. ‘I’m doing something I’m not meant to do’, because sex workers are habitually slut shamed for actually enjoying their work and orgasming with complete strangers. ‘It’s a so-wrong-its-right kind of kinky feeling.’
Morgan* however tells me that a client gave them their first ever orgasm at work and it made them feel guilty and ashamed afterwards. Lex* tells me she is confused of the judgment rather than the feeling, of how wet she gets and how much she enjoys it when she is in her dances with her clients. She holds the judgment of her pleasure, learned from others not from within, against herself. ‘Why do I feel bad at my job if I’m enjoying getting myself off at the same time?’
Displeasure lives in parts of our work, like every other job.
It exists in the lack of safety, abuse, assault. The toll on bodies from thrush to UTIs and everything in between, elements of fatigue, migraines, pussy wall tears, cervix bruising. It breathes and finds its oxygen in the days we don’t feel like being bounced up and down and passed along the laps of bucks parties. Sometimes we are counting down the minutes on phones behind clients' heads waiting for it to be over.
But why, and only for sex workers, can’t these two feelings of pleasure and displeasure coexist at the same time? Why if when we complain about work, or talk about some of the horrible things that have happened there, do we suddenly become pr*stitues needing to be saved? But when we gush about the orgasms, the money, the fun we had on a shift with our friends and the glitter on our eyelids that there’s a problem? Why if we make ourselves cum over and over during the week thinking about a client’s hand deep inside us while they’re gripping our hair so tight it feels like they will take our heads off with it, are we reduced into an otheredness that is undeserving because after all, we put ourselves here? Why is the antithesis of pleasure in sex work, automatically understood to be shame?
The boundaries I set at work can blur depending on what I choose to make them that day, just like my boundaries in my sex life outside of work can do the same. In the slow curves of my waist and the arching of my back all for and in the name of pleasure, I’m not asking you to question if I respect myself and if I deserve pleasure or to be here - that answer is already obvious to me. Intimacy doesn’t equate to respect, just like rough sex, or a payment for sex, doesn’t equate to a lack of it.
Strangers and friends love to greet workers with a constant onslaught of the same tune, ‘It’s my fantasy to walk into a club and the manager just randomly decides to hire me’, or ‘I desperately need a sugar daddy’, or ‘I’m going to get a pole set up in my house so I can live out my stripper dreams.’ I can’t go too far into this topic knowing the anger that waits for me on the other side.
A mutual friend of a friend, who couldn’t fathom how people do sex work for a living, now spins around on a pole in her bedroom and films it for Instagram. Her videos are met with ‘yes queen’ comments. Why is her choice to engage in this practice, and thus receive pleasure from it for herself, lesser than mine simply because I financially profit off of it? Is it because as sex workers we’re cheating the system and getting too much? Too much money, too much pleasure?
Apparently there has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere - we have to be unhappy or unsafe and are undeserving of the pleasure it brings us, the pleasure we bring to others. What does enjoying the taste and feel of cum running down our throats, having our eyes watering from sucking dick, ass bruised and red and getting to provide for ourselves at the end of the day, really mean? That we’re experiencing pleasure and fulfilment outside what was already dedicated to us, outside our birthright. We’re meant to be just enough, experience just enough, but never too much.
We’re not meant to cheat the system. We can now exploit the exploiters for their own money, our compensation for having them steal our pleasure from us over and over for thousands of years. Make them hand their money back over to us for everything they’ve done.
All these feelings, questions and thoughts aren’t new for us in our community - this is all very basic knowledge to us, to our bodies, and to our lives. We have been here for generations saying these kinds of things in the simplest of ways in the hopes you will understand. Our pleasure isn’t for us to question, it is yours to answer to.
*all names and details have been changed
Holly is a writer and sex worker living on Gadigal Land.