I went away this weekend with some vanilla friends-of-friends. I had a great time, not least because it was the first mini-break I've had this summer where I wasn't running or organising anything! I also found myself in the middle of a couple of interesting conversations that I really hadn't expected:
1. I found myself trying to explain That Thing We Do to a very sweet, rather drunk vanilla woman. (I can't remember why - I think I answered the ubiquitous "so what do you do?" question honestly, more fool me. I'll admit I was somewhat the worse for wear myself.) Anyway, I didn't do a very good job of explaining; I would try to introduce to concept of power exchange, dominance and submission, and how it relates to trust and intimacy, and she would furrow her brow and ask "So ... the sadist is the one that likes inflicting pain, yeah?"
I gave up before too long, but shortly afterwards a smiling, wrinkly fellow with long blue-white hair came and sat next to me, saying "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation..." Turns out he's a regular at Subversion and several of the other London fetish clubs, knows all sorts of people I know, and we ended up having a lovely long chat. I recommended a few spanking sites to him, particularly Northern Spanking, which sounded like it would suit his tastes down to the ground. Not only did I make a new friend, but rather than feeling alienated by the unsuccessful attempt to explain kink to a vanilla, I ended the evening all heart-warmed by the fact that fellow perverts can turn up in the most unexpected contexts.
2. The next night, I was sitting and chatting with a group of new friends. The topic of sex work came up, and one of the boys said it was something he'd been thinking about for some time; and that recently he'd started considering it more seriously. I paused for a little while before deciding, oh, what the hell.
"Well," I said, "I'm a professional spanking model, so if you're serious I could probably talk to you a bit about it." He was astonished, then delighted, and we ended up having a really good chat about the potential consequences of sex-work. We traded stories about people we knew, the ones who were happy with what they did and the ones who ended up regretting it. I told him about my friend at university who worked as an escort in London to support her mum, and who made loads of money, but found it killed her sex-drive completely.
"On the other hand," I said, "I was worried when I started making films that it would make me less interested in spanking. You know, because no matter how much you love what you do you still have to be professional about it, keep a booking when you're not necessarily in the mood, or with people you wouldn't otherwise play with. But I've found that doing it professionally has actually made me kinkier. It's like, the more I exercise that part of my brain, the more active it is. Like you know when you're really horny and the more sex you have, the more you want?"
He was nodding, and afterwards he gave me a big hug and said it had been amazing to meet me, and thankyou for the chat. I'll be really interested to hear what he decides.
What I didn't quite manage to articulate at the time, but said to my kinky friend J later, was this: the key, I think, is only doing work you want to do. Don't do shoots that don't interest you. Don't do scenarios that turn you off, don't work for people that make you feel uncomfortable. If you only do shoots that you find exciting, that you look forward to, that you like seeing the results of - then it creates a positive feedback loop, and the more you do, the more you want to do. But if you force yourself to do jobs that aren't fun at all (say, because you need the money), then it can turn into a negative feedback loop and put you off playing privately. From the people I've spoken to, I suspect this applies to mainstream porn, private spanking sessions or escort work as well as spanking shoots, but I could be wrong; I can only speak from my own experience.
The basic rule I've always been told is that you should only do it as long as you enjoy it; and as soon as you stop enjoying it, you should take a break, or focus on something else for a while. I'd go further than that, and say that if you can only do work you actively enjoy, it will increase your enjoyment rather than damage it.
Of course, unless you're producing your own material, it's not easy to follow this rule and make a living off sex work. Which is one of the reasons I'm working on my own site! I don't know if the rule applies to production, direction, editing and website maintenance as well as the spanking itself, although those are all things I've already done professionally for other people. I guess the only way to find out is to try :)
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