Reflections on my return to work.
Updated: Jul 13, 2021
What it's like to be back in the game, one month in.
Image: Blade at home. (April 2021). Shot by Yegan Mazandarani.
Sitting here in an airport café, on my way to the UK for a well deserved rest, I thought I would write some reflections on my last few weeks since the big return to work. The return to some degree of "normality" has crept up on many of us, but in my industry you really notice it. It's going from 0 to 100 in less than a second. Most in-person sex workers and erotic artists cannot perform their work at home. "Home office" isn't really doable when your job involves looking someone in the eye as you tie them to a chair. So for people like me, going back to work involved a complete overhaul of my stamina, my ability to spend time with other people, and my (rather chaotic) sleep schedule.
As with all COVID restrictions, many of the rules about the ways we are and are not allowed to touch each other show symptoms of definition by heteronormative and cis-normative people who know nothing or very little about the broad dynamics of sex and intimacy.
On June 18th Berlin announced that it would allow erotic services to resume. This covered all manner of workers from strippers to erotic massage to BDSM and escorting. So some of us were allowed to go back to our physical work spaces, and all of us who did went back with a huge list of new hygiene regulations including mandatory testing, proof of vaccination, and a limited list of activities that are deemed "safe". As with all COVID restrictions, many of the rules about the ways we are and are not allowed to touch each other show symptoms of definition by heteronormative and cis-normative people who know nothing or very little about the broad dynamics of sex and intimacy. This topic deserves a blog post in itself so I won't dwell on it for now.
My first sessions in Studio LUX were fun. It was exciting to see some familiar faces, as well as some new ones. Studio LUX is super well equipped, queer to the ceiling and sex worker managed, owned and ran. It's what all collective sex working spaces should aspire to be in terms of community engagement, care, trust and respect. It's exciting to once again be able to welcome travelers from abroad, and almost funny to have the new greeting all masked up and requesting test results, data and so on. You get used to it pretty quick. Sessions at Luxuria Massagen have also resumed, and it's been great to be able to balance the different kind of work I practice in those two very different spaces.
I can tell when I am the first person they have spoken to outside of their bubble, or the first person who has held them in months. You can feel that.
A (rather sweet) trend I am noticing amongst my clients at the moment is a genuine thirst for intimacy, in terms of conversation and person-to-person interaction. In a pre-COVID working day, work is often very clinical and routine. Not that there's anything bad about that, it's the job. I never expect my guests to want to engage with me outside of our in-session practice, that's not what we're there for. We can both go and chat to our friends down the pub afterwards. But post-COVID, things are a little different. I feel a sense of relief in so many of my guests, relief to be in a calm space talking face-to-face with another human. There's more of a desire to talk and ask how I am or what I do outside of work. I often sense a deeper feeling of gratitude from my guests, or a genuine shared feeling of warmth. I think for a lot of people, stuck behind their screens in their houses, seeing the same people week in week out for over a year, to spend a little time with someone new, doing something that often involves human-to-human intimacy (without the burden of finding something to talk about) is a massive deal. I can tell when I am the first person they have spoken to outside of their bubble, or the first person who has held them in months. You can feel that.
The fight is not over. We enter a new phase of the world where culturally people have decided that sex work is in vogue, yet governments continue to push us out of the cities via gentrification and social cleansing. The pressure mounts on us to harness this moment of exposure, once again something that deserves a dedicated blog post in itself. As I ride the summer wave of balancing in-person work, community activism, creative projects and having some semblance of a life I ask you to go forward with gratitude and acknowledgement for those of us who experienced lockdown not as a break from work but as a survival crisis, and who now have to work our assess off to make the most of the relaxing of restrictions.
Remember your manners. Say please and thank you. Save the planet.