Whore Next Door: Capitol Records

The first time I worked in an office was for Allstate Insurance as a glorified receptionist. I hated the stuffy work environment, the soft-rock radio, and especially the fact that my boss wouldn't allow me to put a photo of my girlfriend on my desk. I knew it wasn't the right fit, so I eventually quit and found my way to the sex industry.

As soon as I put on six-inch heels and made money naked, I knew that it was for me. I never intended to leave the industry because it has always felt like home. The friendships and community I forged while doing sex work are the truest and fiercest I have ever known. But I have also seen what a scarlet letter people can inherit once they cross the threshold into adult-oriented commerce. I've met people who have been disowned by their families, fired from their jobs, and even had their children taken away because of their current or former adult-industry careers.

For five years now, I have been a full-time freelancer living the millennial dream of making my own schedule and working from anywhere as a writer, media maker, and sex worker. It's been a life of lingerie, latex, and loungewear — but last week all that changed. I found myself sitting in an office again, wearing a business-casual blazer, sipping Keurig brewed coffee, and frantically searching through my computer for a photo of myself where I'm not naked or making a face that says, “I bet you have a naughty secret.”

On April 25, I was appointed the director of policy and industry relations at the Free Speech Coalition, the adult film industry's trade association. As it turns 25 this year, the organization is preparing for what might be its biggest fight yet: an anti-adult-film ballot initiative that, if passed, could mean the loss of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for California, and almost certainly the end of the state's adult industry.

It will be an uphill battle to educate voters and sway public opinion to oppose the initiative — should it land on the November ballot — so my first day in the office was more than a little intimidating. But it's not the workload that's got me — it's the culture shock.

I've heard that transitioning out of the sex industry is difficult for a variety of reasons, from accounting for a gap in employment history to discrimination and outright harassment. Even from my privileged position of landing a non-sex-work job where experience in the adult industry career is an asset instead of a liability, I have found myself confronting the occasional crisis that reignites my own insecurities about my worth. Not being able to find a single “safe for work” photo of myself for the press release announcing my new position made my ears hot with embarrassment. What if I can't do this?, I thought.

Although I have actively worked to combat the stigma associated with sex work, reinforced by its criminalization, that hasn't made me immune to its power. Fortunately, the Free Speech Coalition is a far cry from the oppressive office environment of Allstate Insurance — the coalition office is more like a business-casual Batcave.

My first week included a road trip to the California GOP Convention in Burlingame that resulted in the party choosing to oppose the adult film state ballot initiative — a huge step forward in the campaign. Next week, I'll be lobbying at the state capitol, and the following week I'll be fundraising at an adult film convention.

I'm still The Whore Next Door, and don't plan on fully retiring from sex work, either. (I have two shoots and a sexuality workshop already in the books for next month.) But now from nine-to-five, I'll be dueling head on with forces that seek to destroy the adult industry and the careers of the people in it from an office instead of from my apartment.

Incidentally, the office came with a framed photo of six scantily clad porn stars posing with the American flag, so I imagine that photos of same-sex partners won't be considered “inappropriate.”

And though I will be spending less time making money naked, I haven't left the industry. In a way, I'm more a part of it than ever before.

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