Shortly after I retired my razor permanently, I went up to NYC to see an infrequent lover. “I know you’re going to do whatever the fuck it is that you want to do anyway,” he said. “But I just wanted to tell you that you look gorgeous. I’m glad you did this”
I smiled lazily, savoring the moment when he quietly added, “I could lick you all over.”
I am sitting cross legged at the top of some desert trail in my favorite shorts when I notice someone looking curiously at my legs and this memory, quietly tucked away somewhere, surfaces up. I am sitting with a legal pad in my hand, camera carelessly by my side while I try to put into words what has been coming up for me. I have found myself more frequently at city hall, speaking more frequently with political representatives and I am realizing that I am transitioning to something new in my life. I am not quite yet sure what, but the fact that it is this memory (amongst others) that flashed must mean something.
I am a believer of magic moments, of intuitions.
I am sitting, awestruck at Mother Nature and I am thinking about the subject of beauty and desire that I have been pondering for some time. As a sex worker of color who meticulously curates her own aesthetics, who draws from sex work histories of her own roots, the politics of beauty intertwined with desire is not lost on me. The numbers on this tweet alone tells the story. But the more I curate, the more I am drawn to what exists as is. If the desert by Herself alone is not enough to humble and remind, then the multitude that streams through my doors should be. Suitors and lovers tell me of crevices and pouches that embarrass them, of memories that haunt them, of achievements they are looking to celebrate with me. I am humbled. I trace my fingers on skin, kiss the parts most painful, and affirm humanity.
I wonder, if we did this more often to each other, for each other, would Mother Earth be less burdened with grief?
Recently, the New York Magazine published a profile on a neighborhood in Philadelphia. I am not going to post the original article because it paints a harsh picture, and in this instance especially, I found the trauma tourism to be particularly vile. But here it is, the politics of beauty/ugly intertwined with desire/violence. I look at the published pictures and I seethe with anger. If beauty can be curated into desire, so can Ugly be curated into violence. If I, a sex worker, am held responsible for patriarchal violence, why can’t I hold these reporters to the same standards.
But we all know the answer to that.
What is sex work? Why do you do this? I speak to a political somebody and this time, this time, I am able to convince her about the virtues of decriminalizing over legalization, of ending arrest and creating alternative trauma informed responses. Later that day, I don a sari and bring a piece of home to a lonely, weary traveler. I tell him about my cats over mango lassi and laughter. The evening quietly stretches on.
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