Marriage of Crass and Sublime
The tale of one of my early adventures as a sex worker in a country Australian town, and what I learned.
The erotic is a force leading us magnetically towards a homecoming - to the fullness and ever-evolving kaleidoscope of self.
The erotic, as an art form, is the skill of navigating the internal realms of being, through the embodied theatre of play, in an aroused state of consciousness - with the possibility of sharing this with others.
If we follow the map of the erotic psyche we find moments of sublime awe, connection and wonder as well as experience the ineffable. We touch the mysteries and all that gives life its richness. We temporarily become more than ourselves and connect with something bigger.
His words jolted and assaulted my sensibilities.
“Do you take it up the shitter?” he said in a rough country Australian accent.
This white farmer in his sixties didn’t even bother with a hello. He had answered a short newspaper advert that I had placed when I first started sex work.
“Honey: Very Busty blonde, 30 yo, curvy, sensual, This week only. 8am-10pm Call 0420 XXX XXX”
He was already in an altered state of consciousness. That is, already in a state of sexual arousal and desire. In this state he was seeing himself, and the world, through the lens of urgency. He was a heat-seeking missile searching for external symbols of his internal landscape to use as tools to create the sexual theatre he needed. He was looking for ways to play out his unique erotic wiring in order to create the right internal conditions to get him where he needed to go.
But he had no awareness of that.
He was just swept up in the horny feeling and following it blindly.
Remember how I told you that all desire is projection? Remember how the part of the psyche that creates sexual desires and turn-ons lives in the unconscious, and although it is extraordinarily wise in its own realm, it has no idea the outside world exists. It thinks living people are simply convenient props for the story in our internal theatre.
In practice, that meant he forgot I was a real person and did not consider my comfort, feelings or well-being in the way he approached me. He was only using one "organ" of his psyche and was not using it in conjunction with the other "organs". He only had access to part of the desire compass and was wobbling all over the place. An elephant in a china shop...
Yet even this encounter was a way to connect us both to the ineffable.
I honestly can’t remember the words I responded with but I do remember that era and it entailed a lot of swallowing my first gut reaction to slap them down, and instead, welcome them in.
"Just think of the money and smile," said Cherry, the other plus-sized, busty, blonde escort I was touring with. She had adopted a mercenary response to this behaviour as a way to protect herself, and fair enough too. It really does get under your skin after answering 30-50 calls a day, many with this sort of attitude - and you need to find some way of not letting it get to you or you burn out. As far as Cherry was concerned, if they forgot she was a human and treated her as a prop in their internal porn story, she would treat them as "walking wallets". Tit for tat.
Cherry and I did many doubles together, convincing horny clients to book both of us. It was a thrill for them and a safety mechanism for us as we drove through country town after country town on a mission to raise the cash we needed for surgery. Cherry had brothel and erotic massage experience but this was her first foray into "working privately".
Me? I was pretty much brand new to all of it having only given my first erotic massage weeks ago. We were figuring it out as we went and at this early stage I was yet to connect with networks of other sex workers and benefit from their treasure trove of experience and wisdom. I was yet to figure out my own system of client filtering and pre-play consultations.
So I said something like, "No, but I will do you one better, I can bring a gorgeous busty friend and then you'll have two holes to play with... no, four if you include our hungry mouths."
To cut a long story short, our nameless horny farmer thought this was a great idea but could only afford to book time with me, so off I trotted to find him.
Back then, we were still using paper street directories. GPSs were a new thing and too expensive for me so I had to use the "melways" to navigate the dirt roads by fields of sheep and wheat in my ford falcon panel van, eventually turning up to a lone house in a paddock.
There were floral curtains and lavender in terracotta pots by the door. I rang the doorbell.
He opened the door awkwardly, both eager and uncertain. Suddenly there was a woman in front of him looking him in the eyes and smiling. This was the first shock of awakening for him. I was a real person.
He nervously ushered me in, sticking his head back out the door to furtively look around, making sure no one else was here. Country town gossip is a wildfire that can destroy a man. Cherry and I used this as a way to keep safe. Knowing that someone else knew his phone number, address and that I was there, and would be calling to check at the end of the hour, was enough to make most of them behave.
We navigated our way through assorted furniture from the 1960s, framed photographs of his family, and noisily curious lap dogs, to make our way upstairs to the bedroom. Floral curtains again, with matching floral bed cover. There were doilies. Decidedly feminine decor.
I was always amazed at the things I discovered when being allowed into a complete stranger's bedroom. It is often a room their visitors and friends of decades never saw - but I did. I was let into their inner realms. Their place of safety and comfort. The place they let their guards down every night to sleep.
He was becoming a real and multilayered human to me too.
Then we fucked. It wasn't even particularly good fucking. I was not yet experienced enough to have created my system of working out each person's unique erotic wiring to create tailored sexual experiences. I was just offering a no frills, meat-and-three-veg experience back then. Kissing, oral and penetration is a staple for a reason.
But I was open, curious, playful and in an altered state of consciousness myself. You see, when you have sex with up to ten people a day, six days a week, you end up in a sort of zone. I was still new enough to sex work that it was all taboo and exciting and that was frequently enough for me to get turned on. I was living an adventure as a wild girl, no longer tied down to good girl rules.
And being me, I was really curious about the kinds of people who booked a sex worker from a newspaper advert. I can't help myself, I like to work out the psychology and culture of whatever it is I engage in. I am a trained anthropologist, as well as a poetic philosopher and seeker of the mysteries at heart. They told me being a whore was forbidden fruit, so I took a big ole juicy bite. I wanted to know everything about it.
But while I was fucking, I was just in the experience, not analysing it.
I learned something really important.
Something about me being in an altered state of consciousness enabled my clients to follow me there, even though they had never experienced that state before. Some unconscious part of them mirrored what I was experiencing. If I knew the way, they could follow without us ever talking about it.
They were used to getting sexually aroused and horny - and that is an altered state in and of itself - but they often had never experienced anything beyond using that to head towards ejaculation and orgasm. They didn't realise what else is possible.
I was on top riding him while making eye contact and I saw it cross his face. The surprise and amazement. I've got to say, I was just as surprised and amazed. I knew about these states of consciousness but I didn't know they were catching! I certainly didn't know you could get to them from a place of crude and crass, primal sex.
His eyes widened and teared up even as he continued to thrust inside me. We both felt that shift. The one where we synched and expanded. Where our hearts opened even though we were not attached to each other romantically or any other way. We were strangers. Yet we felt the vastness of yugen.
"I didn't know it was possible to feel this way again!" he whispered in the softened tones of afterglow. "Not since my wife died. I had given up even getting to feel this way again."
He paused and we just felt that moment together. Then he said, "Though actually, it was different than it was with my wife too. Today was new. I haven't felt that before. It was... I dunno... sounds cheesy but it was magic."
I felt it too. My heart fairly glowed and throbbed the ecstatic drum rhythm that underlies the whole universe.
In this shared moment we were so much bigger than our everyday selves. It was as if I could see the part of him that was beyond his personality - perhaps even the part that lives on beyond this life, if such a thing exists. The essence of him had come forward to greet me in his eyes. I felt the essence of me come forward to greet him back. It was honestly, extremely touching and we both cried in the wonder of it. Again.
Then the hour was up and I left. Never to see him again. Yep, all that took place in an hour. But at the time, there was no time. A moment of eternity.
I continued on my mission to earn cash and took booking after booking and you know what? It kept happening. That magic thing. Not with every booking but regularly enough to make me realise something important was happening and I wanted to work out what it was.
It was the beginning of working out how the erotic psyche works and how to create deliberate experiences that follow each person's unique sexual wiring to get to the fullness of the erotic.
At first I sought out neo tantra experts and other spirituality practitioners. They spoke of these ecstatic heart-centred states too. But so frequently, they sought to bypass the primal in order to get there. They wanted to begin with heart opening and eye gazing where I wanted to begin with following our horny turn-ons as they are.
My experience as a sex worker demonstrated again and again that the crass-seeming turn-ons were the exact map each person needed to create the right internal conditions to let go and surrender into the erotic mysteries.
Tantra didn't work well for me. Oh I got the ecstatic high from the practices but there was still something nameless unsatiated within me. I needed to go through the power play, the paradoxes, the taboo... I needed to address the poisons and their antidotes in lived experiential play...
I saw that I was not the only one who needed this. While beginning a sexual encounter with eye gazing and heart opening worked for some people's arousal styles, there were a swathe of people with different arousal styles that it did not work for at all.
In fact for a bunch of people, the high they got from falsely tricking the mind into thinking it had navigated the internal conditions to create intimacy, became dangerously addictive and misused by cultish sex educators. Eye gazing became the tool of spiritual fuck boys to get in the pants of naive hippy chicks in the hetero-centric, gender-binary-worshipping scene. It mimicked safety and intimacy but did not do the internal work to create genuine safety and intimacy.
To be fair, there are ways for all paths to be corrupted by those who seek to corrupt. Eye gazing in and of itself, is not inherently a bypass. But boy oh boy, did a culture of spiritual bypassing emerge from this practice!
These folk doubled down on the anti-porn, anti-dirty sex rhetoric. They were deeply and dangerously anti-sex work even as they spoke glamorized praise of "sacred prostitutes" and holy tantrika priestesses. Us verses them. Whorearchy.
But I was getting to the states of consciousness they were talking about with do-you-take-it-up-the-shitter guy. Ordinary people with unapologetically lusty, smutty desires and no thoughts of lofty spiritual goals.
I became an advocate of trusting people's turn-ons as they are and setting up the right container within which to explore them together.
To reject this horny, dirty, sweaty, nasty form of sex is to reject that person's pathway to the numinous. It is to reject who they are.
Because we are all of it. To reject part of it is to only be part of oneself.
To be whole, one needs to embrace the whole of oneself.
But I get it, it really does seem like an incompatible juxtaposition at times. How exactly are the crass and the sublime two sides of the same coin? They feel as wrong as dipping your apple pie in minestrone soup! Not a great recipe or flavor combo.
But it is a great meal if you eat them in the right order, each in their place.
I also get it, that it is unsustainable to continuously welcome in fumbling crass sexual passes like the farmer's without growing hard callouses. It gets to you. He had no awareness of what was going on inside himself or how to create respect and safety for me to be vulnerable with him. Because yes dirty sex is vulnerable too.
I did in fact burn out. I thought the critics of sex work were right. It is inherently harmful and I would have to stop in order to stay open and honor my own boundaries.
Luckily, I moved through that and found another way. Sex work is not the problem. I found a way that worked for me to honor my own safety and needs while also deliberately creating tailored sexual play experiences for clueless clients.
But this shift in approach is not just needed in the way I first approached sex work. This is relevant to dating and mating on all levels of society. The attitudes of folk engaging in sex work are only more concentrated versions of the attitudes of society as a whole. The solutions I found in sex work also greatly benefit those in non-paid recreational and relational sex.
There really is a need to create awareness around this. We need a culture that, not only navigates consent but also has access to the frameworks and tools of the art of playing with the erotic psyche on purpose. Hence my work helping people re-wire their relationship with desire, and in understanding the powerful symbolism of their turn-ons.
Once people understand and experience how desire really works and what its function is, they are no longer caught in an impossible seeming double bind. They don't have to choose between being crass and polite. They can respectfully negotiate the exact deliciously crass things they need while taking into account the well-being of all involved. They can get why the crass desires are there and how to tap into the essence behind them. Why the crass is actually a pathway to the sublime if you know how to hear it.
We don't need to shame or shut down someone for having a sexual desire that seems sexist, selfish, unloving, or even against everyday moral codes. When those urges are engaged symbolically, within a safe container of understanding and mutual respect, they become the rocket to the stars.
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