By Raye Weigel
Pye Jakobsson said her favorite part about working in the sex industry is that “it’s such a kick ass, awesome, fierce community.”
Jakobsson is Swedish and has been politically active since her parents involved her in politics when she was 7 years old. Jakobsson said with glowing confidence that she learned early on that what she said mattered.
She has worked in various kinds of sex work, starting as a stripper when she was 18 years old. She’s worked as an escort, in dungeons in the BDSM scene and in porn films, which she described as possibly the most boring thing she has ever done.
She even tried telephone sex for what she described as about three terrible hours.
“I was so bad. I can’t talk dirty if my life depended on it,” she said humorously. Currently, she has been drifting in and out of working as an escort and a mistress in the BDSM community.
Since she’s been taking a break from sex work, she said what she misses most is not the work itself, but the people. “I’ve been working in other types of industries as well and I’ve never been in an industry that has such diversity,” she said.
One of the baffling misconceptions, Jakobsson said, is that sex turns bad because someone gives you money for it.
“You can still have good sex with someone who pays you … and if he’s not a very good fuck, then maybe the sex is a little better because you’re getting paid,” she said with a laugh.
She explained that her appearance is secondary to her clients, some of whom have been coming to her for years. What they are attracted to most is her intelligence. “He’s turned on by brains, so I’m his preferred sex worker … a lot of my regulars are like that,” she said about one of her clients.
Jakobsson said many sex workers are participating in politics and in the arts. Many have other full-time jobs. However, many people think “we only do one thing, and that’s sex work.”
Jakobsson explained the detrimental effects the stigma around sex work has on people of all genders in the business. One of these adverse effects is emotional leverage in romantic relationships. She said some individuals take the stigma to heart, believing they are worth less because of what they do. As a result, they are just grateful their partner tolerates what they do. She said these partners create the narrative of “I stand what you do at work so you can’t tell me that I’m bad.’’
Where Jakobsson is active in politics and activism, Sarah Landon, a sex worker from Florida, loves art. She paints, sculpts and does multimedia projects. In her free time, she enjoys nature and gardening.
Landon has her own business based in Florida and described herself as a professional companion. People pay to take her out for drinks, to dinner, a show or likewise. Sex can be involved, but not always.
“I adore meeting new people and making them happy,” Landon said. “I’m a really good date; I’m the kind of lady you would, under normal circumstances, want to bring home to meet mom. But clearly that’s not where we are going.”
She said she enjoys the flexible schedule that works around her other full-time job. According to Landon, a common misconception people have about sex workers is that they are on drugs or were abused as children.
“I met more people who were addicted to substances when I was in the restaurant and bar business than I know now,” she said.
Landon explained she and those closest to her in the business love what they do. Reasons for this include: schedule flexibility, greater amount of money possible in fewer hours, being your own boss and getting to meet new people who “are usually really complimentary of you and even sometimes bring you gifts above and beyond the money they pay to spend time in your company.”
The new administration may make the lives of sex workers more difficult with decisions such as defunding Planned Parenthood, but Landon seems to have no doubt in the indefatigable nature of the industry.
“This industry has survived since the dawn of time, and I don’t see it going anywhere,” she said. “Sex workers are seriously the most resourceful group of people I have ever known.”
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Sarah Landon.
Raye Weigel is a junior multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.