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Archive for the ‘Sex-positivity’ Category
During my performance at Sex Worker Literati, I noticed a beautiful woman in the audience giving me serious telepathic support. She was nodding, smiling, and laughing at all the crucial moments. Not only did it seems like she wanted me to succeed, it was like she heard the message of my monologue. She understood it.
Afterward, when I went up to her to thank her, I realized why my tale might appeal to her more than the average bear: she was a sex-worker too. Sorta “former,” but more like current, with porno experience on both coasts who mostly made her living as a dominatrix, fetish consultant, sex writer, and all-out cool person. Here’s the story of Christina Cicchelli, aka Simone Valentino.
Christina, I’m interested in interviewing you specifically because you have experience in both the porn world and the dom world. Which came first? I’m assuming the dom stuff - is that right? How did you make the transition to porno? And what was that like?
Honestly, neither of the porn or pro-dom work came first. When I decided to take a leap into the adult industry, I started out as a stripper in Connecticut, which lasted two nights only. I was no good at the poles and the bouncers didn’t approve of my lap dance behavior (mostly grinding my ass into the laps of paying customers… they have to get their money’s worth, right?) So, that was very brief. I tried sending my photos to Fetish websites, all to no avail. Then, I started to get attention from New Jersey pornographers (the shadiest of the bunch, from my observation). I performed an “audition” which was the worst time of my life. To make a long story short, I did everything that a girl shouldn’t do when trying to break into the industry. But, once I dropped out of school and moved to New York City, I took up stripping again, failed at it again, and it was then that I saw an ad in the newspaper for Mistresses at a NYC dungeon. I set up an appointment and spent my first training session watching this beautiful red-haired dom work her large dildo into the ass of a flustered, highly excited British businessman. And I knew I found the job of my dreams. So, to me, my career as a professional dom started there. Later, I answered an inquiry on Craig’s List from a man who was seeking new talent. We talked and he told me that because of my race and my look, I would never be the next Jenna Jameson, which was never my intention. I told him that maybe this is why I should be in porn, because there is no one else like me. We spoke and, through him, I worked at another dungeon (now defunct) and met Joe Gallant, who would eventually film my first porn scene. Unlike my first attempt, when I was finally settled in New York, I was fortunate to have met very positive people who could have taken advantage of my naivety, but didn’t. Everyone enjoyed being in the business, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It was almost like joining a family… who loved whippings and enema art (A reference to Gallant’s artwork).
You’re an NYC woman and a successful professional dom. We had a quick-ass conversation about your trip to Los Angeles where you did a little porn. You never stayed and I can only assume it was not exactly to your liking down there — tell me an LA story from that trip.
Ha! LA was fun, let me kid you not, but most of my enjoyment sprung from the misadventures I had gotten into when I wasn’t trying to land a gig. I also knew that if I wanted to stay in the business, I had to visit the Motherland some time or another. I was still radiating from performing my first anal threesome (and my first porn scene ever!) with Aaralyn Barra and Jeremy Stone. Aaralyn was flying out to LA that morning and asked if I wanted to join her. Of course, I jumped at the chance, but Joe wanted to use me for a scene with Michelle Aston in his apocalyptic porno Avenue X, so I naturally stayed behind (How could one resist?) He and his merry crew of perverts had to travel West to film more scenes, and I was under the impression that I would be performing in these scenes. Lack of communication proved me wrong, so I had flown out with very little money and no work lined up. So, of course, when we arrived I was very stressed because I had to snag a scene and make some cash so I could return home. However, the first week was amazing. Highlights included tripping on shrooms with my girlfriend whilst Joe filmed his group sex scene in the Mojave Desert, sharing sushi with Eon McKai and heading to Dupont’s for two meals a day with Joe, Mariano, Keith, and whomever else decided to join us. Again, a real family affair. But, they had to leave, and I wanted to stay for curiosity’s (and money’s) sake. Joe’s words to me before they departed: “Don’t become a cunt rag.” Crass, I know, but I understood it well. After a week in LA, it felt like no one seemed, well, authentic. Every girl outdid the other in massive tits and bleached hair. Every other guy looked like Sean Michaels (seriously). As a voyeur, it was an incredible landscape and culture to observe. But, as a sex worker, it was soulless. I finally snagged a scene with Dino Bravo, who took me under his wing while I remained in LA. That was fun. But, once I had to make the trips through the windowless buildings of Silicone Valley, take off my clothes, pose for Polaroids, and list my dos and donts like spouting off a grocery list, it all seemed so numbing I had to get back home. At least, in NYC, they wine and dine you a bit. I was glad too.
With Brian Surewood
A lot of the doms I know will not do full-on penetration and stuff, but apparently from what I see from your film work, you will. Was there an intermediary stage with your sex work … i.e., is it part of what you did in your “private practice” to fuck a client every so often? What are your boundaries?
Actually, I kept my dom life and my porn life as separate as I could, which meant that while I would lovingly fuck on film I wouldn’t do so as a dominatrix. You see, during this time, I worked at a fetish dungeon. I respected the rules and didn’t want to get the place busted, so my reputation was kept squeaky clean. Besides, it takes a very intense scene for me to lose so much control that I want to have sex, and that’s only happened once out of my fetish career. I did share a couple of intimate moments with a client, but he was so much fun! Crazy, but fun. And it took me a while to let my defenses down and truly get into the scene that he wanted, which had nothing to do with domination in its traditional sense. For clients who truly loved the BDSM and wanted to worship me as Domme (as they should), there was a sense of power in keeping my distance and prolonging the mystery as much as I could. Which was why it was difficult, at one point, for me to balance being a dominatrix with my porn career. I didn’t want my clients to think that what they see on the television screen was what they would get. Those are two very different worlds. And, they didn’t pay me to be Simone Valentino. They paid me to be Mistress Simone. This was when it was very important to me to strengthen my boundaries. Sex was never on the table. It was never expected, and if I even so much as kissed them on the cheek, then they should be thankful for such a privilege. I could fuck them in the ass if I wanted, but they wouldn’t receive handjobs or blowjobs. If I wanted to get topless, then I could, but that rarely happened during the first sessions I shared with a new client. Quite simply, they submitted to me and my terms. And, if they didn’t like it, then they knew where to go.
The thing that I respect about doms, coming from the basically mindless world of hardcore pornography, is that there’s there seems to be this mental aspect to domination. Tell me all about it. Who are you to them? Why do they want to come to you in particular? Would I like to be dominated, do you think?
Is there not a mental aspect to pornography? Shouldn’t there be? To me, that’s the disheartening aspect of the porn world, and, perhaps, why I enjoyed being a dominatrix so much. In porn, it’s always about sex. Always. Sure, there’s foreplay, there’s toys. But, at the end of the day, it’s about penetration, money shot, and that’s it. After a while, I got bored of the porn scene, and there were only a handful of moments in my brief career in which I shared a moment with an actor and was not only excited by his good looks and temperament, but by his maturity and his intelligence. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty rare in that industry. Not to say that every Tom, Dick, and Harry that walks through the door of a dungeon is an intellectual. In fact, sometimes - as it is in any part of the adult industry - you’ll have to dominate someone who is boring, straightforward, perverse in an uninteresting way. I remember when Francis and I had spoken about moments when we would just hurry up, do the scene, and get them out of there. We wouldn’t even want to put effort into it. For me, these types of sessions occur when a client wants to come in and has nothing to offer but money and a shortchanged fantasy, all so he could jerk off and hopefully see your tits. But, when I meet a client who is open-minded and is ready to surrender his comforts and power to me, then I become a goddess. I become ethereal. I feed his fetish and help him build a world that, for one hour or more (depending on how much he paid), he is no longer an employee, a doctor, a mailman, a father, etc. He, too, becomes something else altogether. Some clients who enjoyed spending time with me were cross-dressers and those who sought intense role play sessions. They may have noted my femininity, sophistication, and creativity as traits that they felt comfortable with. Of course, every client seeks something special in a Mistress. I can only assume they discovered something special in me. My guess, Sam, is that you might like to be surrendered if the dom romances you a bit. One moment, she’s whispering sweet nothings in your ear, and the next moment you’re kissing her shiny new shoes while she pours hot candle wax on your back. That’s my estimation, anyway.
When we were having our after-show pep talk, we were all dissing on sex work, sort of planning to quit it, and sort of planning to keep on reaping the rewards of it. Tell me the absolute BEST part of sex work and why you would never want to forsake it.
After being a sex worker, on and off, for about five years and actually acquiring a full-time job with, but mostly without, benefits, there are two reasons why I love the former over the latter. For one, sex work is never boring. I have mentioned before that when a certain client or performer occupies your time, it feels more like a job than a fantasy. But, when I became an independent dominatrix and phone sex operator, it was easier to promote myself and, thus, receive the type of clients that worked best with my style. Most of these clients were cross-dressers, men who liked to be dominated by their mothers or teachers, foot fetishists, etc. My hours spent with these gentlemen were very fulfilling. My independence and flexible schedule was such a treat. Never had I felt more like an individual than when I’m involved in sex work. Can you get that type of freedom when you’re someone’s employee? Of course not. Not when you dropped out of school and have to lie to each new employer you meet (According to them, I’m an Honors Graduate with an English Degree, which still hasn’t gotten me far). Another reason why I love being a sex worker is because I can really use my creativity to help people and expand upon my own skills. I’ve dabbled in almost every type of sex work you can think of, from porno to prostitution and back again. I’ve learned so much about human sexuality and I received so many amazing opportunities to speak about my experiences in forums that I would have never known about. And I do love talking about sex… which gets me in trouble almost every time I’m working a normal job. To your average Joe Schmo, I’m a misanthropic, quiet, sometimes uncomfortably crude ticket girl. But, to my clients, I am their mother, their caretaker, their girlfriend, their Goddess. My words and actions mean more to them than it ever would have to other “civilians”. Who couldn’t love a lifestyle like that?
You put on your site that you’re a Fetish Consultant — what is it? Do you help couples? Screenwriters hoping to write about the dom life?
As a Fetish Consultant, I assist both individuals and couples with their fantasy - no matter how outrageous or minute it may be - and give them an opportunity to use it in the bedroom and in their sex lives. I give my clients advice, assignments, and sometimes point them to or accompany them to events where they can let their freak flag fly high. Assignments can vary from writing erotic stories to learning how to use dirty talk, which slowly allows your fetish to exist in the bedroom. One great example is a cross dresser whom I’d help for a couple of weeks. Together we pinpointed his feminine style, accessorized clothes and make-up, practiced everything from gestures to feminine walks, and even went out to a bar as girlfriends. After writing my first article on furry love (which you can check out on my website or blog), someone had approached me with tips on how to initiate her furry fetish and share it with her partner. So, simply put, I teach you how to become a better pervert, with or without your lover :). I can teach you how to play in the bedroom, which prolongs and enhances the sexual experience altogether. And, yes, screenwriters can come to me to breathe some realism into their own sordid tales, although I haven’t attracted anyone with that specific request just yet.
Why do you think you were drawn to sex work in general? Are you more outgoing than most? Lots of secret hidden traumas from the childhood? Or do you just like FREAKS n WEIRDOS deeply. . .
Personally, I’ve had my share of weird encounters with grownups, both as a young girl and now, but I wouldn’t define any of it as traumatic. I’d always been curious about sex, and, even at a young age, I would read works from Betty Dodson, Susie Bright, and Pat Califia to gain a liberating perspective on the matter. By the time I was in college, I felt so much pressure to maintain my grades and be successful that I, for once, just wanted to lose control and do something fun. And I loved sex. Why not go into sex work? And, what a beautiful choice. Never had I been so inspired to be a writer, an artist, and a feminist than when I performed onstage, in a fetish dungeon, or in front of a camera. And honestly, I do like the weirdos… mainly because I’m one of them.
Christina Cicchelli is a “Sexventurer” of sorts; she’s spent over five years as a sex worker and has experience in a myriad of industries, including phone sex and professional domination. As a Mistress, she has worked in several NYC Dungeons and also visited devoted clients on an independent basis. As a phone sex operator, she maintained a large amount of callers who sought her guidance, creativity, and experience in fetish and role-play.
Christina is best known for her career as a porn actress. Under the non de plume, Simone Valentino, she’s performed in a handful of films. She received an AVN nomination for “Best Actress” for her role in Afrodite Superstar and also won “Best New Starlet” at the Feminist Porn Awards in 2008 for her role in Audacia Ray’s The Bi Apple.
Christina is now monthly columnist for $pread Magazine and writes about all things fetish in own blog, A Fantastic Nightmare. She is also a Fetish Consultant for individuals and couples who are seeking some kinky inspiration.
Hipped to it by Audacia Ray, I spent Saturday afternoon at the LBGT Center in New York attending a conference entitled Kink For All. The building itself, on West 13th St., was remarkable, particularly the Keith Haring bathroom, painted in its entirety by the legendary gay artist in 1989.
As for the conference itself - eh. It was rich with presentations; and actually, I thought several of the topics presented were quite provocative. I was drawn to “Food Play” and “The Power of Punching” especially. (At first I thought “The Power of Punching” was sort of a clever name for something else, but no, it was really about Punching People.)
Admittedly, I’m a rough sex enthusiast myself. Whatever that means. And I’m sort of an amateur at the practice at the same time, so I was excited for a little discussion about the topic. But the way this whole Punching thing was introduced was disquieting, for some reason. First, totally nice facilitator. Absolutely. He was totally cool and non-agro. Sort of a nerd, in fact. And yet it was as if the facilitator expected that everyone attending understood that he liked to beat the shit out of people. Everyone in the audience was supposed to be COOL with the idea of punching someone, or getting punched and having bruises yellow up on you as you cry. I’m not saying people shouldn’t get punched and humiliated - very much the opposite, in fact. I happen to think it’s … interesting … and maybe sexy and deinitely fucked-up in that good way. If you want to do whatever it is you want to do in your bedroom, whether it’s smearing honey across your genitals or dressing up as Wile E. Coyote (seriously, that was brought up by someone, which totally sent me spinning off into a mental shitstorm about whether I had wandered into a Dungeons and Dragons play date, or was at a Ren Fair?) then DO it, be Kinky.
Yet there was this element (to the entire conference) of Preaching to the Choir that soured the whole thing for me. It was like everyone attending was supposedly “inside” the world of Kink - they had been initiated and were trading hints in regards to various methods to the madness. That air of insularity befouls everything, and whether it’s Young Male Republicans on U Street in DC knocking back Jamesons with a Fat Padded Wallet or Annoying Berkeley Liberals in the United Pot Smokers of All Expensive Colleges in America, conversations that purport to discuss anything very useful but have little to no diversity of thought to them don’t usually extend too far or too deep.
Nevertheless, I learned a couple of things about Punching:
“Where to punch. You want to punch in the chest, upper back. avoid the kidneys. upper leg, thighs. avoid the joints.”
“Don’t punch with just your arm. Punch with your whole body.” (Shows how to put your weight into it - let the punch come from your core!)
I guess the whole irony of the situation - to me, and I’m admittedly always going to be coming from a cynical place, because that’s just who I am - is that I found it hard to believe that this guy had ever been in a real fight in his entire life. The strong overall flavor of the Kink For All conference was one of social awkwardness. Does this apply to the BDSM world in general? To all enthusiasts of Mind Fucking and Power Play and all that? Or it was specific to this New York-based conference in particular?
These were very friendly people - complete with awkward, loud-ass laughter and forced gaiety. For some reason I couldn’t parse this image of this gentle, semi-awkward long-haired dude beating the crap out of his partner and making it hard for her to walk around the next day, with him actually fucking up someone in a bar or in a schoolyard.
But perhaps the reason some are drawn to power plays when it comes to sex games, is the simple fact that they felt infantilized and emasculated and weak when younger, in formative years. I believe this might be true for me, actually. Hmm.
Yes; it’s very true.
I had a bad bully experience when I was younger, in junior high school. Had to get into a few fights that I didn’t want to get into. I cowered. Eventually I scrapped, but my attempts to avoid the physical confrontations weighed heavy on my mind for years and years after. My sense of self was terribly impugned. It’s just the truth.
And then in porno I found a girl or two who was willing to let me wallop her. No punching, just smacking and choking. Scary stuff that I was proud of at the same time it made me feel repulsed and repulsive. The act of whacking someone in the face and mouth and neck was very charged for me. Perhaps I fit into the nerd category as well; the emasculated. Today’s group was not my community, but perhaps the reason I reacted towards them with derision is because I saw my awkwardness reflected in them.
“The difference between slapping and punching is one of THUD and STING.”
Maybe another reason more awkward people are drawn to Kink is that they can thus feel highly valued as sexual objects. A girl who’s not traditionally “hot” can be ignored for years, though inside she’s obviously just as desirous of attention and affirmation as anyone else. The slender girl gifted with good skin and huge tits finds an admiring gaze effortlessly and often. A fat girl with greasy hair and a dynamic mind and an open, inventive nature (not to mention a predilection for revealing and revelling in the strange and serpentine psychological twists that we all have, but not all acknowledge) finds nirvana - maybe - when she stumbles across this community of like-minded, friendly - and yes, geeky - confidantes.
. . .
Also witnessed a remarkable reading by a woman named Essence Revealed, a black ex-stripper who is staging a one-woman show, to launch in the fall, about her eight years as a high-profile exotic dancer.
What I especially liked about Essence’s show, or the 20 minutes or so that I saw of it, was that she was willing to showcase the GOOD elements of stripping alongside the more tragic or just simply idiotic parts. The truth is complex, and the great thing about sex work in the United States is that there’s nearly always an element of humor in it. Watch for Essence’s show. It’s gripping, well-executed.
. . .
So now I’ve participated in two sex-positive events, thanks again to Audacia Ray. It’s definitely giving me food for thought. I took such a hard right turn to the negative when I went down to Los Angeles and became a typically disgusting shooter. I don’t regret it, because it showed me the main sector of the porn industry, and that was my path, to learn about it, and to ultimately reject it. I had a lot of anger in me, and I think I was drawn to be around people who shared it. I often regret that I couldn’t have been stronger and clung to the better parts of my personality, which certainly are attracted to the “light.” But it didn’t happen. I don’t fault myself for not being more “sex-positive.”
But now the times have changed, I’m a grown man (mostly), and I have the opportunity to do things right - or at least, better. Much smarter, certainly .. and much more compassionately. I felt like I had graduated from sex work, but perhaps it’s worthwhile to consider whether there’s still a space inside of it for me. For instance, from an educator’s point of view. I continue to write about sex, and perform about sex - maybe there’s a way for me to work in or about sex, too. After all, sex pays a living wage. It does, and it always has.
This New York trip was embarked upon because of the death of my grandfather, but it might still turn out to be a serendiptious event. Depends on what I do with it, I suppose.Read More | No Comments
The reading last night at Happy Ending was a big success. Click below to watch the video in its entirety.
Besides getting up and performing, which I love, I met a host of interesting people who practice a host of interesting professions. I became acquainted with a woman who creates educational sex films and runs workshops; a sex therapist; more than a few writers; a good-hearted black man whose specialty is Cuckolding; and a couple of dominatrixes who were getting out of the business - except they weren’t.
I loved everyone equally, but those dominatrixes who couldn’t decide whether or not to get out of the game? I connected with them. We were all in the same boat. Life after porno is sweet - except life after porno is poor. As in: a financial step down.
It’s god’s honest truth. The three of us huddled in the street after the performance was over, clucking and sympathizing, ruminating over the eternal truth of sex work: it’s dirty and you want to stop doing it - always. You never really like it. Even if you own it, you don’t like it. You know you could be doing something else … and sex work is holding you back … so you quit it! Victorious.
But when it’s gone, you miss the dirt. You miss the raw emotions and you miss the real. You miss the living wage and damn you miss the power. You miss the “respect” from those who are indebted to you even though it’s mostly based on fear and addiction. You miss the fame that you pretend you have.
I attempted to grill these women on what the New York City dominatrix life is all about - I really don’t know much about it, when all’s said and done - but it was getting late and we all agreed it would be done better on paper. So look for that in the coming week- Articulate NYC dominatrices Discuss Life.Read More | No Comments
I am so pleased (and nervous) to be included in this bad-ass event curated by Audacia Ray and David Henry Sterry. Come on out to the Happy Ending, 302 Broome St in the Lower East Side if you’re around.
Here’s the line up:
Molly Crabapple is an artist, author, and the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, a 90 city chain of alt. drawing clubs. Called a “Downtown phenomenon” by the New York Times and “THE artist of our time” by Margaret Cho, Molly has drawn for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Marvel Comics. During college, she was a professional naked girl. Her first graphic novel, Scarlett Takes Manhattan, is out now from Fugu Press.
Candye Kane may still be a well-kept mainstream secret but in most underground circles, her diva status is legendary. She has been making music professionally for over two decades and toured worldwide since 1992, performing for amazingly diverse audiences. She played at the French Embassy in Rome for the President of Italy, headlined the Rhythm Riot, a rockabilly and R&B festival in the UK, and belted it out alongside Ray Charles at the Cognac Blues Festival. She slayed em’ at the Cannes Film Festival, kept them enthralled at New York Gay Pride and most recently, helped organize a thirteen city tour of the Netherlands for special needs kids. Learn more and hear her sing on her website.
Jodi Sh. Doff, writing as Scarlett Fever. Scarlett Fever was born with the first issue of BUST and has gone on to publish in Penthouse, Playgirl , Bust, Tear (Italy), Olive Tree Literary Review, Cosmopolitan, Stim.com and CommonTies.com; been anthologized in Best American Erotica ‘95, Bearing Life (Feminist Press - as Jodi Sh. Doff), Between the Sheets (Penthouse Anthology), and The Bust Guide to a New Girl Order . She has been active in prostitutes rights, harm reduction and outreach. Scarlett has been working on a memoirs of her ten years in the pre-Disney Times Square topless business for what seems like forever. She is proud to have been a chapter of “historical reference” in Lily Burana’s Strip City. There is also a serial killer love story, with some rather disturbing parallels to her own life, in the works. That said, Ms. Doff grew up in the suburbs as someone else entirely.
Sam Benjamin is a graduate of Brown University (1999), a former go-go dancer, and the director of over one thousand Los Angeles-based interracial gangbangs, gay and straight. His book, “Confessions of An Ivy League Pornographer,” is a memoir of a youth well spent.
Damien Decker’s writing has appeared in $pread magazine and the anthology Unhoused Voices. He has been featured on The Daily Beast and is currently working on a memoir. Damien was born in Zambia but moved as a young child to Scandinavia to become one of the first black people in northern Europe. He recived his degree in USA and is a former college, semi-pro, and national team athlete. Damien is a multilingual jack-of-all-trades who speaks fluent Swedish, Norwegian, English, plus enough French to not starve when in Paris and enough Swahili to know when mother was angry. He currently resides in New York.Read More | 1 Comment
A good female friend of mine sent me an intriguing criticism yesterday.
I thought your site was pretty savvy, tho obviously marketed to young men and geared towards making money more than engaging a charged topic.
I think that your product will be much stronger if it is willing to go the extra inch and really engage this topic on a level that is about more than entertainment, celebrity, or money. I guess what I mean is that I think you haven’t trusted yourself to go fully into the real dimensionality and relevance of this issue on a cultural level, with all of its implications for everyone. If you were to be able to take on the issue of exploitation of women, while still being able to revel in your love of porn, I think your product would have a lot more clout, at least it would for me. Without really having it be integrated into the work, the work becomes less attractive to women. I realize women aren’t your target group, and that perhaps this issue is one you are still sorting out in yourself.
The ability to address hard questions without giving them TOO MUCH weight and still keeping your humor and your love of looking at naked women would make your story that much more poignant, as it would offer a whole spectrum of views, without necessarily needing to reconcile them. Real art is messy and doesn’t avoid shit and doesn’t mind contradiction either.
Pretty right on, huh? Not only is that criticism warranted, but I think it’s something that I’ve been wanting to deal with for quite some time, yet hadn’t quite trusted myself to take on. I’m particularly grateful for the challenge to respond to it because it provides me with an opportunity to grapple with an issue that has been notoriously difficult for me throughout the years that I’ve been working in or writing about porn.Read More | 2 Comments