Sex Workers Speak About Their Relationships with Cannabis

Sex Workers Speak About Their Relationships with Cannabis

by Sophie Saint Thomas
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CULTURE
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From cam models and pro-dommes utilizing smoke to excite their clients, to escorts lighting up a joint during an “after-care” session, marijuana can complement many practices within the broad ‘sex work industry.’

As many MERRY JANE readers already know, having sex stoned or integrating it into a kink scene can be hella fun. Cannabis can help you be more present and empathetic towards your partner. “It can help you be more connected to your body, so you feel sensations more intensely,” says New York City-based BDSM educator and dominatrix Goddess Aviva. “It can help you receive pleasure and pain more intensely. It’s definitely a tool that can be used in a BDSM scene or session. But again, just like any of these other tools, you need to discuss how you’re going to use it before you engage,” she says. 

Even though cannabis is safer than most substances, when integrating it into your sex life, you should always practice enthusiastic consent. From 420-friendly date ideas, such as a smoke sesh in a park, to using cannabis pleasure sprays such as Foria, to lighting up to become more present in your body, to even kinky adult babies who love to get high, weed and sex make great bedfellows. Just remember, always practice enthusiastic consent with your partners, for all sexual activities, but especially those involving mind-altering substances. 

So, how do sex workers incorporate cannabis into their professions? MERRY JANE wanted to know about how weed can help or hinder their unique lives, so we spoke to several full-time sex workers to get their takes on toking. From how cam models and pro-dommes utilize smoke to excite their clients, to how escorts will light up a joint during an “after-care” session, marijuana can complement many practices within the broad ‘sex work industry.’ Here’s what they had to say, along with what everyone can do to support sex workers in a country where our government does not. 

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On Sex Workers’ Personal Relationships with Cannabis

Sex workers are people. In an ideal world, that sentence would be redundant, but unfortunately, — as demonstrated by legislation such as FOSTA-SESTA — our government, and citizens who voted our administration into power, think otherwise. Even many seemingly-liberal voters and Powers That Be need reminders that sex workers deserve basic respect, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren. But back to cannabis: In their personal lives, sex workers use weed just like everybody else does.

“I use it both medicinally and recreationally,” Goddess Aviva says. “I use it for headaches, pain, nausea. And, also, just recreationally to relax, to feel good, to elevate my mood. I use it several times a week.” Goddess Aviva has enjoyed BDSM for as long as she can remember, and has over four years of experience as a practicing dominatrix in New York City. 

Guillermo* (whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity) is New York City-based male financial dom and artist. He works in many sex work industries, including live sex shows and erotic massage, and he told MERRY JANE that using cannabis helps him get his creative juices flowing and inspires him to create art. “I love cannabis and smoke it often, especially when I want to relax or get my creative juices flowing,” Guillermo says. 

While he agrees it would be irresponsible to get high before a pro dom session, Guillermo sometimes will use a small amount of cannabis to aid in reducing anxiety and help him be present before an erotic massage session, just like some cam models use the plant to quell social anxiety before a cam session. “I usually hit a bowl or my vape pen a few times [before a cam session],” one cam model told us. “But I don’t like to get super baked until the end of the night when I’ve logged off and I’m relaxing. It’s my reward for getting through the day.”

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How Does Cannabis Intersect with the Professional Lives of Sex Workers? 

Sex work is an umbrella term that encompasses many lines of work, from nude modeling to escorting, and the definition of what sex work is, or who qualifies as a sex worker, often changes — especially depending on who you ask. When Guillermo and a former partner performed live sex shows, he says the pair would light up together beforehand to get in the mood. 

“I don't like to smoke before a pro dom or findom [financial domination] meet because it's important that I'm sharp and in complete control for those,” says Guillermo. “I do like to smoke for massages though and back when my ex girlfriend and I were doing live sex shows we would always smoke before,” he says. 

Porn star and cam model Sydney Leathers sometimes lights up before camming. “I like to get a tiny buzz before I cam; it helps with the social aspect for me,” she says. “I actually have cam clients who like to watch me smoke! It’s always nice being paid to get stoned.”

Similarly, professional dommes are sometimes asked by clients to integrate cannabis into their sessions. “I have clients who want me to smoke and use them as an ashtray,” says California-based dominatrix Goddess Sydney. But being used as an ashtray isn’t the only cannabis-based kink submissive clients enjoy, either. 

“Some people have a fetish for forced intox, which [means] you’re being forced to partake in a substance,” Goddess Aviva says. It could mean having a funnel taped to their mouth and having alcohol poured down their throat. With cannabis is could mean having smoke blown into a tube into their mouth, so they’re ‘forced’ to inhale it. It’s a consensual forcing.” 

This may sound scary, and when done without the full consent of all parties involved, it can be dangerous, so please don’t try this with your Tinder hook-up. Professional dominatrixes such as Goddess Aviva pre-negotiate every detail of such requests, and obtain consent from all parties involved before engaging in such activities. 

All the pro-dommes interviewed for this article expressed that they would never show up to a session stoned, or encourage any substance use by either party without full negotiation and consent.

“I would never go into a session having taken cannabis beforehand without getting consent from my client first,” Goddess Aviva reiterates. “It’s preferable for clients to arrive at a session not under the influence of any kind of substance, unless we’ve agreed upon it. If you want to get high before a session, we can discuss that.” So, as with all aspects of sex and BDSM, consent is required”

Cannabis is also often used as part of after-care, or the time after a kinky ‘scene’ in which all partners check in with one another, address any bruises from impact play, and make sure everyone feels good about what went down. Perhaps the partners share a joint, or apply a topical to any red areas. 

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How Can Cannabis Users Support Sex Workers in a Post-FOSTA-SESTA World?

The aforementioned legislation known as FOSTA-SESTA are very vague bills disguised as anti-sex-trafficking measures. The bills also hold the owners of websites accountable for basically anything a user posts, so anyone who cares about free speech should care about FOSTA-SESTA. The government has already started weaponizing the legislation against sex workers by taking down websites that previously allowed them to advertise and discretely exchange safe client lists. Similarly, Tumblr recently announced they would no longer allow adult content on their platform. And, maybe surprising to some, the legislation gained a lot of support from celebrities who totally missed the mark, such as Amy Schumer

“Censorship of this degree is not something done by coincidence, and soon all adult websites may completely disappear under the ill-worded legislation that is FOSTA-SESTA,” says Goddess Sydney. “We can all agree that sex trafficking is horrendous and everything should be done to prevent it and stop it. Conflating sex trafficking with consensual sex work and adult content, as FOSTA/SESTA does, is dangerous as it limits freedom of expression, infringes on our right and ability to work, and censors everyone’s sexuality.” 

In addition to either blocking or shadow-banning sex worker’s social media sites and platforms like Backpage, many personal web pages have been shut down, too. While Backpage was problematic in certain respects, shutting it down primarily hurts the most marginalized sex workers who can’t afford expensive ads on sites such as Eros, which can cost just short of $1,000 to post in some instances. Along with simply cutting off sex worker’s ability to find work, by shutting down social media accounts and websites, sex workers have also lost much of their ability to share safe client lists, which detail who is safe to work with and who should be avoided. Sex workers are under attack, and their lives are literally at risk as a result. 

It is my personal opinion that those in favor of ending the War on Drugs should also support legalizing sex work and take a stance against FOSTA-SESTA. Both sex work and the cannabis industries have long offered marginalized folks a sense of agency. From those who can’t get “normal” desk jobs based on their race, gender, or orientation, to those who prefer the flexibility of selling weed or sex so they can support their art, underground professions like these are a way for people to survive outside the status quo. 

Speaking bluntly — and forgive the gender binary of this statement — selling weed has long offered straight cis men a way to make money while supporting their art, as sex work has offered women and other marginalized genders a way to do the same. Both industries, when illegal, come with similar risks, such as personal interactions with people you may not know very well. This danger is highly leveled up by FOSTA-SESTA’s effect on sex worker’s ability to screen clients. Both sex work (not to be conflated with sex trafficking) and selling cannabis are non-violent crimes, yet our prisons are filled with those arrested for both, most often people of color. So what can those in favor of cannabis legalization do to also support sex workers?

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“Pay attention to their social media because that’s where we have to advertise now. Follow us,” Goddess Sydney tells MERRY JANE hours before Tumblr announced they are banning all adult content. “I don’t know what’s going to happen once 2019 comes because it’s going to be fully enforced by then. Continue to support our art, continue to support sex workers.” 

So, along with following sex workers on social media, speaking up for them, and lifting their voices, what else can you do? Pay them. 

“If you enjoy a sex workers content, send them a little tip if you can afford to do that,” says Leathers. “Even a small gesture is really appreciated. Send her money for coffee or dinner.” If you don’t have the money to spare, Leathers seconds supporting sex workers on their social media platforms — while they still have them. While Guillermo jokingly suggests supporting sex workers by hiring someone 420-friendly and sharing a joint before the session as a kind gesture, honestly, keep your nugs to yourself and tip with cold, hard cash. Sex workers can buy their own cannabis of choice (with their well-deserved and hard-earned money). 

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Sophie Saint Thomas is a writer based in Brooklyn. She was raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Along with Merry Jane, her writing has been published in VICE, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, High Times, Nylon, Playboy, GQ, Harper's Bazaar and more. Brooklyn Magazine included her on their annual 2016 30 Under 30 Envy List. Her favorite strain of weed is Grand Daddy Purp.


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