Open About Life in the Sex Industry?

Dear Zoe,

I used to come and see you read every month in NYC at The Bowery Poetry Club. You were a big influence on me and I have started writing. How did you start? I’m nervous because I am writing poetry about the sex industry and my past. How do you deal with people knowing you were a sex worker? My boyfriend would die. I just have kept everything a secret. I get so nervous when I go out to the mall or anywhere incase I run into one of my old clients or one of the women I worked with. How have you dealt with this and become so open?

— Lacy


Dear Lacy,

I’m asked this question more than any other. I made a choice to be as open about my life in the sex industry so that no one would be able to hold anything over my head. I have no secrets. I am also not ashamed of my life as a sex worker. For me at that time it was one of the best jobs I could imagine. I learnt volumes and kept the knowledge and turned it into positive lessons about men and women. It was more than a college education could have provided me with. I love watching people and learning from them so to be in a place where men pay for sex from women gave me a feeling of power and confidence. It allowed me to enjoy men and see them as the vulnerable people we all are, women hold the power. It helped me grow into a strong secure woman. I was never abused. It was my choice. Can you say you worked in the industry on your terms? Because when women are coerced, pimped, or trafficked its an entirely different experience. I’d have to know a little more about your background before I’d suggest you yell from the rooftops you had sex for money. If it has left emotional scars, or made you feel you must hide and be fearful, I suggest talking to a therapist. Someone sympathetic to your background, a none judgmental professional who can walk you through what might have been a difficult time. My experience certainly isn’t everyone’s, and it might not be wise to be as open as I am. I always advocate honesty but we must consider the repercussions of “honesty” it doesn’t always work out how we’d like. If your boyfriend would be devastated to think of you as an ex sex worker. Maybe you don’t have to tell him. I do however suggest you stop worrying about seeing an old customer. Chances are he’d run the other way if he recognized you. If one was to approach you with a hello, I know you used a fake name so you can just walk away saying you’re mistaken that’s not my name, and laugh it off.

Best, Zoe

© 2017 Zoe L. Hansen. All rights reserved.