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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to The Incredible Edible Akynos, international stripper and executive director of The Black Sex Worker Collective, about setting boundaries, the ways white supremacy perverts Black culture, sex worker representation in media and how we can all support sex workers.
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Kenrya: Come here, get off.
Kenrya: Hey folks. Today, we are talking to the Incredible Edible Akynos. Pronouns whore king, divine goddess sex worker. The Incredible Edible Akynos is executive director of the Black Sex Worker Collective, an international stripper, a world traveler, and a professional procrastinator. I love all of that. I also used to be a professional procrastinator.
Akynos: How did you get over it?
Kenrya: Man, I had one too many nights where I had to stay up and get shit done and freaked out because I have anxiety, and it was too much. So now my goal is always to finish things the day before they're due. I tell myself that they're due the other day and put them in my calendar that way. That is the only way that I eliminate the anxiety of being behind all the time. That's it.
Akynos: Got it.
Kenrya: Yeah. But all that to say, thank you for joining us today.
Akynos: Thank you for having me.
Kenrya: Yes, we're very excited to have you on the show.
Erica: So we're just going to dive right in, Akynos. What did you want to be when you grew up? As a little Akynos, what did you want to be growing up?
Akynos: It depends. When you say little, you're talking about five-year-old me or 16-year-old me?
Erica: Whatever comes to mind, yeah.
Akynos: Well, five-year-old me wanted to be a teacher, and my grandma was a seamstress. So I would always try to teach her rolls of thread. I'd like play teacher with the rolls of thread.
Kenrya: That's really cute.
Akynos: So at five, I was doing that. A little bit older, maybe a few years later I knew I wanted to be an entertainer. I wanted to dance and act and sing. That's always been there. Then by the time I got to my teens, I wanted to be a nude model. I wanted to be an adult entertainer. So I'm living all my life dreams right now.
Kenrya: Yes. So how did you get there? How did you make that transition from I'm out here teaching these little pieces of thread to, “This is what I want to do?”
Akynos: Well, I always wanted to be a dancer, and I went to school across from LaGuardia Performing Arts High School. I went to King, and I was in their performing arts program. So I've always been dancing. I've always liked entertainment. And at the time I was growing up in the '90s, the nude magazines were a big thing, the Hustler and Playboy and all those. Those were a really big thing, and I was always fascinated by those women on the cover. I always thought they were so beautiful and badass. I was like, "That's exactly what I want to do." I was going to school around the corner from the Playboy offices. I was always dreaming of going up in there and having a conversation with Hugh Hefner, as if he was even there, and trying to get into the mansion. But I was always told I was basically too short or whatever.
Akynos: But yeah. I'm not even five foot. I just say five foot because it's easier than trying to 4'11" and half and three quarters. So I just put five foot, but I'm just under five foot. But yeah. That's what it was. I was seeing all those nasty nude magazines on the newsstand when New York wasn't so PG13, and I just wanted to be one of them. I eventually would. Not for those magazines because they're white, but I eventually would. So all about the environment. The environment influenced me to be a whore. So job well done, world.
Kenrya: Which actually leads to my next questions. Can you tell us... We've obviously read quite a bit about your work, which is how we ended up asking you to come on the show. But can you tell our listeners and viewers what do you do?
Akynos: Now, I just do this organization now in the times of COVID and whatnot. But I'm a nightlife artist. I perform a lot in drag and burlesque shows here in Berlin and when I was in New York. So yeah, I'm a nightlife person, but I've also worked a lot in the adult entertainment business. So I've been in the gentleman's clubs and the strip clubs. I've been a phone sex operator. I've done a little bit of domination. In the final years of me doing the work, because I haven't worked in a while, I was a full-service escort. I still do some kind of sex work now. I'll take orders for custom photos and things like that. But I haven't seen anybody, person in a while because this...
Akynos: When you're doing the organizing, the Sex Worker rights organizing, it takes up a lot of time. So that's kind of where all my energy goes, and it's really hard to switch personalities and go from this office worker into this companion. And I just also don't have a lot of patience for the men anymore. So I just want to focus on fundraising for my group and helping the community deal with all the issues that they're having as a result of being in the industry. So that's my main focus now.
Erica: Okay. A modern-day Josephine Baker.
Akynos: I guess.
Erica: When you were speaking about leaving the US and Berlin. So badass. I love it.
Erica: So how did you get your start?
Akynos: In what? Whoring or what?
Erica: I think that it's so... Because we're talked to a few people, and I think I feel this way about seeing sex workers. I always saw them as, "Wow, they're badass. They're beautiful." They command a room. They're comfortable enough to show it off, and that kind of thing. But I was always the little weird kid from the Midwest who kept thinking about what her granny was saying in her ear and never took it there. But how'd you do it?
Akynos: How'd I get my start? I mean, poverty.
Kenrya: A lot of stories begin that way.
Akynos: Yeah, I wanted to just have a regular job. For a long time, I was also in office work, and I had a degree in computer science. I was studying administrative stuff as well, how to be an executive secretary, things like that. So anyway, I wanted to, but for a whole bunch of different reasons, I couldn't get my paperwork to... It's a long, tumultuous story. To get a job. The summer youth stuff. Long story. Eventually one of the easiest things for me to get into was just to walk into a strip club.
Akynos: So someone had approached me when I was about 17 about going into the strip club and becoming a dancer. So that was it. I just met some random dude in a train station that was like, "Are you a dancer?" And I was like, "Yeah, I am." But I really meant I was a dancer because I was studying dance at school. He's like, "Oh, you can come to this club." And it took 10 years for me to realize that when he was bringing me into the club to dance, I was thinking it was more like burlesque, like Josephine and whatnot. It took 10 years, I'm so slow, for me to realize that's what I thought I was walking into, but I walked into a fucking gentleman's club in the Bronx.
Erica: You're like, "Where are the feathers? Where are the..."
Akynos: Right. Yeah, I was. Yeah. But when I walked into the club I think one of my first nights, there was a feature dancer on stage. And I was like, "Yeah, I want to be her." That's what I thought it was all about, but it wasn't. It was string bikinis and very specific kind of exotic dance. So that's how it happened. Somebody just randomly approached me and brought me into a club. So basically I was trafficked because I was 17 at the time, and this guy was at least somewhere in his mid-20s. So I was trafficked. I say that jokingly.
Akynos: So I was trafficked into the strip club, then it's kind of a slow progression from there. So you're in the club and these guys are coming in the club and they've got different connections. They're like, "So do you want to do... You want to pose for pictures? Do you want to do a dance video?" It's like, "Yeah." They're paying good money. So yeah. So then you do that, and then I would have bouts of where I would go back into office work.
Akynos: That wasn't working out because when you're trying to do conventional employment because it's so built around patriarchy and just the male idea of what it means to be human, there's not a lot of room for parents, especially when they're women. So they kind of force you to either completely drop working all together or do something that's going to allow you more flexibility. So it wasn't working out because I had small kids, and the way things are now where people are getting support from the community was not like that in the '90s, early 2000s. That's just new revelation from society.
Akynos: So I would have to leave, and then I would have to go back to work. So I dabbled into the strip club, and then I found a phone sex operating place in New York City when they still had the centers. So it was this slow progression of back and forth. And then eventually I quit the last office job I had, which was still in adult entertainment, but the guy I was working for was super abusive. So I finally quit after working with him for several years, and I had already said it to him. I was like, "Once I leave this job, I am not going back into any other form of conventional employment. I'm just going to become an escort," and that's exactly what I did.
Kenrya: I'm always curious, and I feel like we ask everybody this question because we talk to folks who have really taken charge of their sexuality and how that relates to the rest of their parts of their lives. I'm always interested in what the prevailing attitudes toward sex were when you were growing up and how that jives or doesn't jive with your current self.
Akynos: Well, I'm from the Caribbean, so I didn't grow up with any sexual shame or anything like that. As far as the dressing and the dancing is concerned, you know what I mean? So there wasn't all of that. I dressed how I wanted for the most part. Growing up with my parents and I went to the Caribbean Day Parade and all of that. We danced. That was normal for me.
Akynos: But was there a lot of shame around being promiscuous? Yes. Because I was accused of that a lot when I was young when I really wasn't promiscuous. It's just that I had a very shapely body as a young girl. So growing up... Did you ask about growing up sexuality. What's that? What was the attitude when I was growing up, right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Akynos: Yeah? Yeah. So yeah, there was definitely shame around being promiscuous for women, but especially growing up with my dad, there was none of that cover yourself up attitude in my household. I was 14 wearing fishnets with bras and poom poom shorts. My dad would buy me that shit, so it was... Kind of had that kind of freedom. So yeah. No shame from what I remember unless they thought or heard a rumor that I was being sexual, then you're a slut.
Erica: Then they saved all the shame for that and heaped it on.
Akynos: Yeah, exactly.
Erica: When there was word of actual sex happening.
Erica: It's something that reminds me of just... We're from the Midwest, but have very southern roots. So you talk about twerking and kids in the front yard dancing and all of that. We're just dancing. we're having fun. But you have put your patriarchy, white supremacy on it to turn it into something it's not.
Akynos: They perverted it. It's pretty disgusting what they did with our culture where we're just having social fun, and we're doing this thing. They turned it into a whole monster that it wasn't, and that's what's so disappointing about that. It ruined everything. It was so much fun until they came into the room.
Erica: You ruin all the fun.
Erica: Okay. So you walked us through the different, I want to say different chapters of what you do. So you were doing dancing, phone sex-
Akynos: Graduated. I graduated to a whore.
Erica: And now you're like mommy whore, and you have this Black Sex Worker Collective.
Kenrya: Why does that freak you out?
Akynos: Because I've got one of my BSWC members, she's like, "Mother," and I'm like, "Girl. Girl, no the fuck I'm like your big sister."
Erica: Okay. So you have all your little chickadees that you're taking care of, and I want to know what's your favorite part about what you do? And what you do meaning now with the Black Sex Worker Collective.
Akynos: Yeah. I really like giving people money. It's very rewarding. It feels really good to be able to support people because when I was growing up and in the sex work game, I was super young. There was not a lot of support. So it brings me a lot of joy to be able to support people even if it's just like a small something here and there and not put them through all the fucking red tape that they typically would go through trying to get money, especially from the government.
Akynos: So yeah, it's really rewarding being able to help folks.
Kenrya: Actually, I want to back up a little bit. Sorry, I know.
Erica: No, no, no. Because you're probably going where I am.
Kenrya: Yeah, okay. How did you get started? How did you come to say, "You know what, I'm going to do this," with the Black Sex Worker Collective and tell us exactly what you do there.
Akynos: It kind of helps to be an entrepreneur because I've always been that, but I started organizing, I don't even know what year it was. In was in the early 2000s. So at least a decade I've been organizing, and I started organizing with one of the major sex worker orgs in New York, SWOP, Sex Worker Outreach Project. Basically because they have different chapters in different parts of the country, and for their New York branch or chapter, when I was trying to take over that, when they were... The leaders of that group, they were not able to keep taking on the work, and I was trying to come in and take that over. They wouldn't let me, white people. They wouldn't let me. They were like passing it on to each other.
Akynos: I also started college at that time too. So I was in my 30s. So this is my first time in a college art school because the first college I went to was all technical stuff. It was like computer stuff, secretarial stuff. So I finally went into an art school, a progressive learning environment, and that's kind of where I started discovering myself and learning the truth about my reality. "Oh, that's what I was experiencing, racism and it's because I'm a woman, and all that shit." So that's when that starting waking up.
Akynos: So I started thinking about all the stuff that I went through as a single parent, as a Black woman in the industry, and I was like, "There's got to be more people like me out there that really could use some help." So then I started developing the idea to start this collective. Then I tried to take over the SWOP, SWANK because there were two different groups that worked together in New York, and they were just like, "Nah. No. Just going to give it to this person." It's like, "Okay." This is like volunteer. It's like, "Okay then, bitch."
Akynos: So then with the help of one of the other activists who is a senior organizer, seasoned organizer that's helped build other groups and was like executive director of other groups and also a super genius, super smart woman. With her help, that's when I developed the Black Sex Worker Collective because I was talking about it for a while, and there were a couple of moments where I was like, "Oh, this would be a good time to start. This would be a good time to start." And then SESTA-FOSTA happened. I was like, "It's either now or never." So that's how that happened.
Erica: Okay. So you mentioned you like giving people money, and the first thing that came to mind was how now during COVID, there are all these programs to help people out, and the one thing that I do like about the DC area is that they recognize that there are a lot of gig workers, there are a lot of people with unconventional ways of making income. So they may not necessarily be able to produce the last three years of taxes and that kind of thing. So how has COVID affected the work that you're doing now in the Collective?
Akynos: If anything it's helped it. It affected it in a good way because unfortunately the best way to get help and attention to a lot of issues for marginalized people is when it's a tragedy. So thank you, COVID. Thank you. That's all I can say is it's helped us get grants. It's helping us build infrastructure. It's helping people donate. Right now it's a little bit quiet because unfortunately some Black person has to die before they're like, "Let's give some more money to these Black-led groups." Super quiet. We just actually got a big donation from another sex worker group, which is fantastic, but overall it's been kind of... People getting vaccines now. They don't give a fuck. They're just like, "The world is great." So until the next big tragedy happens, it's sad, but unfortunately that's how it happens, which I don't get. But I'm going to have the group just work on trying to get people to just do without there having to be this real reckless ass situation that happened. So it's actually been pretty good for us because that's the only time people really care unfortunately.
Erica: Unfortunately. So what's the most challenging thing about what you do?
Akynos: About organizing. Getting people to not support, not like public support, but kind of getting... Well, first of all, getting the general public to come to our events because they think that all they can do is they need to do is just give money. It's like, "Oh yes, I donated." Great, but can you come and listen to us because a lot of the issues that we're having is really societal issues. It's a microcosm of what is going on out there in the world. So they give money, and they think that's where it stops and that shouldn't be. So we need more than sex workers coming to... We have webinars and different events. It really should be more of the general public coming in to listen and to support in that way and to help us organize. So that's a really, really big challenge because so many people think that sex worker issues are isolated from what's going on in their life. It could be nothing further from the truth. So trying to get people to understand that that connection with sex work.
Akynos: I don't know what people's issues with sex, but when they see that, they just automatically think it's something separate. They're distanced and they're not making the connection. And they might give money because they feel bad, but they don't realize that they also need to show up to these events, listen, and then implement some of our strategies into just the regular world.
Kenrya: Yeah, because folks don't really truly realize that all of our liberation is linked, right?
Akynos: Yeah. It's crazy.
Kenrya: Folks, we are so used to being othered that other and other people just happens. We just fucking keep moving.
Akynos: Yeah, that's the problem. So trying to get people to recognize that link. It's rooted here. Come on. You can't be fighting for labor rights and think that sex workers is not in that argument. You can't fight for immigration and think sex workers are not in that argument. You can't fight for Black liberation and think sex work is... It's fucking crazy. It's like how do we get this message out? That's the most-
Kenrya: Like having you on the show.
Akynos: Yes, yes. Exactly. Yeah. Trying to get that message out. So actually I'm trying to put some artists together because I don't draw. I have a lot of imagination. But I'm trying to work with some visual artists to put a campaign out for May Day to try just link these issues together because people are just not... They're not really getting it.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Wow. So we asked you on the show in large part to talk about what we were just talking about but also because last week we read a book called “Fans Only,” and it featured a Black woman who does sex work. I don't know if you read the book, but more broadly... Whatever.
Akynos: I can go pick it up.
Kenrya: Although it is a fantastic book and we had a really great conversation around it last week, but what it makes me wonder while we have you is what are your thoughts on the ways that Black women who do sex work are portrayed in media, books, TV, movies, all of that?
Akynos: It's getting better. So there's a lot of what I think is good representations of Black women sex workers in media right now. I liked what “Queen Sugar” had done with us when they portrayed that sex worker in one of the seasons. I think she got raped by one of the main characters' husbands or something like that happened.
Kenrya: Oh, in the first... I ain't even finished the first season, but yes, that was in the first season.
Akynos: So they handled that really well. Then there's a show called... Ah, shit. “The Damnation” on Netflix right now where they have a Black sex worker, and they're handling her really well. She's not like victim. She is falling in love with a client, which I don't recommend that shit. But it does happen. Sex workers do marry their clients.
Akynos: Then you have, oh my God. What is that fucking actor's name from “Son of Anarchy”? He played in a show where he was I think... Was he a minister or something? I can't remember the name of the show. I'll look it up and tell you in a minute. But there's a Black sex worker on there. Actually, I just posted her to the BSWC page. I need to go look that shit up. But they portrayed her really well. She didn't tolerate his shit. She had her rules. She stood her ground.
Akynos: So they're doing a lot better now with sex workers in media, which I'm really excited about, especially the Black sex workers. The stuff that I'm seeing now is really progressive, and there's none of that she got trafficked or she got beat up or she comes from this fucked up background. I can't really hate on it right now.
Akynos: I also feel like I can't remember it because I haven't watched it in a while. I also feel like “Harlots,” that series on Hulu, has done a good job. I think they have one Black sex worker in there. I'm really happy with what they're doing in the past several years with Black sex workers in mainstream entertainment, but the past portrayals have been depicting us as drug addicts with broken homes, whatever the fuck that shit is. America puts so much emphasis on men's existence. I can't. But they would portray us a lot from these broken homes or drug addictions or we were forced. Look, that can happen in any industry, and drugs addicts are not just limited to being in sex work. There's so many people that are coke functioning-
Erica: Wall Street.
Kenrya: I have walked into offices of VPs at magazines and caught them wiping off their noses.
Akynos: Exactly. Yeah. That's not a result of the industry. So it's very good that sex workers are really just... We've been speaking out for a long time, and it's finally building some traction. So those shit narratives, they exist. It's real. There are drug addicts. There are people that come from abused homes, women particularly. But how many women you know that haven't been sexually violated by somebody? So that narrative is changing.
Akynos: I'm really happy that they're giving a different perspective. I really don't want them to act like we're a monolith and we come... I want it to be some dynamic. I don't want it to be right from drug addict to oh, their lives are actually perfect because that is not true, especially when you're talking about women, whenever you're talking about trans people that are in the industry. No, there's no fucking way that our lives could be perfect. We all come from these really different backgrounds. So I'm glad to see that.
Akynos: I'm glad to see the way they're portraying us in mainstream entertainment now in the media as strong, powerful people that know what we're doing. So that's really refreshing. So a lot of the things I'm seeing now, and I'm paying real close attention to it. It's really brand new. It's like, "Yes, she's Black and she's taking no shit, and they're just portraying her as a person falling in love or whatever." So it's actually a really good...
Kenrya: That has a job.
Akynos: Yeah, that has a job. So it's a really good time right now to be watching Black sex workers on television.
Erica: That's dope. So when we started this, we're going through the typical where are you, what's the weather like, blah, blah, blah. You mentioned that you are currently in Berlin. How did you end up there, and yeah, how the hell did you end up from homegirl from around the way in Berlin?
Akynos: Berlin. The city of all seasons one day. Seriously, it's bright shining earlier, then... First, wait, no. I woke up to rain, then sunshine, then hail. Now it's calmed down and it looks pretty decent out there. I might be able to go for a fucking walk. This city's so weird. Winter it's fucking winter. It's dark. It's gloomy. But when it starts going into spring and summer, baby, it changes. It's just like I'm going to give you all the seasons. All the seasons.
Akynos: So the long story is that I travel a lot. I'm a world traveler. So it's particularly in 2019 when I left... No, this is 2021. So yeah, 2019. No, when the fuck did I leave New York? I've been here almost two years. So 2020. Top of 2020 I left New York. So SESTA-FOSTA had a lot to do with that. So I was working as a housekeeper. I had stopped really sex working because again, I told y'all earlier, trying to switch from one personality to a not... I don't have the capacity for that. Those people that can tap into all those personalities in the same day or same week are amazing. I can't. It's just too much.
Akynos: So I was working as a housekeeper since 2015, and SESTA-FOSTA happened. I was housing insecure, then SESTA-FOSTA happened. When you're an independent worker, when you're an entrepreneur, sometimes you could be working a lot. Sometimes you just ain't getting no goddamn money. So with the SESTA-FOSTA thing happened, that now limited my options of what I could do to get money in case I was having a slow month. For the most part, I probably never really had a slow month as a housekeeper, but sometimes there would be breaks in between.
Akynos: So it kind of just faltered me. I'm just like, okay. So if I need to make ends meet by seeing a client, now I have... Because they took down Backpage. Now I have no place to go because all the other sites that people were posting on never brought me any clients. They just never did or they were too expensive to post on the Eros.com, which was a big thing at that time. You could spends hundreds of dollars trying to get one client off that site, at least in my experience.
Akynos: So okay, this is not going to fucking work out. Then I had a big falling out with a client, my main client because I was making probably most of money with this one housekeeping client. Not a sex work client. He was a housekeeping client. Big falling out, some racist bullshit, and I was like, "All right. America's wilding. They've got this fucking new legislation, and they just turned this bill into law. They're trying to complain our work is trafficking. They took our major site," because Backpage at that time if you weren't making money from Backpage, you just were not making any money. I don't give a fuck what none of them hoes said. The big, what's the term I could use for them? The elite sites like Eros at that time, unless Backpage was bringing you money, Eros wasn't going to bring your ass no money either. So it was just Backpage was it, kind of the market. If Backpage was busy, you were getting money on Backpage, you could make money on all the other sites. So that's just how it was.
Akynos: So I was like, "Okay. Backpage is now gone. All these other sites are bullshit. I got my housecleaning, which is great. Sometimes it slows down, and I need to be able to pay my bills on time. And now this client just fucked me over." I was like, "Yo, fuck this." I was pregnant at the time. I was like, "You know what, I did the barefoot pregnant broke bitch. I ain't doing that shit no more." So I had to get an abortion. I had to get an abortion, which I don't care. I've had eight. I don't give a fuck. You do what you got to do. So I had to get an abortion. I was like, "Yo, I'm getting the fuck out of this city. I'm just going to go travel the world, and I'm going to figure out which city's going to take me."
Akynos: At this point, I had been to Berlin twice already. I come here for a festival one year, and another year I came here to visit because I was in the Netherlands for a conference. The conference was buying me a plane ticket, so I was like, "Can you just send me into Berlin?" They did. So I got a free flight to the Netherlands, into Berlin, then back to New York. I was like, "Yeah." I went to Berlin on vacation.
Akynos: So I did that, and then I knew a lot of Americans here. There's a lot of American artists here. They call them ex-pats. I call them fucking immigrants. Fucking Americans love calling themself fancy shit. You're a fucking immigrant, bitch. Please just fucking stop it. There's a lot of American immigrants here that are artists.
Akynos: So this was the one city, not the only one because there's also Australia, parts of Australia where I was connected to. New Zealand had good options for me and parts of Canada. But Berlin, I was like, "Okay. I know a lot of people here," and it was one of the easiest places for me to get my visa, next to Hong Kong. Hong Kong was the other place. I was like, "I could easily get into Hong Kong if I wanted to," because Canada was a bitch. New Zealand was also easy, but New Zealand is kind of like the shows are like sporadic. So Berlin was just like, "Hey girl, you said you want to come here. Come." That's how it happened.
Akynos: So I come here twice, and then by a third visit... When I was on my world tour, I went literally all the way around the world, and I landed back in Berlin. I was like, "All right. This is it." Everything just aligned. Unlike most people that come here right away, they can never get their own apartment. I got that shit within three months. It takes people years to find housing here, and I got it in three months.
Erica: Why is that?
Akynos: This city is wild. The housing situation here is out of control. Everybody wants to be in City Center. You go to apartment viewings and they'll literally be thousands of people looking at one fucking apartment because here they've got housing laws, number one. You got some places where the rent is still how it was 10-20 years ago. Some of it is inclusive. So some people will have an apartment that's 500 Euro a month or 800 if you want to get really high and everything is included, including it's warm. They got the cold rent, which is like the base rent. Then the warm rent, which is including your utilities and everything. So people are fighting for that. You would not believe.
Akynos: There was a big story I think last year where maybe like 800 people showed up to one apartment viewing because the rent was like 400 Euro. All inclusive. So 800 fucking people showed up to that shit. The city's just like everyone wants to be here now. Everyone is looking for affordable housing. A lot of us are artists or other independent workers. This city is wild, and now because they have that housing laws, they care about tenants here. They lowered a lot of people's rents through... I don't know how to say the general world, but I'll just try to explain it. They lowered a lot of people's rents like mine went down like 200 bucks because they're in war. The city's trying to figure out what to do with the rent with the landlords. So the landlords are pissed the fuck off, and they taken a lot of their apartments off the market because they're just like, "I'd rather not have the apartment on the market then have it for cheap."
Akynos: So a lot of apartments are not on the market right now, so people are fighting so fucking hard to get an apartment. But that's their fucking problem that they want to be in that fancy ass Midtown. They come where the fuck I'm at which in the middle of no goddamn where, but I'm still right by the train. Maybe your ass would have a fucking apartment too, fancy bitch. So that's how I got lucky. I'm the same way as I was in New York. Everybody wanted to be in Midtown, which is great, or they want to be in the city next train to the train, fantastic. But I was in East New York, Brooklyn because I had a two-and-a-half bedroom duplex. Bitches got one room for the price I was paying for my a two-and-a-half bedroom duplex.
Kenrya: Sharing the bathroom and shit.
Akynos: Hello. So I'm the same person I was then. So I'm further out, but listen, I'm in a two bedroom apartment, bitch. What you doing? You over there crying. That's what the fuck you doing.
Akynos: So I got really lucky, and I was also relentless. So being [inaudible 00:37:15] helped.
Erica: New York grit. So it may it happen.
Akynos: The New York welfare queen grit. When you've had to manage the welfare system growing up, you're just like, "Oh, I got this. You think I'm going to be spending five months, a whole year or two looking for an apartment? Watch this." And I would literally go see shit three, four times a day, have somebody helping me. "Yo, I can't be there. You go over there, and then you get me the application. I'll fill it out." Voila! Three months. Actually, I started looking and two weeks later I found this place.
Erica: See, and also I feel like when you're moving in the way that you're supposed to be, things fall in place.
Akynos: Things fall into place. So yeah, it was meant to be. So I'm like, "Hey yeah." People are like, "When are you coming back?" I'm like, "I'm not, bitch. I'm not. I got a whole ass two bedroom fucking apartment. One room's a closet. What are you talking about? I'm not fucking coming back there." You know?
Erica: She knows how she wants to be treated. I love it. I love it.
Akynos: Exactly, exactly.
Erica: So back to the book. In the book...
Akynos: Right, OnlyFans.
Erica: “Fans Only.” But in the book-
Akynos: “Fans Only.” Right.
Erica: In the book, there were two characters that went on this OnlyFans journey, and the relationship between the two of them suffered partly because of their decision to do this. It makes me want to ask you how has the work you have done and the work you do affect your relationships?
Kenrya: And vice versa, how do your relationships impact your work if at all?
Akynos: Oh, that is a really good question.
Erica: I probably didn't read it how Kenrya wrote it. She has and vice versa. My bad.
Akynos: Those are two very important questions. I'll start with the last part. So the work for me, it's really... Because I told you it's kind of hard for me to play multiple personalities, so when I was dating, it made it really hard for me to work, which is why I don't like dating when I'm working because I just want to be all up into my relationship.
Akynos: One of my friends had accused me of... She's like, "This is not meant for you because when you get into a relationship, you don't want to work." It's like, "Bitch, I'm actually a human being." And I don't know about y'all, but if you've ever been at your job and then you get into a new relationship, how much time you want to spend with your new partner. That's just how it is.
Akynos: So I would want to be just loving up on my partner, and I'm totally monogamous. So I just want to give all that energy and all that love to that person. So it would really impact me wanting to work because I just wanted to be a girlfriend.
Akynos: The flip side of that is that a lot of people, they can't handle it. They don't understand that the work sex is work sex. That shit is like a therapist seeing her clients only and being super intimate with her clients, and the going home and having to give her family a different kind of energy. So people can't understand that. It puts so much on sex.
Akynos: So yeah, it makes it very difficult. It's not the easiest thing to do unless your partner's super open. And unfortunately unless you're dealing with somebody that's like poly or whatever... As a monogamous person, I'm not going to get that. So I made a vow basically. Right now even though I'm not working, I'm like, "I'm not dating anybody." Most of these niggas aren't worth it anyway. So they can go fucking kick rocks. Unless they're paying me, I'm not dating anybody.
Akynos: But it's really difficult on both ends of that because people just don't... I get it. When you grow up into this environment where people put so much... They give so much to sex. When I'm having work sex, that is work sex. I'm not even there. Please. Well, partially. I try not to operate too much outside of myself when I'm working, but it's work sex. It's like give me a break, please. He's paying me money. That's it. Or even if I'm in a strip club, that's work energy. I'm giving them that actress part of me. But when I come to you, I'm giving you me in this whole other form. But folks, they don't understand.
Akynos: They don't understand that doctors are doing this. Listen, the gynecologist is looking in my pussy versus when he goes home and looks at his wife's pussy. What is it? Is it the same? It's not going to be the same energy. But people don't understand that. They don't understand everyone puts on a different face for when they're at work versus when they're in these other intimate relationships, whether it's with the children or their spouses or their friends. You know what I mean? So they can't separate that. So it's hard either way. I personally when I was working, I just kind of don't like it. If I'm working, I'm working with my clients. I just like to give my clients that energy. And if I'm with somebody, I just like to give them that energy. For me, there was no real easy balance. So I'm just single and cuddling my stuffed animal pig. Lonely life.
Erica: You described my life. So it's okay. I see you. I see you.
Kenrya: So we talked a little bit about the work that you do with the Black Sex Worker Collective. I'm wondering what can our listeners do? So you mentioned they can give money, they can come to y'all webinars. But what else can we do in order to really improve the space that Black sex workers are working in?
Akynos: I think it's super important that people look to having us in more conventional spaces. Because it's stigma when folks are thinking about including sex workers into different spaces is often very stereotypical. It's like, "Oh, you can teach a sex ed class." It's like, "Yeah, that's great. But do you know I could teach a business class too? Do you know that I do investing? Do you know that I understand financing? Do you know I understand advertising? Do you know I understand copy editing and things like that?"
Akynos: So yeah, sure we can talk about sex. We can teach you how to ride. Adult sex education. We can teach you how to suck a dick properly, but there's also these other things that we do that we're really capable of doing. So I think it's really important that they let go of their idea of what they think sex workers are. Just understand we're regular people, and there's a whole bunch of skills in there that we have. You have to try and bring us into those spaces because if society really cares about sex workers or if they really wanted to eliminate the industry, they'd do a much better job of doing it. They just accept that there are these people that are doing this thing that have a lot of skills, and where else can they be useful?
Akynos: We're all so talented. We're writers. We make clothes. We're artists. We're all these things, but then folks keep trying to pigeon hole us into these very narrow spaces, even when they think they're being helpful. They're like, "Maybe you can teach an oral sex class." That's great, bitch, but I also know how to clean the fuck out of a house. I also know how to travel on a dime. Come on. Because a lot of us tour. A lot of us have to tour. We have to become really resourceful because touring is really, really, really fucking hard. I also could tell you how to fucking travel and take care of somebody's fucking house when you're going to be Airbnbing someone's place. Think about that shit.
Erica: I love that because I do think that often it's, "Teach us how to suck a dick." It's like, "Yeah, but here I am I've lived and have figured out how to stretch this dollar into 20," that kind of thing.
Kenrya: And you're an entrepreneur and all the things that go into that.
Akynos: And I've done that. I've literally turned $1 into $500. Literally I have done that. But no one thinks that I do that because they're like, "Oh, all she does is fuck different men." Actually, yeah. But I didn't have to be a sex worker to do that. I was doing that shit long before I became an actual hoe. I was fucking multiple men a night before I actually started selling pussy. I was doing that for free. That's easy. Even your mother could do that shit. You know what I mean? There's so many other things that we do. It's a pity that people have these hang ups about sex, so they can't see past that. That just goes to show you how many people don't know how to fuck. That's all. They think that sex is just this thing, and it's about getting off. They don't think it's all these other things. It's how you smell. It's how you walk. It's your energy. It's how you interact with people. It's so fucking stupid. That's why so many women ain't fucking. Those motherfuckers don't know what they doing.
Akynos: These niggas think sex is just hard dick and pussy. No, my man. No, it's not.
Erica: It's a lot-
Akynos: It's a lot more than that. It's a lot of it that goes into it.
Akynos: That's why they're wack.
Erica: I'm a sex educator, and I really pride myself on removing the other person from the situation and focusing on yourself. Let's play with ourselves because at that point, when somebody show up, they're just there for the ride. I know a lot of people going, "You can join us or not."
Erica: Okay. So you have touched on... I was going to ask you what myths do you want to dispel about sex workers, but I feel like this entire interview has been that. But is there something that you touched on that you just got to get off your chest about sex workers? We don't, we do, we don't like, we like, whatever. Again, y'all are not a monolith, but yeah.
Akynos: Yeah. I saw this question earlier, and a thought came to mind. But now I can't remember it. Let me see. Myths about sex workers. What was I thinking about? Gosh. I don't know. We can cook too.
Akynos: I can't remember. Sex workers also know how to cook.
Erica: You will be laying in bed tonight and you'll remember.
Akynos: Like, "Damn, that was it. That was it." Yeah, I can't remember because I've been drinking. If I didn't dilute my fucking liquor, I could remember. But now I can't remember. But yeah, I don't know. There's so many things to... Look, I do interior design. Oh my God, my fucking roses, they're so sad because this house is so hot. Whatever. I cook. Sex workers do a lot of shit.
Akynos: Sex is not just intercourse. That's a myth. People don't understand that sex is not just intercourse. Y'all need to stop that, and once I think we can get past that, maybe we can start passing some legislation that legitimizes us in mainstream society so we can just get the fuck on with our lives. We just want to work, and we pay taxes. That's another myth. "You bitches didn't pay no taxes." Yes, the fuck I do. I've always paid my taxes. Always.
Erica: You probably pay more in taxes than some business owners, Jeff Bezos or whoever.
Akynos: Right. Hello! Yo, listen, part of why I've been so tired, why I've been working from my bed, I have been fighting with the IRS over some bullshit, a big ass tax bill they're trying to hit me with. So you know what, call me too if you want to know how to handle them because they send me a letter like, "Okay. You pay your taxes on time. So we're going to eliminate these fees." Yeah, you better, bitch, because they were... They were trying to run game over here. So I'm dealing with that. So yeah, we pay our taxes, people.
Erica: Okay. So macaroni and cheese recipe, how to get baseboards clean, travel on a dime, and fight the IRS.
Akynos: Yo, there's a big ass pot of macaroni and cheese sitting on my counter right now, and I'm actually going to Portugal for art residency and the work I'm doing now is around food history. So yes, sex workers cook, and we decorate. My whole house is pink.
Erica: I love it. Do you have any advice for Black women or nonbinary people that want to get into this industry?
Akynos: I think this industry is for people with a lot of life experience. When I became a stripper, I was super young. But when I became an escort, I was in my 30s. While I understand there's people that get into this industry at different stages of your life, I really think it's a grown person's industry. It's a young person's business really, but you have to kind of be mentally mature to be in the industry because what happens a lot of times is, and this is because of stigma. And this is because of the laws where they separate us and we can't really convene in some spaces legally, otherwise they'll call it brothel or whatever, and that's illegal in a lot of places.
Akynos: But I feel like you have to be super grounded, and you have to set rules. You have to have some boundaries set. Like what are you going to tolerate and what you're not. This is also good for your just personal life, just living.
Akynos: So if you've got shoddy boundaries, you're always going to find yourself into problems. And a lot of times too you don't know what your boundary is until you end up into a situation. Then you know a person can't really cross that line. But you still have to have a basis that you would work from.
Akynos: So people who want to come into this industry, I would say right that there, set some boundaries. Know who you are, know what lines if a person crosses that you're not going to deal with, speak to other workers where you can because that's a lot of it. I just actually got blocked yesterday on Facebook trying to tell somebody kind of sort of this. Set your rules, know what they are, say it with conviction because they can totally smell when you're vulnerable. That's with any industry. We can smell it, all of us. When somebody's vulnerable and especially if you're the kind of person that likes to take advantage of people, which I personally am not. There's a lot of people out there that when they see vulnerability, they don't look like, "Oh, they have to protect this person." They're like, "We have to use them." So you always got to remember that.
Kenrya: Yeah. So we always like to bring it back to books. So I'd love to know if there are any books or any resources that you would recommend that our readers get into or listeners get into?
Akynos: So I'm a burlesque performer, burlesque show stripper I like to call it. I hate saying burlesque performer because it tries to clean up the fuck what I'm doing. Like, bitch, you're a fucking broke down stripper because I'm a broke down stripper. I strip in burlesque shows now.
Akynos: What I try to do in my classes because I work from a oral history standpoint, and I try to make the connection that people always like, "Oh, let's go to these performance books." It's like that's fucking great, bitch, but really what you need to do is you need to study race, class, and all of that because it's still pertaining to the same industry.
Akynos: The work that I've done, thank God, got out of college, finally finished. But I did my presentation this summer. A lot of the intersectional work that I've done is about Black history basically. So a lot of racial history class and things like that.
Akynos: So you can go ahead and read all the hoe books you want, but you also need to read some shit about Black bodies. So one of the books that I like, which I didn't finish. Don't judge me. I don't finish reading shit because I like the social media. I like to learn from social media. But one of the books I really loved is... Let me take these god damn stickers off. Is this book here. This is “Fearing the Black Body” by Sabrina Springs, which I've got a lot of things here. A really good book to talk about where fatphobia comes from, and she talks about a lot of race science in one of the chapters. I think it's super important. No matter what work you're getting into, especially if you're getting into entertainment, and fortunately to some people's surprise, sex work is entertainment industry. It's the adult industry. It kind of brings some insight into your work, into why as Black women that look a certain way, why you're going to have to charge less. Or why you're going to feel compelled to charge less because this is why this is happening. It kind of gives you a more in depth understanding.
Akynos: Another book that I partially read is “The Delectable Negro,” which I don't remember the author's name. But it talks a lot about the racial violence of white people and how they would believe consume Black flesh and just give you some insight into your oppressors and probably makes you feel more compelled as a Black entertainer to take their money. Because if they could, at one point, they will eat your ass after they fry your ass. So those are my two books that I swear to God I'm going to finish reading before the summer ends.
Akynos: The other book that I didn't finish reading is “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir. Simone the Beaver basically. That's really what it is. It's a big-ass 800-page book that a friend loaned me a while ago. She's like, "Can I get my book back?" I'm like, "No, I'm still reading it." She's like, "What page are you on?" I'm like, "One." I'm not done yet, bitch. Calm down. You're not going to read this shit.
Erica: But one is after the Roman numerals. So you at least a few pages in technically.
Akynos: You're not reading this shit. I'm taking care of it. It's sitting in that corner catching dust, and it's beautiful. No one's touched it. It's great. I did have to read the opening chapter for something I was doing, and basically she kind of breaks down why you just shouldn't call women females, which I fucking despise with a fiery burning passion. I don't use it at all. Wherever female should go, I just see woman, period. But she kind of really breaks that down into a way you can really understand. One day I will finish reading that 800-page book. One day. It ain't going to be today though.
Erica: I literally buy books nonstop, and they-
Akynos: I like try to order more books. Bitch, you're not going to read them. Stop.
Erica: I wrote down your books. I'm going to order them, and-
Akynos: And you ain't gonna read them shits. One chapter.
Erica: The books behind me are going to suck their teeth when I bring like, "You guys have new friends." They're going to be like, "This bitch."
Akynos: I know. I read a lot of nonfiction books, but I want to really get into the Octavia Butler and some other books I saw. But they're going to sit there forever because I really love my nonfiction. But I swear to God I'm going to finish reading these both, I swear.
Erica: Okay. Well, it's okay. We won't tell nobody. Just between us and a few other friends.
Erica: So what is turning you on today?
Akynos: I love food. I love, love food. I'm trying to get better with my cooking. I did a food event here last September, which went over really well because the food here in Germany is trash. You got to go through so much hell to find your seasonings. I'm ordering seasonings from the UK. I'm waiting on an order to come right now.
Akynos: There's a bunch of hating ass bitches on my Facebook timeline because I ordered a Jamaican black cake from London, rum cake from London. They're like, "Bitch, you ain't never going to get them." I'm like, "Whatever, bitch." I just had a dream about eating that fucking cake today, bitch, and I'm going to be eating that shit on camera in your fucking face because they're like, "It's going to come next year." Whatever, bitch. My cake's going to be here next year, and I'm going to eat that whole fucking cake on camera right in front of y'all face.
Akynos: So I really like food. It's why I'm so thick now, and I'm trying to trim down a bit. Just because I don't like the way I look on camera when I'm performing, I don't like the way I look. It's fine for regular life, but when I'm on stage, it's like, "Ew, what's that?" But I do get turned on a lot by food. I don't like the act of cooking, but I do like the act of eating. I do cook. I invite people over here a lot. I won't go to anyone's house, but I will invite people over for dinner and I do cook for folks. So food turns me on a lot, and I'm trying to just learn a little bit more about how to compose some really good meals because I do like feeding people. So I like food.
Erica: Okay. So three questions for you. Finish the sentence. Well, three sentences, finish them. I am happiest when...
Akynos: I'm happiest when I'm eating.
Erica: It's so funny you said this. I was getting out the shower today, and I said out loud, "I really like food." I don't know where it came from. I was just like drying off like, "I like food." So yeah.
Akynos: Yeah, it might be an emotional issue, but I don't give a fuck. It's delicious.
Erica: Yeah. Everybody got a vice.
Akynos: Especially African. Oh my god, love African food.
Erica: I saw this tweet, and it was like you know how everybody's doing that African Ancestry and all that. They were like, "You know what, we just need to give everyone jollof rice from a bunch of different countries. And whichever they like most is their..."
Kenrya: That's where they people from.
Erica: ... That's where you're people from. Exactly.
Akynos: I'm Jamaican, so we're probably Ghanaian. Even though ancestry's also bullshit, and they will like... My first test was basically a Cameroonian and from Benin, and then they did it again, they revamped it, and it was like I'm from Nigeria. I was like, "No, I'm not."
Kenrya: They don't have enough. I've read that they don't really have enough information from various countries and tribes in Africa. So their results are not super accurate.
Akynos: No, no. You're first one-
Erica: So there's this company, African Ancestry.
Akynos: That's the one that I... Is that the one I used? No, I didn't use African Ancestry. Go ahead. Sorry.
Erica: I really like African Ancestry. I haven't done it, but I'm going to order it. Full up.
Kenrya: I'm just so worried about privacy issues.
Erica: So they say that they destroy it [crosstalk 01:01:43]-
Akynos: They be taking your DNA.
Kenrya: But I just...
Erica: Yeah, they're like you don't have to even put your real name to it. They destroy it once they get the information. So that makes me a little more... But yeah, I'm afraid I be walking down the street and see like a baby Erica. Then I'm going to have to size her up and be like, "I'm going to raise you because you need to..."
Kenrya: Even beyond cloning, although that's a big one, these other companies have been supplying information to the government. They've used that to arrest people's family members.
Erica: Girl, the way my family situation's set up, I be... Uh-uh (negative).
Kenrya: Half of Cleveland would be in fucking jail which is why...
Akynos: Was it the “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise where they just were like looking into the future arresting they ass. It's coming to that. Yeah, but I mean, I already gave my spit. So it's like whatever.
Kenrya: It's out there now.
Akynos: It's out there now. But I don't give a fuck. We're from Jamaica, so all of us are Gandhian. I don't really care. I know I'm from Africa. I'm African. There's no denying that. Especially when you see these coils, you're like, "Yeah, bitch. Yeah."
Erica: Same. They bleached out, but they there. They there.
Erica: Okay. So I need to...
Akynos: I need to... God, I can't say that. I need to go someplace else because that's going to turn into a whole ’nother conversation. I need to clean this fucking house though. For somebody that used to clean houses, I don't be wanting to clean this shit. I really should get a housekeeper, but I don't really want nobody in my shit like that.
Erica: I don't want nobody cleaning it. Can't nobody clean like me, but I don't feel like it.
Akynos: They can't. No, they really cannot. This is why I became a housekeeper. I hired some housekeepers when I moved into my last apartment in New York, and I was like, "What?" I had two of them. What did this bitch do?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Akynos: What are you doing, bitch?
Erica: I totally understand.
Akynos: All these bitches say they can clean a house in two hours. No, you can't. It's at least a half day.
Erica: You ain't cleaning right.
Akynos: You can wipe down. You can wipe down a table with two hours, but you ain't cleaning this shit for real, for real. So yeah.
Erica: So Kenrya, she is a... Wait, the way it was going to come out was that Kenrya doesn't use bleach. Yes, she will get down with some old fashioned bleach. But I believe if your eyes ain't stinging, you ain't cleaning.
Kenrya: See, I got asthma, and I got a limit to what I can use to be able to fucking breathe.
Erica: But we smell all the different chemicals.
Akynos: I got into a debate about this with a friend. He's like, "That's how some people think the place is clean." I was like, "Well, then they can fucking hire somebody else because I'm not fucking doing it. I'm not using bleach." You can use hydrogen peroxide, but it will burn the fuck out of you if you don't handle it properly. But also, you shouldn't really let the stuff sit there to where you need bleach. That's why you're supposed to clean regularly, so you can easily get that shit off with some soap and water and some other kind of disinfectant products.
Akynos: They don't have a lot of access to bleach here. It's very difficult to get bleach in Germany.
Erica: Oh wow.
Akynos: Yeah. It's really difficult. They're fucking weird as fuck here. They even tried to sue me, but they sent me a letter like, "Oh, you tried to get Vicks VapoRub sent into this country. You could face up to $1,000 in fines, but we'll let you slide because we think you didn't know." Yeah, they fucking crazy over here.
Kenrya: For Vicks?
Akynos: Yes, girl. Camphor and fucking menthol. And Vaseline.
Kenrya: But what else is you supposed to put on your neck when you sick? What do you put on your lips when you ashy?
Akynos: You better use some fucking essential oils out this bitch because they tried to... Somebody tried to send me some, and they destroyed it. Really, bitch? You destroyed my fucking Vicks? So that happened. So I have seen bleach here, but it's not easy to find it here. But they do have a bleach kind of product that's a disinfectant thing that will bleach your stuff. But it's not like the bleach that you know in America. So count your fucking blessings. No, count your blessings. They are wild out here with the whole bleach situation.
Akynos: But yeah, no, I don't believe in... Because I used to clean with essential oils a lot. I would use bleach, but that's because if I went somebody's house, I was really bitches, wiggas is nasty. Not niggas, wiggas. Wiggas is extra disgusting. I walked into some places like just throw the whole fucking bleach, all the bleach that exists. Just throw all of it in this bitch because I'm going to be in here for the fucking rest of my life cleaning this shit.
Erica: Okay. All right. Last one. I like it when...
Akynos: I like it when I have easy access to money.
Akynos: Because I can do so much. I have so much competence. I don't give a shit about nothing. Like whatever, bitch. I got money in my bank account. Are you mad? That's too bad, I got money in my bank account.
Kenrya: And speaking of money, you are giving our listeners a special gift, right? They can get a discount on Black Sex Worker Collective merch if they use the code Juneteenth, right?
Kenrya: The site for your merch is Teespring.com/stores/thebswc. Right?
Akynos: Yup. And the link to the store is on the BSWC.org. So we're getting ready to do our Black Sex Worker Conference in June. So yeah, we can totally give a little discount on some of our stuff because I'm going to try... I'm a procrastinator, but there's a lot of... According to what they say, there's a lot of unresolved issues why you're procrastinating. So I've got a lot of unresolved issues. There's new merch that I want to go up, which I might not be able to get it into Teespring, but we'll see. Yeah, we're going to have some new merch just in time for our conference.
Akynos: So yeah, sure, people can get a little discount.
Kenrya: Love that. Thank you so much for doing that for our folks.
Kenrya: And more importantly, thank you for joining us.
Akynos: Thank you for having me. I love talking to humans.
Kenrya: It's been lovely. So for folks-
Akynos: It's different these days.
Kenrya: Well, that's real shit. For the folks who want to keep talking to you, where can they find you online?
Akynos: If they want to argue, they can follow me on Facebook. There's a lot of arguments break out there. I'm on Twitter @akynos. Actually, I'm Akynos everywhere. They can go to Akynos.com and all of my links should actually be there.
Kenrya: That's A-K-Y-N-O-S.
Akynos: N-O-S. Yeah. All my links should be there where I can be followed, stalked, and yeah. I get into more arguments on Facebook because it's easier to have a long-form arguments. I won't get into a big battle on Twitter or Instagram. I'll just block you. But if you want to argue, we need to have friends in common because if it's like not enough friends in common, I'm going to be looking at it like it's highly suspicious, especially if it's a man because I don't really add men to my pages because men are trash. I don't fuck with the patriarchy like that.
Akynos: But there are some men on my timeline, and I do go back and forth with them. But I'm getting older now, so I don't really have time. It's like I got other things to do. So I just don't respond to their fucking stupidness. They've been saying the same shit for fucking forever. Why am I arguing with these idiots? Nothing is going to change.
Kenrya: If folks want to know more about Black Sex Worker Collective, they can go to BlackSexWorkerCollective.org. They can follow the organization on Twitter @TheBlackSWC, and on IG @TheBSWC. Right?
Akynos: Yeah. The website I think is BlackSexWorkerCollective.org and the BSWC.org, which is a lot easier. And yeah, we're there. We're on Instagram and we're on Twitter. We're wherever pages are allowed. We even got a Clubhouse room.
Kenrya: All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us this week. It was lovely to have you, Akynos.
Akynos: Thank you for having me.
Erica: Our first guest of season one.
Kenrya: Season four.
Erica: Season four. I don't know why I said season one. First guest of season four.
Akynos: That's great. Thank you. Thank y'all for having me because I had to rush. I had to put my face on. So now I can record the video that you want me to record.
Kenrya: See, now you already ready. You can just go on and do that.
Erica: Now you ready. You all ready.
Kenrya: I like it.
Akynos: I'm just going to eat some chips. I actually don't want to do this. I'm tired. Alcohol made me tired now.
Kenrya: Well, it does like to do that. But I feel like it was probably worth it. You enjoyed. So thank you for coming on, and thank you all for listening. That is it for this week's episode The Turn On. We will see y'all next week.
Akynos: Thank you.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support The Turn On and get off. Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, then drop us a five-star review and you'll be entered to win something that's turning us on. Post your review and email a screenshot to us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live. Become a supporter today, and access lots of goodies, including two-for-one raffle entries. Don't forget to send us your book recommendations and sex and related questions. And follow us on Twitter at @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram at @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks for listening, and we'll see you soon. Holla.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to Mistress Domonique about sex education, the best thing about being a domme and how to shine in nudes.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today, we're talking to Mistress Domonique, pronouns she and her. Often known as The Sweet Domo, Mistress Domonique is a sensual sadist who enjoys loving up on people. Mistress Domonique believes that all kinks matter, and she's been a sexual educator and professional Domme for a little over a decade. Yo, thanks for joining us today.
Mistress Domonique: Yes, my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here.
Erica: We are so excited to have you.
Mistress Domonique: Yes.
Erica: Tell us a little bit about your work.
Mistress Domonique: Yeah, sure. So I would say, as an adolescent, that's when I've gotten my start into the world of sex in general. It was my responsibility to educate my peers on how to have fun, safe sex. So, you can catch me in high school passing out condoms or telling folks where they can go to get tested, or even how they can put a condom on creatively at a very young age. From there, I just stayed and evolved. So from there you would catch me selling sex toys. When I got out of undergrad, that's when I decided that I wanted to fully become a professional dominatrix, since in my personal life, I just carried this dominant spirit wherever I went. So that plus this freedom that I have around sexuality in general just pushed me into everything domination.
Kenrya: I thought it was interesting. You said it was your responsibility to teach folks around you. Why? Why did you feel like that was something that you needed to take on when you were in high school?
Mistress Domonique: A lot of my classmates were getting pregnant and a lot of my classmates then were having sex, although when I started educating folks, I was not sexually active at all ya'll. I was not fucking at all.
Kenrya: You're like, "I read these books though."
Mistress Domonique: I did, and I attended the workshops in the classes where I put in the hours, but knowing that my classmates couldn't talk to their parents about it at all. So it's like, "Okay, who am I going to talk to about it? I know that I can get a raw educated answer from someone who's not going to judge me." It kind of spread whereas one person would be like, "Yo, I wonder what this is going to look like. I want to do this in the tunnel right now, what are your thoughts?"
Kenrya: Those tunnels. We had those, too.
Mistress Domonique: Listen, the tunnels exist. The tunnels exist. I'm like, "That's fine, but if you want to get oral sex then or you're going to get head, here's a condom, here's a flavored condom. What's her favorite flavor? Here's the main goal. Here's strawberry." So it was just kind of knowing that they had access to someone who wouldn't judge them. Everyone's doing it, so why not? I do think that, because no one else was giving it in my school, meaning you either had to go to the nurse's office to get condoms. So it kind of just ... I'm a servant at heart, so it just made sense that I love learning about sex. Let me just help others.
Erica: Sharing is caring.
Mistress Domonique: Literally. Literally.
Erica: So what do you like most about your work?
Mistress Domonique: I love it when ... so I have male subs, women subs, female subs, as well as Black, white, right? Kind of on the spectrum. I will say that one thing that is common is each sub or client carries this disbelief that you aren't a real Domme. Right? I don't know why it happens. Maybe because they've been tarnished in the past, but there's a point where every single sub gets to where they're like, "Wow, you're everything that I didn't know that you are, but now I see." So I think for me, that's the most joyful part, when that total submission comes in a way of them finally recognizing that, not only am I superior, but you desire to serve and completely obey and worship me with your entire existence.
Erica: Yes, bitch.
Kenrya: Yes. Yes, that would be my favorite part too.
Mistress Domonique: I think that's really my favorite part.
Erica: I got chills through my body.
Kenrya: I know.
Mistress Domonique: Because from there, then it's like, "Okay, Mistress Domonique, what do you need? What can I do?" Right? So it's just a matter of like, "Here's my life. I now trust you to give me my allowance and make sure bills are paid" or "I now am open to trying so many different things with you just because that's there." So I think that's my favorite part.
Mistress Domonique: Yeah.
Erica: So, I even hate to ask this because it was such a high listening to you explain your favorite part, but what's your least favorite part?
Mistress Domonique: That's a good question. My least favorite part. I think there's like two parts. Number one, subs or potential clients who think that they can just slide in my inbox or DM just to kind of have a conversation, just because they think that that's something that's welcome. I think that there's a difference from admiring, but kind of like, "Oh, Mistress or Goddess, I want you to do A, B, C or D." It's just like you're trying to get your rocks off simply by me telling you "No, fall back." I don't like that, but I also think, being a Black Domme, wow, it's really, really old. Right? I think it's new for the kink world in a way that social media now puts a face to us in a way that it hasn't before. Right? Usually the main face that you would see of a dominatrix or professional domination would be a white woman. I will say, now there's kind of like this ... I don't want to say anti-Black sexual worker type of thing, but we are attacked a lot more aggressively than our white counterparts, in a way. Our accounts are reported a lot often, posts are deleted. You can catch us in jail a lot often. Oftentimes, our money is held up in ways that won't necessarily be for the other. So I think just knowing that and having to constantly navigate that has and always will be a challenge.
Erica: By jail, you mean like Twitter jail, Instagram jail, right?
Mistress Domonique: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Okay. Cool. All right, so the reason that we have you on is that last week we read this book and it's called “F*ck and Fall in Love.”
Mistress Domonique: Y'all, I've read it.
Kenrya: Did you? Yay.
Mistress Domonique: I've read it. So, I've read it today.
Mistress Domonique: I read it today.
Kenrya: Look at you.
Erica: So, look at you, yes. So, there's this scene where Jane has sex on camera for the first time. We understand that you do all things kink, all kinks matter. I understand that, as a dominatrix, you don't always have sex with your clients. You may not have sex with any of your clients, but we wanted to chat with you a little bit about just having sex on camera. So tell us about the first time you stepped in front of the camera as an amateur.
Mistress Domonique: Oh ...
Erica: Or as a professional.
Mistress Domonique: So I was really, really young. Well, not super young, definitely in undergrad. I was dating this guy and we went to the movies and we decided to hook up in the movies and I was like, "Hey, let's record it." We kind of just recorded it in the back of the movie theater. That's when I-
Kenrya: A double feature.
Mistress Domonique: Super, and it was by coincidence that no one was in the movie. There was no one in there, so it just made having the flash on a lot easier, right?
Erica: It sounds like a really great story. I love it.
Mistress Domonique: But it was then ... it was there that I realized that I enjoyed being recorded in a way that ... it turns me on in a way that I have never, ever thought that being recorded itself or even just having sex in front of people could ... is definitely a kink of mine.
Erica: Well, I too. I too. So, did you have any hangups about seeing your body on film? I know the first time I saw myself I was like, "Aw," so what about you?
Mistress Domonique: I would say when I first started, no, just because I had the foundation that I did around sexuality, right? In those trainings they would be like, "Yeah girl, go grab a mirror and examine yourself," right? So that was something that was severely normal to me. So seeing it was just like, "Oh girl, now I see you squirting. Oh, that's cute. That's really cute." But I think now, just because I've gotten older and now it's like my eczema decides that it wants to do its own type of thing.
Kenrya: You and me both.
Mistress Domonique: I find that there are moments when I'm like, "Hmm, I wonder, how can I edit that?" So you would catch me, depending on what type of dark spot it is, I'll put a cute emoji on it or I'll make the picture large enough so that you won't see it, but that's something that ... this eczema is a journey, but that is something that I find that is one of the only things that I think about with regard to my body as it relates to being on camera.
Kenrya: All right. Wow. Well conversely, we know that some folks, that's part of why they aren't comfortable doing things like filming and/or taking nudes. It's not really why I don't take nudes. I think it's just because it's not my natural thing, versus Erica where she's like a master. She's a master snapper. But what tips do you have for folks like me who may be apprehensive about it or even just people who want to do it but aren't sure how to get the best angles or how to cover up the things that they don't like, like how you were just saying with emojis. What are some things people can do to be more comfortable in front of the camera with their bodies?
Mistress Domonique: Yeah. I think the first things first is figuring out whatever things that you need or whatever process you need to get you at your most 100% authentic comfortable. So whatever that is, whether that's some tea and a nice detox bath or a nice meal or a book or a nice foot massage, whatever it is that you need to get in your, I am 100% out of my mind, space. I think that's the most important first step. Then the next step from there is, now that you're out of your head, how can we start feeling sexy? So is that putting on some nice sexy R&B or some lingerie or doing something different at that time that you're taking those photos that you normally wouldn't do. So, normally I don't wear makeup at all. I think it's a piece of me having to find my perfect skin tone, plus I feel like it's a lot of labor into it, but when it comes time to make content or be sexy, I know that I'm putting on makeup because it adds to it, right? It adds to it. Then from there, only you know what it takes to make you feel at your sexiest. Whatever that is, do it and stay out of your head.
Mistress Domonique: Also, recognize that you are a human being and the sexual urges that you feel are natural. So many people try to hide them and fight them in a way that is like, "Oh, if I touch this and that feels good, I'm doing something wrong." Or "I have too much cellulite on this booty cheek, so it looks a little funny." I think it's in those moments when we have to do a little extra loving up on our booty cheek or extra loving upon that area, kind of affirming it. That's how we'll get there.
Kenrya: That's dope. So I'm interested in how ... we've had some folks on the show before and we talked about how their work impacts their personal relationships, whether they're intimate or otherwise. I'm really curious as to that, how that works with you? How does your work impact your intimate relationships and vice versa?
Mistress Domonique: That is a really good question. I'm still figuring it out. In terms of professional, it doesn't impact it really. I'm trying to kind of merge the two, but it's been a little challenge, but personally, I actually just got out of a season of my life where the person that I was in that season with was supportive of me being a Domme, however, didn't want to talk about it. They didn't want to help me look at pictures. They didn't want anything to do with it at all.
Kenrya: They were supportive as long as they didn't have to deal with it.
Mistress Domonique: They didn't have to deal with it at all, but it's who I am, right? So if I'm laying in bed at night and I want to look up some thigh high boots and I want you to see if they're cute or not, right? At the end of the day, it's my partner. I would desire for that person to be there. However, they were just not feeling it at all and at this moment, of course, I don't want to say it's because of that reason alone, but we're no longer in partnership.
Mistress Domonique: I will say, since then, moving forward, it is something that I have communicated to any person that desires to get to know me when I feel like the time is appropriate for me to communicate that too, just because I don't have sex with any of my subs or clients, because at the end of the day I want an alpha man. I don't want a submissive man doing me in the bedroom. That's not what I desire. So when I communicate that to potential partners, I think they get it, but it's a piece of them recognizing like, "Wow, she's kinky as hell." So for them it's like, "How do I get the best of both worlds?" But for me it's just letting them know that, while I may bring some things in, I am not showing up as Mistress Domonique in the bedroom, and sometimes folks don't understand that.
Kenrya: That makes sense.
Mistress Domonique: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Erica: Well, the right man will.
Mistress Domonique: Absolutely.
Erica: The right person will.
Mistress Domonique: You are absolutely right.
Kenrya: I concur. So what advice do you have for folks who want to kind of follow in your footsteps professionally?
Mistress Domonique: The first step, I would encourage them to find their why, not only because it will help them navigate different spaces, but it'll also help ground them when they have moments of I'm not meeting anyone or no one seems to be interested or other folks are getting it or whatever moments of discomfort. I will also encourage them to do research. You can never stop learning. There's never enough information at all. If you meet a professional Domme who says that she knows it all, she's learned all the information so she doesn't have to learn anymore, I would try to go the other way just because someone, anyone, not even in the field of domination, but if anyone says that they're stopped learning, I would be hesitant of that person's personal growth and where they are in life.
Mistress Domonique: I will also encourage them to ... on top of the why, it's a piece of ... why not other things, in a way, if that makes sense, right? So when you choose to be a Domme, it is making the conscious decision that you're going to be a sex worker. Oftentimes, when you're a professional Domme, those lines can get blurred in other things. So I would say merely take as much time as you need to figure out where you desire to go in the realm of sex work, because it is super broad, right? There are some Dommes who choose to have sex with their clients or just have sex with other people via escorting, right? There are other Dommes who may sell pleasure product. There are other Dommes who may just do Kama Sutra. Me, I'm currently studying Kama Sutra. So it really just depends on where it is that you desire to go, but wherever it is that you go, it literally should be who you are. Don't try to do something that you're not at the end of the day. There's nothing wrong with learning other things, but don't try to do things that you're not because folks won't authentically gravitate towards you. It'll be harder.
Erica: We know that you choose to hide your identity online.
Mistress Domonique: I do.
Erica: My question for you is, why did you make that choice and how does that impact your work for better or worse?
Mistress Domonique: That's a good question as well. Such good questions. Snaps.
Mistress Domonique: So initially, I chose to be undercover because of my work. I work and I'm a public servant in my vanilla life, so as COVID is going on, it is literally my responsibility to save this area. Then knowing that, while I do desire to have some of my colleagues switch over to my dark side of things, I know that upon initial reaction, folks won't understand. Where I am at this moment, I don't have the space or energy to offer an explanation.
Mistress Domonique: I have been thinking and plotting and strategizing of when I wrote be switching over because I've been playing with my vanilla page in a way that I've ... every three days I'm dropping some heavy BDSM stuff. Like super wow, whereas colleagues from work follow me. The colleagues from work follow me. It's wild stuff and whereas people are hitting me up and they're like, "Wow, I didn't know that you were into this stuff" and I'm like, "Yes, I love it," but that's kind of how I'm planting my seeds, but I do believe ultimately, more than likely when I transition out of this work and begin to really focus on me being a public servant away from this occupation, then I'll do it because they'll mesh together easily. I can walk everywhere and say, "Yes, I do this and I do that."
Mistress Domonique: It is impacting me because a lot of folks think that I'm fake, sometimes just because they're like, "Oh, there's no face" or "Why aren't there many pictures up?" So, whereas normally someone would send a tribute and then an application, I'm now finding that I have to answer questions before we even get to them filling out applications, just because they're like, "Oh, why can't I see your eyes?" or different things like this. So on my Instagram, you'll see that while there's only a few pics, I put those pics there so that you can see like, "Oh wow, this skin looks like this skin and this body looks like that." Just so that folks can just leave me alone with wanting to see all of this so soon.
Erica: So, two things and they're very different, but I just wanted to touch on them. First, you said applications and tributes. So can you kind of explain that situation on like how a sub would approach you, yada, yada, yada?
Mistress Domonique: Yeah.
Erica: Also, with the idea of your identity being hidden online, I still want to touch on the fact that you were still able to find successes and wins in that. It just took a little bit more work, correct?
Mistress Domonique: Absolutely. Absolutely. I had to maneuver a lot differently in other spaces outside of mainstream social media, just so that I can get traction to that social media page. So you can catch me out in events a lot more than you will on social media, right? Or on other websites like Fet Life, [inaudible 00:23:16] than you will on Instagram. Plus, I also found that when you have contacts in your phone, they still send pages. I accidentally found one of my professors pop up as a suggested contact on Instagram, which I partially kind of don't care because I had a semi-crush on that professor, but it's just kind of like, how is this happening? I don't know why this is happening.
Mistress Domonique: For the applications and tribute, so excuse me. So, subs are different from clients, so submissives are those who I consider those who have decided that they want to worship me, serve me, and obey me. Submissives are slaves. So in order to become a submissive or slave, you have to fill out an application. The application works two ways. Number one, it shows me that you're not wasting my time. You're not just trying to hear me tell you no so that you can beat yourself, right? But it also helps to be understand if we're compatible, because you may want some off the wall shit that's just not going to work over here that I won't know until after you've sent me money, had I met them that application, therefore I'm like, "Oh wow, now I'm stuck with doing something that I didn't really want to do because I didn't have that information upfront." So normally what happens is, let's say on Instagram for instance, you are not sliding in my DMs unless you have sent a tribute.
Mistress Domonique: A tribute is a monetary gift just because you want to get mistress' attention, right? You know that my time is valuable and you know that you'll be wasting it if you try to approach me without compensating me for my time, therefore you don't do it. So you send the tribute and then you would then say, "Tribute sent, mistress," "Tribute sent, goddess," and then approach me with your inquiry or your question or whatever statement it is that you wanted to do. From there, I would encourage you to fill out the application and then we'll meet up and then we'll figure out what our relationship will look like, but that's completely different from those who desire to be clients.
Erica: Okay. Well, thank you.
Mistress Domonique: My pleasure.
Erica: What other precautions should people take to protect themselves if they want to get into this line of work?
Mistress Domonique: I would say the top three would be, number one, know your health, inside and out, from your respiratory system, down to your reproductive system, right? How much oxygen you have flowing in your body, because when you're trying certain things and ... a good Domme wouldn't do anything on a sub that they wouldn't do to themselves. So, when you're trying certain things, you want to make sure that you're okay for it and your body is okay for it. Also, although you aren't having sex with your subs, sometimes you are coming into skin-to-skin contact with your subs, so it's really, really important for you to figure out if you have any type of infections, either bacteria or viral, that's in your body. So anything, any of the H's, HPV, HIV, herpes, hepatitis, those things you will not really know until you get blood drawn or you receive something from cultures. So you have to be really, really important on getting tested regularly and know your status.
Mistress Domonique: The next thing I would say from that is knowing where the sex laws are in the country, in your area or your jurisdiction, because while some things are changing at the national level, things are kind of remaining the same at the state and county. So you have to be careful with maneuvering because in certain states being a dominatrix is seen as straight prostitution, as solicitation. So you have to tread those lines very, very carefully.
Mistress Domonique: The next thing I would say is don't ... properly vet your subs. You shouldn't just be meeting Jack and Joe off of Instagram and then inviting them over to your house just to beat their ass. That's an absolute no-no. You have to check them the same way that you would check a potential partner, if you check potential partners. If not, a little bit more, and never have them at your house. I would say those are like the top three things for safety.
Kenrya: That was great. So what can we, as folks who listen to this show, do to support sex workers?
Mistress Domonique: Sure. I would first start by following, sharing, and talking about as much as you can, Black Domme Sorority. If you aren't familiar, it is a sorority for Black and Afro Latina women who are basically deciding that they want to join a community full of dorms. So I would start there by either following us on Instagram or supporting any of our lovely Dommes who are part of Black Domme Sorority. Shout out to our founder, Mistress Marley. Whoop whoop. I will.
Mistress Domonique: I’d also say advocacy is a really, really big thing. I'm really, really big on the power of our voice and using that to kind of forward move the movement. So if you know of any policies being changed that's impacting those who are sex workers, get out to your council meetings. DC has opened council meetings, hearings. Get out to them, express your concern. There's nothing too big or too little that cannot make an impact or will not make an impact. So do that, but also open up your mind a little bit. Everyone has a kink. Everyone has a kink. So if we think of it from that way, I think that there'll be less shunning, there'll be a lot less stigma that's going around. It will just result in a more open society with less judgment and hate.
Erica: Yep. So are there any myths about sex work that you want to dispel?
Mistress Domonique: Ooh, let's see, that we are all hoes.
Erica: We like a good ho, but not everybody's a ho.
Mistress Domonique: Listen, we love them, but I think that we're automatically hoes, I hear that a lot. Even with older generations, because my mom knows that I'm a Domme. I had to tell her because she's super extra, so I had to let her know from the beginning.
Kenrya: What did she think?
Mistress Domonique: So I don't know about y'all parents or family members, but she watches the ID channel a lot, like true crime and all that stuff.
Kenrya: She is worried.
Mistress Domonique: So she's like ... as soon as I told her, she's like, "Oh, I saw something like that on true crime last night. Yeah, she went to the hotel and her family couldn't find her." Something like that, and I'm like, "Girl, relax. Understand that you raised someone super intelligent, so I'm not going to put myself in harm's way, so like just chill, like just chill."
Mistress Domonique: She also said in that conversation, "So does this mean that you like are going to be fucking for money for everybody? That's hoe stuff." I'm like, "Well, mom, we're not going to judge how people get their living, first of all. Second of all, that's not what I'm doing. I don't desire to have sex with my subs because ultimately I desire to be in a partnership with an alpha man." So that isn't going to happen. But I think that's kind of one of the biggest, that a lot of folks kind of just thinks that just because you're stripping or you're a cam girl, you're a phone sex operator, that you're heavily promiscuous. Not to say that that's a problem, because listen, we enjoy ... but I think society ...
Erica: We want good, healthy sex.
Mistress Domonique: Listen, I think that society just kind of makes it a bad thing when in reality everybody thinks about sex a lot. I think one of those myths ... that's probably the biggest. Every other myth, when I hear it, I usually debunk it right there just because I don't have time for it to be circulated.
Mistress Domonique: Yeah.
Kenrya: Well, you were saying earlier about how you use your IG account to kind of verify, so folks can see you're a real person. Can you tell us what it is so folks can find you online?
Mistress Domonique: Sure. So, you may see me circulating through a Tinder or Bumble in your city, or you may not, but my Instagram as well as my Twitter is TheeSweetDomo and that's spelled T-H-E-E sweet Domo. You can find that on Instagram as well as Twitter. On FetLife, you can find me as Thee Sweet Domo or Domonique Sweets.
Kenrya: All righty. Thank you so much.
Mistress Domonique: My pleasure.
Kenrya: That wraps up this week's episode. It was so good to talk to you.
Mistress Domonique: Oh, it was so great chatting with you all and you all having me on here. I really enjoyed myself and this talk.
Erica: Thanks. It's always fun.
Mistress Domonique: Thank you.
Kenrya: Hey everybody, thank you for tuning in and we'll be back next week.
Erica: This episode was produced by us, Erica and Kenrya, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from y'all. Send your book recommendations and all the burning sex and related questions you want us to answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app, follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast, and find links to our books, transcripts, guest information, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcasts.com. Remember, The Turn On is now part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more shows you'll love at Frolic.media/podcast. Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you soon. Holla.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.