Readjusting To Porn

As you probably know, I grew up in an isolated, homeschooled environment. I’d moved up to northern Idaho in an attempt to go to college, but my parents were very “use your bootstraps” people and wouldn’t help me financially or cosign on any loans. They also made too much money for me to qualify for financial aid, so I was screwed; a few months into college I got an ominous letter and had to drop out shortly afterwards.

I’d been brought up with the expectation of being a submissive housewife – but here I was, 19 years old, no support system, education, or future, and with an unsettling cultural disconnect from everyone around me. Everyone used words I didn’t know, references to movies I hadn’t seen, attitudes drawn from music I hadn’t heard.

So I worked whatever I could. I occasionally went hungry, unable to afford food. I slept on a mattress on the floor in a large group house. I ended up working very long hours at a factory with no windows where I wore a uniform and stood on my feet all day and saw the sun only on weekends.

So when someone told me about this thing called camming, that I could be a camgirl and maybe make money, I of course tried it.

I started camming when I was 20, and I did well. I was really really weird, produced out of some bizarre cultural dark alleyway and yet walking around in a lithe young body. I worked very hard and made a lot of money, eventually averaging $200/hr.

I did this for five years. Of course I would do this! I had no other real path in life. My adult identity grew around this. Internet sex work was my freedom. I learned performance, I learned how to flirt and be sexy – a huge task, given my previous isolation from any celebrations of harlotry. I made some of my deepest, longest lasting friendships with other camgirls; I used the funds from camming to travel the world. I cammed from Cape Town over an ocean view, from Australia, from Istanbul behind carefully drawn curtains.

I didn’t feel ashamed at all. Why would I feel ashamed of something that gave me so much freedom, that let me be something more than a housewife or a factory worker?

I’d been using my large horny following to gather data from, and over the years clumsily taught myself statistics as I tried to figure out how to analyze the data. A friend helped tutor me. So when a crypto ico told me they’d hire me as a data analyst if I quit camming…. I agreed.

The way people treated me online, changed. Normal, upstanding people started following me on twitter. Respectable authors would meet me for coffee and let me publicly share photos of us together. People invited me on podcasts. Eventually the majority of my internet following were people who didn’t know I’d ever done porn.

This went on for about three years. It was great.

And, as you know, I got back into porn. The allure of Onlyfans drew me in, as it has most women with two working breasts. I’d quit the crypto company to cofound Askhole years ago, but Askhole wasn’t exactly going to give me a retirement fund.

So, over the past twoish months (or since April 2020, if you’re in the future), I’ve been pornographic online again. This time is different – I’ve had a few years of SFW as a proper, established adult – something that doesn’t really have a parallel when I was 18 and confused. So here’s some weird mental things I’ve noticed.

I feel gendered. It’s increased since starting up Onlyfans recently, and I also noticed it decrease sharply after I quit camming years ago. The ‘gender’ sensation feels like it’s located in my lower pelvis and vagina, and it feels attached to me. I don’t typically have any internal sense of ‘woman,’ but I have a distinct sense of ‘womanness’ being lodged inside me.

I feel a disconnect with my identity. Over the past few years, “Aella” – which was originally my porn name – became something very close to me. I’ve written on this blog about deeply personal things, like my childhood abuse. I did a documentary where I tripped acid live on camera, where I sobbed freely. I enjoy a deep vulnerability here – and suddenly introducing sex work back into this is bizarre.

Because with sex work, I can’t be totally honest. I can’t even talk about this too much at a meta level for fear of losing income.

And so for the first time in a long time, I feel this ‘body suit’ sensation slipping over me. My body and my character feels like clothing, something heavy and thick that I’m wrapped in. I have the sensation of suddenly thousands upon thousands of eyes looking at me – I’m posting heavily on reddit so this is literally true – and them seeing my body suit laying like meat on top of me.

It doesn’t feel… bad, really? It feels a little surreal. My body meat feels like a tool I’m precisely wielding. It doesn’t feel like mine though, not really. The naked, bouncing photos of me on screen feel like an avatar I’m presenting in my stead.

I’ve got my twitter and my blog as nonsexual, as me. It’s bizarre that my name here shares the name under which I fuck myself on screen.

I’m noticing an irrational hatred at men (mostly the ones that comment on my posts outside of Onlyfans). I’m thinking loud, dramatic thoughts that are completely unfair, because I’m simultaneously making lots of money. There’s something about this exchange that makes me feel really sad. I feel sad for the men, compulsed to give me money. I feel sad for me, because I hate all men right now. It’s really hard for me to connect with the compassion I usually feel for the male sex. Maybe it’s because I feel like they’re not really looking at me? Evolution is so cruel.

I also notice some confused semi-shame at my return to porn. I didn’t feel this the first time – I entered camming so early, and it was so liberating for me, that I was simply thrilled. Now I have a reputation, or something. Now fancy people who have opinions that matter, have opinions that matter about me. I feel a little like I’m letting everyone down. I feel afraid that people will pull away from me. These fears feel fuzzy and unclear. The threat is unknown. I think I’m confused at how to handle my dual identity now. Do they think both Aellas are one and the same? Do they know that my porn Aella is simply a heavy floating suit of meat clothes?

The income from this is worth it. I have no education or serious job history or even mental discipline to work a normal 9-5 job. I know if I want to retire, standard career paths aren’t an option for me. Onlyfans income right now is giving me a serious shot at early retirement, and the freedom from that is so valuable. When I remember this, everything else becomes easier. My meat suit becomes a little lighter, and the confusion around reputation is a little less scary.

“So shun me,” I think. “At least I will have financial security. At least I’m not a stay-at-home housewife or working at a factory where don’t see the sun.”

15 thoughts on “Readjusting To Porn

  1. What is it that you are wanting?
    And why do you want it? Is it possible to find the liberation again?
    Perhaps it could be somewhere else, somewhere you have not thought to look?
    If you found it again, what would it feel like?
    Is a belief just a thought that you keep thinking?
    If one is struggling, how can they get out of it if the knowing they are struggling keeps them struggling?

  2. It’s always amazing learning about people’s stories. I thinks it’s interesting that working in the adult entertainment industry is part of your identity, and growing up where I did I know enough that’s not all there is. I suppose that’s a problem with how people self actualize and how we perceive ourselves. Anyways, at first I thought you were just sexy and funny but you’re pretty interesting.

  3. >I’m noticing an irrational hatred at men (mostly the ones that comment on my posts outside of Onlyfans). I’m thinking loud, dramatic thoughts that are completely unfair, because I’m simultaneously making lots of money. There’s something about this exchange that makes me feel really sad. I feel sad for the men, compulsed to give me money. I feel sad for me, because I hate all men right now. It’s really hard for me to connect with the compassion I usually feel for the male sex. Maybe it’s because I feel like they’re not really looking at me? Evolution is so cruel.

    Can you expand on this?

  4. i see you as someone who’s in your power and i love supporting that, especially as you share so much of yourself and your thoughts with nuance and vulnerability. This is so much if what the world needs! in doing that i feel engaged politically in creating the world I’d like my kids to enjoy, especially my daughter. it’s not just sensual. thank you for all you do! i hope you can feel unaccountably and undividedly yourself as much as possible because you’re doing a great thing!

    much appreciation!

    Joseph in San Jose

  5. This echoes the lament of a lot of strippers I’ve known. But you have the advantage that you are a celebrity rationalist and could easily get a 9-5 job that you would deeply enjoy. The financial security of sex work is a curse in your case, I hope you break free.

  6. Regarding the part about hating all men for comments they made outside of Onlyfans, just want to anecdotally add that personally, I don’t really care about or even look at your porn related things. I follow your posts randomly here and there because I like how thoughtful you are – which I find to be rare – and for being a good writer.

  7. > Do they think both Aellas are one and the same? Do they know that my porn Aella is simply a heavy floating suit of meat clothes?

    Yes.

    ***

    I knew your Gnomes and some other stuff from Reddit. Not a dedicated fan but I liked it. The sexy part looked simply as the presentation flavor of something weird, and maybe personal.

    Later I read [some of] your LSD posts. These connected with my own experiences of LSD overdosing, at about the same age. I thought it was surprisingly well-written too, for a topic essentially impossible to put to words. Looked back at some of the pics and really loved them in that light.

    Then I sort of forgot about Aella until your face scrolled on some or other subreddit the other day. I somehow remembered who that face was, and fished out some of your new stuff.

    To me, it’s screaming the quote above. It is visible in your face. You are literally dancing the “floating suit of meat clothes.” It is so clear that I’m yet again staring at it mesmerized, slightly embarrassed to point my eyeballs at the wrong bits, because this is not it.

    I don’t have anything clever to offer here but I’ll give you this: I’ve understood you as a performance artist that happens to be camming even back then, and even more now. However you deal with this phase, I am certain that you will find other channels of expressing that weirdness for worse, or worse. It’s fucking great.

  8. I know you’re not soliciting advice here, but I’m wondering if I can help you broaden your perspective a bit. Feel free to ignore if this is a miss.

    You’ve moved beyond the initially liberating sensation of transgressing your own boundaries, the creative side of performance is becoming hard work, and you are put off somewhat by the transactional aspect of the work. Outside of the sex work specifics, this is the lament of the performing artist, is it not? You might talk to some artists who do different styles of work, or read their writing, to learn how they approach the problem.

    Based on my own experience, I’d also caution you about one thing. Working too hard for money is corrupting to the psyche. You internalize the stress, sure, but worse, you absorb the persona that you must create in order to survive the ordeal. It becomes a part of you and it changes you. For me, this means that I don’t enjoy things as freely anymore, even years after semi-retirement. This is just one person’s anecdote, of course. But you may still be able to retire early without completely exhausting yourself. (The FIRE community is a great resource for this. The Early Retirement Extreme blog is a fantastic gateway, and there are plenty of others as well.)

    Whatever path you choose, you’ll be OK. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

  9. I have a similar constrictive performative being-watched feeling when I imagine doing something professional with my online identity, or doing anything high-profile enough (either online or IRL) that someone might try to doxx/investigate me.

    I started following you somewhere around the tail end of your porn career, so for me, you’ve always been “that cool blogger who also did porn”. But I can’t pretend you’re not 100% right that some people will judge you for it. I wish I could. Of course, anyone who feels that way who wasn’t already judging as hard as they can probably didn’t know you did porn to begin with, suggesting they surely weren’t all that closely aquainted with the stuff you’ve written, so maybe not as big a loss as you’d think?

    I don’t know enough about the camming industry to guage how big of a financial risk being very honest/open online about what’s an act and what’s real is. My instinct is to say that it’s better to own “I tell it like it is, this is what’s happening behind the scenes” and incorporate that into your brand than to make yourself feel slimy and fake, perhaps even protecting your brand from the risk of backlash if/when the “mask slips”, but I’m sure from the inside you have a better view of the tradeoffs than I do. (Is that even a risk in camming, the way it is in some other entertainment industries?)

    Ugh. It’s a sucky situation.

  10. I massively identified with your description of disaffectation qua ennui/weltschmerz/some better continental term that I don’t know. I had the same experience during my time as a musician, where my persona as a performer felt increasingly distant from the real me, and I couldn’t help the sense of disdain for much of my audience (I wouldn’t say I ever hated them, but I don’t know if that’s a difference between us, our fields of performance, or the fact that I actually saw and sometimes met my audience). But it does leave me wondering why we have this feeling of disaffection and alienation where some people thrive emotionally on their performances and love their fans.

    I can think of a few possibilities, so forgive the mess, everyone, as I try to organize my thoughts and list the potential causes. So the first thought is it might come down to personality. I’m an INTJ (you in the back with the wisecrack about MBTI, sit down. We’ve heard it), and I know Scott has said that a significant majority of his readership identifies as INTx. I don’t actually know whether you’d identify as an SSC reader, but I know you were on The Motte’s podcast and you were kind enough to show up and provide info in that thread where I was asking questions about findomme financials. I’d say it’s a slam dunk, except ‘reads The Motte -> SSC Reader -> INTx’ is too many inferences to just safely assume, even though each individual one is reasonable.

    Alternatively, I’ve got a fairly similar upbringing to yours: home schooled Christian (not Calvinist, fortunately) who had to drop out of college, found non-traditional career paths, and now would struggle to get on a traditional career path. I don’t know about you, but sometimes (only sometimes) I feel bitterness at how others can take the path of least resistance and settle down for a fairly easy life without ever really having to grind anything out or engage in any sort of self-starting, go get ’em attitude. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly upsides to the life I’ve lived, but even when things are going well, there’s still a sense of latent alienation with the mainstream culture.

  11. Just a few thoughts from someone who started following you from your AMA years ago and generally being fascinated with your twitter polls. I don’t expect any answers, so please don’t feel obligated to respond – I’m just thinking out loud.

    >The allure of Onlyfans drew me in, as it has most women with two working breasts.

    I think you’re vastly overestimating the allure of onlyfans, and that its only alluring for a very minuscule minority of women (granted that minority is still multiple times the number of women drawn to more ‘traditional’ sex work).

    >The ‘gender’ sensation feels like it’s located in my lower pelvis and vagina, and it feels attached to me.

    I wonder if that’s due to the type of gendered work you do. I know I feel more “male” when arguing or advocating for my clients in court confrontations, and that’s not really physically located anywhere. I also feel more male when fucking, and that’s pretty much located where you’d think it would be. #genderroles

    > I can’t even talk about this too much at a meta level for fear of losing income.

    What changed now compared to before? Was it that you were totally honest when you first started but have since found out that you could earn more by not being totally honest?

    > And so for the first time in a long time, I feel this ‘body suit’ sensation slipping over me. My body and my name feels like clothing, something heavy and thick that I’m wrapped in.

    Funny – I thought this feeling was normal and that everyone is supposed to have a bodysuit they only change out of with close friends/family.

    > I’m noticing an irrational hatred at men … I feel sad for me, because I hate all men right now.

    I got lost a bit here – hate why? Or do you mean only the subset of men who are your onlyfans? I have to imagine there are men among the “fancy people who have opinions that matter”, so it seems weird to hate an entire sex with the reasons somewhat unexplained.

    > At least I’m not a stay-at-home housewife

    I think you’re underrating how happy a lot of housewives are, its just a value difference where they prioritize and like different kinds of work and are willing to exchange a career path for it. I’d almost draw an analogy to early retirement – housewives are basically retired and doing what they want, just ‘what they want’ is doing home-stuff and family-stuff. This obviously doesn’t include the many women forced into being a housewife out of cultural expectations, financial realities etc.

    1. “`I think you’re vastly overestimating the allure of onlyfans, and that its only alluring for a very minuscule minority of women (granted that minority is still multiple times the number of women drawn to more ‘traditional’ sex work).“`

      Thank god the person who is known for one of the most comprehensive write ups on monetizing online sex work has you to let her know that she misunderstands the industry.

      “`I got lost a bit here – hate why? Or do you mean only the subset of men who are your onlyfans? I have to imagine there are men among the “fancy people who have opinions that matter”, so it seems weird to hate an entire sex with the reasons somewhat unexplained.“`

      …Responds to someone explicitly stating that they have an irrational hatred by asking them for a rational reason. Come on man.

      “`I think you’re underrating how happy a lot of housewives are, its just a value difference where they prioritize and like different kinds of work and are willing to exchange a career path for it. I’d almost draw an analogy to early retirement – housewives are basically retired and doing what they want, just ‘what they want’ is doing home-stuff and family-stuff. This obviously doesn’t include the many women forced into being a housewife out of cultural expectations, financial realities etc.“`

      Or she’s saying, like is directly implied in the phrasing of “At least I’m not a stay-at-home housewife” that she really doesn’t want to be a housewife and she’s grateful that she has other options?

      Jesus Christ dude.

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