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ANON: I’m a writer and comic but I pay my bills through sex work

By April 1, 2022April 2nd, 2022No Comments



Our anon series gives space to women both nationally and internationally to share their stories honestly. 


I walked into an open mic night in 2016. The woman hosting, Kate (not her real name), was on stage talking about her apartment nearby. I lived much further out, with roommates. Later I asked, “How do you afford to have your own apartment and still have time to pursue comedy?”

“I have sex for money,” she replied. 

A few months later, I was featuring at a comedy club in a neighbouring state. The woman headlining also lived in NYC. She had a rental car so we could travel in comfort.

“Do you want me to help pay for it?” I asked earnestly. 

“Don’t worry about it,” she replied gleefully. “One of my sugar daddies rented it for me.”

That spring I got fired from another waitressing job for my attitude and drinking. My roommate moved out for similar reasons. Kate called me up one day with a proposition.

“I’m doing a play to benefit the Sex Workers Project.” she said. “It pays, and I know you need the money. Are you interested? The entire cast is sex workers — do you qualify?”

I’d stripped once in college when a friend was, because I wanted to see ‘what she was doing to herself.’ According to Kate, this meant I qualified for the gig. 

In rehearsals my attitude shifted further. I was working with smart, talented women who had their own apartments, were in school, pursuing various artistic dreams, and had time to rehearse in a park at 2pm on a Tuesday. I wanted this, too.

That summer I went on a trip with a group of female comics. It was a disaster. Everyone fought, our vehicle broke down and we lived in stifling heat with no air conditioning. We’d been promised we’d make piles of cash, yet instead were pouring Pepsi at ladies luncheons, making pittance. My dog was with me and there was a heat wave. I had to borrow money from my boyfriend. 

Here I was, 34 years old, borrowing money from another broke comic so my dog wouldn’t die. The next day I got a call from the friend who had borrowed my car. He’d crashed it.

I decided in that moment I was going to start sex work.

It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Kate acted as my mentor, teaching me how to screen clients and letting me text her with my location as I walked into a session so the client could see that someone knew where I was. 

Soon I had more cash than my self esteem felt comfortable with. I went to Thailand, my first international trip since high school. I got a therapist, the first I’d had since my divorce. I got a haircut. Socks. 

There is no more middle class in comedy. The pay for features hasn’t risen since 1981, though the cost of living has gone up exponentially. In the 80s and 90s, you could work your way to headlining with your act. Now you need TV credits and a huge fanbase. The competition has grown fierce. Many of the comics I know are working all the time and living with up to 10 roommates, or have wealthy parents.

I’m in recovery from alcohol addiction. The sponsor I have now is a successful artist. When we started working together, I felt I needed to tell her about escorting up front. In the past I’d met with potential sponsors only to have them tell me it wasn’t a sober job.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “As an artist, there’s nothing more valuable than your time.”

I got an apartment in the West Village nine months after I started. I was able to stay sober longer and longer — now I could go get a massage instead of beer to relax. I could go on vacation, I could — well, I could do whatever I wanted.

I raised my rates, got professional photos, and advertised on the best site. After a lifetime of feeling worthless, the fact that men were willing to pay to be around me changed the way I felt about myself. I began to believe in myself enough to restart my freelance writing career, to reach out for more and better work. I went on a writing retreat in Sedona where I wrote the bulk of what would become a collection of essays. I did yoga and inner child work and meditated every day. I went to Costa Rica and found a conception of a higher power. I spent an entire month in Bali. 

I got sober. I kept raising my rates. A famous painter decided he wanted to pay me just for access to me – a five figure monthly allowance that I received whether he was in Europe or not. Almost half the time he came over, we just talked. Most importantly, he took me to see Taylor Swift, 10th row, on the floor. 

“You’re brilliant,” he’d say. “A true artist. Andy (Warhol) would have been delighted by you.” 

My clients and fellow sex workers were nicer to me than anyone had been in my entire life. 

I moved to LA in 2019. I love my life today. I get to be brutally vulnerable on stage and write about mental health and recovery. My work helps others feel seen and validated. I now sponsor women. There is no greater joy than walking others out of hell. 

I don’t just love the life I live today — I am in love with the woman I’ve become. Capitalism is set up so that people don’t have time to process their trauma. They just run, run, run, trying to keep up, to keep the bills paid, until they get sick, or old, or die. 

That is no longer my story.