I expected to be criticized for my work — I’m a porn performer — from my classmates at Duke. But from my fellow strippers, denigration for “sitting on a dick for a living” stung, if no other reason than that I didn’t see it coming.
I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers. The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no. We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity. But what I’ve learned about the sex work heirarchy — or the whorarchy, if you will — has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another.
Since filming my first porn scene, I’ve discovered that sex work segregates itself along perceived social and legal lines ranging from phone-sex operation to stripping and porn to prostitution.
The whorearchy is arranged according to intimacy of contact with clients and police. The closer to both you are, the closer you are to the bottom. That puts “outdoor” workers, ie street-walking prostitutes, at the foundation. They are disdained by “indoor” prostitutes, who find clients online or via other third parties. They are disdained by the strippers and escorts who perform sex acts for clients, who are disdained by those who don’t. At the top sit sex workers who have no direct contact with cops or clients, such as cam girls and phone-sex operators.