Category — Career Advice
This first pic (click to enlarge it) was taken in 2006, only six weeks after leaving my last boyfriend. I was 30 years old, weighed 120 pounds, and had 7-8% body fat. I was starving. I guess you can see that though. From 2002 until 2009 I was stuck at this weight, because of the malnutrition, stress, and unhappiness I was experiencing (often from my own bad and/or naïve choices). I will explain all that in the next few paragraphs. The only good that came from that time is that I somehow survived it without killing anyone (including myself) and without declaring bankruptcy. This pic was for a theatrical production, hence the dramatic hair and makeup.
Five years ago (nearly to the day today), I did my first porn scene. I figured it would be a good idea to take stock and see some then/now pics and to reflect on how much everything has evolved in that time. I will share a few of the pics I submitted in March/April 2009 to get the job to do the scene in mid-April 2009, as well as a couple stills from that first solo project. Then I’ll share some pics I took five minutes ago…
In this first collage from 2009 (click it to enlarge) I was 32 years old, weighed 130 pounds, and had 8% body fat. I was still dancing 40 – 60 hours per week at that point. I was bulking up a tad somehow doing P90X, but my diet, although improved, was still terrible. I didn’t have time to make food (because I was working part time jobs during the week while dancing in Charlotte on week nights, then driving all over the South to dance in clubs on the weekends), so I often got by on protein shakes. I ended up in the hospital three separate times from 2007 – 2009 for exhaustion and malnutrition. I remember driving all over Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and DC to perform. I was JAMMING in all the clubs, and in retrospect I don’t know how I had so much explosive, endless energy while running on food and sleep deprivation fueled by intense anxiety. While performing, I was generally having a fabulous time spinning, twirling, falling, and flipping. But I was also still burdened with the fraud debt I had gotten from my last boyfriend. At that point I was living with two female roommates (who were awesome people, by the way), and trying to figure out how not to grind myself into dust from all the dancing, driving, skipped meals, and financial duress. My heart was closed. I was afraid of people and love.
This was during the peak of the Great Recession, and the clubs were faltering. Lots of desperate people who were freshly jobless saturated an already crowded dance scene, and the tipping patrons had been decimated. Those were some pretty bleak times. Not to mention I was still contending with a combination of anorexia and dysmorphic disorder. I really don’t miss that chaotic argument inside my head. From any moment to another I was in danger of gaining or losing weight. It was a labyrinthine, psychotic morass. But my family was still intact at least. Grampa was still alive; Mom, Gramma, and my sister were getting along very well; my uncles were nowhere to be seen; and Dad hadn’t yet had his multiple strokes. I had just come up with the idea that would evolve into Anteros Media (an idea which grew immediately out of my unsatisfactory experience with these first two porn scenes). It was such a creatively dynamic time. From 2010 – 2012 I did about 20 more scenes for other houses before shifting gears to shoot about 80 for my own company (nearly 10 of which I was in). I focused on escorting and fitness in 2013.
It is 2014, and now I am 37 years old, I weigh 165 pounds, and I am at 12% body fat. I took the pics in this second collage today, only a short while ago (click the tumbnail to the right to enlarge it). I had gone through a process of trying to gain mass from 2010 until 2012 that left me with an unseemly amount of body fat. I cannot look at pics/footage of myself from this time frame – I looked (to me) like a shapeless mass of lard. I had successfully evicted the anorexic voice, but the dysmorphic one remains. That’s an improvement, but there is still internal work for me to do. I spent the entirety of 2013 trying to lean down by religiously performing High Intensity Interval Training. My aerobic capacity improved, and my body fat went down, but there came a point where I simply couldn’t get any leaner. I learned it was because of the mass gaining eating schedule I was on: Six meals spread throughout the day is great for gaining weight, but terrible for losing body fat. At the end of 2013 I kept working out hard, started an intermittent fasting eating schedule, and had cool sculpting performed (I don’t recommend it: After four months it is reversing itself, and the additional leanness I achieved was expensive, subtle, and temporary. I am utterly disappointed.).
Putting on weight quickly like what I did from 2010 – 2012 is called doing a dirty bulk, wherein you eat a great deal (and often) to gain mass while lifting heavier weights, but much of the new mass isn’t lean, and has to be shed later to reveal the muscle gains. I was a wreck in some ways: I had purposefully tapered nearly all the dancing out of my life, because I was terrified I would burn off all my muscle gains from the crazy amount of cardio I was doing (plus I was having a lot of arguments with my dance partner, I was exhausted from working so much to pay off the fraud debt, and I was getting bitter about being the person who had to pay for everything for the dance company). So I went without my primary form of creative expression in order to focus on fitness. So be it. No regrets. I am interested in doing one-man shows again. If I continue dancing/performing at all, it will be by myself again.
At any rate, I got my own apartment, which is lovely. I am very happy, and I am still friends with my former roommates (who both have husbands and kids now). I paid off my fraud debt, and got Lasik surgery. I paid off one car and then traded it in (after driving the poor creature to death) for a new one. I have savings. My financial situation is much improved (and so is the general economic situation for many people around the country). But my family has fallen apart. Grampa passed away, my uncles showed up to undermine the relationship between Mom and Gramma (who now do not speak to each other… EVER), and my sister and Gramma are estranged once again. Dad has had multiple strokes, and although he is much better than he was initially, he will never regain his full capacities. So improvement, stability, and growth in one part of my life is offset by chaos where once there was a smidge of order. But all of that is outside my ability to control or alter, so I have to do what I can for me (which is generally to just stay out of all of it). I married myself, and decided that if the opportunity for love presented itself, I wouldn’t reject it automatically on general principle. Dating has been a disappointment, but my vows to myself helped me to guiltlessly make the choices that were best for me.
Anteros Media occupied most of my energy and attention from Summer 2011 until Winter 2013. It was magic. I got to work with some brilliant friends/collaborators/sponsors, some enchanting models, and some delightful experiments in gay adult video. We made some really stunning work, and I am very proud of it. I wish the world could have seen it; however, I never could figure out how to effectively deliver the material to an audience. I overestimated how motivated audiences were to pay for what we made, and I underestimated how ridiculously complex the porn machine is in the background. I am trying not to be discouraged that yet another one of my gorgeous babies has been stillborn. My ideas are so… fucking genius. Sorry, I’m not going to be humble in this: I’m smart, and I have amazing ideas. I don’t always do well with delivery, but the idea, the execution, and the purpose will be flawless… I wish I had connected with some individual/organization/group that could have helped with insight about getting our art (and our scenes at Anteros Media were exquisite little gems) presented better. But the scenes still exist, so perhaps one day they will find a life and an audience? I think they were far too far ahead of their time, to be frank. We were so disruptive on so many levels that I don’t think people knew what to do with us. We were a round peg that could not fit in a square hole.
Today I submitted pics to do scenes again (click the thumbnail at left to enlarge it). That is why I am posting this entry today: It’s rather like a cycle that has come back around to its beginning. This time I am not looking to go into porn to escape from financial duress, to make the world better, or to learn how it all works. Honestly, I couldn’t give less of a shit anymore. Today I just want to update the image of myself that is floating around on the intrawebzes. I am financially comfortable. I don’t care about saving anyone from their self-destructive behavior. I don’t care about exploitation in the industry. I know how it works, both in front of and behind the cameras. I just want to refine my visual branding. All that other noise is no longer my concern. I did what I could do, and it didn’t amount to anything.
So, this time I go into doing scenes with realistic expectations. I’m not a porn activist anymore. I don’t care if you do bareback – if you’re that stupid and stubborn, then you kinda deserve whatever you get. Fuck off. I don’t care if you’re 18 and getting paid $100 for a scene. I don’t care anymore if the houses do this, that, or the other. I have to look out for myself this time. I won’t give complex interviews or answer provocative questions. No one cares. It turns out that it is just porn after all. I’m just a model (if anyone wants to work with me – I may have burned too many bridges the first time around). You’re just someone who wants to cum for free in 30 seconds. Whatever.
For better or worse, I am more concerned now about doing the most I can with the time remaining to me in this career (I estimate I have another 5-7 years in me, 10 if I feel like stretching it that far). I am more interested in buying a 5- to 20-acre plot of land in/near the Blue Ridge Mountains, commissioning a tiny house, living off the grid, and finding peace in self-sufficiency away from the expectations of anonymous people. I’m getting very tired very quickly of everything I do having to revolve around what I look like. I am concerned about my own future stability, evolution, and transition. In 2009 I was still an idealist who wanted everything he did to have meaning that would improve everything for everyone everywhere. Now I care only for my clients, my friends, my family, and myself. I know that’s selfish, and for the first time in my life I’m completely okay with that. Perhaps if I’d looked out for myself better over these years I could have avoided many of the pitfalls and problems I encountered (or in many instances created for myself).
So I’ll say it one last time, and then I’m done: Do only the porn that uses condoms, make all your choices from empowerment not desperation, stick to your values, and ALWAYS remember gratitude.
April 17, 2014 4 Comments
Hey, fellow escorts and adult entertainers: HOOK-Online (@HOOK_ONLINE on Twitter) is an organization that seeks to provide support, education, community, and care to M4M sex workers. It is the site for which I wrote an article about the value of client reviews (which I also reposted on my blog). Hawk Kinkade (@HawkKinkade on Twitter), the person who has been running the organization for years, has been disseminating helpful articles and is always looking for male escorts and sex workers to contribute to the articles, classes, presentations, and live chats the site sponsors. There is also an ongoing Meet & Greet in New York City being established, in addition to the classes offered through Hook’s education series, Rent U. Recent topics have included “The Affordable Care Act for Sex Workers” and “BDSM Fun(damentals).” There is a great deal of information available through the site; however, if you are going to be in New York City, consider contacting Hook to see if there are any events, classes, or group discussions happening during your visit. Please note that the Meet & Greet events require pre-registration through the leadership panel that organizes them, and that these particular social events are for escorts only. I have known Hawk since 1999, and I can verify that he is good people, and that he surrounds himself with other good people.
April 8, 2014 No Comments
There are three concepts I want to discuss here: Supply and Demand, Diversification, and Budgeting/Savings. As I have said many times before: Try to take the longer view. You may have days on end with no income. That could add up to a bad week, but don’t assume that to be the case. Rather, try to look at months, quarters, and years instead. This keeps the days and weeks less fretful, if you see you are on target for the month. If you have prepared for down cycles, you will be better positioned to get through them to the next up cycle.
Supply and Demand
This is a very complex topic, and at best I can offer only guidelines and broad brushstrokes. But here are some concepts to consider:
- How many escorts are in the area where you want to live/visit? I prefer to look first at areas that have ~15 – ~75 escorts when I ad up the unique entries from Rentboy, Rentmen, and M4Rn. Too few escorts implies there is no demand, too many implies there is too much competition (depending on the size of the city in question). But this doesn’t work 100% of the time. Some areas with very few escorts are starved for supply and can be very profitable for the few escorts who are brave enough to go off the beaten path. Some areas in the Goldilocks Zone are already over-saturated. Some areas with huge numbers of escorts can actually support them all (e.g. NYC, San Francisco, etc.). The range I listed above is a guide line. Place a feeler ad and try to be more educated about the response level of local client base.
- What are other escorts charging? If you see people listed as escorts who are charging massage therapist fees (which tend to be 1/3 – 1/2 escort fees), then something is amiss, especially if the pics show a top caliber dude. Either the escorts in the area have undermined themselves by trying to compete with each other on pricing (and have lowered the quality of the experience for everyone involved), or else they may be listing a fee just to meet that then goes up from that base. Another possibility is that the clients in that area simply can’t or won’t pay what I consider a reasonable escorting fee. Whatever underlies a situation with remarkably low fees, reconsider whether or not the area in question will be supportive. Again: Try a feeler ad. See if people balk at your fee. Get educated about the clients and their perception of value.
- What is the overhead for the area? Some places cost more than others, but you cannot presume the big cities are always more expensive. For example, I can get very low prices for flights to some big cities where the hotels cost more. This means trips to big cities can cost just as much as visits to smaller places with cheaper hotels but higher priced flights. For example, I can fly from Charlotte to New York City round trip for somewhere between $150 – $250, and I have a friend who has a place where I can stay for free. This means that New York City is an extremely low cost trip for me, but when I checked on Austin, TX the flight alone was $800 (but the hotel was only $150 for three nights, if that is any consolation). Learn as much as you can about the cost of a trip and compare that to what you think you can generate while you are in the area.
Remember: Do your research before going to a new area by first putting out a feeler ad. See what kind of response you get. Keep the contact info for the people who reply. If your initial poke yields only tepid response, hold off. You can try again in the future, and you will already have some people to notify next time you want to try again. In the end, everything is a gamble!!
I have not done an entry in this series in a very long time. I think that may have been for a reason. For so long I was doing so well that I think I was getting arrogant. But right now I can plainly see why it was good for me to have created a cash cushion. I am currently at what I hope is the end of a down cycle that started in November 2013 and went all the way across to February 2014 and possibly March 2014. The nature of accidents and the unknown is that they cannot be anticipated usually, and that is what happened to me. In November 2013 I accidentally planned the wrong weekend off for Thanksgiving. A silly mistake until I realized I would have to take half of November off as a result. My bad! But December, despite being half devoured by time off for Yule and New Year, looked great on the books. I had lots of appointments scheduled throughout the month… until a massive flu season wiped out my entire month as people cancelled for illness. Okay, January 2014 comes, and I’m ready to go. Two unimpressive months, and I need to make up some lost ground. And I would have, except winter weather undermined my trip to NYC, I unknowingly scheduled myself to be in DC during a kink/fetish festival, and then had to perform at the Asheville Fringe Festival. Three weekends lost. I barely got the money for February together in time, which meant I went into February without any head start for March. And then the winter weather caused more cancellations in February, I had to eat more non-refundable plane tickets, and through it all I was very close to having to tap into savings. At this point I still have not done so, but the ice I stand on is splintering… Every time it looks like spring will appear, winter beats it back down and sends me more complications.
I have been lucky in that I keep barely managing to make what I need each month to cover my costs; however, I do have some peace of mind knowing that I have a buffer. This winter has taught me a valuable lesson: I desperately need to diversify my cities, so that I have a client base in areas that experience mild winters. All my current cities have the potential for rotten winter weather.
This is a process I have delayed implementing for a couple years, much to my regret now. I was at the Philadelphia airport the day Hurricane Sandy came ashore there. It was an abject fiasco. Sandy was my first lesson in diversification. At that time I had my ad only on Rentboy, and all my cities at that point were susceptible to hurricane damage. For weeks or months after Sandy I couldn’t go to my cities, because they were having so many problems after that storm, and I couldn’t let anyone know I was going anywhere else, because Rentboy’s server was down completely for a while during the storm surge in NYC, as well as intermittently for weeks after that. Because of Sandy I was forced to make two points of diversification: I added a few new cities to my roster (and a couple have become regular stomping grounds for me, except in winter), and I placed ads at Rentmen and Men4RentNow. Although it took something extreme to force me out of my comfort zone, the changes have profited me greatly. I had avoided making these changes until I was in crisis (such is the nature of change, yes?), and now Winter of 13/14 is going to force me to re-diversify my territory to minimize winter complications in the future.
Learn from my stubbornness: Diversify as much as possible. Not only in your escorting practice, but in all parts of your life. You will be safer and sounder for it. I got through this season only because I had the psychological comfort of my savings cushion. Thankfully, I haven’t had to touch it yet. I’ve resisted tapping it… but if I had needed to, I could have.
So, how do you build a savings cushion? By being organized! I suggest gradually building up a 3-month cushion at first, and taking it slowly up to a 6-month or even 12-month cushion. That means you have three, six, or 12 months’ worth of cash in case of illness, burn out, retirement, Hurricane Sandy, etc. If you need $2,500 per month to cover everything, then strive to keep $7,500 (3-month cushion), $15,000 (6-month cushion), or $30,000 (12-month cushion) in some form for your use during less lucrative times. Building savings can be a slow process, just like getting fit, so make a goal of setting aside $x every week or month until you have built up your cushion. Treat savings the way you do strength training, one short-term goal at a time that adds up to long-term success.
I prefer to know my itinerary before I ever show up in a city. Over the course of a week I am looking for 7 – 12 billable hours during trips away from home (and only 3-6 billable hours if I stay in Charlotte for the week). I need two billable hours to cover hotel and food; one or two to cover airplane fares; three to amass the money I need that week for living expenses; and then the difference goes toward savings, personal/creative projects, and/or spending money. This means that out of a maximum of 12 billable hours in a week (this is one way I avoid burnout!), a quarter of the money goes immediately back into my travel expense account, a quarter goes towards bills, and half goes to me. And THAT is how you divvy your money: Repay travel first, so that if you have a disappointing weekend you can afford to try again the next week. Put aside money to pay your bills next, so that you are not in a weakened financial position at home. But pay the business FIRST! (You can pay your bills late if need be! If you pay them first to be on time after a bad weekend, you won’t have the money to travel!) Finally, PAY YOURSELF. You would be wise to put some of what you have netted after business/bills into savings, some into investments, some into an emergency store of cash, and the rest into something nice for yourself (nice food, new clothes, travel, JEWELRY!!! hahaha). However you decide to pay yourself, be sure that you do so at every opportunity.
March 6, 2014 No Comments
Many new escorts are overwhelmed and have lots of questions: Am I going to be safe? How will I be able to trust my clients to pay me? Are people going to hurt me in some way? How do I choose whom to see and whom not? And the list goes on and on… But think for just a moment: Put yourself in the position of potential clients. Many have the EXACT same concerns about meeting escorts: Is he going to perform? Does he look like his pics? Will he take my money and run? Does he attack or blackmail people who contact him? Is he crazy or drug addicted? Mistrust is a knife that cuts both ways, so how do you help yourself by helping your clients?
One promotional tool you should strongly consider is reviews. Reviews are descriptive narratives that let clients share publicly their perceptions about you and your work ethic. It is best to go with a review forum that is vetted and verified, so that the quality and authority of the reviews is more reliable. Thoroughly reviewed escorts who have consistently positive/glowing reviews have an advantage over newbies, because they have established an ongoing reputation for excellence.
Some of the sites where escorts pay to place ads also offer a “review” function. These are not moderated, and of dubious value. Anyone (including the escort himself) can write and submit a cursory rating or comment, and there is no system in place for verifying that the review, whether good or bad, is accurate. Another problem with these instant 5-star ratings is that escorts can pay to have unflattering ratings and comments deleted. Some sites even allow the escort to delete the negative review manually. This should underscore how unhelpful these types of “reviews” can be.
Daddy’s Reviews, on the other hand, is an example of a forum that publishes reviews that are moderated. This means that Daddy himself is going to contact the person submitting the review to make sure it is being written by a real person who actually met with the escort in question. At Daddy’s, negative reviews are not deleted, and the escorts have no control over what is published, edited, or removed. If someone gets a negative review, he is given the chance to offer a rebuttal to explain the situation from his perspective, but the review is still published. This is a much more thorough and helpful way to compile information about you and your services. Daddy will also verify your age, height, weight, fee, and other information (and he is happy to update your cover image from time to time, so that your appearance is also verified). The system at Daddy’s Reviews isn’t perfect (hopefully no one is watching a video of the appointment to verify that everything being reported is factual); however, it is far more reliable, because it is a form of third party “verification.” Read my reviews as if you were a client. How would you feel about hiring me after seeing what others say about me?
So, how do you get reviews? The best way is to ask. When you have an appointment that goes well, ask the client if he would consider writing a review for you, so that future clients will know that you are not only the person in your pictures, but that all the information in your ad is accurate, and that you are safe, clean, courteous, reliable, and professional. Most clients who are happy with you will also be happy to tell others they are happy with you (and they will immediately recognize the value of sharing this information). Another good way to get more reviews is to put links to your reviews on your ads, blogs, websites, and other promotional materials. If more people know about the review process, more are likely to contribute to it. If someone sees your reviews before hiring you, he will already understand what you are requesting if you ask him to write one. It would be ideal to get about ten reviews in the first year of escorting, so that you can relatively quickly establish that you are a respected professional. After that it is good to get a new review every six months or so, so that you can establish a long-term reputation. Reviews that are a couple years old leave clients in the same position as if you had no reviews: Is he STILL as hot as his pictures? Is he STILL reliable?
Establish your reputation, then maintain it over time, so that people can see across years that you have always been exactly who you say you are. This will not only make your work easier and more lucrative, it will help clients know better whether or not your branding is aligned with their interests (which can save all sorts of time and energy).
March 3, 2014 No Comments
Recently I had a conversation with Lichen Craig, one of the hosts at GaySexCast.com. During our talk we introduced her audience to some of the concepts I have been blogging about over the years, particularly as they pertain to professionalism and self esteem. Please click here if you would like to hear the podcast!
August 29, 2013 No Comments