Currently reading : An interview with Alexandra Rayne about sex work
Alexandra Rayne is a working in the sex industry and is london based. We took some time to discuss sex work, politics and BDSM.
So to start with would you like to tell us how did you start to do sex work? Did it come before or after your involvement in sex/kink/swinger scene? How does both influence each other?
Sex work was always at the back of my mind to try out, ever since I was a teenager and stumbled across a coffee table book of Dominatrix photographs at a friends parents place. I was kinky, but I wouldn’t have conceptualised it that way back then. I guess I figured that my fantasies were entirely normal and it was everyone else that was kinked.
I started out as a dancer, but found that whilst it was good fun (and I enjoyed the club environment) the interactions with customers were….unsatisfying. There was something so banal and flat about dancing to the same songs over and over, so unsexual and not very stimulating for me. I think intimate, one-on-one sessions were always going to be on the cards. I used to get in trouble at the club because I would sit down beside customers and fall into a deep conversation about kink with them – and forget to hustle for a dance!
Eventually I started escorting, and then I got into professional submission, which was about 5 years ago. It seemed like a good fit for me.
Sex work is still bearing a high stigma in western societies, how do you articulate it with your daily life? When does your job become an identity ?
Sex work will always be stigmatised for as long as female sexuality and female power are coded as a threatening or malevolent force in a society that would prefer women to be seen and not heard. That’s never been my style, and as I’ve reached my mid twenties, i’ve become even less apologetic about enjoying sex and being successful. In fact, I get somewhat of a kick out of living my life exactly as I wish. There will always be people who want to police the borders of acceptable female sexual behaviour – and they don’t bother me one bit, though they used to. I think for many sex workers the identity building process is borne out of feeling like an outsider, a renegade. That was certainly the case for me, though lately I have found that I draw that strength from somewhere within, and less heavily from notions of a shared identity.
If I remember correctly , grasping at conversations while you were in the studio, you started doing professional submissive work, but has now opened up the range of services you are offering. What was the motivation for this change?
Yes, I was a pro-sub for some years, followed by a natural evolution into pro-switching (domination and submission) which I’m still doing, though these days I also work as a companion, or escort. I feel like ultimately i’m offering a similar experience across the board – kink exploration with erotic full service – but that branding is important, and some clients are reached more effectively with different types of branding, a different style of photography or web design or copy. Some might be keen to submit to a dominant but would never dream of having a hardcore Mistress session in a dungeon. To reach more diverse client types, I decided I would adopt new roles.
Going out to fetish clubs and looking at kink specific social medias, I observed that , despise them being theoretically being safe spaces for expressing non normative sexualities and identities, it seems that models and dominant codes of conducts are still very much in place.For instance I could illustrate my point with the high number of D/S relationships involving an older dominant male and a younger submissive female, which mirrors perfectly the idea of normative aka straight and vanilla relationships. I reckon this could be due to Kink being slowly integrated to mainstream culture and believe that I can see a before and an after 50 shades of Grey in the attendance of What would be your opinion in the normalisation of Fetish and BDSM?
Regarding normative behaviour, I think that kink spaces aren’t vacuums, and they absolutely do mirror wider societal structures with regards to gendered power dynamics, racism, body shaming, age discrimination, etc. As much as we would like these spaces to be ‘better’ or more advanced, they often aren’t, and we should work to make them more radical every day. As for society becoming ’50 shades-ified,’ I think that as with any sub-culture that gets osmosed into the mainstream, kinky practices are going to be watered down and spread about. I foresee BDSM being packaged and ‘sold’ to the non-kinky population, the same way punk aesthetics were, decades ago. However, I imagine there will still be enough true kinksters to keep things really perverted – or at least I hope so.
I was wondering if you could tell us the story of your first client as an escort? How did you meet him/her? How did it go?
My first session was actually an invitation from a friend to join in with a threesome. She’d been seeing him as a client for a while but he’d never been with two girls and was curious to watch us fuck. I was incredibly nervous, but looking back, that probably had more to do with the fact I was inexperienced with women, rather than the paid element of it. I remember wondering if I was supposed to get a real orgasm out of her or not, whether my technique was good or bad, hoping my perfume wasn’t overpowering. I got lipstick on her face too – rookie mistakes. These days I usually forego lipstick and perfume, in case my clients wind up with incriminating evidence of their shenanigans coming to the attention of their wives.
I am also quite interested by the concept of professional female submission. I tend to associate sex work as an empowerment. The client begin clearly placed in a role of dominance, in the sexual service as well as in an economic status , how do you feel about the apparent paradox that is being exacerbated by this specific service?
I think people often find the idea of professional submission challenging, compared to the familiar trope of a powerful and agentic dominatrix. However, I don’t think there’s anything particularly disempowering about erotic submission, professional or not. In the professional realm, a pro-submissive must have absolute control of the environment at all times, in order to establish boundaries and safe working practices. Unlike many Mistresses, I don’t allow my clients to engage with me in fantasy-speak (I delete emails that begin ‘Dear Slave’) before our session because I think it’s crucial to connect as equals before a consensual power exchange is enacted. I also usually tutor my clients in the ways of safe domination and punishment prior to beginning, especially if they’re novices. When i’m submitting, I feel powerful because I temporarily gift my power to another person, and I enjoy it from a new perspective as I watch them exercise it over me through the medium of bondage or corporal punishment. During the best submissive sessions, with a good dom, I’m made to feel like the centre of the universe.
Also I was curious to know a bit more about your clientele. I understand that you need to be discreet and respect their privacies, but can you observe some recurrent demographic traits within your paying partners? (would it be in terms of sex, gender, class, race, age)
My clients are a fairly homogenous group – overwhelmingly middle to upper-middle class, cis-het, straight, white, middle aged men. My prices are prohibitively high, which of course skews this data, as does the fact that I require prospective clients to be fluent in English (so we can negotiate BDSM safely)
It’s a shame, as I would love to see people from more backgrounds, including more women, people of colour, queer and trans folks and clients with disabilities. What it comes down to, of course, is that these are people who are less likely to be wealthy in our society, and therefore the services of sex workers are less accesible to them (as much as i’d like to see more diverse clients, I don’t offer discounts)
You once mentioned that your business seems to be affected by the growing tattoo coverage on your body. Would it be the clientele demographic or the type of jobs?
As I get more tattoos, I’m finding that I seem to attract more of the type of client who either appreciates tattoos directly (maybe he’s tattooed or just finds them fascinating from an aesthetic perspective), or maybe comes from a background that hates tattoos, and so he associates them with sexual deviancy, female power, rebellion, hedonism….which quite sexy associations to have, I guess. Some of my clients are pretty old-fashioned guys and just don’t really ‘get’ tattoos, but luckily I only have leg coverage at the moment, and everything is covered by stockings and suspenders. Though that won’t be the case for long, I hope.
I’m sure it’s the case that some people look at my sites and are put off from booking me on the basis of my tattoos, but that’s too bad. To be honest, if they’re turned off by the ink, they’re probably going to find my personality a turn off too.
On a slightly different subject, I don’t know if you ever considered or been involved in porn yourself, but as a kinkster and a sex worker what is your sentiment about the new laws regarding porn production in UK for VOD that makes illegal filming Spanking , Caning ,Aggressive whipping , Penetration by any object “associated with violence” ,Physical or verbal abuse (regardless of if consensual) , Urolagnia (known as “water sports”) , Role-playing as non-adults , Physical restraint , Humiliation , Female ejaculation, Strangulation , Facesitting, Fisting . I feel like this goes in a wider set of british laws getting at internet policing, and follow the dynamic of banning streaming / free download websites. This place that used to be a space of digital freedom, is being increasingly more controlled. Attitude that I find quite disturbing coming from a country that benefit from a really liberal and progressivist image worldwide. I am also concerned for professionals, that in a context of apparent economic crisis are forced out of business. It seems to me to be clashing with the all capitalist liberalism that historically defines United Kingdoms. Any thoughts on that maybe?
The recent porn laws are absolutely ridiculous – I get the sense that the UK government feels like it ought to be seen to be cracking down on ‘sexual perversion’ in the wake of the recent sex abuse scandals in the news, and kinky porn producers are being thrown under the bus. Most reasonable people can see that porn featuring schoolgirl uniforms and spanking have nothing whatsoever to do with child abuse – but it would appear that the regulators are not reasonable people.
The new laws overwhelmingly censor depictions of female pleasure – the censorship of facesitting and squirting being particularly egregious. I think this is symptomatic of wider discomfort at female sexual agency in society, but will also have a trickle-down effect (excuse the pun) – what will be censored next? In my view, it will be private acts we engage in behind closed doors.
Lastly, these laws are making it more dangerous for fetish porn performers. Many of them are my friends, and will be continuing to make porn (because it’s their job and they need to continue earning a living) but from now on, the workplaces and filmsets will be illegal and unregulated, therefore exposing them to exploitation in the workplace, at the hands of dodgy directors who will now be making suddenly illegal movies.
Alexandra can be contacted through her website : http://www.alexandrarayne.com