Just before the release of 2008’s I am . . . Sasha Fierce, Beyoncé Knowles told V Magazine she was living with multiple personalities. As opposed to the trauma usually preceding dissociative identity disorder (known as multiple personality disorder until the American Psychiatric Association renamed it in 1994), Queen B’s experience of fractured selves was a conscious choice.
Beyoncé, it seems, was too much of a good girl to pull off the overt sexuality and top calibre divadom fans expected on stage. Instead, as she was waiting in the wings, adjusting her double stick and taking her last sip of water, she’d conjure her alter ego by repeating the three-word mantra, “You are fierce!” By the time her stilettoed feet hit the stage, Bey would be lounging comfortably in the passenger’s seat, Sasha Fierce having forcibly grabbed the wheel in her manicured hands.
I’m not a pop star, but I get where she’s coming from. I have my own version of Sasha. His name is Devon Delacroix. The moniker I use in the sex business isn’t the one I was born with, but that should come as a shock to no one. With precious few exceptions, everyone who enters the industry re-christens themselves when they begin to work, the reasons for which are largely obvious. Keeping your choices private from unsuspecting family members and future job prospects is key both to working safely and (when the time comes) exiting successfully.
But the move to rebrand yourself can also be a psychological necessity. Devon isn’t much different from my other self. He’s got the same intellect, holds the same educational qualifications and has the same future plans. What sets him apart is his strength. You have to deal with a lot of shit in the sex business (yes, I’m speaking both figuratively and literally). And the other me, the one who lives the rest of my life reading poetry books and eating grilled cheese and listening to The Smiths while it’s raining, well that me is a little too afraid be the person I have to be when I’m selling sex.
I’ve never done a 97-city world tour. But I have fucked more than a dozen people in a 36-hour span, double fisted 400-pound guys, and held knives to people’s throats while they blow me. Work of this kind requires a stamina that goes beyond anything Viagra can bring. It’s a mental and emotional fortitude I can only conjure by being someone else.
When I’m doing those things, it’s not the everyday me who’s doing them. It’s Devon. Devon is a sexual warrior, turned off by nothing, and understanding to a fault. He doesn’t care when condoms come out filthy or when people cry on his shoulder. Always hard. Always ready to go. Impossible to faze. Service with a smile.
Devon is the person I am when I’m doing sex work. But Devon is also the place where I store that part of my life when I’m not working so it doesn’t seep over into the everyday. So when the carefully constructed wall between my two selves begins to crack, it’s disorienting.
I’m in Antwerp, ostensibly taking a mini-vacation, though I’ve brought a bit of reading for my semiotics class and agreed to review some sex clubs for one of my editors while I’m here. After an hours-long aimless walk around the city and surprisingly good falafel, I decide to hit one of the clubs I’m supposed to write up. It’s a big, dark leather bar with all sorts of kink equipment and next to no patrons. This particular evening has a seven-euro special for all the beer you can drink so I decide if I’m not getting lucky, I might as well get tipsy.
As I’m walking down the stairs to the main bar this tiny Latino boy walks past me, slapping my ass on the way. That was a come-on, right? I glance over my shoulder and he’s beaming at me. Hmm. Maybe tonight won’t be a total wash. He’s a little tiny to be my type but occasionally it’s nice to fuck someone you can really throw around.
Ten minutes later, we’re chatting at the bar. He seems to be there with his boyfriend (also very tiny and, I’ve now learned, Brazilian). They’ve been talking to this 60-something Flemish dude and decided since nothing’s going down here to head back to their place. I’m not so into the vibe, but I also don’t feel like sitting here all night, knocking back beer until I reluctantly give in to a darkroom blowjob I know I shouldn’t accept. So I acquiesce and agree to come along.
His condo is well-appointed; the usual big screen TV playing porn, a pharmacy’s worth of recreationals covering the counter, a portable stand-alone sling that he begins assembling shortly after we get in the door. I’m always a little surprised when I encounter sex paraphernalia I’ve never seen before and this kind of sling is definitely in that category. Its metal frame pours out of a canvas bag and assembles like a tent. Ingenious. I wonder how much it was? Would I really get enough use out of it to justify the expense? I make a mental note to do some Googling for prices and delivery options later.
After a few minutes of chat, it becomes clear I’ve totally misread the situation. Tiny Brazilian Number One is not in fact in a relationship with Tiny Brazilian Number Two. They’re just friends and not even fuck friends. Number One is actually dating the old Flemish guy I thought he’d only picked up at the bar an hour earlier and Number Two is just tagging along. Things start to fall into place and I pick up the scent of trade. It seems my host is a hustler and the party attendee I thought was a semi-unwelcome guest is his sugar daddy. Why am I surprised? . . .
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