Sex work is the only industry in the world where women make more than men, she explains as we sit in a no-frills lesbian bar around 2 a.m. Cara is finished for the evening, and we share a plate of French fries to celebrate. She is street-smart but sweet, as if her suburban roots havent left her entirely. I refuse to be a babysitter or a nurse. Sex work lets me do what I want and not worry about paying the rent all the time.
When Cara first moved to San Francisco, a friend encouraged her to audition at The Lusty Lady, an infamous North Beach strip bar. She was hired and within three months was doing masturbation shows and nude modeling. She was fired from The Lusty Lady for coming in late to work, but seems unconcerned. I dont need them anymore. I have other sources of income, she says. But Im not a prostitute, because I dont f*** these men. I get off in front of them and they get off watching me.
Cara uses an online Bay Area personals service called Craigs List to book shows. In the online community and industry, she is known as Kitty. Her current online ad reads: Want to watch me masturbate? Want me to show you my G-spot? I love to squirt. Cara has built her sex worker image with her ability to ejaculate, an increasingly rare skill in the business, she explains. She arranged tonights motel gig with a man who saw her ad.
When asked how the job went, Cara speaks quietly. For two hours of work, I have rent money for next month. I do not push her for more information. She pays for the French fries and we head to her house in the Lower Haight. Her bedroom wall hangings include nude black and white photographs of Cara, pornographic film scripts and posters from her bands latest show.
Cara also expresses concern for women who are just getting into the field. You really have to watch yourself, she says. There are so many creepy people out there, and rape is a huge problem. Cara looks tired; it is 4 a.m. and she has been working hard.
When asked about her philosophy of sex work, she is fervent and unapologetic. I live a poly-amorous lifestyle. Cara has been polyamorous since college, in long-term sexual relationships with men and women simultaneously.
I believe in sex work because I think its expressive of something I feel very strongly about: the ability to love who we want when we want. Upon finishing this statement, she pulls the $750 out of her jean pocket and shows it to me. This pays for more than French fries, she says.
As Cara sees it, she is twisting standards of womens sexuality and making them, in part, her own. In her words, Im a self-professed slut. Cara does not view herself as a victim of a patriarchal society where all women have is their sexuality. If anything, she sees society as HER victim.
I decide to explore more of San Francisco and we say goodbye. When I hug Cara, she whispers in my ear, What did you make of all this? I promise to send her a copy of my story. She leaves and I set out for more exploring. When I return to Minnesota, Cara has sent me a card. On the cover is a naked woman covered in whipped cream. Her hands are tied behind her back and she is screaming, But this is what I want! Inside the card reads, Thanks for interviewing me. I will be thinking of you, and let me know if you need work. XOXO, Kitty.