Out in the Open

Choosing Sex Work

It's said to be the oldest profession in the world. But even so, sex work is still one of the most stigmatized ways to make a living. This week, Piya speaks with people who willingly engage in sex work, to understand the personal value they glean from it beyond money and pleasure.

Piya speaks with people who willingly engage in sex work, to understand the personal value they glean from it

Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro says working as a phone sex operator helped her heal from sexual trauma. (Submitted by Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro)

It's said to be the oldest profession in the world. But even so, sex work is still one of the most stigmatized ways to make a living. In part, that's because people can be exploited. In part, it's because sex trafficking is also a troubling reality. But there's also a subset of people who willingly choose to engage in sex work. This week, Piya speaks with some of them, to understand the personal value they glean from it beyond money and pleasure.

Here are the stories from this week's episode...

How working as an escort allowed this woman to find empowerment, despite the risks

After early explorations of her own sexuality and a revelatory experience attending a strip club, Andrea Werhun decided to become an escort. She quickly found the work empowered her, and exposed her to different people she sought inspiration from as an aspiring writer. She explains to Piya how sex work allowed her to be herself, why she continued to find value in it even after being sexually assaulted... and why she finally decided to "come out" to quell stigma.

Why this man chooses to pay for sex instead of pursuing conventional relationships

About 20 years ago, Chester Brown decided he no longer wanted to invest in romantic love... but still wanted to have sex. So, he began seeking out sex workers, and has now been seeing the same one nearly exclusively for 16 years. He tells Piya how the value for him has evolved beyond pleasure over time, and why he continues to be so open about paying for sex even though doing so is illegal in Canada.

How being a phone sex operator helped this woman heal from sexual trauma

Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro lives with chronic illness, disability and PTSD. She initially became a phone sex operator for the flexibility the job afforded her. But she soon found it also had the surprising effect of helping her process trauma related to sexual abuse she suffered as a child. She tells Piya how the job has offered her healing, and allowed her to relate to customers experiencing similar challenges around intimacy and trauma.

Couple makes sex videos to promote communication and 'real-world sex'

After Veronica and Tony Tarango had their first child, they began neglecting their own marriage and stopped having sex. When they found out they were both watching porn on their own, they decided to videotape themselves to reignite their intimacy. They explain to Piya how that led them to upload their videos to a social sex video-sharing website for a profit, in order to help promote sexual communication and provide depictions of "real-world sex."

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