I’d worried about how this project would change the way people saw me, and, even now that it was over, I felt like I was still dodging falling debris. I got an email from a friend of mine last week. I was about to have dinner with him and his girlfriend.
“I haven’t told her about your new job yet. I wonder how she’ll react. I’m a little concerned,” he wrote.
I had no idea what to make of that, so I asked him to elaborate.
“She doesn’t have much patience for the ‘follies of the young,’” he explained. “She might not appreciate your position. She might think cute girl + porn job = trampy little slut. I’m not sure how this is going to pan out.”
I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach. This was a good friend of mine. Someone who knew me well, and someone who should also know how hearing this would make me feel. He was clearly very concerned about what his girlfriend was going to say, and this was just in response to my current, relatively impressive and legitimate, job. He didn’t even know what I’d done to get myself there!
Compared to my pornographic past, I felt pretty clean these days. So what if the end product of my work involved nubile young women? There wasn’t anything inappropriate about my working environment—it was a pretty standard office—and I wasn’t doing anything pornographic myself. Not anymore.
I couldn’t believe my friend felt the way that he did, or that he had so little tact to share it with me. The irony, of course, was that, with the exception of the porn work I’d done, I’d actually had a remarkably boring sex life and went on very few dates. Even my sex life with David was almost stiflingly traditional. I’d never even done a one-night stand. I wasn’t the typical porn star stock. I was well behaved. Before I’d started escorting, my sexual partners could have been counted on one hand. I didn’t drink often. I didn’t do drugs. I ate right. I exercised. I practiced safe sex. I had good, solid suburban girl in my bloodstream.
All of which was part of the reason I started this project in the first place. I was sick of being well behaved. I was sick of my meager sexual experiences and my dull, balanced lifestyle. I was fascinated by the people whose lives were the opposite, by the women I saw as glamorous, bold, and sexy. They didn’t give a damn about sensible options. They were my fantasy.
What with being a quiet nerd in high school, and then dating my first sexual partner for two and a half years, I’d never really gotten to know the sexual part of myself. Maybe if I’d had a wilder sexual past, maybe if I’d found another distracting hobby to stimulate me, maybe if I hadn’t had a deep-seated longing for middle-aged male approval, maybe if I had figured out a way to make my own life feel more dangerous, maybe then I wouldn’t have had to create Karla—but my life didn’t give me what I needed. So, for a brief time, I put on the tiara and played Sexual Princess. I had to create Karla in order to find myself, and, now it was over. Karla was tucked away with the memories and artifacts. I’d traveled my metaphorical journey. I’d performed my various tasks, and I’d come back home, in every way a Prodigal Son.
So imagine my surprise that I could still be seen as “trampy little slut” based on my current job, by someone who had no idea Karla had ever existed. I’d never been a slut, and I certainly wasn’t now. Couldn’t they tell? I could only imagine what someone would think if they knew how I’d actually gotten this job, or if they knew about my other “skills.”
Another bit of falling debris hit me the next day. I got an email from David. I’d mentioned that I’d done porn work to him earlier, in the interests of honesty and full disclosure, and I had been impressed by his cool and even reaction. But apparently this was because he had assumed that I had only done computer-programming work for online sites, not actual sex work. Considering my limited computer skills, I had no idea why he would have drawn that conclusion, but he did.
He was upset to find out what I’d actually done, and he was breaking up with me. He told me that I’d had a moral obligation to tell him this before we’d had sex. Did I really? I had been really careful, I knew that I’d checked out clean on all my STD tests, and he and I used protection. He wouldn’t have caught anything even if I’d had something. But the point was, that I didn’t. I didn’t have anything. And yet he still expected me to tell him, right away? Should I wear my past around my neck, like a big letter A? What would my letter be, an X?
Would I have to tell all my future lovers about my past experiences? Was I stuck with this baggage forever? Or did I just have to find the right man, one who wouldn’t judge me or be threatened, but one who would welcome my experiences and the things I’d learned?