Cain: How Slag Wars Helped Me Celebrate Sex Work
“If Slag Wars has taught me one thing it’s how much vocalising your own experiences can help other people. The more queer stories are told, the more we allow queer stories to breathe”
This year as a promoter, and avid attendee of events for as long as I can remember, I feel like I’ve lost a part of my identity.
Nightlife was a playground for me to explore my gender identity and sexuality, and where I found my queer family in London. That playground soon turned into a platform and I was able to start putting on my own events and showcasing many other queer artists across the city and beyond.
Taking the reins of 22 year old club night Popcorn at Heaven every Monday created a huge sense of pride in myself. Inheriting a club night close to my own age gave me the opportunity to bring a dated brand into the modern age of expression, talent and move into the future. However, spending pretty much every week of my first four years in London in clubs and afterparties led to a persistent battle with substance abuse.
I can proudly say 2020 saw me entering the early stages of my sobriety and taking the steps to kicking the habits and learning to love myself again. I originally thought without the urges and temptations of being in a nightclub surrounded by alcohol it would make it easier to stay strong and sober. It ultimately made me sit alone with my feelings and ask why I even work in nightlife. Was it because of the actual events, or was it because of the alcohol that came with them?
Not only did I feel like I’d lost a part of myself I once relied on so heavily with drink and drugs, but COVID-19 has also put so many restrictions in place and so many creatives have been stripped of their means of expression. I had to keep sane and keep my creativity as active as possible, but without nightlife I didn’t know how to express myself. People are always going to evolve and adapt to rules and restrictions, whether it’s how they get their money or how they explore their creativity. I decided to start merging my creativity with sex work.
The rise in the number of people using OnlyFans has definitely worked towards normalising the conversation around online sex work. For me, getting back into it this year through setting up an OnlyFans not only kept me busy during some of the more intense months of lockdown but it also gave me a sense of liberation through self exploration for the first time in my adult life. Having been involved in sex work from the minute I turned eighteen as a means to get by – doing studio porn and escorting as well as webcam shows – a lot of my first (and most significant) sexual experiences were all on camera or essentially for other people.
I originally joined OnlyFans for a confidence boost and to attempt to fall back in love with myself and my body. The more content I created, the more I found it to be a cathartic experience and a platform where I could embrace my past and begin shaking off the stigma I faced when I was eighteen. Filming myself, taking more naked selfies and wanking more this year allowed me to rediscover my body and create a healing process from a time where I had used my body to make other people happy or used sex work as a means to get by. This time I was doing it for myself and solely myself.
By August I had been approached about starring in a new reality TV show, Slag Wars, celebrating queerness and sparking conversations around sexy positivity, hosted by Rebecca More and Sophie Anderson aka The Cock Destroyers. I originally accepted the offer as a way to keep busy during the pandemic and give myself a new platform to showcase some of the outfits I would have normally worn in the club. Soon into filming I realised this show was turning into something a lot more serious than the camp reality TV I expected. It was the first time I had been around other sex workers in a non-sexual setting.
I have always had a strong passion for being sexually liberated, even from a young age, but I always struggled to navigate being gay and coming from a regional town in the Midlands. As far as I can remember I was doing private webcam shows in my room for money and as soon as I was of age I stepped into studio porn. I don’t have any regrets about the scenes, but I do resent the way I am presented in them; the typical smooth twink, face full of makeup to present younger than I was and a stereotypical ‘schoolboy’ plot.
Getting back into sex work through OnlyFans has given me a huge sense of reclaiming that narrative and exploitation that I felt when I was a teenager. With myself as the director, videographer and model I get to cut, crop and edit as I wish or, more typically with my videos, leave certain things in. The studio porn industry plays a significant role in painting the misleading notion of picture perfect sex, whereas with OnlyFans I can leave in the clumsy position changes, the lube being applied, and establishing consent and boundaries. For me, that’s what really gets me off: realism within porn.
Slag Wars gave me an opportunity to work through my own issues around sex, as well as a chance to amplify the voices and stories of people who wouldn’t typically get heard. This year everyone has been forced to sit with their plans and ideas for the future, and hopefully 2021 gives people a chance to put those plans into action. Filming, and then watching Slag Wars gave me a chance to sit with what I wanted to do in the future.
More things can be done to keep the conversation around sex positivity going. Whether it’s an industry you work in or not, we all express our sexuality, we all have sexual thoughts. It’s something we should all understand. If Slag Wars has taught me one thing it’s how much vocalising your own experiences can help other people. I had always been pensive about how openly I talk about sexual liberation and putting my own experiences out into the world, for multiple reasons – maybe out of fear of judgement, or not knowing what implications it could have.
But the more these issues are spoken about, the more they resonate with people. The more queer stories are told, the more we allow queer stories to breathe, and from there important changes can be made. Cultural and societal factors have launched a war against sexual expression – sex workers are under attack with a constant feeling of walking on egg shells with online censorship. There is a huge suppression of any art related to nudity, self expression or adult work.
Going sober made this ‘nightlife bubble’ I had lived in for so long POP, and I started to realise that although we have some incredible queer spaces scattered across London, ultimately they are drenched in alcohol. 2020, if nothing else, has been a huge eye opener for a lot of businesses, venues, companies and individuals. The pandemic has forced us to sit with our ideas of how we want ourselves and the world we live in to change, and I hope once we are given the opportunity our energies and ambitions can flourish.
I hope to see an increase in queer spaces putting community at the heart of their operations. A huge chunk of meeting new people, finding your queer family and discovering your creativity in London has been stripped away this year, although a night of mindless dancing with a bottle of poppers is something I’m really looking forward to, I’m also so excited to reconnect with my community.
Cain: How Slag Wars Helped Me Celebrate Sex Work