[interview] Christina Parreira on Sex Worker Outing And Getting Outed

cp2A few weeks ago, Christina Parreira posted on her facebook page that her mother was dismissive and judgmental about Parreira’s work in the sex industry. A stripper, occasional cam model, and fetish performer, Parreira also holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is a Ph.D. candidate and sex worker rights activist. We talked about coming out as a sex worker to family, and the conversation grew from there.

Gram: How receptive had you expected your mother to be, and had you prepared yourself for Not Receptive At All?

Parreira: Coming out to family members can be a very scary experience. My mother is rather conservative. She’s only slept with one man her whole life, and that’s my father. The concept of sex work is foreign to her. She views it as degrading and “dirty.” I knew it was going to cause big problems in our relationship if she found out, so I kept it from her as long as I could. However, given my increasing interest in the sex industry, she started to ask questions. She knew something was going on, but she just wasn’t sure what. At first she assumed I was a stripper or perhaps a prostitute. She used to ask me why I had so many wigs! She started harping on me about something that I wasn’t even doing at the time, and I finally broke down and told her the truth; that I was a cam model.

Although she was angry, she was relieved that I wasn’t leaving the house to work and that I wasn’t at a club (she deemed this to be more dangerous than just working from home on a webcam). Although things were tense, she took the news better than I had expected. Things remained relatively calm until I became more vocal about being a sex worker. She read my blog and realized that I was “out” to everyone, and this is when the real problems began. At this point in time, I have decided to take a break from my relationship with her. As much as this pains me, I feel it’s necessary to keep my respect and sanity intact.

Gram: I have a pornographer friend who says that he hasn’t told his family because only he has made the decision to be a pornographer, but they have not made the decision to be related to one. Your mother’s attitude toward your work seems like the two of you have found an unhappy medium between your not hiding the truth from her and her rejecting your truth. Is it possible you could have not told her?

Parreira: I think it would have been much easier to never tell her, although she would have continued to worry and make her own assumptions. Also, I am not one to hide. As I said, I felt that hiding that part of who I am would only perpetuate the stigmas that I work to fight against. I felt that I was being disingenuous, and I did not want to live that way

My mother worries about public perception. She would be much happier if I were a sex worker that didn’t talk about being a sex worker. By being so open about it, she says that I am bringing shame upon her, and she asked me how I could “have sunk so low.” As much as she’s disgusted with what I do, she’s even more disgusted with the fact that I am not ashamed.

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Gram: Here is a particularly invidious question: How would you imagine your mother treating your profession in a perfect world, or would a perfect world mean you wouldn’t be a sex worker?

Parreira: In a perfect world, I would still be a sex worker, but I could do so without being shamed or stereotyped for it. This goes for every individual who works in the sex industry. Sex workers would be treated with respect, would have labor rights, protection under the law. We would have the basic civil and human rights that we deserve. Perhaps my mother would disagree with my choice, but she would still respect me. My mother views sex work as amoral. In a perfect world, she wouldn’t push her morals onto me, and would respect my right to do what I please with my body.

Gram: Again with the perfect world, I know that a lot of porn performers rarely acknowledge that personal relationships can get tricky in this business. Sex is personal, and often proprietary. Jealousy is hard to avoid even with the grooviest couples…

Parreira: It’s an ongoing journey. In both camming and stripping, I provide a service to individuals: attention, titillation, fantasy, company, conversation. My clients provide me with monetary compensation. It’s a clean exchange without false pretenses, and it feels very honest. I understand that this is just a job and I feel that I am able to separate the two. However, sex work has changed me. It would be strange if an individual worked in ANY profession for five years and didn’t experience some changes, right? I’ve had sex on camera for money, many times. “On camera sex” is different from off camera sex. I’ve had moments in my personal sex life where I begin to mimic some of what I am used to doing on camera, and then I catch myself. Sometimes it can be hard to relax and just enjoy the natural process of sex, but this also depends on my comfort and familiarity with my partner. Working as a stripper has also produced some changes, but it’s still too early for me to pinpoint exactly how those changes are manifesting. I’ve only been dancing for a couple of months. It’s interesting to work in a space with all female workers, and the majority of male clients. I observe the way gender roles play out in the club. They seem much more extreme inside the club than they do in the “real world.” I will be honest and admit that I am at times very turned off by some of the stereotypically male behavior that I witness inside the club. These men are clients, and in my mind, they are fundamentally different from the men that I would choose to get romantically involved with. This is how I keep it separate, and I’m not so sure that this is healthy. After all, this separation suggests that clients are “bad,” and I do not want to fall into the trap of stigmatizing clients of sex workers. However, I can’t help being put off by some of the client behavior that I have observed. It’s really a tricky thing to navigate, and I believe it’s an ongoing process.

Gram: In a scenario where people think of sex work as a job like any other, but perhaps more glamorous, wouldn’t there also be a decrease in the exciting taboo of being/employing a sex worker? What are your thoughts on the role of a societal taboo in the function of your work?

Parreira: Even in a world where sex work is considered work, sex will always be a hot button topic. There’s always scandal and taboo when it comes to sex. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Even if it does, sex workers will always have work. To be blunt, humans like sex. Humans have been paying for sex for a very long time and will continue to do so. As a species, we enjoy sexual contact with other humans. That’s not changing anytime soon, regardless of how “taboo” it is. 

It’s also very important to note that different types of sex work come with different levels of taboo. The same goes for stigma. Television shows have been made about “high end” white escorts, but I’ve never seen a show about minority street workers. People just want the glitz and the fantasy, the “high end call girl.” They put her on a pedestal while still shaming her for being a whore. But, at least she’s visible. The most marginalized are hardly acknowledged. 

It’s hard to make general sweeping statements in regards to sex work because we aren’t a homogeneous group. We face various levels of stigma and this has to do with the varying levels of privilege. Unfortunately, the most marginalized workers aren’t usually given a voice. Look at me- I look white, I’m in my 20s, and I’m educated. You’re interviewing a privileged sex worker. I have a lot to say and I face stigma and adversity, but I can’t pretend that it’s the same as a sex worker who’s black, transgendered, and living in poverty. I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent, but there’s something about the word “glamorous” in regards to sex work.

Gram: That’s true. Each financial; end has its own stereotypes and is nowhere near as homogenous as the public thinks it is.

Parreira: Unfortunately, the mistake that many sex workers make is in perpetuating a harmful hierarchy, rather than helping one another. I’ve heard many porn performers make remarks about being “better than the girls who escort,” and I’ve heard “high end” sex workers make comments about workers who charge less. It’s all bullshit. Society already thinks we’re all whores, so why are we attacking each other? That’s the last thing the sex workers’ rights movement needs. It’s one thing to discuss and acknowledge the role of privilege. We need to be doing that! Our oppression isn’t created equal. It is not okay to use one’s privilege to shame others. “I’m a classier whore than she is! I don’t fuck for less than a grand an hour.” Oh, shut up already. That sort of talk isn’t helping anyone. Get off your high horse and do something useful with that privilege that you’ve got! 

Since first we talked, Parreira has been outed as a sexting partner of Hugo Schwyzer, a Pasadena City College instructor and sometimes-controversial “male feminist” blogger. Schwyzer’s online and in-person meltdown have been well-documented elsewhere, but in recent weeks Parreira was outed as one of Schwyzer’s sexting partners (though the two never met). Parreira has since surfed a wave of high drama of exes real and virtual, in which her porn name (Christina Page) was linked with her real one.

[read Parreira’s piece on being linked publicly to Schwyzer in Tits And Sass]

Gram: The sex industry is very much like academia. There are a lot of jealousies and politics to navigate.

Parreira: There is a lot of drama. It’s easy to get caught up in it, especially when one feels passionately about an issue. Issues of bodily autonomy are a hot topic and always have been. People with varying ideologies will always argue over who’s right. The radical feminists think we’re all brainwashed and suffering from a false consciousness. Even within sex worker activists, there’s arguing over privilege, decriminalization of indoor/outdoor prostitution, and so forth. I try to keep a level head, but it’s difficult and I’ve lost my cool many times. I keep striving to keep an open mind and understand where others are coming from, but it can be very stressful. I try to practice self care, but that’s a work in progress!

Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Love Army, San Francisco—an interview with Dr. Carol Queen; Searching for Solace in the Sex Worker World
See also: Follow Christina Parreira on Twitter, For the Love of Porn, Prostitution, And Pussy

11 thoughts on “[interview] Christina Parreira on Sex Worker Outing And Getting Outed

  1. Thank you for your honesty and your frank discussion of a taboo and difficult topic.
    Addressing the issue of inter-group oppression: sex workers who stigmatize other sex workers, seems extra relevant. As if there weren’t enough stigma out there to battle! As women it would be really awesome if we could learn to support each others choices and accept the various ways we work and express ourselves.
    Additionally, I appreciated what you had to say about not wanting to stigmatize the men who patronize sex workers. Sexual arousal, desire, and need are natural phenomena people should have the option of buying fantasy, interaction, companionship. We don’t stigmatize people pay to be waited on and served food in a restaurant rather than make their own. Why should we stigmatize people who pay for sexual interactions?

  2. “We don’t stigmatize people pay to be waited on and served food in a restaurant rather than make their own. Why should we stigmatize people who pay for sexual interactions?”

    I think that’s the perfect way to frame it, yet I don’t know a single waiter who doesn’t bitch about/hate his customers occasionally, who isn’t quickly able to organize them into “types,” and who hasn’t had to smile through an interaction with someone he hates. Similarly, we’ve all sat next to (or perhaps been) the entitled customer and/or the sullen/rude/angry waiter.

    I think the restaurant analogy is particularly apt because restaurants, like the availability of sex work, feature service professionals that touch most of the financial spectrum.

    Yet even though “Sexual arousal, desire, and need are natural phenomena,” those things are so charged with meaning that it’s very convenient to push that button to get an easy response, or to score an easy point. I’m equally disgusted by the porn performer who shames his fans for liking porn as I am with the porn consumer who shames the women he can’t stop watching.

    Yes, sex work is a transaction-based job and we need to think of it like any other transaction-based job, but each transaction is as fraught as enriched uranium.

  3. Gram, you and I know each over, and as you have become aware, Christina is my ex.

    It’s truly unfortunate that her life has taken the turn it has. No, of course I’m not referring to sex work, or allegedly being “outed”; I’m referring to a self-destructive spiral fueled by her stated refusal to pay for treatment for the serious mental illness from which she admits she suffers: Borderline Personality Disorder.

    Christina has embarked on a campaign of lies, threats, outing of personal information, defamation and harassment against me, my friends, and even my elderly parents. When caught in lie after lie, she simply concocts new, uglier lies.

    I am grateful that you linked to one of several articles on TheRealPornWikileaks (TRPWL) that deal with her long downward spiral. This allows me to focus my comment on the assertions she makes here, and — since the site to which you also linked, Tits and Sass, is a censorious hugbox which refuses to permit comments that contradict any of her claims — in her self-serving victim narrative as published elsewhere.

    Christina refers to herself as a “sex worker rights activist.” The sex worker rights movement is a social justice movement in support of members of a marginalized community who have difficulty getting justice — or even being taken seriously when they report an injustice. Yet, in July 2012, as a pre-emptive blackmail maneuver, Christina filed a FALSE POLICE REPORT on me for abuse — something to hold over my head forever. Should I ever oppose her publicly, or offend her privately, she would release information about this arrest (she stood there and coldly took photos of me in handcuffs) and tar me with the epithet “abuser” for life.

    Christina later admitted this on the court record, and in writing to myself, and others. This is from her confession (a screencap is available on TRPWL):
    “There’s so many women who actually do get beaten and never het justice. And I get taken seriously because I’m articulate and white… It’s like crying rape.”
    An eerie echo of this statement appears in your interview: “Unfortunately, the most marginalized workers aren’t usually given a voice. Look at me- I look white, I’m in my 20s, and I’m educated. You’re interviewing a privileged sex worker.”

    One might ask, how could she pull off this frame job? The answer is, Christina has a long history of self-harm, including cutting and punching herself. She went into her apartment and bruised her arm, then called the police. As she later wrote me (in a letter also published on TRPWL):

    “I constantly think about what I did to you, how I got you arrested. I am so ashamed by what I did. Sometimes I can’t stop thinking about how I stood there and watched you get arrested and lied, it tortures me…. How could I do something so awful to someone I love?”

    As someone recently commented after reading about Christina, “After this, how can anyone believe feminist writers really receive rape and death threats?”

    Indeed, those are the stakes. She has, by her intentional acts, cast doubt on the many, many real life victims of abuse. Reason dictates that he last thing a movement for the rights of sex workers (led by women) needs is a to endorse and/or be represented by a privileged white female sex worker who has admitted she has filed false police reports.

    A word or two on ‘outing’ and ‘stigma’ —

    In this interview, Christina acknowledges she “came out” as a cam model months and months ago. “I am not one to hide,” she says. “I felt that hiding that part of who I am would only perpetuate the stigmas that I work to fight against. I felt that I was being disingenuous, and I did not want to live that way.”

    The interviewer adds: “[I]n recent weeks Parreira was outed as one of Schwyzer’s sexting partners (though the two never met). Parreira has since surfed a wave of high drama of exes real and virtual, in which her porn name (Christina Page) was linked with her real one.”

    I bring this up because, one of Christina’s current hysterical claims is that she was “outed” by TRPWL (a website which she contributed to for many months, and begged me to help get her blogs cross-posted on, yet she now calls “a hate site”). This outing was ‘harmful’ and has ‘endangered’ her, she now maintains.

    The first time Christina’s legal name appeared on TRPWL was in February 2013. But Christina’s identity was first outed online nearly one year ago, in the summer of 2012. At that time she had two Twitter accounts — a personal one, and one in her webcam performer persona. During one of her fits of angry mania, and in her eagerness to slam me online (and feed negative info about me to my critics), she publicly tweeted someone with whom I was feuding from her *performer account* while identifying herself as the person who had previously communicated with him from her *personal account.*

    Then, on February 1, she tweeted a photo of a document that clearly showed her legal name. That was 6 months ago. TheRealPornWikileaks did not publish her legal name until AFTER February 1.

    As for the publication of her sexts with Hugo Schwyzer, Christina is once again twisting the truth. The reality of the situation is, on February 23, 2013, Christina urged me, in writing, to tweet the sexts and DMs between herself and Hugo. She then joined me on Twitter to call him a fraud (while publicly verifying the authenticity of the sexts and masturbation video). After a furious and frightened Hugo DM’d her, she asked me to delete the tweets the next day — and I did.

    Cut to May 2013: Christina was angry with me again (for the millionth time), and announced to the world that I had fabricated the sexts, and that the whole sexting affair was a product of my “twisted mentally ill mind.” When I pointed out in my defense that she publicly authenticated the sexts in February, she denied this and tweeted that I had hacked her account and tweeted in her name to do so! Rather than admit her culpability, she falsely accused me of a crime.

    In your interview, Christina goes on to talk about shaming: “In a perfect world, I would still be a sex worker, but I could do so without being shamed or stereotyped for it. This goes for every individual who works in the sex industry.”
    Yet Christina has taken to the internet to viciously attack and shame fellow sex workers, including 30-year veteran sex worker Christy Canyon, simply because they were friends or acquaintances of mine. She has also referred to my associates in the adult industry as “porn trash.”

    Finally – and this is funny almost to the point of nausea – Christina remarks, “I try to keep a level head, but it’s difficult and I’ve lost my cool many times. I keep striving to keep an open mind and understand where others are coming from, but it can be very stressful. I try to practice self care, but that’s a work in progress!”
    I suppose that filing a false police report, stabbing me in the neck with a kitchen knife, tweeting my private phone number and my family’s address, threatening to go after my family members (who have been harassed by Christina and her friends via telephone AND in person, at their home), fabricating a text which purported to be me confessing to having herpes and then tweeting it, publicly attacking and shaming my adult performer friends regarding their age/weight/looks, and providing negative information about me to anti-porn/anti-sex work lunatics, would be an example of Christina “losing her cool.”

    Self care? What about care for others?

    It’s stunning to me that she thinks she can get a pass — that she simply can tut-tut away her horrific acts — by simply fluttering her eyelids and saying, “Ooopsie, I’m a work in progress.”

    Simply put, she is the single most amoral person I have ever encountered.

  4. I did not know Ms. Parreira was Mr. Whiteacre’s ex when she and I first began corresponding for this article. Having written about porn for ten years, I know that the sweetest person can have a large quantity of vile, untruthful things stacked against him online, but also (and more frequently), there’s at least a little dirt on everyone.

    Reading Whiteacre’s story did not change my mind about Pareira, or Hugo Schwyzer, or Michael Whiteacre. I would still pay attention to what Pareira has to say about sex work, stigma, and academia (and if she came and stripped in my neighborhood, I’d watch, but just to be polite). I am still interested in what Schwyzer has to say about gender and porn—because he has an opinion, not because he has a degree, and I could listen to Whiteacre talk about anything, endlessly, which is his great charm, or curse, depending.

    BUt I don’t need to believe everything, or agree with everything, and I encourage all of you to read critically, and between the lines. Words matter independent of who says them, but we can’t ignore the messenger, either.

    All I’m saying is that I still love Cat Stevens but I’m glad Salman Rushdie isn’t dead.

  5. God…Ari, why don’t you and her just go your separate ways. You’ve driven her enough to insanity…why keep pushing the buttons hoping for a meltdown. It’s pathetic. You look very poorly every time this comes up.

  6. This was an enjoyable and interesting conversation, particularly the part about sex workers infighting. It’s a bad thing for everyone, and I must admit I wasn’t really aware of that aspect of it.

    —-

    @Michael,

    Good god man, I don’t know the history between you and this person, and after reading a mere three sentences of your comment, I don’t want to either.

    Get the hell over it. Brian is right, you sound pathetic. Even if she’d done something terrible to you, the dignified, mature, SANE thing to do would be to deal with it and move on, not stalk and harass the woman on any site you can find that she might frequent, like an obsessive psychopath who’s angry because he’s not getting his way.

  7. I have DRIVEN HER to insanity? She was mentally ill long before I met her, and had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse, self-harm, suicidal meltdowns and violence.

    Pushing HER buttons? She threatened my family, stabbed me, defamed me, and doxed me. She is a criminal, and she has admitted all this in writing.

    It was she who started these attacks using filthy LIES. It’s neither my fault, nor my problem, that I play this game better and hit harder.

    Her defeat, like her “meltdowns,” was inevitable because Christina has a peculiar disadvantage: she’s insane.

    She can never walk back the things she has said; the things of which she has falsely accused me in the name of garnering sympathy and attention. Therefore, I must expose the truth about her and make it available forever.

    Forever.

    As long as this amoral psycho breathes, the truth about what a dangerous, sick, untrustworthy, disgusting, faithless person she is will be available for all the world to see. Consider it a public service.

  8. @Sinister Agent,

    Someday, should you ever be the victim of a series of crimes, only to watch the perpetrator lauded as some kind of exemplar, I look forward to telling you to just sit back and take it.

  9. I already have been. And your behaviour is eerily reminiscent of the people responsible.

    There’s a huge difference between “sit back and take it”, “cut them out, walk away, and get on with your life”, and finally “constantly look them up and harass them on the internet”. I took the second option, and they did exactly what you’re doing now.

    So, y’know, either you’re full of shit, or you’re not but you’re acting in an entirely counter-productive way that will convince nobody and be bad for your own health.

  10. @sinister agent

    Except, you didn’t tell me, “cut them out, walk away, and get on with your life” — you said: “Get the hell over it… you sound pathetic…deal with it and move on.”

    Clearing one’s name by proving that one has been falsely accused by a liar and blackmailer is not harassment. The day she publicly recants her lies, I will be happy to never mention her name again.

    Beyond that, my health is just fine, thank you. Judging by Christina’s very public booze and drug extravaganzas, as well as her most recent suicide attempt a couple of days ago, I will almost certainly outlive her.

    Here’s wishing you peace and long life…

    Cordially,
    MW

  11. You are so brave and I feel you deserve respect for what you did and what you wrote. The need for sex workers has never been greater and you were generous to share yourself and your enjoyment of sex in this way. If is is truly mutual and you enjoy it, then you should be able to practice it without shame. Especially in this Internet age, so may partake now so there should be some latitude afforded. I’ve had many friends in college who earned money in this way. It even helped some finish school. In the safety and security of their own rooms, they get much pleasure out of performing to the point that, for some, developed into a nightly reward that they continue to maintain even after graduation. If not for the shame, I know that so many more would partake and they could enjoyed it. What one does in your personal life, outside of your day job, should not diminish the respect you have earned and deserve while in the office, even if that personal activity involves taking your clothes off and enjoying yourself. Only then will we be equal and know our society is mature.

    Robbin

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