She’s now the darling strumpet of the crowd,
Forgets her state, and talks to them aloud,
Lay by her greatness and descents to prate
With those ‘bove whom she rais’d by wond’rous
From “A Panegyrick Upon Nelly”
I recently started, and have nearly finished, reading, The Darling Strumpet: A Novel of Nell Gwynn, Who Captured the Heart of England and Kind Charles II, by Gillian Bagwell (2011), a historical fact-based fiction novel, set in 17th century London. It’s the true story of an oyster-seller, turned child-prostitute, turned stage actress, and in her final metamorphosis…arguably, the century’s most famous courtesan.
I am consuming this book (at a rapid pace), which caused a moment of self-reflection.
Give me the true story of a whore…made good (as in this work), or not (I am thinking of Emma Donogue’s touchingly raw, Slammerskin), and I am engrossed, mesmerized, and slightly aroused from…beginning to end.
Undoubtedly there have been times in my life where I felt like a whore. Not in the sense of being sexually promiscuous, rather I felt like a prostitute…being paid for intimacy—not necessarily sex, although these situations were always of a sexual nature.
A few times, when I was younger, I was paid to do a photo shoot (erotic) while a man paid to either watched or be included. Very often these involved nudity and touching, and sometimes the man would masturbate himself…or not. I was in school and needed the money, and thought, “It’s not like I’m having sex with them!”
But the feeling afterward, suggested something disparate…
Then (and now) I fought against that feeling of shame, which is why I never stopped repeating these interludes, again and again…over the course of my adult life…
At sex parties, as a hostess.
Working in the dungeon, as a dominatrix.
Even when I didn’t “need the money”…the desire compelled me to continue.
I enjoyed it.
I ENJOY IT.
A natural performer, an easy tease, and born hostess…I get-off, giving myself to another purely for pleasure.
I am a true prostitute.
Setting the obvious socio-political differences between myself and someone who earns their living from prostitution aside, pleasing others for money adds to the emotional impact of the experience.
The understanding that my pay is contingent upon my performance…drives me.
It doesn’t make the feeling behind the act any less…rather it intensifies it…you, a stranger, are showing me that you value my time…my skill…my ability to bring you pleasure.
This tension, this agreement, is the reason I love to pay for lap dances in strip clubs…as the client, it secures my “hold” on her…it is power…hers or mine? It’s never clear who truly has the power in these exchanges of sexual gratification, only that this particular dynamic adds to the excitement.
And therein, in that moment of tension, is also where I believe the SHAME resides:
I enjoy this exchange, yet I know it’s wrong…which in turn makes it me wrong for wanting it…and therefore makes it all
SO VERY RIGHT!
It is the oldest profession, is it not?
And its dialectic continues to compel me…
(image by: Michelle Wild Photography)