Do You Thank Your Lover?

In the early 90’s, ABC had a show called ‘Homefront’ that took place circa WWII. I remember watching a scene that involved an older, father-figure, character telling a younger man to “grab your wife firmly around her waist the next morning and thank her for last night”. When I watched this episode I had only had sex a few times and I didn’t have a wife on whom I could try this form of gratitude. Nevertheless, it seemed like a good idea to me. I ran the hypothetical idea by a platonic female friend and she recoiled in horror. “You can’t say that! It will make her feel like a whore!” Wow! Those were strong words coming from an 11th-grader. But, I was young so I took one woman’s advice as the gospel.

You can bet your paycheck that no one has ever complained of being over appreciated. It’s just never happened. The sticking point of contention occurs with the delivery/expression of gratitude. This goes for all human interaction. Try slapping your lover on the ass and saying, “thanks, slut!”, after sex. Unless you’re in a role playing scene and have chosen not to break character, that may not be the ideal way to express gratitude.

FWIW: This post isn’t intended to tell you the correct way to speak to your lover. That’s left to the agreements that the 2+ of you have with each other. While there are certainly wrong ways to express gratitude I’ll try to avoid getting sidetracked with an abundance of ‘what not to do’ bullet points.

You’ll notice that I keep using the phrase “express gratitude” in reference to recreating the “thank you” scene from ‘Homefront’. That’s because some people, while grateful for the sentiment, hear the words thank you and feel as if it cheapens the experience. On the flip side, everyone expresses their gratitude in a different manner. How a person expresses gratitude often gets distilled down to their love language. If you (or your lover) are unaware of your love language, it’s a good idea to have a conversation about how you express yourself. (I’ve never read the book, nor am I endorsing it. But, you can at least recognize your patterns for expressing love.) If you’ve taken a new lover and they’re unaware that you express your appreciation through physical touch, they may just mislabel you as handsy. Despite the love language of you or your lover, most will recognize the expression of gratitude in the form of gestures. Some time ago I wrote a post that read: My lover told me that I’m the only man that’s ever made her breakfast. *sigh* Gentlemen, please step it up! That post received a huge response! In one of the comments, a friend mentioned that her BF had bought her flowers (a first) and made her dinner (another first) as a response to my call to action. He wanted to “step it up” and show her that he appreciated her. Comedian Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson) once joked about how much more sweet sweet loving men would receive from their wives if they were to make a birthday/anniversary/just because card by hand as opposed to buying something from a store. There’s some truth to that. Get in the habit of making things for your lover to express how you feel. It could be as simple as making a… phone call. Phone call! Who does that? What is this 2005? I know, I know. But, try it out. Try it out when you’re asking for that sweet sweet loving. Think it through. Would you rather receive a text message that reads, “wanna come over” or would you rather hear your lover on the line saying, “Do you want to spend some time together tonight?”

There is a marked absence of the word “please” in societal interactions. Listen to the way people speak to those that work behind a counter. You may hear lots of thank you notes in their responses. But, how often do you hear please in their requests? I’ve worked behind enough counters/bars to know that it ain’t often. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you call up your lover and go on some 90’s R&B-inspired monologue requesting, “may I please make love to you?” That just sounds… hilarious. There are other ways to say please without using the word. Just ask nicely and don’t assume that sex will happen. I’ve had conversations in the past that yielded the following response, “I’d love to see you. But, you should know that we can’t have sex tonight because reasons.” I would immediately respond with an emphatic “thank you for being upfront about that!” This post is really just about kind communication from all sides. As the moment draws near, you could make your request by taking a cue from Barry White. This is an actual quote from his song ‘Staying Power’, “Tease me with your emotion. Soon we’ll share nature’s body lotion.” (Use that one with a straight face and I’ll send you $100,000… in Monopoly money. I’ll make it $200,000 if your lover doesn’t walk out.)

After all is said and done*, be careful not to say thank you too soon lest your lover think that you’re about to leave. If it’s that time during the sexy rumpus when you get up to get some water, juice, more condoms, a fresh towel, etc. that may be too soon to say “thank you”. Are you going somewhere? Your lover may wonder.

*-Done should not be defined by an orgasm (for either of you). Keep going until someone taps out.

Gentlemen, still at a loss for words as to how you can say thank you? Here are a few phrases that you can edit to make your own.

-“I’m glad that you came… to see me.”

-“Thank you for making the time, I know that you’ve been busy with reasons.”

-“Goddamn!” *high five* [You can get up and dance from the excitement. Have some fun!]

As I mentioned, expressions of gratitude for sweet sweet loving should be happening between any and all genders. Nevertheless, Gentlemen, we can take a lesson from the airlines when we express gratitude to women for their company. “We know that you have many choices for penis travel and we’re glad that you chose us.”

In all seriousness, my personal definition of work ethic is to never make my employer regret their decision to hire me. That same work ethic applies to making sweeeet love. If she’s made a decision to be with me, I don’t want her to regret it during or after. That’s why I express my gratitude.

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Yes, I Am A Sex Worker

No, it’s probably not what you imagine. Recently, I was on a panel of Sex Workers who spoke to a group of people about advocacy, biased/antiquated laws, and healthcare for an underserved, persecuted, and often misunderstood industry.

Here’s my speech, originally delivered on 7/20/17 at the Uptown in Oakland.

Speaking to you as a man, I will not be using the term male sex worker. I will not be using the terms male stripper or boylesque either. If the hair on the nape of your neck has ever stood on end when hearing the term female comedian, you understand why I don’t subscribe to the aforementioned titles. All of those terms suggest that this sort of work is designated for a specific gender. I’ll be the first to admit that I know more women who are sex workers than men. As a burlesque performer and sex worker (not the same-more on that later), I work in a woman’s world. I respect and acknowledge that. But, during my time on the mic, I will leave gender out of my labels because you have eyes.

When interviewed about their profession as sex workers, some men are quick to point out that they’re not prostitutes. That word has a history of judgment surrounding it. Making this distinction, especially when a sex worker gets paid for sex, is akin to when burlesque performers feel the need to distinguish what they do as “stripping but classier”. Yes, some people actually say this.

Sex work doesn’t always mean having penetration-oriented sex for cash. Sometimes sex work is as simple as making money from the sex industry. If we break down that legal definition of sex work we can see that, legally-speaking, the person who hands out flyers for (and gets paid by) the Gold club is a sex worker. I think that the people who demonize the profession may change their tune about some of the laws surrounding sex work if they realized that.

As a man, I recognize that I hold some privilege as a sex worker. It tends to manifest in the form of my ability to speak openly about what I do without persecution. I’m a fitness coach by day. After instructing a cycling class, I encourage them all to attend my shows. Women are unable to do that without being disrespected or solicited immediately after. When people hear that I’m a sex worker, they often make the assumption that I’m having intercourse with all of my clients (I am not, with any of them). “At least you’re getting paid for it.” has been the joke of those who have made this assumption. I’ve never really heard of women hearing that sort of joke. Other people tend to ask questions about my specific tasks. What makes me a sex worker? [Here, I went on to describe services I provide. I’m happy to answer those questions, privately. I will not post my list of services on the internet. My work is by referral only.]

Homophobia is something I never thought I’d have to deal with in San Francisco. Wrong. As a cisgender heterosexual male, I’ve been socialized to be homophobic. I can spot homophobia pretty easily. I’ve spent much of my life unlearning these toxic behaviors. When homophobic men find out that I’m a sex worker, many of them assume that I’m servicing men for money and they aren’t exactly kind beyond that. A friend of mine, also a sex worker, was kicked out of a bar just because the bouncer found out he was a sex worker! To be clear, my friend wasn’t harassing anyone or being disruptive. He was asked to leave and the bouncer had no problem making the reason known. That prompted me to make a shirt with SEX WORKER printed on the chest. All proceeds from the sell of that shirt go to the St. James Infirmary. My goal in wearing that shirt is to start conversations that will, hopefully, end assumptions and misunderstandings of what it means to be a sex worker.

One of the unexpected beauties of sex work is the healing aspect. I’ve met a surprising number of women who have never seen the penis of a man they weren’t fucking. I’m not suggesting that my penis is capable of healing. I am suggesting that it’s important that women be allowed safe space to see men as sexy without concern of being pursued, harassed, or attacked.

I once danced for a woman. We were the only two in the room and I performed a 15 minute striptease just for her. She giggled at the beginning. She took more deliberate breaths as I got closer to naked o’cock. By the end, her eyes (now open), her posture, and her everything had changed. As she thanked me, she mentioned that she had just turned 30 and had never seen a man strip before. I told her, “Your 30s are going to be fantastic!” She got misty-eyed and fought tears to tell me how any form of sexual expression had always been frowned upon in her family. I asked permission to hug her. As we hugged, she released all of the tension from her body and relaxed for just a moment. As she left, she continued to thank me and I perceived that none of her gratitude was about my performance. I’m grateful that I was able to hold space for her. Sometimes #sexwork can be a form of healing.

To all of the men who find themselves alone with women in a romantic setting. Please dance for them. Tease them as you undress. Take your time. If she’s already given enthusiastic consent, she’s not going to run away if you take too long to get your pants off. Slow down and enjoy the journey.

Creating space for women to feel like it’s okay to objectify me (or any man) without any expectations being placed on them or their bodies creates an experience wherein her tension is released almost audibly. I look forward to helping more people realize that sexuality is not to be frowned upon. I hope to teach men that being sexy is not only okay, but the world wants to see it. Not “manly”, but sexy. Men touching themselves and loving the way their body moves without it being considered effeminate. I hope that any man [reading] this will find a bit more freedom the next time they dance in public.