Saturday, May 1, 2010

Versatile Inspiration

by Emerald

About four years ago I entered the sex industry professionally. I have since worked as a stripper, amateur porn performer, and webcam model. I also write erotica, and it has been asked of me whether my work in the adult industry serves as the influence or inspiration for my writing as such.

It is a question I find understandable. The short answer is no—at least not in the way I interpret the question being asked.

In sex work, the focus is not really on me. It's not about what turns me on, what I find intriguing, interesting, arousing (some clients have invited it to be that way, which I appreciate, but it is nonetheless different from a non-professional sexual encounter). The kind of connection and attraction I have tended to write about in erotic fiction has not usually been that which I have felt while I am working. Which is fine—I am performing a service; my aim is to do so as sincerely and authentically as possible to the best of my ability.

In writing, I have free reign. I have been writing since about age seven, so long before any professional experience I have since acquired. In a fundamental way I am beholden in writing to no more than the creative pulse (ideally) coming through me.

Thus, making a living in the arena of sex is not the reason I write erotica or the main inspiration for what I write about. There are, however, ways in which the two converge. I started writing erotica when I was experiencing a considerable shift and transformation in my own sexual experience. The possibility of enhancing others’ experience and appreciation of sexuality, especially if it supports the emergence from under sexual repression, is one of my biggest inspirations for writing erotica. The facilitation of healing and support in the arena of sexuality both individually and collectively feels acutely compelling to me.

I entered the sex industry for the same reason. Sex work seemed to me another path to pursue the same aim, an opportunity to enhance others’ sexual experience and professionally treat sex in the respectful, reverent, sincere way I find called for. (As with virtually any job or experience, the ideal has not always seemed equal to the practical application, but the aim in me has not changed.) Working in the industry has afforded me opportunities to see and interact with the individuals whose sexual experience and appreciation I aim to enhance via writing (which is anybody/everybody) as well as observe perceptions of sex work, gender interaction, and sexuality itself in societal and individual contexts.

I have not tended to get literal story ideas and influences from my experiences working in the adult industry. But the inspiration to work there and to write erotica come from the same place in me, one that cares deeply about sexuality and aims to celebrate it as the sacred entity I see it to be.

Societally, I want to open expression and dialogue around sexuality, bring it out of a vilified, taboo, repressed realm into respectful and thoughtful observation and appreciation. Individually, I want to support the highest in all beings, and sexually is a way I feel particularly drawn to do this.

So for me, working in the adult industry does not necessarily inform or influence my erotica writing. Rather, the two ventures are informed by the inspiration that leads me to them both. Supporting collective and individuals’ sexual appreciation and understanding is to what I aspire, and it happens that I have had the chance to devote both my livelihood and my writing endeavors to that aspiration. So while literally and autobiographically, sex work may not inform the erotic fiction I write, it is connected to it—just not in the way one may first think.


Emerald is the widely published author of celebrated erotic fiction. Her short stories have appeared in titles as diverse as Please Sir, K is for Kinky, and Tasting Her. Find out more about the wonderful Emerald at:


  1. Em,

    Thanks for joining us here at the Grip, and sharing so much of yourself. This is fascinating, intelligent and insightful.


    PS - Please be aware that Em might be late responding to comments on here today as she's away from the PC.

  2. Hello, Emerald,

    I found your post fascinating. I've seen your comments here often but never knew that you made your living as a sex worker--and that this was a conscious choice based on your passions and life philosophy rather than on expedience (as I think it is for many sex workers).

    Your work may not specifically inform your fiction, but I wish that it did. I think that perhaps many of us have mistaken notions about what it would be like to work in porn. A realistic portrayal would be welcome and might de-mystify the subject.

    In any case, thank you very much for joining us at the Grip and sharing your thoughts.


  3. Fascinating perspective, Em.

    Your goal of showing reverence in sexuality is a great one. To bring it out of the shadows and explore it honestly. Excellent.

    I agree with Lisabet that it would be interesting to see you express some of your experiences as a sex worker directly in some of your exceptional writings.


  4. Hello Emerald!

    I echo Lisabet's remarks, its is a rare thing to meet someone who works in the sex industry. I think for many of us, you would be a valuable creative consultant on fictional passages or characters. I hope you'll stay in touch with us. Your ideals I think are probably more high minded then your customers. Men, being what we are, usually are not seeking out sex workers for spiritual healing. But of course that may not be the case with everyone.

    Very glad to have you here and I hope you will keep yourself handy.


  5. OH !

    And Happy Birthday!


  6. The question of whether and how a sex-work career and erotica-writing career might (or might not) influence each other makes a great topic for an essay—and how lucky we are to have you to tackle it, Emerald. Your vision, sensitivity, self-knowledge, sense of purpose, and eloquence make you a perfect voice to hear in response to that question. It's a vividly illuminating answer, so effectively powered by your encapsulation of your societal, artistic, and personal goals.

  7. Emerald -

    Thoughtful post. Thank you for your insight.

  8. Emerald, the world, to include the world of sex is a better place because of you. I so admire your writing, your inner strength, and your wonderful, postive energy. Thank you. Happy Birthday, girl!

    Ashley, this was awesome. Thank you.

  9. Happy B-day Emerald!
    As you already know, I am a big fan of your writing. I have to echo many of the comments so far--this was a very thoughtful and fascinating post. I'm really glad you chose to use writing as another tool in your arsenal in your quest to bring sexual enlightenment to the masses.


  10. Hey Emerald,

    An inspiring and thought-provoking post, as always. Your sincerity and desire for authenticity comes through in absolutely everything you do and every word you write. How interesting, though, that many equate writing erotica with sex work, as if, as common wisdom has it, erotica writers do it solely for the money (pause to allow fellow writers to laugh ironically). Your essay shows very eloquently that while this may be the case for both erotica writers and sex workers, we are at our best as human beings when higher motives are involved. Indeed, I think beneath the sleazier elements of the sex industry (and they are there), everyone is seeking authentic connection and an escape from feeling alone in our "perverted" sexual desires. Indeed, I think even the most unevolved client is in fact unwittingly seeking spiritual healing even as he thinks he's just trying to get off. Thanks so much for this post!


  11. Hi everyone! Thank you so, so much for all of the commentary here, to which I will respond individually as soon as I post this comment, and thank you to Ashley for mentioning that I would be away from the computer yesterday. (I was the Maid of Honor in a wedding whose after party[ies] went on for, oh, five or six hours longer than anticipated.)

    And thank you again to Ashley and Oh Get A Grip for hosting me!

  12. Ashley, thank you so much again for inviting me to guest blog here. It really is an honor to me to make an appearance here with all of you.

    And thank you as well for your comment; I am so glad you found this post as such!

  13. Hi Lisabet,

    Thank you so much. Funnily, I recently wrote a story that included a character who worked as a webcam model and involved her experiences as has yet to see publication, however. :) Thank you for that feedback/suggestion. I can see what you mean now that you mention it, and for some reason I don't think it had occurred to me quite that way in the context of fiction.

  14. Thank you Craig! I so appreciate your commenting and what you said. It is a goal I have had the impression that we share. :)

  15. Hi Garceus!

    Thank you so much. I have loved OGAG and consider it an honor to be here, so of course I would love to "keep myself handy"! :) Thank you for saying that; I am happy to speak of my experiences in the sex industry and certainly to help research-wise, as you mention, if ever I may.

    And thank you for the birthday wishes! :)

  16. Jeremy, I found your comment itself so beautiful and eloquent that it almost distracted me from how moved I felt by it. Thank you so very much.

  17. "Emerald, the world, to include the world of sex is a better place because of you."

    Neve, I really find that such an extraordinary compliment. Thank you so much. I so love you right back. :) Thank you for the birthday wishes!

  18. Thank you Jacque! I really so appreciate that and your support. Thank you for reading, and commenting, and for the birthday wishes! :) Xoxox

  19. Hi Donna,

    Thank you so much.

    "even the most unevolved client is in fact unwittingly seeking spiritual healing"

    This seems to me the case for all of us, all the time, under all circumstances. I understand us as manifestations of the Universe functioning more or less distortedly as such.

    "Your sincerity and desire for authenticity comes through in absolutely everything you do and every word you write."

    This really in a way is the ultimate aspiration in me, so I experience this as a profoundly meaningful compliment. For it to come from someone I admire and revere as much as yourself makes it strike even more deeply.

    Thank you so much for reading and for commenting.

  20. Hi Em. I think one of the things I like so much about all your posts is how it's obvious you think about this a lot (you're not just reacting to life). I find that more and more I'm pondering the whole topic of how sexuality (mine, others') relates to the world in general. I find Donna's comment about equating writing erotica with sex work very interesting, because I've found that in order to begin to free myself to write authentically, I have to come to terms with the fact that writing something that turns me on and turns on someone else (as few or as many as may read something), whether for money or for free, means that I am being sexual with my audience. I admit that when I first got into writing erotica, that it was because I thought "at least I might get paid for some of this" (unlike poetry), and now a year and a half later without making any money, I realize that what keeps me going is something much much more.

    Okay, before I go on too much longer, let me just say that I enjoyed reading this very much. Thanks for sharing.


  21. Thank you Robin. I really appreciate that.

    Indeed, I actually remember Donna mentioning in her own post when she guest blogged here at the Grip the sexual connection between herself and her readers in the context of erotic fiction.

    I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this, and I found your mention of going on "too much longer" funny, as I found what you said interesting and intriguing. :)

    Thank you for reading and for commenting. Hugs to you too!


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