Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry
Thriving in Sex Work is authored by the amazing Lola Davina
“Sex work is “easy money?” Hardly. The adult industry is riddled with pitfalls and dangers. Erotic labor is often emotionally demanding, draining, and complex. It can be hard to know who to turn to for advice on keeping yourself safe and sane. Lola Davina, former stripper, dominatrix, porn actress and escort, provides the life skills you need to prosper, including:
• Cultivating friendships, community, and romance
• Mastering money
• Debunking sex industry myths such as you have to be flawless, or clients hate to hear “no”
• Avoiding trigger states, like loneliness, fatigue, boredom, anxiety and depression, that lead to bad decision-making and burnout
• Surviving bad calls, shifts, and shoots — and so much more…
Thriving in sex work means having a healthy body, mind, heart, and bank account. No matter your job title or gender, whether you’re independent or work for someone else, if you want to succeed in sex work, this book is for you.
Well, I’m super late to the party with my review of Thriving in Sex Work. Which is weird, seeing as how I purchased the e-book from American Amazon because it wasn’t available in Canada yet. I also bought the hard copy when it was available in Canada. The book IS JUST THAT DAMN GOOD! In fact, I was the first person to review it on Amazon.ca back in June of ’17 (yes, I am that late to the party!). But I am just in time for Thriving in Sex Work Workbook! And I got a chance to ask Lola some questions personally!
Thriving in Sex Work
Let’s talk about the original Thriving in Sex Work first The book is a goldmine of amazing. It’s filled with smart and practical advice that is made most meaningful by Lola’s sincere and genuine voice. Lola quite literally made me cry and giggle. But most importantly, she made me say out loud, to no one in particular, Oh thank god! I’m not the only one! I’m sure that I’ve never read a book with a more apropos title than this one. When Lola says this is heartfelt advice to staying sane in sex work, she is not kidding. The advice she offers is as real as it gets.
Conquering Cash – Automatic Savings
Ok, so talking about money isn’t everybody’s favourite thing to do, so let’s get it out of the way. If you’ve read my blog at all, then you know one of my favourite sayings is “There is no pension plan in sex work”, and I drill the importance of savings home. So I really appreciated the emphasis Lola put on conquering cash in this book. I asked Lola if there was something more to saving than the actual act of saving. She says there are two parts to saving – heartfelt and practical. She says that the first part is crucial. Sex workers have to “feel how important savings is in our bones”. She adds, “I very much understand why sex workers are reluctant to save… I think for may sex workers, there’s a little bit of a sense that somehow sex work isn’t “real life”. It’s a bit of a detour, a temporary job, and that we’ll think about pensions and savings and investments, all that good stuff, when we get a real job. Well, I’m here to say, sex work is REAL work. That means we treat money as real money. The single most repeated piece of advice I hear from older sex worker: SAVE YOUR MONEY. Far too many of them have regrets”. On the practical side, she says she is a fan of an automatic savings plan. She suggests taking 10-20% off the top of everything you make. The automatic part is if you walk away $400, you tell yourself that you’re actually going home with $360. When you get home, tuck it somewhere safe; don’t look at it or think about it.
The Real Deal
For me, the book is foremost about ensuring you’re healthy and content in your life. The life that includes “sex worker” as your chosen profession. It asks us to examine our lives as sex workers and shows us how critically important elevating our self-worth in a society that tells us we are wrong. It’s about cultivating positive and supportive relationships within and outside the industry, and getting rid of the toxicity. It’s asking you to be unashamed and to forget your guilt about your choice. It traverses the difficult things, like dealing with emotional issues, avoiding burnout, and surviving a bad date and it’s aftermath. It pushes the importance of your mental, physical, emotional, and psychological well-being – your sanity. And finally, it asks us to do everything we can to secure the well-being of our whole entire self.
One Thing Only
I asked Lola a difficult question. If there was only one thing she could have known before entering sex work what would it have been? She admits it’s a hard question but answers truthfully. Simply, she wishes she had known how deeply and positively sex work was going to impact her life. “I would have been far less afraid. Less afraid of losing love. Less afraid of having my life ruined… I live a wonderful life. I’m not saying sex work is terrific all the time, and it certainly doesn’t treat everyone the same. But if there’s one thing that sex work teaches you, it’s that what the wider world says is true ain’t always the case, and learning to trust in yourself… that’s something no one can take away from you.” I completely agree. The most important lesson I grasped during my time in sex work is how to hear what my gut is telling me and then to trust it. Check out Lola’s list Here are 23 things I know now that I WISH I KNEW THEN
I can feel Lola’s deep desire to genuinely help people in my bones. Sex work is mostly trial and error while navigating a wide range of trials and tribulations. Whatever your reason for entering the industry, there isn’t a manual. Correction, there wasn’t a manual. This is a must-read for every person in or thinking of getting into, the industry. I want to ask Lola to rename it The Sex Worker’s Bible. No, of course sex work is not a one-size-fits-all kinda gig. Sex workers are nuanced and diverse. We have a unique set of circumstances that brought us here. But Lola lays it out so that others may be better equipped to deal. She shares all those difficult, impossible, terrifying, exhilarating, and awesome moments in her journey and offers her advice based on a certain kind of enlightenment that can only be achieved by really living it. That’s what I hope to do here on this blog: if one person can avoid a mistake that I made by reading, I am happy. I can only imagine how accomplished Lola feels. I admire her immensely. She has been able to help so many sex workers in so many ways. The book is a timeless, it will hold value long into the future.
Don’t just take my word for it. The book has garnered nothing but overwhelmingly and amazingly positive reviews. Lola managed to accomplish a “big picture” book on not only surviving, but Thriving, in sex work. I can’t wait to get my copy of Thriving in Sex Work Workbook, which comes out March 1st.
Some Tidbits on the Workbook
And because Lola was generous with her time, I was able to ask a few questions about the new workbook.
1. Was the workbook something you had always planned on producing? Or was it something you saw a need for after publishing Thriving?
My editor, Felicia Gotthelf, suggested a workbook to accompany Thriving while we were in the editing process. However, at the time, I was too overwhelmed as a first-time author to seriously consider it. Then, when Thriving came out, I was struck by the number of people who reached out to me saying just how meaningful Thriving’s exercises were to them. It made me realize how much folks want to engage and think for themselves, rather than just letting my blah-blah-blah wash over them.
Then Felicia showed me bunch of mock-up illustrations for exercises she had drawn, and I was hooked. Try to imagine the workbook without them– BORING! She’s My Fairy Godmother Who Makes Me Do Stuff. Then she sprinkles a whole bunch of magic fairy dust over my life, so I’m very grateful to her.
2. What extra benefits are we going to gain from using the workbook?
My theory behind the workbook is that sex work is too varied and complex, and the workers who do it too diverse, for there ever to be a “Sex Work for Dummies”. It is really, really hard to imagine a “Sex Work Beginner’s Manual” that could be relevant across geographies, job titles, etc. But I do believe that it is possible, once you’ve been doing this work for a while, to explain the job to yourself.
I wrote the workbook with the idea that if you engage with a series of questions– some of them practical, like budgets and work schedules, some of them creative and aspirational and expressive, like your ideal clientele or working environment– that the work will come into better focus. What your strengths are, what your goals are, and where to look for help. So, it’s filled with sex work-related creative projects, practical action plans, budgets, and exercises.
Lola Davina has spent more than 25 years in and around the sex industry, working as a stripper, dominatrix, porn actress, and escort over a fifteen-year period. She has earned an M.A. in Human Sexuality and an M.S. in Nonprofit Fundraising, and writes a self-care and wellness column for YNOTcam.com. Find out how to get your hands on Lola’s books (including an autograph copy) here.