- 25 Sep 18
Antonia Crane is a writer – and a sex worker. She talks about ‘the life’ in a unique, positive and compelling way in her memoir Spent.
“There is an emotional component,” Antonia Crane says of her chosen line of work. And she has no apologies to make about it. She shares a sweet story about an older man, clearly smitten with her, who requests a ballroom dance. They’re in the lap dance area of a Strip club. She likes to play personal music for her clients and so she asks the DJ to ‘play Sinatra’. To her surprise, he does! “It was a beautiful, magical moment.,” she recalls. “The single-serving, intimacy component.Feeling vulnerable and seen. It’s unconditional, positive regard. That’s how men feel about strippers.” Antonia Crane is a writer, Moth Slam – that’s open mic story-telling – winner, activist and writing instructor in Los Angeles. She is also a sex worker. “Playing the ‘beautiful whore’ for more than 25 years has a powerful vibration,” she writes, “and it can become addictive like anything else, as my knees ground into the bare, wooden stage, then bruised while I snatched dollar bills after my three-song set. “It’s the number one industry where women make more money than men,” she adds. Internalising other people’s shame, rage, anger, loneliness; being an object of fantasies: it is all part of the process. Her writing helps her, as she extracts raw material... “My clients share their stories, the human vulnerability,” she says. Stripping has a ‘provider mentality’. “It’s exhausting – like being a nurse or therapist. Embracing them when they’re lonely. When they need human contact. There’s a tonne of shame, and I have access to that.”
A World Of Secrets
In her fascinating memoir Spent, Antonia writes about the routine aspects of it too. “Dancers always want to quit,” she says, “but we never do. We’re ghosts, dragging our chains from club to club.” She is an adjunct professor at UCLA and holds an MFA degree in writing. “I do it for the money,” she states. “Society has a voracious sex appetite that consumes women. In five hours I make as much as the average attorney. You can do it with zero credentials and zero education. It’s a clean exchange. “There was this one guy I was dating a few years back. He was in prison for a long time for fraud and tax evasion. It was maybe our second date. We hadn’t slept together yet. I had an 8-foot pole in my living room where I would practice my moves. It was the kind of pole that’s fixed to the ceiling by these big heavy metal plates and a suction cup. ‘Fraud guy’ knew I danced. We were listening to music, so I decided to spice things up. It was one of those rare, rainy LA nights with a big noisy storm.” She slips into the present tense. “I dance to some creepy, sad rock like PJ Harvey or Cat Power. I’m dancing, and he looks like he’s about to either jerk off or cry. I’m a good pole dancer. Then the pole slips away from the ceiling and crashes through 16 small glass panes: my little French windows! I fell on my soft rug but glass shattered everywhere. I said, ‘Holy shit, that is the most punk rock dance I’ve ever done. Did it turn you on?’ “ Sex work is not usually sexual for her. “It’s nothing close to sex for me. It’s like looking at a postcard where sex is happening. Men want someone to listen to them. Wives are tired of listening to them. They project fantasy on the girls: it’s real sex and love addiction.” During one shift, Antonia makes more cash than in a month’s worth of teaching. She confesses part of the challenge is that relationship to money. She’s addicted to the idea of making it – fast. And she keeps plugging away at her dreams. “I needed to pay the film crew for a ‘short’. Push came to shove, and I needed $3k. I paid for it with a client,” she tells me. “I met him in a motel and had oral sex with him. Then he left to go to the bank. I sat in the car and charged my phone. I waited. After a while, I looked up and there he was.” He lives in a world of secrets. Antonia needs money. He tapped on the window and said: “Did you think I was really gonna come back? You’re funny.” He hands her the cash. “Let’s do that ten more times.” “It’s a power move,” Antonia adds.
Sex With Another Sex Worker
In her memoir, Crane writes about the blurry lines of sex work. The other edges that are pushed. She describes one job she did with a friend... “So the wife, Kay, is an ejaculator. It gets all over the place. We eat her out. Use toys on her. Fred mostly just watches.” (Bunny) “Fred might try to shove his tongue down your throat while he jerks off.” (Bunny) I pinched my leg. Dug my nail in deep. Maybe the pill was morphine. (Antonia) “Kay will want to diddle us both and squirt in your face.” (Bunny) I chewed my lip. I tasted blood. (Antonia) Changes in the law, spearheaded by the Trump administration, are making it difficult now for sex workers to pay their rent. Regulations are in place that restrict the information they can post online. New amendments to the “Communications Decency Act” make online platforms liable for content uploaded by their users. These changes are putting the girls at risk. Antonia was one of the original dancers who fought the labour war and won in San Francisco to form SEIU Local 790: The Exotic Dancer’s Alliance. She is an activist for sex work and human rights. She, for one, won’t take these changes lying down... Her current lover is trans. She is also a sex worker. “I used to be the kind of girl who chased a boyfriend down the street in my underwear when we fought,” Antonia says. “But I am trying to be different now. Spending the last two years mostly alone, and doing lots of writing to heal this area and grow, has helped. “I do have a sometimes lover who is also a good friend and my safe call. (A “safe call’ is the person to whom you give your client name, where you are and for exactly how long. If you don’t report back in the agreed time, your safe call makes an anonymous call to the police for you – CC.) “She’s very uninhibited and funny, so it has been wild and new for me to be with another sex worker, and to tie client experiences into our sex life.”
Spent by Antonia Crane is out now, published by Rare Bird Books.