According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Bodhisattvas are being that compassionately refrain from entering Nirvana in order to save others.
I doubt that many of the thirty thousand men I meet and greet each year ever fathom that I’m looking at them as much as they look at me—and I’m usually naked! When they finally meet me in person (some after more than a decade of waiting), they are often too dazed, giddy, dumbfounded, boisterous, or shy to have any serious conversation with me.
     There are exceptions, of course (I’ve had many wonderful conversations with fans over the years), but it remains true that most are not aware of my perception of them. After sixteen years as an adult entertainer I can now place any fan accurately into one or more of the many categories of fandom. Although there are significant differences among subgroups most fans are bound together by one thing: they, almost to a man, are the walking wounded of the gender wars.
     They don’t often realize that their pain and confusion, ignorance, hope, anger, and longing are obvious to anyone with my experience. Some would be mortified, others relieved, to have their most personal secrets known without having to actually speak them. This transparency makes a fan as vulnerable as a newborn. It is healing to me to practice compassion when confronted with such primal feelings and to reflect back to these men a healthier and saner sexuality so that they can take it home with them and use it to make their lives and relationships a little better. There is great power in dispensing that “balm of Gilead,” and that power must be tempered by compassion.
     Being open to their pain and helping to soothe it is greatly aided by my status as a veteran sex professional and registered nurse (RN). Raised in Berkeley, California, the youngest of four children, my parents were middle-class Communist professionals. By the time I was ten, they had metamorphosed into Zen Buddhist refugees, overwhelmed by the trauma of my father’s blacklisting. My parents remain active in San Francisco’s Zen community to this day. I expected to complete college and I did, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, magna cum laude, in 1985. I started dancing while attending school full time. My class and educational background prevented me from feeling or being victimized by other’s lack of respect for sex work/workers. I know my value, and my fan’s admiration and devotion demonstrate it.
     There are many venues where I meet my fans: conventions (where I’m scantily dressed); peep shows (where we can both be naked); Polaroid photo sessions (where I can be dressed, topless or naked); and university classes and on the street (where I’m dressed). At each of these places (except peep booths), they can hug and touch me. This contact is incredibly powerful and intimate, and I cherish it greatly. For the most part, my fans understand and accept that they are probably never going to sleep with me, so the significance of the touching is magnified. I look them in the eye, hug them, and let them hug me and feel my body (within legal limits, that is). I love the physicality so I caress them as much as possible (ruffle hair, nibble earlobes, squeeze shoulders, smack their butts, etc.), making tangible my affection and acceptance.
     In our repressed, pleasure-phobic culture people, particularly males, are chronically touch starved. The difference in how we handle male versus female infants is well documented. The connection between the nature of the touch received by babies and how it impacts their future “emotional intelligence,” must be acknowledged by society so that we can address it calmly, change our understanding of the role of sex work and eliminate the laws that criminalize so much of it. It is a sad fact that men generally have few, or no, socially approved nonsexual outlets to experience caring, human(e) contact. For many, this absence of positive touch adds greatly to the growing psychosis of our times and is manifested, in part, by an increase in violence in our culture, especially among the young.
     The revolutionary eruption, thirty years ago, of long-suppressed feminine rage and anger that so characterized the early days of the feminist movement also created the culture wide fallout that we are still sorting out today. Many are still reeling from the initial blast: collateral damage includes a wide-scale abandonment of the nurturing of mates, children, and society that is only now beginning to be addressed. In this confused landscape, there are few and fewer places where a wounded spirit can seek shelter and comfort, recognition and acceptance. The sex worker can, and does, provide this comfort, whether they are aware of it or not, and even when the consumer is unaware that they are seeking these things. Sex workers are the medics at the front lines of the gender wars, the Clara Bartons and Florence Nightengales, patching up the troops, reviving their spirits so that they want to live another day. When sex workers are also educated, conscious and willing the healing potential increases exponentially. Banded together as part of a larger movement, this potential staggers the imagination. As has been said before, “When prostitutes unite, powerful men tremble.” 
     At clubs across the country where I dance, there are usually one or two women who really like their jobs and, more important, don’t resent or hate the men for their sexuality. These dancers are drawn to me because they can tell that I’m empowered and don’t disrespect either the customers or myself. In mentoring these precious few, I let them in on the biggest secret of live sex performing (particularly dancing): the men don’t know it, but they are coming to church. They are seeking absolution, acceptance, understanding, compassion, kindness and caring from a willing, friendly woman—if she is pretty, so much the better. They believe themselves to be fundamentally unlovable because of their sexuality: if women really knew what go them off they would be cast into the void.
     Granting these men acceptance and understanding instead of disgust and ridicule is the single most profound aspect of sex work. Reinforcing that understanding with an orgasm is, in my opinion and experience, the most effective way to get this message across permanently. The more a sex worker understands their role in both the psyche of the customer and the scheme of the greater society, and history, the better they can do their job. The fringe benefits for the worker are maintaining mental health and building a loyal customer base.
     Being a “star” instead of an anonymous worker, I am treated differently by consumers of commodified sex. Media exposure (TV, movies, print, video) has served to make me more visible and to grant me legitimacy in the eye of many. As a deliberately open sexual woman, people come to me as to a confessor, doctor or therapist. They tell me very personal and private things with never a thought that I might find it distasteful or might not keep it a secret. Their relief at finally being able to simply talk to someone without being judged is palpable. After unburdening themselves they wait anxiously for my response. That response can make or break someone’s self- image, their intimate relations, even their ability to respond sexually (alone or with a partner). 
     Fans hand over a lot of power to such an “adored one.” My code of ethics demands that I honor that and always treat them kindly. My position as a respected “expert” obligates me to keep my ego out of it, to be firm (or even stern), and to urge them to keep working toward wholeness and love. The average person is still like a child when it comes to their sexuality. All of their fears, insecurities, shame, guilt, self-esteem, capacity for joy and love lie jumbled together in an inchoate mass of quivering need. They yearn to be known by one wiser, and loved anyway, accepted to the core, if only for a moment.
     I provide this service, along with others in my field, willingly, grateful for the opportunity to help my fellow humans and satisfied that i can do what I do best. As is true of any effective art, what gives my work resonance is its emotional authenticity. What is wonderful about sex work is its dual reality as both a bona fide healing art and legitimate artistic expression. Sex workers should take pride in the important work they do and the essential service they provide: simple human kindness in time of need. As the Dalai Llama said, “What greater wisdom is there then compassion?” I work toward a society that can honor sex work instead of fear it. I work toward a society that will no longer need to commodify sex, one that does not equate sex with evil or debasement. Although I dream that one day people will be able to look to one another for love, support and community, until that day arrives sex workers are desperately needed.