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Sex Work in the Time of COVID-19: A Chat with Tequila Mockingbird

by Addison Herron-Wheeler

COVID-19 is both a chance for innovation and a force of destruction for many industries, and sex work is no exception. However, in addition to experiencing the normal market ups and downs, they also have to deal with the stigmas held by society and the lack of federal support for those in the industry.

Through her studio, Purple Door Productions, Colorado content creator and performer Tequila Mockingbird provides a judgement-free safe space for folks who want to shine in porn or entertainment. In addition to promoting her own work as a model and video star, she promotes others and provides video and photo services to her clients. We chatted with Tequila about what the industry looks like right now and how we can still show support. 

How has our current crisis impacted you? Do you get most of your clients online, or has the in-person ban made a dent?

Most of my clients are online; what has been impacted most is my queer, feminist studio. I just signed on many new models and haven’t even shot with them yet; I’m relying on individual models creating solo content or with housemates and limited by their lighting and photo/video situation, as many people are shooting on their phones right now. I know many of my clients are brought in by my professional lighting and 4k video, so it’s been hard getting new model traction to be successful.

How have you been surviving and staying relevant during this? 

Consistent content-making and scheduling. Sometimes a live video chat with a client can make you feel human again. I’m spending more time and energy promoting and enticing people with quarantine discounts!

How can people support DIY sex workers during this time? 

There are so many ways to support us, even if you’re not interested in the porn! We are jacks of all trades and often dabble in life coaching, social media marketing, analytics, web page design, photo and video editing, and more! The most basic thing you can do, though, is educating people on the ethics of paying for porn versus free porn sites, and calling people out for using slurs. This will help normalize the work and fight the stigma of sex work. 

If someone was looking into getting into this line of work right now, what advice do you have? 

Understand that it’s not easy money, and have a buddy system! It can get lonely in the business if you don’t have friends to chat and vent to that are also in the industry!

What is your plan for when this is all over, and does it look any different than it did before this all started?

Hopefully I will be able to organize my schedules to have regular shoots and group shoots! I’ve been working hard on my solo stuff, and I can use what I’ve learned and am still learning to really help my studio and performers blossom. 

You’re also a burlesque and drag performer—how has this impacted you in that area? Have you been able to make anything work online? 

My shows were cancelled, and while I have videos for sale on my clips sites, I haven’t been able to bridge the gap between the two professions much. I’m trying out a platform specifically for performers to get creative with video and earn passive income by having the drag and burlesque videos available anytime. It will keep consistent posts directing people to the site. 

What’s the most important way people can support sex workers, now and after this crisis passes? 

Tip your entertainers, and pay for advice! Fight stigmas. 

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Photos courtesy of Tequila Mockingbird

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