It’s Pride month and in the acronym LGBTQIA+, the letter A stands for asexuals, agenders and aromantics. According to GLAAD, a non-governmental media-monitoring organisation, an asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction towards anyone. But like any other sexuality, being asexual is also a spectrum. Some asexuals or aces might not engage in sex at all while having an active libido or some might choose to have sex with their partners while having no libido.
Being ace and a sex worker might sound contradictory, even bizarre. But for this 21-year-old sex worker from southeastern Canada, it’s her reality.
VICE reached out to Ellie, who does sex work online. Ellie (who requested to only use their first name to protect their privacy) – or Ellie Next Door, as her stage name goes – also happens to be asexual. This is her story.
The term “asexual sex worker” might sound contradictory but I’m about to break that down and tell you why it’s not.
I probably realised I was asexual when I saw those chiselled Greek statues at a museum as a pre-teen and didn’t swoon over them. To me, they were simply just bodies.
Around 2013, I made a Tumblr account. At the time, Tumblr was going through a big rainbow wave and like many others, this is where I found a label that matched how I felt. I had never heard the term “asexual” before Tumblr, but when I did, it felt like I’d finally found something that fits me.
So yeah, I don’t go bonkers at the thought of seeing a naked guy with a boner. If it’s an attractive person, I think they’re just that: an attractive person.
I also don't view my body as inherently sexual, but I know that other people do. Sexiness is in the eye of the beholder. It doesn't make me uncomfortable to be sexualised, and frankly, I enjoy the general positivity and appreciation that other people have for my body. I think my body is beautiful and I'm glad others agree.
So, in May 2019, I got on to Chaturbate (a platform featuring live webcam shows) because I thought it’d be fun. I did a quick set-up with a webcam, microphone and a sex toy. Over the next few days, I noticed my viewer count grow steadily and within a week, I’d made enough money to buy new sex toys.
In two months, I could buy a car. It wasn’t an expensive Rolls-Royce or anything, but it was good enough to drive myself around. I think this was the point when I decided to do sex work full time. I quit my day job as a barista, and dedicated myself to building an audience and getting better at streaming.
In order to be a sex worker, you don’t have to find everyone, or anyone, sexy.
I think people have such monolithic views of sex workers which builds the perception that we’re horny 24/7 and always down to fuck. That’s far from true even for sex workers who aren’t asexual. I don’t understand why people think that way though; do you think a soccer player is always down to play soccer?
Also, sex work in itself is such a vast world. Someone who sells their nudes on Snapchat can call themselves a sex worker and so can someone on OnlyFans, or who does camming shows, or the pornstars you see on Pornhub, or the ones who do IRL meet-ups.
While validation is always nice, other people's opinions of me or my body aren't important to how I view myself. So, I don't mind if people think my hair is gross, or that my breasts are small, or whatever else. Sex work is work, just like anything else, and the day-to-day of actually being a sex worker is a lot more like that of somebody who runs an online store or any other small business, rather than somebody selling sex. That being said, I enjoy my job despite knowing that I can’t keep doing this forever. I haven’t yet made up my mind on what I plan to do once I’m done with sex work but for now, this job pays me enough to pay my bills, and have an audience that is kind and respectful.
However, intimacy is important to me and I'm an extremely touch-based partner when I'm comfortably in a relationship with somebody. Nonsexual touching – like kissing, hugging, cuddling, snuggling, spending quality time together – are very important to my feelings of connection with my partner. I'm not a very touchy person outside of close relationships, so touch is something very intimate to me.
That said, several asexual people choose to have sex with their partners for the sake of pleasuring them. While each relationship is different, I'm generally pretty indulgent of my partner’s sexual desires. I love being able to pleasure somebody else, and sex is just another way I can show my love and affection for a person. So while sex isn't a central part of my relationships, I still know it's been important to my partners and we still are/were able to have a lot of fun together.
I have never worked with another sex worker before, but I’d love to. And if it involves something more than self-pleasure, I’m open to it too. For now, I’m on a break from camming. Apart from my OnlyFans and Reddit, I’m active on NiteFlirt, a phone sex line where I mostly have older clients. I think I prefer older men because they don’t go, “Ewww, you have hairy armpits!” Older men are more accepting of things like these and they’re definitely not bratty in my experience.
I'm not openly out to all my family and friends but I don't see a reason to hide the fact either. It simply hasn't come up in conversations, and I haven't yet fully reconciled with the idea of “coming out” as... not having any attraction. It’s something a lot of other aces struggle with. It's such a deeply personal yet irrelevant part of my personality and day-to-day life. If I was in a situation where it felt appropriate to share that part of myself with somebody, I absolutely would. But I don't feel the need to sit loved ones down for an official “coming out”.
I see my two identities – that of a sex worker and that of being asexual – as different. One is my profession, and the other is a part of my being. I chose to be a sex worker but I didn't choose to be asexual. I can't change what content I've already put out and thus my labelling as a sex worker. But one day I could go live in the mountains, and practically leave this online world behind. I can’t do that with my sexuality.
Asexuality will always be a part of me, even if that wasn't what I chose. I love who I am, but the difference between an identity I chose and one that I was given, makes them feel like distinct parts of myself.
Follow Ellie on Twitter and Instagram.