Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Naked Words with Audacia Ray

When I started reading Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads, and Cashing in on Internet Sexploration by Audacia Ray, I was thrilled by the wealth of knowledge. I grabbed my highlighter and started marking passages, making notes in the margins and looking up links mentioned in the text. In other words, it had all the hallmarks of a really good book.

Now that I have done some research on the author, I can understand why the book is so chock-full of information, delivered with such a friendly air. The editor of $pread magazine, director of the award-winning BiApple, and now, writer of a book that is sure to become a definitive guide to Internet Sexploration, Audacia Ray is a powerhouse in the world of sex.

Here she talks a bit about moving into the sex industry, a few of her favorite achievements, and her advice to those who want to get naked on the Internet...

Audacia, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! First: You moved into sex work while in your senior year of college. Was there a turning point at which you decided to work in the sex industry, or did you always have this in mind as a career?

During college I was really fascinated by all different aspects of sexuality, in both the academic and personal senses. However, I was painfully shy so I dove into books instead of the breadth of experiences I craved - I was actually mildly terrified of the sexually free people I wanted to be one of. In my senior year of college I started working at the then-nascent Museum of Sex here in NYC, where I met all kinds of sexual deviants (which I mean in the nicest way possible). These were some of the nicest, warmest people I'd ever met, and I realized that maybe I was more like them than I thought. From there on out it was a slippery slope into being a naked-lady-for-hire, sex educator, erotica writer, sex worker rights advocate, porn director...the list goes on.

You do so many things, and all of them well. Director, curator, writer, activist, executive editor – and on top of all that, you just finished the dreaded Masters Thesis! How do you find time to breathe?

I thrive off of being busy and productive and I am very bad at relaxing. I like variety and I find that there are so many different things I find worthy of attention - so I do a lot. My work is very fun, so that helps keep me going. I don't sleep very much.

I know this is a cruel question, considering how us creative types can never decide between our “babies” – but I’m asking anyway. Which one of your projects over the last few years was your favorite?

As far as solo personal achievement goes, I am most proud of the book, which I buckled down and wrote in less than six months. I had a lot of freedom in writing it, which of course comes with a lot of responsibility - above all, to the people I wrote about. The book gave me space to tell important stories that need telling. At the same time though, I admit to getting misty eyed and choked up every time I see a new issue of $pread. The collective effort of a group of volunteers, many of whom are present or former sex workers, to continuously produce the magazine is a pretty
amazing thing.

Naked on the Internet is a masterful blend of facts and intimate experiences. Did you find anything that shocked you while you were researching for the book?

Initially, I stupidly set out with an outline of points I wanted to make and a list of interviewees I thought could help me make those points. I've spent enough years researching and writing that I should've known better, but I didn't. So I was surprised by how much I didn't know. I think overall I was surprised at the degree to which many women view their very publicly accessible online spaces and expressions as essentially private.

The advice I give to wannabe porn stars applies very well to wannabe Internet provocateurs: think about your worst case scenario - who is the last person you want to discover you online? Now think about what you'll do WHEN they find out. Can you stomach it? Welcome to the Internet! Not so much? Keep your stuff offline.

What’s next for you?

I am working on a project with my dear friend and writing buddy, Jamye Waxman, that will hopefully debut in the fall, though I'll have to remain mysterious about that at the moment. Until then, I'm doing nothing but promoting the book with lots of media appearances and a fairly strenuous book tour that will include events in Amsterdam, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Chapel Hill, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. I'm also always open to suggestion of more cities and adventures.


If you want to catch Audacia's events, both in person and online, check out her schedule here: Waking Vixen.

To read my review of the book on Clean Sheets, click here.

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