WHACK! stapher Miss Lagsalot got a rare opportunity to talk with Christina Cicchelli, who’s more than your typical porn whore…
W! Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview on short notice! We are really thrilled to get a chance to talk to you because you are such an interesting and varied figure in America’s sex landscape today. Can you tell us just a little bit about yourself for those who aren’t familiar?
CC Glad to have a chat too! I identify myself as a sex worker and sex writer. I have a blog called A Fantastic Nightmare, and it’s a collection of personal essays and articles dedicated to sex, death, and the circus that is our society! I’m also a columnist and work on the editorial board of $pread Magazine and guest blog for the website Dodson and Ross.
W! You are kind of a Renaissance woman in the sex field! Can you give us a current list of the different modes of sex work, writing, and, well, anything else, that you do?
CC I am an escort, cam model, porn actress, erotica and science fiction writer.
W! And you used to do some other things that you no longer do. Can you tell us about those?
CC I was a fetish coach very briefly. I also worked as a professional dominatrix and phone sex operator.
W! As a writer, speaker, coach, performer, and experienced dominatrix, you are obviously a talented and intelligent woman. What inspired you to go into the world of sex for a living, rather than, say, becoming a musician or biochemist?
CC I was a musician between the ages of 9 and 13! I played the baritone sax, flute, and finally settled on alto sax. I doubt I can play any of those instruments anymore though. Guitar I failed. Biochemistry sounds like a blast too. But sex is something pretty special. And I always had a natural curiosity for it. When I was kid I used to skim through the pages of medical books that featured animated sexual positions. I would mimic these practices, and those I gathered from the distorted vision of Pay-per-View movies, on my Barbie dolls and teddy bears. I eventually went on to read anything that had sex in it, including sex books written by Betty Dodson, feminist essays by Liz Lunch and Camille Paglia. And I kept watching porn, which was a mix of classics from Annie Sprinkle and Vanessa Del Rio and a bit of the new. I grew up in the pre-Britney era, when feminism felt very community-based and, well, cool. So did sex work! So, there was always a persistent drive in me to walk down that path.
W! In your experience, have you seen many other women like yourself—intelligent and beautiful and involved in sex work? What do you think the usual impetus is for getting involved in porn or domination work?
CC I see plenty of sex workers who have used their careers to inspire change in the way our society perceives the sex industry and also create movements in their community. As a media columnist of $pread, I’ve seen so many contributions by sex workers, essays and articles that document various examples of this. However, when it comes down to it, most of us enter this workforce for money, for a place to stay or for a bite to eat. Regardless of how I felt, when I first began in the industry I didn’t really plan it and didn’t consider being a stripper or a call girl as a career. I just knew I needed money and I would rather dance and entertain clients than work at the mall.
W! How do writing and sex work dovetail for you: what made you decide to write about your work?
CC When I first began in the industry, I just didn’t know how to write about my work. I didn’t know if I wanted my friends or family to find out about me. And when I did write about my work, I ripped its pages out of my notebook or deleted the file from my computer. It just reminded to me of those kitschy “Happy Hooker” stories. I didn’t just want to blab about all the crazy shit I’ve been through. I needed to figure out how sex work was important for me and how it uniquely impacted my life. So, it actually took me a year or two to open up about my sex work. It wasn’t until I started A Fantastic Nightmare did I feel comfortable speaking about being in porn and phone sex and such.
W! You are no longer a fetish coach, but I find the idea of coaching in this world fascinating. Can you tell us a little bit about what that entailed?
CC It’s a concept I made up while I was writing my Road to Kink series. Even though I’ve sort of retired it, that collection boasts my most popular articles. Instead of covering basic BDSM, I discussed fetishes of all kinds. Yiffies, sploshing, infantilism – being a pervert myself I was curious about the many ways people got their rocks off. I wanted to encourage discussion about it as well as encourage others to eradicate the boredom in their sex lives or explore their special fantasies. Soon, I began to receive letters from readers who wanted to engage their lovers or loved ones in some naughty hijinks. But, they didn’t really know how to talk about it without making their partner want to hi-tail it out of the bedroom. So, using my experience in BDSM, I helped people find creative ways to exercise their kinks. There wasn’t a plan or a strategy. Each person had his or her own personal goals and obstacles. Many times the person was already submerged in his fantasy. For example, one client wanted to worship a woman. He had to believe that I believed that I was not only better than him, but I am a God, a deity like no other being. So, I persuaded him to pray at my altar and to acknowledge no other religion before my own. It was pretty intense… and yet, is it really a far-fetched idea?
W! Have you ever heard of sexual surrogacy? I just read an article the other day that was fascinating: there are places you can go where you can pay for therapy, followed by a sexual surrogate, who will basically have sex with you in a therapeutic sense. Surrogates relieve men of their virginity, work on sexual dysfunction, and try to help with intimacy issues. Fascinating, no? Would you ever consider this line of work?
CC I’ve heard about it. It’s definitely a line of work that I believe is very beneficial and necessary for men and women who do need a surrogate. I have considered becoming a sex surrogate; but I love what I do because it encourages the little devil in all of us to play! I want clients who want to take what they’ve learned from a surrogate or a coach or an experienced and caring lover in terms of techniques and personal comforts, and use this to reward themselves with a paid fantasy. And I enjoy being a fantasy. I like to feed a client’s perversions.
W! What kinds of books does a sexpert like you read? Are you into erotica, and have you ever thought about putting your considerable talents into that line of literature?
CC God. I write now and when I do it’s difficult for me to read. I can never finish a book. But when I did have the capacity, I love reading philosophy books. Marriage of Heaven and Hell by Blake was one of the last books I half finished. I’m not into straightforward erotica. It becomes boring and all just too typical. As a reader, I like to stumble on a sex scene in a book by accident, not feel forced into believing a fantasy. So, when I think about the fiction I write, I tend to keep the sexual elements for last and work on the plot, characters, etc. Sex Stories, my e-book, was a professional attempt to write erotica; but most of those tales are paired with personal essays about my experience in sex work. My direction after this may focus solely on personal essay or science fiction. Don’t worry, though, there’s still plenty of sex!
W! You have a large and impressive web presence; has that helped you build a brand for yourself? Do you consider yourself an online entrepreneur?
CC Pfft. Not in the least do I consider myself an online entrepreneur, at least not when it comes to my writing. As a sex worker, when I don’t have appointments or shoots, some of my time is spent optimizing my website, working on photos, and so forth. My brand as a sex worker is important because I have to compete with so many other ladies. In regards to my literary “brand,” I can’t deny how drawn people are to someone who writes about sex on a pretty regular basis, especially when the writer makes it her line of work. That said, I feel as though my popularity comes from connecting with others through my writing and it would always do that whether I was talking about masturbation or car mechanics. I’m just not into car mechanics. Anyway my essays are pretty frank, despite the embarrassing details and I think both men and women relate to my stories. I write about topical news in the sex industry, science and pop culture in general but try and make it my goal to argue against the majority, which sometimes means I play the devil’s advocate. I don’t want a readership that hangs on every word I say. I want my presence built on discussion and disagreement. Ultimately I learn from my readers in this way too.
W! You’ve spoken in interviews about how domination play is transformative and escapist, in beautiful terms. Would you care to share a bit of your philosophy with our readers?
CC Domination isn’t just about power. Power is an illusion. As a submissive, there have been many times when I’ve “topped from the bottom,” I was able to manipulate and control my partner, a dominant, so I can get what I want. Domination, like submission, forces its participant to step outside of their comfort zones and become what turns them on. Mind you, just because something turns you on doesn’t mean it’s sexy for someone else. So, there’s the obvious fear of not being liked or accepted because of this special fantasy. To become a dominant or submissive is just to use your imagination and your confidence. These are very basic qualities. We used them all during our childhood to escape our everyday lives. And didn’t that seem so natural? It did to me! Once we remove our ego and insecurities, domination can become an art form. It’s not all about wielding a whip. It’s about knowing how to lead and make it look as effortless as the beauty one exudes. It can have a very transcendental feeling, like a high.
W! You also speak about how your clients get something they need from you, both in performance and in domination work—do think this is true of many fans of particular porn performers? Do you think that people pick their favorite porn stars based on something they are looking for in women, or just based on looks?
CC I guess the best way to describe it is that as a professional domme and a porn actress, I have more fans than I do clients. I think this has to do with the fact that being a professional dominatrix isn’t the same as being a porn actress. The difference mostly comes from how they are perceived by our society. Both industries are marketable – you have the whips and corsetry of pro-domination and the allure and celebrity of the porn industry. But, only those who pay for it and get paid for it know that’s not the case. And for everyone else that’s outside and looking in, especially those who do want to seek a pro-domme for their desires or adult movies to turn them on, they may believe that either industry is dominated by a certain look or type. But, what I’ve learned is that whether you’re a client or a fan, it takes time to find what you enjoy and to feel good about investing in what you like. Some of my clients were fans. They knew they liked me and not just for my looks. And many of my fetish clients became fans after I watched my movies.
W! You have a very different look for a sex worker in America today—you are not the typical blond, over-tanned, huge-boobed porn star. And yet your look has gotten you a lot of notice—you’ve been nominated for some major awards and have been acclaimed by many reviewers. Did you expect your more “exotic” (read: actually black! OMG!) look to go over so well, or was it a pleasant surprise?
CC Well, that’s another misconception. Sure, we do have huge blondes in this business; but, blondes and big tits have always been in style. Look to Miss Monroe. So, I knew going into it that I just couldn’t compete on looks. But, before porn I had already been a call girl, a stripper, and a pro-domme. So, I knew that looks can get you to the door but it wouldn’t seal the deal. I had to deliver more than the other girls and that’s what I’ve always done. And, my experience with the porn industry has never been discriminatory; that said, not that many people in the porn industry could take a risk on me because I was just too natural-looking. It did bother me how conservative the porn industry has become in that sense, but I wasn’t discouraged. I just continued to meet different people and worked with those who wanted to make a fun fuck film and wanted me to perform for them. That led me to the nomination, which I didn’t expect. But, it didn’t surprise me; I just thought, Well, yeah. That makes sense. I was surprised at how quickly it happened. It was way too fast for me. So, I’m going to try again for a nomination. Fuck it – let’s make it a win!
W! Are you working on or planning any films now? New books? New projects?
CC Right now I just had a bit of a break. I shot for a brand new website on Kink.com with more scenes to go! I’ll talk more about it in my blog so you’ll definitely read about it. But, those particular scenes will go up sometime by the end of the year. And at the beginning of April I shot a scene with Juicy Pink Box, not to mention I participated in a documentary with Jonathan Harris, which was pretty cool. That probably won’t be up until Fall of this year too. On my own website, I just produced five different video clips and will shoot more in the upcoming weeks. I’m also on my webcam when I’m not busy with other stuff!
On my website I do have an e-book called “Sex Stories”, a short collection of erotica and personal essays based on my heyday as a professional domme and PSO (phone sex operator). It’s available for the sleazy, cheap price of a buck! Right now, I’m second chapter into my first science fiction novel. And the gang at $pread Magazine are putting the finishing touches on our newest issue. We’re actually shooting the cover this week.
W! Any shameless website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. plugs you’d like to put in here?
CC Yup! Readers and their friends can visit me at Sexy Spirits on Monday May 10th! $10 fee at the door will get you into a televised episode of Sexy Spirits TV, where I will be taking questions from both the host, Steven Otero, and the audience. For those who can’t make it, they can read my blog and purchase my e-book at www.afantasticnightmare.com. You can also follow me on twitter under the name Chris Cicchelli and watch my series “Date with a Fetish Coach” on Youtube.
W! Thanks so, so much for your time and sexpertise, Christina! Hopefully we’ll be talking again soon.
CC Thanks, Lagsalot!