Cannabis is a well known aphrodisiac, with many consumers using it to enhance pleasure or ease their minds and bodies. Many sex workers, too, are using the plant both personally and professionally for wellness, relaxation, and as a means of boosting their practice with clients. A healing tool, cannabis can help them manage the emotions that come along with the very real day-to-day risks that sex workers face, online and in real life.
Civilized spoke to some sex workers, who shared a few of the ways cannabis helps them.
Southern California-based Buck Angel, fondly known by some as Tran-pa (a play on the word "grandpa") is a self-described “man with a female past.” He is also a human and cannabis rights activist, who makes his living as a porn star.
Sober from drugs and alcohol for more than three decades, about five years ago Angel started consuming marijuana — which he does not consider a "drug" like its Schedule I counterparts. “I started getting insomnia and anxiety because my work is so intense,” Angel said. “I started using marijuana as an alternative to Ambien...and it was just incredible. I decided to take it to another level and use it in masturbation and sex, and thought, ‘Wow, this could be a game changer for my trans community.’”
Angel began his porn career with the realization that there was no representation of his body — a transgender male who never had bottom surgery — anywhere in the sex industry. “My porn was not intentionally made as activism," he said. "I started to use my porn and my body as activism, challenging gender and sexuality by just using my body. I progressed into being a trans activist and a sex activist, and then I started to realize that cannabis can be part of my work.”
Angel describes his porn as an outlet and method to teach other trans people about their own bodies. He is also very cognizant of the emotional toll that sex workers face. “You are extremely vulnerable to the world, [and] the bullying behavior toward porn stars is huge,” Angel said. “People say, ‘You’re disgusting, you’re a whore, you should just kill yourself’ just because your chosen profession is porn.” Angel says cannabis helps him deal with the anxiety caused by this invective. He also uses cannabis lubricant on set to alleviate inflammation and enhance orgasms. He says that many of his peers in the porn industry use cannabis to take the edge off before work, too.
While many in the trans community are often prescribed a myriad of pharmaceuticals to treat depression, dysphoria, and anxiety, Angel says that cannabis could be a more conscious, alternative treatment. “With cannabis, you are not masking the problem like you do with pharma,” he explained. “I talk about it as say, microdosing mindfully, and not getting fucked up.”
In addition to conscious cannabis use, Angel continues his activism and body positivity campaign for trans-bodies with the Buck Angel® FTM Line, a collection of sex toys designed, in part by Angel himself, specifically to meet the needs of trans men. “My company is the only trans-owned LGBT company, and we did that specifically to talk about sexuality and sex," he said. And by bringing it into the porn world, he adds, porn stars serve as educators about sex and cannabis. “There is so much shaming around sex, [and] there’s so much shaming about cannabis," Angel said. "I’m tired of shaming for adult choices. Whether people disagree with it or not, it’s legal.”
Cannabis and sex work activist Siouxsie Q seems optimistic about both the sex work and cannabis industries, predicting that the sex work may soon follow in the footsteps of cannabis legalization.
“My job is smoking weed and getting naked on the internet," she said with a laugh. "If that’s not the American dream, I don’t know what is!”
Even a brief scroll through Siouxsie’s Instagram page shows a woman proudly walking her activist talk. Top images show happy selfies at the California state capitol in Sacramento, where she was lobbying on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Siouxsie is currently hard at work with the ACLU to pass Caifornia’s SB233, which would prohibit the arrest of sex workers for reporting sex work-related crimes, like sexual assault, human trafficking, kidnapping, blackmail, and extortion.
Siouxsie is a porn star and secretary for APAC (Adult Performer Advocacy Committee), an organization working to improve safety and working conditions in the adult film industry. She also works as media strategist, performer, advocate, and cannabis influencer. And on top of all that, she hosts the Whorecast podcast, aiming to take back the sex work narrative from the mainstream media, which she feels exploits and misrepresents the community.
Now, she applies her experience in both cannabis and sex work toward her expertise in marketing and branding. “I do events marketing and social media, and work with brands associated with marijuana and sex work," she said. According to Siouxsie, the cannabis and sex work industries share in common grey market qualities, and she wants to help de-stigmatize both.
Siouxsie saw the healing benefits of cannabis up close as she watched her mother kick opioids by consuming the herb, and, like Angel, uses cannabis to manage her own stress and anxiety. “The stigma that we navigate as sex workers is...I can’t even come up with the right word. It’s insurmountable,” she said. Siouxsie also points out maltreatment in places that should be safe spaces, like the doctor’s office. “I come up to sex worker stigma in health care, reproductive rights, and sexual health issues,” she added. “Navigating health care, among other things, can be very daunting.”
Aviva Diamond is a professional dominatrix living in New York, who uses cannabis in both personal and professional ways. “I occasionally use cannabis as a way to unwind after sessions. It helps my body and mind to relax, which can be helpful, especially after intense scenes,” she told Civilized. “It’s a great indication that the session is over and it’s me-time now. Having rituals to unwind and ground myself is an important part of self-care.”
On occasion, clients ask to use cannabis during sessions to help relax their minds, bodies, and emotions, and ease into the experience. ”BDSM can be a wonderful way to reach altered states of consciousness, and combining BDSM play with substances that also alter your consciousness can be an effective tool,” Diamond said. “Sometimes, I partake in cannabis use with my submissive, and I find that it can help connect us energetically, have us more aware and sensitive in our bodies, and help us explore and play in a similar mind-frame.”
Some clients also request a “forced intox” session, during which the domme will force a client to inhale cannabis smoke in order to help them achieve a mental state called “subspace.” Diamond describes subspace as a mindspace that can be reached when being submissive or being dominated. “Restraining a sub and forcing them to inhale cannabis smoke can be a really hot form of power exchange,” she explained. “The feeling of helplessness, and then the sensation of feeling high can bring someone into subspace quickly. Forced intox scenes are all about that loss of mental control that they are seeking.”
Diamond emphasizes that getting high with a client is inherently vulnerable and requires a lot of trust, and she will only consent to consuming cannabis with a special few. Her priority, she said, is to manage her sessions with a high degree of professionalism, and will not partake if she thinks cannabis would interfere.
For Diamond, cannabis consumption during a BDSM session is not only about domination and submission, but is also a way for the client and the domme to bond during an intense encounter. “Just in terms of getting you both to the same kind of altered state, and having a similar experience in body and mind can help you bond and connect through a BDSM scene,” she said.