FT. JESSIE SAGE
SNH Podcast S3 - Episode 10 Transcript
Melrose Michaels: Welcome back to the SeenAndNotHeard Podcast, the podcast that is your weekly dirty little secret, which is fine by me...as long as you keep it.
I'm Melrose Michael's your host, and this is season 3, episode 10. I'm fan girly-ing out right now because we're going to sit down with someone I really admire, and she and her husband happen to be my favorite podcast hosts in the industry. Her name is Jessie Sage, and she is managing editor of Peep Show Media, an online magazine featuring new stories from the sex industry and co-host of the Peep Show Podcast, my personal favorite. She's also a really accomplished writer who's had writing that's appeared in the Washington Post, VICE, Men's Health, Hustler, and more. She herself is a sex worker with her bread and butter being the phone sex industry, which is what we are going to talk about today. She's also a very popular indie performer. I love listening to her podcast because she's really well-educated on a lot of the issues facing the industry today. And there's never a single episode where I don't learn something. Today I wanna discuss the phone sex side of the industry as it's not something I'm personally very familiar with and I think it's really important to highlight all of the different facets of the billion-dollar sex workspace. So without further introduction, welcome Jessie Sage,
Melrose Michaels: Jessie Sage - I am so excited to have you on the SeenAndNotHeard podcast, I am a huge fan so I'm trying to control myself. For those who don't know Jessie has a very successful podcast called the Peep Show podcast Um it's one of my favorite within the sex work industry and niche. And I'm just excited to sit down with you and there's so many things I would love to talk to you about, but since I'm bringing this, you know, new season to my podcast and I was MIA for a while, and I'm trying to get my life together, I figured I'd start slow. And we just talk about kind of the sex work industry as it pertains to phone sex and all that goes into that. So you are my resident expert on this topic.
Jessie Sage: Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to be here.
Melrose Michaels: And so.. you have no idea. So I guess let's just start by letting everyone know a little bit about your background and who you are so that they can be familiar with you.
Jessie Sage: Yeah. Okay.
So yeah, I'm Jessie Sage. I started in the sex industry around five years ago. I started in camming, but I never really like found my way in camming. It wasn't really my thing. I mean, I did it, but it wasn't wasn't really my thing. And then I found phone sex, a couple like a year or two into camming, a friend of mine who was a cam girl, but also a phone sex operator on NiteFlirt was like, Oh, well you might really like phone sex because it's more one-on-one, which is what I like. I like to have conversations one-on-one you may like that more. And I tried it and the first day that I went on NiteFlirt, I got a couple of calls and they were really fun and that kind of changed my whole career trajectory and in the sex industry, because I, it ended up that I did really like that.
So now I do phone sex primarily, but I also do audio smut and I do clips too. I have a clip store and I make clips a lot of them with my husband, but I also make some of them with my, with my friends and not now, which is kind of a bummer, but in general, when we're not in the middle of a pandemic I make clips too. And I started the Peep Show podcast with my husband which is - we talk about news and stories from the sex industry and we've recently started a magazine that goes along with that.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah. I'm really excited to see how, when that, I went on the site, I want to see everything. I was just listening to your latest episodes. So I heard all that. I'm still excited.
Jessie Sage: Yeah! Thank you. It's exciting.
Melrose Michaels: Can you define what audio smut is? Cause I don't know if my listeners will understand that.
Jessie Sage: It's actually kind of a burgeoning field right now. There's a lot of energy being put into it. So audio smut is like porn, but only the audio part of it. So that can look like a lot of different things. So it can look like elaborate, like fantasies that are full stories that have a story arc or, and characters, or it can just look like listening to people having sex. And I've done both of those. And some of it is similar to what you get in custom porn too. So like jerk off instructions and things like that, but only the audio form of it. So I've done. I do what I do is create audios for people often they're custom audio. So I'll have some of my clients who say, I want you to tell a story about a sexy thing that happened to you, or I just want to hear you masturbate and say my name over and over again. Or some people just say they want to hear about my day. They just want sort of the company. So they'll have me make little audios and while I'm talking about my day, which goes along well with podcasting.
And then sometimes it's just like, you know, I'll put on the audio recording while I'm in the middle of like having sex and people like to listen to sex sounds and project their own fantasies onto that. So it looks like a lot of different things. It depends on what people are doing, but it ranges anywhere from like elaborate stories to just sex noises.
Melrose Michaels: Okay, cool. When it comes to, cause I'm familiar with like ASMR and like how that relates to our industry a little bit. Is there any overlap there? Is that a similar thing? Is that a different thing?
Jessie Sage: Yeah, it's.. ASMR is a type of audio smut. So I mean, there's ASMR that's video too, that people are watching the videos, but what ASMR does is it plays with sounds like through the microphones, people use say particular sorts of sounds. And those sounds like can either relax or like arouse the people who are listening. So yeah. I mean, I think ASMR is a type of audio smut, but not all audio smut is ASMR if that makes sense.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah, definitely, definitely. So I am familiar with NiteFlirt, which is for those who don't know a very popular platform when it comes to you know phone sex or even I believe they have SMS and things like that. So how did you get introduced to NiteFlirt, or, you said your friend told you about that specific website and then you signed up or what was the process?
Jessie Sage: Yeah. Yeah. So my friend told me about NiteFlirt and kind of how it works because it works differently than a lot of other platforms in that you kind of have to learn how to work it. So NiteFlirt ha... you make listings on Nite Flirt and they're basically like, these are the sorts of conversations I like to have, or this is a little bit about me. Here's some pictures of myself. But they can be a lot of different listings. So under your name or your profile, like I have one that's just, you know, I like to have engaging conversations and then I have a MILF one and then I have a, I don't even remember what, like the different listings that I have are, but you can cater to different sorts of fantasies. And so when you, it depends on what you want to do that day. So if you want to do like a lot of fetish calls, you can put up like a fetish listing or if you want to do MILF stuff, you can put up a MILF listing and people will search in the categories for what they're interested in customer search for what they're interested in and they'll call you based on what it is that you're saying, you're advertising basically. But, so.. I set that up and I've been mostly working on that, but I also work on Sex Panther now at this point. So the difference between NiteFlirt, I think and Sex Panther is that you have to already have kind of a social media following to get onto Sex Panther and you have to drive your own traffic there. The difference between NiteFlirt is NiteFlirt is a great place for people to start who don't have a huge following because NiteFlirt's been around the longest, they have a huge customer base, they drive their own traffic.
So if you're new and you don't have a ton of people who are already following you, you can go on, you can bid to have your ads higher than other, so that people see you on the front page or the first couple of pages. And so it's an easy way to enter in and kind of build your own client base. And so that's how I started. And now that I've been doing this for a while, I can direct people to sex Panther to other platforms, but, but yeah, NiteFlirt was a great place to start. And I think it's a good place to start for people who are new to the sex industry, because you can develop your own sort of client base there and your own niches.
Melrose Michaels: Definitely. So, and also too, I want to just backtrack for just a second, because you said that you got your original start in the industry as a whole on webcam, which was my experience as well. How did you find webcam? Like, what was that? I always love to know the stories of people.
Jessie Sage: I hate talking about it, yeah, I will talk about it.
Not that I hate talking about it, but I feel bad talking about it because so many of my, you know, friends are cammers and I have so much respect for them because I don't know how people are successful at this job. It's just not something that's like good for me or my personality. I, it wasn't bad. It wasn't a negative experience. It just didn't like jive with me in the same way that I think it does with a lot of people. And part of that is because part of it is that I'm an introvert and I like to have more like one-on-one conversations. Part of it is because that was my like entry into sex work. And so I wasn't yet comfortable. I wasn't totally comfortable with my body. I didn't understand a lot of the industry.
I think it would be different if I decided to go back now. But at the time when I was starting, I started with my husband. He was, he cammed before me actually before we met with other partners and on his own and stuff. So I, he was doing it and I was curious and I started it with him and it was, it was interesting because I, I didn't, it was my way that I learned about, about client interactions and about what people were trying to get out of these experiences. But for me, it was like really hard to connect with because I didn't you know, I'd have people come in and they would for tokens, want to say, like, stand up, turn around, show me your ass, show me your tits. And it was, I don't know. I liked it more once I started to have people that I actually knew, so it was part of the, like, it was hard for me to connect with just requests from people that I didn't know who they were, or, you have any sort of connection to. And I think that the harder part for me too, was the one to many aspects. So I did a little bit of camming on StreamMate, and that worked a little bit better for me, because even though you start out in a public room and most of your like sexual interactions are with people like one-on-one, pulling you into privates. And that worked a little bit better for me. Um but the sort of camming that I did on Chaturbate, which was the majority of the camming that I did was like either me by myself or me with my partner. And all you see is just user handles and they're talking to you all at once. And the.. I wasn't good at being able to navigate like different people talking all at the same time....It just stressed me out... (laughter) It's like, I don't know, you want me to do this? You want me to do this?
And I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing. So for me, it wasn't really a great fit. Although I should say that I do cam now I do like cam to cam with my NiteFlirt clients or my Sex Panther clients. And that I really like, you know, that that works for me, but I do in a way that's different than the original camming that I did.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah. I feel like, see, and that's kind of the opposite for me. So for me, the draw to cam was that I was like in my own little TV show at my own little safe space, it was what I said go so I'll go, yeah, they're throwing money at you to do X, Y, and Z. You still have that control factor in the room where you can be like, Hmm, that's not something I'm interested in doing, which is nice I don't enjoy as much the intimate one-on-one reactions that you seem to be more interested in. Like that makes it, it seems it's very intimate. So like, even when I would do like a cam-to-cam session and it's one-on-one if they pay you to open their cam or something, that's so intimate to me and it kind of makes me uncomfortable.
I don't know if it makes it all too real. I don't know what it is, but it's been something I felt, I don't know. And also I've, and I've told my fans this in the past too, like when it comes to cam specifically, and I don't have the other person's cam on, I feel like I have no biases against them. Like, I'm not judging, I'm not judging them for their background for anything that I might subconsciously do, or be triggering to me from my own personal past experiences. So I feel like when I don't see them and I can have an honest conversation with them one-on-one in DMs, I'm getting to know them without all of that coming into the light, I guess.
Jessie Sage: Yeah, yeah. That makes a lot of sense to me. I, I think I think that's, what's so interesting is that in this industry, there's so many different ways that you can go about doing your job and that fits into so many different people's personalities. So I've met a lot of people like you who are like, I, I hate phone sex because it's, you, it's too intimate. You hear too much about people's lives. You get too involved with them. And I have kind of the opposite, the opposite reaction to that, which is that I get bored if I can't have that. So I think that and I think too, there's like different levels. So there's people who are fans of mine, who I've spent a lot of time texting with on Sex Panther or something. And I recently had it happen where I've had somebody who's been a client of mine for a long time, but he was afraid to talk on the phone. He also just thought it was like, kind of intimate. Didn't want to do that. So we always communicated on like OnlyFans or on texts. And the other day he called me and I heard his voice for the first time. And I love that. That made me so happy. Like now I feel like he's, he was a person to me before cause I knew a lot about his life, but when I could put like connect a voice, there was something that felt more intimate about that.
Melrose Michaels: I feel like voice is much more intimate at least to me than even video.
Jessie Sage: Like yeah, I think so too.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah, definitely.
Jessie Sage: And I wonder why that is. I don't, I don't know why that is, but it feels very intimate to me too.
Melrose Michaels: I agree. And I never noticed it. I did try the NiteFlirt thing very, very briefly because I wanted to see if that's something that would fit in my lifestyle and something that I would enjoy doing. And I think it was the first call and I'm like, Nope, I can't do it. I feel like I feel so vulnerable and I feel so exposed and it pushes my personal boundaries a little bit. But I understand the appeal. I would much rather always talk to someone on the phone than to text them in my lifestyle for these. So it's not really fitting, but when it's a real connection, someone I really wanna, you know, be spend time with then yeah.
Jessie Sage: What do you think made you feel more exposed about talking on the phone?
Melrose Michaels: I don't know. I think I'm a, I'm a, I'm a writer at heart too. So for me I'm very well-written and I'm very organized mentally when I can put texts, you know, write texts or type texts. So for me, DM-ing someone on cam in a chat way. I'm very organized and well-spoken, and I feel comfortable there, but when I'm speaking in, although I believe I'm, well-spoken, that's not the issue. It's just more, I don't have that time to precision organize my thoughts and I feel more that way...
Jessie Sage: Yeah...
Melrose Michaels: Yeah. That's a really interesting question. Cause I I've never stopped to consider it, but I'm even with like work calls, like formal work calls, can we hop on a call? I'm like, I'd much rather go back and forth with email for this for a little bit just, so I can make sure this is clear (laughter) and precise.
Jessie Sage: (Laughter) yeah.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah. That's an interesting point when you were doing NiteFlirt and you're having these calls come in, do you feel like that interrupts your day at all? Because that's something I was curious about for when I am on a cam setting or doing like a Snapchat show. I'm very control - in control of my time and my schedule. And I do - do you feel like the calls interrupt your day?
Jessie Sage: Yes, but I think that, but the thing that's nice about it is that you can turn on your lines or turn them off, like when you can't take calls. And so often I don't take calls. I think that for me, like as a writer too, one of the things that works for me is that camming is hard because you can't do something else, you have to like try to lower people into your room and stay engaged, even if you're not making any money at that particular moment. But the nice thing about NiteFlirt or Sex Panther is that I can turn my line on and then say, you know, write on Twitter that I'm taking calls or doing something. And if nobody's calling for a little while - I'm working on my articles or I'm editing my podcast or I'm doing all of the other things that I need to do in my life.
And then when there's work, that's coming in that I know is actually going to be paid work. Then I can put that aside and have my conversations. And then when those are done, put them back. The thing that's hard about it is is that you don't actually know how long you're going to be on the phone. Like once somebody actually calls. And I think that that's the thing that's a little bit harder. So there are people who call and they're already turned on and they just want somebody to help them get them off. And that takes 10 minutes or five minutes or 10 minutes. And then there's people who wanna have a really long and involved conversation about what's going on with their work or what's going on with their marriage or why they're mad about something their boss said or their teenagers aren't listening to them or whatever. There's so many things that people want to talk about. And you know, sometimes I think, okay, well I can turn my lines on, but I only have an hour before I have to leave and go do something. I don't know if I can, if that's going to work because you don't want somebody to call you and then say 10 minutes in, I actually can't continue this conversation. (laughter) That's the harder thing.
Melrose Michaels: Oh, is there a, like a graceful way to end a session short like that?
Jessie Sage: I just say that. I mean, I think at this point in, you know, for how long I've been doing this, a lot of people that I have that call me are regulars. And so with regulars, it's easy to say like, Oh, I'm, I'm glad you called. And I'm super excited to talk to you, but I only have 15 minutes and they'll be like, okay, that's cool. But yeah, with newer people, I think, I don't know. I don't know if I do that gracefully or not. (both laughing) Yeah. I don't have any good tips for how to do that gracefully. I probably don't.
Melrose Michaels: So your career with phone sex, is it what you expected it to be or because you mentioned too, sometimes people just want to call and talk about their lives and have someone to connect to maybe that they feel they can be vulnerable to. (Yeah) How much percent would you say is actual sex work, where it's erotica and what is, you know, just someone looking for companionship or to vent or to speak to?
Jessie Sage: Yeah, I think that's a good question.
And I think it's a good question, but I think it's hard to answer because all of these things like bleed into each other, you know, so people call because they're sexually frustrated, but actually the problem isn't sex, the problem is like, they're not connecting with their spouse. And so those, those things can often start as I'm really horny and I want to get off and then turn into a conversation about what's going on with their marriage, that then that then goes back to, you know, something that's sexual. But the other things can also happen where a lot of it is sexual in nature, but it's not like directly sex. It's more people wanting to talk through things that they've been thinking about or talk through their fetishes or even get permission to experience them.
Because I think in our culture, we have so much like shame around sex and sexuality. So a lot of people are interested in just say, talking about what they find sexy or what's turning them on. And I mean, sometimes they want, sometimes they eroticize like being humiliated about that. So they want you to say like, Oh, you're very naughty or, you know, that's but a lot of times it's just, this is something that I've been thinking about, or this is something that I've been interested in and they want to talk through, they'll talk about the first time that they did something and then want to go through kind of the progression of how they got to where they are now. So those are conversations that aren't explicitly sexual in a sense that they're not meant to like get them off or something, but they are about their erotic imagination. They're about the things that turn them on or don't turn them on. They're about their like past lovers and their past experiences. So it's less overtly sexual than I would have expected, but so much of it, so much of our life is also like tied up in our sexuality. So I think it's all kind of connected.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah. I can definitely see that. Have you had the experience where people come to you explicitly for advice?
Jessie Sage: Yeah. And I've actually, actually had young people like virgins call me 18, 19 year olds. And that's interesting too. And that also points to like our lack of good sex education in our culture. So, you know, I've had people who, I mean are old enough to have a credit card and a phone line of their own and some privacy, but who are just asking questions about, you know, I've never been with somebody before. I remember a call that totally stood out to me one time and this is somebody I only talked to once, but think he was 19 and he was in college and he was saying that he was having feelings for, for some of the guys that he like were in his dorm room. He was having his first like sort of homosexual desires and feelings. And he wanted to know from like what it felt like to be with a man.
Like he just wanted me to talk about that, that feeling because he assumed that like I've been with men before. And then so after I talked to him a little bit about that, he started to ask like, okay, but if I was to start something with this person that I'm crushing on, that I'm feeling vibes back from, you know, it wasn't as if it was coming out of nowhere. He said, well, I'm afraid. And what if I get to the point of no return? And then I was like, wait, now there, that doesn't exist. So you could always stop. And so the whole, a lot of it turned into me talking about like, okay, well, if you were to start something sexual and you decided you were uncomfortable with it, how would you like walk that back a little bit? And we did, you know, role plays, role plays and kind of a loose sense, like, okay, this is good.
This happens. What do you do here? And after that, he - I think he left feeling like he had more of a sense of what to do because nobody had ever told him that once you start something you're allowed to stop it, you know, like there's - so I'll get calls like that, but also calls from people... I get a lot of calls from married men and I think, I mean, all sex workers get a lot of inquires from, (both laughing) that's not, that's not special to me, but what I was going to say is I get a lot of - because I have a fairly like a marriage that people see because we're both like public figures. And because we run a podcast together, so people know who I'm married to and a little bit about our lives. I get calls from married men who want to have more openness with their wives and don't know how to approach that. Like openness in terms of like an open relationship, but not just that also, like I want to talk about my fantasies, and I don't know how to talk about those. And so I feel like a lot of my work too is not, not about me or about their desire for me, but like just talking through how, where they want to get to in their relationship with their wife. And so I play, I play wife a lot.
Melrose Michaels: Definitely I could see that. I mean, it's a lot of our experience is that how do you - cause people ask me this question and I have my own personal views on it and how to reply because they're like, well, don't you think porn is cheating or don't you think webcam in conversing with someone or fulfilling a fantasy online for someone is helping them cheat on their wife or their partner? What are your feelings on that?
Jessie Sage: Yeah. I mean, I think that's really complicated. I think it depends. No, I mean, my first response is like, no, I don't think it's cheating. And I don't think it's cheating because - because it's not the same sort of relationship, you know, I am not actually, I don't actually want to be any of their wives or girlfriends. Like I have my own life. That's totally separate from that. And so I don't think it's the same sort of relationship. I think it instead like opens up space for - for people to explore things that they don't feel comfortable exploring and, or to, you know, I've also had I've had one client. I remember he really liked to be spanked - his partner didn't know about that. And we talked about, because I would ask him like, well, why don't you just ask her to do this?
You know, like she could maybe do this for you. She might like it. And he said, and I thought this was kind of interesting that if he asked her she would do it, like he knows that she would do it, but he also knows that it wouldn't be the same, she would do it because she wants him to be happy, but he doesn't want her to do something that she's actually not comfortable with or into just because she wants him to be happy. And so for him, I mean, that's not the, that's not how I would want things in my own relationship. Like I would want to know what my husband is into, but I don't assume that everybody is like that. And people have like different dynamics. And I think there are probably reasons why you wouldn't necessarily want to bring certain things into your very primary relationship.
So maybe that's another thing too is while maybe she could do that, maybe he doesn't want to be spanked by the person who he shares, like all of his other life things with. And so for that reason, I don't, I think it can be a problem though, if - if it prevents them from connecting in some way with their spouses. So if it's used as, so if it's used as a way to like, I want to get this out so that I can actually connect on another level with my partner, that's great. I have another person who's a tickle fetishist. And like what he wants me, he wants me to say the word tickle over and over again. And he gets off on that word, which is actually kind of ASM-ary, like going back to what you were saying. But he doesn't want to have a fetish that's sitting in the center of his relationship and he just wants to have like a normal sex life with his partner. And so to get that fulfilled elsewhere and then to go back and have a normal, I say normal, but I just mean like a vanilla sex life with his partner. And that makes a lot of sense to me when I think it can get into the realm of like being unhealthy is when they're putting all of their time and energy into the relationships they have with us at the expense of those. But that's, that's not, that's not us though. Like, you know, that's not our fault. So I think that - I think that's all kind of complicated. I don't know. How do you answer that? What do you think?
Melrose Michaels: Okay. So my take on it is from at least a Snapchat point of view. And like when I was webcamming, my thought is, well, I kind of feel almost as if I'm preventing cheating from taking place, because I'm keeping that at home, in the safety of their own house, not, not someone in a potentially dangerous situation or where someone's potentially not tested or bringing something back into their relationship. So I looked at it a lot from that standpoint. And then someone had asked me one day, which I found really interesting was like, well, would you want your partner or husband to be on a camsite or to be, you know, purchasing a premium Snapchat? And my answers were different and they've evolved over the years because on a cam site, I know so many of the people that would come into my cam room wanted personal relationships with me, very emotionally connected and I would say, I don't want my husband seeking that out because I feel we have a very strong emotional connection and I want that with him. But in terms of like premium Snapchat, yeah. We're, we're chatting back and forth with our subscribers and things like that, but premium Snapchat, for some reason, doesn't gain the intimacy of what you can achieve with a webcam community. Yeah. We're logging on every single day at the same time to see you, like you're an event, you know? (Right) But with Snapchat, you just always in their pocket at their free time in there, you can't really have full conversations. So they're different things in, because I really strive to have emotional and connectivity and compatibility with my husband. I would prefer him, not need me to seek that out, but if he does, and if I'm not fulfilling something, I would also hope we have the communication skills to come back to that and fix it, I don't want him cheating either.
You know? So I don't know. I, I'm hoping I keep people at home as I'm sure you're hoping you do too. And avoid any worse, worse problems. (Right) I wanted to ask you because you kind of touched on this a little bit. There's so much in this goes, and this is more, I guess, almost philosophical in nature, but there's so much, so many people seeking out sex workers for permission to feel a certain way, try a certain thing. This is not something with people they love. How, how do you, do you feel like people's, I don't know if it's an insecurity or lack of communication around sex or society telling all of us, we can't have these conversations, but do you think that, that helps our industry flourish because as long as people are seeking permission for anything we can serve that purpose.
Jessie Sage: Yeah. yeah. I mean, I think that we spend a lot of time doing that. I know that - because I think that people look at us and I think that what they see is somebody who's more sexually liberated than them or - or more comfortable in their sexuality. I think that's maybe the bigger thing is that maybe we're more, we appear to be more comfortable in our sexuality. We probably are. I mean, we do this for a living. So so yeah, I mean, I think that there's a lot of, a lot of that and I think that that's necessary. I mean, I think that that's one of the things that's really important about our work. And I do think that our work is important. I don't think it's just like people getting off. And I, I mean, I think getting off is also important, but I think it's important emotional work for people for customers too and I think that's because our culture is so repressive and while we have this oversaturation of - of sexuality, it's not like a very rich or nuanced one. And I think that we also have like a lack of sex education. And so people have these kind of intense desires that come about in part, because there is like so much oppression, but no place to put them and no place to talk about them. And so I think that is like one of the important services that sex workers do is to like normalize things, but to normalize sexual desires and to normalize feelings. And I mean, it kind of goes back to what you were saying at the beginning about the fact that the way that you want to go into this is without a bunch of judgment, you know, like we're able to provide like a, kind of a judgment free space. I think in the same way as the like, are in similar ways to what therapists do, you know? That's one of the reasons we like going to a therapist, I like going to a therapist.
Jessie Sage: One of the reasons is because it's somebody who you can talk to and they will just like take in what you're saying. And I think that often times sex workers will do that too. You know, and which isn't to say that we, you know, there are things that I don't like doing, but, but when I have somebody who approaches me about them I'll say, you know, I'm like this happened the other day, so I'm not actually, I don't, I'm not good at humiliation. It doesn't make me feel good. It's not the way, it's not the way that I like to work. And on that NiteFlirt, there's a lot of people who are really into humiliation. And the way that I deal with that is not to say, like, that's weird. Why are you into that? But more like, you know, I'm not probably not the best person for that, but there were tons and tons of people who are really good at that and who you would really like to connect with. And so I think we can offer, you know, not, we don't just blindly like meet everybody's desires, we have our own boundaries, but I think that there's a way in which we can be a judgment-free space for people who haven't had that because most people feel very judged by their sexual desire.
Melrose Michaels: Absolutely. And I always tell people when I'm explaining someone, what sex work is, cause they always assume point blank. It's, you know, you being a whore online, you selling nudes online. You, you know, selling yourself short online is the three things that stand out to me when I have this discussion with someone. But I'm like, honestly, like we're, I don't know, overpaid or underpaid, but we're pretty much paid therapists more often than not for our work. So, I'm under qualified for sure. (both laughing) (Yeah) Typically what I feel like my job description ends up being because a lot more often than sexuality there's - or sexual gratification - there's seeking companionship or connectivity, which I think is what everyone is looking for at all times. (Right, Yeah) So when you have to have, or have to, when you do have the conversation with people around sex work, how do you explain like the caveats, like, yeah, this is a thing that we do, but this is all, all these other things that you're missing. Like what are those pillars for you?
Jessie Sage: Yeah. I mean, I think that's actually really hard because I think that for people who are outside of sex work or who've never done it, they can't imagine what our lives look like. And I think that there's, this, it almost feels to me like they're overvaluing the sex part of the work that we do or or kind of hyper focusing on it in a way that doesn't make sense to me because that's not what my experiences, so, you know, I'm not going to say that like it's not sexual because it is sexual, but it's also so many other things that, that almost is like a by-product. So I've told this story before, but I, one time for a project I was working on, I interviewed a bunch of men and asked you know, why do they seek out phone sex operators and why do they call them?
And what are they looking for? And one of the men who I interviewed, he said, and this has always stuck out to me. He said, well, when sex sex gets put on the table and everything else is a hidden agenda, I asked him to like, talk more about that. And he basically said that he feels comfortable like as a man in our culture, asserting that he wants sex, but he doesn't feel comfortable with starting that he wants like somebody to listen to him, somebody to share like more intimate things with. And so sex is like this gateway that, that allows for other sorts of things. And I think that that's the way that I think about that. I've come to think about my work through doing this for the last five years or so, is that there is sex at the center of our work and the way that it's not in other places or in other professions, although I would argue that as like a woman working in the world, it's, it's always there it's, but it's made more explicit now.
And I think that I don't know. I, I very much feel that while sex is at the center, it's not act, it isn't actually the center. It's like the thing that we can point to, but all of these other needs are what are actually being met, you know? And often I'll have people who call me and say explicitly, like, you know, this isn't about sex or I'm not calling about sex, but you know, what do you think about X, Y, and Z? And yeah, I, I don't think that I often feel like people don't believe me when I say that (laughter)
Melrose Michaels: That's the thing. It's almost like sex is the icebreaker that allows to other issues. Or these under desires? Like..
Jessie Sage: And actually it's funny. I have a very good friend. Who's a therapist. And one time she said to me, she's like, man, I wish that I could do my work more like you do because people dance around a lot of things that if you go straight through sex, it's like easier to get to them. And you know, the therapists can't have the same sort of like direct sexual you know, they can talk about sex, but it's not the same as like mutually masturbating or allowing somebody to you know, to do the things that we allow our clients to do. And I thought that that was interesting too.
Melrose Michaels: Interesting. It's almost society represses different, I guess. I mean, genders, that's a whole broad thing, but in different ways where like men are expected to seek out sex or expected to do, but not expected to seek out intimacy, whereas women will seek the intimacy to lead to sex. So it's almost not compatible in that sense. But I think that when you get comfortable speaking about sex and talking about all the caveats that come with it, you can kind of bridge that gap a little bit. And I do hope that's where we're heading in present-day, all obstacles aside.
Jessie Sage: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I think a lot of it has to do with socialization. Like I think this is what you're saying too. I don't think that all men want sex and all women want intimacy. I think everybody wants all of those things. It's just like what we feel like we're allowed to ask for and what we feel like we aren't allowed to ask for. And so that's one of the things that I think is really great about our work is being able to - being a little bit more free to like move between these things in ways that a lot of people don't feel like they have the freedom to move between.
Melrose Michaels: And I've said this, I think I've said this before on this podcast, but I find it interesting how in our present-day culture we use, we will literally use sex to sell everything. Absolutely everything.
Jessie Sage: Right...
Melrose Michaels: But then when a woman or man chooses to use sexuality to sell something that they have to offer, then it's, you know, shamed and looked down upon. It's, it's such a strange concept. I don't know why we, we ended up like that and I don't know why that's being widely accepted as the norm, but I do look forward to almost as kind of changing time we're in, we're like OnlyFans has gotten really trendy and things like that where it's kind of bleeding into mainstream culture a little bit. And that I'm, that I have mixed feelings about that, but I'm a little hopeful that it'll normalize some of the stuff.
Jessie Sage: Yeah. I have mixed feelings about that too. I don't know if you have this experience, I'm sure you probably did. When COVID started, I had a ton of people who were not sex workers and who would like gossip about me before COVID started, who suddenly were like, will you teach me how to set up the OnlyFans? Like, how does this NiteFlirt thing work?
Melrose Michaels: That's exactly where I, I kind of had mixed feelings because it's like all the people that would be a part of that shaming culture and be a part of back-talking culture about what I do for work now, suddenly when it's cool to sell nudes on the internet, like you want your advice or you want to shout out or you want all these things. Yeah. It's - I'll sell shout-outs all day. Don't get me wrong. But it's just a matter of like, you both, you can't be against me and then want to be, for me, it doesn't like freshly without paying homage to like all this extra workers that made that possible, you know?
Jessie Sage: Right, right. Yeah.
Melrose Michaels: It's an interesting time for sure.
Jessie Sage: Yeah, it is. I feel like there is a little less of that now. It was more intense, I think at the beginning and now people are like, wait, this is actually really hard. You can't just like open an Only Fans and make $10,000 a month. That's not how it works. And so I think a lot of people have like fallen off, but there was an intensity in like March and April of all these people wanting to suddenly become online sex workers.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah. I don't think people fully grasp what that means or how much work and business time is needed for that to be supported. (Yeah) And that's just another thing that we get kind of the short end of the stick on is not being taken as legitimate for the craft that we do and the services we sell and what are - what we're really about. So it's, you seem to kind of see that change, but I guess we should probably wrap this up. Is there anything that you would like to promote before we end this podcast?
Jessie Sage: Well, yeah, I mean, I just started well, we've been running Peep Show Podcast for - since 2017. And also like you took a little hiatus, but we're back now. But we're back now. And we also when we came back created Peep Show Media, so it's peepshowmedia.com, which we have essays and news articles and interviews with sex workers and a whole platform dedicated to like the stories of sex workers. So check that out. And yeah, I mean, that's the biggest thing.
Melrose Michaels: Any Social media? Your OnlyFans...
Jessie Sage: Okay. Yeah. So you could find me. Yeah. You could find me on Twitter at SapioTextual, follow me there. I have Instagram at Curvaceous_Sage, and then yeah, I have OnlyFans...OnlyFans is onlyfans.com/sapiotextual, and I'm on NiteFlirt and Sex Panther. It's easy to find me. I'm Jessie Sage everywhere. (Perfect. Thank you) and Manyvids.
Melrose Michaels: Yeah and Manyvids, checkout her clips, okay, she's got clips. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate your time and I hope this isn't your last appearance. There's you're so well-educated and so articulate on the issues of sex workers and what's going on in our industry. And I would love to talk to you more about other topics..
Jessie Sage: Oh, I'd love to come back on!
Melrose Michaels: Oh, good, thank you! I'll talk to you very soon!
Jessie Sage: Yeah. Thank you so much. Yeah, you're welcome.
Melrose Michaels: It's truly an honor. And to have had this opportunity to chat with Jessie, I've actually reached out to her last season before I fell off the face of the earth and stopped publishing episodes. And she was still kind enough to sit down and chat with me. I really could spend hours talking to her because she has done the work and she understands all the little intricacies of our industry. I look forward to learning more myself and hopefully one day being as well-versed as she is in all of this, I'm Melrose Michaels and this has been Season 3, Episode 10 of the SeenAndNotHeard podcast.
Huge thank you this week to Jessie Sage and the Peep Show Podcast for continuously educating and inspiring me. I always look forward to listening and I really hope all of my fans listening now will start listening as well.
Want to be an individual sponsor of the podcast? All you have to do is go to Anchor.FM/Melrose and click support the podcast to donate whatever amount per month to help fund more episodes like today.
Next week on the SeenAndNotHeard podcast, I want to discuss the concept of authenticity a bit because it's really interesting to seek out genuine people and genuine interactions in a social media landscape that thrives on being superficial. How do we stay authentic in a world where they're selectively, curating and cultivating a facade online?
Is it even possible...? .