Imagine if you will, a world…
Two single people meet via dating app. They are both brainy and sexy and into sex work (and each other). As a way to explore, expand and give back, they decide to start a podcast.
We asked PJ and Jessie to tell us a bit more about their show, what their goals are and why people on cam should give it a listen.
YNOT Cam: What’s your mission with The Peepshow Podcast?
Peepshow’s PJ & Jessie: We want The Peepshow Podcast to be a platform for the voices of sex workers, journalists, artists, academics and intellectuals speaking about issues of sex and social justice.
We think it is important for people within marginalized communities — and, in our case, in marginalized sex communities — to be able to speak for themselves and represent their lives and work, and for people outside of those communities to have an entryway into them. We are trying to create a space where empathy can flourish, and where people from different walks of life can talk openly about aspects of sex, society, and culture that really matter to them.
Wow, so in addition to that great mission, what makes Peepshow unique and different from other shows out there?
There are a number of great sex podcasts, but a few things may make us unique.
The first is structural. We do two short form interviews per episode, as well as an opening news segment. We believe that doing this allows us to highlight more voices and stories.
The second thing we do is related to the first. Since our interviews are only 15-30 minutes, we try and keep them focused to a specific topic or idea. Then, we make an effort to tease out the overarching theoretical implications, as well as issues of social justice, of whatever we are talking about. Not that other shows don’t do some of this, but these are the things that we work hard to achieve in our shows.
Finally, we’re from Pittsburgh, not LA, San Francisco or New York City, so our perspective is bit more Middle America. Because we are a bit more geographically isolated, our community is mostly online, so our guests end up being from all over. This geography stuff probably shapes the tone a bit.
Well, given that, we definitely need to know more about the hosts’ perspectives. Who are you two?
We met four years ago on a dating app! When we first met for coffee, it was to talk about similar research we had both done. It turns out that we totally hit it off, and within two years, we were married. Our entryway into this podcast was not particularly straightforward. PJ is currently writing a Ph.D. dissertation on sex camming and has spent the last few years interviewing cam models for research. But this research interest came out of our own experience as cam models, which we have done on and off for our entire relationship. Also, I work as a phone sex operator and have been doing a lot of writing and presenting on the work. This being the case, we both consider ourselves a part of the sex work community and have a lot of close ties there.
We have a baby together and two older kids from Jessie’s first marriage. The oldest is gender transitioning, which has been a really major process for the whole family. We were already involved in the LGBTQ community but came to rely on our local support network and services in important new ways. This also made us want to think about what we could do to give back.
Through our own experiences and our connection to others,’ we kept encountering stories that we felt really needed to be told. Podcasts are really intimate. Things come out in conversations in ways that are more accessible and contextualized than what you get sometimes in news articles or essay. That’s why we thought it was a good way to bring these stories to a broader audience.
Why should sex workers — cam, online-based and otherwise — listen to the show?
Part of the project of our show is to represent sex workers of various types. As sex workers ourselves, we believe that representational politics are very important. We want there to be space for sex workers—as well as other people who work on issues of sex work or issues of sex and social justice—to be able to positively represent the complexities of their job and their lives. One of our guests, Reese Piper, talked about the need to “breath ambiguity in sex work,” and that seems really appropriate to what we are trying to accomplish. Nothing is uniformly negative. There is both struggle and success, pain and joy.
We both feel like we learn so much from our guests, even if they don’t do the same sort of work as us. Hearing diverse opinions broadens our perceptions of the adult industry. Sex work also offers so much insight into things that affect us all, like masculinity or consent. These conversations are important for everyone.
Apryl Williams talks to us in Episode 5 about race and internet dating, explain why black women and asian men are getting pushed together, and suggest that sites like #okcupid and #tinder should work to counterbalance the implicit racial bias of their algorithms. #race #internetdating #algorithms #episode #peepshowpodcast https://soundcloud.com/user-124822523/episode-5-apryl-williams-on
What are your thoughts on community building in sex work, both within specific occupations and within sex work overall?
We think that community building is very important, and it’s definitely part of the motivation behind the podcast. Also, we are Pittsburgh-based, and we are currently working to put together a local sex worker support group in order to do this within our city as well. We’re hoping to record some special episodes live at local venues at some point in the future.
Many of us, particularly those of us who do online sex work, do so alone. In Jessie’s own work, clients will often tell her why they like calling her as opposed to other phone sex operators, but she has no idea how other people do the work. It seems like this isolation puts us all at a disadvantage. It makes our jobs harder and it puts us in danger because we cannot collectively learn about safety precautions, which is really important for sex workers.
We are trying to humanize sex work through our podcast, and we work on community building through Twitter and other online platforms. But we are also interested in local community organizing on top of that because some legal issues, access to services, etc. are localized and specific to particular communities.
If you could change one thing about today’s world, what would it be and why?
Hmmm…. There is so much I don’t even know how to answer this question. But relevant to our own personal lives and the subject of our podcast, we would like to live in a world where people do not judge others for their choices about their gender identity, their sexual expression and their work choices.
As an aside, we’d like to add that we feel honored that so many amazing guests have shared their stories and perspectives with us and our listeners. We feel grateful to have been embraced by a caring, supportive sex worker community. We feel privileged to be able to bring the show to you all.
Erika Chan is a sex positive people watcher (and writer). Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.