An interview with writer Dylan Krieger about the evolution of her poetry in tandem with sex work through OnlyFans as a natural extension of her overall body of work.
Before the pandemic you were, among other things, a writer. Now you’re part of the sex work industry as well as being a writer. Can you describe the transition?
For me, it wasn’t so much a transition as a natural culmination of the work I had already done. My first book (Giving Godhead, Delete Press, 2017) was an oral sex joke. My fourth book (The Mother Wart, Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019) opens with an entire section on anal sex. My newest book (Soft-Focus Slaughterhouse, 11:11 Press, 2021) explores sexual themes and BDSM in the context of chronic pain. I’ve always put my sexuality front and center in my work, not just because sex sells, but because I am just as fascinated by it as my audience. Basically, if you think of my entry into sex work as a marked transition, you haven’t been paying attention.
Were you nervous to take the plunge into sex work?
I’ve been friends with several sex workers throughout my life, so I knew the risks, but I still always fantasized about trying it. Like many people in 2020 and before, I saw OnlyFans as a safe way to dip my toes into the proverbial pond without as much physical risk. The risk with OnlyFans is publicity and its resulting “unemployability.” Obviously (from this interview), I’d rather expose the injustice of that blacklisting than fall victim to it, but I’ll probably end up doing both.
Did anyone close to you have a negative reaction?
My boyfriend at the time dumped me, citing my “lack of self-respect,” and many close friends warned me against going too public. The latter advice, I think, came from a good place, but in the end, it only made the overarching societal shaming from SESTA/FOSTA [Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act/Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act] seem more pervasive. The fallacy that SESTA/FOSTA perpetuates is that all sex work is sex trafficking, that it’s all coerced, that it’s all done out of desperation and lack of options. Ironically, the legal restrictions are the main thing making sex workers desperate right now and reducing their options.
How do you feel your sex work fits into the larger evolution of the trade?
I hope the visible online presence of sex workers demonstrates that they are more than just sex workers (artists, moms, students, teachers) and that this humanizes sex work for their followers and allows people to see the work in all its complicated capitalist glory and horror. The more that people can see their critiques of sex work as a larger critique of capitalism in general—having to hustle up money to survive—the more we can effectively deal with the problems of capitalism without demonizing this profession.
Is your family supportive?
I’m sure they wish I’d get a “real job” so I could have good healthcare again (another huge problem in this country’s particular iteration of capitalism). But my mom actually helped me do my taxes this year and even joked about writing off the square footage of my bed as a business expense! So, despite their concern, they’re good-humored about it.
Is it a career, in and of itself?
It certainly can be. For me, I view it as a part of my larger literary career. Like my writing, it feels more ethical than most forms of work. Instead of directly or indirectly causing suffering, I’m maximizing pleasure. I think of that as supporting the common good and overall quality of life for my clients. So, not only can it be a career; I’d say it can also be a calling.
I was going through your social media and saw you went to Notre Dame. What was your experience there, and how did it affect your present day?
My experience at Notre Dame was just what I needed at the time: It wasn’t too different from my sheltered fundamentalist upbringing, but it showed me that there’s enough variety within conservative Christianity that there couldn’t be, as I’d previously believed, “one right answer.” That realization was key to me losing my faith, falling in love with poetry, and eventually publishing my books.
The notorious Bhad Babie recently made a million dollars in six hours when she started an OnlyFans after turning 18. What does this say about our society?
It shows that wealth/income inequality is everywhere, even in sex work, and that the highest paid are usually doing the least amount of labor. We see this in almost every other industry, too, but the legal issues surrounding sex work make it even harder for workers to fight back against that inequality.
Does all “sex” feel like work now?
Absolutely not. When I started my OnlyFans, I said to myself, “I’m not entertaining sexual advances for validation anymore. I’m only doing it for love or money.” That was a boundary that felt like self-care to me, and it left room for romance, which led me to my current relationship. Sex is always labor in some sense, but when it’s a labor of love, it usually doesn’t feel that way.
What do you think drew you to the trade?
With OnlyFans, it seemed like a natural extension of my poetry. When people try to describe what’s off-putting to them about sex work, they often use the word “objectification,” as if sex workers are automatically flattened into inanimation. But a lot of people followed me to hear what I had to say, to hear my poems in addition to seeing them read topless or whatever. It was the whole package that they wanted: My personality and my words in my body. At least, that’s what all my polls and feedback indicate.
Would you ever consider working at an arcade? How about a massage parlor that provides sex services? A brothel?
I prefer not having a boss and making my own hours, but in the right situation, maybe I’d consider it.
How is your work life balance?
It really depends on how much money I make in a given month. Once I figure I’ve made enough to survive, I let myself relax and work on passion projects for the rest of the month, but that balance is constantly shifting. I’m sure anyone who does freelance work can relate.
When did you first become involved in literature?
I started writing poetry and fiction at 15 and won my first contest at 16. Even then, I knew I wanted to major in English and philosophy and write for the rest of my life. I just didn’t know what I wanted to say yet. Then I lost my religion, and I suddenly had a shit ton to say. My first few books were basically stages of grieving God. Meanwhile, Johannes Goransson took notice of me at Notre Dame and recommended I apply to LSU to study with Lara Glenum, and I wound up taking his advice.
Can you briefly describe your writing career and achievements?
After graduating from the LSU MFA program with the Robert Penn Warren Thesis Award, I published that thesis as my first book, Giving Godhead, which the New York Times Book Review dubbed “the best book of poetry to appear in English in 2017.” After that, I went on to publish five more books and a vinyl poetry EP from a variety of independent presses. My third book, No Ledge Left to Love (Ping Pong Press, 2018), won the Henry Miller Memorial Library book contest, and a more recent project called The Scar Tour became a Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize finalist in 2019. Most recently, my sixth book, Soft-Focus Slaughterhouse, was released by 11:11 Press in April. The Scar Tour will probably be my next release, though it might come out under a different name.
Who is currently your favorite author?
As a poet who is also a sex worker, I am obsessed with Rachel Rabbit White.
Does your literary work tie into your sex work?
Absolutely. There’s so much overlap in content, work style, inspiration—everything. They support each other symbiotically. I record videos of myself reading my sexiest poems or post nudes with my favorite lines as captions. Last year, I edited a whole manuscript while posting the sexiest lines alongside nudes. It’s a new avenue to make money from writing.
What about your poems that aren’t about sex?
Even when I don’t write about sex, I see both poetry and sex work as maximizing the pleasure of their audience while also urging them to face tough truths. Just like everyone else, people who hire sex workers often have sexual hang-ups and insecurities; and facing those things can be difficult. It is the poet’s job, as well as the sex worker’s job, to make that confrontation as memorably pleasurable and insightful as possible. My reading voice is the same as my dirty talk voice. For me, there is little difference.
Where do you plan to go with your sex work career?
I plan to keep using sex work as an extension of my poetry and maybe do some more burlesque-style performances at readings. I was recently hired to create a custom poem and strip-tease recitation video for a bachelor party, and I would love to do more work like that in the future. I’ve also talked about opening my own sort of “poetry brothel,” but that’s a longer-term dream.
PURITANISM IN EFFECT
In your opinion, does sex work devalue or dehumanize?
Just like any customer service job, it only devalues or dehumanizes insofar as the client chooses to devalue or dehumanize the worker. My ex’s conclusion that I “had no self-respect” is all too common, even among clients, so sometimes people come into the situation thinking they can treat sex workers poorly and that they won’t mind. Let’s correct this right now: Everyone minds being mistreated. I’m sure anyone working in customer service knows what I’m talking about, so that dehumanization is not limited to sex work.
Do you ever feel push-back?
I felt it more in the beginning, when no one thought of me as a sex worker yet and they were trying to process it. If anyone’s shocked, though, I am equally shocked that they’re shocked! This has always been a part of my personality and my literary identity.
How do you tell people you’re an OnlyFans model?
I usually tell people within the context of talking about my poetry career so that they understand the two are closely related in my mind.
Do you feel any shame?
Not personally, but I feel sympathy for other people’s shame. I think that’s a huge part of sex work: Helping people work through shame.
Do you feel looked down on?
As someone who never hid her lifelong desire to be a poet, of all things, I think feeling looked down on is nothing new for me. I felt looked down on by my pastors, my parents, college advisers, boyfriends, professors, and moralists of all stripes before I ever embarked on sex work, so I’m very accustomed to ignoring their disdain.
What are some larger societal repercussions?
I’m so happy my generation largely embraces “slut” as a compliment, acknowledges a broad spectrum of genders and sexual preferences, and openly discusses porn. I’m usually not embarrassed to tell people my own age that I have an OnlyFans. They know the hustle, and they know there was a huge demand created by the loneliness of quarantine. If you’d normally pay to go on a date, but you can’t right now, why not flirt and get off online instead?
Do you think any facet of sex work is immoral?
Sometimes the way clients treat sex workers is immoral, but I luckily have not experienced that dark side much.
Do your parents know?
They know I have an OnlyFans (my sister has one, too!), but I doubt they know everything that goes on there.
What anxiety does it cause?
My anxiety is more accurately “freelance anxiety” than “sex work anxiety.” I haven’t had a steady, reliable income since July 2020. Somehow, I keep making ends meet, but every month it’s a struggle.
How will it affect your future?
I worry that I won’t ever land a “traditional” job again, unless I first eliminate my main source of income. But maybe if people read this and understand that OnlyFans can also be a platform for performance art, they’ll think differently.
What are some of the negatives of the sex work you do?
The only negative is I really truly don’t have a boss, so if I get sick and don’t feel like working, I don’t—and I lose money. Again, this is an overarching problem with freelance work. You have to be so self-motivated, and sometimes it’s hard to come up with new content or find new projects every day.
Do people resort to sex work? Do they flock to it? Do they choose it?
I think each of those is probably true for someone, but I certainly did not “resort” to it, personally. After I got laid off due to the pandemic, I spent two full weeks applying to jobs, and then I started selling all the extra author copies of my books I had sitting in the trunk of my car. I sold something like 40 books in a week, which I didn’t think was even possible, so I thought, “Wow, I have a bigger support base than I thought. Maybe they would pay a little for a fan site.” It was between Patreon and OnlyFans (both of which I have now), but at the time, I was like, “My whole shtick is being hot and talking about sucking God’s dick. OnlyFans it is!!!”
In a hypothetical world where everything wasn’t literally burning down around us and you could actually afford to have children, what would you think of your daughter going into sex work?
When it comes to my hypothetical child, I’d of course be protective. I’d want to make sure that before they go into sex work, they already know their boundaries, how they plan to enforce those boundaries safely, how they plan to choose clients, and what they would most definitely say “no” to. However, my protective anxiety would largely stem from the perception of criminality and their potential mistreatment by clients—which goes unchecked due to criminalization. So, the short answer is that I would feel much better about my daughter doing sex work if it were decriminalized.
SHOCK JOCK STYLE INQUIRIES
What is the kinkiest thing you’ve ever done for your subscribers?
I’ve sent them bondage porn where someone was leading me around by a belt around my neck. But most of my videos are tamer strip-tease poems.
What is the furthest you would be willing to go for money?
One of the best benefits of online sex work is that, if someone does ask me to do something I feel uncomfortable with, it’s not as scary to just say no (as it would be in person). But as long as it’s something I’d theoretically try for fun, I consider it a dream come true to get paid to be my kinky self on camera.
How do you feel about more traditional forms of sex work, such as prostitution?
Like other forms of sex work, I think of them as potentially empowering, as long as you get to set your own boundaries and choose your own clients. However, these important caveats cannot be honored effectively until it’s decriminalized. Like many other “criminal” industries, full-service sex work will remain dangerous as long as we, as a society, choose to protect profiteers over workers.
There is a bunch of skin showing on your Instagram. Do you think horny dudes who are cheap just jerk off to those instead of subscribing?
Probably! But Instagram has recently cracked down on sex workers, removing any photos that even hint at nudity. (I’ve had five photos removed now, resulting in two separate threats to shut down my account.) So, I think people are starting to notice that my revealing photos are migrating to OnlyFans now.
What does your significant other think?
The star-crossed love story between a memelord and an OnlyFans girl? Oh, he loves it. He helps me film my videos and bought me more professional lighting equipment for my birthday.
Has sex work changed your sex life?
I have to admit, it’s been an ego boost in the best way. I wasn’t exactly “the pretty one” growing up, but now that the earnings of my hotness are right there on paper, I’m not as focused on proving I’m desirable. This makes for better sex, because I can move past my own insecurities and try new things without fear of looking silly or ugly.
Where do you fall on the political spectrum?
I would call myself a left-wing anarchist. I’m generally against the shadowy consolidation of power anywhere. But right now, the most shadowy and consolidated of powers are multinational corporations, which have caused an exponentially growing wealth gap and a lot of social unrest, not to mention environmental devastation. Apparently, to point this out makes me a radical leftist in America. On a global scale, though, I don’t think my politics are very radical.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yes, women are definitely people.
Do you consider sex work to be driven by the coercive force that is money?
Sex work is driven by money the same way all work under capitalism is driven by money, so if we were to call something coercive, I would call capitalism coercive, not sex work per se.
Some people put forward that prostitution shouldn’t be legalized, because doing so increases child sex trafficking. What are your thoughts?
I think the conflation of sex work with sex trafficking puts everyone involved at greater risk of violence. We can legalize sex work without legalizing sex trafficking, just like sex itself is legal while rape is not. One is consensual, one is coerced. Until we respect that difference for what it is, we will continue to punish consenting adults while treating traffickers as only incidental to the problem. Coercers, and the systems that support them, are the problem.
A KINGDOM OF SIMPS
Most people agree one should act as if they live in a kingdom of ends, as Kant put it, never treating another as a means to an end, but an end in and of themselves. How do you run your kingdom of simps on OnlyFans?
I have a strong sense of ethics when it comes to my audience, so I never want someone to feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth from my OnlyFans or anything else. I want to make my simps happy, just as they make me happy through their simping. In an ideal relationship, the simping is mutual. In short, I hope Kant would be proud.
What do you think of your subscribers?
They’re sweet, almost timid, and usually big fans of my writing already. I don’t get nearly as many dick pics as you’d think! They’re super respectful.
What is the demographic of your subscribers?
They’re almost all men, I think, but age varies widely. Since I’m hyping my writing, I’m not anonymous, but they usually are. So basically, anyone who already wanted to see me naked but wasn’t bold enough to ask, now has the opportunity.
Have you run into any of them in the real world, and if so, was it awkward?
Most of them are anonymous on OnlyFans, so I’m not sure if I’ve run into anyone who had already subscribed, but I’ve definitely recruited new subscribers in person.
Do you feel like your OnlyFans community respects you?
Yes, at least creatively and intellectually, while also wanting to fuck me. Sounds like a good first date, right?
Would you ever consider becoming romantically involved with one of your subscribers?
I am right now, though that isn’t how we met. (We were already friends before he subscribed.)
Does interacting with simps color your interactions with regular people?
I think simps are regular people. My simps are just particularly discerning. 😉
How much money do you make?
I’ve made $10K on OnlyFans over the course of several months, and that’s been supplemented by book sales and freelance editing. I won’t give an exact figure, but the difference between my income now and my income at my previous desk job is not as dramatic as you might think.
Do you evade taxes?
Not knowingly, but I don’t understand them, so probably.
Has anyone ever asked you to do anything illegal, or in a legal gray area?
Smoking weed is still illegal here, so yes!
Now that you are a sex worker, are there other societal gray areas you are more willing to explore?
I think I was already willing to explore them before, but the short answer is yes, I would be willing to explore other “gray areas” if I believed they, like sex work, shouldn’t be as stigmatized as they are.
SHILL, BABY, SHILL