Part of our mission when building Tryst.link was to bring Sex Worker's stories into the spotlight. As the media speaks over them so frequently and dismisses their points of view, we think it's important that workers have a voice on Tryst. Today we chat to Seattle escort, Solana Sparks about how she got started, the importance of community and how clients can help.
Tell us your story, how did you get into the industry and what has your journey looked like thus far?
Oh gosh, I was doing sex work long before I knew what to call it. At first, it was survival work –trading sex with friends or people I met at bars for food and shelter. When things really got hard, I hit the street. Stigma surrounding sex work prevented me from telling anyone about where I was going or what I was doing. It was totally unsafe – and some bad things did happen - but it helped me get by. I stopped for a number of years in my mid-twenties to attend to my emotional and
spiritual wellbeing. During that time, I worked in non-profits doing harm reduction and anti-violence work. That’s when I met people in the local Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) chapter and my entire framework shifted. It was liberating to meet people who came from a rights-based framework. Pounds of shame disappeared, and I knew that one day I would return to the industry. Which I did in 2018. Returning to the industry from a resource-stable and self- empowered place has allowed me to set my own boundaries and schedule, enabling me to be present with my clients and fall in love with the work.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I enjoy being busy, and love to work hard and play hard. I am a writer and am currently working on my memoir. I hope it helps create a large-scale paradigm shift towards attitudes of compassion and care. I am also an activist and enjoy volunteering in my free time. I love to cook and travel. I do a lot of magical things from entheogens to energy work – these help me stay connected to myself. I love playing in the water and exploring land. I am an extrovert so I am always recruiting people to adventure with me. When it is time to relax, I love reading or watching a show with friends and cuddling with my cat.
Is there a book, tv show, or movie that has had a significant impact on your life? What was it, and what did it teach you?
There are too many to choose from! House of the Living Spirits by Isabelle Allende was a foundational book for me. It showed me the resilience of my lineage and how Latinx femmes wrap things in magic and glitter to survive, connect, and thrive. It might have encouraged my active imagination : )
As sex workers, we face several challenges in our line of work. What are some issues you care about, and how do you think your clients can help sex workers?
I think about this in three ways. On an individual-level, clients help increase the financial well-being of the sex workers they visit. When we have great interactions, it also helps increase our emotional wellbeing. I have transformed my relationship with men through this work. Tipping and gifting are great ways to support sex workers on this level. On an interpersonal level, clients can address and help deconstruct stigma against sex work amongst coworkers, family, and friends. Less hostility and pathologizing helps sex workers better navigate our environment. I have a great video on my Only Fans that discusses tips for talking to family members about sex work and sex trafficking during the holidays, and I know SWOP has some great resources at www.swopusa.org. On an institutional level, sex work is criminalized, and many work environments or platforms reject or isolate sex workers. Advocating for rights-based policies and laws can contribute to better treatment for sex workers and our clients. If this is too scary to do directly, donate to a local, state, or national campaign that move society towards prison abolition,
sex work decriminalization, addressing gender-based violence, or advancing harm reduction.
Why do you think it is important for sex work to be decriminalised and how do you think it would change the way you work?
I want to see the decriminalization of all bodily autonomy, police defunded, and re-investment in housing and social services. I don’t think these things should be separated. The criminalization of sex work, drugs, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ identity have been used in tandem to control bodies of color and poor bodies in America. Decriminalization will help disrupt the US legacy of racism and shift control from power over us to power among us. Then, community-based committees can address violence, exploitation, and infectious disease rather than the current model which pushes people underground towards these hardships. I believe that decriminalization will change the way I and my friends in the industry work by beginning to remove stigma so we can tell our families, removing legal issues for sex workers with kids and dependents, allowing more clients and different types of clients to prioritize and access sexual pleasure, and removing collateral consequences associated with prostitution records.
What does the sex worker community look like? How would you describe it?
I am so lucky to be in community with a diverse and beautiful group of providers, and I would love to know more. I would describe the sex work community as being multi-dimensional and transformational. I know people of all gender expressions, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and experiences in the sex trade. Pretty much everyone I know in the industry is body positive, sex positive, communitive, and quirky. Knowing sex workers has allowed me to live authentically.
What do you think the public should know about the sex industry and sex workers?
Sex work as a sociopolitical issue is used as a scapegoat to avoid addressing larger issues like poverty and violence against femmes. Sex work is not the problem and trying to make it disappear makes the problems worse. The closer in proximity the sex trade is to poverty, the more uncomfortable the general public is with it – not because of the work but because of how apparent it is and how much it reminds people of poverty and the legacies of slavery/capitalism/and imperialism. We can’t erase these things. We must comprehensively deal with them. Compassion is the only way forward.
When you're having a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
I used to be in 12 step programs (I have since redefined my recovery to include occasional intentional drinking and substance use) and the idea of being of service stuck with me. If I can volunteer or get outside of myself by helping someone else, I will. Other strategies I use are calling a friend, masturbating, or going for a walk.
As sex workers, we're often asked some fairly inappropriate questions by the public. In your opinion, what should non sex workers avoid asking sex workers and why?
- “What happened to you?” - were you sexually abused as a child?
- Do you have a drug addiction?
- “How can I help get you out of this” - anything demonstrating a savior complex?
- Have you gone to college?
Do you think your view of the world has changed since starting sex work?
Yes, I especially think it has changed since starting sex work organizing.
What would your dream date look like?
We would connect in the afternoon to soak up the warm weather together. Maybe we go for a hike, lay at a beach, or attend a boat party. Afterwards, we retreat into each other but know this can only be a snack. The main course is yet to come : ) We shower and change and head to dinner where we are greeted by one of my elegant and hypnotizing duo partners. The three of us would dine together and get lost in tantalizing conversation and a symphony of sensations. Then, we take a dip in a pool or hot tub before retiring to attend to our primal pleasures.
My favorite restaurant is:
Lapis in Washington DC
Matt’s in the Market in Seattle
City O City in Denver
My dream pet would be:
A sugar glider if they weren’t nocturnal or suicidal :( Or maybe a black panther hmmmm.
If you were to buy me a drink at a bar, you should buy me:
Something with ginger beer. My favorite.
My favorite thing to be gifted is: Money, Christian Louboutin shoes (38.5), low light plants, gifts that tell me something about who you are and what you like.
A social cause I care about is: Decarceration - ending mass incarceration, decolonization, Hepatitis C prevention and care.