My friend Alexis Penney is a drag bitch, party hostess and part time lip-syncer. He recently added prostitute to his resume because being a whore can be extremely lucrative if you’re not a fugly meth addict. Alexis throws a weekly party called High Fantasy at the legendary drag bar Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in San Francisco, where all of SF’s cool trannies, drag queens and sex workers hang out. I talked to Alexis about what life is like as a young, punk hustler.
Why did you decide to become a prostitute?
I always fantasized about being a prostitute when I was a kid–it seemed super glamorous and seedy. Plus I’ve been insanely promiscuous for a long time, and have done some porn and have lots of videos on Xtube and all that. But I’d never been paid for sex until this past summer when a friend of mine, who has been doing sex work for years, suggested I advertise on rentboy.com. It seemed like easy money, and there is an infrastructure of support for sex workers here in San Francisco, so it seemed safe enough. Really I just wanted to pay off my credit card debt.
How much do you charge for various sex acts?
I charge $200 an hour, so not by the act. The thing is, when I turn tricks I don’t do anal or penetration really, mostly just oral or jacking off while Johns watch–that’s super common. Whenever a John tries to touch my ass I always say, “That’s extra!” which I’ve heard works but none of mine have ever been willing to pay more!
Why no anal?
I can’t really half-assed fuck a guy, you know? If I’m not into it I’m not into it, but if I had a totally hot John I would probably fuck him. I don’t really let anyone fuck me unless I trust them, so I wouldn’t let a John fuck me. I’ve let a few finger my ass but I usually don’t do that, either.
Do you get a lot of freaks?
Tons. The weirdest was this guy who wanted to spank me. I thought it would be OK, but then he wanted to really go at it with all these paddles and shit. I have a fairly high threshold for pain, but this was crazy, and finally he was like, “You gotta go, you can’t handle as hard as I want to do this.” He paid me half.
Do you have a favorite customer?
There’s this guy George who looks kind of like Newman from Seinfeld. About once a month he drives over from Oakland, gets a super cheesy hotel, buys a case of bottled water, some really good pot and some poppers, and holes up for the evening. He’s fat and mostly just wants to suck my dick. He’s pretty good at it, but I still have to get hard through guided visualization a lot. Then he gets me to strike poses on the bed while he sits on the floor jacking off, but clothed–he doesn’t even take his underwear off. He’s really nerdy and kind of has a lisp, and the whole time he says stuff like “God that’s so hot!” while alternating doing poppers, taking a hit off a pipe, and chugging bottled water over and over and over. Eventually I’ll cum for him and maybe he cums, and then he tells me how fashionable I am and how well he’s going to sleep, and then just like passes out. Usually this is around 7pm on a Friday night.
Would you ever sleep with a woman for money?
I don’t think I could do it with a woman. I want to be good at everything I do, and I don’t even know where to start in that area. Maybe if a woman were in the room it would be OK. I’ve done that before, not for money though.
What do you wear to meet Johns? Do you dress in drag, or do find out ahead of time what he’s into and then adhere to his tastes?
Actually I always wear really cheesy, stereotypical hustler outfits. Like tight black jeans, boots, leather jacket, and ripped t-shirts or tank tops. I’ve never turned tricks in drag, as I think my look is too severe. There is a separate website for transgirls that some of my drag queen friends advertise on. I usually know a little about what the guy is into, especially if he answers my ad, because I kind of play up that I’m like a punk, hustler type.
Have you ever read any Dennis Cooper? Your description of your experiences turning tricks reminds me a lot of some of the characters in his novels.
The only Dennis Cooper I’ve read is his book My Loose Thread, which was amazing but didn’t feature any young hustlers. It was more like suburban weirdness, brothers fucking, and Columbiney kind of stuff. I should read more of him, as I love stories about young punk gay guys! I’ve basically manipulated myself into a caricature of what I thought a glamorous gay guy was when I was a kid. It feels good! Although it is a little fracturing sometimes when I look in the mirror and feel this complete detachment from who I was and who I am now. I guess mostly everyone feels that, though.
Do you like your job?
I really enjoy turning tricks! It feels really cinematic and sexy, like you’re really sticking it to the man. Sounds cheesy but it’s true! It’s addictive though–walking out after an hour of just goofing off, jacking off for some weirdo, and you have $200+ dollars in your hand. It just works for me. They should legalize it I think!
Has your safety ever been compromised while working?
Not yet! Knock on wood. I mean there are some hella awkward dudes, which is probably the main reason these guys feel the need to pay for sex, but I’ve never felt unsafe, no.
What do you do besides hustling and putting on fab parties?
I do a lot of drag shows, which is hilarious to me because I only started doing drag as a challenge to myself to see if I could do it. But the community here has been immensely supportive and inspiring in ways I never expected. Lots of them do sex work, too. Everyone here does sex work actually. It’s especially funny because I do my makeup so terribly and never pull of a woman look ever, or wear a wig or tits, and some of these queens look sooo beautiful. But I mean I’m one hell of a lip-syncer and performer, so I think that helps. It’s interesting trying to decide if I identify as a drag queen or just a guy in makeup, or just a general performer, or just a freak.
Your life sounds so fun.
I know! I feel like a little girl playing dress up and suddenly she blinked and she was the princess that she was pretending to be! Sounds cheesy, but it’s true!