I’ve done sex work for nearly 20 years and have owned PEP Connections for five years. I teach classes on relationship dynamics as well as sexuality & trauma. I believe in my deepest self that all of us have an inalienable right to quality information about our bodies, identities, needs, desires, and everything therein; and I believe we have an inherent right to a life devoid of shame. I aim for all my work to root itself in these two truths.
How did you come up with this idea?
PEP’s founder knew from doing kink activism, in the pre-internet 1980s, that people all over need a safe place wherein they can talk about their fantasies. PEP as a phone sex business was a natural outgrowth of her BDSM/fetish support groups. I’ve taken PEP forward by adding sexting, email exchanges, and custom audio and image files to our repertoire. People need to feel connected, and we want the connections we create to enrich our callers’ sexual landscapes.
What challenges have you faced since starting “PEP Love”?
When I stepped into the position of CEO and Owner of PEP, the company had been in the red for many years. The company needed a serious overhaul in terms of branding, team, and marketing. I am proud to say that since taking ownership, PEP has been profitable, & we continue to trend upward.
The biggest topic on everyone’s mind nowadays is the coronavirus and social distancing. What have you been doing during this time to stay upbeat?
I pop in my earbuds and walk while listening to podcasts. “Hear to Slay,” with Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan-Cottom, is my favorite; I’ve also fallen in love with Julián Castro’s “Our America.” I’ve allowed myself more rest and sleep time than I had pre-COVID. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with creating cocktails. My favorite so far is the modified Bellini I’ve done with peach syrup, vodka-soaked peaches, soda water, and Sauvignon Blanc—I’ve dubbed it, “The Peach Stop.”
Have you done something you’ve been wanting to do but never had the time?
I have a background in creative writing—poetry, to be exact—and over the last year I’ve written more than I did in the ten years previous.
Among the many parts of being a sex worker that I love is that I have plenty of time to read whatever I feel like reading. In Quarantine, I’ve read even more, and highly recommend the novel Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, as well as the short story collection Heads of the Colored People, by Nafissa Thompson-Spires. I’ve been devouring poetry from Danez Smith, Ada Limón, and Kaveh Akbar, as well as Rebecca Solnit’s essays.
My closets remain messy and overstuffed, my house could use a deep clean, and I’ve got files upon files scattered on too many disparate hard drives. All that said, I’d rather leave my life with books read, people helped, and dreamscapes traveled to during deep sleep, though, than with perfectly organized closets and files. (Okay, I’d like to have all of the above, but I know my limitations.)
How is work now in the time of Covid when everyone is in home?
Phone sex has, unsurprisingly, done well in the time COVID. Although we haven’t seen, at PEP, the huge gains that I think observers of our industry might expect, we have seen much more consistent call volume. Pre-COVID, our industry had long been feast or famine, but since late April, business has been incredibly consistent. We also started selling short, personalized audio clips and photos, and we’ve seen more purchases of our email and sexting packages. Folx find ways to connect, even if privacy is an issue. People increasingly need a safe way to explore their sexual terrain, and diving into phone sex or sexting can make for an excellent mind vacation.
What is the plan for the future? What next?
This year, PEP bought its own photo and audio studio. We’ll be producing content much more regularly—visit our site and social media often!
Anything you would like to add, thoughts you would like to share with readers?
For 2021, I’ve been ruminating on the phrase “Express Yourself.” Madonna put out that song in 1989, nearly 32 years ago, and its core meaning remains relevant—perhaps increasingly relevant. In my own journey, I want to connect more deeply to my inner truths, and I welcome PEP callers to believe in their right to express themselves. Not everyone can attend events—moreover, not everyone wants to attend kinky events, or be OUT LOUD about their sexual and erotic identity; still, PEP remains a safe, private place to express yourself. I encourage folx to ask themselves what fantasies they’ve been scared to explore, or what parts of their erotic identity they’ve shied away from; and then to take steps to excavate, illuminate, and express that truth. Phone sex remains a successful business platform because it combines anonymity and intimacy in a way that no other interface does. I’d love to know what subterranean desires and nascent fantasies surface for my current and future clients when they hear or read, imperatively, urgently: Express Yourself