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Two sex workers are normalising the industry one episode at a time.

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I was on my daily Instagram scroll, minding my own virtual business, when a story popped up on my screen and I instantly knew I had bumped into something outright special. While I’d normally skip through most stories, this pinkish screenshot image of HUSTLERS podcast, with a short description added to it (in pink letters, naturally), was about something I had been subconsciously looking for yet could never truly find—an honest conversation on sex work by people who are in the business for reasons other than those commonly assumed. The industry’s simultaneous historic and contemporaneous nature is utterly fascinating, but its essence has persisted to remain behind glass, beyond the law or in-between public space and the darkroom. And while such mystification might add an appeal to sex work for some, it most certainly does not present the job as a normal, daily source of income and joy for those in the business. Hooked up on HUSTLERS’s episodes of giggles, gritty details and journeys through the everyday, Glamcult reached out to creators Lana and Kate with hopes of learning more about their inspirations, desires and goals. The result is as exhilarating as we imagined it would be.

Hey Lana, hey Kate! How did the two of you meet?

Funnily enough, we were dating the same guy, at the same time. When it all came out, we found out we had a lot in common, so instead of hating each other, we bonded over what a trash man this person was. But, we’ll do a full episode on exactly how we met because it’s an amazing story, actually.

How did the idea of having a joint podcast come to life? Why this particular medium of expression and not another?

We were having a fun chat over a bottle of wine at some bar, talking about our jobs, and it may have been the wine but our conversation was so interesting that at one point we thought, We should livestream this shit. Next minute, Kate says ‘Let’s start a podcast! But like, let’s actually do it’. And here we are, doing it. We thought this medium would be best for our anonymity, but will also allow listeners to hear our voices and, in a way, be invited into ‘the girls’ room’.

I love the way you approached your first episode, it felt like I was a friend of yours, having a casual chat over drinks in your room. Was it a conscious decision to make it so light-hearted, or is it just your intuition guiding you with the production of each episode?

Thank you! We didn’t really plan it that much. The only thing we had as an initial thought was to also have a bottle of wine while recording, but then we got a bit too excited and thought it might be not the best idea after all. We had an outline of what we wanted to talk about, which aspects to touch on, but we wanted to have a balance between a really colloquial banter and intellectual ideas, without it being too structured and dull. We’d like to keep the spontaneity. 

It’s refreshing to hear you share that you got into sex work out of curiosity and low-key admiration for the job, rather than the perceived idea of people having to always be forced in it or hate it from the beginning on. Can you share your beginner’s experience, did you ever think, Hm…maybe this is not my thing?

The perception of people going into sex work out of necessity is very prevalent, but that reality obviously still exists. We are both very privileged to be in a position of choice—doing sex work because we enjoy it—and we recognize that everyone’s story is different. We could have continued with our other daily jobs, but from the very beginning we both really enjoyed the environment, the sisterhood between the workers, and, of course, the outfits that can be super fun. Naturally, everyone in this industry has their doubts—there is so much stigma and numerous people are saying our job is traumatic. So, you need to check in with yourself on a regular basis, Is this what I want to be doing? And it’s totally OK to ask yourself that question! We both definitely had some doubts and bad experiences, yet we love our jobs, and the community in the sex industry is something that keeps us both coming back. As one stripper told me (Lana), when I was a customer—‘It’s only degrading if you feel degrading’.

Hustlers is a project made by you for your own community’s voice. Is it important to you that it is you two and not an outsider that deals with promoting a positive image of a job that many still consider a taboo?

Of course it is! It’s of incredible significance that sex workers themselves have the space to voice their thoughts and experiences, instead of an outsider for whom it’d be difficult to present an unbiased and truthful portrayal of this industry. We’ve definitely not experienced all that there is to experience in this job—especially being cis straight women—yet people identity with our voices because we’re not just talking about the funny or weird stories, we also look into aspects of the horrific and the mundane. Our podcast is not a look into the taboo, wacky world of sex work. We’re presenting an entirely normal and acceptable profession, because that’s what it is.

In what ways do you think your voices are needed in the Australian community of sex workers at this point in time?

There is only a very small amount of people, who publicly and vocally support sex work, and hence a major stigma still persists in Australia. There has also been a lot of academic discussion about the industry by people who are not sex workers themselves, together with tons of glamorization added to it by media. But what sex workers need is a community which they feel part of and where they’re truthfully represented. We believe that our voices of real sex workers are needed not so much to provide advice or groundbreaking opinions, but to simply exist. As people in this industry, we are often told not to talk about our jobs for fear of terrible consequences. And while this may certainly be true, it also causes for a repression of the outlets where sex workers can vent their feelings. We want our podcast and Instagram account to provide that.

What are some ways you wish your podcast can influence the broader social mindset as well?

In the current climate, Instagram has not normalized sex work—it has sexualized it.  This causes people to view it more as a phase, but sex work is real job and a very legitimate source of income. We hope to, idealistically, influence future policies that concern our industry—let’s, for example, begin with decriminalizing it. Yet, what we really hope to do is provide a space for sex workers to come together, listen and laugh about their work in a safe environment. And, naturally, educate any respectful listeners too.

You both study at university at the moment, am I right? How do you juggle academic work with the creation of the podcast and your regular job as well?

L: Badly! (Laughs)

K: We’re studying, podcasting and working. We’re both really, really busy, but it’s sort of working.

Imagine you had superpowers and you could eradicate stereotypes from people’s minds in a second, which ones would you wish to immediately get rid of?

L: That strippers are slutty sex robots who will fuck you, because we’re here to please you and only you.

K: That sex workers need ‘saving’. 

At last, do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own podcast? Or for someone that’s reading this and is considering sex work?

If you’re already thinking about starting your own podcast, just do it! It’s actually pretty easy, once you know how to work out the technology part of it. Same goes for sex work—you can read on it and listen to our podcast, but the only way to find out if you’re right for it is to try it! So, go and do a trial shift!

Words by Valkan Dechev

Photos taken from HUSTLERS Podcast Instagram

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