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Selling Smarter Sex

The Start of HOOK Online

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Mistakes suck. We all make them, and when I say mistakes in a conversation around the sex industry, people may think I am referring to being in the industry. But I am not. Let me make that clear. Being in the sex industry was not a mistake when I made the decision to do that work. It was a good choice. But I did make mistakes.

HOOK's original website

HOOK’s original website

Like the guy who wrote me a check. Or the one that tried to drug me. The innumerable flakes wasting my time. The weekend session that was mired in a client’s sloppy drug use and my perpetual boredom. I made mistakes and I wish I had known better.

None of mine were the big boo-boos. They weren’t the kind where you get drugged by a bottle of water. Or the one-client becomes four-client sexual assault. Or the client’s slips off a condom and you get herpes. Or the strapped to a chair and set on fire kind of mistakes. These did not happen to me. They happened to others.

HOOK, a publication and program about men in the sex industry, was born out of the idea that while we all make mistakes, we can reduce poor decisions by those of us working in the industry sharing what we know about the business. The idea came from a very unlikely place: a teen open mic.

I was serving a year’s stint as an AmeriCorps worker both to offset my college loan and to explore more activist approaches to a career path when my students challenged me. We were putting together a ‘zine in the midst of that DIY revolution when one of my pluckier troupe dared me to draft my own.

HOOK's First Redesign (V2)

HOOK’s First Redesign (V2)

I was working in the industry to offset the annual income of 9K that I was given to live on while still putting in 50-60 hours a week to the different programs, and I realized that there were few men I could talk to about the business.

In fact, just the week before, some guy paged me (that’s how long ago this was) and we hung outside a local dive and he expressed how frustrating it was that none of us really knew what we were doing. We lived on intuition.

I created the first issue of HOOK in response to the dare, and a few months later, brought the collection of sexworker-written stories onto the newly minted Internet. For many men, it was the only venue that existed to learn about the industry. Even today, there are few resources. HOOK has built a large library of helpful content, up-to-date interviews and stories about men working in the sex industry. It’s exciting.

More importantly, it works. HOOK is a mobilizing force for men working in the industry to learn about their business, strategize their place in it, and make tough decisions involving long-range planning (to make a career in the business or create an exit strategy), and I couldn’t be prouder of the many men that contribute to the site in various ways.

HOOK's Second Redesign (V3)

HOOK’s Second Redesign (V3)

Recently at a HOOK Meet, Greet, and Eat event, more than 2 dozen men working in the industry spent a couple hours talking about the decisions they make and the lives they have chosen to live by working in the business. From dating to taxes, marketing to client relationships, every bite of conversation I could hear was the kind of knowledge share that HOOK works to bring to men working in the sex industry every day.

We will all make mistakes, but if a program like HOOK can facilitate swifter learning and better decision-making to reduce life-threatening or risky mistakes, we fulfill a role. I believe it does that every day helping men in the sex industry make solid choices and life-affirming decisions.

This article was originally published at Humanthology.

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