I’ll start with a disclaimer. This is not a finished piece of analysis but rather a few things that have come into my head, a sort of thinking aloud if you like. I am very interested to hear other people’s thoughts.
It happened a while ago that a blogger and sex worker who had separate blogging and working names that she was clearly determined to keep separate. decided to advertise her new working website and working name via Twitter. I had briefly wondered what her working name might be although not curious enough to actually do anything about finding out. Seeing it on the new site started me thinking about the whole issue of pseudonyms.
Why have a pseudonym? If you’re involved in sex you need to because our so-called liberated society still has a problem with people with those who have alternative sexual preferences or who engage in commercial sex whether as providers or as clients. This even applies to people who write about sex. I write erotica and make a small amount of money doing so. However I make my living writing about serious, dull if you like, matters like accountancy and have to accept that, if it was known that I write, and enjoy writing, about sex, I would not be taken seriously as a writer on financial matters. So I adopted the name Eve Ray, simply because it is short and snappy, (my real name isn’t!) and because the name Eve has a certain resonance (the fallenness of man and so on). Using a pseudonym enables me to write freely about my own life and to write about the sex work debate, including recounting my own experiences of paying for sex. I could never tell those whom I deal with professionally about any of this.
I suppose for sex workers there are two further aspects. They are actors and the name is part of the fantasy and illusion they are trying to create. The client sees, and I’m picking names at random here, Daniela and not Tracey. Daniela is a femme fatale in a tight leopard print dress and blood red lingerie, skilled in the erotic arts, the predator no man can resist. Tracey normally wears jeans and a tee-shirt, she has two small children she leaves with her mum when she goes to work and has a huge pile of washing to do when she gets home. Sex work is theatre. And many actors have stage names don’t they? I suppose the other reason is psychological. It enables the sex worker to take off their sex work identity when they get home, like taking off a coat, to draw clear boundaries around their private life. If sex work was socially acceptable and men could go to a massage parlour as openly as they might go to the gym would sex workers use their own names?
I suppose for a dominatrix the choice of name is even more crucial. I’ve never come across a Mistress Daisy but a Mistress DeVille might have a potential sub shaking even as he plucks up the courage to dial her number.
I wonder too whether pseudonyms help to create an aura of mystery and allure. The client surely wonders sometimes about the real identity of the person he or she is seeing, knows there is another life from which he or she is excluded, a world about which the client might be afforded a tantalising glimpse in the context of post-coital putting the world to rights. Maybe this is a turn on for some people.
As for me I just wish I could be Eve more often. She is funny, I am told, she loves sex and, most important she is much the nicest part of me.