Brynn Michaels Is On the Come Up

Photo By: Melanie Allen

Photo By: Melanie Allen

By: Lana Power
 

I’ve been talking to my friends for months about the notorious @promqueef, the woman on my Instagram feed challenging my ideas of censorship and what it really means to be sex positive. We met months ago in a green room during SXSW and found ourselves in a conversation about strip club politics and her budding career as a sex worker.

On a recent steamy July afternoon, I entered a Hyde Park apartment complex and knew I had found my destination when I saw a window lined with 7-inch spiked platforms. 19-year-old Brynn and her cat Charles welcomed me into their lair, complete with stripper pole and a chain-link ceiling fixture. We sat down to talk about activism and the oldest profession known to history.

 


In your own words, how would you describe what you do? What kinds of services do you offer?


I am a full service sex worker.

[I offer] pretty much anything. What I pay my rent with and what I survive off of is mostly the odd jobs that people contact me about – some fetish stuff, sometimes more vanilla stuff. People pay per hour for company and companionship, that sort of thing. Most of the sessions I do end with full-service activities.

I do a lot of web cam stuff, but it’s not where most of my money comes from. I like to do Domme stuff over webcam. That’s really fun for me. I don’t do a lot of in- person Domme stuff because I don’t have the rig for it here. I don’t have a table, I don’t have that kind of stuff. So doing it over cam is a way to be a Domme without being a Domme and not having to invest as much in equipment.

I also produce and distribute my own pornography. These videos and pictures are sold through different websites and also through my Snapchat account.


When you decided to do this type of work, did you have any examples or role models that you were looking up to or was this career something completely of your own making?
 

I was pretty inspired by Hooker Problems, Plastic Candy, their whole kind of girl gang attitude. Not only are they doing things that other sex workers aren't doing by joining forces and marketing their own brand, producing their own stuff under their own company, Problematik Productions, but offering an inclusive and safe space for other sex workers. I think it’s incredible considering the websites that most of us do our business through are run by shitty men. It’s inspiring to see women with similar professions to mine starting their own companies and really innovating. Their website features sex workers from around the world, giving their contact information, and a safe way to promote. They also interview sex workers who are mothers, have undergone trauma, have come out to their families, and specialize in taboo kinks to highlight how strong and powerful the community is and how every individual is different and beautiful in their own ways. So they’re super inspiring.


Are those the websites you like to put your content on?
 

The websites I put my stuff on are shitty websites because they have a monopoly. I’ve been writing down ideas recently about what kind of website would be best to offer if I was going to start something like that. Because fuck, they take 40 percent of your profit because they know it’s the only safe way to sell your content. And these are pervy crappy dudes that are doing this, same with strip clubs.


I know that you were working in strip clubs for a period, what was your experience like there? How has the transition been from working at a club to being self employed?
 

The strip club was good at times and definitely very bad at times. I still go to the strip club about once every two weeks, mainly because it’s become really fun and gambley for me. But the thing is, it’s so unreliable and it’s so much work. And also, you’re building up someone else’s empire. You’re investing your time, your money, everything for a job that you can’t put on a resume and that doesn’t have a snowball effect with money. You never know what’s gonna happen when you walk in there. There could be a million dudes in there and none of them want to buy dances from you or whatever. That’s why I decided to grow my own empire and create the snowball effect for myself where I don’t have to rely so much on what season it is. Cause in “summer no one wants to go to the strip club cause their kids aren’t in school.” Little shit like that is so stressful.

The transition from being a full-time stripper to being a self-employed sex worker has been challenging. I’m used to the instant gratification that stripping offers, so I have to continually remind myself that I’m working towards the future and that it will, hopefully, pay off eventually.


I think it’s important to share that I’m becoming successful at what I do and completely supporting myself in this freelance work but I’m also a normal teenage girl.
 

Photo By: Melanie Allen

Photo By: Melanie Allen


So now that are self employed you have more control over your career and your income and yourself.
 

Yeah, I’m actually building something, you know? Everything that I do adds another layer of trust with new customers. Because they can see that I’ve done X amount of shows, that i’ve been with X amount of customers. So it’s just always climbing, unlike stripping, where even seasoned dancers occasionally have garbage shifts and leave with no money.


You are very candid on social media about your life and your struggles as a sex worker in the industry. What is it like for you to balance your business with you personal life?
 

That’s kind of hard. The biggest thing is that it’s really hard not seeing my body represented at all. I feel like there is this huge divide between fetishizing bigger girls and fetishizing small girls, and then us medium gals with muffin tops and floppy boobs are just like, ‘do i lose weight or do i gain weight?’ in this weird middle ground. It’s definitely very hard as a sex worker and it translates to my personal life by affecting my self esteem and the way I carry myself.

I will say though, since working as a fully nude stripper for the past year and a half, I have a whole new respect for the female form. What happens in that locker room is absolutely beautiful. Dancers asking each other if their tampon string is visible, spreading their buttcheeks in the mirrors, rubbing tanning spray on each other… it’s so wholesome and sweet to me. It has totally desensitized me to the human form and the parts of our lives that we are trained to mask and feel ashamed of. I am very grateful for that.

Talking about it I think is super important. And I feel that especially when we are using things like Instagram or Facebook to advertise and promote ourselves, there is this huge gap of what's going on behind it. A lot of my content is geared toward customers, but I have this huge amount of followers that are not customers, they’re girls that are fans, that are just into it.  I get messages from girls who are like “I wanna be a stripper, I wanna be a sex worker blah blah blah. How do you do it?” I think it’s important to share that I’m becoming successful at what I do and completely supporting myself in this freelance work but I’m also a normal teenage girl.


How do you deal with trolls and people who don’t respect your work or respect you as a business woman?
 

Weirdly it hasn’t been much of an issue. My dad and his wife are incredibly supportive of what I do and the independence that I have. I am very thankful for that considering their side of the family are conservative Republicans, wealthy conservative Republicans. They respect it. They think it’s cool that I’m not settling for a minimum-wage paying job.

On my mom’s side, I am nothing but praised and loved for being an empowered woman. When I started stripping and was still in high school and living at home, I would come home at 2 a.m. to find my mom waiting up for me and asking how I did. She would always remind me that I was so brave and courageous and that she admired my confidence. I don’t know what I would have done without that.

On the other hand, There's always the shitty strip club customers, the ‘Captain Save-a-Hoes’ as we call them. They want to save you. I hear all the time that I’m ‘too smart to be doing this, that I’m too pretty to be stipper, too pretty to work here, or that I’m too blah blah blah to be doing this’ and it's like, what would you prefer me to do?

I do this because I love this! It’s incredibly bizarre to me that these people think that I should be doing something else. There are also people always trying to give me weird work advice, people that aren’t sex workers. They think they can impose their two cents and try to give me advice. That's totally inappropriate. Other than that it never personally affects me.


Do you have any visions for the future of how you’d like to engage with or make changes in the industry?
 

Yeah so I have small ideas for selling videos and stuff. There’s a good website that I’ve been looking to model after, but it is run by a male porn star. There's some controversy behind that guy as well. I’d like to emphasize what I do and give other people an outlet to do the same thing, which is not one thing in particular. Giving a safe way to advertise and get business doing odd sex jobs.

But then I have bigger ideas. For a long time I was talking about opening a strip club. I know that Austin strip clubs are behind the times, very much behind the times. We need to be starting to move toward the Portland mindset when it comes to strip clubs. There are only a couple strip clubs here and they are so focused on either being ‘nice’ or ‘not nice.’ It’s like trashy or like all skinny white girls. And for some reason these strip clubs owners are hiring girls that they think will fit the aesthetic there, but it’s basically being split into white skinny girls and everyone else.

I think that it would be very lucrative and very important to have a nice strip club that offers a variety of women. What you’re doing by separating it is telling women that are dark skinned, women that are bigger, women that have a C-section scar, whatever, that they are not worthy of working at a facility for nice wealthy men, that they deserve to be at lower tiered chipped paint strip clubs. Not only does that hit me in an ethical way because it’s damaging and very wrong, but also you’re missing out on such a huge market of wealthier men who want the nice experience but also want girls who are a little bit more niche.

More realistically, I’m interested in opening a sex shop that features educational ,and local, zines and employs sex workers who know the products and are passionate about what they do. I’d really like to inform people about the anatomical and mental aspects behind their pleasure and their kinks, normalizing the topic and helping people feel more comfortable and confident with their sexualities.  


You mentioned strip club following the Portland model, could you talk a little bit more about that?
 

Photo courtesy of Brynn Michael's Instagram, @promqueef. Photo taken by @cowboyglove. 

Photo courtesy of Brynn Michael's Instagram, @promqueef. Photo taken by @cowboyglove. 

I would want to do something that works towards the growing tech crowd, sort of the socially awkward dudes. Thats where I’ve always made my big money at the strip club. I’m not a party girl, I don’t really drink, I don’t do drugs, I’m not rowdy. So I’m good at finding one guy who will spend a grand that night. I want to emphasize a model in a strip club that has the ability to do that, with areas where it’s more intimate, more talking. All female run, obviously. No fucking dudes should be involved in the hiring process at a strip club. They just get to look at you and tell you if you’re good enough before you ever even dance. It’s sickening.

It sounds like your specialty even at the strip club is intimacy therapy. Could you talk a little bit about what that means to you?

Its therapy through sexual touching. Not necessarily like a hand job, but touching someone’s hair, touching someone's neck. Lightly grazing them with your fingers. That is what a lot of men that I work with really need. They need to fully feel the weight of someone on top of them. They want to feel appreciated, they want to feel loved. It’s like the ‘girlfriend experience’ for them.


And maybe I am naive. But I'm happy and I feel strong and independent and I am doing what I love in the safest way I can.
 

To me, being a public sex worker is a form of activism. Do you consider your work to be activism?
 

Oh I totally do. I really do. I feel very strongly about what I do and I’m very very open about talking with people and trying to make it a normalized thing. It’s been around for a long time and it shouldn’t be something that we’re shying away from. And it definitely shouldn’t be something that we’re ostracizing or just showing sex workers in media as objects, or as stupid people. Oh my god, I’ve had family members talk shit about strippers before, just saying they are “saving up for cosmetology school,” making dumb ass jokes. But it’s like, there are so many sex workers that are, like me, passionate about sex education, passionate about intimacy therapy. Its a very very important job, its an important line of work and it’s very fulfilling, for some people.

There is a large group of people in this industry who are taken advantage of and are victims. Like the massive groups of strippers who get dropped off at these clubs by their pimps, get picked up by their pimps. So I understand the patronizing concern that people give me when they find out that I am a stripper, was a stripper, camgirl, whatever, or that I’m an escort. They think that I’m trying to support a drug problem, that I’m scraping the barrel at my last resort, or that something is abusing me and forcing me to do this stuff. I totally understand where that’s coming from because it is a huge huge problem. But, it’s not all of us. You shouldn’t be treating sex workers as victims. It’s all activism, especially sharing that you’re doing it for yourself and not for anyone else.
 

What would you say to anyone who questions your age in the industry or to anyone who finds your career choice to be naive?
 

In my experience, age plays less of a factor in sex work than maturity level and circumstance. For example, as a consenting and stable 19-year-old woman, I feel that sex work is not as questionable than with a 35-year-old woman who is supporting a drug addiction or feeling as though she has no other choice. As long as the participants are of legal consenting age (18), it's important to remember that every individual has different needs and different circumstances that will influence whether their choices are healthy or harmful.

And maybe I am naive. But I'm happy and I feel strong and independent and I am doing what I love in the safest way I can.