Let’s talk astrology. What’s your sun, moon, and rising?
Iso: I’m Virgo sun (but I’m the very last day, so I’m on the Cusp of Beauty- and feel definitely like 70% Libra, 30% Virgo), then I’m Gemini moon and Libra rising! Pretty airy!
Jules: So in western astrology, they say your sun is your ego, your moon is your emotional side, and your ascendent is the “mask” you put on when interacting with the world. I’m an Aries sun, which explains my impulsivity and love of adventure; a Taurus moon, which is where my sensuality and secret romantic self stems from; and an Aquarius rising, which is probably why I’m so obsessed with feeling special and standing out from the crowd.
What about your personality type — Myers-Briggs? Enneagram? How do you think your personality influenced your decision to go into sex work?
Iso: INFP, and Type 4 (the individualist)…I think I am quite independent, I like to rely on myself alone, and hate being told what to do or managed- so sex work was good for me because it’s super freeing and you rely solely on yourself, your body, you. I’m also a more creative thinker and very open-minded so I’ve always disregarded the societal stigma surrounding sex work.
Jules: I’m an ENFP under the Myers-Briggs system, which stands for extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. ENFPs are known to be outgoing, open-hearted, and open-minded. My enneagram is a 7, which is the enthusiast..
My personality 100% relates to why I pursued sex work. I’ve always considered myself a free spirit; a hedonist who has a way of letting go of her inhibitions much more easily than most. For me, sex work started out as an adventure I knew would make for a great story someday. And my extroversion and easy-goingness made it really easy for me to connect with daddies and put them at ease.
Tell me a bit more about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get to where you are today?
Iso: I’m from Blackpool. For those that don’t know it, it’s a beach town in the North West of England. It has a theme park, casinos, lots of bad nightclubs and it attracts plenty of stag and hen parties. It’s like the Vegas of England, but way worse. I love it! It has a tower based off of the Eiffel. It’s super working class. In summer, the air smells, salt water, sugar donuts and cigarettes.
But I don’t live there- I left when I was 18, studied English Literature at uni, where on a whim, I googled ‘sugar daddy’ and had my first sugar experience. I then wrote about my experiences and made a film about it. That got me into film school in London, where I live now in Hackney and write for the Sensuali blog. I also make music and short films/docs, mostly surrounding sexuality, women, the working class…
Jules: I grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. The baby of a family of hippie intellectuals, my dad spoiled the shit out of me. I ended up getting arrested for some crazy shit when I was young and going to rehab. Up until that point, I had always had a reputation for being a good girl. But that experience changed everything. My parents cut me off and told me I had to take a year off from university to get my shit together. I was supposed to learn the value of the money I was wasting away at school by getting a job. I got the job but I also got myself a sugar daddy.
For the better part of the next decade, I sugared part-time to subsidize my New York rent, yoga memberships and love of Whole Foods. I knew I was capable of landing a corporate 9-5 job, but I also knew that doing so would be the death of me. So instead, I carved out a freelance writing career for myself. I get to make my own hours and choose who I work with. Currently, that’s how I’m making a living. As tempting as going back to sugaring is sometimes, I’m at a place in my life where I’m ready for a serious relationship. So I’d rather be a little less flush with cash and fall in love than have to live a secret life. Fingers crossed I land myself a rich hubby someday.
What were your expectations going into sugaring and how did they differ from reality?
Iso: I had no idea the scene was so big when I went into it. I didn’t actually expect to find something when I Googled sugar daddies, but here were all these websites specifically for finding a sugar daddy. I was imagining that I would have one sugar daddy who would pay for things and help me out.
I soon realised that most people saw numerous people at the same time. There was more variety than expected also…the men weren’t all rich, old gents- there’s a lot of everyday guys. I think I did it for longer than I ever expected to, and became more engrossed into the world than I thought I would. I also learnt way more than I ever imagined I would.
Jules: I feel like the media depicted more high-end escort type stuff than sugaring when I was growing up, so I honestly didn’t have too many expectations. I really lucked out with my first sugar daddy, in terms of how wealthy he was and what he was able to provide me with. So I think after him, it was a little jarring to discover that a lot of men didn’t have the means to spoil me as much.
I don’t think I ever imagined myself sugaring for as long as I did, nor staying as close as I did with some of my daddies.. Once I had closed the sugaring chapter of my life, I felt like I needed a fresh start. But a big part of that had to do with my boyfriend at the time being super insecure about my past and wanting me to cut off ties with all my ex-daddies. After we broke up though, I reconnected with a few of them.
Not to ask for money or anything, just to be their friends. You form deep bonds with daddies that are much more real and honest than the friendships you have with many of your peers – at least in New York, where everyone is so caught up with their egos and obsessed with curating an image of success, even and especially when their lives are a total shitshow.
What’s the wildest / funniest / most insightful adventure you had while sugaring?
Iso: Wildest: I went to Paris at the last minute with a sugar daddy I met the same morning. When we arrived there were two other sugar babies that came, and we went to plenty of sex clubs together- something I didn’t even know existed before we arrived..so that felt wild to me.
Funniest: Honestly it’s just little moments…One memory that stands out for some reason is a time when I went to a restaurant with a very old money British chap. The waitress warned him that the peppers he ordered were very spicy and he dismissed her rather rudely. The next moment I watched across the table as he took a bite, went bright red, started violently coughing, holding back tears and shouting for milk to be brought to the table…I tried so hard not to laugh. You meet some unbelievably delusional and entitled people, basically like White Lotus characters, I wish I could record with my eyes…
Insightful: If nothing else, my sugar experience was so insightful. You can be a leftist complaining about rich people all you want, but the best way to truly learn about the other half is to be brought right into their lives. I have learnt so much about rich people, their state of mind, the way they live, many details. It’s been a little research project on the side.
Jules: That’s a tough one! One memory that sticks out in my mind is being twenty and hosting sex parties with my first daddy in San Francisco. I was the youngest person there by at least two decades and I just remember participating in orgies and being like, “Wow, this is my life now.” It was some Eyes Wide Shut stuff for sure.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Iso: Three points:
1. Do it differently. Be smarter about it. I used to only sugar when I really needed the money and then not do it until I was desperate again. That’s the worst way to do it. Don’t sugar desperately because you end up devaluing yourself and letting your boundaries slide, and that’s that doesn’t feel empowering. Take it more seriously, focus on a few good daddies, and forge real, trusting connections with them. I think that’s the best way to sugar, it’s more helpful in the long-term.
2. I also let my boundaries slide because I wanted to impress these guys with how ‘wild’ I could be. I thought letting them do anything would give me the upper hand somehow. As I’ve grown up, I’ve realised that men will do anything to get what they want from a woman, and they’re not picky; you’re not special just because they choose you. Realising that made me care way less about catering to their desires.
3. Don’t feel intimidated by these guys and their wealth! I used to feel very self conscious of my class around them. Today, after spending a lot of time around rich people, I’ve realised that they’re not ‘better’ than me in any way. I wish I’ve been more comfortable in myself and backed myself more.
Jules: Demand more for yourself! I’ve always been a horrible negotiator and undervalued myself. At 28, I now know how special an energy I have and I regret not asking for higher allowances and more gifts. Also, your boyfriends don’t need to know everything about your past.
It’s one thing to be honest about how you used to sugar, it’s another thing to go into painstaking detail about it. Most men have wildly fragile egos and speaking from experience, they will more than likely try to weaponize the things you told them against you when shit starts to hit the fan. Openness is important in a relationship, but there’s also nothing wrong with keeping a few secrets for yourself.
Based on your personal experience, do you think sugaring is still stigmatised or are we living in truly liberated times?
Iso: In the UK it’s definitely still stigmatised. My family semi-know and are incredibly uncomfortable about it. But even in my generation, sometimes I forget that not all people feel the same as the artsy-edgy crowd I hang around with.
Most of the younger generation are not cool with it- like if the people from my school year found out…my name would be dirt. And even within the artsy-edgy crowd, many people are anti-sex work, usually coming from a marxist standpoint and as backlash against the romanticisation of sex work on social media today.
Jules: Even since I started sugaring 8 or 9 years ago, I’ve sensed a huge cultural shift. I used to be very private about my sugar life but now that it comes with a certain cachet in the bohemian circles of Brooklyn I run in, I’m much more forthcoming. But men still judge and the world at large still shits on sex work hardcore.
How is life post-sugaring?
Iso: It’s nice to not focus on sex so much. Sugar did force me to put myself in sexy mode all the time. Now, I’m more in my creative headspace. I love dating, flirting, romance and all of that but I don’t seek out relationships and I have struggled with serious relationships in the past because I put a lot of pressure on myself in them. Post sugaring, I find it difficult to imagine dating guys my age again. I feel like now I wouldn’t be able to not see them as emotionally immature little boys, that’s the biggest after effect.
When it comes to telling people about my sex work, most of my friends know, and have relished in hearing my stupid stories. It can be hard with the people I haven’t told- because I wasn’t as careful as I could’ve been so I think people have an idea of what’s going on, and so I think it’s made people think I’m shady/untrustworthy. If you seem like you’re hiding something, it makes you look even worse. So, in that sense, it’s been hard, I’ve felt people’s attitudes towards me shift a bit.
Jules: Dating is tricky. Men love a slut until they hear what her actual body count is. I’m pretty open with all of my friends about my past, but my family is a different story. They know I’m a broke creative living in an expensive city who charms rich men and lives above her means. But I think they just assume that I’ve met these men organically rather than on a website specifically dedicated to sugar daddies.
For a long time, I really thought sugaring had damaged me beyond repair. But I’ve done a lot of spiritual work on myself and can now say that I’m grateful for my time as a sugar baby. It taught me a lot about the world and myself, namely that I am a resourceful and resilient badass who is destined to live a life outside of the matrix.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 50 years?
Iso: 5 years: Hopefully taking my life a bit more seriously! I want to travel anywhere and everywhere, and then I hope I will have become more realistic about surviving in this world, and feel more confident in my creative talent. When it comes to creative stuff, I hold myself to high standards. Hopefully I’ll have made something that I’m proud enough of, so I can share the shit out of it with the world.
10 years: Lord knows. At 35… living in a city that’s in its prime at that moment: inspiring, fresh and inventive. My dream would be that at 35 I’ve had some success in my music, film and writing. I can’t even imagine how good it would feel to have creative recognition. I have spent a lot of time seeking out sexual validation, and I’ve definitely had my fill. So I hope at 35 I feel creatively fulfilled. I also hope I’ll have made a few more life-altering friendships and feel more confident and less fearful as a person.
50 years: If we’re not all dead yet then At 75 I’m sure I’ll spend my winters in a little mushroom shaped cottage in some enchanted forest hibernating: reading, writing, cooking (hopefully I’ll have learnt how to by then), painting on the walls, taking psychedelics and sipping mai tais, with like a million cats. I’ll spend the rest of the year someplace warm, hopefully surrounded by friends and love and humour. I’m sure humour only gets more important as you grow old.
Jules: : 5 years from now, I aim to be financially stable. I’d love to have my own holistic healing business and be married with a kid or two, while also traveling the world as much as I possibly can. 10 years from now, I want to buy a huge plot of land within an hour of NYC and become a homesteader.
I envision myself with a sustainable farm and loads of beehives. I’ll host wellness retreats and sell my produce and honey at boujee farmer’s markets in the city. 50 years from now, I hope to be a grandmother and published author. I want to be the kind of grandma who is still doing yoga and hiking barefoot everyday. Once a free spirit, always a free spirit.
What’s your favourite part about working for Sensuali?
Iso: The team are all very invested and we all care so much about the platform and what it stands for. It’s really nice to work with people who are friendly, constructive and thoughtful. It’s also very fun writing the articles because when you write, you learn. Especially when I’ve written personal articles, I’ve discovered things about myself and my views that I hadn’t fully realised before.
Jules: I’m obsessed with the team! They are all just so cool and open-minded. At every other job I’ve had, I’ve had to hide my sugaring past. But here, I’m encouraged to talk about it. That, in combination with the catharsis that comes from writing and making sense of my sex work experiences, has been super healing for me. Since joining the Sensuali team last year, I’ve been able to let go of a lot of the shame I was carrying around. For that, I am forever grateful.
Iso: Sex, desire, they are wonderful, wonderful things, that I wholeheartedly believe should be embraced. Passion is an amazingly strong and magical part of our lives. I really felt embarrassed as a girl growing up for being sexual.
My high school years were a lot of being slut-shamed, hiding the fact that I watched porn, masturbated, and was into girls as well as boys and feeling so guilty about all of those things. Feeling bad in general. To me, this is what Sensuali is all about- getting rid of judgemental attitudes towards sex in society, and allowing people to have a more healthy relationship with their own desire. Letting people allow themselves to be sexually liberated!
Jules: Be wild. Make mistakes. Doing so will build character and make you a more evolved and empathetic human being. Never let anyone put you in a box. You can do and be anything you want, as long as you believe in yourself and honour your intuition.
Top illustration by Ewa Żak