As co-organizers of Godless Perverts, Greta Christina and I have had the honor of working with Cinnamon Maxxine on several occasions. At one of the Godless Perverts Story Hours, Cinnamon did a great burlesque performance which they followed up with an improvised account of coming out to their parents about doing sex work and the consequences that followed. Since then, Cinnamon has co-hosted two Godless Perverts Social Clubs: One about sex work politics, and another about cultural appropriation in alternative sexuality communities. I think that I can speak for Greta as well as myself when I say that we both look forward to any opportunity to work with Cinnamon. They’re as passionate as they are insightful, and have a lot to say about issues that often are far too neglected even in social justice communities, such as body image, racism, sex work, mental health, and all the places that those topics intersect.
When I read on Facebook that Cinnamon was starting a Patreon page in order to support their own blogging and writing, I thought that it was an excellent opportunity to introduce them to people here. Check out the Q&A below for your first taste of a truly wonderful person and powerful activist. (Note: One of the pictures near the bottom of the article is a NSFW nude shot from one of Cinnamon’s porn shoots.)
Chris Hall: To the extent that the sex workers’ rights movement has been accepted, it’s largely associated with very specific types: Usually white, cisgendered women from middle-class backgrounds (or at least able to perform that class). Can you tell me what challenges you face — either in your work or activism — as someone who doesn’t fit that model?
Cinnamon Maxxine: I often feel like background support. I have so many friends at the forefront of the sex workers rights movement. And they’re great. but #blacksexworkerslivesmatter yo! #brownsexworkerslivematter !
Still gotta hustle
— Toronto Trash Panda (@RogueFuryHoe) March 26, 2016
— Angela (@angela_loura) March 10, 2016
I often feel like my voice is just drowned out. The viewpoint of sex workers who need space and rights almost more than those white cis folks who have incall spaces and the safety of the fucked up system we live in. If that makes any sense…
Chris Hall: In what ways do you feel drowned out or treated as background?
Cinnamon Maxxine: I just feel that so many white, cis or cis passing, respectable, educated people are speaking up that brown and black folks along with other marginalized sex workers are getting left behind. It feels like there’s a huge divide and it’s us vs. them: The respectable hoes against the unfortunates or undesirables.
Chris Hall: What are some examples of how marginalized sex workers are left behind by their colleagues?
Cinnamon Maxxine: I think one of the major ways this is happening is that most of the articles, interviews, research features white folks. Not just white folks, but sex workers with class privilege and light-skinned privilege and no obvious disability and things like that. The sex workers that have any of that stuff going on get all the opportunities to speak on behalf of ALL sex workers, and their reality is not the reality for many of us.
Chris Hall: What are the realities that you would like to see the movement address? You’re not just talking about yourself as a person of color, but as a fat, genderqueer person who’s been very open about certain mental health issues.
Cinnamon Maxxine: I would like to see all types of sex workers have the same damn rights, no matter where they’re at. I’m worried that right now, if we keep going the direction we’re heading sex work will become regulated in a specific kind of way the makes it harder for certain people to make the money they need to get by or just feel ok. I’m worried sex work will exclude the people I advocate for and we’ll all be fucked.
Chris Hall: What is that specific kind of regulation that you’re afraid of?
Cinnamon Maxxine: Certain kinds of incall only [will be legal]; something where you have to pay money for a licensing fee or some kind of other “approval card.” Many sex workers don’t have access to an incall space.
I’m worried that there might be some kind of heinous condom regulation. Some sex workers sometimes don’t feel that they can afford to care about condoms. Some also don’t always feel that condoms are necessary for all kinds of sex acts. I also worry that background checks may become a requirement for sex workers to even work,
Chris Hall: Isn’t that kind of regulation usually opposed by most sex work organizations? Most of the ones I’m familiar with are very adamant about preferring decriminalization over legalization.
Cinnamon Maxxine: I think so, but I still worry. I worry that folks misunderstand what we’re asking for. I worry that the government thinks it knows best on how to protect us. And even when it’s decriminalized, I still think there will be a huge push to regulate in some small manner. in some tiny capacity.
Chris Hall: What are your priorities in your own day-to-day activism and writing?
Cinnamon Maxxine: To be perfectly honest, right now, I just need to focus on my own self getting by. I’ve struggled really hard over the last year and I can feel myself starting to flounder again and I really need stay afloat. And if I can’t do that, I can’t support my community.
Chris Hall: What do you mean by floundering? You mean mental health, or financial issues, or just general burn-out?
Cinnamon Maxxine: I mean financially and mental health-wise and general coping mechanism and survival stuff. Mostly, mental health and money wise. Having agoraphobia makes it really hard to make money
Chris Hall: Yeah, I bet. Is that in part why you started your Patreon?
Cinnamon Maxxine: That is definitely why I started my patreon. I wanted to give my voice and experience to be heard and I wanted to be honest about my mental health.
Chris Hall: That last part is hard. I have a hard enough time being honest with myself about my depression, never mind finding a way to explain it to other people that doesn’t make me sound like a “drama queen.”
Cinnamon Maxxine: YEAH! I’m experiencing that feeling a lot as I try to open up about what I’m going through.
Chris Hall: So, assuming that you make your goal, what would you like to write? What will your supporters be seeing and hearing from you?
Cinnamon Maxxine: I want to write about my last year and what I learned through struggle and community support.
Chris Hall: What sort of things have you learned?
Cinnamon Maxxine: I learned that I am loved. I learned that life is hard. like for real. I learned that sadness may be a part of growing up. I learned that you legit just have to say “Fuck it, I’m walking away. ” and really truly fucking mean it. This applies to many situations. I also learned that!
Chris Hall: You’ve spoken about a commitment to talking about how these things intersect. How do issues of body image and racism intersect with sex work? Based on depictions in the media, most people might see a fat sex worker as a contradiction in terms, if not a punchline to a tasteless joke.
Cinnamon Maxxine: That’s so real. And I think those are the simplest reasons I talk about things like fat sex workers. Because they are sometimes used as tasteless birthday prank. I often talk about how sex workers of color sometimes get told their prices are too high because they’re black, or they’re fetishized because they look exotic.
Chris Hall: What did you think of the “prank” at Jimmy Kimmel’s wedding using Gabourey Sidibhe decked out as his bride?
Cinnamon Maxsine: OMG… I didn’t see that… I don’t even think I can handle that right now.
Chris Hall: Oh, sorry. The prank actually happened a few years ago, but it’s been talked about and spread around lately. When you’re feeling up to it, I can pass the link on to you.
Cinnamon Maxxine: Ok. sounds good. It might be awhile. it sounds appalling
Chris Hall: To put it politely, yes.
Cinnamon Maxxine: Ugh.
Chris Hall: How are you dealing with your mental health issues? I’m lucky enough to have health insurance now, but last year I was doing a monthly hustle to pay off my Kaiser bill to get my anticonvulsants and antidepressants. The American system really isn’t kind to health issues and even less so to mental health issues.
Cinnamon Maxxine: I’m doing ok. Agoraphobia is one of those things you kind of just have to live with unless you do some kind of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). But I’m doing ok. I spend the days writing and researching various to conquer earth.
Chris Hall: I’m sure that yours will be a much kinder regime, and I look forward to your conquest.
For more Cinnamon Maxxine: