The Mermaid Ritual
I invented a ceremony of initiation and affirmation for sex workers and their favorite clients.
When I first began working, it was one of Siouxsie Q's columns in SFWeekly that humanized sex work enough for me to finally take my first appointment. Around the same time, Siouxsie Q was starring in a musical she'd written about a mermaid who plays the ukelele and sings about being a sex worker. I didn't get to see the musical, but I read that after the shows were over, women came up to Siouxsie Q and whispered to her, "I'm a mermaid too."
Thus began the secret code in California of the mermaids.
I was a brand new baby sex worker, ashamed but proud, overwhelmed but seeing the possibility of flow ahead of me, sophisticated but very naive. One night I dreamed that Siouxsie Q and a group of girls took me to the bath house in Japantown. They gave me a test to see if I was a real sex worker. They pushed me underwater to see if I could breathe.
I tweeted Siouxsie Q the next morning - she had no idea who I was - "I passed!"
My first initiation into the secret life of the mermaid came in a dream. I first repeated it in the waking world this year with a favorite client. To affirm myself, and to affirm to him that he was part of something special.
I undressed us both, then re-dressed both our naked bodies in furs. I took photos of the process on his phone. We looked ancestral. Hunters. Then I opened a bottle of champagne rose and had him pour it over my head.
"You're a mermaid," I made him tell me. The champagne burned my eyes and the carbonation frothed up like sea foam in my hair. Then I poured the champagne over his head.
"Thank you," I said, "For being a mermaid lover. You are a mermaid lover," I said.
Then we slept together, in union.
I repeated this ceremony recently, for two. A man I feel great kinship with, with a woman he'd never seen before, whom I'd been mentoring. I made him come to the Palace Hotel, knock on our door, then close his eyes. We opened the door, pulled him in by his arms, and blindfolded him.
We led him to the bed, stripped him down, let him know he shouldn't try to speak, and proceeded to give him a double world of pure sensation. After, in the bathtub, him naked and us still in our complimentary stockings and garters, we poured the champagne over each other's heads.
"You are a mermaid now," I told my mentee, the baby sex worker. I turned to our client.
"You have entered a secret world that few ever know exists, much less get to experience," I told him."
"Welcome," I said. "Now you are a mermaid lover."
I offer this ritual to you to repeat and expand upon. Choose one of your favorite clients and ask him to anoint you as a mermaid, then tell me about it. Or invite me to join you in a duo. I'll anoint you both with champagne, then ask you to re-affirm me.
Photo by the Rare Bird, Pacific Ocean