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Rambling Hooker Makes Clever Cartoons About Life as a Sex Worker

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Rambling Hooker

Welcome to Brain-Throbs & Blow Jobs, a brand-new column that will be highlighting the great minds and perspectives of Bay Area sex workers through interviews and photo portraits. This time around we focus on the Rambling Hooker.

When sex workers are represented on TV, in the movies or in the pages of a book we often play the role of the dead body, the punchline, the damsel, or a part of the set dressing – in the background to make the scene more seedy or dangerous. Not only is this kind of representation cliche and dull, but it negatively reinforces false stigmas and stereotypes about sex work.

When sex workers see ourselves as multidimensional, relatable or positive characters, it can feel like finding an oasis in the trash fire desert that is the American media landscape. The Comic artist, the Rambling Hooker, has made one such oasis that myself and many other hookers I know are obsessed with, and you should be too. Rambling Hooker illustrates the “Trials & Tribulations of a Working Girl,” illuminating aspects of the sex trade with her pencil and pen. Her deceptively simple comics lure you in and confront you with male client entitlement, sweet sex worker comradery, painful judgments from family and friends, and the absurdity and mundaneness of selling sex – all from a sex worker’s point of view. These comics make sex workers laugh, cry, groan and feel seen in ways that we don’t often get to experience.

I sat down with the artist to find out more about how she crafts art and humor together to make the musings of a rambling  hooker.

Rambling Hooker

MH: What inspires your comics?

RH: They are based on my personal experiences with sex work and other’s experiences that have been shared with me. I often combine a few of my own experiences and conversations with other workers into one comic. It will sometimes read as one narrative, but it’s actually a bunch of stories that inspired it.

Rambling Hooker

MH: Why did you choose comics over any other type of art or writing?

RH: This is kind of funny, but I first tried spoken word, and I also was really interested in stand-up comedy… but I have a massive fear of public speaking [laughs], so that didn’t really work out! I’ve always loved drawing, and I saw the comics by Jacq The Stripper, and I felt inspired. But I wanted my work to be more about being a hooker than a stripper, and more gritty and explicit.

Rambling Hooker

MH: Who are your comics drawn for?

RH: They are for myself and for people that can relate to them, so often other sex workers. But sometimes non-workers say that they like my drawings. I drew a woman that was completely bored while a man was going down on her, and a lot of women said they loved that drawing.

Rambling Hooker

People often say that they identify with the sex work situations I draw and that it can make them happy to see some of their experiences represented comically. Somebody recently messaged me to say thank you, which is weird to be appreciated for this, but they told me their story of how they have really struggled working on the streets and how they had a shitty pimp, and that my art is helpful for them to look at.

I don’t consider myself an official representative of the entire sex worker community. These are just my perspectives, and not everything I draw is relatable for everyone.

Rambling Hooker

MH: Do you think your artwork helps you process your own experiences with sex work?

RH: I’m not super out to the world as a sex worker, so the Rambling Hooker comics were a way to create a voice for the stuff that I can’t like really share with other people. I don’t have a lot of Twitter followers or social media presence, so it’s also a way for me to connect with other sex workers.

Rambling Hooker

I initially started making these comics because I have struggled with anxiety and anger issues, which has often gotten in the way of like holding “normal” jobs that are legal in the past. So a friend suggested using art to help me deal with things. I started drawing the person I become when I experience the stress, anger or anxiety around work, and the comics started coming from there.

I was also non-consensually outed as a sex worker to my family and friends. That was really hard, and my drawings are a way to process that too.

Rambling Hooker

MH: Can you tell me what it was like to be outed as a sex worker?

RH: Well, I knew the person that outed me, and it has caused a lot of pain in my family relationships and hurdles for how I earn a living…it’s been really hard. So I had to make a choice, I could just become outraged or I could channel those rage feelings into my art, and share the experiences with others in the community.

There was also a lot of funny things that happened when I was outed, and for me, it’s hard to tell those parts of the stories without art. A lot of my family members said some ridiculous and dramatic thing to me when they found out I did sex work, some I found that very comical [laughs], so I made a little doodle inspired by that, but I did it with cats saying it. And that felt even funnier to me even though that was a very painful experience at the same time. It was a way that I was seeking relief, through humor.

Rambling Hooker

 

MH: Your work is a really great combination of situational comics and interesting drawings of different sex workers. How did the portraits start coming into your art?

RH: I started making portraits because I wanted more practice drawing people. Some are sex workers I’ve known and some who I have never met. I’m interested in drawing sex workers who have interesting stories or vibes. Like activists, queers and just unique sex workers in all economic sectors of the business. Something about them is very unique to me.  Some are also people who have been mentors to me, helped show me the sex worker ropes, or have been very supportive and had my back.

MH: Who are you excited to draw next?

RH: I’m going to draw a worker named David from NYC. I’ve never met him, but when I started publishing my comics, he was one of the first people that reached out to say, “Your art is really funny, keep drawing!” I thought that’s was really sweet. I like to draw people all that don’t come to mind when you think ‘sex worker,’ there are male sex workers too.

Rambling Hooker

I also really want to draw about a unique experience that I had, I’ve even coined a term for it: flipping. Flipping is when a sex worker hires another sex worker for their sexual services. Sometimes I crave and appreciate intimacy from a professional. I’m not sure how many workers can relate to that, but I’m curious to see how people respond.

Rambling Hooker

MH: Where can people see your work?

RH: Instagram(@ramblinghooker) is the best place to check it out.

Rambling Hooker

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Maxine Holloway

Maxine Holloway

Maxine is a sex worker, advocate, and new mom. She works for sex worker justice through the ever-intersecting avenues of community organizing, politics, education, and art. Her pornography performances and direction earned her AVN nominations, an XBIZ award, and a Feminist Porn Award. She founded the AskFirstCampaign.org to raise awareness about communication and consent. She co-founded BayAreaWorkersSupport.org, a sex worker resource organization. See more at www.maxineholloway.com (SFW)