Addy and Lea finish each other’s sentences. They both still exclaim with excitement when they see each after a day at work. Spending everyday missing their other halves. Addy and Lea have been married for 11 years and they’re both sex workers.
Addy and Lea’s surnames have been omitted to protect their identity.
They first met in 2007 on Craigslist when they both lived in Florida. Lea was a fan of the personals and would read through them to see how people would sell themselves to others.
“Some people go straight in with “I drive this car and I have this much money,” and I’ve always just found them really interesting. A lot of them are really badly written,” she said.
“Then I saw this one ad and it was really well written, and it was really funny and dirty and I thought “that’s so funny.” I thought it was so cute.”
She had never responded to a personal ad but she decided to respond to this one, which been written by Addy.
“I wasn’t even trying to get a date but then she wrote me back,” said Lea.
“After that, it was pretty instant,” Addy added.
They tell their story together, Addy voicing a thought and Lea finishing it. Their first real date involved a trip to Universal Studios with Addy’s two children and a car accident.
It was raining and the four ended up in a small car accident after sliding into a minivan.
“The woman in the other car was a soccer mom and at first she’s looking at Addy sideways because of all the tattoos. But then they start talking babies, and then they’re just hitting it off. By the time the police got there, I was thinking “this woman was gonna take her”,” said Lea.
“After that, we were just inseparable,” said Lea.
“But in the beginning, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to date Addy because I was afraid I’d fall in love with the kids and that they’d fall in love with me and that it would get messy,” continued Lea.
“From the very beginning, the kids have been involved. Every date we ever had was with the kids,” Addy added.
Both had worked as sex workers on and off before they met. Addy, originally from Tallaght and born intersex, says when she was young, sex work was her way of surviving after being ostracised by her parents for not fitting the male role she was assigned at birth.
Now, they both work as dominatrices. A dominatrix is a woman who controls her partner sexually.
While the practices are sexual, dominatrices, on the whole, do not perform sexual acts on their clients. However, due to Ireland’s current brothel-keeping laws, which prevent sex workers from working together, Addy and Lea are unable to work together.
“For us, sex work can be so much fun, and it’s something we enjoy doing together. But for other workers, this is about safety. In what other profession do you split up people so that they have to work alone? It makes no sense, and it puts us at risk,” says Addy.
The couple face added issues, due to Addy’s gender identity.
“People ask me about Addy coming out as trans like; “When Addy came out was it like having a new spouse?” And I think it’s really weird when people say that, because like Addy has always been Addy, she has always been the person she’s been. I think it’s weird to be with someone that you know so little about that them coming out as trans is a different person,” said Lea.
“Is that because they hid so much of themselves that you ended up knowing a whole different person? How much of themselves did they have to hide to make you happy?” she said.
“Honestly that isn’t even an unusual kind of relationship. A lot of people pretend. A lot of people that we see as sex workers, especially as a dominatrix, are people who pretend. They come to see me and they want to do simple things like getting spanked, but they absolutely cannot tell their spouse that they want to get a spanking, or they want to dress like a girl or be bossed around. They can’t tell the person they have decided to spend the rest of their life with that. That seems crazy to me,” she continued.
“There’s a lot of people who see sex workers and it’s obvious that for them their relationships involve a lot of lying, and not being honest, and denying and not even talking,” she said.
“A lot of our clients don’t want anything apart from to dress up and wear a bit of makeup. To wear something soft and silky and not be judged,” added Addy.
While many people would be intrigued to hear about how sex work changes the dynamic of a relationship, Addy says: “Our work as sex workers is one of the most uninteresting parts of our relationship. It doesn’t even come up. Most of the time we’re sitting together in matching robes watching sh*tty TV.”