Pagan Moss isn’t the real name of the small, striking woman sitting in front of me, but it’s the name she’s become infamous for. A 31-year-old Seattle native, Moss made the abrupt switch in her mid-20s from filing insurance claims to sex work, when she began dancing at the Lusty Lady downtown and contributing to Sensual Liberation Army (www.sensuallib.com). Two years later, Moss moved jobs a few blocks north to Fantasy Unlimited and began Peep Show Stories (www.peepshowstories.com), on which she blogs frank, often funny dispatches about her work and life, as well as photos and links to other online erotica.
Moss no longer does sex work (she’s currently employed in a doctor’s office), but her profile is about to expand thanks to her inclusion in the forthcoming March anthology, The Mammoth Book of Sex Diaries: Online Confessions and Call-Girl Adventures—The Best of the Sex Blogs (Carrol & Graf, $12.95), edited by Maxim Jakubowski. I sat down with Moss at a Capitol Hill cafe, where she opened up about her work, her real and online lives, and the crossover (or lack thereof) between them.
Seattle Weekly: Was going into sex work rebellious on your part, or was it more of a moneymaking thing?
Pagan Moss: I made the switch to the sex industry kind of by chance. I worked in the corporate world and had a normal job until about five years ago. I’d been with my paramour, and we were downtown having a drink. On our way home, we happened to stumble upon the Lusty Lady, and we decided to go to the show. He went in one booth; I went in the one where I could see the girl and she can’t see me, because I’m rather shy. I was amazed at what I saw. It was very titillating, and I wanted to know more about the girls and about the [people] who go there. I’m not sure where that came from. It was just a real curiosity. I think growing up in suburbia, where you’re very sheltered, maybe it is kind of rebellious—I guess that you want to kind of break out of that and see what the world’s about.
I think it came as a shock to [Dr. Menlo, a pseudonym for her paramour] that I would even consider working in a place like that. In a way, it was kind of a dare to myself to see if I would do it, because I was very shy—I’m still very shy. The company I worked for was not that far from the Lusty Lady, so during a lunch hour I went down and got an application. I was planning on maybe filling it out and dropping it by, thinking that I really wasn’t going to go through with it. But I kept taking each step until I actually did the audition.
Did you keep your day job while you were doing this?
For a while, yeah. At the Lusty Lady, you only work part time, so you kind of have to have another job to [support] some kind of lifestyle, or even the basics. I did that for a while, and I liked it so much that I decided to quit the [insurance] job. It did turn out to be enough to live on, even though at the Lusty you’re working for an hourly wage without tips.
What prompted you to begin blogging?
Sensual Liberation Army is something that Dr. Menlo came up with. We do it together, but it’s definitely his brainchild. As far as picking out pictures and links, it definitely has a political edge to it. We don’t put up pictures of girls with boob jobs. We try to make it girls of all different colors and sizes, and more artistic pictures. Basically it’s about trying to get people in to see the images, but also having politics in a lot of different links.
With Peep Show Stories, were you looking for a writing outlet, or did you just have a lot of stories from working?
Probably both of those things. Part of it is because at the Lusty, they run it like a ballet studio. There’s none of the seedy stuff going on—I mean, I guess men are masturbating. There’s a wall there. But it’s just different at Fantasy—you’re not an employee and it’s just a lot easier to do things like bringing guys into the dressing room. It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s very different; it’s not as tightly run as the Lusty. At Fantasy, there’s three private rooms, versus the Lusty, where there’s just the one private pleasures booth. So you have a lot more opportunity for outlandishness.
Did people at Fantasy know about the blog?
I’m not sure if management knew—they might know now. But we were trying to keep it secretive; there were a couple stories where I talked about some of our dealings with management. But the girls all knew I was doing it; I put their pictures on it. I tried to be discreet and respect their privacy.
Do many people know you do this?
My mom actually knows. She found out I was working at the Lusty Lady. She was over and I had the Lusty Lady employee handbook out; she asked me about it, and I’m really bad at lying. But other than that, my mom and my paramour and all the friends I have on the blogosphere know.
I talked to my mother about the [anthology] last night, and I actually told her about this interview and how nervous I was. And she said, “You have to do it!” [laughs] She said that this is what I wanted to do, as far as working and to write about it, and I should actually do it. She was really proud of me.
How were you approached about being in the Sex Diaries anthology?
Maxim [Jakubowski] dropped me a note and asked me if I wanted to be involved with the project last summer. He let us choose [what went in]. It happened pretty quickly; he approached us in June, and we had all the final edits by November. In looking through the other contributors’ [pieces], it seemed like the other blogs seemed to do more of the diary style, where with Peep Show Stories, I try to do more storytelling. I think with peep shows, you’re talking to people, so that’s natural.
Has anyone who’s read the blogs ever figured out who you are?
No. I’m really private, and I’m really shy and don’t talk to a lot of people, and I don’t really have a big ego. Or maybe nobody wants to find out [laughs].
Have you run into any problems from doing the blogs?
Because you’re anonymous?
Yes. I’ve never run into anybody on the street who’s recognized me. I’ve never had any problems.
Have you ever been accused of being someone who isn’t really a sex worker, who’s making the whole thing up?
That’s funny, because we have a friend who’s a guy, and he’s trying to make some money. We were just like, “We’ll put up this blog for you. You can be the teenage girl who’s been having all these sexual encounters,” like 100 Strokes Before Bedtime. It was a joke. But there are definitely people doing that out there.
The crossover from blogging into mainstream publishing is happening more and more frequently. Do you see yourself doing more professional writing?
Possibly. I’m definitely going to be writing some more short stories that aren’t necessarily around the peep shows.
You just returned from D.C., protesting the inaugural. How was that? Would you write about it?
It was very disappointing—in fact, I still can’t write about it, because the turnout was so disappointing. Even the Bush supporters—there weren’t very many. I was really surprised and depressed that there wasn’t more outrage. I think this trip was good for me in that I was so obsessed with [Bush] before that I finally, I guess, felt like I had some closure, even though there’s nothing I can do about it except maybe being provocative in writing [laughs].
So you might mix sex and politics in your blogging?
Possibly. Especially with an administration that’s so Christian. Christian fundamentalism is another thing that just drives me nuts. So with sex, yes, that’s something I was definitely interested in [doing].
Do you see yourself going back into sex work?
No. I think I’ve been away from it long enough that I don’t see going back. It’s not so much my age than that it’s just not a place I can really visit anymore. I think everybody knows when they’re done and they want to move onto something else—it doesn’t have to be something sex-related.
How does your sex blog persona differ from your daily life as a writer?
My ideal day would be sitting around in my pajamas, not taking a shower, with my hair all messed up, reading a Nurakami book or something. I haven’t been in the peep show for over a year, and the longer I’m away from that, the more I’m changing.
Are there any particular writers you model your own writing on?
Probably Bukowski, because it’s very bare bones and gritty; it’s not verbal masturbation. And I’m drawn to it because I like reading about the dark side of human nature.