Cosey Fanni Tutti

Time To Tell

Cosey's recently reissued treatise on her time stripping and working in the sex industry appraised from the POV of a sex worker in 2017

Don’t quit your day job. Advice any young artist will no doubt be tired of hearing, and will continue to hear ad nauseam, unless they happen to be in the select minority who get rich from their art. So chances are, they’ll have to stick with it. Some artists are lucky enough to have day jobs that complement their creative work, or at the very least, share a medium: editors, sound engineers, post-production and web designers can often find a direct connection between what they do to pay the bills and their art. That can be harder when you’re pulling pints, or working in retail, or simply clock-watching and hating your boss. But there are other options. And if you have a kinky and curious mind, like Cosey Fanni Tutti (and yours truly), sex work could be one of them. You won’t make a lot of money from it (that, I’m afraid, is a myth), but you may gain a great deal in other ways; it can provide you with an insight into the human mind and sexuality, teach you tons about relationships. And if you don’t have excellent social skills already, you will soon.

I have tried various forms of sex work: webcam, dominatrix, wrestling, stag-dos, hosting sex parties, to name a few. They’re all very different, not only in terms of practicalities, but also the levels of intimacy and the creativity involved. But they all come down to the same thing: pleasing horny men. Across time, class and culture, adult entertainment has served this singular purpose. Which means we, the workers, get a glimpse into the minds and lives of our clients that few others would ever see. It’s one of the aspects I find especially interesting; how what often seems trivial and mundane to me will turn out to be the client’s special moment. Whether they’re sharing an intimate moment with you, or telling you secret desires they wouldn’t express with anyone else, you learn things you wouldn’t in the ordinary world. You see powerful men in vulnerable states, and after that there is a certain demystification. You get to explore your body, the effect and power it has. You have the chance to get rid of your inhibitions and replace them with boundaries.

For all the aforementioned benefits of sex work, there are also challenges, something Cosey Fanni Tutti has talked about openly throughout her career – ultimately amalgamating them into Time To Tell, which marked the end of her COUM and TG-era art actions. Time To Tell was first released in 1982, yet it seems as fresh today as ever. Despite the fact that there have been many changes in the way the sex industry works, mainly because of the internet, sex industry remains in the biggest part sexist. It is made my men for (the pleasure of) men, representing women and sex in an unrealistic, objectified, problematic manner. And that is why a female account of the sex world is not only current, but valuable. Time To Tell talks about the reality of sex work in an honest, unpolished way. To quote Cosey Fanni Tutti, “Sex is beautiful and ugly, tender and brutal both physically and mentally.” And that’s why how we approach it, do it and talk about it, defines on which side of the spectrum our experience will be. Cosey is a role model and an inspiration, among others things, on how sex and sex work should be done. By choice, being outspoken and in control of one’s own body. This, to me, is feminism.

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