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MY SECRET COCKUPATION: REVIEWED

NatalieC

2009-02-10 18:23:06

Arts & Entertainment

“That was it. Twenty minutes of my time. All I had to do was masturbate and wipe some cum off my boobs. Awesome.”

After a bounced rent cheque and a mounting student loan, Jessica Vile has just whored herself for money for the very first time. Being a prostitute may not be for everyone, but it has since been relatively easy money for Jessica.

Jessica’s experiences are recounted in diary form to her friend, Vancouver DIY veteran Robin Bougie, in a way that is frank, pornographic, and overall a thoroughly entertaining read. The zine recaps a few of her most noteworthy encounters, all of which are graphically and skillfully illustrated. Of her years of whoring, Jessica Vile (who uses a pseudonym to protect her identity) says that “if anything, it’s given me a WAY better sense of humour,” which is evident in each entry. In particular, she tells of an especially memorable tale from “my secret cum-stained vault of deviancy,” which culminates in her accidentally pooping a little on a client, mid-golden shower.

Bougie, who also illustrated My Secret Cockupation: The Private Journals of a Prostitute, tells me how the endeavor began: “Jessica would tell me about whatever interesting thing had happened the night before with a John, and it wasn’t long before I was pestering her to do some kind of thing with it.” The honest and gritty result is not easily defined, excluded from the specific classifications of comic, graphic novel, book, or general porno mag. Though it should be considered a DIY zine, Bougie admits “I’ve always called them ‘projects’ for lack of a better term.”

For Jessica, “what was so important was to try to break down some of the stereotypes about the girls that will do this type of thing.” She recognizes that millions of women are put in a demeaning position by this profession; however, she has managed to retain total control of her own situation, and through her story, comes off as incredibly confident and happy.

In an Internet conversation with a belligerent potential client, she arrogantly explains that “I can have a man come over and pay me to pleasure me, it’s beautiful,” and continues by acknowledging that she can afford to be selective with the johns she chooses. While to some extent, her choice of job reflects her personality, she points out over MSN one afternoon that there is a separation between herself and her pseudonym: “She’s like the slutty superhero. She’s my Batman, only she’s a vigilante of sexiness, saving horny men!”

Despite how generally positive the zine is, Jessica is somewhat surprised with how well it’s been received. “It gets great reviews,” she says, “hilarious.” Distribution hasn’t been easy, and she was almost shocked to learn that it was available at Vancouver’s recent Taboo Sex Show. “Most people don’t wanna read about the deviant adventures of some whore,” she says with a laugh.

The unique and explicit drawings add to the pornographic nature of the zine. An artistic depiction of a hairy, sweaty man with his tongue in Jessica’s asshole is one of many that throw the reader deep into the experience of whoring, which rides a fine line between sexy, sleazy, and gross. Bougie intends exactly that kind of “you-are-there type realism” with the drawings, which “are intended to arouse… to titillate, and even disgust.”

It’s pornographic, but not pornography. Pornography is, by definition, intended mainly for arousal, and while the drawings are meant to serve this purpose to a certain extent, the story they accompany is not. Then again, Bougie has no trouble with the term “porn,” and is discouraged by peoples’ easy dismissal of pornography “as a lesser art form.” Just as literature gives way to trashy novels that cater to a specific audience, there is a huge market for unartistic, bare-bones porn of the Hustler variety. However, literary novels don’t inherit the bad reputation of their trashy cousins, and according to Bougie, neither should porn. “I don’t see the difference that a lot of people see between porn and erotica,” he says. “It just seems like semantics… Obscene is in the eye of the beholder.”

Most of Bougie’s current projects involve graphic sex and porn, though this was not always the case. Starting out, he wrote semi-autobiographical comics about things that were personal but not necessarily controversial. Over the years, Bougie learned to value honesty in his work, such as his intense interest in all things pornographic. “After you get over that hump of not giving a fuck what your grandma and grandpa will think, you stop self-censoring, and you finally start to create honestly. It’s a step that every artist who has ever created anything of value has taken.”

In their apparent philosophy of how hardcore sex should or can be depicted, Jessica’s consistently crass and clever turns of phrase are an exact match for the nature of Bougie’s drawings. The frequent casual metaphors and euphemisms she uses are entertaining and unpretentious, as per her description of guys coming on her breasts as “ to paste a lovely pair of mammaries.” Through that style, the zine confronts the truth of being a prostitute with extreme bluntness, something that Bougie criticizes the film Pretty Woman for falling short of. The theme that stands out, chapter after chapter and from each drawing to the next, is that of empowerment. It is clear that Jessica has no qualms about her job. But getting people to read about it is an entirely different issue.

The problem of getting people to actually see this type of DIY work is a battle that Bougie is well versed in. Though he has been seeing Vancouver’s alternative comic scene flourish recently, he admits that for himself any sort of distribution is “virtually impossible.” Zulu Records and RX Comics are the only stores in Vancouver that routinely stock his work, which consists most notably of a self-published magazine called
Cinema Sewer. “I don’t make money doing this,” he explains. “It’s totally a labour of love.”

Not all DIY artists have such difficulty making a living, but Bougie’s work suffers commercially for being very niche-based in that it deals with exploitation and classic porn. While it is too dirty for average book or comic book stores, it is not quite dirty enough to be sold by porn retailers, because it’s not intended for masturbatory purposes.

Bougie also blames the disappearance of indie-friendly retailers that did provide a small degree of mainstream distribution, such as Tower Records. He views it as a problem that affects the entire print industry. As music chains such as Tower close down, print publications are similarly burned by the burgeoning Internet “industries” of downloading and blogging. Bougie has a blog that he enjoys updating daily, but for him, it doesn’t quite equate to his love of print media. “There is a tactile quality to it that just can’t be beat,” he laments.

For more of Robin Bougie’s work, visit www.cinemasewer.com, or check out his blog at bougieman.livejournal.com.
Comments

Alamir

Alamir

2009-02-11 01:39:29

Great coverage on the topic Natalie. Some of the comic images may be the nastiest ones I've seen on WordArc, to date. Which makes this funnier that this was written by you.

NatalieC

NatalieC

2009-02-11 02:42:13

Haha, is it? Did you not sort of see that coming, from me? :)

Alamir

Alamir

2009-02-11 04:59:05

I didn't. Not that I didn't think you were able to create something like this but just that your initial shyness may discourage you.

Jackson

Jackson

2009-05-29 04:03:01

We should get this Jessica chick to join wordarc...



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