Who I am now, is not the factory standard for Crista.
I am Mighty
This me that you see now, that most of you have always known. This is not who I was born as. Personally, I don’t believe that people don’t change, I know I have. Fundamentally.
This post has been in my head for a few days now, creating itself in my random quiet moments. The times when the shock of everything wears off and I can step back from the chaos that the last bit of my life has been. In those times I’ve let it write itself, waiting for the time when I could sit down and let words fall off my fingertips.
This is not going to be a polished post, because I am not a polished person.
At those point you’ve all heard me say “I came out of the womb depressed, but I also came out of the womb with my hand on my clit.” I’ve left the details of my early depression semi murky, not because I won’t talk about that part of my life, but because I don’t want that part to be twisted or become the focus of the rest of my life, the rest of my Quest. Here it is in rather simple terms.
The Darkest Times:
My Dad, sister and I
As a young child I suffered a number of deep traumas. Yes, I believe that I was born depressed. That my brain has always had an illness. On top of the “natural” depression, the traumas I survived left me with PTSD. That manifested mostly as intense agoraphobia. I could not leave my house. It wasn’t just that I was shy, I was effectively mute through my elementary school days. A vivid memory for me is one time that I spoke in class, and a peer gasped in shock and exclaimed “I didn’t know she could talk!”. I didn’t have friends, a recesses I wandered around in my own little world alone while kids played around me. Had no interest in friends, other children, other people, they terrified me. Yes, I was that child who wanted books and to play alone.
Eventually my therapists and doctors, because I was getting intense treatment for my mental illnesses, decided that I mentally could not handle being in a public school environment. Thus my homeschooling began. I’ve often said that was home schooled because I was sick, without disclosing it was because my social anxiety was so intense that I’d pass out from panic attacks at the idea of being around so many people in school. That I hoped that we’d be in a car accident and be killed versus having to go be in intense social situations.
I’m incredibly intelligent. Was home schooled through tutors from the school district, then on our own for my high school years. I opted to get my GED at 17 instead of try to earn enough credits for a HS diploma. At about 16, after years of glorious isolation, I found an amazing therapist who helped me more than anyone can imagine. She treated me on a sliding scale, sometimes for free, because we were in deep poverty but she was making massive progress with me. After two years working with her, I was ready to actually interact with the world.
Came into the world at 17, almost 18, as a blank slate. Had a crash course in social interaction, but had almost nothing in common with my peers. We had none of the same life experiences. I kept most of my first interactions online, in the forms of those early angelfire site “blogs” (though that term hadn’t come into the world yet), and with webcam selfies.
Having been raised in a sex-positive way, I lacked the sexual shame that so many of us have. I lived in a body that was twice the size of the body I live in now, so I had some body image issues, but I was a strange creature. An odd girl. My first jobs were working at hot topic, where I found a delightful group of other strange people to spend time with. (These people, it turns out, were also all Val’s friends, but we narrowly avoided meeting as teenagers many times. That’s a story for another post)
Queer Porn and Side Show Misfits:
I loved taking pictures of myself, I loved “selfies” (but they weren’t called that yet either) and around this time is
See? Told you. The rest of my photos are long gone. One of the few I have left.
when queer porn on the internet started. I was already camming for fun, so I jumped on the idea of getting paid for photosets. Most of the sites I was on are long, long, long gone and forgotten – but NoFauxxx, eventually Indie Porn Revolution, was my main site. Oh, that’s right. I knew Courtney Trouble way back when, though I doubt she remembers me now. I was on that site as “Tryst”. Though queer porn, “Alt pr0n”, I learned to truly love myself, my body and my sexuality. I grew real confidence in myself. My world expanded, I left the house, I interacted with people. Queer porn was really my birth as the person you know now.
I adopted queer porn ethics and politics as my own. Eventually, I moved to Dallas and spent years dating a magician, hanging out with side-show misfits, walking through Deep Ellum fire-breathing for tips and with bands. It was wonderful. I started poly relationships, had my first triad, lived in absurd poverty but had an amazing time. This solidified my desire to live off the beaten path. I couldn’t fathom another way of life.
Sex Toys, Outlaw Dildo Peddler & Sex-Positivity:
Then I found sex toys through sex toy retail. A job I took because they didn’t care that my hair was pink, nor did they have a dress code and I could take as many smoke breaks as I wanted as long as the store was cared for. This is where I discovered my calling in life. Pleasure based sex education and sex toys. These were not progressive stores that I worked in, more your garden variety adult novelty store.
Dildos make me mighty
The difference between my stores and most others is that at that time, sex toys were illegal in Texas. I was prepped for vice raids. Told that I would be paid 3x my hourly rate if I was arrested until they could get me out. Every day I went to work I faced the very real possibility that I’d be arrested that day. I was hooked though, I loved working with customers to find the right item for them, the risk didn’t matter to me. I was on a mission. I was helping people.
I was also in my early and mid twenties and invincible. Long term consequences of possibly being charged with a sex crime didn’t register to me. I was an outlaw dildo peddler. This is what I was born to do. Made the magical discovery that my anxiety dissipated if I had a dildo in my hand. I could talk to anyone if it was about the store had to offer. I realized early on that many of my customers were telling me things they’d never admitted to anyone else before. That moved me. I took, I still take, that trust seriously. It’s an honor.
As my company didn’t offer much in the way of sex education to their employees, I spent my down time devouring sexuality texts. One day, in the dollar section of half price books, I found Carol Queen‘s Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture. I read that book over and over again until it fell apart. The missing pieces of my identity, the missing bits of the person I wanted to be, were entirely built from Carol Queen’s words. I devoured everything I could find of her words. They became my gospel. Around the same time I met Metis Black on LiveJournal, who amazingly took me under her wing.
I knew of Ducky Doolittle from the cam girl days, I learned of Violet Blue from the early days of sex blogs online. Violet Blue’s Toxic Toys post fueled my passion for safer sex toys. Good Vibrations Guide To Sex became my bible on how to help my customers. Carol Queen’s words were what resonated the most with me. RLNG was the first time I read someone else’s words and felt like they could have been my own.
When I moved up the chain within the chain of stores I worked for and began to have control over hiring, education and inventory, I built my stores on Good Vibrations. Realistically there was only so much I could do while living under the sex toy ban. Educators couldn’t come and teach, we couldn’t hold workshops without fear of police attention. I pushed on though. I did my best.
Time on the Front Lines:
We had protesters. Protesting with the zealotry you see out of anti-choicers. Prayer circles blocking the stores. Stores were vandalized all the time. One of my stores was shot at. I was stalked repeatedly. Some customers tried to negotiate with my boss how much it would be to take me home for the night, as if I was another piece of merchandise. Other times I was assaulted in the stores, grabbed, groped, flashed, backed into corners. At night I had to have armed security in the store with me. That’s before you get back to the point that my job, my career, was illegal. I missed being raided by minutes multiple times.
All of that only made me more passionate. All of that cemented my knowledge that what I was doing was important. That each day I went to work was a revolutionary act. Each time I sold a vibe, I was giving a giant fuck you to the sex-negative world. Felt that I was doing my time on the front lines. Fueled by my foremothers and forefathers in sex activism. Fueled by Betty Dodson. Fueled by Carol Queen. Annie Sprinkle. Metis. Ducky. Violet.
There was very little of sex blogging back in those days, very little online community. Absolutely nothing like there is now. I was in a very remote location as far as sex-positive activism was concerned, I felt incredibly isolated as I fought my good fight. Shortly after the ban was lifted, a day that I will never forget because I collapsed sobbing in relief for hours after I heard the news from Metis, circumstances came up that caused me to leave that job and that life.
Massive shift into Motherhood:
I tried a new way of life, I got married, became a Mom, did some sex blogging and random work within the sex toy world. Wrote blogs under pen names. Sold toys through Love U, which was a venture between Metis and Ducky. I was worn out though, those years of fighting took a lot out of me. Because I was now a Mom, something I never fathomed happening, I tried to keep my profile low while still having some connection to my beloved industry.
Poked my head out a few times, PinkSexGeek did well for a while. Made another re-entrance to the world with Dildology, but then our personal world fell apart with physical and mental illness taking precedence. Depression and anxiety ate me alive again. I lost so much of what I had gained, falling back into that nearly mute shell of a human I once had been. Over the years though, I had made deep connections with amazing people. Deep connections with my idols. While I was that nearly mute shell, I watched the sex blogging world, the sex toy reviewing world come of age. Grow into this mass that it is now. Quiet, but watching. At turns overjoyed by the amazing wealth of information and connectivity, and horrified by some of what was being put out there.
Again, I pulled myself back up. Scraping and clawing out of darkness, depression, PTSD. Talking with a therapist. Getting emotional support from my beloved and our circle of loves. Being inspired by what my friends were doing. I went back to my roots, I went back to rereading every word of Carol Queen’s I could get my hands on. Remembering who I was, what my passion was. I went back to blogging here. I didn’t promote this site much, life was precarious.
Scraping & Crawling Back Up to Myself & to #OrgasmQuest:
I kept getting help. Real help. The kids got older, I finally had space to stop being only a Mom-bot. Started recording with Carnalcopia, with Swingset. Met Betty Dodson, who now calls me Sister and emails me to tell me to keep fighting. I got medications again, I don’t have script coverage so medical bills are absolutely financially eating us alive, but I started to get better. Then I got on Amitriptyline, and for the first time in my life I enjoy being alive.
Which brings us to #OrgasmQuest. I never fathomed *this* would happen. I never, ever, ever fathomed that the mute shell of a person, too scared to even eat at a restaurant because I might have to speak to the server, would ever talk over and through Dr fucking Drew live on national tv because I wasn’t done making my point. Because I wasn’t done standing up for myself.
I still can’t believe that happened. I still can’t believe that right fucking now I am on the front page of Cosmopolitan.com. (Maybe not fucking now when you read this, but at the moment of this writing, there I am.) I can’t fucking believe that I’m doing this, that I’m able to do this. That I’m *happy* doing this. Trolling, death threats and all. I’m back on the front lines, defending my passions. I can’t believe that I made it back here, made it back here as the best version of me.
The viral nature of #OrgasmQuest is bound to end soon, but I’m committed to continuing this quest. All of my quests. All of my work, fighting for all of my passions. This post is allowing me to go back through my history for myself and for the people who are now reading me, to understand where I come from. To understand how hard I have fought to get here, and then get here again. Understand how hard I’ll keep fighting to stay here. Not for “fame” or attention, but because I built myself into this fucking badass that I am. I built myself out of Carol Queen’s words, Ani Difranco’s lyrics and a decent whollop of Lisa Frank fantasy.
I did this, I’m proud of this. I’m not letting go. No one is getting rid of me.