Stacey Swimme: From Sex Worker To International Cannabis Salesgirl

Stacey Swimme
Stacey Swimme

I came in contact with Stacey Swimme via her Instagram account. I was intrigued by the product she was promoting. A topical lubricant that can help women have better and longer lasting orgasms. Going beyond that I wanted to know more about Stacey.  Nothing is off limits during the interview. This is a must-read.

Please tell my readers about yourself. I’m curious, how did you go from a sex worker to political activist to online cannabis seller/promoter of sensual lubricant VELVET SWING™? Walk my readers through your journey.

Stacey Swimme: Cannabis and sex work have always been closely linked for me. In 1998 I moved to Honolulu for my first year of college. I chose Honolulu because I wanted to work my way through college as an exotic dancer. In the 1990’s Honolulu had a great exotic dancing scene. Smart women could make a lot of money. I wasn’t as smart as I could have been, but I was ambitious and enthusiastic. Shortly after I found my first dancing gig at a club, I was introduced to cannabis by my dorm mates. I recognized the medical benefit of cannabis immediately. Soon all of my dancing money was going to weed, which is quite expensive in Hawaii. I didn’t keep large quantities around because of the risk of theft or penalty in the dorms. So buying an eighth every other day was getting pricey.

I came home for winter break and told my parents I smoke weed now. They shrugged it off, everyone knows people who smoked weed in college. They likely smoked weed at that age too. When I told them that I was an exotic dancer it was different. They were supportive, but it was foreign and hard to relate to. They didn’t know any sex workers (or so they thought) and didn’t have anything other than media portrayals to associate with the lifestyle I was living. My mom asked a bunch of questions about my safety and then bought me a makeup kit. She has always taken my wildness in stride and set the tone for the rest of the family to just accept me.

During the winter break, I reconnected with friends who stayed in California after high school. That week I learned that I grew up in the weed-growing capital of America. The best weed was cultivated in the hills all around the valley town where I spent the first 17 years of my life. And I had no idea about it until I went away to college in Hawaii.

When I returned to Hawaii I got a harsh wake-up call about how misogyny operates in the sex industry. I witnessed a raid at a strip club that turned me into an activist for life. As the police led two handcuffed women through a corridor lined by the men who paid for our services, I saw how the laws exist to control women and enable men to control our sexual labor. If we weren’t ‘criminals’ who need to be closely monitored by police, what incentive would we have to give more than half of our earnings to managers? I learned that the police and the pimps keep each other in business, and once I recognized the state’s role in exploiting sex workers, I had to fight it, turning away wasn’t an option.

I moved back to California at the end of that semester. I waited tables at a strip club and modeled naked for art classes. Through friends I got some random gigs trimming in Northern California and this opened me up to a world of activism. In 2000 I rode down to San Francisco for May Day with weed-loving friends. It was my first giant civil disobedience event. People were smoking weed openly in United Nations Plaza right across from the San Francisco City Hall. Today that’s not a big deal. But in 2000 it was revolutionary. I couldn’t believe I was witnessing it. I bought a pot brownie, it was my first time eating weed. It made me so high and so hungry. We went to a cafe and I ordered oatmeal so that I could just shovel food into my stomach without too much chewing. My world was expanding, I was experimenting with something really exciting, and I was madly in love with weed!

I wanted to live in San Francisco. I started answering ads on Craigslist for a variety of adult industry gigs. Mostly private “modeling” shows that I thought were actually about modeling (oopsie!) I met a GWC (guy with cam) who paid me to do nude modeling. I got along well with him, we started spending a lot of time together and eventually, I moved to San Francisco to live with him. Ed Rosenthal’s federal trial started in the same month I moved to San Francisco. The day it started I walked up the street to the federal courthouse. That’s where I met Steph Sherer, Robyn Few and Hilary McQuie of Americans for Safe Access. They were holding a protest outside the courthouse. From that day on I began volunteering with and eventually working for Americans for Safe Access. These women helped me grow into a rabble-rouser and legal advocate. They helped me acquire the skills I needed to fight against the injustice I witnessed in Hawaii.

I found out within a few months that Robyn Few had been called “the Heidi Fleiss of San Francisco” because she ran an escort agency that catered to San Francisco and Marin’s famous and wealthy elite. When her escort agency was busted in a multi-state prostitution sting helmed by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, she was exposed to the cannabis community as a sex worker. It was a rumor that people whispered about but the real facts were rarely discussed. Eventually, Robyn and I connected, shared our stories and were inspired to create what is now known as SWOP-USA, the Sex Workers Outreach Project. My sex work advocacy has always been informed by the strategies I learned from the medical marijuana movement.

As a sex worker, one could argue you have a natural ability to sell. In what ways has being a sex worker improved your salesmanship when it comes to VS? How have you used this new “know-how” to help sell/promote VELVET SWING™? 

Stacey Swimme: Selling sex and selling cannabis products are both about building relationships. I can read people and anticipate their needs, I am enthusiastic about making people happy and delivering above what’s expected. As a sex worker, I was always self-employed. I could only get out of it exactly as much as I put in. I have a high quality work ethic and my natural state is go-go-go. I’m well-suited to start-ups and the turbulent nature of a grey market.

In what way(s) has cannabis liberated women?

Stacey Swimme: I view cannabis through a harm reduction lens. I can’t speak to the experiences of other women. I know that for me, cannabis has reduced my use of over the counter pain pills, helped me avoid unpredictable prescription treatments for postpartum depression and helped me steer clear of less safe, more harmful illicit drugs that are always easy to access in service industry jobs, especially night jobs. I haven’t developed a drinking habit as other women in my family have suffered from. Cannabis helps me self-regulate and maintain control over my own body and mind.

I think it’s important to note that not all women have been liberated by cannabis. I move through the world possessing cannabis with relative ease as a white middle-class woman. I’m sensitive to the fact that I enjoy immense freedom right now while women of color face severe legal charges or have family members currently incarcerated. Liberation from cannabis is highly subjective.

Stacey, why sex and marijuana? The polarity between each seems immense. How come you’ve married your love of sex and weed into one? Did you do this on purpose or was this accidental?

Stacey Swimme: The polarity seems immense only to the uninitiated. Scholars who study the prison industrial complex understand the links between the drug war and the current human trafficking narratives that are dominating public policy on sex work. The detractors of sex workers rights want to keep the public confused about the difference between sex work and human trafficking. The same way that it’s critical for the detractors of cannabis legalization to try to confuse people about the difference between cannabis and heroin. The forces that drive the oppression of sex workers are the same forces that drive the oppression of drug users. Racism, xenophobia, and classism buttress all of these policies. It’s neither on purpose nor on accident that sex and marijuana are interwoven, my life experiences have led me to recognize these intersections.

Do you believe marijuana is an aphrodisiac or do you feel this is more “mind over matter”? Similar to the placebo effect.

Stacey Swimme: I think we need to be sensitive to how we discuss cannabis as an aphrodisiac. For women, feeling safe, respected and celebrated are the feelings that need to be present to get really turned on. When any of these are absent, there’s more work that needs to be done by her partner. Cannabis would not be enough to make up for any deficiency in that regard. Cannabis might have the opposite effect, trigger paranoia or insecurity. The issue I most want to address with men is that cannabis should not ever be used with the intention of lowering a partner’s inhibitions against their will. I’ve been using cannabis for nearly 20 years. I feel very confident in setting boundaries at this point. But there have been times when I was younger and under the influence of cannabis when I didn’t feel like I could adequately set boundaries.

As people in the cannabis industry, we have a responsibility to be better than alcohol-using communities. We can do better. I encourage men who want to share cannabis as an aphrodisiac with a female partner who’s new to the plant to be extremely cautious, recognize the gift you have as a guide in this moment. Use words and encourage clear communication and boundary-setting. Cannabis can be a great aphrodisiac and bonding agent during intimacy, but it and your partner need to be respected and not taken for granted.

In your experience does smoking marijuana make sex more enjoyable? I know it’s different for everyone but could you explain to my readers why you think this is? 

Stacey Swimme: Sometimes cannabis makes things better- sex, jogging, PTA meetings, movie-watching, journaling. And sometimes cannabis is a major distraction, maybe it’s taking your brain away from the present, or maybe you caught a heavy strain that makes you just want to put your head on a pillow and zone out. For me, cannabis enhances most things because I am highly functional when I use. I have some partners who I’d rather smoke with after sex than before sex because it just doesn’t affect them the same way. It’s important not to make sweeping generalizations about what works because each user is going to have a different experience. I’d rather promote a culture that encourages non-judgmental exploration without any shame in the process. Try it. See what works. Except when it doesn’t. Drink lots of water. Take care of yourself. Experiment with something new next time.

Have you been with a partner that smoked marijuana before sex and the marijuana acted as a libido depressant?

Stacey Swimme: Yes. That’s what I was saying above. Some partners I just know will be more fun in bed if we hold off on smoking. That doesn’t mean I have to hold out unless I really want to. Sometimes it’s nice to just connect sexually with a clear head and let the sex be one of the intoxicants that build the encounter. Smoking after sex is fun.

Is it a buzz kill when someone tells you they don’t smoke marijuana?

Stacey Swimme: Sometimes. For me, it’s more that I just don’t have much time. I’m a busy mom. In my limited time for dating and socializing I want to spend time with people who are into the things, I’m into. Cannabis is an important part of that. I like being able to talk about current events in the industry with a partner who already knows what I’m talking about. As a sex worker, I spent so much of my personal dating time educating partners about the industry. That’s exhausting. Now I just want to spend time with people who get what I’m about and what I’m working on.

Frequently I hear, “I don’t smoke but I don’t mind if you do.” And that’s cool, I appreciate tolerance, I guess. But it doesn’t make me excited to set aside time in my schedule to hang out with that individual.

A 2009 study revealed cannabis users had more sexual partners. Would you agree or disagree with this study?

Stacey Swimme: I have no idea. Another study said San Francisco is the easiest city to find casual sex with multiple partners. Almost everyone in SF smokes weed. Any correlation? Who knows. I would rather have sex with a stoned person than a drunk person, that’s for sure.

The last part of the study revealed an inability for a man to orgasm. In your experience would you say this is true? 

Stacey Swimme: Men have trouble with orgasm and ejaculation for all kinds of reasons. My concern with correlating this to cannabis use is that it’s really easy for men to ignore or deny other emotional issues that are interfering with sexual function. If cannabis is compromising his ability to communicate openly with his partner then it’s a problem. Stacking in as many different women as possible, avoiding an emotional connection, running from the emotions that come up during sex or burying a history of sexual trauma are all reasons that men might not be able to get an erection or reach orgasm. These are also reasons men might turn to drugs and alcohol. Hard to determine cause and effect. Healing is not just about giving up cannabis but also acknowledging and working on the deeper emotional issues. Cannabis can help us in getting to the bottom of these emotional blockages, but we can also misuse it to escape or deny emotions that we aren’t ready to face. If sexual function is a challenge, getting professional help from doctors and therapists might be necessary.

When did you first have your “aha” moment with cannabis and sex? “Aha” meaning when did you figure out sex and marijuana made sex more enjoyable?

Stacey Swimme: I don’t exactly think about it as cannabis making sex more enjoyable. Cannabis is about the connection for me. The most enjoyable sex is about the connection for me. I connect best with other cannabis users. Cannabis enables all of the fun non-sexual encounters that lead up to a positive sexual experience. The new buzz term on dating sites is “sapiosexual,” meaning to derive sexual stimulation from an intellectual exchange. I think many stoners like me would identify this way. Cannabis is a great bonding agent for sapiosexuals.

What would you say or how would you convince a person that might be reading this interview that’s skeptical about marijuana and sex? Think about that individual’s point of view. How would you go about convincing them marijuana and sex aren’t dangerous and provides longer and better orgasms. They might be concerned about health risks, safety, addiction etc. How would you address these issues?

Stacey Swimme: As with all things cannabis, I think it’s really up to every individual to just give it a try and see for themselves. I’m not interested in persuading skeptics as much as I am interested in assisting the curious.

Other than better and longer orgasms, what other sexual health benefits have you experienced when smoking marijuana?

Stacey Swimme: Everything related to reproductive health has been improved by cannabis for me. Recovering from a cesarean section, coping with a lifetime of painful menstruation, living as an outcast because of my occupation. Cannabis has served me in overcoming those challenges.

What’s your relationship with Mistress Matisse? How did you girls come in contact with each other?

Stacey Swimme: Matisse and I are both warriors in the fight to decriminalize sex work in America. We knew of each other for several years because of her writing and my activism. Eventually, we connected on Twitter and later we met up in Seattle while I was visiting for HempFest in 2014. When she decided to bring the lube to California our friend Emily, who’s our Sales Manager, tapped me to head up the California sales team.

What marijuana strain do you recommend prior to having sex?

Stacey Swimme: Lately, I’ve been smoking Black Domina, a heavy indica bred by Sensi Seeds.

Other than VS, what’s your favorite product on the market right now?

Stacey Swimme: Wow, I like soooo many. I don’t get paid for mentioning these people, I just really love them:
I live for Pre-rolls:
Triple J’s are great,
Speciale 5-pack,
NUG is awesome and each pack comes with a lighter!
I also love Hepburns and Buena Vista.

EdiPure sweet and sour gummies

Absolute Xtracts Royal Kush cartridge

Shee Weed baked goods- Wow these fuck me up!

Kushy Punch T.K.O. Lemon Lime Gummy

Kin Slips High CBD Park Life
Foria Suppositories
(The last two together are off the charts for menstrual cramp relief)

Has smoking marijuana increased your sex drive?

Stacey Swimme: I doubt it. It’s hard for me to say since weed and sex are a regular part of my life. Sometimes satisfying weed is a lot easier to find than satisfying sex. Weed gets me through times of no sex better than sex would get me through times of no weed, I think.

Where do you see the cannabis sex industry heading in the future? Do you believe cannabis lubricants are an “in-thing” right now or do you foresee the adult cannabis marketplace growing in the years ahead?

Stacey Swimme: I think the cannabis-sex products will only get better in coming years. The potential for addressing dysfunction, psychological sexual setbacks, and stress-related dysfunction is immense. We need to see the mental health community embracing and engaging in real clinical trials with cannabis-sex products.

As we continue to fight to keep cannabis legal and eventually reach re-scheduling, the fiery, radical activists who fought to get us here will be looking for their next battle. I took what I learned in cannabis advocacy and spent 10 years applying that knowledge to sex workers’ rights organizing. I hope that will become a trend and more people will recognize the links between the prohibition of drugs and the prohibition of sex work. There really is not as much difference between these two movements as one might assume, and joining forces will only enhance our respective causes.

Stacey Loves Weed
Stacey’s Personal Twitter

(Disclaimer: the owner doesn’t endorse or support any of our interviewee’s answers. Their opinions and answers are their own. We simply ask the questions and republish their answers)

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