Julia Fox is speaking out about Hollywood’s perception toward sex workers.
The actress, who entered the sex industry as a dominatrix while in high school, opened up to poet and sex worker Rachel Rabbit White for Office magazine. Rabbit White began the conversation by lauding Fox for her feature film debut in the Safdie brothers’ 2019 crime thriller, Uncut Gems. “In the New York City sex work community that created a buzz,” the writer said, “like she’s one of us, and she’s really doing it.”
“It’s always been in the back of my mind,” Fox replied. “Just that I’ve been given these opportunities when that just doesn’t happen for a lot of sex workers. It’s that people don’t take you seriously if you’re a creative and also a sex worker. … I wish I could go back in time and tell myself ten years ago things are going to turn around for you and you’ll be seen finally. At the time, I didn’t have high hopes but I was optimistic. I knew I didn’t want to be in the sex industry forever but I really didn’t know how I would get out, I didn’t have a plan. I’m really grateful for how everything happened organically.”
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Despite starring in a critically acclaimed film, Fox reflected on some ways that the industry still stifles sex workers. “For instance, after a movie like Uncut Gems, I probably should have gotten some sort of brand deal, whether Chanel or something like that. But you know, that didn’t happen. And I’m sure that it’s because I don’t have the cleanest image,” she said. “I honestly feel like they’d be lucky to have someone like me to endorse them, you know what I mean? Like, they’re just not there yet I feel.”
She added that the career trajectory of someone like Cardi B, who formerly worked as a stripper, is a step in the right direction. “For sex workers, Cardi B is like, a great example. Like, she’s really doing her thing,” she continued. “That’s huge for, you know, a stripper to come out and now be like f**king Cardi B. So, I feel like, you know, music now has accepted it. Hopefully film and television will become a little more accepting.”
Still, she recalled being sexualized by certain unnamed Hollywood executives. “There were some things said about my figure, about my butt potentially being too big to be in a movie, which is ridiculous because we see big boobs in movies. A big butt is super mainstream now and it’s like, ‘Get with it!'” Fox said. “What am I supposed to do, apologize for it and hide it so that your reaction to me is acceptable? I’m not responsible for your reaction to me. Get your f**king head out of the gutter.”
Rabbit White also brought up how New York City sex workers are “keenly aware of how much money other people have and of the disparity of wealth.”
“When I was working … I had never held a thousand dollars before,” Fox responded. “I remember getting tipped a thousand dollars and seeing that money in my checking account. I just remember being, like, ‘No, that check was fake, it bounced. He canceled it. There’s no way.’ … And now a thousand dollars isn’t as much money to me, but at the time I felt like, wow, you know? I was living on my own and I just got so thrown, I got exposed to things that I never had growing up, for sure, like I was literally 18 years old checking the stock market because that would in turn affect my clients, my money.”
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Of working as a dominatrix, Fox recalled the emotionally tolling aspects of the job. “Dominatrixing was … much less about sex and more about mind-f**king and being a sadist or being a masochist or whatever. And so it was a little more emotional I would say,” she said. “I just felt like I released so much aggression on these guys. And obviously there were submissive moments in there as well. At the end of the day it is a service. You’re a dominatrix. You are providing a service.”
Fox, a longtime fixture on the Manhattan party and creative scene, was nominated for the Breakthrough Actor Award at the 2019 Gotham Independent Film Awards. She’s also set to star in the upcoming adaptation of Carrie White‘s best-selling memoir, Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life.
This article originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR US
- Julia Fox