When Clara thinks about balancing her business as a sex worker and her life as a nursing student, she tries to channel the Disney character Hannah Montana.
In the show, the main character Miley Stewart seems like a normal teenager, but she has a double life as pop star Hannah Montana, and Clara said keeping her own identities separate is the key.
“Hannah Montana,” said Clara, 20, who asked to keep her last name private over concerns about discrimination. “Best of both worlds, but you keep them separate. You don’t mix business with pleasure.”
Clara, who goes to college in Florida, was working in the university hospital as a patient care assistant until she said at least a dozen nurses caught the coronavirus, and the hospital changed staffing, leaving Clara without a job. Without a paycheck and bills to pay, she decided to open an account on OnlyFans, a site known for homemade pornography. It’s been a hectic couple of months for Clara, and even with the TV character in the back of her head, she said it’s still been a challenge to manage it all.
“I feel like I’m walking on a tightrope with being blindfolded while holding two pounds of oranges… No matter where I’m going, I’m either going to fall to the right or to the left, but I have to keep going straight,” she said.
Clara is a first-generation American, the daughter of immigrants from Peru, and she’s determined to use what she describes as the skills God gave her — a good brain, the ability to work hard, and an ease with people — to make her parents proud and show people that she’s going somewhere. Sex work wasn’t part of her plan, but it’s helping her stay on the path to where she wants to go so long as she can just hold on to the oranges.
“[I’m the kind of person] who thinks the whole world is watching, and what I’m doing with OnlyFans, in a way it’s true, said Clara. “It’s the future that holds me down, and then expectations, making sure I don’t disappoint anyone. What’s going to happen now? You know.”
Stories of young women paying their way through school with sex work are nothing new, but in the seven months since the WHO declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, online sex work — often left out of discussions of ride-hailing and food delivery apps — has become an increasingly mainstream facet of the gig economy, and people like Clara say the risks are worth it to keep themselves afloat.
“At the end of the day, nobody is paying my rent for me, nobody’s gonna pay my car insurance, my phone bill, my cat food. Nothing,” she said. “So I have to do it. And it’s been so helpful.”
In the spring, when cities across the country were cheering each night to celebrate healthcare workers as heroes, Michelle Bleimeyer was fired from her job as a home-care nurse.
Bleimeyer, 33, had been working for the family in western Massachusetts for about a year, caring for a 2-year-old with a chromosomal condition….
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