Check out the new episode of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso, where he interviews up-and-coming filmmaker Charlene DeGuzman; as a teaser, enjoy the following transcript of a brief portion of the episode.
Charlene DeGuzman: What happened to me then is that I had written the story at a very, very young age that I needed to be a woman like that [porn actress] in order to be loved. I needed that because that’s what my dad likes. This is what sex is, that’s what being an adult is, that’s what a woman is. And so I grew up always wanting to be one of the women that are in the Playboy centerfolds that my dad was looking at, so by the time I was around 20 I started posing for sketchy photographers on the internet trying to be those women, and by the time I was 21 I was a stripper, and then that turned into prostitution that I did all throughout my twenties, up until I got out of the sex work but [was] still even healing from that story of, “I need to be that sexualized woman in order to be loved.”
Sam Fragoso: Did doing that sex work make you feel better in the moment?
CD: I think it was a survival thing. I also think it was like my new way of cutting, because the story I had for myself was that I’m only of value if a man wants to have sex with me. This is what I have, this is all I have, this is all I’m good for is sex. So it was like a survival thing of like, okay, well if I’m having sex or if someone wants to have sex with me, then I’m fine. But I mean, I was feeling like shit all the time and definitely traumatized from all of those experiences that I’ve had, so it was definitely a self-destructive thing, it was self-abusive.
It kind of trips me out because I’ve recently realized–because I’ve been talking more about my experiences as a sex worker because I realize I had been holding onto these for so long. First of all, I didn’t even know that the experiences were that bad, and then I shared them, and the reaction I got, I was just like, “Oh, right, all of that was really terrible.” But realizing that that was bad and realizing that I was the one doing it to myself. You know, I hear all these stories about, “This was done to this person,” or “this person was abused by this person,” and it was tripping me out when I realized I did that to myself, that’s how much I used to hate myself. But thank God, I love myself now, and I never have to go back.
SF: Right. So you thought it was self-inflicted.
CD: Oh, absolutely.
SF: But there’s still a contributing party. There’s someone else there.
CD: But I’m the one who showed up. I’m the one who’s like, “Yeah.” I’m the one who’s letting whatever happens without saying no or going away. It was very abusive on my part.
SF: Were there times that you tried to say no? Even to yourself? Like hey, I can’t do this anymore.
CD: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
SF: And what would happen?
CD: I’d just freeze because I’d tell myself that I deserve it.
SF: You deserve the pain.
CD: Yeah. Because that’s how it used to be. I would just tell myself, “Oh, I’m a piece of shit and this is all I’m good for.”
SF: You don’t buy that now.
CD: No. I’m okay now.
SF: Oh…I don’t have a good response.
CD: That’s okay. I think the thing to remember, whenever I do talk about these things with people is that I’m so incredibly happy now and so full of love, and I love myself. And I’m so grateful for all of that that I’ve experienced because it got me to where I am now, and it makes me who I am now in terms of what I’ve been through, and now I get to help a lot of people with it.
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