Now on its sixth edition, BRICKS’ The Body Issue stars cam-girl Lindsay Dye, discussing the stigma surrounding sex work and fetishes
BRICKS magazine has been rerouting the intersections between fashion and our precarious social systems across a stunning back catalogue of issues – celebrating the transformative experience of motherhood and a sexual and gender fluid future, to championing exciting young drag kids and period poverty activists. Now, years since its birth as a final year university project and with a forthcoming sixth edition, BRICKS is zoning in on ‘The Body Issue’.
This instalment lifts up the stories of BRICKS’ community, highlighting experiences of everything from revenge porn to self love, fatphobia, and the dire need for more inclusive, expansive sex education. There’s five specially commissioned covers for the first time ever, with the first previewing on Dazed, which features cam-girl and performer Lindsay Dye.
“I personally feel like I’ve grown and overcome so many negative thoughts and feelings about my own body in the past five years of running the publication,” says BRICKS founder Tori West, the Welsh-born, London-based publisher and editor. “I’ve met so many bodies in the past five years, all of them have shaped BRICKS into what it is today.”
In the current climate celebrating a milestone like a sixth edition and a fifth birthday, West recalls the journey arc that’s brought the magazine into the conversation it leads today. Having grown up with Welsh as her first language, West found herself afraid of writing and editing copy, using a different name to publish the first issue out of fear and shame for articulating thought and creativity. “I remember being annoyed that issue one was stocked under the visual arts section on the WHSmith website – I thought it was a cop out, not seen as a ‘real’ magazine,” she tells Dazed. “Then I realised – of course it was in that section, it had fuck all copy in it.”
“I learned I had to challenge all my insecurities for BRICKS and myself to grow, so now I don’t shut up, I don’t stop writing, otherwise I would have been stuck in that bloody visual art section forever. BRICKS has grown because I’ve grown, it’s an extension of myself, thoughts and ideas.”
‘The Body Issue’ has culminated because of continuously morphing social shifts and political evolutions with the body in popular culture, as well as West’s own personal ideals. “I was an extremely self-conscious person and suffered from an eating disorder since I was 11,” she says. “Setting up the publication helped turn my negative experiences into something positive instead – I still have my dark days, but having this as an outlet has really helped my day-to-day mindset.” That’s led to an advocacy for turning battles, frustrations, and anxieties into purpose and art.
“BRICKS is really important to me, because if I had something like this when I was a teenager, I wouldn’t have felt so isolated in my issues, I’d have realised I wasn’t alone.”
Below, you can read Lindsay Dye’s cover story from BRICKS – The Body Issue, written by Caity Hennessy and photographed by Lula Hyers, in which Dye explores the stigma surrounding fetishes and sex work, and her own personal journey.
A SITTING WITH LINDSAY DYE
‘Cake-sitting,’ the expression might conjure up some confusing visuals, but it’s within this word that two industries collide – sex work and art. Artist and Cam Girl Lindsay Dye’s performances have revolutionised both industries. What began as a way to satisfy a ‘crushing’ fetish of one of her clients evolved into a series of ongoing performances, online and IRL. By merging her two loves of camming and creating, Lindsay’s innovative approach to her work is pushing the topic of sex work and fetishes into mainstream media, advocating a change to normalise it. Her performances are equal parts mystifying and erotic, directing her viewers into questioning whether they are aroused or emotional. But the real icing on top is Lindsay's dedication to creating the perfect scene; neon lights filter through her room, illuminating the pastel coloured creamy toppings of the cake she has baked earlier, ensuring the location and object are as thought out as the actual performance.
Hey Lindsay, what was it that drew you into the camming world?
Lindsay Dye: I’ve always wanted to be a stripper. I grew up in Miami; I started going to strip clubs as a teenager, strippers were my female idols, entrepreneurial women with agency, on a stage, empowered, making money. I’m a child of the internet, so there’s a sense of comfort using it as the environment for my job and art practice. Camming was my opportunity to strip on the internet. It offered me a barrier of safety and was like a litmus test to see if I could move into other forms of sex work. My greatest takeaway from camming is that every day, I hear the absolute worst things about myself, but I also hear the absolute best things about myself. Because I absorb this commentary on the regular: I am balanced, I am unashamed, I am fearless, and I will not manipulate myself for the comfort of others.
Was cam-work something you were very open about with people in your life from the beginning? Did you receive any negativity about your choice?
Lindsay Dye: Of course, I have encountered strife with friends and familial relationships, but I’ve never been afraid to lose a relationship. I invented this job, I called myself a “Cake-sitter”, and because I believed it, so did others. You must be persistent; you must be bold.
“I’ve always wanted to interrupt traditional art-making, and as a pornographer, I aim to make work that you’re not sure if you should be masturbating to or not” – Lindsay Dye
Why do you feel that society has such a disturbing view of fetishes?
Lindsay Dye: It starts with sex. We’re taught that to be embarrassed by or unmindful of sex is more acceptable than to be curious or learned. There’s little room to openly talk about our fantasies or recreationally explore fetishes because our society has a low tolerance for the basics of understanding our own sexuality, like the lack of sex education in our school systems. Society also still subscribes sex to a binary, a correct way of doing it, pushing the agenda that sex has to have a purpose — unwilling to acknowledge that people have sex for pleasure or that it can be career choice.
I use the term fetish, but I don’t like its implication. People define the term as abnormal, which isn’t helpful because there is no sexual norm; we all react differently to sex and have different pleasure zones. Everyone has fixations and desires; this shouldn’t be seen as uncommon. Fetishism in a secular sense, deems an object to have supernatural powers, which I relate to more. I suppose people think of fetishes in the same way they feel about perversion, without even considering what a fetish is to begin with. There’s a very immature, childlike attitude attached to fetishes. This comes from the unknown; it is fear based. How do you conquer any fear? You face it, you try it, and you experiment. Suddenly, the abject may become pleasurable and hot. I never knew I had a fetish until I tried something new; fetishists aren’t just born, they’re created. I’m still discovering new things I like sexually daily. I never want to repress myself into thinking there’s only one way to have sex or give and receive pleasure.
Did you realise before you began camming that cake-sitting was a genuine fetish?
Lindsay Dye: My connection to fetish was non-existent before I began camming. I have always been a sexual person, but I was never presented with “fetish options”. Camming opened the door for me to practice fetishes for my audience’s desires that in turn, had me pushing my own boundaries of what could possibly turn me on. The fallacy is that there is a large market for cake-sitting fetishists in the first place, there isn’t. I can count on one hand the people I’ve met that admit it is their true fetish. I wasn’t pandering to an audience when I started cake-sitting, I was, in fact, forcing it upon them. It wasn’t something anybody asked me to do. I was attempting to convert my audience into a room of fetishists. I quickly realised they tip for the cake-sitting because it’s something I want to do; they respect my artistic practice; they have a relationship and rapport with me.
I feel the same about my IRL performances in art galleries and venues. I’m provoking the audience to consider what I’m doing, the expectation is not to necessarily be turned on by it, even though that’s an option. That’s also why I started singing sad love songs during my cake-sitting performances, it adds another layer of emotion and confusion of how to respond because it’s subtracting from the expected sexuality — is this art? Is this pornographic? Or is it both? Most performances are highly emotional resulting in tears rather than cum-shots.
Was it your aim to break down stereotypes of sex work?
Lindsay Dye: I am a trained artist, I have my MFA in photography, I went to art school for seven years, and I’ve been a sex worker for six years. With a background in art and a job as a sex worker, my goal became to bring art to porn audiences and porn to art patrons. I’ve always wanted to interrupt traditional art-making, and as a pornographer, I aim to make work that you’re not sure if you should be masturbating to or not; I like there to be an option to view it as art and/or something that is arousing. My job and my environment always inform the art that I make.
I saw on your Instagram that you bake your own cakes. Was baking something you already had an interest in before exploring cake-sitting?
Lindsay Dye: I began with grocery store cakes and tried a bakery once or twice, but there were always elements missing, they lacked care, variety, and colour. They were mostly flat, so there’s not enough to work with in terms of materiality. I decided to start baking because I’m the artist, I have to have a hand in my own craft, and it legitimises the work for me. Baking allows me to make temporary sculptures. I also like my work to come full circle; I birth what I destroy.
While I studied art, I was never interested in performance art until I became a sex worker. All the art I made before cake-sitting was mostly 2D and 3D, photo and sculpture. Sex work taught me how to perform; camming, stripping and escorting taught me how to be on stage and gave me comfort with being looked at. But, my performances needed a tangible element, something that I made by hand, hence the cake.
As a person studying sex therapy, I have to ask about the hygiene aspect and maintenance of the cake-sitting. What’s the aftermath and cleanup look like?
Lindsay Dye: I’m the softest person you’ll ever meet. Sugar can be used as an exfoliant. Of course, there is a downside, I almost became immune to UTI medication. I drink a lot of cranberry juice now and hope for the best. During a camming session, I can easily clean up in my own space. When I’m performing at a venue is where it gets tricky. Some venues have showers, most don’t. I’ve walked a couple of miles home caked-up before, and I’ve left many butt imprints in Ubers.
How do you feel about the concept of sex work as a form of feministic expression?
Lindsay Dye: I believe feminism doesn’t work without sex work and vice versa. Feminism is about the autonomy of choice, and I made a choice. I entered the industry because this is what I’m good at, I’m a negotiator and a businesswoman. I’m also a transparent, genuine person who likes to connect with people, especially marginalised people seeking a particular type of sexual gratification they’re not able to find elsewhere. I provide an alleviating service. I am not a victim nor do I have false consciousness; I am very aware of what I’m doing. The goal is to make a living while making my clients happy.
What is one thing you wish people knew about sex work?
Lindsay Dye: Not to downplay the element of sex in sex work, but I think civilians should know that sex could be a very small percentage of the sex work you participate in. When I’m camming, 80 per cent of what I do is converse with people, while projecting my personality and expressing my opinions, so I am connecting intellectually first. 20 per cent is solo masturbation. Stripping is insanely physical dancing along with sales, escorting can be (but is not always) companionship. All of these jobs require excellent customer service from start to finish; they require you to be human and empathetic. Sex work is not black and white; it is nuanced. I say no 100 per cent of the time if I don’t want to do something; I say yes 100 per cent of the time, if I do want to do something. I have choices, and I have options. It’s about having a dialogue with potential clientele; not accepting whatever gets thrown at you.
What I’m saying is, sex work can be cuddling, sex work can be sucking dick, sex work can be holding hands, sex work can be anal, sex work can be massages and dinners, sex work can be stepping on someone’s balls, sex work can be phone sex or making custom porn, sex work can be my clients only satisfying me, which in turn satisfies them.
You have a range of ongoing projects that coincide with your camming. What is one that you’re hoping to produce this year?
Lindsay Dye: I’m wrapping up my cake work, my ‘cake period’. I could never have dreamt up that I was going to be sitting on cakes for a living, so I’m hoping what comes next is just as big of a surprise.
You can order BRICKS – The Body Issue here. The issue launches at London’s Protein Studios April 23, alongside an exhibition of the work featured and the first UK performance by Lindsay (she's baking BRICKS’ birthday cake and then twerking on it)