Camorbits had the opportunity to interview Empress Raven Wood, a pro-dominatrix out of Toronto, who shares with us her experiences in the adult industry so far. From starting to cam after leaving a toxic corporate job during lockdown, to becoming an editor and consultant for a kinky erotica novel. Enjoy the ride!
What is your primary job title these days? If you’re undercover, could you let us know what it is you do and what it is you tell people you do?
When I have to deal with people I don’t know whether it’s safe to be out to, I tell them I am a life coach… which is kind of true as my Wellness Domination is like life coaching with a kinky twist.
How long have you been working in the adult entertainment industry, and how did that start for you?
Almost a year now. I was working at a corporate job I hated while trying to do university nights and weekends to change to a career where I was helping people. I had to take a couple of months stress leave from work when I realized just how toxic it was for me. I needed immediate and drastic change that would also accommodate my longer term career goals.
I have been in the BDSM scene in Toronto for going on a decade. I have had sex work in the back of my mind for years as I’ve had friends and partners who were SWers who really enjoy their work. I didn’t take the leap until last year though, when I was speaking with a friend who had been a Pro-Domme in years past, left it, and had recently returned to doing distance domination in COVID.
It got me thinking again about it more seriously, so I started with strictly online work during the lockdown. Then, once I was vaccinated and dungeons started to open up again, I found a couple of really cool dungeon spaces to work from in Toronto. This provides me with the perfect flexibility for school while doing something I really enjoy…I might not want to leave once I’m done school!
Talk to me about the early days and learning how to run your business. What was your biggest challenge getting started in this industry?
In the beginning, it took some time and experience to figure out which leads were likely to turn into a client, and which were just men trying to get your time and attention for free. I also had to teach myself about marketing specific to sex work and what online platforms and service providers were SWer friendly.
I had a base of business and marketing skills from past employment, so I did start at an advantage, but figuring out how to apply that skill set to sex work took some time. I did a lot of workshops and market research.
That being said, it was a labor of love and I had so much fun figuring out how I wanted to represent myself and my brand.
I love learning, so I really enjoyed it! It was a very empowering experience as I leaned into working for myself on my own terms.
How has working in porn changed you as a person or affected the way you see yourself?
I don’t do porn, I’m a Pro-Domme who sees individual clients both in person and online (video chat, phone, text). I do however do kink/erotic modeling and write kinky erotica.
Getting comfortable expressing myself in the art of photography and writing has really boosted my self-esteem and expanded my self concept.
I used to feel extremely uncomfortable in front of the camera and disliked almost all pictures of myself. Jumped right into the deep end from that fear into kinky/erotic modeling.
After being so unhappy in my work for so long, this career change has empowered me and provided me with agency in my work life that I didn’t have before.
How has your work affected your daily life and relationships with family and friends?
My friends and partners are all pro-SW, so were very supportive when I told them I wanted to pursue this career. They are my biggest cheerleaders.
I recently came out to my Dad which went soooo well. To the rest of my family, I’m still “in the closet”, but plan on telling some, who I think it would accept it well.
My daily life has improved, as I work doing something I really enjoy. When I was in “corporate”, I used to have to hide so much of who I was, but now I get to be myself all the time.
How has your work affected your view of society or perspective of porn in the context of the world today?
Like anything else, there is good and bad. I very much see how SW can be exploitative to some, but empowering to others. That is why SWERFs and SESTA-FOSTA are so frustrating.
Is there exploitative porn/SW? Absolutely. Is all porn/SW exploitative? Absolutely NOT.
I am a well educated feminist who left a cushy corporate job to pursue this career because I wanted to, not because I am being exploited or am desperate. All the SWers I’ve known have loved their work.
Being in this industry has further solidified my opinions that sex work is real work and that the only reasons these things are so stigmatized is the patriarchy’s attempts to control women, their bodies and keep them subservient.
What are your thoughts about the future and continuing evolution of the adult entertainment industry?
I’m still somewhat new to the industry for me to make critiques on it. I also work independently and therefore have agency and control in every aspect of my business.
From a legislative perspective, we need better laws regarding sex work that are not prohibitive, but instead regulatory.
Regulating sex work is the best way for it to be safe for everyone…workers and clients. Regulating sex work will also give it legitimacy as it has in other countries, reducing stigma, maybe not right away, but over time.
The control that conservative credit card companies have over platforms and service providers (ie: OnlyFans, web payment gateways, etc) is a real to impediment workers and should not be permitted. SWers made OnlyFans get to the place it is and now they have been dropped and it’s not ok.
What do you wish you’d known about the adult entertainment industry before you took the plunge?
I really like the direction the industry has taken in terms of the independent content creators rather than needing to go through agencies, studios, promoters, photographers that put workers in a position to be exploited.
You can teach yourself photography, videography, editing, marketing, website development, etc, and do everything yourself, while keeping more of your own earnings. It also allows you to be freely creative with what you are doing. Find tiny niches, explore and expand them for yourself.
What is the most important piece of advice you would offer someone just getting started in the industry?
Do lots of research first and treat it like a business, maybe take some business classes/workshops. Also never take a phone call from a prospective client who “wants to ask some clarification questions” that isn’t what it is.
Our society has a lot of opinions about sex work. Tell us something about your work that would surprise the lay person who doesn’t know better.
I REALLY enjoy what I do…but it also involves a lot of work behind the scenes, not just with clients. #sexworkisrealwork
Have any surprising stories to share? Just one or two. Make us laugh or cringe, whatever you want. 🙂
I write custom kinky erotica for clients. I also record these in my own voice. I have one client, who I started writing stories for, that became a whole series. Then he paid me to read a kinky erotica novella he really liked, which he wanted to then have telephone calls to discuss. The novella actually ended up being one he had written. Then he asked me to consult on/edit a new novella he was writing, and now currently I’m consulting on another book he’s writing.
Never in a million years would I have thought I would be getting paid to consult on and edit a novel a year ago when I decided to write custom erotica as one of my offerings. This industry always keeps you guessing!
Check out Empress Raven Wood across the internets here: