By Peter Berton
On the NakedTruth.ca’s About page, site creator and driving force Annie Temple – aka TNTAnnie — comments that, “If my life was a movie, it would be called ‘Anarchist Stripper Mom’. I’ve been a sex worker since 1997; a mom since 2000; and a rebel all my life. My vision for TNT is to help industry providers find healthy, safe solutions for our businesses.”
So, how did Annie Temple rise to this leadership role? As I found out in a recent Q & A with her, becoming an Anarchist Stripper Mom has been a decades-long process. Here’s what she had to tell me:
Peter Berton: Let’s start with you telling our readers about yourself.
Annie Temple: I am a 48-year-old mother of four. I’ve been in and out of the sex industry since the age of 23 when I became an exotic dancer in Vancouver BC. Since then, I have been almost everything you can be in adult entertainment, including but not limited to nude model, stripping waitress, strip club massage girl, pole dance party provider, adult content creator, independent adult film performer, and independent provider.
Stripping gave me a taste of working for myself, and I’ve always run a side business in addition to any square jobs along the way. Square jobs have included community support worker, outreach provider, drop-in center manager, outreach driver, project coordinator, marketing manager, and more.
I have been engaged in activism since 2001, when I founded NakedTruth.ca as a resource for exotic dancers. It grew to serve the Canadian adult entertainment community and continues to exist as a health and safety support for sex workers by offering business solutions and advocacy services.
Right now, I am writing a tell-all book about my experiences in the adult entertainment industry, and I am starting a fitness and nutrition coaching business that specializes in helping women to unleash their erotic power in their day-to-day lives.
Peter Berton: How and why did you get into the adult industry?
Annie Temple: I became an exotic dancer because I was living in extreme poverty and felt very desperate. My friend was a dancer and she suggested I give it a try. I had nothing to lose. The first night working as a VIP dancer at the Marble Arch in Vancouver, I made more money than I did in two weeks at my retail job at the time. I quit my retail job the next day.
Peter Berton: Why did you become so committed to empowering sex workers?
Annie Temple: When I first got into the sex industry, I was very sensitive to the stigma and how my family and others in society treated me.
Then I realized that their view of me as someone who perpetuated rape culture and lived a degrading existence was so far from the actual reality of my work. I found that I was much more empowered as a stripper – not because I was a stripper, but because I made more money, I controlled my own work, and I was constantly exposed to people who used to intimidate me but who I didn’t feel inferior to anymore.
So, when I discovered a book called “Whores and Other Feminists”, I felt liberated from the internalized oppression that was caused by people looking down on me. I suddenly was able to give myself permission to enjoy my work and not be ashamed.
I wanted to share that with others in my industry, because I felt that many of them suffered from internalized oppression, as well. All work is the same – an exchange of our time and talents for money. Sex work is no better nor worse than other work, except for how we view it in our minds.
I also felt that customers wanted to behave respectfully and interact appropriately with sex industry workers but that they didn’t know how. I felt that a lot of the behaviour that sex workers want to discourage could be taught; as well as behaviours that we wanted to encourage. These were the thoughts that went through my mind when I first envisioned The Naked Truth.
Peter Berton: And there were other reasons as well, I understand.
Annie Temple: There were. I started The Naked Truth to reduce the feelings of isolation that most sex industry workers feel, especially if we are living a double life and lying to our friends and family about our work.
I wanted dancers to be able to share gig information with each other because agents often lied to us about what we could expect when we arrived at out-of-town gigs. The Naked Truth changed the way agents interacted with exotic dancers in BC, that’s for sure.
I also wanted to educate customers, which is something I am still committed to today. One of my ebooks is called, “How to be a great client”. Right now, people can get it for free by signing up to my weekly blog.
Peter Berton: What sort of journey have you traveled since you joined the adult industry?
Annie Temple: Being a mother has really shaped my journey as a sex worker. My decisions over the years always centered around how I could be a better mother. This is why I went back to school because stripping was a night-time job and I wanted to be able to tuck my children in at night.
At the same time, I had to raise children who would be open-minded, so they would accept me one day when they realized that my work is extremely stigmatized. The stigma also served to create fears in me about having my work used against me, to take my children or to prevent my children from being accepted in their friend groups.
Despite my fears, the activist in me has never allowed me to be silent. And my sex work activism, as well as the mentoring I received from incredible sex worker activists like Susan Davis and Velvet Steele, really prepared me to be an advocate for my children over the years.
People want me to be two separate people, a sex worker or a mother. But I am the mother I am because of the work I’ve done, the stigma I’ve faced, my ability to challenge my own belief systems, and to stand up for what I believe in– these are the things that have made me the kind of mother I am.
Now, with my book coming out, I wonder how it will affect my children. Will they be shamed and if so, will they feel ashamed?
I hope not and I don’t think they will. But I also know the power societal-norms can have on a person. We all feel pressured to think the same as the dominant group in society. What I’ve tried to teach my children is to question “group-think,” and to form their own opinions separate from what they are pressured to think by a conformist-rewarding society. Standing out and going against the grain will always get you haters, I tell them; but it will also give you a backbone and an exciting, fulfilling life.
Who wants to hide their true selves in fear of being judged? Not me; and, hopefully, not my children. This is a key reason why I am starting my erotic power business – to help women break out of their self-imposed prisons and let their true selves shine free.
Peter Berton: What is your perspective sex work as a career and a life?
Annie Temple: As a career, adult entertainment has been largely rewarding for me. I have met incredible people, had amazing experiences – enough to fill a book! It has also allowed me to indulge my creativity in so many ways.
In the last few years, I’ve really embraced my love of adult entertainment. I finally realized that I wouldn’t be happy in any of the other occupations available to me.
However, I do have dreams of using my adult entertainment experience to inform this new business I’m starting as an erotic power coach, which may see me transitioning out of adult entertainment eventually. I also have several more books I’d love to write.
Peter Berton: So what do you think of the people who purchase your services?
Annie Temple: Clients of sex industry workers are normal human beings from every walk of life. We all have our quirks and our unique kinks – but deep down we are people with the same desires and needs as everyone else – need for connection, excitement, desirability, and intimacy. The men who pay for my expertise are, by and large, absolutely wonderful people who have enriched my life by being in it. I value them as customers and friends.
Peter Berton: What do you hope to do for your readers and subscribers through your web sites, books, and other media?
Annie Temple: I hope to educate, challenge, inspire, entertain, and provoke them. I want to shock, amaze, amuse, and get them out of their comfort zone. I want them to walk away thinking about it and come back to me time and again because they can’t get enough. LOL!
Peter Berton: After 25 years, how do you maintain a positive attitude to clients?
Annie Temple: Honestly, it’s easier working independently than it was a stripper. I think the difference is that I can choose my clients now and I choose to only see sober clients. Drunk men in strip clubs can really turn a person off. That being said, I have many dear friends who I met as customers in strip clubs. I didn’t know they would become lifelong friends, but they have and I value them being a part of my life.
Clients who challenge me really do wreck it for everyone, though, don’t they? I have found that with each shitty experience I have with clients, I become more jaded towards them and I have to take time away from work more often to deal with being burnt out. But the wonderful clients help me to bring my walls back down. I am fortunate that I have never experienced any kind of extreme violence in my work. And I don’t ever want to. I don’t take any chances in my work and I am very picky about who I allow into my work spaces.
Peter Berton: What is the secret to believable, credible online sex sessions?
Annie Temple: I believe the secret to believable, credible online sex sessions is to truly enjoy your work and be authentic. That doesn’t mean I’m always in the right frame of mind for work and that it’s always easy. Certainly not. But I find that once I get started, I find my groove and the excitement of the encounter, movie, or story does the rest.
Peter Berton: Finally, what advice would you give yourself, if you could go back 25 years?
Annie Temple: If I could go back 25 years, I think I would have been more open-minded about becoming an independent provider. I believe I would be in a much better financial position today if I had started much sooner.
Advice I would give myself 25 years ago – which was the year I started stripping — is to stop trying to control everything, to open my heart, and to live for the moment. I am a much happier version of myself today because of these philosophies. And also, to never take life for granted.