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I’m a femme menace. I’m fucking up with integrity. I’m visceral and vulnerable.

Cis queer woman. Femme. Fat. Aiming at intersectional feminism. Service-oriented always. Relationship anarchist. Always accidentally taking the unforged path because it’s the one that feels right. Kinky since the start. Always already emotional.

I like people. I like people so much that it’s practically a fetish. The kind of “people person” who has trouble masturbating because there’s no one else involved.

For a long time “sexy” to me was performative. It was about eliciting response, and putting on a show, and power, and giving people what they wanted. Some combination of aesthetic and emotion. My friends and lovers and I joke about Sexy Billie, as if she’s an alternate persona that I can invite out and put on. I spend a lot of my life carefully not flirting with people, or unintentionally having the kinds of warm friendly interactions that other people generally claim as flirting, but when I’m Flirting On Purpose? Oh, you’ll know. And that is all still extremely sexy to me. I love the feeling—power, purpose, playfulness—of Sexy Billie.

But more and more, I haven’t been inviting her out. Maybe because I wasn’t going on dates for a while, or because I left burlesque, or because I spent time trying to take up less space to fit into relationships, or because I consciously dialed my sex drive back to mirror partners. Whatever the reasons, that separation between Billie and Sexy Billie grew, to where she was someone I remembered but didn’t know how to be anymore.

Rediscovering and regrowing my connection to sex and sexy has been slow at times, but fruitful. I’ve put work into examining my needs and practicing communicating them. I’ve collaboratively nurtured intensely enriching relationships. I’ve discovered the joy and validation of Femme for Femme love. (Including with my super-femme nonbinary Daddy, who helped out with this shoot.) I’ve become more comfortable with my body: not just tolerant but appreciative and accepting and even celebratory. I’ve always thought my eyes and lips are sexy, and that I have a pretty face. That my tits and ass are top notch. That I have great hair, and great musicality, and excellent use of body language and eye contact and timing. But I’ve also started to appreciate and even feel affectionate about parts of myself that have long caused me discomfort or even distress. I like my belly! (I’ve decided my body type is “stack of pancakes”…) I’ve even been letting my facial hair grow in, despite it being the thing I like least about my physical form, and the body thing that causes me the most distress. These days it elicits mild discomfort tempered with defiant pride.

Most of all, redefining “sexy”, for me, has been a shift from doing to being. Giving myself permission to just exist. To strip away the need to actively perform sexy, and let myself quietly be. Connecting with the present. It’s a further extension of my overarching life project of increased vulnerability and sincerity.

This photoshoot was another moment of stretching my comfort zones around sexiness. I decided that what felt most important to me was to show up and be as authentically and intimately myself as I could. To strip away the pretense, and my urges to Perform Sexy, and show you all some moments of raw me. I wanted genuine laughter and tears and orgasms and pie-eating. And I got it all. You can have it too.