Sugar C*nt, on Chronic Pain and Pleasure

Category: POV Podcast

Author: Aria Vega

Sex blogger Sugar Cunt is no stranger to disability and chronic pain, which they’ve experienced since childhood. But when a personal tragedy upended their life, it also showed them a path to exploring pleasure. You can find Sugar Cunt on Twitter and Instagram

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Podcast Transcript:

Aria Vega [00:00:00] [Voiceover] This podcast contains explicit content. Listener's discretion is advised. POV by Lustery explores culture, politics and creativity in the sex industry, one point of view at a time. I'm your host, Aria Vega.

Aria Vega [00:00:17] Sugar Cunt is the creator and titular character of the sex blog Sugar Cunt Writes for over a decade. Sugar has covered topics such as relationships, BDSM, queerness and disability on their site. Even as a kid, Sugar seemed to be acutely curious about sexuality, which their father didn't quite know what to do with.

Sugar Cunt [00:00:37] [Interview] As a kid, I did not have a lot of limitations. I had like a 10 p.m. bedtime all my life, until I start started disregarding bedtimes, and I was allowed to read and watch almost anything I wanted. Pretty much the only thing that I couldn't, was like, when I was 9 my dad was like, "You can't read my Laurell K. Hamilton, books wait until you're older." Because they're just, they go pure smut real quick after the first three books. And then after Book Three, God, there's probably at least like 14 or 15 of those books now, I haven't even read all of them anymore. But they just get smuttier and smuttier and smuttier, and I love that. But I can understand why my dad, who is by far the parent that had more concern about supervision and stuff for his kids, was like, You're not reading that at nine years old. It just wasn't talked about, honestly. You know, it wasn't talked about, like it would have been fascinating if my dad had sat down and done that, but he never did, and he probably really had no idea where to even start.

Aria Vega [00:01:43] [Voiceover] Left to their own devices, Sugar spent their adolescence figuring out sex on the fly, as most of us do. Then, in 2011, when sugar was 20 years old, tragedy struck when their family's home was suddenly destroyed by a fire. Sugar's mother has a theory about a lit cigarete and an elder relative with dementia. But the cause of the fire was never formally determined.

Sugar Cunt [00:02:06] [Interview] I didn't go home for spring break, so I was just on campus and I was sleeping when my mom called me and woke me up and she was like, Our house is on fire. And I was like, What? Like a ladybug? And so what gets me about it is, I would totally have been in the basement asleep when that fire started if I hadn't been in school. I'm very glad I was there. Because I was the only one who didn't have every single thing in my life still in that house, it was definitely the least damaging for me personally, because it's like at least I still had some clothes. At least I still had some of my stuff, and my family spent, gosh, like over six months in a hotel after that, waiting for the insurance stuff to come through and to get a new house. So after... I grew up poor. We were either under, right on top, of or just barely above the poverty line most of my life that I can remember, and my mom was like, Well, the one thing we have right now is a little bit of money, so if you want to buy something to help you through this.

Aria Vega [00:03:19] [Voiceover] Sugar wanted two simple things: an e-reader to help them replace all the books they had lost, and quote: "a shitload of sex toys." While researching their planned purchases, Sugar discovered the sex blog Hey, Ephiphora! A site that's still home to some of the most popular sex toy reviews on the web. Sugar was instantly inspired to put their own love of writing to work.

Sugar Cunt [00:03:42] [Interview] When I was 16, I was browsing sex toy shops online, looking at glass dildos like, "I'm going to decorate my house with glass dildos one day." So when I discover this at like 20, I'm like, Oh, I'm doing this. And so I started my blog back then, and my mom was able to give me money for hosting at the time, which was really helpful. My relationship with my family was so boundary lacking. When my mom, you know, I told her what the money was for, I was like, I want to start a sex blog, people review sex toys and stuff. She was like, OK, because my mom has always been really supportive of my writing and my creative pursuits, which has always been really nice. So I was staying at this place my parents were renting before the fall semester, right when I turned twenty-one, because back then, Babeland and Good Vibes had the most easy to get into and publicly well-known programs, but you had to be twenty-one to be able to actually do it, and I needed a few more months to hit twenty-one. So I hit twenty-one, I got my first shipment of toys. They came in, and I showed my mom, I was like, Mom, look at my dongs! And she thought it was funny. So then I had them at this table I'd coopted in the living room to use as a desk while I was there, and I was taking pictures of them and my dad came home and I swept them into a box and I shut it real fast and I was like, OK. So my dad comes in, and he's just acting inquisitive and that whole like, Whatcha doin'? kind of way that he he has sometimes, and I thought he was going to be mad that I'd been ordering shit online. So I was just like, he was like, What's this? And I was like, It's nothing, I got it for free, don't worry about it. And my mother, has heard this entire exchange and comes running in from the kitchen and goes, What's the matter? You don't want to show your daddy your big dick?

Aria Vega [00:05:47] I couldn't decide if I thought your mom was going to help or not help at all.

Sugar Cunt [00:05:51] No, no. If you're wondering if my mom is going to help make a social situation less awkward, no, it is essentially the exact opposite. The thing is like growing up in this environment, of course, the way I am like now, especially now that I'm an adult with an autism diagnosis, I can look back and be like, Yes, this is a way my autism helps me look at the world. It's like, I feel like if I'm embarrassed, the only way to come out even or win the conversation is to embarrass the other person more. So I pulled out the biggest dong that she was talking about and I said, "Yeah, dad, it's harness compatible, so I can fuck somebody in the ass!"

Aria Vega [00:06:35] [Voiceover] Sugar has an assortment of neurodivergences and mental health challenges, including ADHD and autism, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II. They also experience chronic illness and other physical disabilities such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma and GERD, also known as acid reflux. It all started pretty young. By 13, Sugar was already struggling with things like mental health and mobility issues. Then, the pelvic pain started.

Sugar Cunt [00:07:08] [Interview] I was experiencing a lot of like PCOS or endometriosis symptoms. I still don't know which one it is, you know? But within this year, 2022, I finally saw a gynecologist who took me seriously enough to talk to me about, OK, well, if you have PCOS or endometriosis here are some things we would do to try and figure it out. The thing is, some of what you're describing sounds like pelvic floor dysfunction, and so I'm going to send you to physical therapy, but it's going to be hard, a lot of people quit. And I was like, Damn! That was intimidating, but also I appreciated her being up front. It was really refreshing to have a doctor that just took what I was saying seriously and was like, Well, here's what it's going to be like. Here's all your options, and you can pick the ones that sound like they'll suck the least to you, basically. So for me, something that I had back then that I still deal with now and can kind of attribute to some of that pelvic floor dysfunction, is I was having really painful sex. Sometimes I'd have painful urination, but I wouldn't have a UTI or anything. And my periods, they were a whole 'nother...like bedridden, too much blood, whole 'nother story. But the sex stuff... Nowadays I get these moments where my vagina or my ass will just like cramp up super tight, randomly, and it's excruciating! At first I was like, Oh, well, maybe this is a problem from my period. Maybe this is just a period thing, but I don't think it's a period thing. I think it's an aspect of the pelvic floor dysfunction. What I realized is that I've always been pretty dissociated since my teen years. Part of that is as a response to chronic pain, and I think that dissociation has always impacted my sensitivity with my vagina and vulva, because I've always been, well, for starters, difficult to get off sometimes, even for myself. Sometimes that's perfectly normal, and everybody has those times. But I've always kind of had the impression that I have a level of diminished genital sensitivity, and I think the dissociation is why. But the spontaneous pain that I had then, and that I still have now, that's probably this pelvic floor dysfunction stuff. Back at the Sexual Freedom Summit in 2017, we did this thing called Fistmas, which was super fun. And so Taylor J Mace, one of my favorite people, we were planning to play over the weekend. But the idea for our own private play session morphed into, what if we had a fisting party and invited people to watch and get a chance to assist you if they want to try it? It was so fun, especially when you get to be the hand puppet for somebody who's never fisted anybody before, because then they're like, Oh, this is magical, I can feel your heartbeat! Oh, it was such a heartwarming moment, honestly.

Aria Vega [00:10:27] *Laughs* I'm sorry, I have not recovered from "hand puppet."

Sugar Cunt [00:10:32] Oh yeah, nothing makes you feel more powerful than making your partner sing "It's Not Easy Being Green" in your voice, right? It's great. So we were doing this fisting party, and it was not painful to me at all during the event, or even afterwards. But something that was really notable that makes me think about my pelvic floor dysfunction, now that I have that diagnosis, is that Taylor and some other people mentioned, they thought I'd had a bunch of orgasms because my vagina was clenching around them in such a way that it seemed like it. And I didn't feel any fucking orgasms! I didn't even feel like clenching, which, you know, when I'm having what I associate it as an orgasm, when I actually get the body build-up and like orgasm and release feeling... Yeah, I wasn't getting any of that. They were fisting me for over three hours and I did not have a feel a single orgasm, but I think it's related to the dissociation and the pelvic floor dysfunction. So either I was dissociated enough that I didn't feel the orgasms, or I was having pelvic floor dysfunction like spasms, and we just didn't know that's what they were.

Aria Vega [00:11:47] [Voiceover] Much like sex writing and its related adventures, like Fistmas, sex work has also revealed new insights to Sugar about their body. After four years of blogging, Sugar began working online as a pro-dominatrix, which they found to suit both their personality and access needs.

Sugar Cunt [00:12:04] [Interview] In 2015-ish, I got into pro-domming online, because I needed an outlet for my sadism and my argumentative nature, and my desire to humiliate people that was like healthy and productive for me instead of arguing with randoms on Facebook.

Aria Vega [00:12:25] And profitable!

Sugar Cunt [00:12:27] Exactly! If I'm going to spend... If I'm going to spend two hours dunking on somebody publicly, then I should get paid for it. That was basically the thought process, yeah.

Aria Vega [00:12:39] You and I had this fantastic conversation about the experiences of disabled cam models for an article I was writing, and you brought up something really interesting, which is that so much of the discourse around disability and sex work highlights the fact that sex work is often more accessible than vanilla work, but that's definitely not always the case. Can you tell me a little bit about how some of your own experiences have illustrated the tension between sex work and access needs?

Sugar Cunt [00:13:09] Yeah, I love this topic, I really do. I'm so excited to talk about it, because I don't feel like we do discuss it enough. I just want to start it off by saying, I do agree with the general premise that sex work allows more flexibility and freedom of scheduling for disabled people than quote unquote "normal" nine to five job, or retail. Being your own boss offers a lot that disabled people need. It just lets us make the structure we need, instead of trying to force us to adhere to a structure that was decided by, frankly, a world that doesn't care about meeting our access needs at all. So I do still generally agree with the premise, sex work can be a more accessible career option for disabled people than a lot of stuff. But I find, one of the problems I have with sex work, especially when you're doing something like any kind of streaming, any kind of content creation, including just blogging, doesn't even have to be the explicit type, trying to get people off. Even just for sex blogging, if you're creating content anywhere, consistency is key. Your audience needs to know when to expect you to put something out. Your audience needs to know where you'll be when you want them to find you regularly and algorithmically speaking. You've just got to be putting stuff out, because look at YouTube. YouTube is basically rewarding content mills at this point. You've just got to be putting stuff out to even get seen, and if your life is as unpredictable as it feels like mine still is, it can be really hard to actually make that consistency happen. I have just books and books of stuff I'd like to write about. I've got a bunch of things to do more research for, but you actually have to have the ability to sit down and not be brain foggy enough that you can understand what you're reading when you're researching her. My ADHD stuff, like getting on Ritalin, was amazing because I suddenly did some website maintenance that was well over four years overdue that I hadn't been able to make myself do before. So there's the key, you have to do it, but if your chronic illnesses are so unpredictable that day to day, you don't know whether you're going to be like completely bedridden and nonfunctional and non-verbal, or if you can maybe go outside and talk to a stranger. To which, I know seems like the most like casual saying, it's like, Why do you have trouble with that? It's like, Well, I don't know, but if I weren't having trouble with it, I would probably be a little better off, right? So that's a big element of it. And another thing I think that gets left out in some of the discourse when people who don't do things like create content get involved with this kind of discourse about disability access in sex work and it being more accessible, is that it takes a lot of time and energy and even money to get the gear you want, to set up your film area, especially if you live in a studio apartment where you have to reset your filming set every time you set up. Do you need to clean your room before you do this? Do you need to change your sheets before you film on them? What do you have to do to get styled up and decorated appropriately for the scene you're shooting. There's a lot more work to it than just the part where you're ejaculating on camera for five minutes. There's a lot of work to get to that point of even just sitting down to film the thing. I mean, it's tricky. If you are struggling with having the energy or means to do that work, if you don't have the support to help you set it up, how often are you actually going to put things out? How often can you put content out into the world for the algorithm to remember you exist and show people your tweets?

Aria Vega [00:17:11] Begging algo for recognition is just not a good feeling.

Sugar Cunt [00:17:14] Yeah, I've got like six point four thousand followers on my Sugar Cunt account. But most days, I can expect just about any tweet to be seen by 10 to 50 people, or like a hundred if it's good, if it goes well for me. And it's like, really, I can't reach my audience of 6K, even though I spent a decade cultivating this audience. For me, my disability stuff is always the reason that my blog usually has just big chunks of dormant periods, where things were all borked with my health. I definitely was not working.

Aria Vega [00:17:53] [Voiceover] When the content in question involves actual sex, such as camming or shooting porn, that can be another opportunity for friction with access needs. For example, one of Sugar's conditions causes memory loss, which can be tricky to navigate when it comes to consent. That's where having a loving partner can come in handy.

Sugar Cunt [00:18:14] [Interview] Fortunately, a lot of my memory loss stuff is a lot less severe than other people with memory loss issues might have.You know, on a brain fog day, I probably won't remember what happened that day or what happened five minutes ago. You know, depending on how bad it is, the seizures that I have now kind of scramble my brain. So it's like, I don't remember anything around the times. Usually the most I'll remember is if I feel myself start seizing, like when I'm laying down for bed or meditating or something, I remember it started, but anything after that is not in there. So if I in the moment were to consent to sex, I definitely wouldn't remember it the next day. With my nesting partner and our policies on consent like, can we do some sleep sex? What are the times? I'm always just like if I wave you off when I'm asleep, then I'm not interested, don't bother me. But otherwise, with her, I trust her so much. She never really tries to initiate sex after I've been seizing anyway, she's usually trying to unball my hands out of fists and stuff, so they're less cramped up the next day. But with her, if we were to have sex after and I lost memory of it, I would be pretty comfortable with it. I know she would never do anything that I didn't like. I fully trust her to respect my boundaries in that way. And even in small things where it's like just to be thoughtful enough to fucking use lube, you know?

Aria Vega [00:19:45] That's Sugar Cunt: sex blogger and toy reviewer. Their blog is at SugarCuntWrites.com, and you can follow them on Instagram @sugarcnt, and on Twitter @sugarcunt. I'd love to share more stories about disability, and how it can shape our relationship to our bodies and our sexuality. Reach out to askaria@lustery.com with an email or a voice memo. You can also find me on Twitter @vegadreamcast. You can always remain anonymous. If you're into the show, please leave us a five-star rating and a review. POV is brought to you by Lustery, and this episode was hosted by me, Aria Vega. It was edited and produced by Kathryn Fischer and Adrienne Teicher, and our showrunner is Paulita Pappel. Lustery is the home of real life partners filming their sex lives behind closed doors. If you're 18 or older, you can find us at Lustery.com, and we're on Twitter and Instagram @lusterypov. See you in Masturbation May, lovers!