Back Stories – Arabelle Raphael

A while back, while reviewing the hi-lar-i-ous Burning Angel film Doppelgänger, something luscious and totally out of the ordinary caught my eye: Arabelle Raphael.  This girl was hott, haughty, completely at ease, and totally raw. It was distracting, so I had to investigate her –ness further …and golly lolly, am I glad I did!!

Arabelle is relatively new to porn, but she is already working to push the boundaries of sexual expression and change the face of mainstream adult content with her queer indie alt fetish feminist-ness.  However can one woman just burst on the scene and do all that? Well, read on to find out!!

So missy, I’ve only see you in a couple of movies and a few scenes (all amazing, by the way)… you’re obviously relatively “new” to the business – how long have you been working in adult, and what got you started?

“I have been in the sex industry for less than year and have performed for BurningAngel.com and Kink.com. I started modeling first and doing stuff for small sites – alternative pin up and that sort of thing. While I was shooting, I started to gravitate towards more sexually explicit themes.  The more I shot, the more I wanted to push my own limits – I loved doing it!  I was shooting with friends and photographers I met on modeling sites, so eventually I decided I wanted to try to make as much porn as I could.

Before I did porn, I used to teach French to kids (I’m not kidding); I also worked in retail.

Ahhh I wish I knew some French expressions to casually drop into the rest of this interview – bah! I’m guessing that shooting for Kink, etc is nothing like teaching French though… What’s best about this new occupation of yours? And is there anything about it that you find surprising or unexpected or challenging?

Well some of my favorite things are the fact I get to sexually express myself, the fact that I totally get off on being filmed while I’m having sex, and that I am able to live out my sexual fantasies. Plus, I get to work with some pretty hot people …and get paid for it!

Sex work has always been a secret desire of mine, even as I little girl. I always saw some kind of power in it. For some people it’s just a job, but I really love it. When I started doing porn, it felt like I had found something I was meant for.

The most surprising thing about being a performer is that I am sort of jumpy before all my shoots. I thought it would go away after awhile, but I still get giddy and nervous …a little like a teenage boy about to have sex! A lot of the time you meet whoever you’re performing with the day of the shoot, so you have a brand new and unfamiliar body to work with. Once we get started it goes away, but I always get a little tense beforehand.

The most challenging thing is definitely not being a ‘mainstream’-looking porn performer: I am tattooed, pierced, all natural, and am another ethnicity other than Caucasian. Though porn has changed a lot, there is still quite a lot of fear present in terms of going against mainstream standards. Thank God there are some amazing people out there still pushing the envelope and creating different content within the feminist, queer, alt, and BDSM porn communities.

What about the other aspects of your work in the business? Any challenges there? And what else do you do in addition to working as a performer?

Beyond the actual performance work, there’s a lot of networking and promoting different projects involved. It can be quite endless, but you get out as much as you are willing to put in, you know? In addition to being a performer, I’m still a full time sex worker. I am a stripper and cam girl as well – I create fantasy for others, which can be quite intense.

As far as my life beyond sex work… I am currently applying to sex therapist programs. Sexuality has always been a very important part of my life; it fascinates me to no end. I am in the middle of completing my BA, so I still have lots of school ahead of me though.

I eventually want to specialize in [post-traumatic stress disorder].  Many women with a history of any kind of sexual violation are told that they are damaged for life and will never be able to have a healthy sexuality; I don’t think that’s true.  I feel like psychology and sex work are somewhat related, especially when doing cam work and stripping.  I have definitely found myself counseling some of my customers, which I feel is the most taxing part of the job.  You never know when it will come up, and you aren’t usually expecting it.

Oh wow… the human and therapeutic dimensions of sex work are discussed so infrequently, aren’t they? And I completely agree with you by the way – exploring those interconnections is so very important. But what has all of this done to you? Has working in the industry affected your personal life at all?

Well, like any job, it takes up a lot of energy and time. Dating is definitely something that has become harder. I have had relationships fall apart because of what I do. People get very insecure when they are not in the business. I kinda abandoned monogamy because of it; polyamory just started making more sense.

Ahhh if I only had a dollar for every time I have heard someone in your similar shoes say something along those lines… sigh. But you know what else I’ve heard: I’ve heard you describe yourself as a ‘sexual activist’? What does that mean, and how does it connect to your work as a performer?

It means that, among other things, I am dedicating all of my studies to help people become sexually liberated, as well as educated. I am an ‘out’ sex worker, meaning that I do not keep my job a secret, and I try my best to demystify sex work to as many people as I can. Where and who I work with is also a big part of it – for example, I work in the world’s only unionized and worker-owned peep show.

Hopefully, in five years from now, I will have finished my degree and will be working in my field to these ends. I would like to have more awesome porn out as well.”

Oh Arabelle, you give sex work and feminism and activism an absolutely excellent name!  Hott, haughty, luscious, and raw plus intelligent, driven, and humanitarian.  I do luv Arabelle Raphael for her passion and her dedication to demystifying people about sex work, educating individuals about sexuality, and liberating humans from repressive socially-constructed strictures …all of which are projects and processes that will benefit us all.

Check out Arabelle’s Burning Angel page for all her hottness glory and/or if you would like to keep up with this edgy beauty in general (and maybe thank her for being an instrument of social change), follow her on twitter.  I am sure she will thank you in her own special way.

(pictured throughout: Arabelle Raphael courtesy of Arabelle Raphael)

* * *

From performers to post-production, office workers to executives, PVVOnline Back Stories explore the lives of people who work in all aspects of the adult industry. For more industry insiders’ Back Stories, go here.

Like what you see? Follow PVV on Facebook and Twitter and/or follow Dr. Chauntelle at @DrChauntelle!!

You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from PVVOnline/Porn Valley Vantage, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”

PVVOnline – Critical Commentary on Adult Production