After I quit prostitution and decided the sugar baby life wasn’t for me, I was somewhat at a loss for what to do about money. By this time it was early 2009 and the economy was getting worse almost by the day. As I’ve said before, I didn’t think I could ever get used to the huge pay cut I’d have to take in the non-naked sector. And–as much as I’d have liked to return to my roots–there simply weren’t any men offering $500 for a half hour of role-play and some spanking.

I perused Craigslist every day looking for the perfect fetish gig for me. I found a few spanking jobs, but mostly I modeled for amateur photographers and did minor dominatrix work that included peeing on strange men and one truly wonderful client I saw every so often who liked me to burn his feet with cigarettes, blow smoke in his face, and laugh like a hyena. As wonderful as all this was, I really wanted something steady, a paycheck I could rely on. I wanted the ability to create an accurate monthly budget without the boredom and degradation of your average minimum wage job.

One day, as I went on one of my increasingly exhausting Craigslist treasure hunts, I noticed a new post in the erotic services section looking for girls who might be interested in a spanking fetish website. A whole website devoted to spanking with regular models and royalty checks? Videos that could horrify my grandchildren if the people of the future are as interested in vintage fetish porn as the people of today? Sign me up! Who cared that the site wasn’t actually established yet? After all, “under construction” placeholder where the site should have been seemed legit to me.

I arranged a paid screen test with the producer for the next weekend and in the days leading up to it I could barely contain myself. I told everyone who’d listen about my awesome opportunity. The fact that the screen test was paid pushed any small doubts I may have had to the back of my mind and convinced me that I’d finally found my in to the more professional, entirely legal areas of the sex industry.

I let my excitement get away from me completely; this was going to be awesome! I was going to be a porn star!

When I arrived at the hotel room, I was surprised to find that its only occupants were a man claiming to be the producer and a camera mounted on a tripod. I’d expected there would be at least one assistant, but who was I to pooh-pooh this one man’s dream? If a one-man startup was what it took to get my foot in the fetish porn door, so be it.

As I went over payment with the so-called producer, he explained that the site should be open within a month (hence the place holder). Then he brought up the subject of implements. He laid a number of objects out on the hotel room desk in front of me. They ranged from one of the cute, pink leather paddles they sell at the kinds of sex shops patronized by groups of giggling young women through to a ruler, a hairbrush, a much heavier wooden paddle and an actual cane. Having never been caned before, I decided this was not the time to start and told Mr. Producer that everything was fine up until that. No matter, though: he seemed truly elated that I hadn’t stopped at the ruler and I suddenly felt much more confident about my chances of actually being accepted as one of the regular performers on his site.

As I disrobed and got on all fours–butt pointed at the camera–the only thing that seemed unusual was the man’s complete lack of excitement. It seemed strange to me that someone would start a business venture without any actual interest in the subject of that business but as Mr. Producer ran through the increasingly stinging spanking implements, I found it hard to give the matter much thought. Despite the fact that he had maneuvered himself just out of frame and stood, consequently, at a very awkward angle, Mr. Producer managed to hit extremely hard blows. While the spanking itself didn’t bother me, I started to wonder if $250 was really enough considering how long it was likely to be before I could sit down comfortably.

After about fifteen minutes of spanking, Mr. Producer told me he had enough footage to determine whether or not I was right for the site, but from what h’d seen I was “perfect.” He assured me he just had to watch the footage to “make sure” I looked good on film. As I put my clothes back on, he asked me about my life, where I was from, if I had a boyfriend, and how said boyfriend felt about my line of work. I answered honestly, without going into too much detail, but found it somewhat strange that this man was asking the questions most men ask sex workers they hire for personal enjoyment, rather than professional partnership. He informed me that he’d be watching the footage that afternoon and would email me by the next day to tell me if I was in or out. I went out to the waiting car with a song in my heart and a pronounced purple hue to my ass.

That night, I got an email informing me that I was absolutely perfect for the website and that Mr. Producer would be in touch about other video shoots in the near future. I expected a large, steady paycheck and had no idea that instead I would be getting… nothing but weirdness in spades.

For two weeks after my screen test, Mr. Producer and I played phone tag and he dodged my emailed questions about upcoming video shoots with a great deal of skill. I would ask when and where he was thinking of shooting and he would tell me that he was really excited for the site to open in, say, March. I would ask if he had any plans for making the themed videos he’d talked about and he would tell me he hadn’t found a really good location to shoot yet. I started to become both irritated by his lack of professionalism and suspicious about whether he really wanted me on his website, but he hadn’t even dropped the real bombshell.

With a week to go before March and my small amount of savings beginning to dwindle, I was growing increasingly worried. I began to text Mr. Producer with the same questions of when, where, and how as soon as I woke up every afternoon. He began to ignore my questions outright. Then he stopped texting back altogether.

Finally, with only a few days left in February, I got a text late one night from Mr. Producer.

Expecting to get some information about a video shoot at last, I was shocked and disturbed to find that the text message only said ‘I want 2 suck ur pussy.’ He’d not only managed to refer to oral sex in the most unpleasant way possible (and used my least favorite euphemism for the ladyflower), he hadn’t even bothered to use entire words.

I waited an entire hour before replying that I thought he had possibly texted the wrong person. He asked if I was ‘Kathryn’, and when I told him my name wasn’t spelled with a K he ignored me and launched into a poorly-spelled, completely unpunctuated spiel about how he would love to “serve” me. I did not know what to say. I was deeply disappointed that my once-promising adult film career had crumbled before my eyes, ashamed that I hadn’t seen the obvious warning signs, disgusted at Mr. Producer’s behavior, and worried that there had never been any other girls screen-testing that day, that I was the only one… and that he had decided to make me and only me the object of his obsession.

I had enough experience with weirdos–especially submissive weirdos–that I knew lashing out with cruelty would only make Mr. Producer more interested, but I wasn’t sure if ignoring him was the way to go either. So, I sent a short reply stating that I was sorry he’d decided to conduct himself in such an unprofessional manner, but I absolutely could not work with him in any capacity after this exchange, that I had a boyfriend and I had no interest in him being anything but a producer or director. He didn’t protest and, mercifully, stopped texting me.

I’ve made several attempts to find my supposed screen test, but to no avail. To this day I’m honestly not sure if I am naked on the internet (in anything but a still format). I picture a site full of videos of other girls like me, too naïve and excitable to recognize the shadiness of a one-man screen test or a room stacked with videocassettes labeled with names, dates, and fetishes depicted. I’ve never managed to locate either.

I look back on my aimless post-prostitution sex work career and this single job sticks out like a big question mark: I may not know if there was ever a website planned–or what happened to my spanking tape–but I hope that when I’m an old woman perusing the internet on a newfangled microchip implanted in my brain (or whatever they have in the future), I’ll stumble across it and be inspired to return to sex work. I don’t think that even former spanking superstardom could scandalize my grandchildren as much as granny porn.

Cathryn Berarovich is a bit of a renaissance sex worker; she’s currently employed as a stripper (and writer) but has held numerous interesting jobs in the industry. Each week, she shares her stories in Harlotry.