Ms. Briq House is a burlesque performer, professional dominant and sex-work and LGBTQIA advocate. When COVID-19 shut down public gatherings and venues, she had to find creative ways to support herself. She pivoted online: performing virtual burlesque shows and dominance work, selling portraits of herself on her website, as well as starting consultations for sensual life coaching.
Moving something like burlesque online takes a lot of money and space, which are both hard to come by and have come with steep learning curves, Ms. Briq House said.
“Burlesque is best in person because you can feel the energy and love a lot more,” she said. Online sex work, which she says can sometimes be awkward, also presents unique challenges. “My presence is very big and larger in person, and trying to convey that through a computer screen is a challenge that I have overcome,” she said.
Additionally, Ms. Briq House has taken on child care gigs, something she had done part-time prepandemic but is now finding to be in greater demand as parents navigate this new normal.
“It is literally impossible for single parents and a lot of people don’t want to put their kids in child care,” she said. “It’s been awesome to help families and especially single black mothers and sex workers because my folks need it the most.”
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When Washington’s stay-home order was put in place, Ms. Briq House said the effects were sudden – in an instant her primary way of supporting herself was gone.
“It was hard for me to be creative, which I am good at being creative,” she said, “but when you are trying to survive, you don’t have time to be creative and do the work I am the best at.”
Friends started a GoFundMe for her and encouraged her to embrace it. She resisted accepting help at first, but changed her mind when she realized, she said, being honest with herself and asking for help was OK. In the process, it helped her see how much of an impact she was having in her community.
“I think when the pandemic hit, I thought ‘What am I doing? Am I even having an impact?,’ ’’ she said. “The way people have shown up and shared with me about how I have impacted them … I have been mind blown by the support from people who I had no idea I had touched in that way.”