Salome Salvi is a 20-something virtual sex worker. Her pseudonym is a deliberate choice. Salome and Salvi are characters in Noli Me Tangere, a novel about Spanish colonization in the Philippines. Her alias also stems from salsal, a Tagalog word, which means masturbate. There is also a biblical reference to Salome. With allusions as such, Salome Salvi is not just a simple alias. There’s so much more to her than meets the lens of a webcam.
I met Salome through a sex toy company, Ilya, that wanted my co-host and I to promote a sex-positive message on our chat show, Thirsty & Thirty. Rather than outright talking about sex toys, I was looking for a story inspired by the 1990 cult classic film, “Pretty Woman.”
This is how I met Salome, a virtual sex worker. I was looking for a Vivian. Okay, she wasn’t precisely Vivian. But, she had a feisty demeanor. We chatted with her twice — before the chat show and on air. She always spoke candidly while her cats moved around her apartment. What struck me the most about Salome is her ambition, thick skin, and eloquence in discussing her profession.
She shared with us on last week’s episode an encounter with a rude client, “One of the worst messages that I’ve ever gotten was on OnlyFans. And he was like, I subscribed, but I want a refund. Because I don’t like the way that you looked. I don’t like the content that you put out. I was expecting hundreds of videos of you, fisting your ass, but I didn’t get it, and I don’t like it.” I was alarmed at such disrespect. But, Salome wasn’t angry. She blocked him and moved on. She had a business to run.
Salome has a subscription-based page on OnlyFans, a booming platform known for adult-content. This story is not about the inner workings of the sex industry, nor is it about how OnlyFans changed sex work forever. This is about the lessons Salome can teach us all about being better human beings and having richer relationships.
Walk-in other people’s shoes.
It’s not easy to engage with a bunch of strangers and strike up connections. Dealing with clients requires empathy. Salome takes a real interest in the people she is talking to.
She knows her clients well, from their interests to their insecurities, whether they are into gadgets or art. She remembers the finer details. She said, “With the capitalist society that we work in, we have to work nine to five, and then you know when we get home, we don’t have the energy to maintain all of those relationships.” Relationships here could mean your family, friends, colleagues, and partner. Salome stresses the importance of doing our best to empathize with those closest to us, no matter how tired we are after a long day’s work.
“Walk in their shoes,” she urges. It’s a simple thought but harder to do as sometimes we are too focused on what we want. She continues, “If you are in a relationship, it’s always important that you are sensitive.” Being empathetic provides people with kindness, support, and companionship. These values we crave in our own lives.
Be creative and fluid.
Salome is a fine arts graduate. Her creative flair is apparent with the way she composes her pictures. To keep her clients coming back, she says, “we have to constantly be creative and fresh all the time. And, we have to approach sex and sexuality as something fluid and something that we can work on.”
Same for any relationship, we have to be creative. We have to keep growing and keep getting better. Whether it is a date or marriage, a connection will only become richer if we are genuinely engaged and fluid.
To be stagnant is the death of any relationship.
Self-care is underrated.
Self-care feels overused this year. However, when our enemy is a pandemic, isn’t the only thing left to do to physically and mentally take care of ourselves?
Sex workers have to care for themselves regularly. Salome suggests, “Make yourself feel good. Or, put on your favorite clothes and take selfies of yourself, you know, and just look at yourself.” Look at yourself and appreciate what you see. She quotes RuPaul, the American drag queen, to drive her point:
“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
I just found this moment with Salome incredibly charming. Here was a woman that had to deal with a disgruntled man asking for a refund. Yet, she already knew that to deal with toxic situations, all you had to have is a bit of self-love.
Lights on or lights off?
We have all heard this suggestive question. I love it not for its cheeky nature, but what it could mean. For a person to ask, there is a level of consideration for what the other person prefers. And for a person to answer “lights on,” there is a level of confidence to face someone.
Whether this question comes out as funny or rude, there is much to be said for being more confident and considerate beings. Both attributes I could see in Salome.
Salome reveals a more vulnerable side towards the end of our interview, “When I look in the mirror, I see someone who is just worthy of ridicule and hatred. It’s hard to unlearn that because that is so ingrained in my childhood. But I think when I started on that journey of trying to unlearn that and trying to love myself a little more, it started with just taking selfies and liking what I see. It’s different for every person, but they should start with that.”
Sex workers have had to galvanize themselves. Galvanize, by definition, is to coat with a protective layer. In more than an hour of chatting with Salome, I’ve learned that we can start with bringing our guards down. We can unlearn to be stubborn, selfish, and stagnant. Instead, we can teach ourselves to be more empathetic, creative, and engaged. This is the only time we can find our place in the world. For at this very moment, Salome already has.
There is a reference on the show about foot fetishes. This has nothing to do with this section. We believe that to be saner; we need to be smarter. So here are some additional resources:
The Girlfriend Experience (Film)
The Girlfriend Experience (TV Show)
Tomorrow’s Episode: Infidelity - Pass or Save?