Welcome to “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” GO Magazine’s brand new interview series that profiles a different queer lady each day, by asking her seven unique (and sometimes random) questions. Get to know the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of the groundbreaking, fierce forces-of-nature in the queer community.
The world needs more people like Andre Shakti. She lives, breathes and intentionally practices her activism in everyday life. From day to day you can find Shakti writing about de-stigmatizing sex work and polyamory, she’s also a practicing sex worker and an educator on the new radical sex ed platform O.School. She provides insightful advice for people navigating all sorts of relationship structures—from triad breakups to a married poly woman looking to venture in dating other femmes.
Charismatic energy jumps out from every photo of Shakti. Interviewing her was an absolutely delight and I can’t wait to share our seven minutes in heaven with you!
GO Magazine: Who are you and what do you do?
Andre Shakti: My name is Andre Shakti. I’m a white queer cisgender journalist, educator, activist, and professional slut living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m devoted to normalizing alternative desires and de-stigmatizing sex workers and their clients, all the while trying not to take myself too seriously. I wrestle mediocre white men into submission and write about sex work, queerness and non-monogamy for numerous online and printed publications. I also produce burlesque and variety shows, teach people how to explore their own bodies (as well as others’ bodies!), perform in kink, queer, and fetish pornography, and can throw down an array of bomb pole tricks at the drop of a hat. I can frequently be found marathoning Law & Order: SVU episodes under a chaotic pile of partners and pitbulls, and trust me, I know how problematic that show is. Finally, I run a weekly non-monogamy advice column, “I Am Poly & So Can You!”, which you can visit—and submit questions to!—via IAmPoly.net.
GO: Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling discouraged or depleted?
AS: I tend to practice my definition of self care, which usually includes a combination of pampering, exercise, quality time spent with my dogs, reading, and/or watching horror movies. Cleaning has also always been very cathartic for me, which is bizarre in the scheme of everything I am. It’s definitely the most conventionally “domestic” thing about me! Then I will cultivate a meeting or discussion group-type situation of like-minded people. That way I’m filling my socialization void, while also being able to bounce ideas off other people, gain confidence in my own ideas, and acquire new resources or references!
GO: Who are your queer role models?
AS: My queer role models are politicized. They are survivors. Many of them are sex workers. They exude power without ego; self-reliance while still cementing themselves as collaborative community leaders.
For starters, my college professor and mentor, Loraine Hutchins. She’s both brilliant and brave, and has been fighting for bisexual visibility and sexual freedom since before I was born. I have a ton of respect and affection for her, and definitely would not be the person I am today without her.
GO: What’s your number one piece of advice for someone new to ethical non-monogamy?
AS: That jealousy is completely normal and something to be embraced, not ashamed of. It doesn’t mean you’re “bad” at non-monogamy, and it DEFINITELY doesn’t mean you’re a “bad” person. As my friend Yana Tallon-Hicks puts it, jealousy is a “tip of the iceberg” issue. It may be the primary feeling that arises in a situation, but to address only the jealousy is akin to putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. You have to dig deeper and address the underlying secondary emotions that are contributing to your feelings of jealousy. And doing it WITH your partner only reinforces your relationship and strengthens your emotional bond.
GO: What music are you listening to right now?
AS: I have a weakness for blues, reggaeton, and rap that’s either political and/or tells a story. I haven’t stopped listening to the new Childish Gambino album since it came out, and I’m also feeling the Migos right now, but that’s also because I’m about to go see them live!
GO: Why do you think it’s important to de-stigmatize sex work?
AS: Oh lord, haha. Posing this question to me is like asking, “What’s the meaning of life?” I could wax on for days! Let me try…
Because sex workers are people. Because sex workers are your friends, your family members, your co-workers, even if you don’t know it. Because sex work allows folks who don’t have access to “conventional” jobs—perhaps because of poverty, or physical ability, or lack of education, or the systemic racism and transphobia inherent in our social consciousness—the freedom to work on their OWN terms, and to provide necessary food, shelter, and medical care for themselves. Because sex work is more often than not a healing practice; it transcends the physical pleasures of sex. I’ve held sobbing men in my arms because they’re so relieved to hear a woman tell them that they shouldn’t be ashamed of having a harmless fetish. I’ve introduced more middle-aged men to their prostates for the first time than I can count, and have watched their faces light up when they realize they can be multi-orgasmic. I’ve played the “unicorn” in many a monogamous relationship where the couple was looking to safely incorporate a third in the bedroom. Later, I watch their intimacy and emotional connectivity strengthen and grow. Because the kindest, most intelligent, most courageous people I’ve met in my life are sex workers. Because we deserve it.
GO: Where can people find you?
AS: Other than IAmPoly.net, folks can become patrons of my Patreon page via patreon.com/IAmPoly. Otherwise I can be found on Twitter as @andreshakti, on Facebook as “Andre Shakti“, and as a pleasure professional on the new inclusive educational platform O.School.