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Photograph: Courtesy Jon Gunnar Gylfason

These New Yorkers’ day jobs help locals’ sex lives

We grill a sex hypnotherapist, sex instructor, cake-sitting cam girl, phone-sex operator and sex-shop worker

Written by
Carrie Weisman
Maya Lekach

At some point or another, we could all use a sexual tune-up in our lives. That’s where these professionals come in. From a cam girl who gets paid to sit on cakes to a hypnotherapist who aims to up your sexual prowess, these professionals are doing their part to improve New Yorkers’ sex lives. Need more ways to spice things up? Check out our favorite sex songs, unique date ideas, sex classes, and burlesque shows.


Photograph: Andrew Tess

↑ Sex-shop worker

Deborah Pannell, 56, Riverdale, Bronx

You transitioned from being a writer to selling sex toys at SHAG. What’s the new gig like?
It’s been a lot of fun. We had to go through weeks of training before we were allowed to be alone in the shop. You have to know about the inventory, the toys. I also had to get comfortable talking about this stuff with strangers.

Has the job affected you personally?
I think it’s made me a little less shy about my desires, my body and my need for a satisfying sex life. It’s made me a bit bolder. I’m better at giving direction. I have a 14-year-old son, and I’m a lot more comfortable talking to him about sex now. I don’t want to send him into adulthood with any hang-ups.

Any interesting experiences at the shop?
An Orthodox Jewish man came in the other day asking me about clitoral stimulation creams, and he was getting some massage oil candles. It was probably my happiest day yet.

Carrie Weisman

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Photograph: Andrew Tess

↑Cake-sitting cam girl

Lindsay Dye, 29, Bushwick (

How did you get into this?
In my chat room, I’ve received many requests to sit on objects. And I found that sitting on cakes was a balance between pulverizing an object and finding something tangible that every human has a relationship to.

So how does it actually work?
In chat-room shows, I bake for my audience. Individuals tip me to crack an egg, stir the batter, put the cake in the oven, frost and, finally, sit. For in-person gallery shows, I purchase a cake and match the color of my lingerie to the frosting. In both cases there’s either a crumbly mess left behind or the cake disappears, seemingly soaked into my skin (or elsewhere).

Tasty. So what the hell’s so erotic about frosted desserts, anyway?
It comes from defiling a previously unsexualized, common object and the importance of the cake—an object that everyone has experiences with throughout their lives.

Maya Lekach

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Photograph: Shutterstock

↑(Former) Phone-sex operator

Kelley Lynn, 46, Forest Hills, Queens

What’s the secret to good phone sex?
It’s all about keeping the guy on the phone as long as possible. That’s how you make money. Of course, when a guy is really turned on, he doesn’t want to stay on the phone forever. So you have opposite goals. Mine is to keep him on the phone; his goal is to get off-—and then get off.

Why do you think so many men called?
It wasn’t always about sex. It was about loneliness for a lot of people. Some of the callers just didn’t have a lot of people in their lives. They just needed a friend. Other guys called in because they weren’t comfortable sharing their kink with their partner.

Ooh. What sort of kinks?
One guy used to call in from work all the time. He wanted to start with normal conversation, but somewhere in there I was instructed to use the word umbrella. He explained that every time he heard the word he would slowly hypnotize himself into becoming a woman. He’d stay on the phone for like an hour and a half, at least. By the end of the call he was speaking in an incredibly high pitch and wearing lingerie.

Carrie Weisman

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Photograph: Arnaud Muller

↑Sex instructor

Kenneth Play, 36, Bushwick (

Tell me about Hacienda Villa (pictured above).
It’s a sex-positive living community based in Brooklyn. I’m one of the founders. I’m also a sex educator, so we have a place to host sex-education classes and parties.

What’s the most in-demand class you teach?
The most popular one I host focuses on female ejaculation. It sells out every time. It’s kind of fascinating to see a room full of strangers practicing this technique together. A lot of times, one person will orgasm, and then the rest of the group will follow. It just turns into a chorus of moans.

What’s the most common question people ask after finding out what you do for a living?
Most people just want to know they’re normal. I always tell them that normal is the most dangerous word in sex. Second to that is guys asking me how to get their girlfriends to do anal. I tell them to be good at everything else.

What else are you cooking up at Hacienda?
I just helped invent a new toy. We’re calling it a rideable unicorn that can give you epic orgasms. It’s basically an oversize stuffed animal with a Sybian saddle vibrator hidden inside.

Carrie Weisman

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Photograph: Courtesy National Entertainment Group

↑Sex hypnotherapist

Richard Barker, 49, midtown (

Why do you think your practice is taking off in New York?
People let the city grind them down, and then they wonder why their penis stops working. Women wonder why they feel so tired and disconnected; they wonder why they can’t orgasm. I mean, I’ve always helped people with certain sexual issues, but not on this magnitude. People are stressed out these days.

How can hypnotherapy help remedy certain sexual issues?
If you were to ask a doctor how to treat erectile dysfunction, they’d tell you to wear a cock ring. Something to trap the blood in there. When clients come into my office, I’ll ask them to imagine the blood as a river streaming through their penis that flows in so far, it can’t flow out, like a high tide. They need to visualize their erection.

What are clients’ most common problems?
Sexual confidence seems to be high on the list. Women tend to be more self-conscious of their bodies. Maybe they had a C-section or have stretch marks or just general anxiety. Men tend to feel more inadequate about their performance. They feel like they’re being judged.

Carrie Weisman

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Find out more about how New Yorkers have sex

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