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The Kinky Power Of Cold Hard Cash

The latest from Tina Horn’s sex podcast, ‘Why Are People Into That?!’ explores the online world of findomming, where cash pig submissives are treated like human ATMs.

Recently, I came across a fascinating article about “the end of cash” in the New York Times Magazine. Written by economist John Lanchester, the piece examines taxes, the central bank, and something called the “zero lower bound,” drawing a conclusion I was surprised to agree with.

“Cash is one of the few ways in which ordinary citizens can enjoy a tiny taste of the freedom, privacy and security that the rich take as their due,” Lanchester wrote. Wow, I thought to myself. He sounds like a feminist FinDom!

“Financial domination is when money is given by a submissive to someone in a dominant role. The transaction is the turn on,” explains Lorelei Lee, a porngorapher, writer, and self-described cash fetishist. When we podcast on the subject, she emphasizes that the nature of the relationship between the players — be it sex work or marriage — is superfluous to the central eroticism of cash, credit card payments, or valuables like jewelry changing hands.

I wanted to have Lorelei on Why Are People Into That?! to talk about financial domination in part because of the sex work we’ve done together over the years, from the dungeons of the East Bay to the porn palaces of San Francisco.

She’s arranged for me to have more dicks to suck so she can cut me the biggest check possible, and I’ve talked countless men into splurging on a double so she and I could torment them side by side. Lorelei is a femme like a mysterious pink cocktail, a fizzy sweet lip-smacker with a strong deep spirit that will fuck up your brain if you underestimate its power. (Or actually even if you don’t.) I knew that she would share a profound analysis of money as an oh-so-slippery metaphor, as well as offer insights on the gleeful pleasure of deserving cash.

Lorelei has experience in the online world of “findomming,” where “cash pig” submissives are treated like “human ATMs.” As we podcast she easily slips into a demonstration of this language: “You exist only to prop me up. This is the entire reason you go to work. You might as well sign over your check to me.

The transaction is the turn on. Click To Tweet

Sometimes there is a Robin Hood aspect to this approach, as you will see scrolling through the emotional labor reparations hashtag #giveyourmoneytowomen. I get a heady thrill seeing so many women acting confidently entitled to being given money by men simply for being female in a patriarchal society.

As politically-minded a person as she is, for Lorelei the thrill of cash is visceral, instinctive. Growing up poor, she rarely experienced abundance. Although 17 years of sex work has given her financial independence, it’s come with the cost of stigma and discrimination—her erotic life has become bound up with the power of dollar (and hundred dollar) bills.

“The thing that’s thrilling me is having cash accumulate around me, rubbing it on my body, smelling it,” she says. “I love to fuck on it. I love to throw it around the room. I’m owning it, controlling it, stepping on it. I feel like I’m receiving power when I receive that money, power that I specifically felt the lack of at many times in my life.”

A previous Why Are People Into That?! guest, Princess Kali, devotes an entire chapter of her erotic humiliation book—Enough to Make You Blush—to financial domination.

She suggests a sensual approach:

“Open up your wallet so I can see your cold hard cash. Wider. Wider. I want you to spread that wallet wide open. Good, I want to see all the money. I want to stroke it with my fingers. Mmm do you mind if I stroke your money for a second?”

She also gives suggestions for using money as a tool of erotic D/S. Your partner might put you on a controlled budget with sexual positive reinforcement for good behavior. Your submissive can present cash at the same time every month, either to pay for something practical like a utility bill or something luxurious like designer shoes.

This kind of economic theory made me very uncomfortable until recently. I’ve been trying to grow the hell up about the role money plays in my life, aided by the support of several financial advisors who speak directly to me as a queer, anti-capitalist punk straddling several worlds. Raised comfortably middle class, I have been independently working-class my entire adult life, including many years working in various underground economies.

In particular, the coaching of my friend Damien Lux of Ride Free Fearless Money has helped me to realize I had done myself a disservice: by not educating myself about wealth, savings, or investment, I was actually internalizing the corruption I was trying to undermine — the messages that said that as a queer female artist, I don’t deserve stability, that self-sufficiency would always involve constant strife.

I had confused my true punk values of community sustainability with an empty “No Future” nihilism that actually came from fear. I was allowing money to mean the things I didn’t want it to mean, instead of realizing that I had the power to make it mean whatever I wanted.

By not educating myself about wealth, savings, or investment, I was actually internalizing the corruption I was trying to undermine. Click To Tweet

I’ve made money from sex for a very long time, but it was the gleeful fetishism of FinDom sex workers that inspired me to think of my money as sexy. When I find something sexy I lust for it, yes, but I also want to talk about it, think about it, read about it. I think other women roughly my age are paying attention to this in new and refreshing ways.

Another previous YAPIT guest Alana Massey is writing a book about women and money. I’ve been getting advice about prosperity altars from the Money Witch. I can’t get enough of Bad With Money, a podcast by queer YouTube star and writer Gaby Dunn, which is as emotionally resonant as it is educational for me.

Why Are People Into Shame?!

I send the “GIF Guide to Getting Paid” by Ann Friedman to anyone I know who is about to tackle salary or contract rate negotiations of any kind: Even re-reading it, I find myself cringing at the awkwardness of expecting money, followed by shame that I’m not more assertive about what I deserve, which is only soothed by seeing these incredible women struggle with the same issues.

Financial domination is just like any other form of BDSM: It’s a practice that harnesses the psychological power of a social taboo for erotic purposes. This reminds us that the thing we trust with basic needs—like security and pride—is just so many pieces of paper. If wealth makes the rich powerful, then those of us who are not (and may never be) can take pleasure in the un-surveilled power of the cash that we earn.

As with many other aspects of my life, I am able to embody confidence by invoking the spirit of kink. In other words? When I turn something into a sex game in my mind, I’m usually better able to intuit the hidden rules of the game—and win.