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By Nicole Kowalewski

*The real name of Espi Kvlt has been left out of this article to protect her identity.

Espi Kvlt, as she’s known by her followers, is an independent sex worker. She doesn’t have sex for money. She doesn’t have videotaped sex with other people. She never even meets her customers face-to-face.

Instead, she sells sex purely through the appearance of her body.

After creating her first Tumblr account when she was 14, Kvlt was introduced to Suicide Girls, an alternative nude modeling website. She said she looked into what the company was about and knew there was market for nude modeling.

“Ever since I was 12 I wanted to be a model, but I felt there wasn’t a niche for me in the real modeling world so I’d have to do something else and this seemed perfect for me,” Kvlt said. “When I was 14, I saw a photo of Zoli Suicide and knew then and there that that’s what I wanted to do for a living.”

Kvlt joined the sex industry when she was 18 years old, submitting her first work to Suicide Girls. She started out producing picture sets which consisted of her posing dressed in various themed outfits such as Kingdom Hearts and Star Wars. She created these sets for a few years, but with a growing fan base of more than 26,000 followers on Tumblr, Kvlt felt it was time to expand what she was offering.

She stopped selling to Suicide Girls two years after she joined, and since then has extended her services as an independent sex worker. Now, the 20-year-old, California-born model offers a list of products her customers can purchase.

In addition to working in the sex industry for nearly three years, Kvlt is also a full-time student at the University of Nevada, Reno majoring in English and holds a part-time job at Midway in Circus Circus.

Approaching her senior year in fall 2015, Kvlt aspires to be a writer and hopes to go on to be a best-selling author. Interested mostly in horror and fantasy books, she tries to spend her free time reading and writing. She has already written several unpublished books; she wrote her first book when she was 12.

“[My first book] was a really bad fantasy novel about a dragon,” Kvlt said. “It was mediocre and I’d never publish it, but I thought it was cool because I was 12.”

She says despite having to juggle her responsibilities as a student, in sex work and another job, she’s still constantly writing.

“I’ve thought about getting some  stuff published, but it’s not in my time frame right now,” Kvlt said. “You have to find an agent and rewrite and rewrite. It’s a lot of work that I just can’t do with school and everything else right now.”

Sex work is real work

Rather than working for a professional company, Kvlt’s position in the sex industry is completely independent. She is not professionally contracted by a company nor does she produce content with other sex workers.

While she said she’s extremely comfortable and confident with her body, Kvlt finds herself to be socially awkward and believes that is one of the reasons why she doesn’t branch out into other sex related professions such as stripping or porn. More importantly, she considers sex to be a very sacred thing and she is not comfortable sharing that with anyone else.

“I have no problem being naked,” Kvlt said. “But it’s been more of an easing into it process. In my first video I just took my clothes and it gradually became more and more hardcore. Now I masturbate [on camera].”

Since her debut, Kvlt has begun launching other independent projects aside from modeling. Now primarily selling her sets to nude modeling websites such as GodsGirls and Petsplay Palace, she has been able to gain a larger following on Tumblr and produce more content.

She said she is currently offering a lifetime Snapchat subscription and sexting by the hour, in addition to her stripping and masturbation videos, all of which are broken down by products, prices and guidelines on her Tumblr page. In addition to her various services, Kvlt has also recently started a product line through Redbubble where she sells everything from T-shirts to stickers and bracelets.

The revenue Kvlt has produced not only helps support her financially, but also allows her to buy new outfits and props for her sets and videos. In addition to her product line, customers are able to purchase Angell’s Amazon wish list items in lieu of paying her directly. Her wish list includes items such as costumes, props and sex toys that help her frequently create new content.

Kvlt said that one of her favorite parts about the profession is coming up with new set ideas. Having done sets emanating from her favorite anime characters, to sets inspired by her love for snakes, she says the ideas just come to her.

“I think I have pretty creative ideas and try to make it fun rather than just being naked,” Kvlt said. “But with that it takes hours for what I do and that’s what people don’t understand about my job. They just think I put up a camera, masturbate and post it and that’s the end of it.”

Being completely independent, Kvlt is forced to do the work of what would normally be done by a crew of people in the professional porn industry. She designs her own sets, does her own costuming and makeup, takes and edits all of her photos and videos, manages her finances and markets herself.

Though Kvlt is used to receiving criticism for her profession, she said one of the most irritating comments she hears in when people tell her that sex work isn’t a real job. Especially as an independent sex worker, she believes people don’t always consider everything it takes to produce regular content.

“Sex work is real work,” Kvlt wrote in her blog post on simplysxy.com. “Sex work is tough work. Sex work takes passion and I put every fiber of my being into being the best as I can be, and it has paid off.”

Changing the view of sex work

While Kvlt  is proud of what she does, she still faces daily harassment from online users who come across her content.

“I’ve gotten everything you can possibly imagine,” Kvlt said. “It’s hard being a sex worker because it feels like there’s no one looking out for you. I’ve had someone threaten to find me and kill me. I’ve gotten rape threats. All I can do is hit ignore and go on with my day.”

She said the first piece of hate mail she got was the worst thing ever and she was terrified someone was actually going to find her. Because she’s been in the industry for almost three years, she said she’s gotten used this type of harassment, but is still offended by the things people say to her.

“The first thing people assume about me is that I have ‘daddy issues,’” Kvlt said. “That’s extremely offensive to say in the first place. I can’t believe people would even say that to anyone.”

Kvlt’s boyfriend, Anthony Blumenschein — who she says is her No. 1 supporter — said he doesn’t keep what she does a secret and doesn’t usually get a negative reaction when telling his friends. But, he still has concerns — mostly about the anonymous viewers — with his girlfriend’s profession at times.

“I worry about a lot of things, like the constant harassment she has to deal with and that the threat could move from the Internet to the real world,” Blumenschein said.

Today, sex-related issues such as human trafficking are becoming more prevalent and a serious threat to those involved in the sex industry.

According to iamatreasure.com, a website dedicated to providing a support group for women in the sex industry, human trafficking is the second-largest global organized crime, generating approximately $31.6 million each year. They also report that there are 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide.

Even though there are dangers, Blumenschein believes Kvlt is a person who is trying to better the sex industry. He said she is the kind of person who always wants to give back and understands the respect that people deserve as human beings, which he feels speaks volumes about a person.

“She is extremely open-minded, and her popularity has given her a place to vocalize problems and educate,” Blumenschein said. “It has also given her a way to help others. She is constantly being told by people how much she has helped them with their confidence or how she’s inspired people to follow their own dreams.”

There’s a niche for everything

Even though Kvlt has aspirations to become an author, she still sees herself doing sex work long into the future. She said just because she gets older she doesn’t see why that has to be the end of the road for her.

“There’s the misconception that you can’t be old and still be in the sex industry,” Kvlt said. “There’s a sex worker on Tumblr that’s has a huge following and she’s in her seventies and covered in wrinkles. There’s a niche for everything.”

The confidence Kvlt has in herself and what she does is what has helped drive Blumenschein’s support.

“It’s something she’s always wanted to do and it makes her extremely happy, which I feel as a boyfriend should be a top priority,” Blumenschein said. “Every time she’s taken a new step in sex work I’ve tried to be as supportive as I can be.”

Kvlt’s family and friends stand by what she does and are proud of her, encouraging her to continue doing what makes her happy. She said when she told her family, her grandma was the most excited, cheering her on to do what she wants.

“I’m not keeping this a secret,” Kvlt said. “Everyone knows what I do.

Nicole Kowalewski can be reached at nkowalewski@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.