We talk to Onyx Ronin, a licensed Toronto body rubber

Onyx Ronin has been a sensual massage attendant for five years. We talked to her about how her job affects her personal life and the outlook for legislating the industry.

How did you get into the sensual massage industry?  
I first got involved because a friend of mine was working at a body-rub parlour. She really enjoyed the work, and she would often talk about it, and it just piqued my curiosity. I was very interested in the field of sexual education. I was studying sexuality in school, so it was just a field of interest for me. I thought I would try it out. I thought to myself, ‘Well hey, if I don’t like it, I can just quit.’ So I tried it out, and it turns out it was the thing I wanted to stick with for quite a while, for the last five years now.

What’s your life outside of work like? 
I grew up in a middle-class household. I always prized the idea of having a successful career, being an intelligent, strong woman. I went to university, I have a master’s degree. I have a number of other certifications. And I’m also in a unique position in the fact that I’m married, and my husband is very supportive of what I do. It fits in my life, and I’m very open about it with all of my friends and the majority of my family who can handle it.

There are certain stigmas attached to the industry, like human trafficking and other nefarious activities. What have you seen as a woman in the industry?
Out of the hundreds and hundreds of people that I’ve met in the field, maybe a handful of people might have had a pimp. I don’t want to sit here like, “Oh, the business is amazing.” I know these things are going on, but I really haven’t seen it. And if I haven’t really seen it, how is somebody who sits at a desk in a municipal office going to see it?

Do you think the perception of the industry is detrimental to its legislation?
In terms of actually figuring out how to deal with and find out who is working in a sex work job that doesn’t want to be there and who these victims of human trafficking are — [we would get further] if we weren’t so busy talking about how wrong it is to either retain sensual or erotic services or to provide that sensual or erotic service. The thought of women being forced to provide erotic services against their will infuriates me probably more than people who don’t do sex work. I know what it’s like. But despite my education and my experience, I highly doubt I would be able to get a job in policy regulation or writing bylaws.

Article exclusive to TRNTO