Smutlancer Spotlight: Morgan Claire Sirene
Happy New Year Smutlancers!!! Although we were limited in how we could celebrate due to the pandemic, I hope you all made the most out of ringing in the new year with your loved ones.
I’m sure by now you have at least one or two resolutions/goals in mind that you want to accomplish this year – even if it’s to be healthier – as do I! So, I’m proud to announce that one of my new year resolutions/goals came true: Morgan Claire Sirene (she/her) agreed to be our first Smutlancer Spotlight of 2021! *insert hearts in eyes emoji*
Morgan Claire Sirene is a relational and trauma therapist in training, visual artist, and writer. She is also a retired stripper and the creatrix of the Slutist Tarot. As a sexuality professional, Morgan is passionate about trauma recovery, harm reduction, restorative justice, witchcraft, combating stigma, and sex-positivity.
I first heard about Morgan on September 16, 2017. I was scrolling on Twitter and saw a tweet from The Hoodwitch promoting a new addition to their online store, The Slutist Tarot deck. I was intrigued by the Death card, which was illustrated by a fem cartoon in a black latex bodysuit with a whip bent over in red bottoms. Shortly after, I purchased the tarot deck, which is the main deck I use today, and admired her work as a smutlancer ever since.
During our interview, Morgan talks about her journey as a graphic designer, her writing career, her decision to become a trauma therapist, and much more. For anyone interested in pivoting their smutlancer career in a new direction, this interview is for you!
How do you make money as a smutlancer? What topic and/or type of content do you get paid to create?
Currently, I profit from sales of the Slutist Tarot, which is quite smutty. Otherwise, I don’t get paid to create any content since I’ve been in graduate school and haven’t had the time and energy to create.
How long have you been a smutlancer? When did you get interested in sex and creating content about it?
I have been creating sexual content in a public space (aka social media) for about ten years. I was hovering around 300 followers on Instagram even while I was beginning to create and share images from the Slutist Tarot. [But I] never imagined creating something so profitable, nor did I foresee that we would have such a positive public reception. I regarded the project as something fulfilling to do, regardless of how many people were seeing it.
In 2013, I started writing for Slutist and had a much broader audience. Other than that, from 2012 through 2017, I performed bawdy, confessional spoken word pieces and prose at events/open mics, lectured about sex and sexuality at various institutions, and created a one-off comic for The Chicago Reader. Unfortunately, it will be a while before I can return to creating content. [However], I plan to continue my attempts at finding a publisher for my tarot guidebook. I hope to write about sex, trauma, and the tarot as an LMFT (Licensed Marriage/Family Therapist) in a few years.
Are you a full-time or part-time smutlancer? Do you have a day job?
I’m kind of a no-time smutlancer since all I do is my clinical work and school work right now. I collect profits from the tarot as they trickle in, though, so that feels good!
Are you open with anyone about the work you do? Do you only tell close friends and family or are you public about your work? Do you work under a pseudonym?
I keep my legal name and chosen name separately. I try to be as transparent and authentic as possible in all settings. But in the past year, I started to exercise more caution. As a clinician, I have to be very careful about how much personal information leaks into my professional life.
There are [some] sex-positive practices (for therapy) out there; however, that doesn’t mean I can write “stripper” on my resume. Additionally, I keep all my work private or archived aside from the tarot to free myself from revealing too much. Eventually, I will be open about my past and full self, but I need to be licensed and secure in my career first.
When and how did you realize this was what you wanted to do professionally?
I was in a graphic design certification program [while] dancing full-time and was adamant about dedicating my life to art and expression. I planned to continue paying off my debt and investing in myself as an artist through dancing. With graphic design, I planned to start freelancing and upping my own production game. Due to the TBI, I could no longer look at screens for long periods of time. [Plus], I could barely function at the strip club with the strobe lights and constant talking. I still have cognitive issues, unfortunately. At some point in this crisis, I remembered a dream I had tucked away to become a sex therapist. [So], I tapped my resources, started researching, and landed in a couples and family therapy masters program, where I am becoming a trauma specialist. Once I’m out of school and working full-time, I can get back to writing about sexuality and creating comics about mental health, stigma, and the demimonde.
How did you get started and how long before you felt like you had “made it?”
I’m a Capricorn sun [sign], [so] I will never feel like I made it! I’ve always loved erotic art and smutty stuff since I was a kid. I wanted to be an animator. I was hugely influenced by John Kricfalusi, Dan Decarlo, Don Bluth, Ramna 1/2, Naoko Takeuchi, Heavy Metal magazine, and early 80s animation like The Last Unicorn.
In high school, I fell in love with Lolita (the novel) and Suicide Girls (lol). I have always loved films about whores and anything depicting BDSM imagery, fetish, and gender fucking. I was also into punk, glam rock, and new wave, which all have aesthetics, moods, and attitudes that still strongly resonate.
I’ve always expressed myself through visual art and began incorporating my love of eroticism into drawing, painting, and collage as a teenager. My aspirations towards an art career often went off the rails because I struggled with pretty severe mental health issues that made most daily activities unmanageable from 18-20 [years old], which for millennials is stupidly the most crucial time in “starting a successful life.”
What’s one thing you wish you had known when you started creating content about sex or became a smutlancer?
Quit your straight job. Start dancing ASAP.
What does a typical day look like for you when you’re smutlancing?
This is depressing because I haven’t had a day like that in a year and a half due to grad school. It used to look like slowly getting out of bed around noon, making breakfast and coffee, taking my dog out, lounging on my couch with a book for a few hours, walking my dog, making more food, drawing, getting sucked into drawing for 4-5 hours, and then going out for drinks or dancing with friends around 10pm. Sometimes there would be a long walk, a bike ride, and going to the gym in the mix.
What, if anything, is your favorite content to create or type of smutlancing work to do?
I love to draw. Black ink, white paper.
In a perfect world, what would you want your legacy to be as a smutlancer?
A comix creator
What do you absolutely need to have when you’re ready to sit down and work to be productive?
Water and iced coffee [is a must]! I [also] have to have cleaned, walked the dog, and eaten. I love to listen to podcasts, so [it’s] even better if I already have something exciting queued up.
Who or what inspired you to become a smutlancer?
Cosey Fanni Tutti
John Cameron Mitchell
John William Waterhouse
Rocky Horror Picture Show
And a couple IRL people I knew on LiveJournal!
Are there any social/charitable causes that are close to your heart and connected to your work as a smutlancer?
The Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago!
Name the best, strangest, funniest, wildest thing you’ve experienced as a smutlancer.
A social media friend who is friends with Virginie Despentes told me she really likes The Slutist Tarot. That’s literally insane to me! That’s a full circle from my undergraduate thesis about rape fantasies. It was thoroughly validating.
Follow Morgan Sirene on Instagram and check out the Slutist Tarot