On her Twitter account, Erin Carroll refers to herself as “Caring Erin.” And while, at first glance, one might think “Naked Erin” or “Peeing Erin” or “Here’s My Body Erin” is more appropriate, “Caring Erin” turns out to be dead on.
See, Erin Carroll is a self-anointed “professionally naked optimist,” which means she posts message of hope and kindness while simultaneously offering naked poses. She does this in exchange for financial support—and it’s working. Erin is, unambiguously, a succesful entrepreneur, one who gave up careers she hated in exchange for doing something she loves. Actually, two things she loves: 1. Being naked. 2. Engaging with people.
And if this all sounds weird, well … it sorta is. But it also sorta isn’t. Because here in 2019, the traditional world business model has been turned upside its head. YouTube stars morph into mainstream stars. Business people become political leaders. Athletes are discovered via Instagram posts.
And, in New York City, a lovely engaged-to-be-married, tattoo-coated 26-year-old tries and make your day.
In the buff.
Erin Carroll, you are the Quaz …
JEFF PEARLMAN: So Erin, you’re the second Quaz to have been raised Mormon and wind up in the adult entertainment world. Is it fair to say there’s some direct correlation rebellion involved? And when did you sorta realize being Mormon wasn’t for you?
ERIN CARROLL: There’s a pretty decent concentration of ex-Mormons in adult entertainment! All over the world, Mormon children are taught to have a very controlling relationship with their bodies and their sexuality. Preventing yourself from being a sexual person until you’re married is a big part of the culture.
My exit from the church was related to sexuality—my sister came out to me as bisexual when we were 12 and I parroted to her the, “I love you, I just don’t love your lifestyle” schlock. It didn’t sit right with me as I said it. I knew my sister was a good person and I didn’t understand why I was expected to be upset. After thinking about it for a while, I concluded it didn’t make any sense and I started poking holes in everything. I figured out that being an openly sexual person doesn’t make me a bad person, and started exploring that.
J.P.: I have seen your vagina up close via Twitter, and I’m gonna be honest—didn’t need to see it. Nothing against vaginas, or your vagina—but it just seems … too much. Like, sexiness is a peek, a hint, a suggestion. And a vagina on my screen is sorta—BAM! So … tell me why I’m wrong or right? And what are you trying to project?
E.C.: Yeah, well, ya know, that’s just like, your opinion, man. Sexiness can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Sometimes sexiness is a lot of different things to the same person. So, if you’re just speaking for yourself, you are 100 percent correct. For Jeff Pearlman, sexiness is a peek and anything more might even be a turn-off. For my audience and my clients, I’d say the majority appreciates the up-close looks.
I don’t know that I’m trying to “project” anything. I like that I can take a picture of part of my body and it makes a lot of people happy—just to see it. I think that’s pretty neat. And sometimes I just need to get people’s attention so I can sell some videos and pay my bills. Up close photos of vaginas tend to get people’s attention pretty well.
J.P.: The world sucks. Our president is an aspiring dictator. Our seas are rising. You call yourself a “professionally naked optimist.” Why? What’s there to be optimistic about?
E.C.: I think the world is always getting worse in ways and better in ways. With some of my work, I’m trying to encourage people to seek out ways in which our world is getting better. If people focus on the ways it’s getting worse, I encourage them to take tangible steps that might help, even if it’s just helping in their immediate communities. I am optimistic because I know there are good things in the world and I know that people can (and do) make bad things better.
J.P.: OK, so I just watched this clip and I’m TOTALLY fascinated by your boyfriend. How did you meet? What does he do? And how does he feel about your gig?
E.C.: He’s my fiancé actually! We’re getting married in May. I have to be vague to protect our privacy, but he’s a software engineer in a managerial position at a good company. We met on Tinder a couple of years ago. On our first date, we photographed each other, had a jam session, and did a big drawing together. It was pretty clear we were a good fit. He’s dated adult entertainers before and has had friends in the industry for longer than I have been in it. I think ultimately he sees it as any other entrepreneurial endeavor. He helps me a lot with my work, actually. We’re monogamous, so he is my only co-star, and he’s my cameraman a lot of the time!
J.P.: You seem very comfortable naked. Very, very comfortable. How did you get there? Because even in the men’s locker room at the gym I’m 100% towel around the waist.
E.C.: As far as I know, I’ve always been this way, probably thanks in large part to my mom. My mother isn’t Mormon, she converted briefly for my dad. She’s a total hippie. Most of my life, it was just me and my mom, so if we were home alone I could hang out however I was most comfortable—and for me, that was usually running around in my underwear. When my mom saw I had a fascination with ancient Greek and Roman culture and fine art, she took me to the library where I got dozens of books full of naked statues and nudity in paintings. Non-sexual nudity in the comfort of one’s own home and in art was normalized when I was growing up, which I think is healthy and I plan to do the same for my children.
J.P.: How did this happen for you? I know you’re a Tennessee-raised Mormon who lives in New York. But what was the path? How did you end up doing this?
E.C.: The path was a long and complicated one. I’m going to go over the first part pretty quickly.
When I was younger, I had “itchy feet.” I moved from Tennessee to Southern California when I was 19. I moved from SoCal to Washington State when I was 20. In Washington, I made a Chaturbate account with my boyfriend at the time. We only used it a couple of times. We didn’t take it very seriously. When I moved to Portland, Oregon at 21, I was newly single and had a job that was both physically demanding and low-paying. I was pretty miserable, and my sister knew my job/difficulty paying bills had a lot to do with that. She told me she had been camming, said it had been really working out for her; she gave me a renewed interest in it. I tried doing a few simple shower shows, and they went well! Not only was I making a bit of money, I was meeting people and forming relationships in the community that made me feel genuinely cared for. I kind of fell into culture like a Tetris piece.
Over time, I learned more and more about how to develop my career as an adult entertainer, but I was frustrated. I felt like I was stuck. My day job was 40 hours a week, and when I wasn’t working, I was exhausted from working. I had a friend who believed in me enough, he loaned me $1,000 so I could quit. After I did, all of my time and energy went into promoting myself, doing shows, and making videos. After some unfortunate stuff in my personal life, I had to leave Portland, so I headed to New York City where I was able to continue doing what I love and I paid him back in just a few months.
I’m almost 26 now, and business had a pretty steady increase over the last five-ish years. A few months ago, it feels like it doubled! I feel very blessed and grateful for all of the support.
J.P.: Hold on—another clip question. This is you … peeing. Why am I watching you pee? And why do others want to watch you pee? I’m NOT being snide, because you seem to have excellent business sense on this. I mean it.
E.C.: I have quite a few clips on my Twitter of me peeing and I show it a lot on Snapchat. Personally, I don’t get pleasure from sharing it aside from knowing some people are enjoying it. I just don’t mind sharing it—it’s something I can record very easily and quickly. These clips aren’t as commonplace, at least in my circle on Twitter, so they really get people’s attention—that helps build my audience which leads to sales.
You’d have to ask the people who want to see it why they feel that way. Not everyone who watches it even does so for sexual pleasure. I think a lot of people watch it at least a few seconds simply because it isn’t something you typically see. Everyone pees, usually multiple times a day, but we so rarely get to see other people doing it! When you’re “not supposed to” see something, that can be easily turned into at least a curiosity.
J.P.: You have a bunch of tattoos. What are the stories behind them?
E.C.: My first tattoo was an ampersand on my wrist. I was 18, and didn’t think about it much.
My mom is a bookworm and enjoys books about religion, spirituality, mysticism, etc. My whole life, she had a book in our bookcase called Awakening Intuition; the birds on my left shoulder come from the cover of this book. The original cover has a human face coming out of the back of one of the birds, but when I was 18 I thought that was “too weird.” I kind of wish I got the face. I still like the tattoo.
My next tattoo session, I got two at once—the peony on my right shoulder and the ginkgo leaf on my left upper arm. The peony is just pretty, I don’t think every tattoo has to have a story or a meaning. Ginkgo trees are really incredible plants (from their history to their medicinal properties), and I have a few really nice memories involving ginkgo trees.
Then I got a little beetle on the other side of my arm. I have a friend whose nickname for me is “Bug.” We had a road trip together to Portland, Oregon to take care of some business, and while there he and I got matching beetle tattoos. Beetles are one of the best bugs, for sure.
Early in our relationship, my fiancé brought my along on a last-minute business trip to Los Angeles. I suggested we get matching tattoos—he has several with his best friend and I’d just gotten my bug, so it wasn’t that wild of an idea. We take a lot of pictures of each other on Instant film (Polaroid and Instax), so we got a little traditional style hand holding an Instax print with a heart in it. Mine is on my right thigh.
I have a jackalope wearing a Hawaiian shirt on my left thigh! I was getting some film developed and had a while to wait so I was walking around the area. I saw a sign in a tattoo shop that said “Walk-Ins Welcome”, so I told my followers on Snapchat and Twitter, “If someone sends me $100, I’ll get a tattoo right now.” I was surprised when someone actually sent it! I didn’t have anything in mind, so I asked the artist what he enjoys tattooing. He said he likes putting Hawaiian shirts on things. My first thought was a jackalope, and he gave me a really beautiful little bunny. I enjoyed our session and his work so much, he did my next two!
I had a very sweet client send me some money toward another tattoo, and I was going to get a rose but decided last minute it was not for me, opting instead for my daisy chain on my right upper arm. It doesn’t have any more story than that, and it is probably my favorite tattoo! I think it is so cute!
I have a poppy flower on my left forearm. It is from the dress I was wearing when I got engaged.
Over time, I’m planning on having full Garden of Eden-themed sleeves. My next tattoo is a snake wrapped around my left arm, by the same artist as my last three!
before and after ??
the joy of painting with caring erin pic.twitter.com/9Y4rWekCu2
— ?childless milf? (@CaringErin) March 16, 2019
J.P.: You have more than 66,000 followers on Twitter. Clearly social media is a huge component of your success. But how huge? And what are the right ways vs wrong ways for people in your business to utilize the Internet?
E.C.: Social media is currently completely necessary for me to run my business. The ability to reach so many people can really make the difference. Out of 66,000 followers, maybe 1 percent will actually become clients. I almost exclusively use Twitter. To my understanding, Twitter and Reddit are the only “big name” social media sites that allow nudity and pornography. Instagram is notorious for deleting accounts of adult entertainers, even if everything is censored. Just the “implication of nudity” is enough to delete sometimes years of work, years of building up a following.
I’m sure there are a lot of ways to successfully utilize the Internet in “my business”; I can only speak from my experience. I think that perseverance and patience are really important. There’s a lot of figuring things out by trial and error. It can take a long time to figure out what you enjoy doing. Then, you have to figure out how to make other people care about it. Then you have to figure out how to get people to pay you for it! There are a lot of steps, it isn’t going to happen overnight! Even then, there is an element of luck involved. The right people seeing the right post at the right time.
As far as “wrong ways” go … don’t use social media as a competitive arena. I don’t view fellow online adult entertainers as competition, they are colleagues. Many of them are friends. We help each other emotionally and financially. There is a strong support network in the community if you know where to look!
QUAZ EXPRESS WITH ERIN CARROLL:
• You have an beautiful voice. Do you have any dreams of a recording career? Have you tried?: No, I get too nervous. I just sing for fun.
• Rank in order (favorite to least): Keith Morrison, the smell of peppermint, the New York Knicks, red wine, Ernest Hemingway, ancient Egyptian ruins, texting while driving, Microsoft Word, John Lennon, taxes: Ancient Egyptian ruins, the smell of peppermint, Microsoft Word, taxes, red wine, John Lennon, Ernest Hemingway, New York Knicks, texting while driving. Keith Morrison?
• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: I’ve flown quite a bit in my life and I think I only had a problem with turbulence once. I’ve been awfully uncomfortable on planes, but no near-death experiences.
• What was the inspiration behind your song “Virgo”?: I was couch surfing in Southern California. I was feeling jazzy and wanted to write something that would be easy to memorize.
• Three things to know about your parents?: My mom majored in theology, is active in her church, and is proud of my work. My dad was a Mormon anthropological archaeologist, which is hilarious because anthropological archaeology directly disproves Mormon doctrine. They got divorced when I was 5 but my dad kept a shelf of my mom’s favorite books at his house the rest of his life.
• I’m 20 years older than you are. What’s something I probably don’t understand about the modern 26-year old?: Meme culture—you’re probably doing memes wrong.
• I think Usher is boring and lame. Tell me why I’m wrong: I have no arguments for or against.
• Does Cardi B’s history as a stripper at all encourage you to think sex workers might get more respect? Or is there no connection?: I don’t think there’s NO connection, I just don’t know enough to speak to what the connection may be. If the narrative is “You don’t get respect until you stop being a stripper and move on to other things” then that’s still lame.
• Being serious—in your mind, what are the odds a Donald Trump pee tape exists somewhere?: Completely 50/50. Part of me thinks he isn’t that adventurous.
• What’s your earliest memory?: I am not completely sure if this is an earliest memory from real life, or one of my earliest memories of a dream. My dad was building an addition to our house and the balcony wasn’t finished but he could stand on it. I remember my mom coming out with me and the three of us looked at the sunset for a few minutes before going back inside.