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PERSPECTIVES

Step into the World of Maura Garcia

Published: FEBRUARY 9, 2022
The talented and radiant Maura García spends some time with us reflecting on her work in shame conditioning, Indigenous art and erotic dance. 

Maura García, also known as Maura the Dancer, is an Indigenous woman, dancer, choreographer, and erotic artist. García is non-enrolled Cherokee and Mattamuskeet, from the land currently occupied by North Carolina.

García’s work draws heavily from her relationship to land, ancestors, and pleasure. Blending her classical training, sensuality, and creativity, García has collaborated with musicians like Just Jamez and Elexa Dawson (current Native American Music Award nominees), an artist-in-residence at Denison University, and is set to speak and perform at Matriarchs Uprising, an international Indigenous women’s dance festival in Vancouver.

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Kinkly spoke with García on her work, journey into erotic performance and sex work, and her relationship to dance.

Read: The Sexual Pleasure of Erotic Dance

Maura, I’m so thrilled to talk to you. For those who aren’t familiar with your work, can you talk a little bit about who you are, your work, and career?

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My purpose on earth, or rather one of my purposes, is to emanate light, joy and pleasure. I believe that every interaction with a living being is an opportunity to do this, whether that be through performance or through simply greeting someone.

When I speak about emanating light I'm speaking about the light of the sun and the joy and pleasure that are our birthright as human animals. When I make work, whether it be an erotic photo set or a new dance for a music video, I try to channel those powers of the natural world. Perhaps channel isn't the best word - perhaps it is better to say I try to get my worries, trauma, [and] oppressive colonial conditioning as much out of the way as possible so that what I am— a being made of fire and earth and water and wind— is "reunited" with the power of the elements.

As far as the "what" of my work...as a dancer I perform my own work and collaborate with other creatives and clients to produce: new dance works, music videos, theatre productions, fashion shows, sex shows, live music shows, private performances and erotic art. I especially enjoy and seek out opportunities to collaborate with other Indigenous women and femmes, as well with other POCs in general.

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I am lucky to be involved in so many beautiful projects. Over the last several months I have created a short dance film, called Ancestor Dances, in honor of 7 beloved ancestors for an international Indigenous performing arts festival based in Vancouver, BC. [I’ve also] danced in a music video filmed in LA. The song "LORENA", by Beverlee, is about a woman obsessed with porn star Lorena Garcia.

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I also released "DESIRE," an online erotic art video show. My Onlyfans clients were asked what their desires and fantasies were. I created 10 videos in response to each fantasy. Videos ranged from requests to dance naked above the camera, to pleasuring myself with my fingers while sucking on a cucumber, to twerk[ing] in multicolored thongs while hovering over a dildo.

And recently, I danced in a multi-media ensemble show called The Spirit Coalescent. The show featured live spoken word, a jazz band, and my choreography against a backdrop of 8 giant painting/photography visual art fusion pieces. The theme of the show was the importance of connecting natural places and the land.

Much of your dance, choreography, and artistic offerings are related to sensuality and liberation from shame. You’ve said, “I am reclaiming my body and spirit in all wholeness from patriarchal, colonial-style, false humbleness, from the repressed puritan rhetoric which is actually shame. Shame of dance, free movement,sex, relaxation, nakedness, masturbation, touching, flesh. All of these things are free, accessible and built into our bodies on purpose as gifts from spirit.” Talk to me about your shame and liberation, and how erotic dance and artistry is a part of that.

My work primarily used to be in theaters, in galleries and in other "fine arts'' spaces. Since March 2020, the worldwide pandemic, the covid cancellations, the protests and still time caused me to reflect on my life and my work.

Like many people I found myself on social media a lot, particularly instagram. I'd see colleagues and friends posting sensual photos, bikini pics and just generally sexy material. And I felt sad. And the sadness came from the feeling that I wanted to express myself like that, but that I was bound. The feeling was so strong that I started questioning what was keeping me bound. Where did my need to be covered come from? Where did the fear come from? What was holding me back from more sensual or even sexually explicit expression?

I did a lot of self-reflection, a lot of thinking about cultural teachings. It became clear to me that my hesitation and paralyzing fear came from personal trauma; came from historical trauma; came from foreign-to-this-land Christian ideas about primness, respectability and the inherent evilness of the body; came from unattainable perfectionist and fat phobic standards rampant in the dance world; came from low self-esteem and feelings of "not being enough."

When I started to realize the source of my hold-ups, I realized that they were not aligned with my core values. I realized that I had been hiding behind my fears and using them to justify the covering of my body and my avoidance of anything remotely sensual in my work. If someone chooses to cover or focus on non-sensual topics because it makes them deeply happy, then that is wonderful. But in my case, it became clear to me that I had been censoring myself in order to "keep the peace" with my internal "police.''

With the encouragement of my partner, I started researching sensual art, erotic art, what type of sensual/erotic/exotic dance opportunities existed, full service sex work, online sex work, etc. I talked with friends and acquaintances who were already doing this type of work. The guidance and insight provided, especially by other Indigenous women, was really overwhelmingly wonderful. People gave me resource lists, safety training, industry tips and shared ways to make more money, define boundaries and stay safe. I talked to people, took training offered by other sex workers and asked a lot of questions.

Read: How Doing Sex Work Helped Me Love Myself

In addition to wanting to do erotic work, I also generally wanted to expand where and how I worked. Following the George Floyd protests, lots of arts organizations were making equity statements. The following examination of the unsustainable and unfair nature of the performing arts ecosystem also made me realize I didn't want to only work in theaters and fine arts spaces. I wanted to work in music videos, on OnlyFans, in clubs, in special events, and outside. I wanted to work in ways that were more accessible to all kinds of people without as much gatekeeping.

"Naked in the Desert" credit: James Pakootas

On the topic of shame, you’ve mentioned before the concept of shame conditioning and its ties to colonization. What is shame conditioning, and how has it affected your life, your body? Your work? How does shame conditioning relate to the power of your erotic self?

One of the most important decisions I initially had to make was whether I would be a concert dancer by day and an OnlyFans creator or stripper by night. Basically, whether or not I would start creating a whole secret persona.

I thought about what I may or may not lose by incorporating explicitly sensual or sexual work into my career. I decided that I actually had nothing to lose. When I started my OnlyFans in January 2021, aside from little live performance opportunities, everything performance related was still mostly on lockdown. I knew when things opened back up I would be different, and so would the world. For me, this pandemic time offered the perfect opportunity to evolve into a different type of artist.

Read: Why I Started Doing Sex Work During COVID

Something beautiful has happened because of my choice to do all of my artwork publically. Other artists who are/were sex workers have opened up to me and expressed their appreciation. People are continually telling me that my work has inspired them, uplifted them, given them life, or given them courage to explore their own sensual natures. Clients have expressed deep gratitude for the pleasure and release that my work offers.

It’s amazing how controlling shame can be. There are no real repercussions for me, for example, posting a picture of me in a bikini. But internally, there can be so much pushback. I’m learning how to deal with that and grow past it.

Is claiming the title of sex worker important to you? What’s your favorite part about sex work?

I use the word "sex worker" because it is the word in English currently used to describe some of the work that I do. I am not attached to this word, or really any word in the colonizer language that I have to use to express myself for general audiences. I dance, I make dance, I create art. If my dance is so powerful it makes you cry and opens up your heart, that is good. The same can be said if it makes you laugh, or if you learn something new. The same can be said if my art excites you, stimulates you, or even makes you orgasm. All of these are equally beautiful, equally important. I'm honored to make work for all of the senses. It's a blessing to be fully alive.

My favorite part about sex work, is the pleasure that I’m able to give other people. Whether it's dance or video or photos, sensual pleasure is important. Every human needs that in their life. I can offer that pleasure on my own terms, whether it’s orgasm, release, or excitement. Those are all things that are required for us to be healthy. And we need [pleasure] as much as we need laughter and community.

Pleasure is a feeling and a spark, a light, a warmth that people feel in the body. You feel pleasure. You can say the word, [but it’s different to feel it]. Pleasure in the body.. It's warm honey and excitement.

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Photo for Sara Youngblood Gregory
Sara Youngblood Gregory

Sara Youngblood Gregory (she/they) is a lesbian writer and poet. She covers sex, kink, bdsm, disability, pleasure, and wellness for queer and trans folks. Sara serves on the board of the lesbian literary and arts journal Sinister Wisdom.

Sara’s debut chapbook RUN. comes out in Fall 2022 through Finishing Line Press.

Her work has been featured in Vice, Bustle, Refinery29, HuffPost, Jezebel, and many others. You may also know Sara as sinister.spinster from Instagram, where they talk about kink and sex ed. Follow Sara on Instagram and Twitter here.

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