Saturday 27 January 2024

Interview with Erica Taylor

Monika: Today I have invited Erica Taylor, also known as Erica Cherry, an American adult movie actress, artist, performer, and a proud transgender woman. Hello Erica! Thank you for accepting my invitation.
Erica: You are very welcome! I'm happy to be interviewed alongside so many of the other inspirations and icons you have interviewed so far.
Monika: You seem to be a woman of many talents. Could you say a few words about yourself?
Erica: I suppose I really enjoy learning how to do things! Learning is sort of an addiction for me and so I've picked up a bunch of skills that sometimes help in my life and other times are just fun. I especially have a life-long habit and interest in composing music, I definitely love to develop myself in that way.
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, we lose our families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Erica: The hardest thing was absolutely the reaction of my family to my transition, I would say that I lost everything, but it also set me free in a sort of way.
Monika: Why did you choose Erica for your name?
Erica: It was a popular name for girls in my birth year, and I wanted to fit in!
Monika: Was your family surprised by your transition?
Erica: Yes…
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Erica: To be totally honest no! I’ve had a number of plastic surgeries, which did much more to alleviate my dysphoria. It's been a struggle for me to find the right balance that enables me to do my job without discomfort and still progress in terms of transitioning. It has helped though!

"The hardest thing was absolutely the reaction
of my family to my transition."

Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will always be judged accordingly. How can we cope with this?
Erica: I stress about passing quite a bit! There is no easy answer because I do not believe being “pretty” or “passing” is what makes someone a trans woman and I don’t believe in gatekeeping womanhood, but at the same time I want to be pretty and I definitely want to pass! For my own happiness and safety as well. I think this is a very authentically feminine struggle, every girl wants to be pretty, and we will be judged on our looks. I think coming to terms with who we are in a broader fashion is the best we can do.
Monika: Do you remember the first time you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person that opened your eyes and allowed you to realize who you are?
Erica: Honestly I'm not sure I remember this. My first exposure might have been porn but I really do not clearly remember. It took me a while to figure this out because my exposure to trans people was so limited back then. When I met real trans women in real life living authentically, it didn't take me long to know that I needed that for myself.
Monika: Did you have any transgender sisters around you that supported you during the transition?
Erica: Yes I have a wonderful trans sister who I won't name specifically but she helped me immensely during my operations. I absolutely could not have done it without her.
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Erica: It’s very depressing. I live in the US and we have been chosen as a convenient political target by a pretty disgusting fusion of religion and political affiliation. I won’t mince words about it because there is a serious danger and a lot of legislative harm has been done already. I know that things are worse in other places, but nothing but a complete end to discrimination and censorship should be acceptable.

"I love fashion but I struggle with fashion sense!"

Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Erica: I love fashion but I struggle with fashion sense! I love body-fitting dresses now that I have a body to wear them in.
Monika: Do you often experiment with your makeup?
Erica: Yes, I often play with the colors and products, I used to experiment a lot more when learning but I’ve settled into a more consistent technique these days.
Monika: I remember copying my sister and mother first, and later other women, trying to look 100% feminine, and my cis female friends used to joke that I try to be a woman that does not exist in reality. Did you experience the same?
Erica: I do hold myself to a ridiculous standard. I know it isn't really healthy to be that concerned about perfection looks wise, but I'm glad to report that as I get older I seem to get better at just accepting myself.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Erica: Who doesn't? I am past the stage where being cat-called feels affirming though, early in my transition I'll admit I liked the feeling. Now I feel that I can't take a walk and look nice without being pestered!!
Monika: Do you remember your first job interview as a woman?
Erica: I have never had a job interview as a woman because I've been making a living doing porn ever since then. I’m very fortunate to have a thriving career as an adult model.
Monika: When I came out at work, my male co-workers treated me in a way as if the transition lowered my IQ. Did you experience the same? Do you think it happens because we are women or because we are transgender? Or both?
Erica: Oh yes, people treat me like I'm pretty ditsy now whereas before I felt my opinion and intellect mattered more. I certainly think it's because we are women and being trans both. My voice no longer has that naturally authoritative tone, it's been really interesting to experience first hand the shift in how I’m treated by others, it is 100% real.

"I often play with the colors
and products."

Monika: I did a couple of interviews with trans escort ladies or adult movie actresses (Yasmin Lee, Becca Benz, Chelsea Poe) and we agreed that there is nothing wrong with doing porn or being an escort but it closes many other career doors, as the world wrongfully judges such behaviors. Were you not afraid of this?
Erica: I was more concerned with making ends meet and taking care of myself than the risks. For a few different reasons, working a regular job is an extreme challenge for me, so I'm grateful to be able to take care of myself financially. I also feel somewhat gated from more success because of my career, which is frustrating because I feel I have a lot of things to give, and not just sexually. I hope someday there is less stigma for those in sex work, I know for a fact most people could not do my job!
Monika: What would you advise to transwomen considering being an entertainer to have their bills paid?
Erica: I really think broad advice might not be too applicable here. Sometimes I wish I had chosen a different career, but there is often not a lot of choice involved. In my case, I did what I needed to do, and I've thrived. I’m very proud of everything that I've accomplished.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Erica: I’d say so, although I'm pretty new to Los Angeles so I've yet to really put roots down.
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Erica: Love is different for me than other people, the sheer amount of sex I have had makes it mean something different to me than it probably does to other people. Finding someone who is compatible with my lifestyle is a challenge in terms of romantic partners, but I have many close relationships, and I think that is just as important as finding romantic love.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Erica: Maybe I will! I’m not sure I consider myself interesting enough for a memoir, maybe I will have to do some more exciting things to fill it up.

"Love is different for me than other people."

Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Erica: For now I have been happily doing as much studio porn as they hire me for, I love doing work with a team and working together to make an awesome film. I think technology will likely change how we do our work in a number of significant ways, we are going to need to be more creative and more versatile. If I'm still doing adult work then I hope to bring new experiences to many people. It's very exciting to imagine what kind of projects I'll be working on in 5+ years.
Monika: What would you recommend to all transgender women who are afraid of transition?
Erica: I have seen many people delay transitioning for a number of reasons and I don’t think anyone has ever told me they wish they had waited longer! It's scary to take that plunge, but when you start changing yourself to match your inner self there is such a relief. I know that families, religions, and social pressure can all be barriers to transitioning, but the world needs us to be fearless. Together we are changing the world for the better so just remember that!
Monika: My pen-friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Do you agree with this?
Erica: Yes. surgery lasts a little while, but being a woman is for life! I have so much to do as a proud transgender woman. I suppose in many ways I am known for being trans, but each day my hope is to one day completely overshadow that. There is so much work to be done until we are truly accepted and integrated into society in a healthy way, I hope one day to see that and hope that my part in it was positive.
Monika: Erica, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Erica: You’re welcome, Monika! You had some very interesting questions!

All the photos: courtesy of Erica Taylor.
© 2024 - Monika Kowalska

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