The Queer Novel That Inspired Sex Worker and Writer Tilly Lawless

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Tilly Lawless
Tilly is wearing a glove bodice in cotton from the Spring/ Summer 2001 collection by MAISON MARTIN MARGIELAPhotography by Edward Mulvihill, Styling by Rupert Carr-Gregg

The author of Nothing But My Body talks about the ties between sex work culture and queer culture, and the Leslie Feinberg book that inspired her

This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of AnOther Magazine:

Stone Butch Blues [1993] by Leslie Feinberg is an incredible, important work of both lesbian and trans history. Leslie had direct experience with lesbian culture throughout the 1970s and the book shows the historical tie between sex work culture and queer culture. Before she died Leslie made Stone Butch Blues freely available online – she was a communist and believed in free education. In that act Leslie reminded me that we should always serve our community first. Aside from my book, I make my online writing accessible without charge because the things I’m talking about regarding sex worker rights and queer rights are far more vital than me turning a dollar.” 

After amassing a cult following on Instagram for her confessional, long- form captions, the queer Australian sex worker and writer Tilly Lawless published her debut book, Nothing But My Body, in the UK last year with Worms Publishing. Inspired by the work of Feinberg, alongside figures as diverse as Elizabeth Gaskell, Jean Genet and Virginia Woolf, the text unfolds over eight days as the protagonist navigates brothels in Sydney, a raucous trip to Berghain and the emotional fallout from the 2019-20 Australian bushfires in a visceral stream of consciousness. Through its nuanced explorations of sex work, the book proves that the personal is indeed political and cements Lawless’s status as one of today’s boldest young writers.

Hair: Joel Forman at After Winter Agency using ORIBE. Make-up: Linda Jefferyes at The Artist Group using LiqLips by LINDA JEFFERYES. Photographic assistants: Seok-Ho Yoon and Dane Moffat. Production: After Winter Agency. Special thanks to Hugh Barton

This story features in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of AnOther Magazine, which is on sale now. Order here.