I Run This is a weekly interview series that highlights Black women and femmes who do dope shit in entertainment and culture while creating visibility, access and empowerment for those who look like them. Read my interview with Simone Missick here.
WeezyWTF makes talking about the booming business of sex almost as fun as sex itself.
The 31-year-old podcaster, producer and entrepreneur is the host of Fuse’s “Sex Sells,” a series that dives into the expansive and lucrative world of sex work and the entrepreneurs behind it. The show, which is in its second season, educates on the legitimacy of sex work while dispelling harmful stereotypes.
“I wanted the average person flicking through TV to judge the title. And then watch it and realize, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not as sexy as I thought. This is people talking about how they’re gaining capital for businesses,’” said Weezy, who emphasized her show is just as much about business as it is about sex, on how she conceptualized the show. A priority for her was to humanize the people who engage in this work.
“People really be trying to get it how they live, and being a receptionist at the same time and doing this other shit. I love highlighting that.”
Weezy, whose real name is Gila Shlomi, left her corporate job in 2018 to talk about the ins and outs of sex. Quite literally. Like many in this country, the schools she went to in Orlando, Florida, had a limited scope of sex education — lessons about pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and religious beliefs were at the core of the curriculum. Fortunately for Weezy, and her fans, her mom gave her the real talk on sex, pleasure and agency over her body after catching her watching porn when she was younger.
In 2017, she and longtime friend Mandii B started their podcast, “Whoreible Decisions,” where they engage in conversations around sexual health and exploration often considered taboo. Their show opened up doors for Weezy to do podcast tours, open WTFMedia (her recording studios are in Los Angeles and New York City), run Kenya Barris’ podcast division at Amazon and, of course, host her own TV show.
When it comes to mainstream conversations around sexual health and liberation, Black women’s and queer people’s voices and experiences are often erased or deprioritized. That’s a big reason why Weezy makes it point to talk with mostly Black women and other sex professionals of color on her platform, many of whom she’s worked with in the past.
Previous guests on the show include Mandii, Tyla Gomez, Mistress Marley, Tyomi Morgan and even her mom, Jewel. And the show ranges from classes that explore riding techniques, to advice from medical professionals to celebrity interviews.
Weezy said she advocates for Black folks in the sex and media space, especially because Black people have been key to her career advancement.
“It does feel like it’s almost my duty. Even if I’m having a conversation with a white business,” she said, recalling when she pressed a sex toy company about why they made nude, purple and green dildos, but not black or brown. “And I know my privilege and what I got, and I want to do the same, because the way that I got put on was from lit Black people. I just got to make sure I’m that same Black person in the white room that’s helping everybody else out.”
Weezy talks about empowering marginalized people within sex talk, how we all need to reeducate ourselves on what sex work is and isn’t, and creating her budding media empire.
HuffPost: How did “Sex Sells” come to form? Did you approach Fuse? Did Fuse approach you?
Weezy: I actually got approached by Forbes to do a show called “Sexit,” where people left the sex industry. My boy, Brandon Allen, was working at Fuse at the time, and I was like, we can’t do this show because it’s not a good look for me to say that people are leaving the sex industry. And so he’s like, alright, well, let’s make something new. And I was like, “Shit. I love sex and money.”
People make money from sex without having it. And that’s how we started “Sex Sells.” It was really cool because I got to take some guests from “Whoreible Decisions” and give them a bigger platform. Half of the guests I’ve had on “Whoreible” were on “Sex Sells.”
So when you were sitting down, conceptualizing the show and figuring out what all it was going to be, what did you want your mission to be?
Well, for one, I already know my audience was already kinfolk. So they’re going to already like it. I wanted the average person flicking through TV to judge the title. And then watch it and realize, “Oh, my God, it’s not as sexy as I thought.” This is people talking about how they’re gaining capital for businesses — how to use your SEO, how to work around censorship and actually take business advice from these sex workers, so to speak.
That was the coolest part of it to me. Because when you watch it, you might be watching a dominatrix choke somebody out, and then she’s like, “Yeah, and when I went to medical school and I learned how to do CPR, I learned the breath work.” And it’s like, what?
You humanize these people. That was my favorite part of it and what I wanted people to take away.
When we think of sex work, oftentimes it’s in a very limiting and also a very stereotypical way. And we don’t necessarily see the full range of what sex work can be. We don’t necessarily see not only the validity but also just how important they are for our health, for our everyday lives.
The stereotypical part is a great point because we always think of someone showing up to a hotel room, having sex with some old guy for money. It ain’t always that.
Right. And it’s also people think that, “Oh, you’re forced. It’s your last resort.” You’ve done a really intentional job of like destigmatizing what sex work is and how we talk about sex work in general. What was that journey like for you? Have you always been kind of open-minded about specifically sex work?
I think I’ve always been open-minded as far as sex, but as far as sex work, there’s probably some episodes you could find on “Whoreible” where I’ve called sex workers hookers or didn’t really understand what verbiage to use and just didn’t get it. I celebrated it, but I was still scared of it at the same time because, at the end of the day, we all kind of still get judged for that shit. So there was a Cardi B moment that I always quote where she was like, “I was a stripper, but I didn’t sell pussy,” and said it with her nose in the air, but we not really better than anyone else. You know what I’m saying?
I’ve even said sometimes, “I don’t know why people think I do something so crazy. It’s not like I have OnlyFans.” But bro, I interviewed a girl who makes half a million on OnlyFans a month, so I’m talking shit. We all have that in our brains.
I got to break that down every day, even for myself. The first time it hit me was a few weeks ago. My homegirl hits me, and she’s like, “I just met the perfect guy for you.” And I’m like, “Oh, my God, what’s wrong with him?” She’s like, “He’s a little conservative, but he probably doesn’t listen to the podcast.” I said, “Well, I hope he don’t watch TV because I talk about sex on there, too.” What do I give a fuck about? You’re telling me I got to, basically, water down what I’ve built? I feed my family from this ― and, and not only that, eight other employees.
So, no, I don’t want to act like this work isn’t a real thing or that it’s not important, especially when there are frivolous moments, like me making jokes about having to take a Plan B, but then there are other times where somebody gets a resource to get a safe abortion.
Women’s bodies are always policed and under attack, but these conversations feel especially relevant right now post-Roe v. Wade. It’s very much a relevant and really urgent and scary conversation because it feels like every day something is changing.
Who would’ve thought we’d be living in “The Handmaid’s Tale”?
In one episode this season, you asked if you would be considered a sex worker. Do you see yourself as that?
I do. But I feel like sex workers that are really in the trenches are like, “Bitch, you ain’t out here.”
I say it mainly because, one, I want people to understand that there can be sex work that’s not what they think. It’s sex ed, sex expert, whatever you want to call me. Yeah, it’s all under that umbrella.
It feels like the definition of sex work has expanded as the industry of sex work has evolved.
On Wikipedia, I remember it says something like someone who provides it.
And technically, no, I’m not providing a sexual act or whatever, but at the same time, I’m still benefiting from it. I’m doing live shows where I’m teaching things. I’m talking about my sex life. Prostitution is sex work but a better word for prostitution. But there is an umbrella of it.
Do you view the work you do as advocacy work?
For “Sex Sells,” 100%. I feel like it’s advocacy.
Particularly because, one, we’re highlighting small businesses, two, we’re destigmatizing what we think sex work is, and, three, they’re mainly Black, POC or women. I think I’ve had one or two white businesses out of like 18 or some shit.
All of them make me feel like I’m bringing them some bread. So I love that.
I know you and your mom have such an amazing relationship and are super open with each other when it comes to talking about sex. She even makes appearances on your show. What does your sexual education journey look like, growing up in a home with a mom who really wasn’t afraid to bite her tongue around sex?
I think that because of that, really what came from it, for me, was understanding my sexual orientation. My mom made a comment to me once that she knew that I liked women from the way that I acted about a kid in school. She’s like, “You didn’t act like she was your best friend. You were going way over the top.” Like the way that I would crush on girls, she was like, she had to learn that. And my mom really made me comfortable in exploring it, letting me know gay was OK.
My mom’s a Studio 54 girl. In the era of Andy Warhol and Prince and shit, going to them clubs and where they have fluidity. Even though we grew up in the South, my mom still always had that with her, and it was like we were kind of in our own bubble sometimes with it.
And I think that if not for her making me feel comfortable, there’s obviously no way “Whoreible Decisions” would exist or “Sex Sells” would exist.
I’m able to do all that with her.
That’s so dope.
One of the peak moments of me realizing we’re too close, this season on a medical episode, I was like, oh, we should do like a doctor that works on the vagina, vaginal rejuvenation. My mom really became my teacher again, because she hasn’t taught me something new in a while, but when she talked about vaginal pain from aging, I never knew this. But I always associated vaginal rejuvenation with sex.
Your vagina hurt on its own. And she talked about moisture and losing estrogen, and I’m just sitting there trying to host this show, but also like, oh, my God. I never knew my mother went through this. And it’s these different phases of her life that we learned together, and it’s just dope.
The weirdest part of our sexual journey was when she asked me how I have sex with my girlfriend. I said, “I can’t do this.”
In doing this work, what’s been the most surprising thing that you’ve learned about sex that’s changed your life for the better?
I think the most surprising thing I’ve learned that’s changed my life is honestly how much intimacy we need. I always considered myself the emo ho. I’ve made a joke about that for years. People come up to me, they say that, oh, I’m the emo hoe, too. But what I realized is intimacy doesn’t have to be this thing that we got to have a boyfriend for or this long-term partner. We can experience love and passion and casual relationships from people that we even pay.
Sex workers giving a girlfriend experience is not the most popular thing on a menu because it just is. People really need that human interaction. Even in times of COVID, we learned that.
Talk to me about the media company that you have started.
WTFMedia is something I made with a friend of mine, Alex Media. He is a director and videographer, and he’s been working on podcasts for around the same amount of time as I have. During the pandemic, we kind of just decided to join forces because we’ve made all this money from podcasting.
So many people come up to both of us talking about, “How do I get mine started?” I know that when it came to podcast studios and podcast production, there was no one to lean on other than big people in the industry.
And, honestly, all the money I make from the podcast is from Black people, Black companies. It just made sense to make one with another Black podcaster. So when we created it, it was insane because I remember he’s like, “We’re going to spend $50,000 on equipment.” I’m like, “We not going to make this shit back.” We were so booked out, after three months, we needed a second room. Then it became so popular, from there, we started doing remote things. We started working with Amazon, iHeart, Viacom, BET.
To me, if I didn’t have that company, I wouldn’t be working for Kenya Barris. I love when I walk down the block and I see Black people going into the building. It’s a good feeling. I think that it really gave me the validity as a producer.
What are you the proudest of yourself about?
Honestly, WTFMedia. Knowing that people are paying their rent from what I do. That, to me, is just the pinnacle of what I could have done.
Hiring Black, knowing we’d be having our little secret n***a meetings. We joke about it. People be writing me, too, about how they’re going to like put a civil suit against me because I’m only hiring Black. I’ll say that I’m looking for Black employees and something amazing happened: A bunch of lawyers wrote me saying, like, yo pro bono free work ― someone tries to sue you for hiring Black, we got you.
Do you have any dream guests for “Sex Sells”?
I feel like everyone wants to say Beyoncé, but I’m going to just say realistic guests. Desus and Mero. Separately. Bobby Shmurda, because he just seems like he’d be a mess. Brent Faiyaz was already on my list, so that’s crossed off. Oh, and GloRilla.
Who do you think would be good on “Sex Sells”?
I feel like Santana will be a really good guest.
I can’t believe I didn’t say Santana.
I love him so bad.
What do you want your legacy to be when this is all said and done?
I want to be the podcast Tyler Perry.
I want to have this lit-ass compound. I want to take interns. I want to be able to have people work there, learn there. I want it to be a real hub. I would love it. Like a mix between a Tyler Perry and a podcast Soho house, like this place where you got everything going, and you’re getting paid and it’s elevated.
I really want to be able to have that for Black people. I would love for my kid and my partner’s kids to be able to work there and it really be this legacy thing because, at the end of the day, podcasting, although people claim it’s so oversaturated, half of all Americans listen to it. Billions and billions of dollars in the industry. People want to hear other people talk. It’s only going to evolve.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
“Sex Sells” airs on Fuse at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesdays.