When desperately ill Alex Elnido learned she had run out of options and needed to have drastic surgery on her bowel, the model feared her career in the sex industry was over.
She was scared people might be put off by her ostomy, the medical device that would be permanently attached to her stomach following the complex operation to address her ulcerative colitis.
“I was hesitant,” Elnido, who goes by the performer name GoAskAlex, told The Post about her decision to take the extreme measure in July 2019. “I wasn’t sure whether there was going to be a market for my body anymore.”
But now, two-and-half years on, business is better than ever.
Her OnlyFans account is going gangbusters – the redhead is among the top one percent of earners on the on-line sharing platform – and she has inspired sex workers with other disabilities.
“I’m really owning it,” said Eldino. “To my knowledge, I’m the first adult performer with an ostomy in the world.”
She was nervous about people seeing the device at first, but has since felt “comfortable” with its appearance in her racy videos and photographs. “I don’t purposefully cover it up or disguise it,” the 26-year-old explained.
In fact, the model believes the ostomy makes her “more relatable” and “challenges the idea of what’s considered conventionally attractive.” Moreover, she said it helps “normalize disabled qualities in pornography.”
Elnido, who lives in the Canadian province of British Colombia, was diagnosed with colitis as a young child. She was in and out of the hospital during multiple “flare ups” and treated with a cocktail of medications.
“I was in a lot of pain and there were restrictions on what I could eat,” she recalled. At times, she could only consume liquid or clear foods such as broths and jelly.
When she grew up, the doctors put her on the so-called BRAT diet – the strict regimen that is frequently recommended for people with upset stomachs. It consists of bananas, rice, apple sauce and toast.
“There were times when even that was too much for my body to handle,” Elnido noted.
The young woman was plagued by sickness, anemia and fatigue and had to abandon her dreams of becoming a midwife. She was forced to take only part-time jobs – most of them poorly paid – in places like a cosmetics store and a yoga studio. “I couldn’t really stay on my feet for more than four hours,” she said.
Meanwhile Elnido had always been open-minded about sex. And, in 2014, she was introduced by a roommate to a new career as a cam girl. “She told me I could make money in front of my webcam by getting naked,” she remembered. “It turned out to be so much more than that — but I found I was pretty good at it and enjoyed it.”
At last, she could stay home and set her own hours. Best of all, the earnings were high as her popularity grew and her admirers forked over more cash. Some months, she could rake in more than $4,000.
But her colitis only got worse. Elnido’s income plummeted when she inevitably became too exhausted to perform. She confided in a few trusted customers about her condition and they worried about her health.
It got to the point when her doctor said she urgently needed the ostomy to ease her suffering – and, indeed, save her life. “I thought I had somehow failed,” Eldino confessed to The Post. She had her entire colon removed with the small intestine diverted out through her abdomen. The surgeon attached the medical device during the four-hour op.
Her physical and emotional recovery took some time. But she persevered. “There was this underlying sense of freedom,” she said.
Elnido thought long and hard about her next steps. But, encouraged by her friends and loyal clients, she found the confidence to pick up where she’d left off. She triumphantly returned to OnlyFans, the website she’d joined a couple of years earlier.
She now boasts more than 1,000 monthly paying subscribers and is building a nest egg with the profits. “I’m saving to buy a home and trying to invest in some cryptocurrency,” Elnido said.
But she is proudest of her advocacy on behalf of people like herself. Her campaign for more diversity includes the creation of the Disabled Sex Workers Calendar displaying glamorous pictures of herself and other models.
“People who are unconventional [looking] are rarely represented in a way that isn’t fetishized or tokenized by the sex industry,” concluded Elnido. “We’re working towards different body shapes, races and disabilities being the norm.”